Visit Ajaccio: Top 20 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions

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Things to Do in Ajaccio: The 20 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)

You want to visit Ajaccio during your trip to Corsica (France)?

Great idea!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide of the 20 best things to do in Ajaccio, with all points of interest and must-see attractions as well the best beaches around.

In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you itineraries to visit Ajaccio in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 days (or even 1 week!) as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do in Ajaccio? Where to stay?

Let’s find out!

Visit Ajaccio: All Must-See attractions

1. The National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence

During your stay in Ajaccio, you will notice that many places are named after Bonaparte. That’s not a surprise, as the emblematic French Emperor was born there!

That’s why I wanted to start this Ajaccio’s travel guide with the birth house of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Born on August 15, 1769, he spent a part of his childhood there. The last time he visited this house was in 1799, when he came home after his successful military campaign in Egypt.

The house is now a museum dedicated to the Bonaparte family. When walking through the different rooms (bedrooms, living room, dining room, boudoir), you will discover some of the original furniture, but also the Bonaparte’s family history and family tree.

You will find all the useful information to plan your visit on the official website.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you’re visiting Corsica and Ajaccio in August, don’t miss the Napoleonic Days, organized as a tribute to the Emperor.

During these 3 days,  you will enjoy military parades in costumes, Historical reenactment, exhibitions and concerts.

Napoléon Bonaparte Ajaccio
The National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence in Ajaccio

2. The Fesch Palace / Ajaccio’s fine art museum

If you’re an art lover, then you should definitely visit the Fesch Palace during your stay in Ajaccio.

It was built by Napoleon’s maternal uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, to create an art-dedicated place in Corsica. He also wanted to encourage the artistic and intellectual training of the island’s young people.

Nowadays, the Palace has kept his original purpose, as it houses Ajaccio’s Fine Arts Museum.

During your visit, you will enjoy masterpieces by great Italian painters such as Poussin, Botticelli or Titian. The museum hosts one of France’s largest collections, right after the Louvre Museum in Paris.

You can also discover a whole section dedicated to the Bonaparte family, with several portraits and another one presenting Corsican paintings.

And if you want to know more about the rates and schedules, you can visit the official website.

Fesch Palace Ajaccio
The Fesch Palace, Ajaccio’s Fine Arts Museum

3. The Imperial Chapel

The Fine Arts Museum’s entrance ticket allows you to discover another tourist attraction of Ajaccio: the Imperial Chapel.

Built in 1857 by Napoleon III, this historical monument is located right next to the museum’s South wing.

The chapel hosts the tombs of a few imperial family members, including Napoleon’s parents, Charles and Letizia Bonaparte.

You can also choose visit the Imperial Chapel without going to the Fesch museum before.

Imperial Chapel Ajaccio
The Imperial Chapel, in Ajaccio

4. The Ajaccio market

During your holidays in Corsica, you should definitely take some time to taste the best local specialties.

In Ajaccio, the best place to do so is the market located on the Foch square. There, you will find all the best local products: delicatessen, regional cheeses, wines, or jams.

It’s perfect to prepare a good picnic or to find the best products to bring back from your trip to Ajaccio!

You can enjoy the Ajaccio market every morning from April to October. Note that it closes on Mondays from November to March.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you’ve rented an apartment in Ajaccio and have the opportunity to cook, don’t hesitate to go to the fish market locted close to the City Hall. There, you can buy fresh fishes caught in the morning!

Corsican Delicatessen
Taste the best Corsican delicatessen at the Ajaccio market

5. Ajaccio Cathedral

While walking in Ajaccio, you will discover the city’s Cathedral.

In fact, don’t expect a huge building. The Cathedral is a rather small church located between the houses, recognizable by its bright orange facade. It was built at the end of the 16th century and is dedicated to Our-Lady-of-the-Assumption, Ajaccio’s patron saint, who saved the town from a plague epidemic.

If you’re lucky enough to get inside the Cathedral (as it has quite random visiting hours), don’t miss the “Vierge du Sacré-Coeur” (The Virgin of the Sacred Heart) painting by Eugène Delacroix. You will also discover beautiful frescoes.

