What to do in Bastia?
Are you going to visit Bastia during your stay in Corsica?
To help you organize your trip, I have prepared the top 18 things to do and see in Bastia. You will find all the places of interest to see during your walk in the city but also the most beautiful places in the surroundings.
At the end of the article, I also give you an idea of a program to visit Bastia in 1, 2 or 3 days as well as a selection of the best hotels according to your budget.
So, what to do and see in Bastia?
Visit Bastia: the essentials
1. Place Saint-Nicolas
We begin this guide to Bastia with its emblematic square: Place Saint-Nicolas.
It is opposite the ferry terminal where ferries arrive from the mainland or Italy.
This vast esplanade is one of the largest in France. It hosts many events throughout the year: concerts in summer, an ice rink during the Christmas period and the Salon du Chocolat which attracts thousands of gourmets every year in October. On Sunday mornings, there is also a large flea market and a flea market.
Bordered by huge plane trees and surrounded by bars and restaurants, it is the ideal place to have a drink on the terrace. You will also find the boutique of the emblematic brand of aperitifs in Corsica, the Cap Corse MATTEI house.
The square also houses a statue of Napoleon, a war memorial and a bandstand.
Tips for your Bastia itinerary:
Be sure to stop by the Bastia tourist office, which is located on Place Saint-Nicolas, to get a map of the city.
It is also from this square that you can take the little train for a 50-minute guided tour of the main tourist sites of Bastia.
Tickets are on sale from the tourist office or from the driver and all the information can be found on the official website.
2. Napoleon Street
Continue your tour of Bastia by rue Napoléon, an extension of place Saint-Nicolas. You are now entering the Terra Vecchia district, the oldest in Bastia.
This pedestrian street brings together several artisan and designer shops as well as a few souvenir shops or selling Corsican products.
At the level of the monuments, mark a stop to admire:
- The Saint-Roch oratory: built in 1604, it has a beautiful interior all in gilding. Its walls lined with red silks and paneling are typical of some oratories in Italy
- The oratory of the Immaculate Conception: built in 1611 in the same style as Saint-Roch, it has a beautiful marble altar.
When you leave the oratory, take the small lane of Creation to reach the market square.
As its name suggests, the Bastia market takes place here every weekend. It brings together many local producers who will be happy to introduce you to good regional products such as coppa, lonzo or delicious Corsican cheeses.
Tips for your Bastia itinerary:
If you want to do some shopping in Bastia, in addition to rue Napoléon, I advise you to stroll along Boulevard Paoli and rue César Campinchi. These are the 2 main shopping streets of the city.
3. St. John the Baptist Church
Among the must-see religious monuments in Bastia, don’t miss the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church.
It is located at the end of the market place.
Built between 1636 and 1666, it is the largest church in Corsica. It is classified as a historical monument.
Its facade, in Baroque style, has the particularity of having 2 bell towers, and its richly decorated interior is adorned with numerous works of art. There is in particular the silver tabernacle of the high altar and a marble statue of Saint-Jean-Baptiste.
Tips for your Bastia itinerary:
It is at the level of the Old Port that you can best admire its imposing facade and its bell towers.
4. The Old Port
A stay in Bastia would not be complete without a short stroll in the Old Port.
In the heart of the old town, you can sit on the terrace of one of the restaurants and enjoy the view of the pleasure boats. Fairly quiet during the day, it is particularly lively in the evening.
5. The Romieu Garden
Visiting Bastia also means discovering the Romieu garden, a place of passage which marks the junction between the Terra Vecchia district and that of Nova Vecchia.
You can reach it from the south quay of the Old Port via the monumental Romieu staircase which offers a splendid view of the entire city of Bastia. The garden is a very nice place to walk in the shade of tall trees.
Tips for your Bastia itinerary:
Are you going to Bastia?
You know it: the hardest part is certainly to find a hotel offering a good price/performance ratio!
