Corsica

Bonifacio

With its houses perched on the edge of white limestone cliffs and its steep streets, the medieval town of Bonifacio is one of Corsica's most charming
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Bonifacio is one of Corsica’s most enchanting towns and a must-see destination. This marvellous medieval citadel, characterised by steep, narrow alleys, is built 70 metres high on white stone cliffs, shaped by the wind and the sea. It overlooks the turquoise waters of the Mouths of Bonifacio and is surrounded by a series of magnificent beaches.

The town of Bonifacio is divided into two: the lower town and the upper town . This ancient city/fortress dominates the sea from its limestone promontory and hence its nickname, the city of cliffs. Having survived wars, invasions and epidemics, today it appears proud, perched and unshakeable, a city with an emblematic character, typical of Corsica.

Things to do in Bonifacio

Located at the southern end of the island, facing the Straits of Bonifacio that separate Corsica from Sardinia, Bonifacio is a spectacular medieval citadel, perched on a steep limestone cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It is the southernmost town in France, with almost 3,000 inhabitants.

Decimated by plague and ravaged by wars, Bonifacio has had a turbulent and bloody history, not least because of the constant Pisan and Genoese conquests: Corsica was a strategic military point, long fought over in the Mediterranean.

Bonifacio Citadel

1Bastion de l’Etendard, Rue de la Torricella, 20169 Bonifacio, France

The upper town retains an old-world charm, with its cobbled streets and steep stairways. Take your time to explore it unhurriedly, admiring the elegant facades of the houses, the balconies overlooking the sea and the view of its breathtaking cliffs. Don’t miss the U Masgilu belvedere, which offers a wonderful view of the cliffs.

Place du Marché and Place de la Manichella are two excellent spots to admire the Mouths of Bonifacio: when the weather is clear and the sky is clear, you can see Sardinia.

The Bastion of the Stendardo

2Bastion de l’Etendard, Rue de la Torricella, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

Built in the 15th century, the Bastion of the Stendardo dominates the port thanks to its 25-metre height and is the highest bastion in France. During your visit, descend first into the dungeons to discover the exhibition dedicated to the history of Bonifacio and its fortifications and then admire the typical medieval architecture and magnificent round vaults of this fort.

From the top of the bastion, you will have one of the most spectacular views of the city: the exceptional view embraces the port, the cliffs, the Campu Rumanilu plateau and the protected natural areas of the Mouths of Bonifacio all at once.

Saint-Roch climb

3Mnt Saint-Roch, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

Bonifacio is a perched city of steep and vertiginous alleyways. One of these passages, which will put a strain on your legs, is the Saint-Roch climb. This long road boasts fabulous panoramic views and your effort will be amply rewarded when you arrive at the Porta di Genova.

It is also one of the best walks to take in Bonifacio to contemplate the limestone cliffs. These natural works created by wind and erosion and undermined by salt spray are unique phenomena. Those who want to avoid the effort can also ascend by car or small train.

Porta di Genova

420169 Bonifacio, Francia

It marks the entry point to the upper town and until the 19th century, was the only access to the centre of Bonifacio, equipped with a drawbridge from 1830. The bridge replaced the old one, still dating from 1598, which operated with a system of weights and pulleys.

Roy d'Aragon staircase

57 Pl. Carrega, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

According to legend, this vertiginous staircase clinging to the limestone rock was dug in a single night in 1420 by the soldiers of the King of Aragon in order to invade the city and climb into the citadel. It probably already existed and the passage allowed the inhabitants of the city access to a source of drinking water.

The descent of the 187 steps of the Roy d’Aragon staircase is very impressive: you will have a spectacular view from more than 60 metres above the sea. Be careful, as the steps are very steep. If you are travelling with children, remember to get a small certificate certifying their ascent, a good way to motivate and reward effort.

At the bottom of the staircase, you can take the path along the cliff to reach a natural cave and the Saint-Barthélemy well.

Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

620169 Bonifacio, Francia

The oldest building in Bonifacio is the Eglise Sainte-Marie-Majeure: its construction began in the 12th century by the Pisans but was not completed until a century later by the Genoese.

The church boasts a beautiful loggia, under whose arches the notables and elders gathered for public meetings at which the most important decisions about the city were discussed.

The marine cemetery

720169 Bonifacio, Francia

Overlooking the Bocche di Bonifacio, this unusual place is perfect for a relaxing and peaceful break, a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of the old town. Don’t miss a short walk among the white tombs that contrast pleasantly with the blue sea in the background. The marine cemetery is one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean and you will feel as if you have landed in Greece.

Interestingly, these are not simple grey tombs but rather sunny little temples and family chapels.

