Calanques de Piana: The definitive guide

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How to visit the Calanques de Piana?

You want to visit the Calanques de Piana during your trip to Corsica?

Great idea!

You will for sure love to discover this exceptional UNESCO World Heritage site featuring stunningly shaped red rock cliffs plunging into translucent water.

In order to help you plan your visit, I have prepared this guide of the Calanques de Piana, with all the info you will need for an amazing day!

In addition, I will also give you a list of the best things to do around the Calanques de Piana as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

They are 3 different ways to visit the Calanques de Piana:

  • By boat (the most popular!)
  • By car
  • On foot

Here are all the info for each of them:

Visit the Calanques de Piana by boat

If you want to visit the Calanques de Piana by boat, you’ll have 3 options:

  • Do a 1h30 boat trip from Porto
  • Opt for a combined cruise to visit Scandola, Girolata and the Calanques de Piana from Porto
  • Do a cruise from Ajaccio to discover Scandola, Girolata and the Calanques de Piana

So, what’s the best way to discover the Calanques de Piana during your stay in Corsica? You’ll find every details you need about these boat trips below:

Cruise to the Calanques de Piana from Porto

The Calanques de Piana are among the best places to visit during your itinerary in Corsica. You should opt for a cruise to discover this splendid natural site, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

These 1h30 boat-trips are starting every day from the port of Porto. This small seaside resort is located Northwest of Corsica, between Calvi and Ajaccio. There are several boats per day, so you can choose the schedule that suits you the best!

During this cruise, you’ll sail along the coast to reach Ficajola beach, and then Capo Rosso. There, you’ll discover Corsica’s highest Genoese tower.

The Calanques de Piana are located right after the cape.

During your journey, you’ll admire sublime pink and red volcanic cliffs and rocks shaped by erosion. These magnificent landscapes are sublimated by incredible turquoise waters, and are definitely among Corsica’s most beautiful!

As these boat trips to the Calanques de Piana are among Corsica’s must-see attractions, you should definitely book your cruise in advance.

Click the button below to book this boat tour to the Calanques de Piana:

Choose the number of participants, the date, and select the option: Capo Rosso and Calanche de Piana

Voyage Tips - Advice

You should visit the Calanques de Piana during the Afternoon. The red rocks and cliffs are offering even more intense colors!

Calanques de Piana
Visit the Calanques de Piana by boat

Visit the Calanques de Piana, Scandola and Girolata on a combined cruise

There is another boat trip also departing from Porto.

This longer cruise takes around 4 or 5 hours and allows you to discover Scandola Nature Reserve, the small fishing village of Girolata (I’ll tell you more about it a little later) and the Calanques de Piana on the same day.

It’s clearly the best boat trip to do in the Gulf of Porto!

In Scandola Nature Reserve, you’ll admire some of Corsica’s most beautiful landscapes.

As in the Calanques de Piana, you’ll discover sublime volcanic geological formations, such as basalt organs and tafoni (holes dug in the rock by the wind and the sea).

This protected natural site also shelters an exceptional wildlife, kept perfectly safe from tourism and fishing.

Keep your eyes open and try to spot Scandola’s emblematic bird, the osprey!

The only way to discover Scandola Nature Reserve is to do a boat-trip. That’s why you should really opt for this combined cruise.

You’ll have the choice between 2 types of boats:

  • A hybrid ship, with an electric propulsion to limit its impact on the environment, for up to 100 people.

Click the button below to book your cruise to Scandola, Piana and Girolata on a hybrid boat:

Choose the number of participants, the date, and select the 2nd option: Scandola, Girolata and Calanche de Piana Boat Cruise.

  • A semi-rigid boat for up to 12 people, if you’re looking for a more intimate trip:

Click here to book your semi-rigid boat trip to Piana and Scandola:

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you’ve got back problems, you’re pregnant or you’re traveling to Corsica with young children, you should rather opt for the Hybrid boat tour, as they are larger and thus more stable.

You can visit the Calanques de Piana by boat whatever your age or physical condition.

Boat-trip Calanques de Piana
Boat-trip to the Calanques de Piana

Cruise to the Calanques de Piana from Ajaccio

If you’re staying in Ajaccio during your holidays in Corsica, you can also do a boat trip to visit the Calanques de Piana.

From the port of Ajaccio, you can enjoy a full-day cruise to discover the Calanques de Piana’s magnificent scenery.

During this excursion, you’ll sail along the coast North of Ajaccio to reach Scandola Nature Reserve. You’ll stop in the village of Girolata for lunch, and then get back in the boat to discover the Calanques de Piana.

