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Located on the northwest coast of Corsica, the stunning citadel town of Calvi combines the luxury of a French Riviera resort with the traditional atmosphere of a quaint Corsican village. These attributes, and beautiful beaches and magnificent coastal scenery, explain Calvi’s appeal as a tourist destination.
The huge 13th century citadel dominates the town, towering above the port and overlooking the incredibly scenic stretches of coastline to the north and south. The famed Recontres de Chants Polyphoniques de Calvi is held on the grounds of the citadel each September. After admiring the citadel and environs, stroll down through the ancient narrow streets of the town to the contrasting atmosphere of the chic harbor area, with its modern marina and expensive boutiques. The town is also an important base for the French Foreign Legion, who can often be seen about the town in their charming uniforms.
The stretch of coast to I’lle Rousse, 25 km to the north, is filled with numerous picturesque beaches and seaside resort areas. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, cruising and other marine sports can be enjoyed in this area.
Calvi has an exciting nightlife, with quality restaurants, bars and cafes lining the harbor and beachside areas, particularly along the Avenue de la Republique.
For a change of scenery, head inland to the spectacular Niolo region, with its rugged mountains, sparkling lakes and rivers, deep valleys, and fascinating peat bogs. Hiking, mountaineering and kayaking are just a few of the activities outdoor enthusiasts can delight in.
Nice International Airport serves direct flights from many cities, and regular connections are available to Calvi. From Calvi Airport it is easy to arrange transportation into the town.
Although there is a public transportation system on Corsica, the best way to fully explore the area around Calvi is by car. For sunbathing, you can visit the stunning beaches in and around Calvi and north towards the resort town of L’Ile-Rousse. Alternatively, take a trip to the historic town of Bastia, or go hiking in the centre of the island.
On the nearby heights to the east of Calvi are the five splendid old villages of Palasca, Novella, Urtaca, Lama and Pietralba. Follow the N197 coastal road from Calvi, past L’Ile-Rousse and south, inland to the villages. Tradition lives on in this part of the island, and the locals are welcoming.
From here, keep following the N197 (or N1197) south from Pietralba, then connect with the N193 heading for the central town of Corte. If you’re into hiking, this is the best location on the island to use as a base. Spectacular snow-capped mountains with well marked trails are plentiful here.
If you’d rather relax, you can spend some time in this lively town and take a look at some of its history. The citadel houses the informative Museum of Corsica, dedicated to the history and culture of the island, and is well worth a look.
About 90kms to the east of Calvi, lying in the northeast of Corsica is the port town of Bastia. This bustling, colourful port is dominated by the great 16th century Genoese citadel above the old harbour. The churches of Chapelle Sainte Croix, with its Black Christ, and the ornate Église Sainte Marie lie within the citadel’s walls.
The Italian flavour is evident in the old town, with its typical spaghetti-like streets. Life centres on place St Nicolas, which is an ideal place to stroll and look at the courts and esplanade. Alternatively, wander down to the lively waterfront, which is lined with cafés and restaurants, and flanked by the magnificent Église St Jean Baptiste.
There are a few reasons why Corsica has remained relatively unspoilt, and one of them is that it's not the easiest place to get to. The island is not on any of the major air routes, so you need to get to continental Europe before making your way here.
Calvi is situated in the northwest of the island of Corsica, which is located south of the French and Italian coastlines in the Mediterranean Sea. Calvi Sainte Catherine Aeroport is eight kilometres south of the town centre, and taxis or prearranged shuttle buses will take you to your hotel or the town centre.
Arriving by air usually means going through a French connecting port such as Marseille, Paris or Nice, the latter being the closest option. However, flights also go from London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Geneva, among others.
Most visitors arrive by ferry and there are many options. From France, the Nice-Calvi route is the fastest and cheapest, taking under three hours on the NGV (high-speed ferry); car ferries take about eight hours. Ferries also run from Marseille to Calvi.
Ferries from the Italian ports of Livorno or Genoa only go as far as Bastia, so you’ll have to take the bus or train the rest of the way. The Livorno-Bastia route takes two hours on the NGV, while the journey from Genoa takes 6 hours, 30 minutes.
You can also leave from Savona in Italy, and arrive at L’Ile-Rousse to the east of Calvi. Alternatively, ferries go from the southern towns of Ajaccio, Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio to the northern ports of Sardinia.
Ferries arrive at the Calvi/Gare Maritime port, which is a few hundred metres from Calvi. The Trinighellu train operates between the three major towns of the north: Calvi, Bastia and Corte. There are also a number of bus connections providing service all over Corsica, especially during the summer.