Le Gouvernail

820169 Bonifacio, France

Built in 1890 by the French, this tunnel was later used by the armies of Italy and Germany during World War II. During the visit you will have to walk up the long staircase of 168 steps carved by soldiers to reach the blockhouse.

This place was a surveillance site for the entrance to the harbour and the Strait of Bonifacio and for this reason was equipped with a powerful lighthouse, with a range of no less than 12 km, which illuminated the strait at night, all the way to the coast of Sardinia.

Positioned about 10 metres above sea level, the fortress opens onto a cliff whose shape, resembling the rudder of a ship, gave the place its name. The view of the cliffs and the entrance to the Goulet is truly spectacular.

The Marina

9114 Av. Sylvère Bohn, 20169 Bonifacio, France

The Marina offers a spectacular panorama and is the main attraction of the lower town of Bonifacio. Pastel-coloured, slender houses line the lively quay full of cafés and restaurants.

During the day, yachts and sailboats glitter on the dark waters while in the evening, the waterfront lights up with a rich nightlife. To enjoy this fascinating promenade, relax and walk along the harbour by day and by night to savour the different atmospheres of this wonderful corner.

Boat trip along the coast

One of the best ways to admire the spectacular panorama of the Bonifacio cliffs is to take a boat trip. From the sea, you have the most complete view and can see sea caves, inlets and ravines up close, as well as discover the town from a different perspective.

As you leave the harbour, you will have the chance to see several points of interest: the Madonetta lighthouse, the Sdragonato cave, famous for its hole in the rock (on the ceiling) shaped like Corsica, the Fazzio bay known for its beautiful beach, the Saint-Antoine cave also nicknamed Napoleon’s hat, due to its characteristic shape, the sand grain, a large solitary rock at the foot of the cliffs.

And, of course, you can admire the view of the citadel, its houses suspended in the void and the famous steps of the King of Aragon. From the sea you can really understand the engineering and its verticality.

Departures for boat tours take place from the port of Bonifacio. There are boat tours every 30 minutes and the journey takes 1 hour for the classic boat. There is also the boat trip with underwater viewing: a 1 hour and 15 minute circuit with departures every hour.

Path of Campu Rumanilu and Pertusatu

10D160, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

From this enchanting promenade you can take the most beautiful pictures of Bonifacio, just like the ones on all the postcards: you only have to walk the first stretch to reach the most panoramic views. If, on the other hand, you love walking, you can follow it in its entirety: the path takes 1 hour one way to reach the beach of Saint-Antoine. Another path then begins, the one leading to Cap de Pertusatu and the lighthouse of the same name. To get there, one must allow another hour.

This walk also leads to Saint-Antoine beach, a beautiful cove with rocky and sandy stretches, famous for its large coral reef in the shape of a beached ship. Near the beach, you will also find the Orca Cave, a magnificent place.

Best beaches near Bonifacio

The town of Bonifacio is enchanting, but if you are on holiday in Corsica, you will certainly be looking for postcard-perfect beaches.

Near Bonifacio are some of the most spectacular beaches in Corsica so you can combine a visit to the town with relaxing days of sea, sun and relaxation.

Plage de Piantarella

11Unnamed Road, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

Have you landed in the Bahamas? No, you are in Corsica. At Piantarella, a magical place awaits you, characterised by a beach of fine sand lapped by turquoise and crystal-clear waters like in the Caribbean .

A dream place for kayaking, stand-up paddle and other activities for children, such as a sailing school.

Plage de Petit Sperone

12Plage du petit Sperone, Pointe de Sperone, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

This small cove of white sand and shallow turquoise water is sheltered from the wind and a 10-minute walk from Piantarella.

It is one of Bonifacio’s most famous beaches and is ranked among the top 10 beaches to see in Corsica.

Plage de Grand Sperone

13Unnamed Road, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

Like its twin, Grande Sperone beach is much more airy and with more space for tourists. It boasts the same magnificent panorama of white sand and turquoise water and is only a 10-minute walk from Piccolo Sperone beach.

Plage de Maora

14Route Santa Manza, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

It is a small ochre-coloured sandy beach with a nautical club and a snack bar. Unfortunately, part of the beach is private, but its shallow, calm waters make it ideal for families. It is also possible to hire boats for small excursions along the coast.

Plage de Balistra

This white sandy beach is very large, wild and surrounded by mountains, with a small pond behind it.

It is accessed by a dirt road in good condition, at the end of which there is a large car park, frequented by vans and campers. Despite being set in a rather wild and lonely natural context, it offers a small bar-restaurant, where one can refresh oneself after a long day at the beach.

Plage de Paragan

16T40, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

Little known to most tourists, this very pretty beach of fine sand is located in a cove sheltered from the wind, making it perfect for bathing and swimming. The beach can be reached by car but parking is required along the road.

