Ajaccio travel guide

Ajaccio travel guide - Corsica

Welcome aboard this comprehensive guide to “Ajaccio travel guide”.
I’m Sarah (or Miss Tatane 😛), a travel enthusiast. I’m here to share my experiences and tips to help you make the most of your trip 😉.

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Ajaccio travel guide – Must-see places

Must-see places

Downtown

Historical and cultural heart of Corsica

Architecture and atmosphere

The downtown area of ​​this city is a real treat for culture and history lovers. You can explore the Maison Bonaparte, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and his family, or stroll the famous Place Foch, lined with lively cafes and restaurants.

A pleasant walk along the marina allows you to admire the numerous fishing and pleasure boats. Saint-François Beach, located near the city center, is also a lovely place to relax and soak up the sun.

The Ajaccio market

For an authentic experience, don’t miss Ajaccio’s daily market, located on Place Foch. There you will find an abundance of local products such as Corsican cheeses, cold meats, fruits, vegetables and wines. It is the ideal place to taste the delights of Corsican gastronomy and to buy artisanal souvenirs.

Seafront and beaches

Downtown Ajaccio also offers easy access to beautiful beaches. Saint-François beach, located a few steps from the historic center, is perfect for a relaxing break with a view of the Mediterranean Sea. Stroll along Boulevard Lantivy to enjoy the view of the port and the Gulf of Ajaccio.

Activities and entertainment

  • Guided tours. Take a guided tour to discover the secrets and historical anecdotes of the city.
  • Cafes and restaurants. Savor the local cuisine in the many cafes and restaurants that dot the city center, offering Corsican specialties and Mediterranean dishes.
  • Shopping. Browse local boutiques to find typically Corsican artisanal products, clothing and accessories.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Access. Ajaccio city center is easily accessible on foot from the port and most hotels. Parking is available for those traveling by car.
  • Hours of operation. Museums and monuments have varied opening times, so checking in advance is recommended.

Why visit Ajaccio city center?

  • Historical patrimony. Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of Napoleon Bonaparte and Corsica by visiting iconic sites.
  • Mediterranean atmosphere. Enjoy the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the city center, with its bustling streets and picturesque landscapes.
  • Gastronomy and shopping. Discover the richness of Corsican cuisine and shop in local boutiques to bring a piece of Corsica home with you.

Ajaccio Cathedral

Ajaccio travel guide

The Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Cathedral is a must-see stop. This historic monument, imbued with spirituality and architectural beauty, offers a fascinating insight into the religious heritage of the Corsican capital.

Architecture and decoration

The facade of the cathedral, sober and elegant, contrasts with the richly decorated interior. Upon entering, you will immediately be struck by the beauty of the frescoes and murals that adorn the walls and ceiling. The main altar, in polychrome marble, is a masterpiece of Baroque art. Don’t miss the opportunity to admire the works of art, such as Delacroix’s “Madonna of the Sacred Heart”, which add artistic depth to the whole.

Place of meditation

Beyond its historical and artistic value, Ajaccio Cathedral is above all a place of meditation and prayer. The faithful and visitors come there to worship, light candles and participate in religious services. The peaceful and spiritual atmosphere of the cathedral makes it a suitable place for meditation and reflection.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Hours of operation. The cathedral is open every day. Opening hours 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Dress code. As this is a place of worship, respectful attire is recommended. Avoid clothing that is too casual or revealing.
  • Photography. Photography is generally allowed inside the cathedral, but it is best to ask about specific rules and be respectful of other visitors.

The little train

This tourist train tour takes you through Ajaccio’s most iconic sites, offering informative commentary and exceptional panoramic views. Starting point located at Place Foch (Place des Palmiers), opposite Ajaccio Town Hall, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. (from March to the end of October).

A perfect introduction to Ajaccio

The Ajaccio Little Train is an ideal activity for visitors of all ages, especially those who want to get a quick and comprehensive overview of the city. The tour usually starts at Place Foch, in the heart of the city center, and takes you through the picturesque streets and main points of interest of the Corsican capital.

