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Corsica: From the Mountains to the Sea

Corsica: Walking from the Mountains to the Sea

Overview

Immerse yourself in the stunning scenery of Corsica on this moderate walking holiday. Your walk will start from Corte, the island’s historic capital, and lead you through the rugged interior and past lakes, natural pools and high summits to the vibrant coastal village of Piana perched high above the sea on the Golfe de Porto. Taking in comfortable hotels, hearty local cuisine and wonderful walking options with contrasting mountain and coastal scenery, this holiday is the perfect way to explore the island in all its glory first-hand.

Highlights

  • Varied and beautiful Corsican landscapes
  • Charming places like Corte, Piana and the Golf of Porto
  • Amazing panorama views

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Corte

After arriving at Ajaccio airport, you can take the train to Corte for your first night (train transport is payable locally). Corte was once the capital of Corsica during the reign of the much-fabled Pasquale Paoli, and the city still holds quite a grandiose air about it – something only enhanced by the majestic mountain scenery surrounding it. Enjoy an evening of relaxed dining in one of the local eateries and wander the cobbled streets of the citadel before returning to your hotel.

  • If you arrive early in Corte, optional walk in the Tavignano Gorge
  • Accommodation: Hotel Duc de Padoue 3* or similar in Corte

Day 2: Corte to Calacuccia | 10 km

You will be transferred to the start of your walk in the Scala di Santa Regina. This trail is of great historical importance because it’s the age-old path that was used by shepherds leading their herds in and out of the Niolu valley. It leads up through a décor of granite cliffs along a superb balcony path to a small Genoese bridge – a lovely place to take a rest, have something to eat and perhaps go for a swim. The views open up, and you continue through a very different landscape: the granite cliffs giving way to old chestnut groves and rolling forest hills. You then walk down towards the lake in the base of the valley towards the village of Calacuccia, where your overnight stop is situated on the outskirts of the village. Hotel Acquaviva is run with a personal touch and is a comfortable country inn. You will be looked after in a simple but welcoming style, and you can expect some fine cooking using the very best seasonal, local produce.

  • Walking for the day: 10 km, 5 h ↑700 m ↓340 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Acquaviva 3* or similar in Calacuccia

Day 3: Calacuccia to Evisa | 11.5 km

After a short 20-min transfer, you will arrive in the vast Corsican pine tree forest, called the ‘Val-du-Niellu.’ We drop you off at Castel di Vergio. Col de Vergio is a high mountain road pass and is the boundary point between the island’s north and south departments. The views are majestic; the peaks are steep and loom above. The trail goes downhill through the Aïtone pine forest to the outskirts of Evisa. You will pass the piscine naturelle, a big rock pool and a local swim spot, then continue down through the chestnut woods that mark your approach to the village. Some of the thick gnarled old trunks have been standing here for nearly two thousand years. Finally, you will arrive in the centre of Evisa, situated at 830 m altitude – it’s a vibrant mountain village with a healthy climate. It is unusually close to the sea for a village of this height and is known locally as ‘the pearl of the mountains’. Hotel Aïtone 2* is full of Corsican character, and there is also a swimming pool and sun terrace. From the restaurant you can watch the sunset over Porto – it is a beautiful sight.

  • Walking for the day: 11.5 km, 5 h ↑80 m ↓720 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Aitone 2* or similar in Evisa

Day 4: Evisa Circular Walk | 9 km

Today you have the option of just relaxing or taking a walk that follows part of the trail known as the ‘Mare e Monti’. It is a village to village walk, which in the old days was the only route of communication between the villages. It leads through the surrounding chestnut woods into a luxuriant maquis, a jumble of vegetation, a mix of oak, cistus flowers, strawberry tree, curry plant and tree heather. You will arrive at the abandoned hamlet of Tassu, a small treasure to investigate. Nearby is the village of Marignanthe, a good spot to stop for a coffee. A return walk via the village of Cristinacce completes the insight into Corsican village life.

