Ajaccio travel guide. Visiting Ajaccio is your plan? What an excellent idea!
This is the capital of Corsica, I must say. It’s absolutely stunning. People often search for the most beautiful islands far away, but we have one of the most beautiful right here. Ajaccio is located in the southern part of Corsica, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. There are a little over 105,000 residents in Ajaccio (similar to Funchal on Madeira Island, approximately). The locals in Ajaccio are very welcoming, which is quite pleasant. I highly recommend this city, not only for its breathtaking landscapes but also for its quality of life and tranquility.
Ajaccio travel guide: must-see places
Ajaccio city center
The city center of Ajaccio is a true delight for culture and history enthusiasts. You can explore Maison Bonaparte, the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte and his family, or stroll along the famous Place Foch, lined with lively cafes and restaurants.
Taking 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.
Lastly, the cobblestone streets and colorful buildings of the city center add a touch of charm and romance to this already enchanting city.
Ajaccio travel guide
During my stay in Ajaccio, I had the privilege of visiting the magnificent Cathedral of the Assumption, an architectural jewel dating back to the 16th century located in the heart of the city. This cathedral, situated on Place Foch, is unquestionably a wonder worth visiting.
The facade of the Cathedral of the Assumption is breathtaking, adorned with intricate and imposing sculptures that make it majestic. Once inside, you are welcomed by a serene and peaceful atmosphere, where beautiful frescoes and colorful stained glass windows captivate the eye and illuminate the space.
An intriguing historical aspect of this cathedral is that it is the site of Napoleon Bonaparte’s baptism, adding a historical dimension to this already captivating experience.
In summary, a visit to the Cathedral of the Assumption in Ajaccio is an immersion in history and architecture, an unforgettable experience that transports you to a world of beauty and spirituality. It’s a must-visit for any traveler in Ajaccio.
The little train
During my stay in Ajaccio, I explored the city aboard the Petit Train d’Ajaccio, a memorable experience. This unique train transports about twenty passengers through the cobbled streets of the city center, passing by historic squares, famous monuments, and lively streets on its way to the Sanguinaires Islands.
A tour guide provides fascinating historical details in both French and English throughout the journey. The ride lasts approximately 40 minutes, offering a panoramic view of the city and the Bay of Ajaccio, especially enjoyable on sunny days. This unique experience allows you to see the city from a new perspective and learn more about its captivating history.
Saint Roch church in Ajaccio
Ajaccio travel guide
During my stay in Ajaccio, I had the opportunity to discover Saint-Roch Church, a baroque building nestled in the heart of the city’s historic center.
Built in the 17th century, it stands out with its richly adorned facade featuring floral motifs and stone sculptures. Inside, magnificent frescoes and gilded wooden statues showcase the talent of artisans of the time.
The atmosphere inside the church is tranquil and conducive to meditation. Moreover, the acoustics are remarkable, making it a sought-after venue for classical music concerts.
The old grand hotel continental
Ajaccio travel guide
During my stay in Ajaccio, I explored the Old Grand Hotel Continental, a historic building in the heart of the city. Built in 1865, it was among the most splendid in the city. It hosted famous visitors such as Napoleon III, Queen Victoria, and Gustave Eiffel. The building features a richly ornamented facade and preserves original elements like plaster moldings, marble floors, and majestic stone fireplaces. Today, it houses shops and offices but remains a precious witness to the city’s history. A visit transports you to the 1860s, revealing the splendor of a bygone era..
“The museum of fine Arts in Ajaccio”
The museum, housed in the splendid 19th-century Palais Fesch, boasts an impressive collection of artworks ranging from the 16th to the 20th century. Renowned artists such as Titian, Botticelli, Bellini, Delacroix, Corot, as well as Corsican talents like Giuseppe Franchi, Paul Leonetti, and Gabriel-Vincent Thiers are exhibited.
The presentation of the collection is both chronological and thematic, allowing an exploration of the evolution of art through the ages and an understanding of the influence of various artistic movements on contemporary artists.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions showcasing the work of local and international artists. I had the privilege of visiting an exhibition dedicated to contemporary Corsican photography, an exceptionally captivating experience.
The museum is conveniently located just a 5-minute walk from the tourist office on Boulevard du Roi Jérôme. Admission is 8 euros for adults and 5 euros for children. It is a must-visit for art and culture enthusiasts.
Ajaccio travel guide
Ajaccio is home to the Heritage Library in the beautiful Palais Fesch, an example of neoclassical architecture. This place houses a remarkable collection of rare books, precious manuscripts, and ancient maps, reflecting regional history and culture.
In addition to providing an enriching intellectual experience, the library offers a stunning view of the city from its naturally lit reading room, conducive to concentration and inspiration.
Palais Fesch goes beyond the library; it also houses the Museum of Fine Arts, displaying an impressive collection of diverse artworks.
If you plan to visit this historic and cultural site, allocate approximately 1 to 1.5 hours to explore its treasures. You will discover a harmonious fusion of our literary and artistic heritage, all within an exceptional architectural setting.
Nature lovers and enthusiasts of breathtaking panoramas, I visited the Scandola Reserve in Corsica. This exceptional site, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is characterized by its red granite cliffs plunging into crystalline waters.
Various animal and plant species can be observed, including seabirds, dolphins, turtles, and monk seals. The reserve is famous for its caves and natural arches.
The bloody islands
Ajaccio travel guide
If you’re in Ajaccio, don’t miss Les Iles Sanguinaires, a small archipelago a few kilometers from the city. To reach them, take bus line 5 from the city center, a 30-minute journey to Pointe de la Parata, offering a panoramic view of the islands.
Explore hiking trails, discover coves and sandy beaches. Don’t miss the Parata Tower, a 16th-century Genoese tower.