Itinerary and emblematic sites

  • Bonaparte House . The train passes by the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, where you can learn about the emperor’s youth and family.
  • Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Cathedral. Admire the cathedral where Napoleon was baptized, an unmissable historical monument.
  • Place d’Austerlitz. The tour includes a stop at this famous square, also known as “Napoleon’s Cave”, where there is an imposing statue of the emperor.
  • Citadel of Ajaccio. Discover the citadel, a historic fortress with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Seafront and beaches. Enjoy the magnificent views of the Gulf of Ajaccio and its picturesque beaches along the route.

Itineraries

Circuit ville
Visit to the imperial city, town and old town
(duration 45 minutes – stop 15 minutes at the Napoleon cave)
ADULT8 €
CHILD
(3 to 9 years old)
4 €

I don’t want to push you to consume but if you can I really recommend the bloodthirsty circuit.

Blood circuit
Visit to the imperial city, town, Sanguinaires Islands and old town
(duration 1h40 – stop 15 minutes Napoleon Cave & Sanguinaires Islands).
ADULT12 €
CHILD
(3 to 9 years old)
5 €


Advantages of the little train

  • Comfort and convenience. The little train offers a comfortable and convenient way to discover Ajaccio, especially for those who prefer to avoid long walks.
  • Guided tour. Audio commentary enriches your tour by providing interesting facts and stories about each site.
  • Panoramic view. The open carriages allow you to fully enjoy the panoramic views and take photos.

Saint Roch church in Ajaccio

Ajaccio travel guide

Saint Roch Church is a must-see site that combines architectural beauty, history and spirituality. Located in the heart of the city, this church offers visitors an enriching and peaceful experience.

Architecture and decoration

The exterior of the church, with its sober and elegant facade, invites contemplation. Upon entering, you will be greeted by a spacious and bright interior, characterized by clean lines and refined decorative details. The colored stained glass windows filter the light, creating a soft and contemplative atmosphere. The high altar, decorated with statues and paintings, is a focal point of the church.

Place of meditation and celebration

The Saint Roch Church is not only a place for tourist visits, but also a place of active religious life. Religious services are celebrated there regularly, offering the faithful and visitors moments of meditation and prayer. The serenity of the place makes it a space conducive to meditation and reflection.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Hours of operation. The church is open every day.
  • Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday for mass.
  • Respect for the place. As it is a place of worship, it is important to respect the silence and spiritual atmosphere. Be sure to wear appropriate clothing.

The old grand hotel continental

Ajaccio travel guide

As you stroll through the streets of Ajaccio, be sure to discover the former Grand Continental Hotel, an emblematic building which bears witness to the city’s rich historical and architectural past. Located in the heart of the Corsican capital, this majestic building offers you a fascinating glimpse of the elegance and prestige of yesteryear.

History and heritage

Built in the late 19th century, the Grand Hôtel Continental quickly gained a reputation for luxury and sophistication. Designed to accommodate wealthy travelers and influential personalities, it has become a symbol of Ajaccio’s tourist development. The hotel has hosted many prestigious visitors, contributing to the cultural and social history of the city.

Architecture et design

The architecture of the former Grand Hôtel Continental is a magnificent example of the Belle Époque style, characterized by elegant facades and refined ornamental details. The facade, decorated with wrought iron balconies and delicate cornices, reflects the opulence and taste of the period. Inside, the public spaces were decorated with luxurious materials, sparkling chandeliers and elegant furniture, creating a refined and welcoming ambiance.

A witness to the past

Although the hotel ceased operations several decades ago, the building remains an important testimony to the history of Ajaccio. The building has been converted and now houses various offices and businesses, but its historic charm remains intact. A walk around the old hotel allows you to immerse yourself in the nostalgic atmosphere of the belle époque and imagine the elegant life of travelers of yesteryear.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Location. The former grand continental hotel is located in the city center of Ajaccio, close to many tourist attractions and amenities.
  • Accessibility. The site is easily accessible on foot from main tourist areas and public transport.
  • Respect for the place. Although the building is now used for commercial purposes, it is important to respect its history and architecture.

