Heathrow and Gatwick: The ridiculously beautiful island just over 2 hours from London regularly named one of the world’s prettiest

We’re already approaching the third month of 2022, and the weather here in the UK is barely showing any signs that it’ll be warming up any time soon. But in the Mediterranean, temperatures are already in their 20s.

You might have missed your opportunity to take the family somewhere during this half term, but there’s still an opportunity to plan a getaway for the upcoming Easter break, or maybe during the Summer Holidays.

If you’re looking for a place where you can enjoy some sunshine, get a tan, and experience some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, look no further than the French island of Corsica. What’s more is that you can fly there from London in just over two hours.

For those who haven’t heard of Corsica, it’s actually the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean. It’s about a third of the size of the two biggest islands Sicily and Sardinia, and just a little smaller than Cyprus.

READ MORE: The beautiful Spanish island just 4 hours from London where it’s 18C in February



Corsica was the birthplace of French military general Napoleon

The island has several airports, but planes flying there from Heathrow and Gatwick arrive at the Figari International Airport in the south. It’s actually quite surprising that despite being serviced by direct flights from London, Corsica hasn’t achieved the same level of fame among British tourists as the nearby Spanish islands Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza.

When European package holidays first started becoming popular in the 1950s, the main businessman who pioneered this revolution in tourism, Vladimir Raitz, made Corsica his first travel destination.

It could be because Corsica is a little hard to market as it doesn’t really fit into any set category like its other Mediterranean counterparts. The island is French but at the same time not French.



Do you want to stay up to date with the latest news, views, features and opinion from across the city?

MyLondon’s brilliant newsletter The 12 is absolutely jam packed with all the latest to keep you entertained, informed and uplifted.

You’ll get 12 stories straight to your inbox at around 12pm. It’s the perfect lunchtime read.

And what’s more – it’s FREE!

The MyLondon team tells London stories for Londoners. Our journalists cover all the news you need – from City Hall to your local streets, so you’ll never miss a moment.

Don’t skip a beat and sign up to The 12 newsletter here.

Yes, Corsica is part of France and it is only 250 miles off the French coast of Marseilles, but the native people of the island identify first and foremost as Corsicans. They speak their own language, which is more related to Italian than French. Interestingly, there is also a strong movement for independence from France among islanders.

This may seem a little strange considering that the greatest French military leader in history, Napoleon Bonaparte, actually came from Corsica. When he was exiled in 1814 to the Italian island of Elba, 140 miles away, he claimed that he could smell the unique aroma of his beloved homeland from across the sea.

Corsica does indeed have its own unique scent. The smell comes from its maqui’s shrubs that grow among its brown granite slabs and cliffs. There are plenty of walking trails and bike routes you can adventure down across the island, where you can be intoxicated by this smell.



Bonifacio is the oldest town in Corsica

But anyone going to Corsica will first want to know where their nearest beach is. The island’s coastline has some of the smoothest sands in Europe, along with the cleanest, bluest waters. One such beach is the Palombaggia near Porto-Vecchio, in the island’s south.

Even further south from there is the Rondinara beach in Bonifacio, which with its sheltered horseshoe-shaped bay makes it the perfect place for paddle-boarding and swimming.

Both Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio have beautiful citadels that stand out among the hills. The St Jean Baptiste Church in Porto Vecchio, which was built by the Genoese in the early 1500s, is surrounded by narrow streets that are great to explore and discover some excellent cafes and restaurants serving some delicious local produce. Bonifacio, Corsica’s oldest town, is likewise full of nice restaurants and cafes, with some offering amazing cliff-side views of the Grain de Sable, a limestone sea stack.



A typical street scene in the Terra Vecchia (old quarter) area, in Bastia, Corsica, France
A street in Bastia, Corsica

In terms of cuisine, Corsica has a lot to offer. You could try different types of locally-produced cheese including brocciu, which is made from whey and goat’s milk. There is also a locally brewed beer, called Pietra, which is blended with chestnuts.

If you have more time to explore the rest of the island, you could drive to Ajaccio, the Corsican capital, where you can book yourself a trip into the mountains by train, or you could visit Bastia in the island’s north. The drive between the north and south of the island is about 3 hours, so a trip either way and back would take a day.

With planes regularly flying out from Heathrow and Gatwick, a trip to Corsica might be exactly what you need the next time you take an extended weekend, although even a week-long stay might not be enough to experience everything the island has to offer.

Do you want the latest crime, sport, or breaking news in London straight to your inbox? Tailor your needs to suit you here.

Comments are closed.