The Sanguinaires Islands are a paradise for scuba diving, thanks to their crystal-clear waters harboring exceptional marine life.
Opt for a sunset visit with wine and Corsican charcuterie tasting. Sail to the Sanguinaires Islands archipelago and listen to local stories narrated by the captain!
Just 5 km from Ajaccio, on the road to the Sanguinaires Islands (near Tino Rossi’s house), you’ll find a perfect beach. It offers excellent accessibility, a long stretch of fine sand, and complete facilities.
This beach has it all: a dreamy setting, turquoise waters, restaurants, beach bars, sun loungers… A fulfilling experience awaits you!
Ajaccio travel guide – Marina
During my stay in Ajaccio, I visited the Marina, a must-visit place for sailing and boat enthusiasts. Located in the city center, near the citadel and the old town, it offers views of numerous boats, yachts, sailboats, and even cruise ships.
To get there, take the maritime shuttle to Ricanto Beach, with frequent departures throughout the day, offering breathtaking views of Ajaccio Bay.
The diamond square
« Général De Gaulle square »
The city’s iconic square is located in the heart of the historic center.
Getting there is easy! You can walk from most downtown hotels. Bus lines 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 also serve the square.
Place du Général de Gaulle is a lively place where tourists and locals gather for drinks or meals. You’ll find numerous restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Ajaccio beaches: where to swim?
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 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 in Ajaccio
Having spent several days in Ajaccio and visited this beautiful city for the past 7 years, I can provide you with some informed insights into the most popular neighborhoods to stay in, each offering its own charm and unique advantages.
The best neighborhoods to stay in Ajaccio, Corsica
Old town Ajaccio: historical charm
The Old Town of Ajaccio is a true gem 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 like Maison Bonaparte and the cathedral. Explore local markets, savor Corsican dishes in traditional restaurants, and immerse yourself in the gentle Mediterranean ambiance. It’s the perfect place for history and culture enthusiasts, all within walking distance of the city’s beaches.
Casone: picturesque mediterranean ambiance
The Casone neighborhood is a picturesque destination infused with Mediterranean charm. Its narrow streets, colorful houses, and small squares make it an ideal spot for travelers seeking authenticity. You can enjoy delicious Corsican cuisine in neighborhood eateries and soak up the unique maritime atmosphere. Accommodation options include family-run guesthouses and quaint apartments, allowing you to experience an immersive dive into local culture.
Port of Ajaccio: harbor views and vibrant atmosphere
The Port of Ajaccio neighborhood is perfect for those who want to enjoy harbor views and a lively atmosphere. It’s situated close to Ajaccio’s bustling port, providing easy access to water activities and boat excursions. At night, the area comes alive with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants, creating a festive atmosphere. You’ll find accommodation options for all budgets here, from luxury hotels to friendly hostels.
These diverse neighborhoods in Ajaccio offer various types of accommodation and experiences for travelers.
The best things to do in Ajaccio?
Getting around in Ajaccio
Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, is a beautiful city to explore. To move around the city and discover its wonders easily, here are some transportation options:
1. On foot: Ajaccio is a compact city, perfect for walking. You can stroll along the waterfront, explore the picturesque alleys of the old town, and visit attractions at your own pace.
2. Bicycle rental: Renting a bicycle is an excellent way to explore Ajaccio. You can discover the city while enjoying the fresh air and stopping wherever you like.
3. Public transportation: Ajaccio has a well-developed bus network. Bus lines will take you to various parts of the city, including beaches and points of interest.
4. Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Ajaccio. They are convenient for faster trips or when traveling in a group.
5. Car rental: If you want to explore the surroundings of Ajaccio and the beauty of Corsica, renting a car is an option to consider. You’ll have the freedom to go wherever you please.
6. Sea shuttles: If you wish to visit other places in Corsica, sea shuttles are an excellent way to travel between coastal towns.
7. Scooter rental: For a quick and fun mode of transportation, you can rent a scooter.
Whichever option you choose, you can easily get around in Ajaccio and enjoy everything this city has to offer. Have a great trip!
Ajaccio travel guide
1. Currency: The currency used in Ajaccio is the Euro (EUR). Ensure you have some cash on hand for small purchases, as not all places accept credit cards.
2. Language: The official language is French, but many people in Ajaccio also speak Corsican. Learning some basic French phrases can be helpful.
3. Weather: Corsica has a Mediterranean climate, so prepare accordingly. Summers can be hot and dry, while winters are mild and rainy.
4. Time zone: Ajaccio operates on Central European Time (CET), which is UTC+1.
5. Electrical outlets: The electrical outlets in Ajaccio are of type C and E. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
6. Safety: Ajaccio is generally considered safe for tourists. However, as in any other city, it’s advisable to exercise caution and keep an eye on your belongings.
7. Transportation: As mentioned earlier, walking is an excellent way to explore the city. Public transportation, taxis, and rental cars are also readily available.
8. Local cuisine: Corsican cuisine is a real attraction. Don’t miss trying local specialties such as wild boar, seafood, and brocciu cheese.
9. Shopping: Ajaccio offers a variety of shops, from local boutiques to souvenir stores. Popular souvenirs include Corsican wines, local honey, and handicrafts.
10. Official documents: American and non-European travelers should ensure they have a valid passport to enter France, as Corsica is a French territory. You may also require a visa, depending on your nationality. Check entry requirements before your trip and make sure you have a copy of your passport and visa, if applicable. It’s always advisable to keep your important documents in a safe place during your stay.
These practical tips should help American and non-European travelers prepare for their trip to Ajaccio and make their stay more enjoyable.
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.
MTT wishes you an excellent stay!