What to do in Ajaccio?
Have you planned to visit Ajaccio during your stay in Corsica?
To help you organize your visit, I have prepared the Top 20 things to do in Ajaccio. You will find all the must-see places of interest in and around town + the most beautiful beaches in the region.
At the end of the article, I also give you my suggestions for itineraries to visit Ajaccio in 1, 2, 3 days or more and my selection of the best accommodation according to your budget.
So, what to do and see in Ajaccio?
Visit Ajaccio: the essentials
1. The National Museum of the Bonaparte House
During your stay in Ajaccio, you will not fail to notice that many places bear the name of Bonaparte. Nothing surprising in that when you know that this emblematic character of history was born there!
I therefore suggest that you start this Ajaccio tourist guide with a visit to the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, where he was born on August 15, 1769, and spent part of his childhood. He last visited there in 1799 on his return from his campaign in Egypt.
The house now houses a museum dedicated to the Bonaparte family. You can walk through the different rooms (bedrooms, living room, dining room, boudoir) some of the furniture is original, but also discover the history and the genealogical tree of the whole family.
Practical information can be found on the official website.
Tips for your Ajaccio itinerary:
If, during your trip to Corsica, you visit Ajaccio in August, do not miss the Napoleonic Days.
Organized in homage to the Emperor, they include parades in period costume, historical re-enactments, exhibitions and concerts.
2. The Fesch Palace / Museum of Fine Arts
The Fesch Palace is a must in Ajaccio for all art lovers.
It was built by Napoleon’s maternal uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesh, who wanted to make it a place dedicated to art and to develop the artistic and intellectual training of the young people of the island.
A successful bet, the place now houses the Museum of Fine Arts.
Its collection of paintings includes masterpieces by great Italian artists such as Poussin, Botticelli and Titian. It is one of the largest in France, behind the Louvre Museum in Paris. A section of the museum is also dedicated to the Bonaparte family with several portraits and another section presents Corsican paintings.
Schedules and fares are on the official website.
3. The Imperial Chapel
Your admission ticket for the Museum of Fine Arts also entitles you to visit one of Ajaccio’s other places of interest, the Imperial Chapel.
Listed as a historical monument, it is located right next to the museum, in the south wing. It was built in 1857 by Napoleon III.
It is in this chapel that the tombs of some of the members of the imperial family are located , including Napoleon’s parents: Charles and Letizia Bonaparte.
It is also possible to visit the imperial chapel alone, without the Fesch museum.
4. Ajaccio Market
Do you want to take advantage of your tour in Corsica to taste some local specialities?
Then head to the Ajaccio market which is held on Place Foch. Cold cuts, regional cheeses, wines, jams, the range of local products is vast. Something to concoct a good picnic or make reservations to bring back from your trip to Ajaccio!
From April to October, the market is open every morning. From November to March, every morning except Monday.
Tips for your Ajaccio itinerary:
If you have rented an apartment for your stay in Ajaccio, you can also go to the Fish Market, near the Town Hall. You can buy fresh fish, just caught in the morning, and cook it yourself.
5. Ajaccio Cathedral
Take advantage of your tour in Ajaccio to see the cathedral.
Do not look for a huge building, the cathedral is in fact a small church set between the houses. Built at the end of the 16th century, it has the particularity of presenting a bright orange facade and is dedicated to Notre-Dame-de-la-Miséricorde, the patron saint of Ajaccio who saved the city from a plague epidemic.
Inside (if you can get in because the visiting hours are rather random), don’t miss Eugène Delacroix’s painting, “The Virgin of the Sacred Heart”. The trompe l’oeil paintings and frescoes are also worth a detour.
For the historical anecdote, it was here that Napoleon Bonaparte was baptized in 1771.
Tips for your Ajaccio itinerary:
Are you going to Ajaccio?
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 Ajaccio 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 Ajaccio.
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 Ajaccio, simply click here.
Once your hotel is booked, it’s time to continue reading this guide!
6. Place de Gaulle
This large square marks the boundary between the old town of Ajaccio and the new districts. There is a statue of Napoleon (still and always him!) surrounded by his 4 brothers and a stele dedicated to General de Gaulle to commemorate the liberation of the city during the Second World War.
Directly overlooking the sea, it is also from here that the small shopping streets start , where a lot of bars and restaurants are concentrated.
