- One of the most dramatic coastal rides in Europe
- The descent through the Scala di Sta Regina between the Col de Vergio and Corte
- Chestnut beers all round in Corte, the ancient and rustic mountain capital
- Mouthwatering local cuisine, charcuterie and cheeses
- The Castagniccia – Corsica’s most unspoiled region of chestnut forest, wild boar and traditional rural villages
I will remember it for a very long time! Planning, organisation, food and hotels, absolutely everything was spot on and you made it a very special break for me.
Today we get our first glimpse of ‘The Beautiful Isle’ of Corsica as we arrive in the historic city of Bastia. Corsica is comprised of 2 departments, ‘Corse du Sud’ in the south and ‘Haute Corse’ in the north. Bastia is the modern day capital of the northern region; a relatively small city with a bustling port and beautifully picturesque harbour.
Upon arrival at our hotel we will assemble the bikes and while there is no official guided riding scheduled for today, depending on arrival times, there may be an opportunity for a quick spin.
Alternatively you may wish to explore the city on foot. We’ll dine together in one of Bastia’s many excellent restaurants and perhaps enjoy a bottle or two of Pietra, the local chestnut flavoured beer.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,300 Metres Approx.
After breakfast we saddle up and head out for our first day of Corsican riding. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city we head out on a stunningly beautiful coastal road. The main part of the day will be spent riding around the ‘Cap Corse‘, the island’s largest and most prominent peninsular.
Beyond Bastia the road rolls gently through small settlements and pretty fishing villages and the coastline is peppered with numerous Genoese towers in varying states of disrepair. If we’re blessed with a clear day we will enjoy views of neighbouring islands Elba and Monte Cristo to the east.
We’ll regroup for coffee in the village of Maccinaggio close to the tip of the peninsular before we begin the first and most significant climb of the day. It’s not a major climb by anyone’s standards, topping out at just over 350m, but we’ll wait until we’re over it before preparing lunch. The afternoon will be spent exploring the coastline further as we head south down the western side of the cape. The western coast is more dramatic than the east and the riding is a little more challenging although the final stage flattens out again and takes us through Corsica’s prime wine growing region and delivers us to St Florent where we can rest up and sample the local specialty of sparkling Muscat.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,325 Metres Approx.
We leave the coast behind us for a while this morning as we climb out of St Florent and continue southwards into a region unlike anywhere else on the island; Le Désert des Agriates. The region is named after the Corsican word agriates which means ‘cultivated plot’ or ‘garden‘. Staring out across the parched orange landscape it is difficult to imagine that the inhabitants of Cap Corse would once brave the rugged coastline by boat in order to climb the hills to tend their crops amongst the wild maquis and rocky outcrops.
We drop down rapidly out of Les Agriates, cross the national road and then continue on very minor mountain roads which lead us through numerous tiny artisan villages. After lunch we continue along the Route des Artisans, stopping for coffee in the tiny village of Belvedere, high in the hills above the town of Ile Rouse (_Red Island_). Finally we arrive in the glitzy resort town of Calvi where we’ll dine in the old town in the shadows of the ancient citadel.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,330 Metres Approx.
Leaving Calvi we’ll begin an unforgettable ride along a route which is widely recognised amongst cyclists as one of the most beautiful coastal routes in Europe. The first stage undulates along a rugged coastline of tiny beaches and turquoise coves. The surface might not be the smoothest we’ll encounter this week but the views do more than compensate and will take your mind off the odd lump or two! The road improves as the morning progresses and by the time we reach our coffee stop we’ll be cruising along. A beautiful 11km climb (Col de Palmarella) follows, taking us to a stunning viewpoint 400m above the coastline.
Dropping down from the summit, we’ll have lunch before pushing on through numerous coastal villages. Again the views are breathtaking as we approach the tiny, eucalyptus flanked town of Porto where we stay for the next 2 nights.
- Meals: Breakfast
- Ascent: 1,350 Metres Approx.