And yes, the closer you get to your travel date, the less availability there will be. Many tourists are going to visit Bastia on the same dates as you, and you can be sure that all the best placed and interesting rooms from a price point of view will have already been reserved!
Fortunately, the solution to this problem is simple: do like me and plan ahead!
So take 5 minutes now to take a look at the list of travelers’ favorite hotels in Bastia.
And if you like a hotel, book it!
Cancellation is often free, it’s quick, easy, and it will protect you from the inconvenience of finding nothing, except mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.
To see the best offers of the moment in Bastia, simply click here.
Once your hotel is booked, it’s time to continue reading this guide!
6. The Citadel of Bastia
Going up through the Romieu garden, you will reach the citadel, one of the main places of interest in Bastia.
Built on a rocky promontory in 1380 by a Genoese governor, the citadel offers a maze of narrow streets punctuated by building facades in warm colors and a few small restaurants with a view of the sea.
To see absolutely in the citadel of Bastia:
- Rue Notre-Dame, the main street
- Saint Mary’s Cathedral, with its Baroque interior decorated with paintings by Italian masters. There is also a processional statue of the Virgin in silver weighing no less than 500 kilos!
- The oratory of the brotherhood of Sainte-Croix, in the purest Rococo style, it contains a black Christ found at sea by fishermen in 1428
- The place of the dungeon where one formerly tied (trousers lowered!) during a whole day, the tradesmen a little charlatans who would have cheated their customers. At the end of the day, their counter was broken down to prevent them from trading. We then spoke of “banca rotta” for broken counter in Italian, which gave the well-known expression of going bankrupt.
- The Governors’ Palace which houses the Bastia History Museum: I’ll tell you about it below.
- The Louis XVI gate, once the only access to the citadel. To its left was the gallows, used for executions. The gate and the fortifications of the citadel are listed as a Historic Monument.
- The miniature village of René Mattei, located in the former powder magazine of the citadel. You will find a reproduction of a Corsican village with a mill, oven, sheepfold, torrent, church and the sound of bells, everything is there! Very random hours, it is better to call before.
7. The Governors’ Palace / The Bastia History Museum
Among the tourist attractions of Bastia, I advise you to visit the city’s history museum.
It is located at the level of the citadel, in the former palace of the Governors, classified as a Historic Monument. With its bright orange facade, you can’t miss it.
The museum is dedicated to the heritage and history of Corsica. You will find an important collection of sculptures, paintings and furniture retracing 7 centuries of history not only of the city but also of all of Corsica. A good way to immerse yourself in history before continuing your Corsica itinerary!
The entrance ticket also includes access to the Governor’s Gardens to enjoy the panorama of the city, Cap Corse and if the weather is clear as far as the islands of the Tuscan archipelago such as the island of Elba.
Practical information (schedules, prices) can be found on the official website.
8. Boat Trip from Bastia
A boat trip around Bastia is one of the best activities to do during your stay in Northern Corsica.
Departing from the Old Port of Bastia, you will have the choice between 3 cruises:
This outing lasts about 2 hours and allows you to pass along the Genoese towers that dot the cape to Porticciolo. The landscapes are magnificent and depending on the season/weather there is a small swimming stop planned to cool off.
This boat trip lasts a little longer than the previous one (4h30) and therefore allows you to push the trip to the end of Cap Corse, the northernmost point of the island of beauty.
You will therefore have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the landscapes even more!
9. The Beaches of Bastia
Where to go to the beach in Bastia?
I prefer to warn you, it is not in Bastia that you will find the most beautiful beaches in Corsica. For that, it is better to continue your Corsica itinerary by Cap Corse or the Agriates desert for example (I talk about it below). But if you feel like cooling off, then don’t worry, they’ll do just fine.
Here are the closest beaches to Bastia:
- The beach or rather the small cove of Ficaghjola, accessible by a staircase which is about 300 meters from the citadel.
