A day trip to Bonifacio, Corsica

We have spent a couple of days this August on the island of Corsica. We have arrived at Bastia airport and based there for our entire stay. However we definitely wanted to visit other places on the island, such as the famous Bonifacio on the south. So we planned a day trip by car and in this article we are going to share with you our best tips what to visit during a Bonifacio day trip.

About Bonifacio

Facts

  • Bonifacio is built high atop white limestone cliffs. Those incredible white cliffs that made the place famous.
  • Besides that, Bonifacio is located in the southernmost tip of Corsica, well-connected with the island of Sardinia.

The city of Bonifacio is split into two sections. The harbour area in Bonifacio Bay, and the Vieille Ville (old town), or la Haute Ville (the upper city) on the site of a Citadel. Which is located on the promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The citadel was built in the 9th century with the foundation of the city. The Citadel has been reconstructed and renovated many times since its construction and most recently was an administrative center for the French Foreign Legion. Today it is more of a museum.

The city and its fortifications also extend for some distance along the cliff-tops, which are at about 70 meters elevation. The cliffs have been undercut by the ocean so that the buildings, which have been placed on the very lip of the precipice, appear to overhang it.

Things to do during a Bonifacio Day Trip

Visit the Port of Bonifacio

The Port of Bonifacio a charming part of the city, full with yachts, sailing boats and ferries. You can choose from many restaurants, cafes, bars, wherever you want to spend some time or just walk around and enjoying the bay.

You can take a trip from the port to the nearby ‘grottes et falaises‘ (caves and cliffs), or to the Iles de Lavezzis (islands of Lavezzi), providing the opportunity to view the magnificent coastal rock formations from the sea.

Admire the white cliffs of Bonifacio

Bonifacio is known and recognized by its medieval heritage exceptional perched on a limestone cliff by the sea looking at the horizon in a delightful setting. These famous cliffs, sometimes limestone, sometimes of granite, forming a vast natural façade that faces the islands of Lavezzi and Cerbicales.

Bonifacio is also a single marina, sheltered from all winds around a deep cove. It is a starting point for exploring the sea caves and the archipelagos of islands by sea excursions.

You can climb up to the top of the cliffs and walk around on several natural and artificial paths. It’s an amazing excursion and even if you have only 20 minutes, don’t miss out on the views from the top of the cliffs.

Staircase of the King of Aragon

According to a legend, the Staircase of the King of Aragon was entirely built during one night by King of Aragon’s and his soldiers, when they invaded the city in 1420. But of course there are other scenarios, and the majority believe that’s a completely made-up story. A more common belief is that this natural stair path has existed for centuries, and has been improved year by year to become a real staircase.

But, why did Bonifacio need a staircase in the cliffs? The answer is quite simple: it gives access to drinking water.

Hike for the best views on the Citadel of Bonifacio

The best views on the Citadel we can admire from the top of the white cliffs. There are several stone steps to take, and we reach the top of the cliffs from where you can take the best photos on the upper city.

Go up to the Citadel

The Citadel is also called “the upper town“. You will find there most of the city’s points of interest. The Citadel is on a more than 70 meters high cliff overlooking the sea. You can have amazing panorama on the Mediterranean Sea almost from every angle. And it is the heart of Bonifacio’s old town. It’s packed with cafes, bars, shops, souvenir sellers, but we can still find many locals actually living there and trying to navigate on the narrow streets.

Where to stay in Bonifacio

Bonifacio has many options but the places are getting full very quickly! Therefore, if you are planning to arrive during high-season, you need to be quick and make your choices much more in advance than usual. Take a look at the options on the below map.

How to get to Bonifacio

By car

Due to the road conditions you need to dedicate sufficient time to drive around the island. There are no real highways connecting the main cities, only roads where the maximum speed is around 70-80 km/h, if there is no traffic. If there is traffic, you will be able to drive even slower. So it’s better for dedicate enough time, and leave early in the morning if you want to do a trip from Bastia or Ajaccio.

  • From Ajaccio it is approximately 2,5-hour drive to Bonifacio.
  • From Bastia it is cca. 3-hour drive to Bonifacio.
  • From Porto-Vecchio it is a 30-minute drive to Bonifacio.

Parking in Bonifacio

To find a parking space in Bonifacio is not easy, as the place is full with tourists and their cars. Luckily there are many parking lots – named Parking 1 to 6, almost all of them are large lots at different points of the city. Parkings 5 and 6 are at the highest point of the city. They are not that far fro the center, so don’t worry if you find place only there. Even though it seems a bit far, but from here you are in the center very quickly.

By ferry

If you are spending your vacation on the island of Sardinia, you can also come by ferry to visit Bonifacio. Arriving in Corsica from Sardinia is very easy by ferry. The distance that separates the two islands is very small. A narrow stretch of coast separates Santa Teresa di Gallura from Bonifacio. Here, all together Corsica is only 12 km away from Sardinia. There are several daily departures back and forth, and since the crossing takes less than 1h it is possible to reach Corsica also for few hours and getting back to Sardinia still the same day. Check the timetables here!

Best experiences on Corsica

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