In summer, it often hosts entertainment and concerts, and in winter, you will find the Christmas market here . It is popular with Ajacciens who play petanque there and with children who can let off steam on its vast esplanade by cycling or scooter.
Tips for your Ajaccio itinerary:
On the practical side, you can park your car in the large underground car park there.
7. Bonaparte’s Cave and Place d’Austerlitz
Among the tourist sites of Ajaccio referring to Napoleon, you can also go to the Place d’Austerlitz.
Very vast, it is dominated by a large statue of Bonaparte wearing his famous cocked hat and framed by 2 eagles, it is the exact replica of the one exhibited at the Invalides in Paris. A stele there retraces all his victories and battles.
On the left, consider going to Napoleon’s cave where it is said that as a child he often came to contemplate the sea from these rocks.
Tips for your Ajaccio itinerary:
Be careful not to confuse Napoleon’s Cave with Napoleon’s Cave, which is right next to Bonaparte’s birthplace.
This tourist attraction in Ajaccio is very recent. Inside a reconstituted cave, you will discover the life of Napoleon projected on several screens while tasting delicious Corsican specialties: Swiss chard turnovers, charcuterie, cheese, wines.
The concept is really innovative and the decorations nice to spend an hour in the company of Napoleon.
8. The Foreign Quarter
Between Place de Gaulle and Place d’Austerlitz is the foreigners’ quarter.
It is so nicknamed because it was built in the middle of the 19th century to welcome tourists (mainly English and Germans) in search of the sun. Several luxurious hotels and very beautiful buildings have been built there.
As you walk along Cours Grandval, be sure to admire:
- The Grand Hotel
- The Chateau Conti
- Le Cyrnos Palace
- The Anglican Church
- The Germania Hotel
9. The Little Train of Ajaccio
The little train is considered one of Ajaccio’s historic tourist attractions . If you don’t want to or can’t walk too much, this is the best way to get around the city!
Departures are from Place Foch every 45 minutes (where the market is). You will have the choice between 2 circuits:
- The first, the “Sanguinaire circuit”, lasts 1h30 and proposes to go through:
- General de Gaulle Square
- The Anglican Church
- La Grotte Napoléon with 15-minute photo stop
- The Chapel of the Greeks
- The beaches
- The Sanguinaires Islands with a 10-minute stop
- The citadel (I do not mention it in my top because it belongs to the army and cannot be visited)
- The Bonaparte house
- The second, the “city circuit”, lasts 45 minutes and focuses only on the old town without going to the bloodthirsty islands. You can discover the historic center and its monuments.
All information and prices are on the official website.
Tips for your Ajaccio itinerary:
If you wish, you can also opt for a double-decker bus tour of Ajaccio which takes about the same route and also goes as far as La Parata.
10. Beaches of Ajaccio
Where to go to the beach in Ajaccio?
Here is a list of the closest beaches to Ajaccio:
- Saint-François beach is near the port and the citadel. It is the closest to the city center and easily accessible on foot, so it is very busy.
- La plage Trottel, a sandy beach by the roadside, a stone’s throw from the town centre.
- Barbicaja beach: small sandy bay with some large rocks. Restaurants and nautical activities.
- Ariadne beach: sandy beach located on the route des Sanguinaires. You can even have lunch in the oldest straw hut in Ajaccio.
- Marinella beach: beautiful beach with turquoise water. Restaurants and deckchair rental possible.
- Terre Sacrée beach: for me the prettiest in the area, with several small sandy coves and large rocks at the water’s edge. There is also the terminal of the Sacred Land paying homage to the Corsicans who died for France during the First World War.
- Ricanto beach: 3 km long sandy beach located between the city center and Ajaccio airport.
During your holidays in Ajaccio, I strongly advise you to go for a walk on the Parata side.
The whole of the Parata peninsula and the archipelago of 4 islands, the Sanguinaires islands, which are located in extension, is labeled “Grand site de France”.
The site is forbidden to cars. You will therefore have to leave your vehicle in the paid car parks provided or park your car along the road before entering. At the car park, you will find an information point with the description of the 3 walks to do in La Parata:
- A path that goes around the Parata peninsula and allows you to climb to the top of the tower. The latter is one of the 90 Genoese towers built to defend Corsica from Barbary attacks. It is at the end of this peninsula that you will have the best view of the Sanguinaires Islands. Allow 1 hour to do the loop.
- Another path of only 40 minutes round trip, which allows you to climb the Parata hill and access a belvedere offering a panorama of the Sanguinaires islands.
