Haute-Corse is an excellent summer vacation spot that’s packed with things to do. Mixing a touch of France with a sprinkling of Italian flavour, Haute-Corse covers the northern part of Corsica and, apart from the region’s central hub of Bastia, is more rural and less visited than the southern part of the island.

    You can enjoy long stretches of secluded sandy beaches, historical monuments, and timeless towns all along the coast. If you really want to get away from the crowds this summer, head into the mountainous interior to enjoy desert landscapes and stunning views. Read on to learn how to make the most of your summer in Haute-Corse below.

    What are the best things to do this summer in Haute-Corse?

    1

    Le Vieux Port de Bastia

    Leisurely meals with views of the harbour

    • History
    • Photo
    • Food
    • Budget

    Le Vieux Port in Bastia is a picturesque port area with hundreds of yachts moored in the marina and fancy restaurants and cafés with views out to sea. It’s the best place to start your day in Haute-Corse throughout the long, hot summer.

    This is also a great place to wander around as it has a quaint and timeless feel. Pick a table on one of the outdoor terraces overlooking the sea and just take a break, watching people passing by while sipping a glass of pastis or Corsican wine. Taking life slow is typically Mediterranean, and there’s no better place to do it than at Bastia’s Le Vieux Port.

    Location: Rue de la Marine, 20200 Bastia, France

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    2

    Saleccia Beach

    A beautiful Corsican beach that’s off the beaten track

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Saleccia Beach is so far away from the nearest town in Corsica that it’s almost paradisiacal. It’s off the beaten path, but worth the arduous trip. While access to Saleccia Beach can be challenging, you’ll be rewarded with clear turquoise waters and pearly white sand. It’s one of Corsica’s finest beaches in the summer, when the Mediterranean climate is warm and dry.

    By land, you can get to this paradise along a 10-km dirt road from Casta. The journey can get rather bumpy, so it’s best to get there by motorcycle or 4x4. Most people choose to take speedboat taxis instead, which can be equally exciting.

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    3

    Corte Citadel

    Walk to the eagle’s nest for a wonderful panorama of the area

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Corte Citadel is a wonderful slice of history found in the mountain town of Corte. Built in the 15th century to protect the ancient capital, you can see the defensive fortification from anywhere in town and it makes a stunning backdrop to photos.

    The citadel is open to the public and contains several interesting things to do. You can explore the Museum of Corsican History that’s housed in the former barracks of the citadel (although most of the exhibits have French descriptions only) before taking a walk to Point Belvedere viewpoint that offers a wonderful vista over the valley below.

    Location: La Rue de la Citadelle, 20250 Corte, France

    Phone: +33 (0)4 95 45 25 45

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    4

    Agriates Desert

    Europe’s only desert

    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure
    • Unusual

    The Agriates Desert is a large area of arid scrub that's crisscrossed by coastal hiking paths and secluded coves. It’s actually classified as Europe’s only desert, which makes it a unique place to visit.

    While once cultivated with vineyards and olive groves, much of this was burned away in fires that sometimes rage in the area. Still, you will see wild berries and peach trees as you hike through this desolate yet beautiful natural expanse. If hiking seems too much effort in the summer months, you can drive through the area between Bastia and L'Île-Rousse on the north coast of Corsica.

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    5

    Venzolasca

    A clifftop village with ocean views

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Venzolasca is a charming village perched high over the sea, with dramatic cliffs and a long, sandy beach just a few kilometres away. Only 30 km from Bastia in Haute-Corse, Venzolasca offers a quiet escape from the crowded traveller areas, but it’s still close enough to be convenient for sightseeing.

    You could lounge on the beach and take in the views of the blue water with fishing boats and ships, or you can venture out for water sports like snorkelling, diving, and windsurfing. Throughout the village, you’ll find many historical sites like the Convent of St Francis of Venzolasca and the Church of the Annonciade.

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    6

    Restonica Valley

    Hike along the Restonica River with fresh spring pools

    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    The Restonica Valley, on the outskirts of Corte town, is one of the most relaxing natural attractions on Corsica and hiking here is one of the best things to do in summer in Haute-Corse. This wooded valley has several swimming pools along the river, with clean, cool spring water surrounded by large boulders. Stop to take a swim as you hike along Lake Melo.

    Bring a packed lunch or stop at one of the local restaurants found along the Restonica River. The rocky footing can be quite challenging, so a reasonable level of fitness and good footwear are required.

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    7

    Calvi

    A romantic town on Corsica’s east coast

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    Calvi is a thriving and vibrant town that's filled with historic and cultural sites like the citadel walls, which date back hundreds of years and tower over the town. Here you can find churches and monuments, and if you come at the right time of year, you can even experience an annual jazz festival that brings together the most talented musicians from all over the world.

    This town is a popular holiday destination in Corsica. It’s also one of the island's most romantic spots that's sure to provide you and your partner with memories of a lifetime. Visit in the evenings for an intimate stroll when the citadel and stone pathways are subtly lit.

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    8

    Musée de Bastia

    Learn about the origins of Corsica

    • History

    Musée de Bastia is a charming museum that combines fascinating history with some beautiful gardens, all set in the centre of Corsica’s largest city. The museum is housed in an old citadel and is easy to find, a short walk from Le Vieux Port. The view from the top of the fortifications offers an excellent photo spot, too.

    Visitors will be treated to a summary of Corsica’s long and proud history – from the Iron Age right up to the times of Napoléon – through hundreds of exhibits such as photos, statues, and archaeological finds from the land and sea. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the dungeons in Musée de Bastia for more gruesome exhibits.

    Location: Cours Favale, 20200 Bastia, France

    Phone: +33 (0)4 95 31 09 12

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    9

    Parc Naturel Régional de Corse

    A huge natural area with 1,500 km of hiking trails

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Parc Naturel Régional de Corse (Regional Natural Park of Corsica) is the best place for exploration in summer in Haute-Corse. This is a place for lovers of the great outdoors, being home to 1,500 km of hiking trails and many tracks for mountain biking and motorbikes, too. In the summer months, the smell of pine and the chirp of insects will follow you throughout your day of hiking. Just remember to bring plenty of supplies and your own map or GPS as the trails can be hard to follow at points.

    Spanning the regions of Corse-du-Sud and Haute-Corse in the mountainous middle of the island, the Regional Park of Corsica is home to some of the wildest and most beautiful nature in all of Europe.

    Location: 34 Cours Paoli, 20250 Corte, France

    Phone: +33 (0)4 95 51 79 10

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    10

    Ostriconi Beach

    A beach suitable for a family adventure

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Ostriconi Beach in the commune of Palasca is notable for its stretch of dunes, fine stones, and seagrass. Impressive mountains serve as its backdrop, and the nature reserve located right next to it adds to its appeal. Tranquil waters make it safe enough for children but do watch out for small waves as the tide changes. The beach is also dog-friendly, so you can bring along your furry friend.

    While there is an available car park, you’ll still have to walk about 1 km to the beach. If you have children in tow, this could either be an adventure or a burdensome trek – although they might enjoy crossing the small stream to get to the beach.

    Open: Lieu-dit Ostriconi, 20226 Palasca, France

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    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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