Porto Vecchio as we see it today has grown up around the famous 16th-century citadel, perched atop an outcrop of granite; and the rampart restaurants offer splendid views from this ancient vantage point. The town’s old centre, a maze of narrow streets, has kept its charm and still has the atmosphere of the fortress town it once was. Just a few minutes walk away is the marina, lined with lively cafés, this is a great place to enjoy a leisurely drink on a warm summer evening.
Arguably the most famous beach on the island, the beach at Palombaggia is one of Corsica's finest and therefore one of its most popular. It was recently voted one of Europe's top 20 beaches in a poll in the Times and as such it can be very crowded in peak season - and it's easy to see why. An exquisite blend of fine white sand guarded by huge red granite rocks and fronted with gorgeous blue seas, and lined with beautiful pine trees.
Santa Giulia is another very popular beach and arguably the most photogenic of all the beaches in L'Extrême Sud - it sits in a magnificent horseshoe bay with its shallow and translucent water making it the perfect swimming spot for the little ones. Around 10-15 minutes drive from Porto Vecchio, this beach has a good selection of shops and restaurants and it is also very popular with water sports enthusiasts.
This exquisite bay situated 7km north of Porto Vecchio with its fine sweep of yellow sand is more than worth a visit and was recently included in The Times' list of the best 20 beach holidays in Europe. While you're there you can check out the near perfect Genoese tower which dominates the peninsula. It has a long sweep of soft white sand and is backed by a pine forest, ideal for any members of the party who need shade. If there is a breeze on the day you plan to visit it is well worth taking a body board with you to surf some of the breaking waves. That said the beach is also great for younger children as there is a nice wide stretch of warm shallow water too.
Around 15 minutes drive north of Porto Vecchio, San Ciprianu is a beautiful half moon of white sand and turquoise water. Parking is available on the approach road to the beach or if you are lucky there may be space available in the smallish car park about 50m from the beach.
Fête de la Saint Jean Baptiste - Porto Vecchio, June
Celebration of the Patron Saint of Porto Vecchio to mark the end of the harvest season.
Festi Lumi - Bonifacio, July
A magical festival of lights across the streets of Bonifacio with concerts and a light show taking place at the weekend.
Festa di Luddarreddu - Porto Vecchio, July
"U Luddarreddu", a historical figure made of straw and cork, will be paraded through the streets of Porto Vecchio and set alight on the Place de la République to celebrate the end of the hot and difficult conditions in which local artisans and farmers have to work in July.
Les Médiévales de Levie - Levie, early September
A medieval fair that will transport you back to ancient times. On the programme: medieval tournaments, street parades, equestrian displays, music and crafts.
Defi Inter-Isles - Bonifacio, September
Supporting the Corsican windsurf championships, this competition will see some hundred windsurfers from all corners of the world participating.
THINGS TO SEE & DO
Old Porto Vecchio
The old Genoese walled town still seduces visitors with its picturesque narrow streets and the austerity of its high stone houses that are set within the Citadel's ramparts. Wander the ancient streets, the Borgo, where you can see the enormous twisted tree of the Place de la République, the 19th century church of St-Jean Baptiste and the gallery housed within the Bastion di A Funtana Vecchia. Experience live Corsican music and soak up the local atmosphere. Amongst the best venues is 'la Taverne du Roi', which is tucked away in the citadel of Porto Vecchio. Many restaurants also host a Corsican night once a week featuring a local band - look out for posters or ask your representative for up-to-date information.
Porto Vecchio Marina
Within a few minutes walk of the old town, the marina lined with cafés is an excellent place to enjoy a leisurely drink during those hot summer evenings. There is also a variety of boat trips on offer with tours around the beautiful coastline.
Go horse riding on Palombaggia or San Ciprianu beach early morning, a truly memorable experience.
L'Ospedale and Col de Bavella
Drive inland more than 1200m up to the spectacular Col de Bavella, one of the most dramatic passes in Corsica with stunning views across extensive forest, ocean and mountains. Also visit the surrounding mountain villages in the area. Try canyoning or take a dip in a rock pool in the rivers of the Bavella massif. There are many walks through the forests to the hidden waterfalls of the Alta Rocca, including Piscia di Gallo, or Cockerall falls. A short drive inland from Porto Vecchio will bring you to the Ospédale forest, and some great spots for a picnic.
Explore the prehistoric settlements of Casteddu d'Araggiu, just north of Porto Vecchio above the hamlet of Palavesa - a well-preserved site dating back from 1500BC. The views from here over the Gulf of Porto Vecchio are truly spectacular. Should you wish to venture further afield, the prehistoric sites of Cucuruzzu and Capula near Levie are also worth the detour.
Try one of the mountain restaurants and indulge your tastebuds with mountain food. Amongst our recommendations are 'le Refuge' near the Lac de l'Ospedale or 'A Pignata' in the village of Levie.
At Corsica’s southernmost point, the fortress town of Bonifacio sits in an isolated location perched high on a limestone plateau and surrounded by an expanse of maquis. Mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, the precipitous white cliffs overhang the turquoise waters below and are honeycombed with old watery grottoes. Established in 833, the old town is rich in history with its dramatic Citadel, ramparts and maze of narrow cobbled streets. The newer harbour has a more Italian flair with an abundance of cafés and restaurants dotted along the Quai Comparetti – the perfect spot to watch the yachts set sail.