And for the anecdote, Napoleon Bonaparte was baptized here in 1771.

Ajaccio Cathedral
Ajaccio Cathedral

6. Place de Gaulle

The Place de Gaulle is a large square, considered as the boundary between Ajaccio’s old town and the new districts.

There, you will find a statue of Napoleon (again!) surrounded by his 4 brothers, as well as a monument commemorating the liberation of Ajaccio by General de Gaulle, during World War 2.

The square is directly overlooking the sea. It’s also the starting point of the small shopping streets, where you will find many bars and restaurants.

The place often hosts animations and concerts in summer, as well as the Christmas Market in winter. The locals are often playing “Petanque” here, while their children are riding bicycles and scooters.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you need to park your car, there is a large underground car park under the square.

place de Gaulle Ajaccio
The Place de Gaulle, in Ajaccio

7. Bonaparte’s cave and Place d’Austerlitz

The Place d’Austerlitz is another tourist site of Ajaccio referring to Napoleon.

This vast square is dominated by a large statue of Bonaparte with is famous cocked hat. This statue is the exact replica of the one exhibited at the Invalides, in Paris.

The monument is completed by 2 eagles statues and a commemorative stone retracing all his victories and battles.

Right next to the monument, you can also go to Bonaparte’s cave. It is said that as a child, he often came here to contemplate the sea from these rocks.

Grotte Bonaparte place d'Austerlitz Ajaccio
Bonaparte Grotto and Place d’Austerlitz, Ajaccio

8. The Foreigners’ district

The surroundings of Cours Grandval, connecting Place de Gaulle and Place d’Austerlitz, are also known as the Foreigner’s district.

This neighborhood was built in the middle of the 19th century to welcome the English and German tourists looking for nice weather. During your stroll along the Cours Grandval, you will admire several beautiful buildings, including:

  • The Grand Hotel
  • Castle Conti
  • Cyrnos Palace 
  • The Anglican church
  • Germania Hotel.
Foreigner's district Ajaccio
The Grand Hotel, located in the Foreigner’s district in Ajaccio

9. The Little Train, Ajaccio’s tourist train

The small tourist train is often ranked among Ajaccio’s best tourist attractions. If you don’t feel like walking, it’s clearly the best way to discover the city!

The tours are starting from Place Foch (where the market is located) every 45 minutes. You will have the choice between 2 itineraries:

  • The first one, the “Sanguinaire itinerary”, lasts around 1h30 and takes you to:
    • Place de Gaulle
    • The Anglican Church
    • Bonaparte’s Cave with a 15-minute photo stop
    • The Chapel of the Greeks
    • The beaches
    • Sanguinaires Islands, with a 10 minutes stop
    • Ajaccio’s Cathedral
    • The citadel (I don’t mention it in this guide because it belongs to the army and thus can’t be visited)
    • The Bonaparte Residence
  • The second one is a 45-minutes long city tour that only focuses on the old town. During this tour, you will discover the historical center and its monuments.

You will find every information you need about the rates and schedules on the official website.

Ajaccio Little Train
Ajaccio’s little train

10. Ajaccio’s best beaches

What are the best places if you want to go swimming next to Ajaccio?

Here is a list of the closest beaches to Ajaccio:

  • Saint-François beach is the closest to the city center. Located next to the port and the citadel, it’s easily accessible by foot. This beach is often very busy!
  • Trottel beach, a sandy beach on the roadside, only a few steps away from the city center.
  • Barbicaja beach: a small sandy bay with big rocks next to the sea. There, you can enjoy restaurants and nautical activities.
  • Ariadne beach: a sandy beach located on the road to the Sanguinaires Islands. You can even have lunch in Ajaccio’s oldest beach restaurant!
  • Marinella beach: a beautiful beach with turquoise water. You can rent deckchairs and there are a few restaurants nearby.
  • The beach of Terre Sacrée: in my opinion, it’s the prettiest beach near Ajaccio, with its many small sandy coves and large rocks at the water’s edge. You will also see a commemorative monument honoring Corsican people who died for France during the first world war.
  • Ricanto beach: a 3-km long sandy beach located between the city center and Ajaccio airport.
Beach Terre Sacrée Ajaccio
The Beach of Terre Sacrée, near Ajaccio

11. Parata point and the Sanguinaires Islands

During your holidays in Ajaccio, you should definitely discover the magnificent natural site of Parata point.

