Cruise Port Atlas | Bonifacio (Corsica), France Day Trips | Attractions

Bonifacio (Corsica), France Day Trips | Attractions

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Bonifacio: Star Clippers, Azamara Club Cruises, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea

Key Attractions: Bonifacio, Bonifacio Citadel, Ste. Maria Majeure Church, St. Dominic Church, King Aragon Steps, Lavezzi Islands, Straits of Bonifacio Marine Park, Piantarella Beach, Sperone Beaches, Calalonga Beach, Tonnara Beach, Sartene, Sainte-Lucie de Tallano, Levie, Zonza, Porto Vecchio, Bavella Needles, Musee de l'Alta Rocca, Dame de Bonifacio, Cucuruzzu, Museum of Prehistoric Corsica, Torre Civilization

Bonifacio Attractions

Berth to Citadel / Old Town - 0.5 - 1.2 KM, 2-3 minutes, 7-20 minute walk (strenuous)
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Cruise ships and tenders dock in the first berths inside the narrow harbor at the bottom of a steep rock. The castle and old town of Bonifacio sit at the top. To reach the old town you will either walk the steep steps or you can take a transfer via a more circuitous route. The town offers a small train from the marina to the Old Town. With its limited geography, the old town is a model of compactness, with amazingly narrow streets and town houses up to 6 stories high. The fortress was last used as the headquarters for the French Foreign Legion, but is now a museum. The city itself is the major attraction because of its dramatic location and the density of its buildings. Along the Rue-de-Palais-de-Garde the houses are accessible only via ladders, a protective measure since they sit outside the city walls. Within the walls the most important street is the Rue des Deux Empereurs, where Napoleon once stayed. The 187 King Aragon steps lead to a well and the nearby sea on the southern side of the port and are tourist attractions that appeal to fit guests wearing good walking shoes. At the far western end of the port is a cemetery with ornate tombs, great views, and the remains of a Franciscan Monastery. Nearby is the Gothic St. Dominic Church, a 13th/14th century Gothic structure. The Ste. Marie Majeure Church was built during the 12th century when the Pisans ruled Corsica. It was most recently restored in the 18th century. Many will want to visit the bastions along the defensive walls of the citadel.

           

   

Photo of Citadel by Stahlkocher, public domain photo of Bonifacio Panorama

Lavezzi and Bonafacio area beaches

Bonifacio to Lavezzi Islands - short ferry transfer
Bonifacio to Calalonga Beach - 7 KM, 14 minutes
Bonifacio to Piantarella Beach / Sperone beaches - 8 KM, 18 minutes
Bonifacio to Tonnara Beach - 10 KM, 15 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Among the city's most popular day trips are boat tours of the Lavezzi Islands, an uninhabited archipelago off the southeast coast of Corsica, just 10 kilometers from Bonifacio. The islands have no food, drink or shade. But they are a great place to swim, dive and snorkel and are especially famous for schools of docile grouper. This is completely relaxing and totally natural adventure.

The beaches near Bonifacio are renowned for wind. For that reason, windsurfing and other water sports that rely on wind are very popular. The beach at Tonnara is a popular spot for families and active beach goers. It offers wind surfing, rock climbing and a park that has bungee and trampoline activities. Piantarella and the nearby Sperone beaches have shallow waters which make sea kayaking a popular activity. The beach at Calalonga specializes in snorkeling, though it is less accessible and has limited facilities.

              

   

Photo of Lavezzi Islands by Paula

Sartene and other villages

Bonifacio to Sartene - 51 KM, 45 minutes
Bonifacio to Ste-Lucie de Tallano - 70 KM, 65 minutes
Bonifacio to Levie - 60 KM, 65 minutes
Bonifacio to Zonza - 72 KM, 1 hour 20 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Inland in southern Corsica is the mountain range known as Alta Rocca, which is filled with tiny hilltop villages and vineyards. The area offers stunning views, dramatic drives, and challenging hikes. The hilltop town of Sartene is known as the most Corsican of places on the island. Because of its walls, hilltop location, and the courage of its residents it was only taken by the Genoese in the 16th century. Sartene is famous for the tradition of the vendetta and tours of the rustic and scenic city will include descriptions of local vendettas between important families. Not far from Sartene is the smaller village of Ste-Lucie de Tallano, famous for its olive oil, beautiful streets, and the Ste-Lucie Church. Perhaps the favorite activity in the town is sitting outside a cafe and eating an authentic Corsican lunch. To the east is the lovely town of Levie, which beyond its pre-historic attractions is a lovely place to visit with nice cafes and shops. Near Porto-Vecchio is the village of Zonza, which also has nice restaurants and is most famous for hikers and rock climbers who enjoy dramatic scenery.

           

   

Photo of Sartene by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, Photo of Ste-Lucie de Tallano by Markus3

Porto-Vecchio

Bonifacio to Porto-Vecchio - 28 KM, 28 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

Porto Vecchio is the largest port town in southern Corsica and boasts of the largest outdoor nightclub in Europe. About 3 times the population of Bonifacio, it has developed a thriving cafe culture and has attracted some large yachts. The harbor in the town was named for the old Roman port that was established in the area. From Porto-Vecchio visitors have easy access to several uninhabited islands just off the coast, some of the best beaches in the area, and several pre-historic sites. The most famous historic site within the city is the remains of the ancient walls.

           

   

Photo of Porto Vecchio by Nerijp

South Corsica Natural and Archaeological Attractions

Bonifacio to Porto-Vecchio - 28 KM, 28 minutes
Bonifacio to Levie - 60 KM, 65 minutes
Bonifacio to Sartene - 51 KM, 45 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The most mountainous of all Mediterranean islands, Corsica's stunning terrain and rugged seacoast are the result of volcanic events and atmospheric factors such as high steady winds and heavy currents. Off the southern coast of the island is the Marine Reserve of the Straits of Bonifacio, declared by both France and Italy to protect the fragile eco-system. Near Zonza is the most stunning terrestrial site in the south of the island, the Bavella Needles, a ragged ridge of tooth-like peaks within the Bavella Forest and the Corse Natural Park. Hikes, long and short, offer stunning views of the Corse countryside.

Humans arrived on the island at least as early as the 66th century BCE, as evidenced by the discovery of the "Lady of Bonifacio" whose remains are housed in the Museum of the Rocco D'Alta in the small town of Levie. Sartene also has a Museum of Prehistoric Corsica where other remnants of these early civilizations are diplayed. In the area around Levie are several megalithic sites. Not highly developed, these locations such as Cucuruzzu offer a glimpse into Corsican pre-history. Near Porto-Vecchio are later Bronze Age sites built by the Torre peoples, who left structures and paths leading to what were likely spiritual sites.

              

   

Photo of Bavella Needles by Philippe Dolle, Photo of Cucuruzzu by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible