On a sailing trip to the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, we dropped anchor in the port of Bonifacio on the island of Corsica. I instantly fell in love with Bonifacio’s French culture, stunning scenery and medieval architecture.
We spent the first part of our stay exploring the port town situated right on the water. We sipped on French rosé, cooled off with pistachio gelato and admired the relaxed atmosphere of the small seaside town.
Yet, Bonifacio still had so much to offer!
Bonifacio is split into 2 parts: the seaside port town and a medieval citadel perched high upon the cliffs overlooking the turquoise Mediterranean. We boarded the town’s train (that looked more like a toy or an amusement park ride) in the marina and made our way up to the citadel.
We were immediately enchanted by the labyrinth of narrow streets which were only wide enough for a motorbike. Clotheslines and tiny blue and white flags stitched together historic buildings with sun-bleached doors that held secrets of their inhabitants from long ago.
Hand painted wooden signs led us through the web of passageways to brasseries where flower boxes sat below window panes filled with treats and French delicacies.
It was like something out of a fairytale.
We eventually made our way to the walkway that traced the line of buildings sitting along the cliffside. Our stomachs were grumbling from the smell of fresh food when we looked straight through a door and out to the most jaw-dropping vista I’ve ever seen.
A chalkboard was hung by the entrance and featured the daily specials. I was sold on the view, but the sound of warm herbed goat’s cheese on toast and a fresh salad had me running to get a table on the balcony.
It was one of the best dining experiences in all of my travels.
We licked out plates clean, took another 100 pictures of the view and made our way to one of Bonifacio’s highlights: the King Aragon steps, which were once used to carry water to the citadel. For only 2.50 euros, visitors and walk the 187 steps down from the town to the seaside.
We spent the next hour or so walking along the passageway carved from the limestone. At the end of the walk, we were rewarded with a beautiful secluded entrance to the ocean.
While beautiful, the climb is not for the faint of heart!
The stairs are carved at a 45° incline and, on a hot summer’s day, had us stopping to catch our breath (a few times) on the way back up!
We filled the rest of our day with sightseeing around the Old Town tucked inside the Citadel. Several churches and museums transported us back through the history of this modern-day medieval fortress.
Our last stop of the day was to the historic air raid shelter. A tunnel was dug by hand leading to a “blockhaus” in the cliffside which would allow military to survey the straits and protect the port of Bonifacio. We climbed down the stairs and into the damp, dark tunnel to the protected area that opened up to a beautiful view of the ocean and the nearby island of Sardinia.
Upon re-emerging from the tunnel, we noticed Bonifacio’s Marine Cemetery. The incredibly ornate mausoleums and tombs decorated the cliffside in a sad, yet beautiful, way.
We boarded the train back down to the marina and ended our last night with a fabulous dinner and a bottle of champagne. The perfect end to our day in Bonifacio.