Why visit the former grand continental hotel in Ajaccio?

  • Historical patrimony. Discover a monument which testifies to the tourist and cultural development of Ajaccio at the end of the 19th century.
  • Architectural beauty. Admire the Belle Epoque architecture and ornamental details that make this building an architectural gem.
  • Time travel. Soak up the nostalgic atmosphere of the times and imagine the elegant lives of travelers of yesteryear.

Palais Fesch

“The museum of fine Arts in Ajaccio”

The Palais Fesch is an emblematic place which houses one of the most important fine arts museums in France. Located in the heart of the city, this palace offers you a fascinating immersion in art, history and culture.

History and significance

The Fesch Palace was built at the beginning of the 19th century by Cardinal Joseph Fesch, uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte. Passionate about art, the cardinal gathered a vast collection of paintings and art objects which he bequeathed to his hometown of Ajaccio. Today, the Palais Fesch Museum of Fine Arts is recognized for the richness of its collections, which mainly cover Italian painting from the Renaissance and Baroque.

Collections and works of art

Palais Fesch is home to an impressive collection of more than 1,500 works of art, including some of the finest pieces by Italian and French masters. Among the most notable works, you will find paintings by Botticelli, Titian, Veronese, and many others.

  • Italian paintings. Admire major works of the Italian Renaissance (Sandro Botticelli and Giovanni Bellini…).
  • French school. Discover works by great French artists, including David, Ingres, and Delacroix.
  • Corsican artists. The museum also presents works by Corsican artists, highlighting the richness of local culture.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Hours of operation. The Fesch Palace is open every day.
  • From May 1st to October 31st the museum is open from 9:15 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • From November 1 to April 30 the museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Ticketing. Tickets can be purchased at the museum entrance or online . Discounted rates are available for students, seniors and groups.
  • Accessibility. The museum is accessible to people with reduced mobility, with elevators and ramps available.

The museum is ideally located just a 5-minute walk from the tourist office, located on Boulevard du Roi Jérôme.

  • Entrance costs 8 euros for adults and 5 euros for children.

The library

Ajaccio travel guide

Located in the Fesch Palace, this library is a real treasure for lovers of books and history.

The library houses a vast collection of more than 50,000 books, covering a wide range of subjects. From ancient manuscripts to contemporary works, historical archives and special collections, the library offers invaluable resources for researchers, students and the curious.

  • Old and rare books. Explore an impressive collection of ancient books, including incunabula and rare editions.
  • Manuscripts. The library has valuable manuscripts, some dating from the Middle Ages, providing a fascinating insight into history and literature.
  • Historical archives. Discover documents and archives relating to the history of Ajaccio and Corsica, as well as letters and writings of famous personalities such as Napoleon Bonaparte.

Architecture and atmosphere

The municipal library is located in the majestic setting of the Fesch Palace, whose neoclassical architecture creates an elegant and serene atmosphere. The spacious and bright reading rooms invite reflection and study, providing a peaceful environment to immerse yourself in books.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Hours of operation. The library is generally open Tuesday to Saturday but is currently closed due to renovation work.
  • The respect of the rules. Like any place of reading and study, it is important to respect the silence and the rules of the library to maintain an atmosphere conducive to concentration.

Scandola reserve

The Scandola nature reserve is an essential stopover for lovers of nature and spectacular landscapes. Located on the west coast of the island, between Calvi and Porto, this reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers an unforgettable experience.

Landscapes and wildlife

The reserve is famous for its stunning landscapes, where land and sea meet spectacularly. The red porphyry cliffs plunge into a crystal clear sea, creating striking color contrasts.