- Arinella beach, a large sandy beach south of Bastia. You will find a nautical base offering various activities: kayaking, paddle, windsurfing…
- La Marana beach, a succession of sandy beaches bordered by the pine forest. These are the most touristic, you will find restaurants and many water activities. It is also possible to rent deckchairs and parasols.
- Toga beach, a small pebble beach just 5 minutes walk from the center.
Tips for your Bastia itinerary:
To go to Arinella beach, you can take the free shuttle from the tourist office. In season, there are every 20 minutes between 8 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
10. Biguglia Pond Nature Reserve
If you no longer know what to do in Bastia and you have finished your walk in the city, you can take your car to reach the nature reserve of the pond of Biguglia.
It is located south of the city, between Bastia and the airport, 15 minutes by car.
The reserve is the largest wetland in Corsica. Along a discovery trail, you can try to see many birds among the hundred species living there: cormorants, herons, coots, flamingos.
On the site is also the ecomuseum of the fort, a former Genoese fort converted into an educational area on the nature reserve. Admission is €2 for a self-guided tour and €4 if you want a guided tour + a 2-hour walk through the reserve.
11. Walks from Bastia
If you like to walk, there are some pleasant walks starting from Bastia:
The Monserato Oratory
The start is from a staircase behind the courthouse. You will first pass in front of the Convent of Saint Anthony before reaching the Oratory of Monserato (10 minutes on foot).
He is recognized for his “Scala Santa” or “holy staircase” of which there are only about ten copies worldwide. This staircase is an immense privilege granted by Pope Pius VII to the inhabitants of Bastia. Covered in red velvet and gilding, the faithful can climb it on their knees to be absolved of all their sins.
The trail from Toga to Alzeto
From the heights of the port, take the old mule track to enjoy a superb view of the city and the sea.
Hiking the Chemin des Glacières (from Cardo)
The village square marks the start of the glacier path, a hike of about 1h30 one way which will take you to very old stone buildings, the “Nieve” used to store ice.
It was stored and used to serve as an anesthetic during operations or quite simply by wealthy families from Bastia who could enjoy ice cream in the middle of summer!
What to do around Bastia?
Now that you have visited the city, you can continue your Corsica itinerary by visiting the surroundings of Bastia.
Here are the best places to see:
12. The Perched Villages around Bastia
There are several beautiful balcony villages to discover near Bastia.
I particularly advise you to go through:
- Ville di Pietrabugno where the hamlets of Alzeto and Guaïtella are located. You will find old houses from the 15th and 16th century as well as fountains, oil presses or bread ovens. Alzeto is also the starting point of the chemin de la Glacière de ville, which will take you to an icehouse in 45 minutes on foot.
- San-Martino Di Lota made up of 11 hamlets. Not to be missed: the Saint-Martin church in Acqualta and the Sainte-Dévote church in Pietranera. Several hiking trails accessible from the town.
- Santa-Maria di Lota made up of 6 hamlets. You can in particular pass by the marina of Miomo, the hamlet of Figarella for its castle and its church, or the hamlet of Mandriale for its 17th century Genoese bridge. From Mandrial, you also have the option of climbing to Col Saint-Jean, in about 1h15 on foot.
- Furiani and its Genoese tower surmounted by a bell tower. The village is the starting point for the hike to the Santa Maria Assunta church. Built in the 9th century, it is classified as a Historic Monument. To enter, you must first go through the town hall of Furiani who will give you the keys.
13. Cape Corsica
North of Bastia, you absolutely must go to Cap Corse. The natural landscapes are splendid as are some beaches!
You can of course go around it by car, but it would be a shame not to take the best-known hike: the coastal path. The walk starts from Macinaggio and goes to Centuri, 19 km away all the same!
But don’t panic, you can only do part of the trail, from Macinaggio to Barcaggio and that’s good because it’s the most interesting part with pretty viewpoints and beautiful beaches where you can stop for a swim.