Plage de Fazzio

Only a 15-minute walk from Paragan beach, it is located at the end of a small fjord, very pretty with large rocks and clear water, lovely for swimming.

Decidedly less crowded than the famous beaches of Bonifacio, Fazzio offers a wonderful seabed with a wealth of colourful flora and fauna.

Plage de la Cala di Stagnolu

1820169 Bonifacio, Francia

Following the coastal path from Tonnara, you will reach Stagnolu in just five minutes on foot. Between the two beaches, there are several small coves where you can stop for a swim.

Stagnolu is a beautiful, wild and lonely white sandy beach. If you like walking, you can continue from here along the Fenu path, which leads to Paragan beach.

Plage de Tonnara

19Plage de la Tunnara, 20169 Bonifacio, Francia

It is another beautiful sandy beach with shallow waters, Mediterranean colours and easy access. In fact, it is easily accessible by car, with parking and a restaurant. Due to its facilities, this beach is definitely crowded and very touristy.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Best day trips from Bonifacio

The town of Bonifacio is surrounded by a wonderful marine environment and charming villages. It is well worth taking a tour of the surrounding area to explore the most fascinating areas.

Lavezzi Islands

This enchanting archipelago of granite islets is a nature reserve bathed by crystal-clear waters. About ten kilometres south-east of Bonifacio, the Lavezzi Islands hold some of Corsica’s most fascinating beaches and landscapes, preserved from mass tourism.

In fact, most of these islands are wild and unspoilt: they can only be reached by sea from Bonifacio, there are no hotel facilities and all tourist services, including sanitary facilities, are lacking. To face a day on your own peacefully, you need to bring everything you need, from food to water, from sun cream to sunscreen.

Porto Vecchio

The charming town of Porto Vecchio, with its lively old centre, is one of the absolute must-sees near Bonifacio.

Located just a 40-minute drive from Bonifacio, the town is home to several beaches, cited as some of the most beautiful in Corsica: Rondinara beach, Santa Giulia beach and Palombaggia beach, to name but a few.

Sartene

On the road between Bonifacio and Ajaccio, about 1 hour’s drive away, is a small Corsican village. With its stone houses and narrow streets, Sartena is certainly very touristy but has retained its picturesque charm.

Wandering through its narrow streets and its typical little shops will leave you with enchanting memories and allow you to spend a different day.

How to get to Bonifacio

Bonifacio can be reached from both sides of the island: it is about 2 hours and 30 minutes from either Bastia or Ajaccio.

During a trip to Corsica, travelling by car, either your own or rented at the airport, is the best way to enjoy the journey along the scenic roads, while maintaining a great deal of freedom and with the possibility of reaching the wildest and most isolated beaches.

Where to stay in Bonifacio

Situated opposite the Straits of Bonifacio, which separate Corsica from Sardinia, Bonifacio is one of the most visited towns on the island, mainly because of its topography and its simply awe-inspiring limestone cliffs.

Whether you are looking for unusual cliffside accommodation, picturesque B&Bs, family campsites or charming hotels, Bonifacio has a wide range of accommodation options. All types of travellers will be able to find their ideal solution.

The choice of where to stay depends very much on your holiday preferences, whether you are more oriented towards visiting the citadel or towards sea life, in the numerous beaches around Bonifacio.

In the centre

The citadel of Bonifacio is a kind of village perched on the cliffs. Characterised by numerous staircases and steeply sloping cobbled streets, the centre is a maze of alleyways full of shops, restaurants and pizzerias .

Staying inside the citadel will probably mean leaving your car outside and moving around exclusively on foot, admiring the beauty and liveliness of this enchanting town. In fact, the hotels in the centre of Bonifacio are located in the heart of the citadel, or between the harbour and the cliffs, set against a stunning panorama.

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Around Bonifacio

Those who prefer nature and silence can choose to stay close to the sea, to have the most beautiful beaches close at hand.

The best areas to stay are in Cavallo Morto, Pertamina Village or Gurgazu, to the east of the city: here you will not be far from the Citadel while enjoying the beautiful beaches.

Continuing on the road to Porto-Vecchio, still in the territory of Bonifacio, the area next to Rondinara Beach offers campsites, residences and hotels where you can sleep and bathe like in the lagoon of a tropical country

Bonifacio Weather

What's the weather at Bonifacio? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Bonifacio for the next few days.

Monday 24
19°
22°
Tuesday 25
19°
22°
Wednesday 26
20°
24°
Thursday 27
21°
23°
Friday 28
22°
24°
Saturday 29
21°
24°

Where is located Bonifacio

The lively town of Bonifacio is located on the southern tip of Corsica, facing towards Sardinia and just a few kilometres from the uninhabited Lavezzi Islands.

Location around