This beautiful peninsula, and the 4 Sanguinaires Islands facing it, are labelled as a “Grand site de France” (a label awarding France’s most beautiful natural sites).

As the site is only accessible by foot, you will have to leave your car in one of the paid parkings lots located nearby, or to find a parking space along the road.

At the entrance, you will find an information point describing Parata point’s 3 marked trails.

  • The first path goes around the Parata peninsula, then climbs to the tower located on top. This tower is one of the 90 Genoese towers built to defend Corsica from barbarian attacks. At the end of the peninsula, you will enjoy the best panorama over the Sanguinaires Islands. It takes around 1 hour to do the round trip.
  • The second 40-minutes long path climbs the hills of Parata Point to reach a belvedere, offering a beautiful panoramic view of the Sanguinaires Islands.
  • The last one is the scent trail, a 1 hour round trip to discover Parata point’s beautiful flora.

The Sanguinaires islands are only accessible by boat. There are many boat excursions leaving from Parata point (close to the car park), or directly from the port of Ajaccio. Most of the cruises also allow you to take a stroll on the biggest island.

The most famous excursion lasts about 3 hours, including a 1-hour stop on Mezzu Mare, the largest island of the Sanguinaires archipelago. There, walk to the Alphonse Daudet lighthouse, or go swimming in one of the island’s many beaches and coves!

You can book your cruise directly by clicking the button below:

You can also opt for a cruise in the evening, especially made to admire the magnificent sunset over the Sanguinaires Islands. You won’t stop on the island as on the daily cruises, but you will enjoy a Corsican wine tasting and a buffet with local products, accompanied by Corsican traditional songs!

Click the button below to book this boat trip at sunset:

If you’re looking for more information about Parata point and the Sanguinaires Islands, you can visit the official website

Voyage Tips - Advice

The best time to admire the Sanguinaires Islands from Parata point is at sunset!

Sanguinaires Islands Ajaccio
Parata Point and the Sanguinaires Islands, near Ajaccio

12. Capo di Feno

You’ve already visited Ajaccio’s city centre, and also discovered the Sanguinaires Islands? If you don’t know what to do next, you should go to Capo di Feno.

This beautiful natural site is mostly renowned for its 2 very beautiful beaches:

  • Grand Capo beach, a large and wild sandy beach. Even if it’s quite popular among surfers, remember to always check the flag color before swimming, as the currents can be very strong!
  • Petit Capo beach or Sevani beach, only separated from Grand Capo by a field.

The 2 beaches are easily accessible by car, as there are car parks located close to each of them.

And if you like hiking, go to Parata Point and take the customs officers’ path. This beautiful walk along the entire coast offers you breathtaking views of the Genoese Tower and the Sanguinaires Islands!

The round trip from Parata Point to Capo di Feno takes around 3 hours. Of course, it will takes more if you choose to enjoy the beach!

capo di Feno
Capo di Feno

13. Boat trips from Ajaccio

Boat trips are clearly among the best things to do during your stay in Corsica. It allows you to discover remote places otherwise inaccessible, and magnificent natural landscapes.

I’ve already described above the cruise to the Sanguinaires Islands, but you can also choose between several other boat trips:

These boats tours are often crowded, so you should really book yours in advance by clicking the button below:

  • A full-day trip to Bonifacio: you will admire this incredible city perched on the cliffs and its magnificent rock formations. You will discover the city from the sea, but also have 4 hours of free time to walk in the city.

If you want to book your boat trip to Bonifacio from Ajaccio, just click the button below:

Bonifacio
Bonifacio

14. The best outdoor activities to do around Ajaccio

If you’re staying in Ajaccio for a few days or a week, you will have plenty of time to discover many great outdoor activities. Click on the links to get more details about each activity!

