Located on the north-east of Corsica the city of Bastia has a history dating back to the 14th century when it was occupied by the Genoese. Its port deals with ferry services to the French and Italian mainlands together with neighbouring islands which makes it one of the busiest in the whole of France. Cruise ship passengers can enjoy a day in port wandering around Bastia’s historic attractions or can head off on shore excursions to the nearby wine region of Patrimonio or visit the spectacular Cap Corse peninsula.
Port of Bastia
Cruise ships visiting the Port of Bastia dock close to Place Saint Nicolas on the northern edge of the Old Town.
Getting to Bastia
Cruise ship passengers meeting their ship in Bastia can fly into Aéroport de Bastia Poretta which lies just 20km south of the port. Alternatively. there’s an airport in Calvi located approximately 112km to the south-west. In both cases there are a limited number of incoming international flights. For many visitors a more convenient option is to fly into Nice Côte d’Azur Airport on the mainland and arrange a transfer to the Corsica Ferries Terminal in Nice. There are frequent ferry crossings direct to Bastia. Alternatively, passengers can fly to Marseille Provence Airport then travel to the Corsica Ferries terminal in Toulon from where there are also services travelling directly to the Port of Bastia.
Getting Around in Bastia
Visitors can easily walk around the main attractions although the climb up to the citadel at the other side of the Vieux Port is quite steep. Those who are not keen on walking around town can hop on the Petit Train de Bastia which departs from opposite the tourist information office on Place Saint Nicolas. This 50-minute itinerary includes a visit to all the main sights. Rail enthusiasts might like to take a journey on the narrow gauge train service which runs between Bastia and Ajaccio in the south-west of the island. Known as Le Train Corse this service departs from the train station at Place de la Gare. With limited time in port passengers can simply book a return trip to L’Île-Rousse or Calvi (rather than Ajaccio) to enjoy one of Europe’s great railway experiences.
Main Tourist Attractions
On disembarking from cruise ships in the Port of Bastia passengers will soon find themselves in the enormous Place Saint Nicolas which overlooks the busy ferry terminal. It’s a good idea to pick up a map at the tourist information office on the northern side of the square then plan your visit at one of the many cafés that surround it. A short walk to the south leads to the 17th century church of Saint Jean-Baptiste (4 Rue Cardinal Viale Prelà) which dominates the Old Town. Known locally as Terra Vecchia this historic part of Bastia is made up of a warren of small alleys where most of the main tourist attractions are located. Highlights include the Oratoire de l’Immaculée-Conception and the nearby open-air market at Place du Marché (4 Rue Cardinal Viale Prélat) where visitors can mix with locals who do their shopping at stalls selling all kinds of local produce. Continuing further south leads to the charming Vieux Port (Rue de la Marine) which is a great place for lunch or a coffee break on the way towards the Terra Nova. The main attraction of this “new town” is the Genoese Citadel which dates back to the 14th century and overlooks the Old Town. Within its walls are the impressive churches of Sainte Marie and Sainte-Croix together with the Palais des Gouverneurs which is now home to the Musée de Bastia (Cours Favale) where visitors can learn about the fascinating history of this region of Corsica.
Shore Excursions Beyond Bastia
Cruise ship passengers who are just in port for a day will find plenty to keep them entertained in Bastia itself. However, for those who prefer to head out of town to discover a little more of what this part of Corsica has to offer there are some interesting nearby attractions. Just 8km south of the port is a sandbar called La Marana which is home to a long stretch of beaches overlooking the Mediterranean. To the west of the sandbar is Etang de Biguglia which is the island’s largest lake and a major recreational area. The Roman town of Mariana to the south of the lagoon is worth a visit along with the inland town of Lucciana. A highly recommended excursion for wine lovers is a visit to Patrimonio which lies 18km west of the port. The vineyards surrounding this village produce some of Corsica’s finest wines. Tours normally include wine tastings followed by a visit to the former fishing port of Saint-Florent which is now a popular port of call for some of the Mediterranean’s most luxurious sailing vessels. The dramatic scenery of the Cap Corse peninsula lies north of Saint-Florent. With its traditional villages, historical attractions and remote beaches a drive around this headland is a must for anyone wishing to experience ‘the real Corsica’. If tours are not available through cruise lines or private operators it is possible to rent a car for the day from agencies in the Port of Bastia.
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