The Corsican city of Bastia is sometimes overlooked in favour of the capital, Ajaccio, but it’s no less an enthralling place to be. An important port for the French island, it enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate, has a number of historic landmarks and stunning views of the French and Italian coast in the distance to greet visitors. Bastia is at the northern point of Corsica, making it easily navigable by boat, although it’s served by the island’s principal airport. It’s also the island’s main commercial destination, where local wines, cheeses and other culinary specialities are sold in the shops and open-air markets, while you’re sure to find a great walking route nearby if you want to head out of the city.
Bastia’s road network is rather twisty in places. Just in case, you might need to hire a smaller car to make going round the corners a little less tricky, while it’s handy for driving in the older parts of town.
Driving in Bastia
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Highways are rare in Corsica, but there is one main arterial route in Bastia – the RN 193. It goes towards Ajaccio and other major towns on the island.
Cars are very popular in Bastia, as the public transport network is often described as basic. As a result, traffic can be a problem.
Away from Bastia, some of the rural roads have plenty of sharp turns, so you need to be alert at all times, even when it’s quiet.
Highlights & Hotspots
The best part of Bastia to visit is the Vieux Port (Old Port). Here, numerous reminders of the city’s maritime history are laid bare, while old faded buildings surround the marina where yachts owned by rich Corsicans are often seen around the area.
Elsewhere in the city, the Museum of Corsica is as good a place as any to learn about how the island has moved on through the ages. There are plenty of family-friendly exhibits on show here, so you don’t have to worry about the kids getting bored.
A walk around the St Jean Baptiste Cathedral will take your breath away. As the city’s most notable landmark, it’s close to the actual port, while tours are available if you’re not sure where you want to start or when you can enter.
Bastia’s other major landmark is the citadel. On a hill near the old part of town, it was built in the 16th century by Genovese rulers, as evident in its façade. Here, you can look out at the sea and, on a clear day, look in the direction of Genoa itself.
Bastia-Poretta Airport is 11 miles south of Bastia near the small town of Lucciana. With one main passenger terminal, there are seasonal flights to cities across France and other parts of Western Europe including Germany and the UK.The airport is reachable by the D507, which takes you westwards to the N193. That road heads straight nothwards towards Bastia itself.