- The scent trail, a 1 hour loop to discover the flora of the Parata.
The best time to admire the Sanguinaires Islands from the tip of Parata is at sunset.
Practical information for visiting the Parata can be found on the official website.
12. Cruise to the Sanguinaires Islands
The Sanguinaires Islands are only accessible by boat. Cruises offer to take you there and even to take a ride on the largest of them. Boat trips depart from La Parata ( kiosk next to the car park) or from the port of Ajaccio.
The outing lasts about 3 hours and allows you to spend an hour on Mezzu Mare, the main island of the Sanguinaires archipelago. You can walk to the lighthouse of Alphonse Daudet or swim.
This cruise also exists in a night version to be able to admire the magnificent sunset over the Sanguinaires Islands. No stop planned on the island but you can enjoy a tasting of Corsican wines and a buffet of typical products, all accompanied by Corsican songs and guitar.
Tips for your Ajaccio itinerary:
For a boat trip to the Sanguinaires Islands in a smaller group (maximum of 12 people), you can also opt for the 2h30 outing by speedboat. From the port of Ajaccio, you will first reach the largest island of Sanguinaires where you will have an hour to walk or swim.
You will then be served an aperitif on board while you take the opportunity to admire the sun setting over the islands.
13. The Capos of Feno
After visiting the city center and discovering the Sanguinaires Islands, if you no longer know what to do in Ajaccio, I recommend that you go and discover the Capo di Feno.
The place is known for its 2 very beautiful beaches:
- Grand Capo beach, a large sandy beach, quite wild and undeveloped. It is popular with surfers but check the color of the flag before going for a swim, as the waves and currents can be very strong.
- Petit Capo beach or Sevani beach, separated from Grand Capo by a field.
You can easily reach them by car, there are parking lots at each of them.
For hiking enthusiasts, I advise you to go there on foot. From the Parata peninsula, you will have to take the coastal footpath which runs along the entire coast to Capo di Feno. From this side, the views of the Parata tower and the Sanguinaires islands are superb!
Count 3 hours of walking round trip and more if you plan to swim at the beach.
14. Boat Trip from Ajaccio
Boat trips during a stay in Corsica are essential activities. Some allow you to discover otherwise inaccessible places and superb natural landscapes.
In addition to the cruise to the Sanguinaires Islands (which I told you about just above), from Ajaccio, you will have the choice between several other boat trips:
- A cruise to discover the natural reserve of Scandola, Girolata and the creeks of Piana. I highly recommend it, it’s one of the most beautiful boat trips I’ve done during my itinerary in Corsica!
The same outing is also available as a semi-rigid speedboat that can accommodate a maximum of 12 people. You can book by clicking here!
- A cruise to Bonifacio to admire the city perched on the cliffs and its magnificent rock formations. You will not only have the opportunity to discover the city from the sea, but you will also benefit from 4 hours of free time to visit Bonifacio on foot.
- A boat trip to Bonifacio and the Lavezzi Islands – Small group speedboat trip
On the program: swimming at Roccapina beach + swimming at the Lavezzi islands + passage through the lagoon of Piantarella + free time to visit Bonifacio.
15. Cupulatta, City of Turtles
20 km from Ajaccio in the direction of Bastia, I now offer you an idea of activities to do with the family : visit the city of turtles.
The park, number 1 in Europe, hosts 170 species of turtles from all continents, from Asia to Africa, via America and of course species closer to home.
On 2.5 hectares, you will learn more about the life of land and aquatic turtles from all over the world and will be able to observe them quietly.
For timetables and prices, it’s on the official website.
What to do around Ajaccio?
After visiting the city and to continue your Corsica itinerary, I suggest you visit the surroundings of Ajaccio.
So that you don’t miss anything, I have prepared a list of the best things to do around Ajaccio!
16. The Villages around Ajaccio
If you have rented a car for your stay, it’s time to explore the beautiful Corsican villages around Ajaccio.
I particularly advise you to go through:
- Villanova, 20 minutes by car from the center of Ajaccio: a pretty village with typical stone houses overlooking the Gulf of Lava. Several paths also allow you to reach the seaside on foot.
- Alata, to see for its panorama over the city and the Gulf of Ajaccio.
- Appietto and its medieval tower in the center of the village.
- Bocognano from where you can go for a walk to the Bridal Veil Waterfall.
