Corsica, “Isle of Beauty”, is one of France’s rugged islands with a dramatic coastline and wild natural interior. It’s the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, and some say the sea breeze carries a perfumed scent from its wildflowers and herbs – thyme, lavender, sage.
There are several villages to visit on this island from Bastia’s well-preserved Citadel, to the old port of Ajaccio and its colorful boats, to medieval Bonifacio with homes perched on a 650 ft. clifftop.
Our Holland America Cruise Ship docked at the picturesque Port of Calvi, and we were excited to explore this area of Corsica. We were in Calvi for only a day, but saw many sights before embarking back on the ship.
Here are some recommendations from our visit to Corsica.
WHAT TO DO
Calvi is the gem destination for anyone who loves beach resorts, old charming villages, and sailing. Here is a list of some of our favorite things to do in Corsica!
- Stroll the promenade along the waterfront in Calvi.
- Visit Christopher Columbus birthplace in the Calvi Citadel village, along Route de la Citadelle.
- Calvi Citadel sits above the marina with huge granite ramparts from the 15th century. Worth the short hike to the top of the Fortress where you’ll get panoramic views of the Calvi Marina and harbor. There’s an art gallery, cafes and shops on the walk up to the Citadel. Visit St. Jean Baptiste Cathedral too.
- Lunch at one of the town’s waterfront cafes, where you can watch the activity in the marina where yachts and fishing boats dock. Our choice? We ordered a bucket of local harvested mussels – delicious!
- Find a Golden Sandy Beach and relax….
- Walk the streets of Calvi and see some of its landmarks – L’Eglise Santa Maria pink church, main square, shops & cafes.
- Shop! On Rue Clemenceau, the street behind the waterfront, you will find boutiques with handmade espadrille shoes, straw bags, and local food products where you’ll find a variety of the island’s honey, olive oil and chestnut flour.
- Excursion to Corsica’s Old Villages in the hillsides area of the Balagne region on the road to Lumio. Terraced villages cling to the mountainside overlooking the sea. We saw beautiful Romanesque churches and vineyards along the way. You’ll pass through Col de Salvi and Cateri villages, and Ile Rousse – all charming!
DAYTRIPS in Corsica
Other suggestions shared by Holland America Cruise excursion consultants:
- Piana & “Calanche de Piana”: Drive to Piana to see one of the most beautiful drives in the world called “Calanche de Piana”, where you will see craggy red granite cliffs with fantastical formations, and the sea below. Note: Roads are windy!
- Saint Florent: Many locals recommend this seaside resort in northern Corsica, that attracts the rich and famous. It’s a small fishing-port with quaint narrow streets and shops. On the drive, you’ll pass summer resorts like St. Ambroggio or Algajola, and little town of Ile Rousse, and the Desert des Agriates, a protected wildlife reserve.
- Balagne Desert: If you prefer the desert area, you’ll find fragrant green maquis and deep red rocks in this region.
WHAT TO EAT
U Fanale: Local food served on an outdoor terrace overlooking the sea.
Local Market: Pack a picnic lunch – pick up some sausage, cheese and a baguette at a local market, and find a beach to enjoy some local food.
Here are all the resources for your day trip as you figure out what to do in Corsica!
Holland America Cruise Line We went on the Holland America Mediterranean Cruise and stopped at the the Port of Calvi, Corsica, and had an amazing day!
TRAVEL PRODUCTS & SERVICES
DK Travel: Excellent travel guide books with helpful maps, inspiring images, and lots of great information to help you plan your travels.
TravelPro: High quality luggage, preferred by flight crews, frequent travelers, and the Global Adventuress Team.
TRAVEL INFORMATION & ADVISORIES
U.S. Passports & International Travel: The U.S. Department of State provides helpful information at this site including passport & visa requirements, embassy locations, and safety & security.