Travel Tips

You’re experiencing a bad weather day during your stay in Ajaccio? Don’t worry, I’ve got the solution!

The Corsica Arena complex features a bowling alley, a virtual reality room where you can fight zombies, and a playing area with trampolines and obstacle courses. It’s the perfect thing to do in Ajaccio when it rains!

Diving Corsica
Diving in Corsica

15. A Cupulatta turtle sanctuary

Located 20km away from Ajaccio, on the road to Bastia, the “A Cupulatta” turtle sanctuary is a great place to discover if you’re traveling with children.

It’s the largest park in Europe dedicated to turtles. It hosts more than 170 different species from all continents. You will discover species coming from Africa, Asia, America and of course Europe.

During your visit of this 2.5 hectares park, you will also learn more about the life of turtles from all over the world while observing them in a quiet environment.

For more information about the rates and schedules, you can visit the official website.

A Cupulatta Ajaccio
A Cupulatta turtle sanctuary, in Ajaccio

The 5 best things to do around Ajaccio

When you will have visited everything Ajaccio, you should continue your road trip in Corsica and visit the city’s surroundings.

Here is a list of the best things to do around Ajaccio!

16. Visit Ajaccio’s surroundings typical villages

If you chose to rent a car for your stay, it’s now time to explore the most beautiful villages close to Ajaccio.

The best places to visit are:

  • Villanova, located only 20 minutes by car from the center of Ajaccio: you will love this pretty village with its typical stone houses overlooking the Gulf of Lava. From there, several marked trails are taking you to the seaside.
  • Alata, renowned for its beautiful view of the city and the Gulf of Ajaccio.
  • Appietto and its medieval tower in the center of the village.
  • Bocognano:  from there, you can walk to the “Cascade du Voile de la Mariée” (literally “Bridal Veil Waterfall”).
  • Sarrola Carcopino, the starting point of a beautiful hike reaching one of the highest peaks in the surroundings of Ajaccio.
  • Tavaco, a great place if you want to enjoy a refreshing swim in a river!
  • Cuttoli Corticchiato where you will find many hiking trails.
Appietto Corsica
The village of Appietto, in Corsica

17. Porticcio

Porticcio is the closest seaside resort to Ajaccio.

There, you will discover a very lively town full of hotels, camping sites and tourist shops on its waterfront.

In Porticcio, you can enjoy the typical summer holidays, with several beach shops, a market on Tuesdays and Fridays, sports and music events, and many nautical activities!

From Porticcio, you can also do boat trips to the Scandola Nature reserve, Bonifacio or the Sanguinaires Islands. These trips are the same as those starting from Ajaccio.

There are also shuttle boats between Ajaccio and Porticcio. It takes only 20 minutes and avoid the traffic jams!

Porticcio
The seaside resort of Porticcio, near Ajaccio

18. Cargèse

From Ajaccio, drive for about 1h10 to reach the village of Cargese.

Even if it’s a very small village, it has an interesting history and is therefore worth a visit!

Cargese was built in the 18th century to welcome Greek immigrants. They even built their own Byzantine church, and it’s the only one in Corsica!

The village’s most famous postcard is the one of its 2 Latin and Byzantine churches facing each other.

From Cargese, you can also access beautiful beaches, or do a boat trip to the Scandola nature reserve.

And if you’re looking for great outdoor activities, you can choose between horse riding, diving or snorkeling.

Cargese
Cargese

19. The most beautiful beaches around Ajaccio

If you’ve already discovered all the best beaches close to Ajaccio, it’s now time to go a little bit further.

Here is a list of the most beautiful beaches in Ajaccio’s surroundings:

South of Ajaccio (after Porticcio)

  • Agosta beach: a long sandy beach, quieter than the one in Porticcio, even if it’s located only a 5 minutes drive away.  There, you can enjoy many nautical activities or experience your first dive!
  • Ruppione beach: a pretty sandy beach with rocks at the water’s edge. It’s a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, such as surfing, paddle or kayaking. it’s easy to access, with many parking spaces.
  • Mare e Sole beach or Silver beach: a very beautiful and large white sandy beach. There, you can hire pedal boats. Easily accessible by car, as there is a large parking lot close to the beach.