- Sarrola Carcopino, starting point for a beautiful hike on one of the highest peaks around Ajaccio.
- Tavaco where you can cool off in the river.
- Cuttoli Corticchiato where you will find many hiking trails.
It is the closest seaside resort to Ajaccio.
Porticcio brings together plenty of hotels, campsites and shops lined up by the sea. The city, very busy and lively, brings together the great classics of holidays by the sea: beach shops, market on Tuesdays and Fridays, entertainment and a plethora of ‘water activities.
Departing from the Isolella peninsula, you can, for example, go on a 3-hour guided kayak tour of the entire south coast of Porticcio. More information and reservation by clicking directly here!
For a family activity, I also advise you to take the little train from Porticcio. The visit lasts 2 hours and allows you to discover the south of the city passing through Agosta, the Ruppione, the silver beach and the Mare e Sole beach.
It also includes a stop at the former penitentiary of Coti-Chiavari and a tasting of Corsican specialties.
On the practical side, boat shuttles also allow you to reach Ajaccio in just 20 minutes , avoiding traffic jams.
About 1h10 by car from Ajaccio, you can stop to visit the village of Cargèse.
In fact, it’s rather quick to visit because it’s really very small. But Cargèse has a somewhat special history since it was built to accommodate Greek immigrants in the 18th century. They even built their own Byzantine church there to celebrate their worship.
The most famous photo of the village today is that of the 2 churches, Byzantine and Latin, facing each other.
From Cargèse, you will have access to beautiful beaches (see just below) or can go on a sea excursion in the Scandola reserve.
19. The most beautiful beaches around Ajaccio
I have already told you about the beaches of Ajaccio but this time, I suggest you go and discover those that are a little further away.
Here is my list of the most beautiful beaches to see near Ajaccio:
South of Ajaccio (after Porticcio)
- Agosta beach: a long sandy beach with fairly deep water. Located just 5 minutes by car from Porticcio, there are already a few fewer people. Nautical activities (like this kayak trip to book here! ) and diving baptisms are offered there.
- Ruppione beach: a very pretty, fairly wild white sand beach with rocks at the water’s edge. Possible to surf, paddle and kayak. You will have plenty of places to park. It is nicer than that of Agosta, more intimate.
- Mare e Sole beach or silver beach: a very pretty large white sand beach. Rental of pedal boats. Lots of parking spaces.
If you want to discover superb places to swim, I advise you to book this boat trip which passes through several coves and beaches in the Gulf of Ajaccio, most of which are only accessible by boat.
On the program: Sette Nave, Isula Piana, l’anse de Cacao, Cala di Cupabia and Cala D’Orzu.
Plus a tasting of cold meats, cheeses and Corsican wines.
North of Ajaccio (towards Cargèse)
- Stagnone Beach, the nearest white sand beach to Ajaccio, to the north.
- Liamone beach: a large sandy beach, wilder and calmer than those even further north
- The Castellu cove, at the end of Sagone beach: quite pretty with its large rocks in the water
- Sagone beach: a seaside resort with a sandy beach
- Capizzolu beach: beautiful white sand beach, quite wild as it is isolated from the road and accessible by a path.
- Menasina beach: a very beautiful sandy beach with crystal clear water, ideal for snorkeling. Access in 10 minutes on foot from the road. Little frequented.
20. Tolla Lake
Lake Tolla is located 30 km from Ajaccio.
During the summer, it is a very pleasant place to practice water activities such as kayaking or pedal boating. You can also take a nice walk around the lake or go fishing and tease perch and pike.
The road that leads there from Ajaccio is also super nice with lots of beautiful views, passages through typical villages and the Prunelli gorges.
A good idea for a change from the sea and visiting the surroundings of Ajaccio.
How Many Days to Visit Ajaccio?
To visit only the city of Ajaccio and discover the main places of interest that I tell you about in this top, you will not need more than a day.
If you also want to visit the surroundings of Ajaccio, then I recommend that you spend about 3 days there.
Of course, if you want a quiet vacation just to enjoy the beaches and do some activities, you can also opt for a one-week Ajaccio itinerary.
1 Day Ajaccio Itinerary
If you have planned to spend only 1 day in Ajaccio between 2 stages of your trip to Corsica, it is more than enough to visit the city and even the Sanguinaires islands.
Here is an example of a walk to visit Ajaccio in one day:
- Art lovers can visit the Fesch Museum
- Passage through the Imperial Chapel, right next to the museum
- Discovery of Place Foch and the Ajaccio market – If you don’t want to walk, this is when you can take the little train to visit the city.
