Villages of la Balagne


Calvi & la Balagne  |  L'Ile Rousse

Self-guided walking tour - 8 day holiday, incl 6 days walking

La Balagne is a great introduction to Corsica and this holiday explores this beautiful region, from the coast to the high hillside villages. 

Backed by mountains that dominate the coastline, the silver sand beaches are also a favourite with holidaymakers and you will bathe in the perfumes, colours and contrasting landscapes that have earned la Balagne a prestigious following. Your holiday starts in the beautiful seaside town of L’Ile Rousse. Explore the town and the red island, that gives the town its name. After a couple of nights by the coast, you head to the hills, through the garden of Corsica, along old mule tracks, through pastures and olive groves, past perched villages trapped in time.

Villages of la Balagne

Duration: 8 days / 7 nights

Walking: 6 days

Difficulty level: Gentle to moderate walking

Type: Self Guided

Start and finish point: L'Ile Rousse - Calvi

Departure dates: Sunday 13th May - 30th September

Day 1 - L'Ile Rousse

Your holiday starts with a transfer to L'Ile Rousse, on the north-west coast. Check into your hotel before exploring the cobbled streets of the old town, the cafés of the Place des Platanes, one of the beautiful beaches and the ‘Red Isle’ that gives the town’s name. The town was founded by Pascal Paoli, in response to the Genoese at Calvi, and has a wonderful lived in feel.

Overnight: 3 or 4* hotel, L’Ile Rousse on B&B


Day 2 - Algajola to L'Ile Rousse

Today you take the train to the village of Algajola (payable locally approx €4). The tracks hug the coast, and the views are sublime on this short 15 minute ride. From Algajola climb to the village of Aregno, with its pisan church, before arriving at the picturesque village of Sant’Antonino, perched on a hilltop with views over the coast below. From Sant’Antonino, the path descends to a Convent and then to the Artisans village of Pigna. The narrow streets of the village are home to various crafts. From Pigna you pass through the village of Corbara to return to L'Ile Rousse.

Distance 15km, duration 6 hours, altitude gain +620m, descent -620m.

Overnight: 3 or 4* hotel, L’Ile Rousse on B&B


Day 3 - L'Ile Rousse to Monticello

Your walking starts at L'Ile Rousse, before climbing along old mule tracks via the hamlets of Santa Reperata to Monticello. The village of Monticello is perched high above L'Ile Rousse and is home to many a French celebrity. The walking is very flexible and we offer a circular walk around the village with views over L'Ile Rousse and the Regino valley. You will have the opportunity of dropping back down to the coast to visit the Parc at Saleccia, a botanical garden with a fabulous collection of Mediterranean plants.

Distance 14km, duration 5 hours, altitude gain +545m, descent -380m.

Overnight: 3 or 4* hotel, Monticello on Half Board 


Day 4 - Monticello to Feliceto

The walk today crosses the Regino plain, between market gardens, before climbing to the perched village of Speluncato, the walk climbs higher with simply superb views, to the Bocca di Croce d’Olu and you follow the balcony path through the hills before dropping down to the neighbouring villages of Nessa and Feliceto, a village that offers an insight into life in the Haute-Balagne, home to olive mills, glass blowers and wine makers.

Distance 15km, duration 6 hours, altitude gain +800m, descent -700m.

Overnight: Hôtel Mare e Monti 3*, Feliceto on B&B


Day 5-  Feliceto to Montegrosso

On circular walks, take to the heights again to discover the villages of Zilia, Montegrosso, Cassano and Lunghinano before returning via Muro to Feliceto, or wander the many paths below the village and see the olive mills and the Genoese bridges of the area. The area is brimming with history and you are sure to love the lofty views. After all the walking, the pool at the hotel is a welcoming sight!

Distance 16km, duration 6 hours, altitude gain +800m, descent -800m.

Overnight: Hôtel Mare e Monti 3*, Feliceto on B&B


Day 6 - Feliceto to Lumio

From Feliceto, you pass through the villages of the Haute-Balagne. Dropping down through farmland and past chapels on the old mule tracks to Avapessa, before walking via the village of Cateri, past a Convent and wash houses to Lavatoggio. From here we follow on across lofty land, climbing to the abandoned village of Occi high above Lumio. The village was deserted in the 20th Century, when no road could be built for access. The views from here towards Calvi are sublime. A transfer takes you from Lumio to Calvi for your nights stop.

