Visit Bastia: Top 17 Things To Do and Must-See Attractions

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Things to Do in Bastia: The 17 Best Places to Visit (All Highlights)

You’re going to Corsica and plan to visit Bastia?

Great idea!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide of the 17 best things to do in Bastia, 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 Bastia in 1, 2 or 3 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

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

Let’s find out!

Visit Bastia: All Must-See attractions

1. St. Nicolas Square

Let’s start this Bastia travel guide with its most emblematic location: Saint-Nicolas Square.

This vast esplanade, one of France’s largest, is facing the ferry terminal welcoming the boats from the continent or Italy.

It hosts many events all over the year: concerts in summer, an ice rink during the Christmas period and the Salon du Chocolat (Chocolate fair), attracting thousands of gourmets every year in October.

There, you can also enjoy a large flea market on Sunday mornings.

Surrounded by large trees and borded by bars and restaurants, Saint-Nicolas Square is an ideal place to enjoy a drink on a terrace. There, you will also find the Cap Corse MATTEI boutique.

If you want to feel like a local, then you should definitely try Corsica’s emblematic aperitif brand!

On the square, you will also discover a statue of Napoleon, a war memorial and a bandstand.

Voyage Tips - Advice

Bastia Tourist Office is located on Saint-Nicolas Square. Get your map of the town here!

From the square, you can also take Bastia’s small tourist train. During this 50-minute guided tour, you will discover the city’s main points of interest.

You can buy the tickets at the tourist office, or directly from the driver. And if you’re looking for more information about the train, you should visit the official website.

Saint Nicolas Square Bastia
Saint Nicolas Square, in Bastia

2. Napoleon Street

Napoleon Street is a pedestrian street located next to Saint-Nicolas Square, in Terra Vecchia, Bastia’s oldest district.

During your visit, you will discover several craft shops, as well as many souvenir shops selling products from all over Corsica.

You can also admire 2 monuments:

  • Saint-Roch Oratory: built in 1604, it has a beautiful interior full of gold ornaments. With its red silk lined walls and sculpted wood paneling, it reminded me of Italian oratories.
  • The Oratory of Immaculate Conception: built in 1611 in the same style as Saint-Roch Oratory, it has a beautiful marble altar.

Then, continue your walk to the small “Allée de la Creation” and reach the market place.

As its name suggests, this place welcomes Bastia’s market every week-end. There, you will find many local producers, selling typical products such as Coppa, Lonzu or delicious Corsican cheeses.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you want to do a bit of shopping in Bastia, you should take a stroll on Boulevard Paoli and Rue César Campinchi. With Napoleon Street, these are Bastia’s main shopping streets.

Saint-Roch Oratory Napoleon Street Bastia
The Saint-Roch Oratory, in Napoleon Street, Bastia

3. The Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste

The Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste is located close to the market square. This church is clearly among Bastia’s must-see religious buildings!

Built between 1636 and 1666 and classified as a historical monument, it’s the largest church in Corsica.

This beautiful baroque church features twin bell towers and a richly decorated interior. During your visit, you will admire magnificent pieces of art, such as the silver tabernacle of the high altar and a marble statue of Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

Travel Tips

The Old Port is the best place if you want to admire the church’s beautiful facade and impressive bell towers.

Eglise Saint-Jean Baptiste Bastia
Eglise Saint-Jean Baptiste, in Bastia

4. The Old Port

During your stay in Bastia, you should definitely take a stroll around the Old Port, in the heart of the old town.

With its many bars and restaurants, it’s the perfect place if you want to enjoy a nice view of the boats while having a meal or a drink on a terrace. And if the port is rather quiet during the day, it becomes particularly busy and lively in the evening!

Vieux-Port Bastia
The Old Port of Bastia

5. Romieu Garden

Romieu Garden, located South of the Old Port and connecting the districts of Terra Vecchia and Nova Vecchia, is clearly one of Bastia’s must-see attractions.

Climb the monumental Romieu Stairs and admire a splendid view of the whole town of Bastia. It’s also a great place to have a refreshing walk under the shade of big trees.

Romieu Garden Bastia
Romieu Garden, in Bastia

6. The citadel of Bastia

Continue your walk through the Romieu Garden to reach the citadel, one of Bastia’s main points of interest.

