Adventure Cruises in Sardinia & Corsica

Sardinia and Corsica are two popular areas for small-ship cruises departing from Italy. They are situated just over 12km apart in the Strait of Bonifacio. Though Corsica is a French territory, the two can easily be visited on a single trip.

Visit Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, located northwest of its larger sister, Sicily, and south of its French cousin, Corsica. The coastline spans 1,849km long and is distinctive by the high, jagged, and rocky formations permeating the ocean and headlands towering over the sea. There are many inlets and coves to explore, as well as some deeper bay areas. Many, many smaller islands also surround Sardinia. Though Italian, Sardinia’s isolated location has left it one of the most pristine environments in the Mediterranean, developing endemic species and safeguarding its fascinating linguistic heritage. Designated national parks and wildlife reserves incorporate 25% of Sardinia’s land. There are over 7,000 prehistoric archaeological sites and one Bronze Age UNESCO World Heritage Site, Su Nuraxi di Barumini. Sardinia is known as a Blue Zone, meaning its population has a life expectancy much longer than other areas for unknown reasons. The first Centaurian man, who lived to 114, was actually from Sardinia.

Top Things to See in Sardinia

 Walking the medieval wall in the city of Alghero. The sea walls surrounding the beautiful medieval city of Alghero are a must-see when visiting Italy. The city is located in the northwest corner of Sardinia and is encircled by walls up to 22 meters tall. Each Bastian is named after prominent historical figures such as Marco Polo and Christopher Colombus. A stroll will take about an hour to complete, stopping for a snack or drink. Enjoy the 8 original towers that bring stunning views and refreshing breezes. Once completed, walk through the cobblestone streets of Alghero and hit up the Coral Museum. This museum offers the history of the area’s famous red coral and history and science exhibits.

Swim in the grottos! Thirty minutes from Alghero, you will find yourself at Grotta di Nettuno. 654 steps up the entrance, and you’ll find yourself at the entrance to the stalactite cave named after the God of the Sea, Neptune, who was fabled to have rested here. This grotto is accessible via sea, so don’t let the climb deter you from visiting. On the island's east coast, in the Gulf of Orosei, lies the Grotta del Bue Marino. This 5km cave has neolithic wall carvings and was once inhabited by monk seals, for which the cave is named.

Visit the islands and archipelagos. There are hundreds of little islands surrounding Sardinia. One of the most unique is Travolara. This island looks almost like the back of a Spinosaurus or Stegosaurus dinosaur with a curved flat appearance soaring over the marine protected area below. The Maddalena archipelago comprises seven beautiful islands between Sardinia and Corsica in the Strait of Bonifacio. While some islands are inhabited, like Maddalena and Caprera, some are entirely wild and free. The island of Asinara is a special place as it is the home to a drove of beautiful albino donkeys. This former prison island is now a nature park where Asinara donkeys can roam freely.

Sea Life Excursions like whale and dolphin watching are very popular in Sardinia. Whale and dolphin-watching excursions are generally a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. The Sardinian coastline is perfect for watching summer seasonal migrations for the Fin, Sperm, and Pilot whales. Four dolphin species, like the Striped and Bottlenose, will inevitably join your day, commonly playing in boat wake and curiously swimming with snorkelers. Often, other animals like sea turtles and seal monks will even make an appearance.

Gennargentu National Park is a must for Sardinia. Punta La Marmora, which is 1834 meters tall and is the oldest peak in Sardinia, is found here. Wildlife abounds with Sardinian wildcats and foxes, eagles, and falcons, to name a few. In the surrounding bays, whales and monk seals can also be spotted. Snow peaks are visible while walking around the pristine Gusana Lake. If you happen to be visiting in winter, skiing is also an option at Bruncu Spina’s Resort.

Corsica, Sardinia’s French cousin, is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean. This mountainous island’s capital, Ajaccio, is famous for being the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. The island is similar to Sardinia, with jagged coastal areas and massive headlands, but it also has many bright, white sandy beaches. The coastline spans just over 1000km and has many outlying islands surrounding it.

 Things To Do While Cruising Corsica

  • Bonifacio!! Wow, this is spectacular! This beautiful town has it all, including the drama. The sheer limestone cliffs surrounding the area are a dream to explore as they go for miles along the coast, including the town itself. This walk is roughly 9.8 kilometers or 6.1 miles long. Soak in the sun as your eyes wander to the ocean, down the high cliffs, and up towards the six-story medieval townhouses at the cliffs' edges. This walk alone is worth the journey to this beautiful southern Corsica town, but don’t miss out on exploring the streets filled with cafes, boulangeries, charcuterie shops, and local artisan craft stands.
  • Hit the beach! Not too far from Bonifacio, you’ll find beautiful renowned beaches such as la Plage de Rondinara or Grand Sperone. These seaside escapes are covered in beautiful white sands and speckle areas around Corsica, like Porto Vecchio, Calvi, and Lavezzi. Most of these beaches have cafes and are easily accessible by boat or land.
  • Go canyoning, which is a popular choice for visitors! Enjoy a guided hike up one of the many canyons, like the intermediate level Richiusa Canyon, and finish with a rappel and zip line into the fresh waters below. This experience will surely increase your heart rate and leave you lasting memories!
  • Visit Cittadella di Calvi. Explore Calvi on the 15th-century walls that once protected it from its enemies. These stunning walls surround the beautiful city of Calvi, with a view of the chapel Notre-Dame de la Serra and the luxurious yachts in the bay. Finish your journey with a relaxing meal of French cuisine at the highly-rated quay restaurant Le Comme Chez Soi.
  • Adventure cruises to Sardinia and Corsica will depart from Livorno, Genoa, Porto Santo Stefano, Naples, and Nice. You can also reach the local ports via airports in Corsica, Ajaccio (AJA), Calvi (CLY), and airports in Sardinia, Olbia (OLB), and Alghero (AHO). Both areas are well-connected to mainland Europe, with ferry operators serving France and Italy’s coastal regions.

Best Time to Cruise to Sardinia and Corsica

Though located in the Mediterranean, it can get cold in winter, with temperatures averaging around 10°C or 50°F and rougher sea conditions. Therefore, it is recommended to cruise in spring through fall to enjoy the warmer temperatures, peaking in summer at around 30°C/86°F. The water is calm and soothing. The clear blue ocean seas will have an average temperature of 26°C/78°F in summer, making snorkeling or swimming possible all day.

Top Tips While Cruising Sardinia and Corsica

With beautiful sunshine and warmer temperatures, bringing sunshades such as a hat and sunglasses with you on your journey is strongly suggested. A reef-safe sunscreen and towel are also recommended for the many beaches and day trips you will encounter. Bring layers that can easily be added or removed as you cruise around the ocean. The breeze may feel chilly after a day of sun exposure. Though many businesses now use contactless payment, it is wise to bring cash for smaller companies that do not accept card payment in these islands' more remote outlying areas or add a gratuity to your excursions and services.