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Port Review: Ajaccio, Corsica

Joanna Hall

Ajaccio is Corsica’s capital and the largest settlement on the island, and it is famous as the birthplace and home of Napoleon Bonaparte who was born there in 1769. For cruise passengers, however, it’s also a fascinating destination to enjoy on some Mediterranean cruises.

The Facts 

Location: On the west coast of the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean.

Currency: The Euro.

Docking/Anchoring: Ships dock near the downtown area.

Transport: Most cruise ships will offer a shuttle service to the city centre but you can easily walk there.


Ajaccio is located on the west coast of the beautiful island of Corsica, just 210 nautical miles (390 km) southeast of Marseille, and it’s a city which pays homage to its most famous inhabitant, Napoleon Bonaparte. Though distinctly French in flavour, its strategic location made the island and its capital Ajaccio a prize possession among Mediterranean powers, and much of the architecture is Italian with impressive citadels, bridges and churches. It’s a relaxed and attractive place, with an exceptionally mild climate, and a wealth of cafes, restaurants and shops.

Don’t Miss 

The Old Town holds the most interest in Ajaccio. It’s a cluster of ancient streets spreading north and south of place Foch, which opens out to the seafront by the port and the marina. Nearby Place de Gaulle forms the town centre and is the source of the main thoroughfare, Cours Napoleon.

Napoleon’s family house on Rue Saint Charles in the Old Town is now a museum dedicated to the Bonaparte family. It features original furniture, paintings and decorations which take you back in time to the 18th century and provides the best insight into the life of Ajaccio’s most famous resident. 

Located near the Old Town is the Citadel, which was originally built in 1492 as a fortress against sea attacks. It was used as a prison during WWII and you can see and photograph the military complex, but no visits are allowed inside.

Best Photo Op

Apart from the statue of Napoleon in Place Foch, the other essential happy snap is from Boulevard Lantivy where you get a great panorama of the Old Town across the sea. 


There are some attractive shops in the Old Town, and throughout Ajaccio, but the goods are expensive as most are imported from the mainland. But if you really must shop, there are arts and crafts shops throughout the city with local paintings, leatherwork, pottery and wood carvings. 

Food And Drink

Distinctly French, this is where you can wander the cobbled streets and graze through some wicked local delicacies including brocciu, which is a goat’s cheese available in the market areas. And of course, being French, any of the boulangerie will sell divine croissants and cakes. Also keep an eye out for local olives and wines and if you really want to push the boat out and try a great restaurant, then L’Amuse Bouche (3 Rue Pugliesi Conti) is rated one of the best on the island which specialises in seafood but also offers mouth-watering traditional meat dishes.   

Pick Of The Excursions

A popular half day tour takes in one of the island’s great beaches along with one of only three tortoise protection centres in the world. Located 45 minutes from Ajaccio, the protection centre was set up in 1985 to allow tortoises to breed, so they could also be studied and protected. The tortoise tour usually lasts about an hour and the beauty of this excursion is that you’ll have just enough time to explore the Old Town independently as well.

A half day Prunelli Gorges tour is a great way to take in Corsica’s rugged landscape. The tour goes through the Zipitolli Forest and the charming village of Cauro with its red-tiled roofs and then onto the stunning Prunelli Gorges. These deep red granite cliffs plunge over a river surrounded by lush pine forests and majestic mountains.

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