Distance 14km, duration 5 hours, altitude gain +420m, descent -550m.

Overnight: 3 or 4* hotel, Calvi on B&B


Day 7 - Calvi

Your walking holiday comes to an end after breakfast. A choice of two circular walking options - The first is a challenging walk to the summit of Capu di Veta at 700m above Calvi for which you will need to leave early but the views are worth it, or the second option is to walk halfway, to Notre Dame de la Serra, the chapel with views over Calvi bay and then down and around the coast at the Revellata peninsula.

Distance 11km, duration 5 hours, altitude gain +700m, descent -700m.

Overnight: 3 or 4* hotel, Calvi on B&B

Please note: This itinerary is an example of the itinerary we aim to adhere to, correct at time of publication. Should situations arise that are beyond our control, such as severe weather conditions, or other factors that could put your safety at risk, it may be possible for the itinerary to be modified.

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Trip grading and level of difficulty

The walks are on good footpaths and trails, the terrain is varied but often rocky. You need to be used to walking all day and take regular exercise to enjoy this holiday.

Why self-guided walking?

You can walk at your own pace, choosing when and where to stop. There are often other walkers on the same itinerary that you will bump into along the way. We transport your bags between the hotels, provide maps and good walking notes. This is a way of enjoying complete flexibility, you dictate the walking pace and rhythm of your holiday.

Number of participants

From 2 people. For safety reasons we do not accept single person reservations.

What's included

  • Return flights from Stansted or Manchester
  • 1 night accommodation on half board
  • 6 nights accommodation on bed & breakfast
  • Return airport transfers
  • Transfers on the walk
  • Luggage transfers between hotels on the walk
  • Map and route notes.

What's not included

  • Meals not stated in the trip notes
  • Drinks
  • Travel insurance
  • Train ticket from L'Ile Rousse on day 2 (approx €4 per person).

Luggage moving and day sack

You will need to carry a day sack only, with your water bottle, camera, picnic and gortex jacket. Our bag-moving service means you can travel light during your walks, just taking with you what you need for the day. Your main luggage will be transported by vehicle between the different night stops by a variety of different people. This ranges from local taxis, hotel owners and our own staff. We ask you to please limit your main luggage to around 15kg per bag to facilitate the driver loading it in and out of the vehicle.

It is important to consider that it may be necessary to carry your bags short distances at the start and towards the end of your holiday. You will need the appropriate luggage.


See Tour Accommodation section below. 


Breakfasts are continental style. Evening meals are 3 course affairs using local produce. We recommend that you bring your preferred trail food, or high energy bars for the walks. Picnics can be purchased daily from bakers or small supermarkets. 

Spending money

Bring sufficient to cover your personal expenses including snacks and drinks. Bottled water, soft drinks, beer and wine, coffee are all expensive. It is impossible to change money here and trying to find a working cash machine can be problematic. We recommend bringing all the Euros you need with you in cash.

Preparing for your trip

It is a good idea to get fit for this trip. The more time you put in before you leave, the more you will get out of the walking. You should do regular aerobic exercise in preparation for the hills. Walking regularly with a rucksack is the best way to make sure you are fit enough for the Corsican hills and enjoy the trip to the fullest.


You can expect to encounter some very wide ranging temperatures. During the walks you should be ready for everything, take powerful sun protection, as well as warm fleeces and a weatherproof jacket. Corsica is known for its micro climates and each valley can be very different. The weather can change quickly and the mountains generate some stormy, often unpredictable weather.

What to bring and pack

  • A small day pack for your water bottle, camera, picnic and weatherproof.
  • A rucksack or suitcase for your main luggage 15kg maximum per person
  • Good walking shoes or boots with a good grip sole
  • Walking socks
  • Warm fleece
  • Shorts and t-shirts.
  • Swimming costume or trunks
  • Towel
  • Walking poles (optional)
  • Water bottle (one litre minimum)
  • For your picnics:
  • A good cutting knife, fork, spoon, plastic cup and plate some plastic bags
  • Sun and rain protection
  • Sunglasses and sun cream
  • Weatherproof jacket
  • Trainers or open sandals
  • Warm fleece and casual wear
  • First aid - we recommend that you bring your own personal first aid kit consisting of: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhea treatment painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, re-hydration. Glucose tablets or malt loaf and multi-vitamin tablets are a good idea.

