Bonifacio is a beautiful town at the southern tip of the French island of Corsica. As one of the largest Mediterranean islands, Corsica is easily accessible by air from many European airports and also by ferry from the surrounding coastal towns. Bonifacio, being the southernmost town on Corsica is a very short ferry ride from the Italian island of Sardinia making it easy to visit both islands on one vacation.
Why to go: Corsica is an interesting place in that it’s part of France yet has its own very strong culture and lots of Italian influence. The official language is French but you’ll often hear Italian and you’ll see both French and the local Corsican language on street signs. Many people come to Corsica during the summer for the beaches and water activities but there are also lots of sights to see. Another popular reason for visiting is hiking. The GR 20 is one of the most famous long distance trails and it happens to wind its way across Corsica. This trail takes about 17 days to complete and can be dangerous during intense summer storms because of lightning strikes. Of the Corsican cities, Bonifacio is a highlight for the breathtaking views, interesting sights and proximity to Sardinia. The medieval old-town area is a “must-see” in this city since Bonifacio is the oldest town on the island.
When to go: Bonifacio (and Corsica, in general) is busiest during the summer months because it has so many outdoor activities to enjoy… and beautiful beaches. You are most likely to notice the crowds if you’re trying to drive up the coast through the towns on a cloudy day. On those days, head into the mountains to avoid the crowds and on the sunny days you can join them on the beach!
What to see/do: Other than visiting the old-town and the hiking mentioned previously, definitely visit the beaches – the most famous being Palombaggia – but they’re all beautiful. A word of caution though, Bonifacio is one of the windiest places in France. Other areas to explore include the harbor, citadel and the ‘Staircase of the King of Aragon’, which is a steep staircase cut into the side of a cliff.
What to eat and/or drink: The food in Bonifacio is largely influenced by French and Italian cuisine and you will notice that you’re never very far from a pizzeria! Corsica manufactures a wide selection of local beers, many with unique flavors and worth sampling.
Where to make a detour: If you’re renting a car (which is the recommendation for getting around Bonifacio and Corsica, in general), it’s only about 3 hours to drive to the northern city of Bastia or 2 ½ hours to Ajaccio on the west coast. Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica and both are port cities with their own unique sights. Another highly recommended detour is a visit to Sardinia. The ferry from Bonifacio to Santa Teresa takes about 1 hour and runs regularly in the summer (less frequently outside of the summer months).