Last updated on April 3, 2023 by Wandering our World
If you’re planning an island escape in Europe and want to leave the big city behind to enjoy pristine scenes, beautiful beaches, charming towns, and authentic experiences, Corsica and Sardinia are two islands you absolutely have to consider.
Both located in the Mediterranean Sea, these two islands are very close together – in fact, there are only seven miles separating the southernmost point of Corsica from the northern tip of Sardinia. However, despite having such close geographic ties, these two islands are quite different.
For starters, Corsica is technically part of France, while Sardinia is Italian, and both of these islands therefore have their own separate languages and cultures.
They also differ in terms of their general atmosphere and tourist activities, with Corsica generally regarded as the more pristine and unspoiled of the two. Sardinia, meanwhile, has had more touristic development over the years, with more beaches and resort-style vibes.
There’s a lot to discover on both of these islands, and if you’re not sure which one to choose, we help.
Right here we’ll use our knowledge to show how Corsica and Sardinia compare in key areas, like their beaches, activities, restaurants, average costs, hiking and so on. All so you can make the right holiday decision!
- A Quick Overview
- Which Is Better For Beaches?
- Which Is Better For Activities?
- Which Is Better For Nightlife?
- Which Is Best For Hiking & Outdoor Adventures?
- Which Has The Best Food?
- Which Is Better For A Family Trip?
- Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
- Which Is Better For Backpackers?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Easier To Get Around?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
A Quick Overview: Corsica vs Sardinia
Corsica: A Quick Overview
Corsica, known as Corse in French, is a large island in the Mediterranean Sea, southeast of the French mainland and west from Italy.
It’s situated directly north of Sardinia, and has a population of approximately 350,000 people. The official language is French, but some locals also like to converse in their native Corsican language, too.
The island has been inhabited for thousands of years, with various civilizations and groups coming and going over the years, including the Ancient Greeks and Romans.
It was controlled by the Republic of Genoa for many centuries, before eventually being sold to France. It’s also well-known as the birthplace of the famous French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.
A huge chain of mountains takes up approximately two-thirds of the entire island, and Corsica is well-known for its rugged, unspoiled landscapes, being the most mountainous of all the Mediterranean islands and is even nicknamed “Mountain in the Sea”.
It also has many forests, making it a hugely popular destination for outdoor adventurers and hikers.
Like other big islands of the Mediterranean, Corsica has its own distinctive culture and communities.
It’s well-known for its traditional folk music and hearty food, which can be sampled in port cities like Ajaccio and Bastia. And there are plenty of small villages to explore, both on the cost and among the mountains, with popular examples including Bonifacio and Zonza.
Sardinia: A Quick Overview
Sardinia is a large Italian island – the second biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea – situated just south of Corsica.
It’s around three times larger than Corsica and also has a much larger population, with more than 1.6 million people calling this island home. The main language is Italian, but there are some other minor languages spoken by certain locals, like Sardinian.
Like Corsica, Sardinia has a long and storied past, with traces of human life dating all the way back to the Paleolithic era.
The island was conquered and controlled by various groups throughout history, like the Romans and Byzantines. It was known as the Kingdom of Sardinia for several centuries, before later becoming part of Italy.
Sardinia is far less mountainous than Corsica, with large parts of the island dominated by hills and plains.
Its coastline is almost twice as long as Corsica’s, and while there are plenty of unspoiled areas around Sardinia, this island is generally the more developed of the two, with gourmet restaurants, glamorous resorts, many passing yachts, and larger cities like Cagliari and Sassari.
This island also has its own culture, festivals, and recipes for visitors to discover. It’s famed for being a foodie’s paradise, and also has some of the best beaches of any Mediterranean island.
Travelers here have a very broad selection of activities to enjoy, and it’s seen as an idyllic island for rest, relaxation, and indulgence.
Which Is Better For Beaches?
With more than 600 miles of coastline on Corsica and over 1,100 miles on Sardinia, both of these islands have plenty of beautiful beaches for travelers to enjoy, with a great mixture of rocky spots and sandy expanses.
There are some truly special beaches on both of these islands.