Today offers various options depending on preferences and energy levels. The first is to simply relax and enjoy Porto. There is a small beach and harbour and numerous cafes, bars and restaurants in which to while away the hours. It is also possible to take a sightseeing boat trip along the coastline for a unique view of the Golfe de Porto. We recommend however that everyone takes a morning ride, climbing out of the bay to the village of Piana. The road rises through the World Heritage ‘Callanche de Piana’ – fantastic natural granite sculptures which must be seen to be believed.
It’s possible to retire in the village of Piana, take a coffee and return to Porto for the afternoon, whereas those hungry for more riding can press on around the coast before heading inland to experience one of the island’s toughest and most challenging climbs. “What goes up must come down” and an incredible descent through the dramatic Spelunca Gorge follows as we return to Porto.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,875 Metres Approx.
This is the big day! Dropping back down from Piana to Porto just after breakfast may be exhilarating but it will burn few calories! The fun starts once we arrive back in Porto and we begin our ascent of Corsica’s highest paved road. The Col de Vergio is 1,471m above sea level and while that may not be the highest mountain summit in the world it must be remembered that we will be riding from sea level. The vast majority of the climb is gentle so everyone will be able to enjoy the awesome views of the Spelunca Gorge and savour the experience.
A coffee stop in Evisa, two thirds of the way up, is possible (probable!) and will allow us to re-group before tackling the final and more challenging stage through the often-misty pine forest. A descent through the pines takes us to lunch after which we will continue downwards through the Scale de Santa Regina. If nothing else will make you want to return to Corsica, the descent through this magnificent gorge which runs alongside the Golo River, Corsica’s longest, will do so! As exciting as it is beautiful it’s the most fun you can have with your pants on! One final re-grouping at the bottom of the gorge before the last 11km (approximately 6 uphill and 5 downhill) sees us arriving in Corte, Corsica’s fantastically rustic ancient capital city.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,525 Metres Approx.
Our last day on the bikes today as we head back to the eastern coast to complete our circuit. The stage is not the longest on our tour but with its dragon tooth profile it is one of the toughest so we’ll try to make an early departure. It is also one of the most beautiful stages and takes us deep into ‘The Castagniccia‘, the island’s sparsely populated chestnut forest – a region rarely visited by tourists and one which seems to have been untouched by modern life. The spider web network of roads in the Castagniccia can be difficult to navigate and weather conditions will dictate how far we venture into the forest. Regardless of this the options available to us will guarantee a beautiful finale as we make our way to Lucciana on the coast, 20km south of Bastia.
Our route concentrates mainly on minor roads and quiet country lanes and includes everything from gently rolling hills to significant mountain ascents. Generally speaking the route is moderately challenging with enjoyable and manageable climbs featuring most days. Road surfaces are generally good however there are occasional sections of rough tarmac and badly weathered surfaces. The entire route is however suitable standard road bikes with 700×23-25c tyres.
Gradients on climbs are generally moderate, manageable and enjoyable. There are however occasions when the gradients increase and the climbs become more challenging. These steeper climbs are relatively short and are therefore still achievable by most enthusiastic road cyclists.
Road Cycling Grade
45-60 miles / 70-95 kms per day
For riders with experience, good fitness & a decent level of skill
Some features that may be experienced more frequently in a higher grade tour
Most days include a couple of significant climbs
Some long days & some steep to very steep sections
Not for beginners
Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!
For more information about our grading system click here.
Is this suitable for you?
You’re definitely not a novice rider, you’re fit, you ride regularly at weekends, sometimes staying on the bike for much of the day, you love your bike! You also enjoy a challenge and if you haven’t already done so you’re keen to attempt a semi-serious to serious mountain pass or two. You’re as comfortable with the prospect of descending from the top of a col as you are with the idea of climbing it and you’re confident that you have the skills to do so safely. You’re not necessarily a “racer” but you can crank up the pace a little when it’s necessary and you don’t mind forgoing a coffee stop if the schedule demands it occasionally. You probably own and use clipless pedals. You have good control of your bike and can take a drink from a water bottle without having to unclip and put your feet on the ground. Whilst you find a full day in the saddle fulfilling you’re not obsessed and as much as you are looking forward to the riding on your holiday, you’re also looking forward to a little local culture and cuisine. Grade 3 would be a good option for you.