UK residents should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. This might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care. You can obtain an EHIC from the Department of Health by phone, online, or at the post office.

About the Local Area


Named after the islets that blush a deep russet red in the sunset, L'lle Rousse is a laid back seaside town with a central square, lively cafés, restaurants and ice cream parlours. With one of the warmest microclimates in Corsica, thanks to the sheltering Balagne hills that surround the town, and three gently shelving large beaches in close proximity, L'Ile Rousse is an ideal spot for a summer holiday.


L’lle Rousse
The town beach of L'Ile Rousse can be very busy in the peak of the summer and has excellent facilities with cafés, restaurants and sunloungers lining the beach. If you're prepared to wander a little further, you can generally find a quiet spot. Another benefit of its size is that it is generally patrolled. It's a fine yellow sand beach and the water is a gorgeous clear blue. There are good opportunities here for water sports.

Just west of L’Ile Rousse, Bodri Plage is an unspoilt beach, a walk through the maquis and over the railway line. The walk is worth it, as the beach has almost white sand and a turquoise sea.

Baie de Giunchetu
A short walk further west, around the rocky Punta di Genebre you will find this beach. It is slightly less picturesque, but larger.


A celebration of the sea held in l'Ile Rousse every May. In addition to fish and seafood produce, there are many activities for children as well as scientific stands, competitions, exhibitions and workshops.

Estivoce in Pigna 
Estivoce is a celebration of Corsican music and arts with concerts of polyphonic music from June to September with many of the celebrations being in July.

Foire de l'Amandier in Aregno
Held in the Balagne village of Aregno every August, the Foire de l’Amandier includes tastings, painting exhibitions, events for children and cooking contests all based around the almond and its trees.

Fiera di l’Artigiani in Felicetu
The craftsmen of the Strada di l’Artigiani congregate to celebrate their crafts every August.

Fiera di u Sumere in Sant’Antonino
Celebrating the donkey in August, the only form of transport in the cobbled winding streets of this mountain village. Take a donkey ride around the village to view the picturesque surroundings and magnificent views.

Rencontres Polyphoniques in Calvi 
Polyphonic singing is at the heart of Corsican culture every September in Calvi and singers from around the world perform in the Citadel at the Rencontres Polyphoniques.


L’Ile Rousse old town
Wander the streets and make sure you take a trip to the market held every morning in a majestic covered market place. The produce is local and fresh and includes fish, vegetables, local honey, charcuterie and cheeses. There are ample restaurants to choose from in the narrow streets and around the main square beneath the plane trees and the silver sand of L’Ile Rousse beach is very tempting.

'Le Petit Train'
For the young or the old take a trip on 'Le Petit Train' a tourist train of L’Ile Rousse which will show you the sites at a leisurely pace.

Visit Calvi Town & The Citadel
Calvi Towns social life focuses on the many restaurants and cafés of the quai landry which is a large seafront walkway that links the marina and the port effortlessly. To get the best possible feel of the town, this is the place to be! A walk up through the narrow passageways off quai landry will take you to rue Clemenceau where you will find an array of restaurants and souvenir shops plenty. Further walking will present the Ste-Marie-Majeure, built in 1774.

L’lle Rousse - Calvi by train
This regular service allows you to explore the coastline to the west of L’lle Rousse, stopping at all of the beaches en route. The line, built in the 1880’s and 1890’s hugging the coast is undoubtedly one of the worlds most scenic railways. The complete journey takes approx 50 minutes, and depending on the time of year travelling, there are between 5 and 10 return journeys a day.

This is the village where it is believed that Christopher Columbus' mysterious mother was born. The village has a couple of charming restaurants and sports facilities. Why not go pony trekking through the Balagne hills to discover the area’s true natural beauty?

Explore the mountain villages of Haute-Balagne
Drive on the mountain roads that meander up to the fortress villages clinging to the hillsides and take in the astounding views across the maquis-carpeted mountains down to the coastline below. You can also follow the craft trail "Strada di l'Artigiani" and sample the local specialities en route.

Explore the narrow streets of Sant'Antonino, the oldest inhabited village in Corsica and labelled as "one of the most beautiful villages in France". The village affords 360° views of the surrounding countryside and coast, has several restaurants, a local produce shop and the famous ‘maison du citron’ (run by Mr Antonino), which serves excellent citron pressé.