Why Bonifacio is the Jewel of Southern Corsica

by  Jim Sherman | Jul 18, 2009
Aerial view of Corsica
Aerial view of Corsica / Naeblys/iStock

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Today we entered Bonifacio's (Corsica) dramatic harbor, considered one of the top 10 harbors in the world. Impressive cliffs and the old town surround the natural harbor, where a couple dozen yachts are moored. Reminds me a bit of St. Tropez, but with a town set on a hilltop and far more dramatic views. There's something for everyone – sightseeing, vistas, swimming, shopping, eating, and more.  

I meandered through the port area (mostly restaurants and bars) and then climbed the stairs to the city, perched atop the cliffs. This town goes back centuries and it's a charming pedestrian-only labyrinth of small streets and alleys – also some terrific restaurants with amazing Mediterranean sea views from these cliffs. It's possible to take stairs down to the sea but you need to hike back up, so save energy!

A few of us, after a good hike and walk about the upper town, decided to grab the dinghy (had to wait for one of the yachts next to us to move out of the way) and visit one of the nearby coves with a beach. Just four people on the beach – secluded and serene.

Everything is relaxed here in Bonifacio. People are friendly. And most are, like us, stopping by for one or two nights before heading to another port of call. Some go up the east coast and others the west coast of Corsica. One captain of a motor yacht next door to us is heading up the west coast (like us, he came from Sardinia's Costa Smeralda) on his way to St. Tropez, Cannes, Monaco, Portofino, and ultimately the Amalfi coast – now that's an idyllic itinerary.

I asked what their yacht costs to rent – $200,000 per week, and that doesn't include food and drink; just the boat and crew! Makes our boat, at $45,000 (for 10 cabins and inclusive meals) seem like a luxury bargain – and for about $4,500 dollars per cabin, it is.

Two terrific yachts are moored next to ours: Our Toy and Moonbird. They're more expensive than ours, but both are available for charter.


The weather, by the way, has been perfect. Wind died down and the temp by evening is comfortable (for either shorts or pants). Some are eating on their yachts. Others venture into town, where all price points are available.

We went to eat at Les Terrasses d'Aragon, in the upper town of Bonifacio. It offers a mix of French and Italian food (as one might expect given Corsica's location between mainland France and Italy). The food is excellent, especially the desserts. And the view from the cliffs is beautiful. (Interestingly, when I asked our waiter, Jude, if he is French, he said no, he is Corse. Interesting, given that they are part of France.)

After dinner, several of us headed to the B-52 bar down in the port. The DJ played some oldie dance numbers mixed with new artists. The scene was very "St. Tropez or St. Barth's" with clusters of friends ordering table service bottles of Veuve Cliquot champagne and women and men dancing on table tops. Everyone had a good time – both young and older folks; all very relaxed and pleasant as it was mostly outdoors at the port.

Meanwhile, others strolled along the port admiring the two dozen yachts moored here. Several had their own parties going on.

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