With a population of about 40,000 Bastia is an ideal gateway to the Cap Corse, a region of stunning scenery and excellent liquors. Having absorbed a range of influences over the last half century, the town feels far more Corsican than its southern counterpart, Ajaccio, especially in the narrow streets of its enchanting old town.


The town has different areas which are well worth exploring. The Citadelle and Terra Nova have a more Genoese flavour while the Vieille Ville and Vieux Port are more strictly Corsican and date back as far as the 15th century and Genoese rule. The town has a number of churches, and the baroque Eglise Saint Jean, and Eglise Sainte Croix are of particular note. Otherwise the Musée d'Ethnographie Corse, in the Palais des Gouverneurs, and Paisolo, a finely sculpted miniature of a traditional Corsican village, are interesting introductions to Corsica's past. Those looking to delve deeper into Corsican culture should enrol in Corsican language classes.

Sandy beaches stretch to the South of Bastia and good bird-watching is to be done at the island's biggest lake, the Etang de Biguglia, again to the South, while up the coast to the North lie a series of idyllic port-villages such as Macinaghju and Nonza and a number of medieval genoese towers.

Activities which can be organised in Bastia include sailing, diving, horse-riding and fishing. Hiking nothwards, into the Cap Corse region, is particularly rewarding and, to the east, visiting the stunning scenery of the Désert des Agriates is a must.


Bastia is a good place to buy Corsican produce and delicacies. Famous for its charcuterie - figatellu, lonzu, copa - the island also produces excellent cheeses such as tomme or brocciu and good wines, especially rosés. Pop into the Maison Mattei, just off Place St Nicolas, for local honey and wine and a bottle of the celebrated Cap Corse liquor.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Bastia is a good place to eat Corsica delicacies such as lonzo, copa or tomme goat's cheese. More substantial Corsican dishes are also on offer, not least in the small streets of the Vielle Ville or round the Vieux Port. Dining out in Bastia is generally good value and the atmosphere is strikingly homely. The seafood is always fresh and copious.

Bastia's waterfront is a lovely place to have evening drinks and is popular with the locals. Though the town has a couple of discos, these are small, low-key affairs.

Tourist Information

Bastia2 Rue Notre Dame de Lourdes, 20200 Bastia, Tel : 0033 (0)4 95 55 96 96Fax : 0033 (0)4 95 55 96 00,

Dorothy Carrington's Granite Island (1971) offers an invaluable introduction to Corsica.


Bastia has its own small airport with flights going to Gatwick, Nice, Paris and other French towns. Regular ferries cross over to the main French ports on the Med and to Genoa, Livorno, Piombino and La Spezia in Italy. The train route from Bastia to Ajaccio is spectacular and cuts through the heart of the Corsican mountains. Buses from Bastia serve other areas of the island.

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