North of Ajaccio (towards Cargèse)

  • Stagnone, the closest white sand beach North of Ajaccio.
  • Liamone beach: a large and wild sandy beach.
  • Castellu cove, close to Sagone beach: a quite nice cove with big rocks in the water
  • Sagone: a seaside resort with a sandy beach
  • Capizzolu beach: beautiful white sand beach, only accessible by foot. One of the quietest beaches North of Ajaccio!
  • Menasina beach: a beautiful and quiet sandy beach with crystal clear water, ideal for snorkeling. Walk around 10 minutes from the road to get there.
Mare e Sole beach Corsica
Mare e Sole beach, towards Ajaccio

20. Lake Tolla

Lake Tolla is located 30 km away from Ajaccio.

This beautiful artificial lake is the perfect place to spend a summer afternoon. There, you can enjoy many nautical activities and rent kayaks and pedal boats. You can also walk around the lake or go fishing.

On the road from Ajaccio to Lake Tolla, you will also admire beautiful panoramas, discover typical villages and drive through the Prunelli Gorge.

If you want to try something different than the beaches, it’s clearly a great place to visit in Ajaccio’s surroundings!

Lake Tolla Corsica
Lake Tolla, towards Ajaccio

How many days to visit Ajaccio?

As Ajaccio is a rather small city, if you only want to discover its main places of interest, you won’t need more than one day.

Of course, if you want to go a bit further and visit the city’s surroundings, you should spend at least 3 days there.

And if you’re looking for quiet holidays with plenty of time to relax at the beach and enjoy outdoor activities, you can even spend a full week in Ajaccio.

Visit Ajaccio in 1 day

If you plan to spend only 1 day in Ajaccio during your trip to Corsica, don’t worry! It’s enough to visit the city and even the Sanguinaires Islands.

Here is the best itinerary to visit Ajaccio in one day:

  • If you’re an art lover, start your day with a visit to Ajaccio’s Fine Art Museum, the Fesch Palace
  • Discover the imperial chapel, located right next to the museum
  • Walk to Foch square to enjoy the Ajaccio market – If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the small tourist train to visit the city.
  • Then, visit the National Museum of Bonaparte Residence
  • Make a short stop at Ajaccio Cathedral
  • Continue your stroll through Place de Gaulle
  • Go to Cours Grandval and discover the foreigners’ district
  • Finish your walk at Place d’Austerlitz and visit Bonaparte’s cave
  • In the afternoon, you can choose between:
    • A road trip to Parata Point. There, take a stroll around the peninsula to enjoy its magnificent views over the Sanguinaires Islands! And if you feel motivated, you can opt for a 3-hour hike to discover the Capo di Feno Beach.
    • A boat trip to Sanguinaires Islands with a stop on the main island
    • A mix of the 2: a stroll at Parata Point in the afternoon, and a beautiful sunset cruise to Sanguinaires Islands.

Visit Ajaccio and its surroundings in 2 days

If you have 2 days in Ajaccio, in addition to the first day described above, you can add:

Or

And if you can’t decide between these 2 beautiful boat trips, how about choosing one for your 1st day and the second for the next day?

Scandola Nature Reserve Corsica
Boat trip in Scandola Nature Reserve

Visit Ajaccio in 3 days

If you spend 3 days in Ajaccio, in addition of the 2 days above, you can take your car and enjoy Ajaccio’s surroundings:

  • Discover the beautiful typical villages around Ajaccio
  • Take a stroll on the many marked trails starting from these villages
  • Spend the rest of the day at the beach, in Ajaccio or in its surroundings.

Visit Ajaccio in 4, 5 days or 1 week

If you plan to spend 4, 5 days or even a week in Ajaccio, you can also:

  • Spend a quiet day at Lake Tolla
  • Discover many other beautiful beaches, for example those around Porticcio
  • Visit A Capulatta Turtle Sanctuary. It’s a great idea for a family trip in Corsica!
  • Enjoy many outdoor activities: tree climbing, canyoning, diving… You can find the complete list in #14 of the article.