The Citadel was built on a natural promontory in 1380 by a Genoese Governor. During your visit, you will discover many narrow streets and colorful picturesque buildings. There is even a few small restaurants with a sea view!

The best places to visit in Bastia’s citadel are:

  • Notre-Dame street, the main street
  • The Sainte-Marie Cathedral, showing a beautiful baroque interior and decorated with many Italian paintings. Don’t miss the processional statue of the Virgin Mary, entirely made in silver and weighing more than 500 kilos!
  • The Holy-Cross Brotherhood Oratory, a pure rococo-style church with a black Christ found in the sea by fishermen in 1428
  • The Dungeon Square: there, the shopkeepers who had cheated their customers were tied up (with their trousers down!) for a whole day. At the end of the day, their counter was broken, to make clear that they were not allowed to trade anymore. The Italian words for “Broken Counter” were “Banca Rotta”, giving birth to the well-known expression “Bankrupt”.
  • The Governors’ Palace housing the Bastia History Museum: I’ll tell you more about it just below.
  • The Louis XVI gate: it was once the only way to get in the citadel. On its left, there was the gallows, used for executions. Nowadays, the citadel’s gate and walls are classified as a historical monument.
  • The miniature village of René Mattei, located in the citadel’s former powder magazine. Discover a reproduction of a typical village of Corsica, with its mill, oven, sheepfold, river, church and bells! Be careful: as the schedules are quite random, it’s better to call before you come!
Bastia
Bastia

7. The Governors’ Palace / The History Museum of Bastia

The History Museum is another great place to visit during your stay in Bastia.

It is located in Bastia’s citadel, in the former Governor’s Palace, classified as a historical monument. You can’t miss its bright orange facade!

The museum is dedicated to Corsica’s heritage and History. There, you will discover an important collection of sculptures, paintings and furniture picturing more than 7 centuries of Bastia and the whole island’s History.

It’s a great way to learn more about the island before continuing your trip to Corsica!

The entrance ticket also includes an access to the governor’s gardens. There, you will enjoy a beautiful panorama of the city and the Cap Corse. And if the weather is clear enough, you will even see the Tuscan archipelago and Elba.

You will find more information about the rates and schedules on the official website.

Governor's Palace Bastia
Governor’s Palace, in Bastia

8. Bastia’s best beaches

What are the best beaches near Bastia?

First, I must warn you: you won’t find Corsica’s most beautiful beaches in Bastia.

If you’re looking for magnificent sandy beaches and remote coves, you should continue your itinerary in Corsica and visit Cap Corse or the Agriates Desert (I will tell you more about them later in this article).

But if you just want to take a dip or spend a relaxing afternoon close to Bastia, those beaches will do just fine!

Here are the closest beaches to Bastia:

  • Ficaghjola Beach is rather a small cove, accessible by a staircase and located only 300 meters from the citadel.
  • Arinella beach, a large sandy beach located south of Bastia. It’s a great place to enjoy many nautical activities, such as kayak, paddle or windsurfing.
  • Marana beach, a group of quite touristy white sand beaches bordered by the pine forest. There, you can enjoy many restaurants and nautical activities. You can also rent deckchairs and beach umbrellas.
  • Toga beach, a small pebble beach only 5 minutes from the city center.

Voyage Tips - Advice

A free shuttle bus starting from the tourist office takes you to Arinella beach, every 20 minutes between 8am and 7:30pm.

Arinella Beach Bastia
Arinella Beach, close to Bastia

9. The Biguglia Pond Nature Reserve

You’ve already discovered Bastia’s main points of interest?

Then, take your car and drive south for around 15 minutes to discover the Biguglia pond Nature Reserve, located between Bastia and its airport.

The Biguglia Reserve is Corsica’s largest wetland.

Walk along the discovery trail and try to spot the many birds, among the more than one hundred species living there! Will you be able to see the cormorants, herons, coots or pink flamingos?

On the site, you can also visit the “Ecomusée du Fortin”, an old Genoese fortress converted into an educative museum.

There, you will learn more about the nature reserve and its inhabitants. The entrance fee is only 2€, but you can also choose a guided tour and a 2-hour walk in the reserve for 4€.

