The overwhelming proximity of the mountains, combined with the pervasive eucalyptus and spicy scent of the maquis, give Porto, 30km south of Calvi, a uniquely intense atmosphere that makes it one of the most interesting places to stay on the west coast. Except for a watchtower erected here by the Genoese in the second half of the sixteenth century, the site was only built upon with the onset of tourism since the 1950s; today the village is still so small that it can become claustrophobic in July and August, when overcrowding is no joke. Off season, the place becomes eerily deserted, so you’d do well to choose your times carefully; the best months are May, June and September.

The crowds and traffic jams tend to be most oppressive passing the famous Calanches, a huge mass of weirdly eroded pink rock just southwest of Porto, but you can easily sidestep the tourist deluge in picturesque Piana, which overlooks the gulf from its southern shore, or by heading inland from Porto through the Gorges de Spelunca. Forming a ravine running from the sea to the watershed of the island, this spectacular gorge gives access to the equally grandiose Forêt d’Aïtone, site of Corsica’s most ancient Laricio pine trees and a deservedly popular hiking area. Throughout the forest, the river and its tributaries are punctuated by strings of piscines naturelles (natural swimming pools) – a refreshing alternative to the beaches hereabouts. If you’re travelling between Porto and Ajaccio, a worthwhile place to break the journey is the clifftop village of Cargèse where the two main attractions are the Greek church and spectacular beach.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Ebikes: are they worth the hype?

Though they may be sniffed at by "real" cylists, e-bikes are opening up serious mountain routes to the more casual pedaller. Andy Turner dons some lycra to find…

27 Oct 2017 • Andy Turner local_activity Special feature
20 seriously weird places around the world

20 seriously weird places around the world

The world is a weird (and wonderful) place. And from a rose-coloured lake to a Japanese island ruled by cats, we've got twenty pictures to prove it. 1. Spotted…

26 Jul 2017 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Cabaret is alive and kicking in Paris

Forget about the sleazy tourist traps in Pigalle, there's only one place to see burlesque in Paris: the Crazy Horse, opened in 1951. Eleanor Aldridge spent the …

25 Jul 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right