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Hiking in Corsica

May 5, 2024 | Travel Tips

In August 2013, my husband and I found ourselves on the Mediterranean island of Corsica to spend a part of our honeymoon there. Neither of us had ever been and neither of us knew that much about it; we had randomly chosen it as we were planning to be in France and we knew there were mountains to climb and sea views to enjoy.

Despite showing up with the intention to camp (Ha! We abandoned our tents on the second day), no hotel reservations in the busiest month of the year, and little hiking preparation, this stunning French island did not disappoint. We did some of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done anywhere and we wanted to share with you all the fantastic hiking on offer on this island. While it’s been more than 10 years since we’ve been there, it seems that Corsica still continues to fly under the tourist radar.

mountains corsica

Long Distance Hikes in Corsica

GR20

When one thinks about hiking in Corsica, the world-famous GR20 is likely the first thing that comes to mind. This challenging 180 km trek along the mountainous centre of the island draws hikers from all over the world to take on the rugged terrain and scramble up peaks for 360 degree views along the way. Bookended by the towns of Calenzana (in the north) and Conca (in the south), you will need a little over two weeks to complete what is known as Europe’s toughest trek.  

Mare e Monti

If you’re not quite up for the rigours of the GR20, then the Mare e Monti is a wonderful alternative, combining mountain vistas with coastal scenery. Described as one of the best treks in Corsica, there is plenty of elevation gain to satisfy the hardy hiker, but then you get to relax in a gite d’etape at the end of each day. This 122 km trek takes you from Calenzana (same start as the G20) to Cargese. There is also a less arduous and lesser known Mare e Monti in the south, a 74 km route from Porticcio to Propriano.

mountains sea corsica

Mare a Mare Trails

The Mare a Mare (‘Sea to Sea’) trails in Corsica offer hikers an incredible opportunity to traverse the island from coast to coast, connecting the island’s coastal regions with its rugged interior. There are three main Mare a Mare trails: Mare a Mare Nord, Mare a Mare Centre, and Mare a Mare Sud. immersing themselves in its diverse landscapes, rich culture, and breathtaking scenery.

Mare a Mare Nord – runs 139 km between Cargese on the west coat to San-Nicolao on the east coast and shares the first few days with the Mare e Monti route. The maximum elevation is 1592 m.

Mare a Mare Centre – an 84 km route from near Porticcio on the west coast to near Ghisonaccia in the east. The maximum elevation is 1521 m.

Mare a Mare Sud – runs 82 km from Propriano on the west to Porto Vecchio on the east. The maximum elevation is 1183 m. Unlike the other two Mare a Mare trails, this one is not a straight route, but curves northward for a bit before coming back south.

mountains corsica

Sentier de la Transhumance – The Sentier de la Transhumance, or Transhumance Trail, is a historic route in Corsica that traces the traditional migration path of shepherds and their flocks as they move between seasonal grazing grounds. This ancient trail offers hikers a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Corsica’s pastoral heritage while exploring its stunning landscapes. is a 74 km route that follows centuries-old shepherd paths from Calenzana to Corscia.

mountains sea corsica

Day hikes

While the long distance hikes in Corsica get a lot of the attention, there are some spectacular day hikes to explore. We’ve outlined some of the hikes that we did while we were there as well as other popular ones on the island.

Capo Rosso – this stunning hike provides magnificent views, where the rugged red cliffs contrast with the impossibly clear blue waters and the boats bobbing in them look as though suspended in air. Located near Piana, this 8 km hike (round trip) has approximately 460 m elevation gain.

Restonica gorge hike to Lake Melo and Lake Capitello – there are many places to explore in the Restonica valley, but the hike to the picturesque mountain lakes of Lake Melo and Lake Capitello is certainly a must-do if you’re in the area. Nestled in a glacial cirque, the turquoise waters of the lakes are a stunning contrast to the rugged granite peaks that surround them. Located near the town of Corte, it is about a 6.5 km hike, and a 545 m elevation gain.

lake capitello corsica

Monte Rotondo – Hiking up to the summit of Corsica’s second highest peak is an exhilarating experience and even though we didn’t quite make it to the top when we embarked on this trail, it was an amazing hike. You take in breathtaking landscapes along the way, including lush forests, alpine meadows, glacial lakes and lovely waterfalls. One of our favourite things about this hike was passing by a cheesemaker’s hut making the most delicious cheese.  Monte Rotondo is a full day hike, the length of which varies depending on which route you take.

Capu di a Veta – Beginning near the village of Porto, this hike takes you to one of Corsica’s most spectacular viewpoints providing vistas of its western coastline, including the iconic Calanques des Piana. This is a moderately challenging hike, about 6 km in length and 600 m elevation gain.

mountains sea corsica

Aiguilles de Bavella – The Aiguilles de Bavella, or Bavella Needles, are iconic granite spires that tower over the surrounding landscape, reaching heights of up to 1,800 metres. They are located in the Bavella Massif in southern Corsica, near the town of Zonza. There are multiple trails here, but a popular one is the Tour du Aiguilles de Bavella, an 11 km route that follows the GR20 for part of the way – so it’s a bit of a challenge with a 769 m elevation gain.

Lac de Nino – another gem in the Restonica valley, the hike to Lac de Nino is a must-do if you’re in the area. The 8.5 km hike (and 713 m elevation gain) takes you through the beautiful gorge to the picturesque Lac de Nino, with magnificent views along the way.

lac nino corsica

Practicalities

Best times to hike in Corsica are from May to October, with the lower elevations being best in the spring and autumn, avoiding the heat of summer. There are plenty of resources to plan a hiking trip in Corsica, including the Cicerone Guide Walking in Corsica: 25 Day Walks; check out the Corsica page where you will find books, websites, apps, maps and more information on hiking in Corsica. 

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