Count 3h30 on foot just for the outward journey (but you can return by boat).
In addition to the customs trail, there are plenty of other things to do in Cap Corse:
- A 2-hour boat trip with swimming stop. Perfect if you don’t feel like walking.
- Explore the different villages of Rogliano, Barrettali, Canari…
- Discover the black pebble beach of Nonza
- Contemplate the panorama over all of Cap Corse from the viewpoint of the Mattei mill
- Walk the Patrimonio wine route
Tips for your Bastia itinerary:
Do you want to discover Cap Corse and the surroundings of Bastia by boat far from other tourists?
I have what you need!
The best way to discover Cap Corse is to opt for a private boat trip.
You rent a boat with a skipper, and he will take you to the most beautiful places around Bastia.
Motor boat, sailboat, catamaran or even yacht : it’s up to you to choose the boat that suits you to spend a dream day!
14. Saint-Florent / The Agriates Desert
It is only 40 minutes by car from Bastia, that you can have access to 2 splendid beaches classified among the most beautiful in Corsica!
To do this, go to Saint-Florent, a pretty village by the sea, the starting point for the boats leaving for the Agriates desert.
After about twenty minutes at sea, you will be dropped off at Saleccia beach or Lotu beach. Both are downright heavenly with turquoise water and white sand! These are really the 2 beaches to see around Bastia.
Departing from Bastia airport, you can also choose to fly over the beaches of Agriates and take in the view by opting for a one-hour flight in a gyrocopter or in a microlight.
Tips for your Bastia itinerary:
There are also day trips from Bastia to Saleccia beach.
Accompanied by a very nice guide, you will leave for a trip in 4×4 on the roads of Cap Corse and to the beach of Saleccia where you will have a few hours to swim.
Corte is only 1h10 drive from Bastia, in the center of Corsica.
During a walk in the city, you can discover:
- The Citadel and the Eagle’s Nest
- The regional museum of anthropology of Corsica on the history of the island
- The belvedere and its panorama of the citadel
- The Paoli course
Not far from Corte, you will also have access to some of the most popular hikes in the region, such as the Gorges de la Restonica, Lac de Nino or the Vizzavona forest.
16. The Archaeological Site of Mariana
Lovers of history and old stones can also visit the archaeological site of Mariana.
It is 25 km south of Bastia, near the airport.
The site, to which access is free, presents several vestiges of an ancient city from Roman times : a market, mosaics, a necropolis.
Here you will also find the Canonica Cathedral dating back to medieval times. Dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, it was built at the beginning of the 12th century.
Excavations are still underway on the site and the opening of a museum is planned.
17. The Wine Route
Another idea of things to do around Bastia is to travel the wine route.
The road starts from the north of Bastia and runs through part of Cap Corse where there are many vineyards. I advise you in particular to go to Patrimonio known for the AOP Patrimonio, and produced by more than thirty wineries.
You can stop in one of the estates for a short tasting session.
In the Nebbiu region, towards Saint-Florent, you will also find the vineyards of the AOP Muscat-du-Cap-Corse, ranked among the best muscats in the world.
18. The Road of the Senses
An original initiative for this route of the senses which allows craftsmen and producers to make known their work and their know-how.
Marked by blue signs along the road, you can stop to visit the workshops or farms to taste delicious local products. The members agree to respect precise specifications to guarantee the quality and origin of the products.
The road of the senses brings together several winegrowers, breeders, market gardeners but also honey producers, distilleries and craftsmen.
More information on the Route des Sens partners on the official website.
How many days to visit Bastia?
To visit the city of Bastia and discover the places of interest I’m talking about, you won’t need more than a day.
If you want to spend a few days in Bastia, and take the opportunity to visit the surroundings, then I recommend spending 2 or 3 days there.
Here are my ideas for itineraries to visit Bastia in 1, 2 or 3 days.