Click the button below to book this boat trip to the Calanques de Piana from Ajaccio:

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you’re staying in Porticcio, the closest seaside resort to Ajaccio, you can book your boat trip to the Calanques de Piana from there:

Choose the number of participants, the date, and select the 2nd option:  “Full-day boat tour from Porticcio”.

Visit the Calanques de Piana on foot

During your holidays in Corsica, you should take some time to visit the Calanques de Piana on foot, even if you did a boat-trip. It’s the perfect opportunity to discover many beautiful panoramas of the sea and cliffs!

There are several marked trails to hike in the Calanques de Piana.

The most popular hike starts from the “Tête de Chien” (literally “Dog’s head”) car park, between Porto and Piana.

From there, walk for about 20 minutes on the “Chemin du château fort” (“Castle Trail”) to reach a belvedere offering a magnificent view of the coves.

It takes a bit more time to get back to your car, as the trail is quite steep! (Be careful, as it must be slippery when it rains)

There are several other trails you can discover in the Calanques de Piana:

  • A 2-hour round trip on a mule track, starting from Mezzanu bridge.
  • The “Chemin de la Châtaigneraie” (chestnut grove path), located close to the village of Piana. Count about 2.5 hours for the round trip.
  • The 6-hour round trip to Capo d’Orto, starting from the stadium of Piana. For experienced hikers.

A bit further from Piana, you can also hike on the Capo Rosso trail.

This hike starts about 6 km from Piana, towards Arone beach. There is a parking lot at the snack bar along the road.

During this 3-hour round trip, you’ll reach a Genoese tower and enjoy a breathtaking view over the whole gulf of Porto and the Calanques de Piana.

Voyage Tips - Advice

You should go to Piana tourist office to get a map of the many hiking trails in the Calanques de Piana.

Don’t forget your hiking shoes and many bottles of water!

Calanques de Piana
Visit the Calanques de Piana on foot – The “Chemin du Château-Fort”

Visit the Calanques de Piana by car

If you want to visit the Calanques de Piana by car, you have to take the D81 road, connecting Porto to Piana. It’s the only road in the Calanques!

During your journey, you’ll drive along the coast and admire the beautiful red cliffs sculpted by the wind.

Be careful, as the road is narrow, sinuous and very busy in summer.

As you’ll discover magnificent landscapes, you’ll certainly want to take some pictures. Don’t stop your car in the middle of the road, and don’t park on the roadside.

There are no parking spaces on the roadside, as it’s strictly reserved for crossings. You could block the whole road if you park there.

It’s also not recommended to walk on the road, as it can get very dangerous.

If you want to make a short but completely safe stop, park your car at the café “Les Roches Bleues”. Have a drink on the panoramic terrace and enjoy the breathtaking view of the Calanques de Piana!

Voyage Tips - Advice

You should visit the Calanques de Piana in the late afternoon. You’ll get the best lighting for your pictures.

Swimming in the Calanques de Piana

If you want to take a dip in the Calanques, you can choose between 2 beaches:

  • Ficajola beach, a beautiful small pebble and sand beach, surrounded by the cliffs, located 4 km after the village of Piana. From the parking lot, walk for about 10 minutes to get there.
  • Arone beach, located after Capo Rosso, 12 km from the village of Piana. You’ll love this large and beautiful sandy beach, with a few bars and restaurants and a free parking. You’ll also discover magnificent views of the Gulf of Porto and Capo Rosso on your way there!

Diving in the Calanques de Piana

If you want to go diving in the Calanques de Piana, you’ll need to contact the Porto Diving Centre.

This diving centre organizes excursions to the edges of Scandola Nature Reserve. There, you’ll enjoy an incredible wildlife, such as groupers, moray eels, spiny lobsters and colorful sea sponges. It’s one of Corsica’s most beautiful diving spots!

And if you’re an experienced diver, you can also dive down to 20 meters and discover the remains of an old coal mine.

If you want more information to organize your diving excursion, you can visit this website.

Diving Piana
Diving in the Calanques de Piana

The 8 best things to do near the Calanques de Piana

In addition to the Calanques de Piana, you should take some time to visit the surroundings during your holidays in Corsica.

Here is my list of the best places to visit near the Calanques de Piana:

Porto

Porto is a small seaside resort welcoming many tourists every year during summer.

It’s also the starting point of the boat trips to Scandola Nature Reserve and the Calanques de Piana.

There, you’ll find many bars, restaurants and hotels, and a large sandy beach if you want to take a dip!

Girolata

If you choose to do a combined boat trip to Scandola and Piana, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the small fishing village of Girolata.

This village has only 20 year-round inhabitants and rely exclusively on tourism.