Where to stay in Ajaccio

  • Hotel Spunta Di Mare: Located only 150 meters away from the beach and 2 km from Foch square. This hotel offers colorful double rooms, some with a balcony overlooking the sea. The prices starts at 99€ per night with breakfast included. Strong points: the indoor swimming pool, the view of Ajaccio from the terrace, the proximity to the airport.
  • Best Western Plus Ajaccio Admiralty: Located 350 meters from the beach and 1 km from the port. You will love the modern and comfortable double rooms, starting  from 140€ per night, with an extra 12€ for breakfast. What I loved: the swimming pool, the friendly and helpful staff, the generous breakfast.
  • Sofitel Gulf of Ajaccio Thalassa Sea & Spa: This 5-star hotel is located in front of Ajaccio Bay and Sanguinaires islands. The warm and comfortable double room with a beautiful sea view are starting from 170€ per night. Breakfast will cost you 29€. Strong points: the heated outdoor swimming pool, the breathtaking sea view, the Spa. A great choice in Ajaccio for its exceptional location!
  • Cala di Sole: Located on the seaside between Ajaccio and the Sanguinaires islands. This hotel offers spacious and very well equipped double room with sea view. The prices starts at 200€, with an extra 17€ for breakfast. What I loved: the private beach, the swimming pool, the free parking, and the splendid view over the Sanguinaires islands. A great choice for a romantic stay in Ajaccio!
  • Hotel Le Week end: Also located between Ajaccio and La Parata, only 50 meters from the beach of Terre Sacrée. You will discover spacious suites with a private terrace and sea view starting from 390€. Breakfast will cost you 22€. What I loved: the beautiful location, the excellent breakfast, the setting, the calm. The best choice for a luxury stay in Ajaccio!
Hotel Le Week End - Luxury Hotel in Ajaccio
Hotel Le Week End – Luxury Hotel in Ajaccio

Where to eat in Ajaccio

  • The 20123: located rue du Roi de Rome, only a few steps from the Place de Gaulle. Inside, you will discover an atypical decor, recreating a village atmosphere with its water fountain and shops. The restaurant offers a unique menu based on Corsican specialties with 2 starters, a main course, cheese and dessert for less than 40€ per person. It’s delicious and very copious! You should book your table in advance, as the restaurant is often full.
  • Le Bistrot Gourmand: located Rue Pigliesi, next to Trottel beach. This restaurant is serving copious and well-presented dishes. Everything is homemade with fresh products! It’s clearly one of the best places where to eat in Ajaccio!
  • L’Ailleurs Café: located Rue du Général Fiorella, in front of the Place de Gaulle. There, you won’t find any typical specialties from Corsica, but cuisine from all over the world. Everything is well-prepared and tasty. Don’t forget to save space for a dessert, they are also delicious!

How to get to Ajaccio?

By plane

The plane is the fastest option to get to Ajaccio, as the airport is only 7 km away from the city centre.

As always, you should book your plane tickets as early as possible, as the flight prices to Corsica can vary a lot throughout the year!

Check the rates and schedules, with our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner. It’s a great way to get the best flight prices!

If you want to visit Ajaccio and its surroundings, you should really rent a car. It’s the only way to access the most beautiful beaches or remote mountain villages!

To get the best price for your car rental, you should use Rentalcars.com website. It will allow you to compare prices between all the car rental companies in Ajaccio.

Click the button below to check rental cars prices in Ajaccio now:

By ferry boat

You can access Ajaccio by ferry boat from Marseille and Toulon, as well as  from Sardinia and Italy.

Tourist map of Ajaccio

I have created for you a tourist map of Ajaccio and Corsica, listing all the must see attractions and points of interest I have talked about in this article. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a small arrow.

And you, what do you plan to visit during your stay in Ajaccio?

Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling to Corsica? These articles will help you !

Discover all my articles about Corsica: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Corsica are listed there.

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Visit Ajaccio
Visit Ajaccio: the 20 best points of interest
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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