However French Corsica doesn’t have as many options as Italian Sardinia, but it’s still got dozens of gorgeous coastal havens for sunbathing, swimming, and even sailing.
Sardinia, meanwhile, can boast of some of the top-rated beaches in all of the Mediterranean, and since it has so many miles of coastline, it can offer a ton of variety in its beaches, with everything from long stretches Caribbean-like white sands to secluded, romantic coves.
Since both of these islands have very similar weather conditions, they’re both great choices for beach getaways, but you may find that the beaches of one are more suitable for your tastes than the other.
Let’s take a closer look at the coastal areas of Corsica and Sardinia so you can see which destination may suit you best!
Corsica: The Beaches
One of the defining features of Corsica is its pristine, unspoiled landscapes, and the island’s beaches are wonderful examples of this.
You won’t find towering hotels or long lines of beach bars here; instead, Corsica has many calm and peaceful sandy spots where travelers can slip into a state of pure and total relaxation, like the majestic Plage de Palombaggia.
The Plage de Santa Giulia is emblematic of the island’s calm and tranquil atmosphere, with its super soft sands that stretch on for several miles and its remarkably gentle, turquoise waters that are absolutely perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
The Plage de Saleccia is another pristine spot, backing onto pine trees and boasting shallow, family-friendly waters.
For something a little livelier, you could head to the Plage de Calvi.
Located in the city of Calvi, this beach enjoys magical views over the city’s historic citadel. It has great swimming conditions, and it’s well-suited for other water-based activities, like windsurfing and sailing.
The Plage de Rondinara and Plage de Bodri are also fine spots for watersports fans.
Couples loving for romance and tranquility could seek out the splendid Plage du Petit Spérone, whcih sits in a small and secluded cove.
Or, if you want amazing views, go to the Plage du Lotu, which also has white sands, good swimming waters, and spectacular sunbathing conditions. There’s also a great hike between this beach and the aforementioned Plage de Saleccia.
Sardinia: The Beaches
Like Corsica, Sardinia has many miles of largely untouched coastal environments, with many beaches feeling very quiet, calm, and secluded, despite having touristic facilities not too far away.
And, since the coast is so long in Sardinia, the number of beaches is simply staggering; you could spend weeks here and still have dozens of beaches to discover on your next visit.
The Costa Sud is one of the best places to head for beautiful beaches in Sardinia. There on the south coast you’ll find crystal waters and fine sands, with places like Spiaggia Sa Colonia and Porto Campana providing truly breathtaking views and idyllic conditions for all of your favorite beach activities, from sunbathing to sunset strolls.
The beaches of the Sinis Peninsula on the west coast of Sardinia are also quite stunning. Is Aruttas is one of the best of all, made of sugar-like sand and bright blue water.
Or, you could head south to Spiaggia Su Portu, with its family-friendly waters – you might even spot some of the island’s pink flamingoes wading in the waters of the nearby lagoon.
The Spiaggia di Piscinas is an amazing place for those who want to escape the crowds, while the Spiaggia Rena Bianca is super for swimming – you can even see the coast of Corsica from this beach on a clear day.
There are many other options, too, like the jet-set haven of Spiaggia del Principe or the Tahiti-like vibes of Cala Brandinchi.
Overall, it’s clear to see that both of these islands have lots of fabulous beaches, many of which are relatively pristine and pure.
Corsica has some gems, but Sardinia is probably the better spot for beach-lovers, thanks to its greater number and wider range of options; there truly is a beach for everyone on this Italian island.
Which Is Best For Activities?
You may spend plenty of your time relaxing on the beaches of Corsica or Sardinia. But, when you’re not basking on the sands or splashing in the warm waters of the Mediterranean, you might like to enjoy a range of other activities.
Both of these islands have lots of fun things to see and do, with multiple towns and villages to explore, interesting wildlife to watch out for, adventurous activities to get your adrenaline flowing, scenic trails to hike, and historic sights to discover.
But which one is best? Well, that will all depend on what kinds of activities you tend to enjoy the most, as Corsica is arguably better-suited for rugged adventures and exploration, while Sardinia has more traditional touristic tours and attractions.
