Corte Citadel  Historical Capital of Corsica

Getty Images/Flickr RM


Top choice in Bonifacio

The great joy of visiting Bonifacio lies in strolling the tangled medieval lanes of the citadel. The paved steps of montée du Rastello and montée St-Roch lead up from the marina to its old gateway, the Porte de Gênes, complete with an original 16th-century drawbridge. Immediately inside, the Bastion de l’Étendard was the main stronghold of the fortified town. Built to hold heavy artillery, it now houses a small museum, and provides access to the ramparts, which offer jaw-dropping views.

Several of the town’s streets are spanned by arched aqueducts, designed to collect rainwater to fill the communal cistern opposite Église Ste-Marie Majeure. On the southern side of the citadel, the Escalier du Roi d’Aragon cuts down the cliff-face.

Bonifacio doesn’t fill the entire headland. Just beyond the old core as you head west, beyond the Gothic Église Ste-Dominique and massive defunct barracks, you come to an eerily quiet marine cemetery. At the western tip of the peninsula, an underground passage dug during WWII leads down to a ‘window’ cut into the rock just 12m above the sea, at a rudder-shaped rock formation known as the Gouvernail de la Corse.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bonifacio attractions

1. Bastion de l’Étendard

0.02 MILES

Inside the citadel’s old gateway, the Porte de Gênes, the Bastion de l’Étendard was the town's main stronghold. Built to hold heavy artillery, it now…

2. Escalier du Roi d’Aragon

0.18 MILES

Only accessible from the top, this impressive staircase cuts down Bonifacio's southern cliff-face. Legend says that during the siege of 1420, Aragonese…

3. Îles Lavezzi

5.75 MILES

Paradise! If you love to splash in tranquil lapis-lazuli waters, this protected clutch of uninhabited islets was made for you. The largest, the 65-hectare…

4. Spiaggia Rena Bianca

9.93 MILES

The 'just like the Caribbean' comments come thick and fast when it comes to this bay – a glorious sweep of pale sand lapped by shallow, crystal-clear…

5. Torre di Longonsardo

9.93 MILES

The 16th-century Torre di Longonsardo is in a magnificent position, overlooking the natural deep port on one side and the entrance to the town's idyllic …

6. Isola Razzoli

11.72 MILES

The northwesternmost island in the archipelago, Isola Razzoli is a popular destination for boat tours, which ply the waters of its fjord-like Cala Lunga.

7. Isola Budelli

12.33 MILES

This small island near the northwestern corner of the Maddalena archipelago is best known for its Spiaggia Rosa (Pink Beach), so-called because of the…

8. Isola Santa Maria

12.83 MILES

The most exciting part of a visit to Isola Santa Maria is the journey across the crystal-clear aquamarine waters that lap its southern shores – known as…