Home > Along the West Coast: Bastia to Ajaccio
Navigate and pedal your way past picturesque beaches, steep mountains, sheer cliffs and powerful historical sites on this route along Corsica's west coast. This tour has everything you could want, and you get to experience all of it first-hand from the seat of your bike. The tour's various stages will take you from the wild and windy Cape of Corsica and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites around Porto to Ajaccio, the birthplace of Napoleon, and there is no shortage of things to see and do along this incredible route.
The rugged western coast of Corsica is known for its natural beauty and stunning waters. Seaside towns and hilly villages are scattered along your route, with plenty of opportunities to practice your French and partake in local traditions. Be prepared for anything, as your ride will be interesting and varied, climbing to the top of mountainous passes and dropping down into gorgeous bays. Corsica has something new around each corner, with sophisticated harbor towns and intensive hiking trails separated by just a few minutes of cycling. On this tour, you will get a sampling of every aspect of life on the island, with a chance to listen to the harmonious local music and try the delicacies as well as see the bustling nightlife. Your bike will take you through many of this gorgeous island's amazing places, so hold onto those handlebars and get ready for an incredible experience.
If you are tight on time, we recommend our 3-night/4-day Short Corsican Escape, which also starts from Bastia.
For travel and cycling tips to Corsica, visit our "Travel and cycling tips" section.
Your time in Corsica will begin at your hotel in the bustling and lively town of Bastia, capital of ‘Haute Corse’ (upper Corsica). The town, which is Corsica’s main port, is easily accessed via ferry from terminals along the nearby French and Italian coasts as well as by plane. Settle in to your hotel upon arrival, and get ready for a sunny afternoon where you are free to wander and enjoy the sights this vibrant town has to offer. Mix with locals in Place St Nicolas, an expansive square often filled with sporting and cultural activities. The old harbour district is picturesque and full of life, and makes for some great photo opportunities. A visit to the historical Citadelle Terra Nova is bound to impress, filled with a maze of winding alleyways leading to the splendid church of Sainte Marie in the centre.
Rest up in the evening and grab a delicious meal from one of many excellent restaurants, whilst enjoying a little of the Bastian night life. Starting the tour in Bastia provides you with an easy introduction to the authentic Corsican way of life, so soak up the vibes and get ready for your ride.
It’s time to ride with a morning start over the Col de Teghine (536 m/1,759 ft), providing incredible views over the entire island. The sweeping valleys and high peaks will make you feel close to nature with jaw-dropping views of the sparkling ocean. History was made here, with a battle for the liberation of Corsica in WWII, and craters dug by bombshells are still present if you look for them. A relaxing ride down to St Florent passes by Patrimonio, where a ‘quick’ wine tasting would be well-deserved after the climb.
An extended ride is available to those who are avid cyclists, extending this stage of the tour to 85 km (53 miles). This option will take you north of Bastia, onto the ruggedly dramatic Cap Corse peninsula and over the Col de Santa Lucia (381 m/1,250 ft). Reward yourself for your efforts in St Florent by finding the best restaurant in town and treating yourself to some of the exquisite seafood dishes on the menu.
Reluctantly wave goodbye to St Florent and its lively spirit to turn inland, cycling through the Desert des Agriates. Those lucky enough to take the trip in springtime will find themselves surrounded by the wild maquis (Corsican shrub) at every turn, the aromatic perfumes and bright colors dazzling the senses with some of the natural beauty Corsica is famous for.
After 30 km (19 miles) of pedaling, you will find yourself back at the coast, looking out over the water with stunning views of the red island which gives its name to Ile-Rousse harbor. Spend a little time enjoying the white sand beaches and laid-back village life, where the slow pace and many cafes will provide some necessary rest and recreation after an invigorating cycle stage. Monticello, your destination, is the village just 5 km (3 miles) above Ile-Rousse, populated with distinctively red-roofed houses on the hillside. From here there are excellent views across the sea and out onto the island.
The longest stage of your tour is here, and it will provide a superb course through many tiny mountain villages if you are up for a challenge. The shorter, alternative route along the main coastal road is no less exquisite, and arriving in Calvi will provide some incredible sights to see, such as the beautiful Citadelle which overlooks the bay. Whichever route you take, it is worth stopping for a drink by the seaside to take a break from riding and revel in the atmosphere of this coastal town. From Calvi there are still 37 km (23 miles) left to cycle along the coast, upon a road which has been named one of the most scenic in all of Europe. Galeria is a small fishing village which you will spend the night in. Here, the seafood is not to be missed, and the local restaurants provide an authentic experience where you can dine like a local.
Just when you thought you’d seen more breathtaking sights than were possible on one small island, the scenery gets better. Nothing will fail to impress on this ride, with amazing views around each bend in the road. After a few km of easy riding you will begin climbing the Col de Palmarella (408 m or 1,339 ft). When you reach the top, views over the shimmering bay of Scandola (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are some of the best on the trip, paying tribute to the awe the island’s nature inspires. Your next climb is the mountainous Col de la Croix, which gives way to some relaxing downhill riding. Pass through the quaint villages of Curzu and Partinello, before one last climb over and into Porto's bay. This lovely town provides the perfect setting for you to unwind after your ride, with natural beauty facing you at every turn.
The climb which takes you out of Porto is one of the most rewarding in the whole tour, leading to the famous Calanques de Piana. These stunning rock formations are another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and well deserve the title. The dramatic red rocks against the sparkling blue sea are a sight that cannot be missed and make all the hilly riding worth it. Continue from the Calanques to Piana village and finally down to Cargese. This village is dripping with history. It was built by the Greeks in the 18th century and is filled with Latin churches as well as picturesque beaches.
Your final day on the bike is here, with a relaxing ride including an optional round trip to Lava Bay and its magnificent beaches. The white sand and sparkling water may tempt you, so why not go for a dip? Arriving in Ajaccio allows you to visit the stunning and natural "Iles Sanguinaires" at the north end of the bay, or take a tour of the city. There are many sights to see in Ajaccio, including the serene Tino Rossi harbor and Napoleon’s birthplace, an important chapter of French history. Guided tours of the city are available, giving you a true appreciation of the incredible stories this town has to tell. Watch the sunset over the bay as you relax with a glass of wine and some more local cuisine – you can now be proud of your new experience cycling along the coast of Corsica.
Breakfast will be served, and then it’s up to you to depart whenever you are ready. It’s time to say goodbye to your bike, but your experience in Corsica doesn’t have to be over. Why not stay a few more days in Ajaccio, or explore the rest of the island? That sparkling blue water is perfect for yachting and swimming, so soak up some more of the Mediterranean sun and sample some more of the local food – after all, you deserve it.
3 nights in 3-star hotels, 3 nights in 2-star hotels, and 1 night in an unrated hotel of "character"