Three Weeks in the Mediterranean Sea

Old Feb 9th, 2020, 06:18 PM
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Three Weeks in the Mediterranean Sea

Bonjour,

My husband and I need some advice. We are torn between spending three weeks in July in either Sardinia and Corsica or in the Greek cyclades (we have our sights on Santorini, Naxos, Milos, Paros and Folegandros).

For anyone who has visited either island group, please help us decide which to visit. If this helps, we are both in our mid-forties, enjoy taking in the local culture, time at the beach, good food, evening walks, historical sites and beautiful drives.

By the way, we know the cyclades are in the Aegean Sea but since it is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, the title of my post was not too long

Merci

Sabina

Last edited by SabinaLaurent; Feb 9th, 2020 at 06:27 PM.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 01:17 AM
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I know all these Islands very well.
Corsica is the most expensive one, Santorini the most touristy one, Folegandros the smallest one and Sardinia the Island with the best beaches. The harbour towns of Naxos and Paros (Parikia) can get very crowded in July/August, but most other places on these Islands are fine.

Cycladic Islads are usually exposed to heavy Northern winds North (Meltemi), whereas there is much less wind in Corsica or Sardinia (except places around the Northern top).

The (Italian) food is best in Sardinia, followed by the French cuisine of Corsica. Greek restaurants are much cheaper and serve all more or less the same Eastern Mediterranean plates.
In Greece, everybody who has something to do with tourism speaks English. That's not always the case in Corsica (invaded by people from Paris and other continental towns of France) and Sardinia very popular with people from Northern Italy.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 03:48 AM
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Thank you for the interesting and helpful information as both groups of islands sound lovely.

So, if you had a choice, which three week vacation would you choose?
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 04:53 AM
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Here is our trip report for an 8-night visit to Sardinia: Sardinia! You Gotta Go!! 8 nights. October It is a very large island and plenty to see and do. Perhaps you could split your time between Sardinia and Corsica. ×
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 06:22 AM
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That is what we were thinking. With three weeks, we can do both Sardinia and Corsica. But three or four Cycladic Islands also sound so dreamy

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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 06:57 AM
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Both options are great and difficult to choose between.
If food is a top priority, I’d choose Sardinia & Corsica.
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Old Feb 10th, 2020, 07:24 AM
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"With three weeks, we can do both Sardinia and Corsica. But three or four Cycladic Islands also sound so dreamy"

C'est sûr et certain. Mais c'est vraiment à vous de faire un choix.
I visited more than 100 Mediterranean Islands and everyone has it's own charm. All depends on what one is looking for.
There is a big difference between a traditional Italian hotel with private beach, chairs and umbrellas and 4course dinners served by perfectly trained waiters
and a small Greek Island where everything looks improvised.
But things are changing and get more and more similar everywhere (menu with Burgers,industrial Lasagne, Nasi Goreng, etc)

As I said above, Corsica is a immersion into France and Sardinia is an immersion into Italy whereas the 4 Cycladic Islands you mentioned are mostly visited by tourists from Northern Europe (Santorini from all over the world) and if you wouldn't be surrounded by "tiypically" Greek architecture, by (greekly tepid) Greek food and by music of Nikos Theodorakis (that can never be heard at places with only Greek tourists) you might not feel in Greece.
Ceci dit, j'aime la Grèce et y retourne presque chaque année.
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Old Feb 15th, 2020, 12:40 PM
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The more we read about the Greek Cycladic islands I mentioned above, the more we are drawn to Corsica and Sardinia. We do want to immerse ourselves in local culture and Sardinia and Corsica do appear to be more authentic.

Should we stay equal time in both islands or spend more time in one of them? Which island should we visit first?

As well, which areas should we base ourselves in on each island?

Thanks again for all of your opinions and advice.
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 08:19 AM
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All depends on your interests.
May be you check first the fares of flights and costs of rental cars (and whether the latter can be taken on a ferry) and plan your itinerary accordingly (car drop off inanother country, circular route or 2 car rentals.).
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Old Feb 16th, 2020, 04:52 PM
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Everything, including car rentals, are more expensive in Corsica. Flights to Corsica generally originate in France. You can fly in and out of Sardinia to France or Italy. The ferry with the shortest distance between the two islands is Bonifacio (Corsica) to Santa Teresa di Gallura (Sardinia). And, yes, you will need two rental cars. If you go to Santa Teresa the choices are slim and more expensive than airports in Sardinia. Despite the geography, it is not easy to visit both islands on the same trip. ×
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Old Feb 17th, 2020, 02:58 AM
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There are several direct services from UK to Corsica
BA from LHR to Figari and Bastia
Air Corsica from Stansted to Calvi, Bastia, Ajaccio and Figari
Easyjet have similar routes.
We did not pay much for our airfare on Air Corsica to Calvi last summer but we booked in advance, for this summer it might be already too late to find good prices.