Below we look at the unique activities you can do in each, so you can see which destination suits your holiday preferences the most!
Corsica: The Activities
Travelers to Corsica will likely want to begin their journey in one of the island’s two biggest towns of Ajaccio – which is the island’s capital – or Bastia.
Ajaccio was the birthplace of Napoleon, and you can visit the Maison Bonaparte Museum to learn more about the legendary emperor, or head to the 16th century Notre Dame Cathedral to see where he was baptized.
Ajaccio also has some decent shopping areas, great restaurants, and a couple of interesting museums.
Bastia, meanwhile, stands out for its historic Old Port and ancient Terra Nova citadel. Visitors might also like to tour the Governor’s Palace and Bastia Museum to learn all about the history of this city and discover more about Corsica’s culture in general.
Beyond these large towns, Corsica has many charming villages you might like to discover.
Bonifacio is one of the prettiest of all and is often listed as a must-see spot, with cobbled streets and gorgeous cliffs. Sartene is another lovely, historic village, while Zonza is situated out among the mountains and feels like a fairy tale setting with its old homes and green surroundings.
While the villages have some pleasant sights to see and are great for meeting locals and engaging with Corse culture, some of the best activities here are found out in nature.
Corsica is an adventurer’s paradise, with great locations for rock climbing, hiking, and camping – there are even intense outdoor events for seasoned adventurers to try, like the Corsica Raid Adventure.
Sardinia: The Activities
If you’re heading to Sardinia, the island’s capital city of Cagliari is a great place to begin your vacation.
Famed for its impressive Castello and 13th century cathedral, this city has a lot of historic structures and beautiful architecture to admire. There are also some vibrant markets, pleasant green spaces, and intriguing museums, like the Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
History buffs might also like to check out the wonderfully well-preserved Phoenician towns on this island – there are two to choose from, with Tharros in the north and Nora down south.
The Su Nuraxi di Barumini archaeological site is another must-see spot, with history dating back to the 17th century BC!
There are plenty of other towns and villages to explore around Sardinia, each with their own charms and attractions.
San Pantaleo has some beautiful stone homes and a fun weekly market, for example, while Alghero has a great culinary scene. Tempio Pausania is an amazing hiking destination, Siliqua has a super 13th century castle, and Mamoiada has a Mask Museum.
There’s such a lot to see here that you’ll probably need a few extra days in Sardinia compared to Corsica.
And, while the terrain may not be quite as rugged and mountainous, Sardinia also has fun activities for outdoor enthusiasts, like hiking trails of varying difficulties and even some interesting caves, like Neptune’s Grotto – named after the Ancient Roman sea god.
Which Is Better For Nightlife?
When the sun sets on Sardinia and Corsica, you could simply retire to your hotel room and enjoy a peaceful sleep, ready for a new day of adventure to begin.
Or, if you like to stay out late, you might prefer to enjoy these islands’ bars, clubs, and nightlife hotspots. But which one is best for people who like to party?
Well, while neither Sardinia nor Corsica can rival the big party islands of Europe, they both have some good bars and eateries that stay open late, especially in the big cities like Ajaccio on Corsica or Cagliari and Alghero on Sardinia.
There are also some really friendly locals in both places who you could potentially share a drink and a chat with.
However, when comparing the two, it’s safe to say that Corsica’s nightlife scene is pretty low-key and laid-back. You won’t find clubs or beach parties here beyond the main towns.
In contrast, Sardinia has some genuine nightlife districts. The Costa Smeralda is particularly lively, with some great places to grab a drink and enjoy live entertainment.
Which Is Best For Hiking & Outdoor Adventures?
If hikes and outdoor adventures are what you love, Corsica could quickly become one of your favorite places in all of Europe.
Since so much of the island is made up of mountains and natural spaces, there are countless miles of hiking trails to uncover. This includes coastal trails with wonderful views and scenery over the water, as well as strenuous mountain trek trails.
Corsica is also home to one of the world’s greatest hiking routes of all: the GR20. This long-distance trail runs for more than 100 miles from one end of the island to the other, passing by many mountains and lovely little villages along the way.
It’s a really tough trail to complete in its entirety, but you can pick and choose easier sections to suit your abilities.