- Visit of the national museum of Maison Bonaparte
- Go see the cathedral of Ajaccio
- Passage through the Place du General de Gaulle
- Go up the Cours Grandval, entry point to the foreigners’ quarter
- End of the walk in Ajaccio at Place d’Austerlitz and Bonaparte’s cave
- Afternoon: several choices possible
- Get in the car and head for the tip of Parata to admire the Sanguinaires Islands and stroll on the peninsula. The most motivated can even go as far as the Capo di Feno beach (3 hours round trip from La Parata).
- Opt for a boat trip to the Sanguinaires Islands with a stop on the main island for walking and swimming.
- Mix the 2 previous proposals: walk to the tip of Parata + sunset cruise to the Sanguinaires Islands
2 Days Ajaccio Itinerary
For 2 days in Ajaccio, repeat the program of the first day and add:
- The day cruise to visit the natural reserve of Scandola, Girolata and the creeks of Piana.
Nothing prevents you from choosing one of the 2 and doing the other boat trip the next day.
3 Days Ajaccio Itinerary
If you have 3 days in Ajaccio, in addition to the previous 2 days, I recommend:
- To drive around the villages around Ajaccio
- You can take the opportunity to take one or more walks on the trails from the villages
- Spend the rest of the day on one of the beaches in or around Ajaccio
4, 5 days or 1 week in Ajaccio
If you are planning to spend 4, 5 days or a week in Ajaccio, you can also:
- Spend a quiet day at Lac de Tolla
- Take advantage of the beautiful beaches around Porticcio, for example
- Visit the city of turtles. If you have children, it’s really a good idea for a family outing!
- Fill up on activities: tree climbing, canyoning, diving… The complete list is in point 14 of the article
Accommodation in Ajaccio
- Hotel Spunta Di Mare: Located 150 meters from the beach and 2 km from Place Foch. Colorful double room, some with a balcony overlooking the sea from €99, breakfast included. Most: the indoor swimming pool, the view of Ajaccio from the terrace, the proximity to the airport.
- Best Western Plus Ajaccio Amirauté: Located 350 meters from the beach and 1 km from the port. Modern and comfortable double room from €140, breakfast at €12. Most: the swimming pool, the warm welcome, the full and varied breakfast.
- Sofitel Golfe d’Ajaccio Thalassa Sea & Spa: 5-star hotel located opposite the bay of Ajaccio and the Sanguinaires islands. Design double room, warm and comfortable with sea view from €170 per night, breakfast at €29. The pluses: the heated outdoor swimming pool, the breathtaking view of the sea, the Spa. It is our favorite for its exceptional location and setting in Ajaccio!
- Cala di Sole: Located by the sea, between Ajaccio and the Sanguinaires Islands. Spacious and very well equipped double room with sea view from €200, breakfast at €17. Most: the private beach, the swimming pool, the free parking, the splendid view of the Sanguinaires islands. This is our recommendation for an upscale stay in Ajaccio!
- Hôtel Le Week end: Also located between Ajaccio and La Parata, just 50 meters from Terre Sacrée beach. Spacious suite with private terrace and sea view from €390, breakfast €22. Most: the magnificent location, the excellent breakfast, the setting, the calm. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Ajaccio!
Where to eat in Ajaccio
- Le 20123: located rue du Roi de Rome, a few steps from place de Gaulle. Atypical decor recreating a village atmosphere with its water fountain and shops. The restaurant offers a unique menu based on Corsican specialties consisting of 2 starters, a main course, cheese and dessert for less than 40€ per person. It’s good and very filling! Reservation recommended.
- Le Bistrot Gourmand: located Rue Pigliesi, next to Trottel beach. The dishes are hearty, well presented and the cuisine refined. Everything is homemade and with fresh and quality products, the assurance of a treat! This is one of the essential restaurants in Ajaccio.
- L’Ailleurs Café: located on Rue du Général Fiorella, opposite Place de Gaulle. No Corsican specialties on the program but delicious world cuisine with well-crafted and tasty dishes. Feel free to save some room for dessert, they’re just as good!
Ajaccio Tourist Map
To help you visualize the city a little better, I made you a tourist map of Ajaccio listing the places to visit that I talk about in this top 20 things to do in Ajaccio. 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 Ajaccio?
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