  • Rock formations: Admire the unique geological formations, sculpted by erosion over millennia. Caves and natural arches add a mystical dimension to the landscape.
  • Marine Wildlife: The waters of the reserve are rich in marine life, including fish, dolphins and monk seals. Diving and snorkeling enthusiasts will find it a true underwater paradise.
  • Seabirds: The reserve is also a sanctuary for seabirds, such as the osprey and the shag, which can be seen nesting in the cliffs.

Activities and discoveries

  • Boat trips. The best way to experience the reserve is by taking a boat trip from Porto, Calvi or Galeria. These excursions allow you to approach the cliffs and explore the sea caves up close.
  • Hiking. For the more adventurous, hiking trails offer panoramic views of the reserve. The hike from the village of Galeria is particularly recommended.
  • Diving and snorkeling. Explore the seabed rich in biodiversity thanks to diving or snorkeling trips. The clear waters offer exceptional visibility.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Reservation. It is advisable to book in advance for boat trips, especially in high season.
  • Respect the environment. The reserve is protected, so it is crucial to respect conservation rules.
  • Equipment. If you plan to hike, be sure to wear appropriate shoes and bring water and snacks. For water activities, don’t forget your diving and snorkeling equipment.

Why visit the Scandola reserve?

  • Natural beauty. Enjoy breathtaking landscapes, where red cliffs contrast with the deep blue of the sea.
  • Exceptional biodiversity. Discover a unique ecological wealth, with rare and protected species both on land and underwater.
  • Unforgettable experience. Whether by sea or on foot, every visit to Scandola is an unforgettable adventure that will bring you closer to nature.

To explore Scandola, a boat excursion

Ajaccio travel guide


The bloody islands

Ajaccio travel guide

Located at the entrance to the Gulf of Ajaccio, this archipelago made up of four islands promises you an unforgettable experience.

History and significance

The Sanguinaires Islands, named so because of the reddish hues that their rocks take on at sunset, have a rich and fascinating history. Used as a landmark for navigators since ancient times, they are also home to historical remains, including a lighthouse and a Genoese tower dating from the 16th century.

Landscapes and wildlife

The Sanguinaires Islands are renowned for their wild and unspoilt beauty. Their steep coasts, secret coves and Mediterranean vegetation offer an idyllic setting for a nature getaway.

  • Rocky landscapes: The islands are composed of reddish volcanic rocks, which contrast beautifully with the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Mediterranean vegetation: Explore the local flora, which includes species typical of the region such as rosemary, myrtle and mastic.
  • Marine and avian fauna: The waters surrounding the islands are home to rich marine biodiversity, while the cliffs and islets are refuges for many species of seabirds.

Activities and discoveries

  • Boat trips. Take a boat trip from Ajaccio port to explore the islands up close. Excursions allow you to discover hidden coves and admire the coastal landscapes.
  • Hiking. The main island, Grande Sanguinaire, offers hiking trails that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the archipelago and the Gulf of Ajaccio.
  • Diving and snorkeling. Take advantage of the crystal clear waters to practice diving or snorkeling and discover the rich and varied marine life of the region.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Schedules and access. Boat trips to the Sanguinaires Islands are available all year round, but it is best to check times and book in advance , especially in high season.
  • Equipment. Bring good walking shoes if you plan to hike, as well as comfortable, sun-protective clothing. For water activities, don’t forget your diving and snorkeling equipment.
  • Respect the environment. The islands are protected areas. It is essential to respect the local fauna and flora by avoiding leaving waste and not disturbing the animals.

Why visit the Sanguinary Islands?

  • Natural beauty. Admire spectacular landscapes where red rocks meet the blue sea, creating breathtaking views, particularly at sunset.
  • Historical wealth. Discover historical remains such as the lighthouse and the Genoese tower, which add a cultural dimension to your visit.
  • Adventure and relaxation. Whether you are looking for adventure with hiking and diving or simply looking for relaxation exploring the coves and enjoying nature, the Sanguinaires Islands offer something for everyone.

