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Wonders of Corsica & Sardinia

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20242025
12 days From £3,145 £2,995 per person
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Uncover verdant Mediterranean islands infused with hidden charms, pristine white-sand beaches and idyllic mountainside villages.

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Save up to £150pp on selected 2024 Europe, British Isles and Cruise holidays, when you book by 10th May 2024.

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Mobility Rating 3

2024 Tour code: SAG24

About the tour

Embrace the laidback island lifestyle as we embark on a fantastic tour of this 'forgotten corner of Europe'.

Explore the glistening coast of unspoilt Corsica, a paradise of old-world French towns and dramatic mountainside villages, connected by charming train journeys through spectacular scenery.

Indulge in the delicious cuisine of Sardinia, discover beautiful historic towns, and delve into wondrous cave systems as we uncover the fascinating history of this charming Italian island.

Relax in our hand-picked selection of elegant hotels as we enjoy the leisurely pace of life and Mediterranean produce of these two untouched islands.

Unforgettable experiences

Relaxing hotels
Relaxing hotels
Our selection of superb hotels blends the history, nature and relaxation associated with these islands. From a chic former abbey in Calvi, a hotel set in tranquil parkland in Propriano, and the shoreline luxury of our 5-Star Alghero spa, each hotel has been carefully selected to offer style and incredible comfort.
Unspoilt Corsican villages
Unspoilt Corsican villages
In the Balagne region of northern Corsica, picturesque and historic villages such as Monticello and Sant’Antonino cling to mountainsides, seemingly untouched by modern life. Their narrow, winding passages open out on to spectacular views of rugged mountains and the enticing Mediterranean.
Little-known Corsican railways
Little-known Corsican railways
From the charming local ‘Trinichellu’ that touches the very edge of the Balagne’s pristine white-sand beaches, to the train that winds its way through the rugged heart of the island, Corsican railways feel entwined with the island’s breathtaking scenery.
Neptune's Grotto
Neptune's Grotto
Discovered by local fishermen in the 18th century, Neptune’s Grotto is a cavernous network of magical subterranean lakes filled with impressive stalactites and stalagmites reached directly by boat.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – Riviera Calling

We meet our fellow travellers at London St Pancras ready for boarding the Eurostar to Paris. Enjoying a light meal in Standard Premier Class, we get to know one another before we change in the French capital to the First Class train to Toulon. On our way to the Mediterranean, we are whisked the 500 miles to the south of France in a touch over four hours. A city known for its many fountains, and with narrow streets opening on to tree-covered squares, sun-kissed Toulon is also an historically important port. On arrival, we check into our hotel and enjoy our first evening meal together.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar light meal
Day 2 – Across the Mediterranean to Calvi

Enjoying pleasing Mediterranean temperatures, Corsica is today's destination as we board the ferry* to L'Île-Rousse. Sailing past the French Riviera across azure waters, there is plenty of time to soak up the sun on deck as we spend the day cruising. Inside, we can enjoy the bars and a choice of restaurants, including a la carte. The history of Corsica is synonymous with these waters and the Genoese who occupied the island for nearly 500 years from the 13th century. With a trading empire stretching from Morocco to the Black Sea, Corsica was strategically important and still bears many reminders, such as the Tower of Calvi in the charming coastal town where we stay for three nights in a stylishly converted 16th-century monastery.

*The timings and routings of ferries are subject to change, and can often set sail early in the morning

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 3 – Exploring tranquil Calvi

A guided tour of laidback Calvi follows a relaxed breakfast this morning. Overlooked by its imposing medieval citadel, this compact town has more than 3000 years of history and, legend has it, was the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus. With a free afternoon, there are many options in this cosy, historic town, including a variety of beaches or the hotel's exquisite pool and terrace for those wanting to relax. Alternatively, the picturesque marina lined with palms and alfresco restaurant decks has a calm and unexpectedly Adriatic feel. Views stretch across a harbour dappled with small boats to overlapping mountain peaks. Connected to the marina via the Genoese tower, the citadel recalls the town's military past in a setting of pastel buildings and cobbled streets. We regroup for dinner at a local restaurant where we are treated to three courses of classic Corsican food.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 – The coastal train to beautiful hilltop villages