It was not our experience that car rental was expensive in Corsica. We paid GBP114 for a week's rental, thru Autoeurope UK, including taxes, CDW, PAI and unlimited mileage for a medium sized car. This was last summer.

The prices are the same in the Corsican supermarkets as on mainland France, the prices are the same in restaurants as in other places in France. We averaged about EUR99 (for 2 persons) each evening meal for 3 courses a la carte with a bottle of local wine. Some restaurants have great value set menus which are not expensive.

The accommodation was not expensive either, we rented a lovely apartment which came with it's own parking, however, again, if you leave it too late, you might find what's left is expensive. You can also rent a gîte but the best ones are booked up well in advance. Depends on what you are looking for, there are certainly some expensive 5 star hotels, right down to inexpensive apartment rentals.

As for Corsica and Sardinia seeming more authentic, the Greek islands are authentic, you just need to step away from the main tourist areas. There is always a traditional village and traditional life, even on Santorini.


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Old Feb 18th, 2020, 06:23 PM
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So much great information. Thanks. We have been to Greece before, having spent time in the South Peloponnese, and we found this area to be so authentic and also so beautiful, and this was mainly because it did not feel touristy at all.

After researching the two islands, we will be flying in and out of Olbia, and will spend about 12 days in Sardinia and 8 days in Southern Corsica. We will rent a car in Olbia, and have the car throughout our trip, and this way we can take the car on the ferry between the two islands.

We are thinking about driving immediately to Castelsardo after we land in Olbia, spend a few days, and end our trip on the Costa Smeralda before flying home.

It's the in-between 14 days we are having trouble deciding where to base ourselves.

Your advice will be so appreciated.

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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 03:23 AM
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So, you plan to go between the islands two times since you are arriving and departing Olbia? I guess that makes the rental car easier and less expensive but we worried a little about the possibility of ferries and rough weather impacting our travel plans.

As you may have seen in our trip report from Sardinia, we based ourselves in Alghero and Cagliari, two very different places. Our son last fall made a similar trip with his family. We both would do that again. You are spending more time there than us, so you have more choices, although we roamed much of the large island. The one area that we heard about from others and wished we had time for was the Maddalena islands near Olbia. Castelsardo was nice but quite small and might bore you for a "few days." and the area around it was our least favorite part. Our best memories of Sardinia were driving the lonely roads in the mountains, but we didn't spot too many other places we would have used as a home base.

We have not been to Corsica (but will be there the first week in May for a week). In the south, we are considering basing ourselves in Bonifacio. We fly in and out of Ajaccio but that seems like a larger city than we want to use as a base. We do plan to stay in Calvi a few days in the north. Your trip sounds a little more relaxed than our normal routine, so you should have many options in the south, including the beach town of Porto Vecchio (which should be quite crowded in July) and perhaps Propriano and Sartene. ×
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Old Feb 19th, 2020, 07:13 AM
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Let's begin with the end of Whitehalls's post.
Sarte is less touristic because it's not on the seaside, but it's a good base for the visit of isolated "Genoese" churches and nice not crowded beaches (most people go by car as far as they can and hike for the last mile). Filitosa, the only famous archeological site of the Island isn't too far away neither.
Propriano is very touristy, but the area and the beaches from there up to (and beyond) Ajaccio are really scenic.
Portovecchio/Santa Giulia/Santa Lucia will all be more or less crowded. Take into account that in late afternoon/early evening, when everybody leaves the
beaches, the average speed on the coastal road will be around 1 mile/hr. But the coastal stretch from Bunifaziu up to Solenzara is really beautiful.

Sardinia: as above.
I wouldn't stay at Castelsardo. The Eastern coast is much more scenic. May be you go to one of the beaches between Olbia airport and San Teodoro, if you don't want to stay twice in the Costa Smeralda area. (the latter solution wouldn't be wrong, however, as the Palau (area (Porto Puddu, Maddalena Island, etc..) is different from the South (Capriccioli, Cala Ruja, Marinella....)
The best archeological places are in Southern Sardinia, however: Barumini, Isili, Tharros, Pula.