In the village, you’ll discover a few restaurants, mostly frequented by tourists doing boat-trips from Porto and Ajaccio. Walk along the village’s small alleys to enjoy splendid viewpoints.

Girolata has been completely preserved from mass-tourism, as it can only be reached by boat or on foot.

The only way to reach Girolata on foot is the postman’s path, named after a local figure: the former postman Guy Ceccaldi (now deceased). He was doing this hike every day to deliver the mail to the inhabitants!

He was quite famous localy and even had a few interviews on television and in newspapers.

This mule track starts from the Col de la Croix, 15 km north of Porto on the D81 road. The 7-km hike to Girolata lasts around 1h45.

During your walk, you’ll enjoy beautiful views of the sea and the village.

You can also stop for a swim at the beautiful and wild Tuara beach.

Girolata Corsica
Girolata – Corsica

Scandola Nature Reserve

Scandola Nature Reserve is another place you must absolutely discover during your holidays in Corsica.

This UNESCO World heritage site is located north of Porto and the Calanques de Piana.

It’s strictly forbidden to hike in the reserve, and there are no roads to get there. That’s why you have to do a boat-trip to discover this beautiful natural site.

You should opt for the combined boat trip to the Calanques de Piana, Scandola Nature Reserve and Girolata I’ve mentioned earlier in this article.

If you haven’t already booked your cruise, you can do it right here:

You can have more information about Scandola Nature Reserve in my dedicated article: The definitive guide to visit Scandola Nature Reserve.

Scandola Nature Reserve Corsica
Boat trip in Scandola Nature Reserve

The village of Piana

If you visit the Calanques de Piana on foot, you’ll discover many marked trails starting from the village of Piana.

This village is ranked among France’s most beautiful, and is mostly renowned for its exceptional location close to the Calanques.

There, you’ll discover a few bars and restaurants around the main square, as well as Sainte-Marie church and its beautiful artworks listed as historical monuments.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Don’t forget to get your detailed map of Piana’s marked trails at the tourist office.

Spelunca Gorge

The Spelunca Gorge is another great place to visit in the surroundings of the Calanques de Piana.

There, you can do a beautiful hike down the Gorge, connecting the villages of Evisa and Ota.

The round trip takes about 5 hours: 2 hours to go down, and 3 hours to walk back up, as the trail is quite steep! Don’t forget your hiking shoes, as it’s very rocky.

If you’re on a family holiday in Corsica, you can opt for a shorter and easier version of this hike, starting from Ota. Follow the path along the river for about 30 minutes, to reach the small stone bridge of Zaglia, listed as a historical monument.

In this quiet and shaded place, you can also deep your feet in the river to refresh yourself.

Spelunca Gorge
Spelunca Gorge

The forest of Aïtone

If you want to enjoy another beautiful natural site after visiting the Calanques de Piana, you should discover the forest of Aïtone, located only a 40-minute drive from Porto.

There, you can do a beautiful walk under the shade of huge hundred-year-old pine trees, and take a refreshing dip in the river’s natural swimming pools.

As the river is only a 10-minute walk from the car park, it’s clearly the perfect place for a family picnic near the Calanques de Piana!

Voyage Tips - Advice

The road to Aïtone is often full of wild pigs walking freely on the road. Be careful while driving!

The forest of Aïtone, in Corsica
The forest of Aïtone, in Corsica

Ajaccio

Located 2 hour south of Porto by car, Ajaccio is the largest city near the Calanques de Piana.

You won’t need more than a half day to visit Ajaccio’s old town. The best places to visit are:

  • The Fesch Museum, if you’re an art lover!
  • The Foch Square and Ajaccio market every morning
  • The National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence, in Napoleon’s birth house
  • The Ajaccio Cathedral and it’s bright orange facade
  • General de Gaulle Square
  • The Foreigners’ district

During your trip to Ajaccio, you should also discover the Sanguinaires island. Go to Parata Point to enjoy a beautiful panorama on these islands, or opt for a boat trip to get there!

You can find more information about Ajaccio in my article: The 20 best things to do in Ajaccio.

Sanguinaires Islands Ajaccio
The Sanguinaires Islands, near Ajaccio

Calvi

Calvi is another beautiful town to visit in the surroundings of the Calanques de Piana. It’s located 1h50 away by car.

During your stroll in Calvi, you’ll discover the citadel and its viewpoints, the old town, the port and Calvi beach.

There are also many beautiful places to visit in the surroundings, such as:

You want to learn more about the best places to visit in Calvi? Then you should have a look at my article: Visit Calvi: the definitive guide.

Revellata Calvi
The Revellata Peninsula, near Calvi

Where to stay close to the Calanques de Piana

As the boat trips to the Calanques de Piana are starting from the port of Porto, you should spend at least 1 night in Porto.