1 Day Bastia Itinerary
I give you here a route to visit Bastia in one day:
- Departure from Place Saint-Nicolas
- Passage through Rue Napoléon to admire the Saint Roch oratory and the oratory of the Immaculate Conception
- Join the market place
- Visit of the Church of Saint John the Baptist
- Passage through the Old Port to reach the Romieu staircase and the gardens
- Walk in the citadel
- Visit of the Bastia History Museum
- For the rest of the day, several possible choices:
- Go for a swim and relax on one of the beaches around Bastia
- Take one of the walks from Bastia
- Take a walk in the Biguglia pond nature reserve
2 Days Bastia Itinerary
For 2 days in Bastia, repeat the program of day 1 and add:
- A day in the Agriates desert. Take the maritime shuttle from Saint-Florent and reach the beaches of Saleccia or Lotu.
Tips for your Bastia itinerary:
If you don’t necessarily feel like driving, there are day trips from Bastia to Saleccia beach.
You will be accompanied by a very nice guide who will take you on a 4×4 trip on the roads of Cap Corse and to Saleccia beach where you will have a few hours to swim.
3 Days or More in Bastia
If you have 3 or more days in Bastia, in addition to the previous 2, I recommend:
- To go to Cap Corse. And you can even take the opportunity to do part of the wine route and the route of the senses that crosses it.
- To go around the perched villages located around Bastia and to walk on the paths.
- To join Corte to discover the center of Corsica and its mountains.
Accommodation in Bastia
- Best Western Bastia Centre: Located 1 km from the Old Port and the city centre. Spacious and very clean double room from €75 per night, breakfast at €11.50. Most: the comfort of the rooms, the private car park, the very pleasant staff. It is our favorite for its performance / price ratio in Bastia!
- Hotel Port Toga: Located just opposite the ferry arrival and departure port. Modern double room with comfortable bedding from €85 per night. Most: the roof terrace, the view of the sea, the good breakfast. This is the ideal hotel for a ferry arrival or departure in Bastia!
- Hotel Restaurant & Spa L’Ostella: Located 4 km from the center and 500 meters from the beach. Warm and comfortable double room, some with a balcony with sea view, from €90 per night, breakfast at €12.50. Most: the caring staff, the excellent restaurant, the wellness center with indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi.
- Alivi: Located 350 meters from the beach and 2 km from the center of Bastia. Double room with terrace overlooking the sea from €135, breakfast at €16. Most: the pool, the setting, the view, the restaurant. This is our recommendation for an upscale stay in Bastia!
- Hôtel Des Gouverneurs: located in the citadel, 2 minutes walk from the Old Port. Elegant and cozy double room from €180, breakfast at €19. Most: the view of Bastia and the sea, the geographical location, the availability of staff, the indoor swimming pool. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Bastia!
Where to eat in Bastia
- La Table de Nathalie: a small restaurant located on Boulevard Paoli, behind Place Saint-Nicolas. It offers original cuisine, combining tradition and modernity, using excellent fresh produce. The dishes are hearty and the plates very well presented. Everything is homemade and the welcome is super friendly. Reservation recommended, there are not many tables!
- Pizzeria Chez Vincent: located rue Saint-Michel. We come here to enjoy excellent pizzas, well garnished, or delicious burgers. If you can, dine on the terrace to enjoy the view of the Old Port.
- Le petit Zinc: located 1 rue de l’Ancienne Poste. Essential address in Bastia! The cuisine is refined and delicate, the service pleasant and the atmosphere and setting rather chic and trendy. All the elements come together to make a good meal and have a good time.
How to go to Bastia?
Bastia airport is located 20 km south of the city center.
Tourist Map of Bastia
To help you visualize the city a little better, I made you a tourist map of Bastia listing the places to visit that I talk about in this top 18 things to do in Bastia. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.
And you, what are you planning to do in Bastia?
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