Ajaccio travel guide

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Ajaccio travel guide – Marina

Located in the heart of the city, this port offers an idyllic setting to relax, explore and enjoy maritime life.

Installations et services

The port offers modern facilities and numerous services for boaters and visitors.

  • Locations. The port has more than 800 berths for boats of all sizes, including luxury yachts.
  • Technical services. Maintenance and repair services are available to ensure your boat remains in tip-top condition.
  • Amenities. The port is equipped with toilets, showers, laundries, and free Wi-Fi for the comfort of boaters.

Activities and discoveries

  • Walks and exploration. Walk along the quays to admire the boats and enjoy the magnificent views of the sea and the surrounding mountains.
  • Restaurants and bars. Enjoy local dishes and fresh seafood at the many restaurants and bars located around the port, offering stunning views of the water.
  • Shopping. Explore gift shops and nautical stores to find unique items and marine gear.
  • Boat trips. Embark on boat trips to the Sanguinaires Islands, Scandola Nature Reserve, or other spectacular coastal destinations.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Access. The port is easily accessible on foot from Ajaccio city center. It is also well served by public transport and has parking nearby for those coming by car.

The diamond square

« Général De Gaulle square »

Place du Général de Gaulle, located in the center of Ajaccio, is one of the city’s emblematic squares, full of history and charm. This unmissable place invites you to discover the soul and heritage of Corsica, while offering a lively and friendly atmosphere.

Architecture and characteristics

The square is surrounded by historic buildings with colorful facades, typical of Mediterranean architecture. In the center of the square you will find an equestrian statue of Napoleon Bonaparte, recalling his close connection with the city and its history.

Activities and discoveries

  • Cultural visit. Stroll around the square to admire the local architecture and discover the shops, cafes and restaurants that line its picturesque streets.
  • Monuments and statues. Take the time to admire the statue of Napoleon Bonaparte and discover its fascinating history linked to Ajaccio.
  • Markets and events. Depending on the season, the square often hosts local markets and cultural events, offering an authentic immersion in Ajaccian life.

Practical advice for the visit

  • Access. Place du Général de Gaulle is easily accessible on foot from Ajaccio city center. It is also well served by public transport.

The best things to do

The best things to do in Ajaccio?


The best beaches

Beaches in Ajaccio – Where to swim

St-François


The beach, located at the foot of the citadel, is easily accessible, just a 5-minute walk from the city center. By walking along the edge of the beach towards the citadel, you’ll discover beautiful coves. It’s a beach I’ve often visited. Its proximity to the city center makes it one of the most popular beaches in Ajaccio. It’s a true little paradise.

Ricanto beach


Ricanto Beach is located south of Ajaccio and is accessible by car with available parking. It’s spacious and popular, with plenty of space. Its fine sand and crystal-clear water are charming. Note that it’s close to the airport, but that didn’t bother me.

For naturism and hiking enthusiasts, there’s a path along Ricanto Beach leading to the Genoese Tower of Capitello.

Santa lina beach in Ajaccio


Located in the Gulf of Ajaccio, like Marinella, you’ll find this beach on the road to the Sanguinaires Islands (about 4 km from Ajaccio). Easily accessible by car or bus, this beach is paradise. Expect small coves, fine sand, turquoise water, and refreshments. You’ll find umbrellas, sun loungers, and water activities available. Plus, there’s a pleasant beach shower.

Beach of Ajaccio: the sacred land


Once again, on the road to the Sanguinaires Islands, the Sacred Land beach is one of the most beautiful (the setting is as heavenly as the two previously mentioned). Easily accessible by car or bus, this beach is paradise. Expect small coves, fine sand, turquoise water, and refreshments. You’ll find umbrellas, sun loungers, and water activities available. Plus, there’s a pleasant beach shower.


Where to stay?