  • Walking for the day: 9 km, 5 h ↑300 m ↓300 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Aitone 2* or similar in Evisa

Day 5: Evisa to Porto | 14 km

An old path descends through the Spelunca gorge, zig-zagging back and forth into the depths. You will come to a high arched Genoese bridge. The path leads alongside the torrent towards Ota. This is a village that combines mountain architecture with a hot Mediterranean climate and flora. Braying donkeys, hunting dogs, villagers working in their gardens, bright bougainvillaea, lemon and fig trees all add to the colour. The delicious smells from the Ceccaldi restaurant beckon; perhaps you will get tempted in. From the terrace, you can see the succession of high pink-hued sea cliffs. Your route leaves Ota*, heading swiftly down to the coast. The view towards the Gulf of Porto is a kaleidoscope of colour: red cliffs, a shock of blue sea and the bold silhouette of the Genoese tower. On your way downhill, you can find all the plants that you associate with the heat and the Mediterranean: deep blue-black island lavender, pale pink cistus and rock sedum.

* Option to take a taxi from Ota to Porto and take a boat trip to Scandola natural marine reserve in the afternoon.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 6 h ↑320 m ↓1170 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Kalliste 3* or similar in Porto

Day 6: Porto to Piana | 12 km

With just 4.5 hours of walking today, you may choose to spend your morning in Porto to enjoy some of the sea activities. If you decide to walk directly to Piana in the morning, it is possible to walk down to the small sandy cove of Ficaghiola in the afternoon. Leaving Porto, you cross over the bridge that links the marina area to the harbour. The beach is bordered by eucalyptus wood, and the path is just above sea level giving a balcony view down onto the clear blue waters. There are splendid views of the indented rugged coastline and its many creeks. Depending on the season, you can find foxgloves, tall white asphodels and delicate wild cyclamen. Once in the ‘Calanques’, you will discover an incredible site of granite needles and rock sculpted formations dotted with pine trees.

  • Walking for the day: 12 km, 4.5 h ↑520 m ↓70 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Scandola 3* or similar in Piana

Day 7: Departure

The tour ends after breakfast. From Piana, it is a short bus ride back to Ajaccio (payable locally €12 pp; Mon-Sat during the low season / daily during the high season).

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in comfortable 2 and 3-star hotels and Chambres d’Hôtes (country inns), in twin/double rooms with en-suite facilities. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All accommodations are with included breakfast, mostly continental breakfast (tea, coffee, milk, bread, butter, jam). Two dinners in Evisa are also included, based on local specialities, including a starter, a main course and a dessert. For your picnic lunches, there are grocery stores available to purchase your picnic for the following day. At certain hotels, they can be provided at a supplement (payable on the spot).

Difficulty & terrain

Unlike the GR20 (considered the most difficult trek in Europe), for this itinerary, we have chosen routes that will appeal to the averagely experienced walker. The nature of the terrain presents little technical difficulty, but some previous hillwalking experience will be useful. The ascents will vary from 400 m to 800 m altitude gain per day (read more about difficulty grades). We provide you with a Travel Dossier complete with an IGN map and Topo guide. During your hike, phone assistance will also be able to answer all your questions and, if necessary, give you useful tips for the smooth running of your stay. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through unknown and unmarked terrain.

When to go

This trip is available to commence daily between April and October. The climate of Corsica is Mediterranean on the coast, with mild, rainy winters and warm, sunny summers, while in inland areas, it gradually becomes colder with increasing altitude. Spring is initially cool and unstable in March and April, while it becomes gradually milder and sunnier and generally pleasant by May. Summer, from June to August, is warm to hot and sunny along the coasts, while in inland areas, it becomes progressively cooler with increasing altitude, and there is also a higher chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Autumn is initially mild or pleasantly warm and gradually becomes cooler and quite rainy in October. The best time for hiking in the mountains is from June to September. The best months for a beach holiday are July and August; you can also go in June and September but expect chilly evenings, cool sea and occasional rain.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Ajaccio. The alternative airport is Calvi.

By train or bus

Ferries to Ajaccio and Bastia are available from Marseille and Nice; timetables can be checked here. From Ajaccio, there are trains to Corte. From Piana, you can take a bus back to Ajaccio. Train and bus schedules on Corsica be checked here, or you can use the Omio planner above.

Inclusions

Included

  • 6 nights in nice hotels in private en-suite rooms
  • 6 breakfasts
  • 2 dinners in Evisa on days 3 & 4
  • Luggage transfers on all walking days (1 piece up to 15 kg per person)
  • Detailed travel dossier with IGN maps and topo guide
  • 24/7 phone support from our local office/representative in Ajaccio

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, 4 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This tour is NOT available for solo travellers
  • Private airport transfers
  • Extra nights

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