How to get around Corsica, France’s secret gem
Getting around Corsica can be pretty hard since there is no real public transport system. That is not surprising since we are talking about an island, but I will try to make things easier for you and share some valuable information for you.
Public transport in Corsica
While there are no trams, there are 2-3 connecting train options which will be useful and that will allow you to see a beautiful scenery.
Therefore, your main and pretty much only option to see France’s hidden gem is by car. You can either come with your own car if you feel up to it or you can rent a car for a few days. Hitchhiking may be another way to getting around since the traffic is pretty heavy on the island, but I would not recommend it.
If you want to find out more about the public transport you can google Corsica Bus & Train and Chemin de Fer de la Corse.
If you feel up to it, you can browse through CorsicaBus.org to check the available trips. You will obviously find routes to the biggest cities and here are some examples:
- Bastia to Corte (1h 30m) and Ajaccio (3 hours)
- Bastia to Ill Rousse (1h 40m) and Calvi (2h30m)
- Calvi to Porto (2h 20m)
- Ajaccio to Propriano (2h) and Porto Vecchio (3h30m)
Don’t rely on taxis because there aren’t so many, it is crucial to think of your options well because you want to make your holiday as pleasant as possible.
Does that sound already annoying to you?
Then Corsica is not for you. Who would give up seeing this beautiful island just because getting around is harder? Not a true traveller.
Corsica is a truly beautiful place to visit. A real treasure hidden in Europe, waiting for you to find it.
There is so much to be seen here, from nature, to beaches, to mountains, you wouldn’t expect to find them all here.
How to get to the island?
You can use a ferry service (France/Italy) if you come with your own car, that will save you some time from having to deal with rental services. Because with the ferry service it does take some time to get to the island, I chose to fly in from Munich.
There is also the option to catch a plane and there are quite a few companies that will fly you to Corsica. You can hop on the plane in Munich as I did, or in Brusseles, Marseille or even London. Eurowings, Easyjet, AirCorsica and Lufthansa are the airlines that fly to Corsica.
Renting a car in Corsica
You can rent a car from any airport or port around the island.
You have to book a car in advance because if you go in season, you risk having no options. When I was there EuropaCar had no cars available. Corsica is the favourite of the French, you don’t see lots of foreigners on the island.
How is to drive in Corsica?
Driving in Corsica is not as easy as in the rest of Europe because of the state of the roads. The roads are narrow and there are lots of serpentines but driving here proved not to be as difficult as some people said.
Make sure you have plenty of time because even the short distance between Bastia – Ajaccio (147 km) will take you up to 2h and 15 min. With that being said, you will enjoy a good scenic drive.
Try to pick a car that has good motorization and will be able to go up the road.
It’s not worth giving up your plan/dream to see Corsica even if it may prove to be more difficult to plan it, than it would be for another European destination. You will thank yourself for not giving up!
What are your options?
These car rental companies are the main ones: Avis, Budget, Hertz, EuropaCar, Alamo, Enterprise.
Alamo was the car rental company that I chose to go with. It is an American company that has great prices for this service. They are parteners with Enterprise and their prices are quite simmilar. Also they do share their fleet of cars and the rental desk where you get the car’s papers from.
Alamo did not have many reviews but I was happy to notice that their customer service staff was friendly and responsive. They replied very fast to my inquiries, both on email and their Facebok page.
How the car rental process took place
Picking up the car from Bastia, Corsica airport
I could pick up the papers for the car straight from the airport, just after exiting the arrivals area. You will see multiple desks for the different rental companies and they are all in the same place.
Even if I had 3-4 people in front of me, the process was quick. They requested my credit card and my driver’s licence. I showed them a paper proof of my booking and then they gave me a form to fill in. I had to write my name, other personal information and I had to choose a type of insurance.
They gave me the car keys and I went to the Almo and Enterprise parking lot. I found the car and then I opened it and I put my luggage in the trunk. Nothing else. I was ready to start my new adventure in Corsica.
Getting the car back to the rental
When I got back to leave the car, things did not go as smooth as with picking it up. It was pretty crowded and their staff working at the parking lot wasn’t that friendly. They (the staff) would speak in French and they would get you from one employee to another, without actually helping.
I had to wait for someone to inspect the car and only after that, I could go to the Almo register (the same one that I went to when I took the car’s registration papers) to unlock the warranty money off my card. It did not take long untill my money were availablr again, compared to other companies that would make you wait for 10 days before they unlock the money amount.
It was quite a good experience and they weren’t exagerated when they checked the cleanliness of the car (we are indeed talking about a beach destination, meaning that sand would get in the car).
More about your rental options
An insurance is something you need because of how chaotic driving here can be. You never know and it is better to be safe than sorry. From minor scratches to the car being hit in the parking, you will be grateful the you took precaution measures. Thefts are not as big of an issue as they are in other parts of Europe.
Picking which insurance you want won’t be possible until you get to the airport, at least that was the case when it comes to Alamo/Enterprise.
One thing to keep in mind is that you want to leave the island, check if the rental company allows you to do that. For example, I was not able to take the car that I have rented off the island. But in an exchance to an extra fee, they would allow you that.
What I have noticed here more than anywhere else, is that some companies will have a set km that you are allowed to drive and if you go over that you will be charged extra.
Further more, make sure you have enough money to cover the warranty for the car
To rent the car from the airport you will have to provide one of your cards in order for the company to block an amount of money for the warranty. The exact amount depends on what insurance you choose from the rental service.
Because some companies don’t accept some types of cards, you have to pay attention. Some don’t accept Visa cards, but will allow you to pay with Mastercard. Credit cards may be refused while debit cards are fine to use.
There weren’t many options and prices were kind of steep. The insurance information for some of the companies was quite unclear, so you have to pay more attention just in case.
More car rental options?
You could use a site such as RentalCars.com to scan through and compare car rental prices.
Yes, there are a few more options. You won’t find lots of local companies or individuals that will hire you a car but if you are lucky, you will find some, depending on the season. The price advantage would be one of the reasons of why you would want to go for something like this. Further more, you won’t have to deal with the insurance difficulties that some of the bigger car rental companies have.
Don’t exceed speed limits
Do not go over the speed limit because even if you aren’t stopped right away, you will get accountable for the fine.
The car rental company will send you the fine at home and the fine is usually high.