Biguglia Pond Nature Reserve
The Biguglia Pond Nature Reserve

10. The most beautiful marked trails starting from Bastia

If you feel like walking during your holidays in Bastia, you can enjoy several pleasant walks starting from the city:

The Oratory of Monserato

This starting point of this trail is located behind Bastia’s courthouse. From there, you will walk to the Saint-Antoine convent, before reaching the Oratory of Monserato, only 10 minutes later.

This Oratory is mostly renowned for its “Scala Santa”, literally meaning “Holy Stairs”. There are only 10 of them in the whole world, as these stairs are an immense privilege granted by the Pope Pius VII to the inhabitants of Bastia.

The faithful can climb these red-velvet covered stairs on their knees to be absolved of all their sins.

The Toga Trail, in Alzeto

This path starts from the heights of the Bastia’s Old Port. Walk on the old mule track to enjoy a magnificent view over the city and the sea.

Hiking on the Glacières de Cardo trail

The Glacières de Cardo trail starts on the Cardo village’s main square. From there, it takes about 1h30 to reach the “Nieve”. These very old stone buildings were used to store ice.

This ice was used as an anesthetic during surgical operations, or simply by Bastia’s wealthy families who wanted to enjoy ice cream in the middle of summer!

The Oratory of Monserato
The Oratory of Monserato

The 7 best things to do around Bastia

If you’ve visited most of the city, you can now continue your road trip in Corsica by visiting the Bastia’s surroundings.

The best places to see around Bastia are:

11. The perched villages around Bastia

There are several beautiful perched villages located near Bastia.

During your stay in Bastia, you should discover:

  • Ville di Pietrabugno and its 2 hamlets, Alzeto and Guaïtella. During your visit, you will admire old houses from the 15th and 16th century, as well as fountains, oil presses and bread ovens. From Alzeto, walk on the marked trail to reach the town’s Ice House. It takes around 45 minutes.
  • San-Martino Di Lota regroups 11 hamlets. The best places to visit are the church of San Martino in Acqualta and the church of Santa Devoto in Pietranera. There are also several hiking trails accessible from the village.
  • Santa-Maria di Lota and its 6 hamlets. The village’s best points of interest are Miomo Marine, Figarella and its castle and church, or the 17th-century Genoese bridge of Mandriale. From there, you can also walk for around 1h15 to reach the Col Saint-Jean.
  • Furiani: there, you will discover an old Genoese tower. From there, walk on the marked trail to reach Santa Maria Assunta church. Built in the 9th century, it’s classified as a Historical Monument. If you want to enter the church, you must first take the keys at Furiani town hall!
Santa Maria di Lota Corsica
Santa Maria di Lota, in Corsica

12. Cap Corse

Cap Corse is located North of Bastia. It’s clearly one of Corsica’s must-see attractions, as the natural landscapes and beaches are truly splendid!

You can drive along Cap Corse’s beautiful roads, but if you’re an hiking lover, you should definitely enjoy one of Corsica’s most famous hikes: the Cap Corse Customs Officers’ path. This 19-km long walk connects Macinaggio and Centuri.

If you don’t feel like walking that much, don’t worry!

The most interresting part of the trail, from Macinaggio to Barcaggio, offers amazing viewpoints and beautiful beaches where you can stop for a swim.

The round trip takes around 3h30, but you can choose to make the return trip by boat.

There are many other great things you can do in Cap Corse:

  • Do a 2-hour boat trip. It’s the perfect way to discover Cap Corse without walking too much! This cruise also includes a short swimming stop.
  • Discover the beautiful villages of Rogliano, Barrettali, Canari…
  • Take a dip at the black pebble beach of Nonza
  • Admire the panorama over the whole Cap Corse from the Mattei Mill viewpoint
  • Drive along the Patrimonio wine route

If you want more information about the best places to visit in Cap Corse, have a look at my article:  The 15 best things to do in Cap Corse?

Cap Corse
Cap Corse

13. Saint-Florent and the Agriates Desert

If you want to discover 2 splendid beaches, often ranked among Corsica’s most beautiful, then you should definitely visit the Agriates Desert.

From Bastia, drive for around 40 minutes to discover the pretty seaside village of Saint-Florent. From there, take the boat to the Agriates Desert.

In only 20 minutes, you will reach the beaches of Saleccia and Lotu. These two beaches, with their turquoise waters and white sand, are clearly among the most beautiful in Bastia’s surroundings.

