As it can be a bit pricier than other Mediterranean islands, Andrea Powell set about finding out.

Ipswich Star: CalviCalvi (Image: Kathryn Burrington working for Corsican Places (who have full useage rights))

I must admit Corsica was never somewhere I had considered visiting. But following a presentation I attended a couple of weeks ago, this is now definitely on the “Further Investigation Required” list (my second bucket list, because the first one is full).

It may not be your typical holiday destination, but if you like places away from the norm ? the “real” Portugal or Spain, maybe, or even the Italian lakes ? then Corsica may be the next hidden gem just waiting to be explored.

It’s in the heart of the Med, and for me its first appeal is the balmy climate, with temperatures from 25C in early and late season rising to a peak of 35C during July and August. Together with 1,000 km of stunning coastline hiding many, many tiny coves and inlets, already you have the hallmarks of a relaxing, get-away-from-the-crowds break.

A great tip in finding that special hidden cove is to simply spot the cars parked on the side of the road – seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Follow the path and before long you will reach the treasure – a beautiful beach with gleaming aquamarine seas.

Ipswich Star: The CitadelThe Citadel (Image: Kathryn Burrington working for Corsican Places (who have full useage rights))

Nightlife here is generally defined by its bustling cafes and restaurants serving fine food and wine.

Driving is also very easy. There are only narrow two-lane highways, so don’t expect to get anywhere fast. Just beware of the cattle and pigs around the sharp bends!

For those not wanting to drive, there is still the chic and sophisticated town of Calvi, with its beautiful bay and historic citadel. You could easily spend your whole holiday here, with the walk up the hill to the church of Madonna Serra (and its truly splendid view), a lovely day wandering around the shops and streets of the Old Citadel, boat trips (including to the Scandola Nature Reserve), horse-riding, watersports, Jeep safari and many more possibilities.

For those looking for the freedom and space to explore by car, though, there are many alternatives as to where to stay. Maybe even a twin or multi-centre.

Ipswich Star: Ajaccio hotelAjaccio hotel (Image: Archant)

For the city slickers, the capital, Ajaccio, is a historic and stylish coastal city, famed as the birthplace of Napoleon and home to a large marina and trendy vibe.

St Florent is another bustling waterfront destination with a chic marina and charming old town housing vibrant bars amongst its narrow streets. The ambience in port as the yachts of the rich arrive at the marina is certainly an experience.

Split in two by the Serra mountain range, Cap Corse by contrast has quiet sandy coves with tiny villages seemingly perched precariously on top.

For wine lovers, the vineyards of Oletta and Patrimonio will be a must. If you love a beach, though, you will adore L’Extreme Sud. Against a backdrop of pines and mountain peaks, the beautiful beaches of this area easily top some better known ones around the world.

Ipswich Star: The beaches at L�Extreme SudThe beaches at L�Extreme Sud (Image: Archant)

Coupled with the lively and chic Porto Vecchio, Boniface ? full of character and perched on a limestone cliff high above the seas, and with the relaxing Figari area with its olive groves and macchia-scented fields ? might make you decide the long drive there is worth the effort.

While relaxing on the sand is tempting, others will find a haven in Corsica’s stunning and dramatic inland landscape, with its dense forests and craggy peaks. There’s something for all: from a hike through the mountains to visit the dramatic Piscia di Gallu waterfall, to snorkelling or diving in the warm, clear waters; or canyoning, rafting and rock-climbing for those wanting more adventure. All is within the backdrop of the rugged and sometimes wild coastline. As for colours, green is definitely in vogue. From the top of the mountains, standing in the clouds it is possible to gaze over mile after mile of trees ? the only breaks being the occasional splash of terracotta when you catch a town.

So if you are thinking of “something just a little different” – but maybe not too much ? Corsica may be worth a try.

A common question posed about this beautiful place is why it is more expensive than many other Mediterranean destinations. As for the answer – well, there are a couple. It is definitely not a mass-market destination and there are fewer flights there, keeping prices somewhat higher. But that is really some of its appeal.

Ipswich Star: Valinco & the West CoastValinco & the West Coast (Image: Archant)

Not necessarily, then, a destination for all. But, I must say, it has me intrigued!

When to go

There is a definite, though extended, season in Corsica: between April and October. The island is at its busiest in July and August, when temperatures can get up as high as 35C. Early-season, though, temperatures are a more pleasant 25C.

How to get there

Charter flights are available between London Stansted and Calvi, departing on a Sunday.

There is also a no-frills option from London Gatwick that arrives at Ajaccio and Bastia. British Airways also flies to Figari.

The flight time is approximately 2½ hours.

Where to stay:


The A Merula apartments are a great choice for those looking to do Corsica without a car. In the heart of Calvi Town, with the beach and restaurants just 350m away, the accommodation has two pools. It is great value for money, with seven days on a self-catering basis starting from £502 per person in May and including flights from Stansted, accommodation and transfers to and from the airport.

If you would prefer a hotel instead, the popular Hotel St Christophe is a good choice, with a swimming pool that has just brilliant views of the old citadel. Seven nights on a bed & breakfast basis will cost from £699 per person.

St Florent

If Michelin star cuisine is your thing, look no further than the Hotel la Roya in St Florent (the North East). Prices here start from £1,299 per person for a seven-night stay.

And finally, a couple of ideas...

For those looking to explore the whole island – and having a couple of weeks in which to do so – a typical itinerary would be an anti-clockwise tour starting off with four nights in Calvi, three nights at Ajaccio, four nights in Porto Vecchio (l’Extreme Sud) and two nights St Florent.

This is a particularly good way of seeing the island, with flights from Stansted arriving at Calvi.

For those keen on walking, there are also several seven-night organized walking tours, with packages starting from £949 per person.

There are so many amazing options available through Idelo Travel. Contact Andrea Powell for details.

Andrea Powell is owner and managing director of Idelo Travel in Ipswich. Contact: 01473 231181