Sardinia Ferries (rather big passenger and car ferries) link Portovecchio in Corsica with Porto Torres and Golfo Aranci in Sardinia (by far not daily).
https://www.corsica-ferries.co.uk/?_...065.1582128750

Last edited by neckervd; Feb 19th, 2020 at 07:18 AM.
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Old Feb 25th, 2020, 03:03 PM
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Just read all of your responses and we are so appreciative of the time you all took to help us out and we have used your advice in helping to form our own plan.

After more research, we have decided to spend equal time in both Corsica and Sardinia. Because we will be staying in Paris a little longer than first thought, we now have 17 nights and will be splitting our time by spending 8 nights in Sardinia 8 and nights in Corsica (we will be spending our last night near the Olbia airport).

As we will be landing and leaving from Olbia, we have a choice to make. Either we drive south to the Pula/Chia/Cagliari region for the first 5 nights or spend it closer to Olbia, along the coast or even a little further north, nearer to Palau. We do want to relax and spend some time on beautiful beaches but also have the evenings to spend in small towns.

We will then drive to the Alghero region for the next 3 nights, before driving into Corsica for 8 nights. How long is the drive from Olbia to Cagliari? The roads seem to be all 4-lane highways, so it looks like it could be in done in less than 2-3 hours.

Now, for Corsica, in 8 nights, would we have time to go to the northern parts as there are so many interesting small villages to visit or is there enough to do and see in the south?

Thanks again for your help.

Last edited by SabinaLaurent; Feb 25th, 2020 at 03:14 PM.
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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 03:37 AM
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I would plan on 3-4 hours from Olbia to Cagliari.

In our planned trip to Corsica in May, we plan to base 3 nights in Sartene, 3 nights Calvi and one night in Ajaccio (where we will fly in and out). We hope to see areas north and south but will leave out Olbia and the northeast. For us, it won't be a relaxing beach trip. We will average about 3 hours of driving per day, which, for us, is not a big deal, especially with all the expected scenery and many beautiful little towns. And, our days usually begin at 7 and end at 11.
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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by SabinaLaurent View Post
Now, for Corsica, in 8 nights, would we have time to go to the northern parts as there are so many interesting small villages to visit or is there enough to do and see in the south?
Did not go to the south as we were only there for a week. For 8 nights though, I think you would have time. Don't underestimate the terrain and the time it takes to get from one place to another. There are several airports however, so you could fly into Ajaccio/Figari for example and then out of Bastia or Calvi, so you don't have to go to Calvi for example then backtrack down to Ajaccio. Corsica has several airports so that can make things easier.

There are indeed many small mountainous villages close to Calvi which are delightful and of course there is the Scandola & the village of Girolata, a good place for lunch. But there could be the same sort of villages in the south and Bonifacio looks amazing. By July you might want some beach time, in June it was too cold for sea swimming, ice cold in fact. We wanted to go to Cargèse due to it's connections to Greece but it was too far to get to in a day trip.

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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 05:58 AM
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"but also have the evenings to spend in small towns"

I suppose you know that Chia is not a village (or even a town), but just a few big hotels and many private villas and b&bs behind and above some long dune beaches. Some 50 years ago, there was no house at all. The dunes are protected, but the beaches are free. Most guests come from Northern Italy. In this area, the sea can sometimes get a bit rough, according to the winds.
If you prefer a real village, with many shops and restaurants, you should have a look at Villasimius (with no natural dunes, however, but a lot of sandy beaches on both sides of the village).
The higway from Olbia to Cagliari passes through or close to the most important archeological and historical sites of Sardinia:
Torralba, Saccargia, Tharros, Barumini, Isili.
You obviously plan to backtrack aloong the same highway (SS131) up to Sassari (small but interesting archeological museum) and Alghero (via SS291/SP42).
Thel roads along the coast and through the mountains (like SS125 or SS195/SS126/SS292) would of course be much more scenic, but much more time consuming.

On your way back from Corsica, you will drive along some of the best (IMO) beaches of Sardinia: Porto Puddu, Barca Brucciata, Tancamanna, Grande Pevero, Romazzino, Cogghi, Capriccioli, Celvia, Li Ittricetti, Liscia Ruja, Rena Bianca, Marinella..... It would be a pity if you would do this whole stretch in 1 day or 2 only.

As to Corsica, everything except the coast between Solenzara and Bastia is scenic. May be you visit Bunifaziu/Bonifacio, Sarte/Sartene (1 hr is enough), Filitosa, the Napoleonian things at AiacciuAjaccio and Corte.
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Old Feb 26th, 2020, 08:58 AM
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Most visitors to Corsica with a rental car cover the entire island if they are there for at least a week. Distances are not huge although driving speed is pretty low due to the twists and turns on the coastal roads.
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