Where to stay in Ajaccio

Having spent several days in Ajaccio and visiting this magnificent city for 7 years now, I can give you an informed overview of the most popular areas to stay, each offering its own unique charm and benefits.

Old town of Ajaccio: historical charm

The Old Town of Ajaccio is a true jewel steeped in history. Its cobbled streets, picturesque squares and historic buildings create an enchanting atmosphere. You can stay in charming hotels located near iconic sites, such as the Maison Bonaparte and the cathedral. Explore the local markets, taste Corsican dishes in traditional restaurants, and enjoy the gentle Mediterranean atmosphere. It is the ideal place for lovers of history, culture and tranquility, while still being within walking distance of the city’s beaches.

Casone: picturesque Mediterranean ambiance

The Casone neighborhood is a picturesque destination steeped in Mediterranean charm. Its narrow streets, colorful houses and small squares make it an ideal place for travelers looking for authenticity. You can taste delicious Corsican cuisine in small neighborhood restaurants and enjoy the unique maritime atmosphere. Accommodation options include quaint family guesthouses and apartments, giving you an immersive experience in the local culture.

Port of Ajaccio: view of the port and entertainment

The Port of Ajaccio district is perfect for those who want to enjoy harbor views and a lively atmosphere. It is located close to the bustling port of Ajaccio, giving you easy access to water activities and boat trips. At night, the area comes alive with a variety of bars, clubs and restaurants, creating a festive atmosphere. Here you’ll find accommodation options for all budgets, from luxury hotels to friendly hostels.

These diverse neighborhoods in Ajaccio offer different types of accommodations and experiences for travelers.


Getting around?

Getting around in Ajaccio

In Ajaccio, several options are available to you to easily get around the city and its surroundings.

By car

  • Car rental. This is one of the most popular options for exploring Ajaccio and its surroundings at your own pace. Many rental agencies are available at the airport and in town.
  • Taxis. You can also use taxi services for one-off trips or to go to specific destinations.

By public transport

  • Bus.
  • Shuttle Buses. Shuttles can also take you to popular tourist destinations like beaches and sites of cultural interest.

On foot or by bike

  • Walking. Ajaccio is a pleasant city to walk around, especially in the city center where many historic sites and restaurants are within walking distance.
  • Bike renting. For cycling enthusiasts, bike rental is an eco-friendly option for exploring the city and its surroundings.

Practical information

Practical information

Ajaccio travel guide

Cash. The currency used in Ajaccio is the Euro (EUR). Make sure you have cash for small purchases, as not all places accept credit cards.

Language. The official language is French, but many people in Ajaccio also speak Corsican. Learning a few basic French phrases can be helpful.

Weather report. Corsica has a Mediterranean climate, so prepare accordingly. Summer can be hot and dry, while winters are mild and rainy.

Time zone. Ajaccio operates on Central European Time (CET), which is UTC+1.

Electrical outlets. Electrical outlets in Ajaccio are type C and E. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Security. Ajaccio is considered safe for tourists. However, as in any other city, it is advisable to exercise caution and watch over your belongings.

Transportation. As mentioned before, walking is a great way to explore the city. Public transportation, taxis and rental cars are also easily available.

Local cuisine. Corsican cuisine is a real attraction. Be sure to try local specialties such as wild boar, seafood and brocciu cheese.

Shopping. Ajaccio offers a variety of shops, from local boutiques to souvenir shops. Popular souvenirs include Corsican wines, local honey and handicrafts.

These practical tips should help you prepare for your trip to Ajaccio and make your stay more enjoyable.


Homosexuality

Homosexuality in Ajaccio

Ajaccio has experienced dramatic episodes of homophobic attacks, but despite being less tolerant than the mainland according to some, it is, in my opinion, very welcoming.

I visit twice a year, and I’ve never had any issues with the people of Ajaccio, even while holding my partner’s hand everywhere!

If you encounter intolerant individuals, don’t categorize all Ajaccians, as the majority are kind-hearted.


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MTT wishes you an excellent stay!

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