You can get there in the morning, visit the Calanques and stay in Porto for the night, or opt for a cruise in the morning after spending the night in Porto. You’ll enjoy many hotels, restaurants and bars in this small seaside resort.

You can also choose to stay in the village of Piana. It’s the best place to stay you want to visit the Calanques de Piana on foot.

Best hotels and accommodations in Porto:

  • Hotel and Residence Cala di sole: Located 1.2 km away from the port of Porto. The double rooms with balcony are starting from 80€ per night. What I loved: the swimming pool, the beautiful view of the sea and mountains, the warm welcoming staff.  It’s one of the cheapest places in Porto, and it offers a great value for money!
  • Hotel Le Romantique: Located only 100 metres away from the beach of Porto. This hotel offers spacious double rooms with a small balcony and a view over the port. The prices start at 90€, breakfast available for an extra 9.50€. Strong points: the kind staff, the perfect location close to the port and the beach, the generous breakfast.
  • Logis Hotel Le Lonca: Located 2 km from the port and 1 km from the beach. You’ll love the clean and spacious double rooms starting from 100€ per night. Breakfast for 11€. Strong points: the swimming pool, the private parking, the breakfast on the terrace, the helpful staff.
  • Les Flots Bleus: Located on the seafront. This hotel offers recently renovated double rooms with a balcony overlooking the sea, starting from 105€ per night, breakfast available for an extra 10€. What I loved: the magnificent view, the exceptional location, the warm welcoming staff. A great choice in Porto for its exceptional value for money!
  • Residence Hotel Capu Seninu: Located on the riverside, right next to the port. These modern and well-equipped studios and apartments with a dishwasher, a washing machine and a balcony are starting from 160€ per night. Strong Points: the spacious and well decorated accommodation, the private parking. It’s my recommendation for a family holiday in Porto, as you can rent an apartment for up to 6 people!

Best hotels in Piana:

  • Mare e Monti: Located outside the village of Piana. The double rooms with balcony and a sea or mountain view are starting from 105€ per night including breakfast. Strong points: the view, the kind and helpful staff, the quietness.
  • Hotel Scandola: Located in the heart of the village. You’ll love the modern and cosy double rooms starting from 160€ per night, breakfast available for an extra 15€. What I loved: the beautiful decoration, the exceptional view of the creeks of Piana, the comfortable rooms, the great restaurant. A great choice in Piana for its exceptional value for money!
  • Hotel Capo Rosso: Located 5 km from the Calanques and 2 km from Capo Rosso. This hotel offers comfortable double rooms with a balcony overlooking the gulf. The prices starts at 230€ per night including breakfast. Strong points: the swimming pool and the terrace with a beautiful view of the creeks, the quietness, the very good restaurant, the excellent breakfast. It’s my recommandation for a top-of-the-range hotel in Piana!
  • Hotel Les Roches Rouges: This charming hotel dating from 1912 is located in the village of Piana. It offers spacious rooms with an authentique design, wooden furniture and parquet floor starting from 240€ per night including breakfast. What I loved: the panoramic terrace, the exceptional location on top of the cliffs, the gastronomic restaurant.
Hotel Capo Rosso - Hotel de luxe aux calanques de Piana
Hotel Capo Rosso – Luxury hotel in the creeks of Piana

How to get to the Calanques de Piana?

Ajaccio-Piana

It takes about 2 hours by car to reach Porto or Piana from Ajaccio. If you leave Ajaccio in the morning, you’ll have enough time to visit Scandola and Piana in the afternoon.

You can also do a boat-trip to Piana directly from Ajaccio. 

It would be a shame not to visit the Calanques of Piana during your stay in Corsica! You can book this trip right here.

And if you’re looking for more information about Ajaccio, you can read my detailed article: The 20 best things to do in Ajaccio.

Calvi-Piana

Calvi is located about 1h50 by car from Porto and Piana.

If you want to visit Calvi during your holidays in Corsica, have a look at my article: Visit Calvi: the definitive guide.

Corte-Piana

The Calanques de Piana are located a 2-hour drive from Corte.

During your journey, you’ll discover another beautiful natural site, the Scala di Santa Regina. You’ll be amazed by this spectacular rock formation in the middle of the mountains!

And if you feel like visiting Corte, before or after your trip to the Calanques de Piana, have a look at my article: The definitive guide to visit Corte.

And you, have you planned to visit the Calanques de Piana during your holidays in Corsica?

Book your trip now and save money!

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Visit Calanques de Piana Corsica
Visit the Calanques de Piana, in Corsica
Vincent

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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