It’s also worth noting that camping is really easy to do on Corsica, with lots of great campsites for backpackers and nature lovers to set up their tents.
Sardinia has some good campsites, too, but they tend to mostly located by the beaches, while Corsica has some super inland places to camp among the mountains.
In terms of hiking, Sardinia also has a lot of great routes. It doesn’t have the same mountain climbing and trekking opportunities as Corsica, but there are some spectacular hikes to enjoy in places like Sella del Diavolo, Monte Arcuentu, Piscina Irga, and Su Cordolinu, with jaw-dropping landscapes to admire as you go.
Which Has The Best Food?
Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean Region, both Corsica and Sardinia both have excellent food, with rich flavors and traditional dishes made from locally-sourced produce from the islands’ farms.
Since Corsica is part of France, you might expect to find traditional French fare and cuisine. But, in reality, Corsica’s people enjoy their own culinary traditions and rely heavily on meats and ingredients sourced from the island itself, like wild boar.
There are some delicious, hearty stews to enjoy in the various villages, and some decent seafood in the port towns, too.
Sardinia’s culinary scene is more in line with Italy’s, with lots of tasty pasta dishes, like filindeu. Seafood is pretty popular here, too, and you can get some great mussels down by the coast.
There are some wonderful local wines made on Sardinia, and lots of pork dishes. For dessert, you might like to try some seadas – sweet cheese and honey pastries.
Overall, both islands have awesome food. Corsica is a little more rustic and familial, while Sardinia has more of a gourmet vibe in many of its restaurants, and you’ll probably be able to find better quality food overall on the Italian island.
Which Is Better For A Family Trip?
If you’re heading to Corsica or Sardinia as a family, you’ll need to think about fun things to do to keep everyone entertained, including the kids.
Both of these islands have good family activities, with lots of family-friendly beaches for swimming and games, as well as museums and cultural experiences.
However, of the two, Sardinia is probably a little more family-friendly and it has a wider range of hotels and family-oriented resorts.
There are more beaches to choose from, as well as a couple of attractions that are tailor-made for younger visitors, like the Laguna di Nora Aquarium and Aquadream water park.
The more rustic and less-developed nature of Corsica makes it a little less appealing for younger travelers, although there are still fun things to try there.
You can book horse and donkey rides for your children, for example, ride the island’s old-fashioned train, or catch a game at one of Corsica’s top teams, like SC Bastia and AC Ajaccio.
Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
For couples, the best island for you will depend on what kinds of vibes and activities you’re looking for.
Sardinia has the advantage of offering more luxurious accommodation and a greater range of quality restaurants, perfect for romantic evenings with someone special. The island also has quite a romantic feel in general, although it can get quite crowded in summer.
Corsica is generally quieter and more tranquil, which might appeal to some couples. You can make many magical memories exploring the little villages together and sampling local foods, and there’s lots to do for active couples.
However, the accommodation options are more rustic and may not provide the fancy, romantic vibes you’re searching for.
Which Is Better For Backpackers?
How about if you’re planning a backpacking trip across an island like Corsica or Sardinia?
Well, many backpackers visit both of these islands and can have incredible experiences hopping from town to town and soaking up the culture. There are hostels on both islands, too, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a place to stay.
Thanks to its hiking trails and rustic vibes, Corsica is a terrific backpacking destination.
It’s particularly well-suited for outdoor adventurers and those who want to put their hiking skills to the test on the iconic GR20 route, and you can meet plenty of other travelers along the way.
Sardinia can also be a great place to backpack, and the island’s decent public transportation network makes it fairly easy to get around. A lot of things are also slightly cheaper on this island, which is a big plus for budget-conscious travelers.
Which Is Cheaper?
In general, you may not notice a huge difference in price between Sardinia and Corsica. Average rates for hotels and guesthouses are pretty similar in both islands, and food prices are very comparable, too.
However, you may be able to have a slightly cheaper trip if you choose Sardinia. As the largest island it has a wider range of hotels, eateries, and things to do, prices are generally a little lower overall.
