Set on a hillock overlooking a beautiful deep blue bay, Porto-Vecchio, 25km north of Bonifacio, was rated by James Boswell as one of “the most distinguished harbours in Europe”. It was founded in 1539 as a second Genoese stronghold on the east coast, Bastia being well established in the north. The site was perfect: close to the unexploited and fertile plain, it benefited from secure high land and a sheltered harbour, although the mosquito population spread malaria and wiped out the first Ligurian settlers within months. Things began to take off mainly thanks to the cork industry, which still thrived well into the twentieth century. Today most revenue comes from tourists, the vast majority of them well-heeled Italians who flock here for the fine outlying beaches. To the northwest, the little town of Zonza makes a good base for exploring the dramatic forest that surrounds one of Corsica’s most awesome road trips, the route de Bavella.

Around the centre of town there’s not much to see, apart from the well-preserved fortress and the small grid of ancient streets backing onto the main place de la République. East of the square you can’t miss the Porte Génoise, which frames a delightful expanse of sea and saltpans and through which you’ll find the quickest route down to the modern marina, which is lined with cafés and restaurants.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: a 1 minute guide to France

Video: a 1 minute guide to France

There's little wonder that the land of châteaux, Champagne and croissants regularly tops lists of the world's most visited countries. France beguiles travell…

28 Apr 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
The best places to go in spring

The best places to go in spring

Springtime is beautiful, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom, so there may be no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are…

14 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month