If you want to know more about the Agriates Desert, you should read my article: Visit the Agriates Desert: the definitive guide.

You will also find detailed information about Saint-Florent in my article: The 12 best things to do in Saint-Florent.

Voyage Tips - Advice

You can also opt for a day trip from Bastia to the beach of Saleccia.

During this guided tour, you will explore the roads of Cap Corse in a 4WD vehicle and reach Saleccia beach. There, you will have a few hours of free time to take a dip or just relax.

Click the button below to book this tour:

Agriates Desert
The Agriates Desert

14. Corte

Corte is located at the heart of Corsica, only 1h10 away from Bastia by car.

During your walk in the city, you will discover:

  • The citadel and the eagle’s nest
  • The Regional Museum of Anthropology, dedicated to the island’s heritage and history
  • The belvedere and its panorama over the citadel
  • The Cours Paoli

And if you’re an hiking lover, you can enjoy many beautiful hikes in Corte‘s surroundings. The most popular are Restonica Gorge, Lake Nino or Vizzavona forest.

For more information about Corte, you can read my detailed article about the city:  The 20 best things to do in Corte.

Corte
Corte

15. The archaeological site of Mariana

If you’re an history enthusiast, then you should definitely visit the archaeological site of Mariana. 

This ancient site located 25 km south of Bastia (near the airport) is free.

During your visit, you will discover many vestiges of an ancient Roman city, including: a market, a necropolis and several mosaics.

You will also admire Canonica Cathedral, built during the Middle Ages, at the beginning of the 12th century. It’s dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta.

Note that archaeological works are still in progress on the site, and that they’re planning to open a museum.

Canonica Cathedral
The Canonica Cathedral

16. The wine route

If you’re looking for another great thing to do in Bastia’s surroundings, you should take the wine route.

From Bastia, drive North to Cap Corse and discover its many vineyards. One of Corsica’s most renowned wines is the Patrimonio PDO, produced by more than 30 wineries near the village of Patrimonio.

Don’t forget to stop at a wine estate for a tasting session!

The Muscat-du-Cap-Corse PDO, often ranked among the world’s best muscats, in also made in Nebbiu region, near the city of Saint-Florent.

Patrimonio Corsica
Patrimonio, in Corsica – The wine route

17. The “Route des Sens Authentiques”

The “Route des Sens Authentiques” is an original initiative to promote Corsica’s typical products.

During your road trip in Corsica, you will find blue roadside signs indicating local workshops and farms. Follow those signs to discover the many vineyards, producers, distilleries or craftsmen located all around the island.

These signs also indicate that the members are respecting precise guidelines to guarantee the products’ quality and origin.

It’s a great way to find the best local products!

You will find every information you need about the Route des Sens on the official website.

Route des sens Authentiques Corsica
The “Route des Sens Authentiques” in Corsica

How many days to visit Bastia?

If you want to visit Bastia’s city centre and discover its main points of interest, you won’t need more than a day.

But if you wish to discover the city’s surroundings, you should spend at least 2 or 3 days in Bastia.

You will find here my itineraries to make the most of your 1, 2 or 3 days stay in Bastia.

1 day in Bastia

You only have one day to visit Bastia?

No problem!

Here is the best itinerary to discover the city’s must-see attractions!

  • Start your day in Saint-Nicolas Square
  • Continue your walk in Napoleon Street, and admire the 2 Oratories: Saint-Roch and The Immaculate Conception.
  • Go to the market place
  • Visit Saint-Jean Baptiste church
  • Take a stroll in the Old Port, then reach the Romieu garden
  • Discover Bastia’s citadel
  • Visit the History Museum of Bastia
  • For the rest of the day, you can choose between:
    • Relax and take a dip at one of the beaches near Bastia
    • Take a stroll and discover the walking trails starting from the city
    • Visit Biguglia Pond Nature Reserve.

2 days in Bastia and its surroundings

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

  • A day in the Agriates desert. Take the shuttle boat from Saint-Florent and enjoy the Saleccia and Lotu beaches.

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you don’t feel like driving, how about an organized day-trip to Saleccia beach from Bastia?