It’s not a major difference, but it’s still worth keeping in mind if you really want to stretch your budget as far as it can go.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: Set directly in the heart of Corsica, surrounded by lush greenery, is where you’ll find the four-star Casa Santa Lucia. It’s luxury at a budget, with a fantastic heated outdoor pool, gorgeous mountain views, and a perfect location for exploring the whole island. See photos and rates!
Luxury: With an outdoor infinity pool, spa and fitness centre, fantastic views and world class service, the five-star Hôtel & Spa Version Maquis Citadelle is regarded as one of the best hotels not just in Corsica, but in France. As it’s situated in Bonifacio by the coast, the location is perfect too. See photos and rates!
Budget: Hotel La Bitta sits right beside one of the best white sand beaches in Sardinia, has breathtaking ocean views, a fantastic pool, spa services and even a Turkish bath! It’s perfect for a relaxing stay, and at a very good price point considering the location and what they offer. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Looking for luxury and celebrity treatment? Then La Villa Del Re, a five-star, adults only resort which has its own private beach is well worth looking into. Alongside the stunning ocean views you can enjoy while relaxing in the outdoor pool, this resort also offers plenty of watersports. See photos and rates!
Which Is Easier To Get To?
We’ve already mentioned the fact that Corsica and Sardinia are very close together, almost located side-by-side in the Mediterranean Sea, with Sardinia just underneath Corsica.
But, despite them being so close and both having multiple international airports and ferry ports, you might find that one is easier for you to access than the other.
For Corsica, travelers can fly into either Bastia or Ajaccio from various parts of Europe, including the UK, Belgium, Germany, and mainland France.
You can also take a ferry to this island from cities like Nice and Toulon in France or Livorno in Italy. It’s also worth noting that there are ferries between Corsica and Sardinia, with the shortest route taking just 50 minutes.
For Sardinia, you can fly into three different airports – Cagliari, Olbia, and Alghero. All three of these airports have quite good links around Europe, with direct flights to various cities, and they’re better-served than those of Corsica.
You can also take ferries from Italy, Spain, and France, and with so many routes to choose from, Sardinia is a little easier to access overall.
Which Is Easier To Get Around?
As well as thinking about how you’re going to get to your island of choice, you’ll also have to consider how you’re going to make your way around, once you’ve arrived. And when it comes to travel around Sardinia and Corsica, renting a car is the best option on both islands.
Of course, renting a car will add to the total cost of your trip, but it also gives you the freedom to truly explore each island.
They both have decent road networks, although some of Corsica’s winding mountain roads can be quite narrow and a little scary for inexperienced drivers, so that’s something to keep in mind.
In terms of public transport, Sardinia has a terrific bus network, with lots of routes that connect the various towns and cities. There’s also a network of trains you can rely on to get between places like Cagliari, Sassari, and Olbia.
Corsica has a train service, too, although it’s not the most reliable, and buses are available, but don’t run too often.
Overall, it’s easier to get around Sardinia. It’s a bigger island, so you’ll have to spend more time behind the wheel of your car or in the seat of a bus, but there are more options and more frequent public transport services to take you wherever you want to go.
Travelers also say that it’s generally easier to find English-speakers in Sardinia too, especially in the big cities like Cagliari.
Corsica vs Sardinia: Which Is The Better Choice?
Overall, when comparing Corsica and Sardinia, there are advantages on both sides, and each of these islands has many reasons to visit.
Corsica is an absolute dream for those who enjoy getting out into nature and exploring rugged lands without excessive touristic development, while Sardinia is a great melting pot of nature, culture, excitement, and indulgence.
When we look at all of the categories listed above, Sardinia has to take the win in this comparison.
Not only is Sardinia larger, with more things to see and do, but it’s also generally easier to get around, with more diverse beaches, a more developed nightlife scene, a wider range of accommodation options, and arguably better food, too. It also happens to be cheaper!
With that said, even though Corsica might be lacking in a couple of areas, it’s still a fabulous place to visit and certainly worth considering, especially if you’re an active traveler who enjoys hiking and similar activities.
Plus, if you happen to speak French, it probably makes more sense to go to Corsica – similarly, if you speak Italian, Sardinia should be easier to explore and enjoy.