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The birthplace of Napoléon Bonaparte, the French island of Corsica is a popular holiday destination with much to offer tourists, from excellent beaches to nature reserves, giving it the nickname ‘The Island of Beauty’. Two-thirds of the island is made up of mountains, while the 620-mile coastline is home to more than 200 beaches. A car is the best way to get around Corsica, exploring its beaches, mountainous interior, old city centres and quaint villages. The entire island is accessible by road, and car hire firms can be found at all four airports as well as in Corsica’s major cities.
Who to Book With
Sixt, Budget and Europcar are just a few of the car rental suppliers that have presence in Corsica. Offices can be found at the Ajaccio Napoleon Bonaparte Airport, Figari Sud-Corse Airport, Bastia–Poretta Airport and Calvi-Sainte-Catherine Airport, as well as in all major cities throughout the island. Online booking is recommended to ensure you get the vehicle of your choice and the best rates.
Best time to go
Corsica can be visited throughout the year, although July and August are the most popular months for visitors. If arriving during this time, it is essential to book everything ahead of time and also expect to pay higher rates. A great alternative is to visit in June or September. October and November are the wettest months so are not for comfortable for sightseeing.
Need to Know Essentials
You must bring the following documents when picking up your car hire:
- An EU driving license that has been held for one year
- A passport or some other form of identification
- The credit card used when the reservation was made
- Confirmation of the booking
Driving is the best way to traverse the island, as public transportation is scarce. Parking can be difficult to find near the beaches in the peak season, although many hotels have car parks for their guests. There are also pay-for car parks dotted around the island, although they can be a tad expensive. On-street spaces can also be found, especially in Corsica’s larger cities. Some are free, while others that work on a pay-and-display system.
Roads crisscross Corsica, making all parts of the island easily accessible by car. Some roads are a bit narrower than motorists are used to, although major routes are in fantastic condition and make travelling by car a breeze. Still, drivers should be extra careful when driving through the mountains due to sharp the turns and narrow stretches. Herds of pigs and cows are also a common obstacle when driving outside of major cities, while traffic can be a problem in popular areas during the peak tourist seasons.
The major national routes, which predominately run along the coast, are the best-maintained roads on the island. They can be identified by red signs with an ‘N’ and white numbers. Traffic on these routes has priority, so use caution when approaching from a smaller road. Many of Corsica’s rural routes are not signposted, but with a good map, visitors will find the island is easy to navigate. Locals are also very helpful when it comes to giving directions to lost motorists.
There is very little public transport in Corsica besides from private buses, such as Eurocorse service that operates throughout the island. The only other exception is in the capital city of Ajaccio, which is served by Transports en Commun d'Ajaccio. There are also three railway lines that travel across the island, although trains are not very frequent. The smaller villages and interior of Corsica are only accessible by road. Car rental is by far the best way to get around the island, especially outside of Ajaccio, where no public transport is available.
There are three railway lines in Corsica, operated by Chemins de Fer de la Corse. All three lines start in Ponte Leccia in Upper Corsica, and then head towards Ajaccio, Calvi and Bastia. Most of the south half of Corsica is not served by railway.
Taxis are easy to find in the cities, although they are not as clearly marked as they are in the UK. Most rates are fixed, but passengers should check the price before hopping in, with the minimum charge being €6.40. Any hotel in Corsica will be more than happy to book a taxi for you.
Buses and trams
Only Ajaccio is served by local public transport, which offers a convenient way to get around the city or to its suburbs if you don’t have a car. Travelling anywhere else by bus must be done with a private company, with most of these only running twice a day. Tickets for Transports en Commun d'Ajaccio buses can be purchased at various shops throughout the city or directly from the driver. A ticket that allows travel for one hour costs just €1, while a book of 10 tickets will set you back €8. A ticket for Route 8, which links the city centre to the airport, costs around €4.50. Those that are staying in Ajaccio and wish to explore can purchase a one-day pass for €3 or a week pass for €10.
Corsica is filled with stunning landscapes, beautiful cities and picturesque towns, offering visitors an endless supply of excursions. The interior Parc Naturel Régional de Corse is filled with natural scenery, while its coastline has more than enough beaches to keep any beach bum occupied for weeks. Churches, ports, citadels and harbours can all be visited, while water sports can be enjoyed at some of Corsica’s top beaches. With a car, there is no end to what can be seen and enjoyed on this beautiful island.
National Route 198 - This is a stunning drive along the east coast of Corsica, starting at the very tip of the island in Bonificio. Visit stunning beaches and picturesque towns, and enjoy snorkelling, swimming and hiking, or just stop and have a coffee in a beachfront café.
National Route 193 - This route offers great mountainous scenery along a well-maintained route that cuts through the Parc Naturel Régional de Corse. This road runs between Ajaccio and Bastia, and is ideal for those looking to go hiking, admire stunning scenery or spot some wildlife.
National Route 196 - This is short but spectacular road, running above sea level and offering panoramic views of the coastal towns and coves below. There are numerous places to stop, including at Sartène, Propriano and Grosseto-Prugna, which help stretch this 2.5-hour journey into a whole daytrip.