During this guided 4WD road trip, you will discover the roads of Cap Corse, then stop at Saleccia Beach. There, you will have a few hours to relax and swim.

Click the button below to book your tour:

3 days or more in Bastia and its surroundings

If you’re spending 3 days or more in Bastia, in addition to the 2 days above, you can:

  • Go to Cap Corse. During your road trip, you can also take some time to follow the Wine Route or discover the craftsmen and producers of the “Route des Sens Authentiques!
  • Drive to the perched villages located near Bastia. From there, follow the marked walking trails to enjoy magnificent panoramas!
  • Visit Corte and discover Corsica’s mountains.

Where to stay in Bastia

  • Best Western Bastia Centre: Located 1 km away from the Old Port and the city centre. This hotel offers spacious and very clean double rooms starting from 75€ per night, with an extra 11.50€. Strong points: the comfortable rooms, the private parking, the kind staff. A great choice in Bastia for its exceptional value for money!
  • Hotel Port Toga:  This hotel is located in the heart of Bastia, facing the ferry terminal. You will love the modern double rooms with comfortable beds. The prices starts at 85€ per night. What I loved: the beautiful roof terrace, the sea view, the copious breakfast. If you have to take the ferry, it’s clearly a great choice for your stay in Bastia!
  • Hotel Restaurant & Spa L’Ostella: Located 4 km away from the centre and 500 meters from the beach. There, you can enjoy comfortable double rooms, some with a balcony and a sea view, starting from 90€ per night, with an extra 12.50€ for breakfast. Strong points: the caring staff, the excellent restaurant, the wellness centre with an indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi.
  • Alivi: Located 350 meters from the beach and 2 km from Bastia’s city centre. The double rooms with a terrace overlooking the sea are starting from 135€, and the breakfast costs an extra 16€. Strong points: the swimming pool, the location, the view, the restaurant. It’s my  recommendation for a high-end stay in Bastia!
  • Hotel Des Gouverneurs: located in the citadel, only a 2-minute walk from the Old Port. There, you will enjoy elegant and cosy double rooms starting from 180€. Breakfast will cost you 19€. What I loved: the beautiful view of Bastia and the sea, the exceptional location, the warm welcoming staff and the indoor swimming pool. It’s my recommendation for a luxury stay in Bastia!
Bastia Port
The port of Bastia

Where to eat in Bastia

  • La Table de Nathalie: a small restaurant located on Boulevard Paoli, behind Saint-Nicolas Square. It offers an original cuisine based on excellent fresh products. It’s the perfect combination of tradition and modernity! The dishes are copious and very well presented. Everything is homemade and the staff is very kind. You should book your table in advance, as there are not many tables!
  • Pizzeria Chez Vincent: located rue Saint-Michel. If you want to taste excellent pizzas or delicious burgers, you’re at the right place! You will also enjoy a beautiful view of the old port while dining on the terrace.
  • Le petit Zinc: located 1 rue de l’Ancienne Poste. It’s for me one of Bastia’s best restaurants! The cuisine is refined and delicate, the staff is very caring and you will enjoy a chic and trendy atmosphere. You will definitely enjoy a good meal and have a good time there.

How to get to Bastia?

By plane

Bastia airport is located 20 km South of the city centre.

You should book your plane tickets as early as possible, as the flight prices to Bastia can vary a lot throughout the year.

So to check the rates and schedules, you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner. You will get the best prices for you flights to Corsica.

If you want to visit Bastia and its surroundings, you should really rent a car at the airport, before starting your itinerary in Corsica. It’s really complicated or even impossible to visit Corsica without a car!

If you want to rent a car in Corsica, you should use Rentalcars.com website.

This very convenient website allows you to compare prices between all the rental companies in Bastia. Choose the best price, or the company with the best customer’s reviews, depending on the vehicle category or the rental duration.

If you don’t have any insurance included with your credit card, you can opt for the “Full Protection Insurance”, to get fully refunded in case of accident or theft.

Click the button below to check rental cars prices for your trip to Bastia now:

By ferry boat

The port of Bastia welcomes ferry boats from Nice, Marseille, Toulon and Italy.

Tourist map of Bastia

I have created for you a tourist map of Bastia 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 on it.

And you, what do you plan to do during your trip to Bastia?

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 Bastia
Visit Bastia: the 17 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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