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.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The world's quirkiest food festivals

The world's quirkiest food festivals

Tomato-drenched crowds wading through a lake of passata at Valencia’s La Tomatina festival might be a familiar image, but such passionate and eccentric cele…

22 Dec 2017 • Lucy Cowie insert_drive_file Article
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
View more featureschevron_right