The holiday was absolutely brilliant – all the staff were excellent and became friends, the group was fantastic and friends for life have been made! Nothing could be faulted.
Dates & Prices
Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.
A) Hotel accommodation (shared twin rooms)
B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
C) Full tour service including Skedaddle guides
D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid
E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers
F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Bastia Airport (BIA)
G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Bastia Airport (BIA)
What's not Included
A) Bike hire (available if required)
B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)
C) Meals not stated in the itinerary
D) Travel insurance
E) Single room (available if required)
F) Personal clothing and equipment
G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)
H) Entrance to museums and other attractions en route
I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days
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Keith, Derbyshire, UKThanks for a great holiday!
Very good service – booking/office support was excellent and guiding very good. Overall I really enjoyed the holiday. The guides were very welcoming and the other riders were an excellent crowd and everyone got on well. There was a range of skills/speed, I was somewhere in the middle of the 15 riders. It was very well organised and everything went well without any hiccups. I want to go on another Skedaddle holiday – I just need to think where I fancy next – thanks for a great holiday!
Julia, Dorset, UKThank you Skedaddle for a great week!
We could not have had better service! It must have been very tricky keeping everybody happy in such a large group with mixed abilities, but David managed to juggle it all; everything seemingly falling into place, masking the huge amount of organisation and thought that must have been going on behind the scenes. Very professional, charming and personable. Thank you for a great week!
Andrew, Swindon, UKSpectacular scenery...
Great riding , good weather for the most part of our trip and spectacular scenery. Excellent tour leader – organised the group very well (whatsapp groups very useful) and managed the challenges of the first day weather very well. Also very good on the lunches!
The Telegraph (July 2019), How to channel your inner Geraint Thomas: The best cycle-themed tours in the French mountainsAs seen in the press...
Was it something Corsica said? France’s Mediterranean island was invited to be part of the Tour in 2013. It was spectacular. It hasn’t been asked back since. All the more room for amateurs on the eight-day “Beautiful Isle” tour sold by Saddle Skedaddle.
Iain, Stockport, UKI'll definitely be looking to book another trip with Skedaddle!
This was my first trip with Skedaddle. I have friends that have travelled with you before and said how good you were. They were right! I’ll definitely be looking to book another trip with you. Cycling from Calvi to Porto was a favourite, the coast road was simply stunning, after a nice little climb up the Col di Palmarella!
Mark, UKEvery day was my favourite!
A mixture of excellent and very very good hotels. Every day was my favourite day! Don’t change this holiday at all, Skedaddle!
Verity, EdinburghIt was all great!
The holiday was all great! Day 4 of cycling was a highlight (after a relaxing day off!) when we went over the highest point of the week – I’d thought it would be a tough day but I felt great and really enjoyed it. The bike hire was possibly too good as my bike at home feels a bit slow and heavy in comparison!..
Nigel, LondonEach day had something different that made it stand out...
The pre-holiday service is one reason why I don’t bother looking at any other cycling holiday company. It always feels like everything is under control. The trip was recommended by a Skedaddle guide that I knew from a previous trip and I trusted his judgement enough to believe the trip was right for the experience that I wanted.
Phil, HampshireAbsolutely brilliant!
The holiday was absolutely brilliant – all the staff were excellent and became friends, the group was fantastic and friends for life have been made! Nothing could be faulted. I have used other cycling touring companies before, but would never go back – Skedaddle already have an excellent reputation and with the support, friendship, banter and amazing routes I would always now travel with Skedaddle. The accomodation was always of a good quality, some locations were simply stunning and others accessible to town centres / restaurants etc.
On balance, it was excellent value for money and I realised that the rates I paid with Skedadlle were really good value compared to other tour operators! I would only ever use Skedaddle after this amazing experience of the ride, accomodation, support, food and of course the guides!
Edward, BasingstokeThis was my fifth holiday with you, and excellent as always.
Excellent from the start, everything went seamlessly with Matt explaining everything from the next day’s route to simple bike checks, the complexities of operational research, the differences between Marmite and Vegemite, and lots more.