After breakfast we board the charming local 'Trinichellu' train that passes the very edge of the immaculate white-sand beaches of the Balagne coast. Disembarking in L'Île-Rousse, a pretty and vibrant market town with shaded squares, we have time for lunch. Indulging in some alfresco dining by the sea might be the order of the day here. Moving inland, we visit a series of stunning cliffside villages. The final one is Sant'Antonino, one of 'Les Plus Beaux Villages de France' (Most Beautiful Villages of France). These beautiful, unspoilt hillside settlements appear hewn out of the rock. With no cars, only medieval cobbled paths winding through covered passages opening on to spectacular views, it is easy to imagine you have travelled to some bygone age. As the highest of the villages we visit, 9th-century Sant'Antonino boasts sweeping vistas of the azure sea and rugged mountains. The entrance to the village is stocked with stalls displaying local produce, and here we enjoy a refreshing juice at the Maison du Citron.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Train through the rugged heart of Corsica

Taking a mid-morning coach to the inland village of Ponte Leccia, we board the train for a beautiful journey through lush green mountain scenery. This route is one of Europe's hidden gems. The single-track railway passes pastel-coloured rural stations as it carves and twists its way through Corsica's mountainous and verdant interior. The route crosses Gustave Eiffel's 1890s viaduct over the plunging Vecchio Canyon and loops round steep hills, before entering the 2.5-mile-long Vizzavona tunnel and winding its way down to the island's capital, Ajaccio. The bustling port city of 75,000 people is home to about a fifth of the island's population and was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. We have some free time here before heading to our peaceful Propriano hotel in time for dinner.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Embracing the relaxing island lifestyle

A full day at leisure in Propriano allows you to savour the tranquility of southern Corsica. Our 4-Star hotel overlooks the beautiful Valinco Gulf and verdant hills. It offers two swimming pools, a seasonal hot tub, and a wellness area, so those wanting to relax after breakfast need not go far. With two restaurants and a cocktail bar, you might take some persuading to leave the hotel! For those who want to step out, you will find fine sandy beaches and the tempting Mediterranean Sea nearby. The nearby town of Propriano is small, so easy to explore. You may wish to start by visiting the harbour where colourful houses overlook the marina of yachts and sailing boats. Beyond the harbour is the main street, lined with shops and traditional houses, as well as a variety of tempting restaurants and bars to choose from this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 – Bonifacio and onwards to Sardinia

After breakfast, we travel to the southern port town of Bonifacio for our ferry across to Sardinia. Bonifacio is a spectacular town perched high on cliffs on a narrow spit of land. The attractive lower town stands beside a serene harbour of working boats and small cruisers. We explore beautiful Bonifacio on a guided tour and have free time over lunch to perhaps sample one of the town's pleasant restaurants before catching the ferry to Sardinia. With Corsica belonging to France and Sardinia to Italy, these two islands from the forgotten corner of Europe have very individual characteristics. However, being disconnected from the hustle of the mainland, they both exude a laidback calm. Once in Sardinia, known for its turquoise waters and enticing beaches, we check in to our 5-Star hotel in Alghero for four nights, before getting a taste of the area over dinner in the hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 – Alghero and Neptune’s Grotto

Today starts off in style with a relaxed breakfast relishing the blissful views of the sea from our hotel overlooking the seafront, before we embark on a guided tour of Alghero. Having once been ruled by Catalans and now by Italy, the fortified old town combines many Mediterranean styles, with narrow streets opening on to charming piazzas. From the large marina berthed with small boats and yachts, we set sail to the wondrous Neptune's Grotto which is accessed directly from the boat. This cavernous system of tranquil subterranean lakes is filled with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Returning to Alghero, you have free time to explore and sample the local cuisine, including fregola pasta with clams and carasau flatbread. Pair these tasty delicacies with a glass of local wine at one of the lively centre's many restaurants.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 9 – Alghero at leisure

Having learned about Alghero's fascinating history yesterday, a free day gives you a choice of whether to explore further or spend the day relaxing. Our seafront hotel is a 10-minute walk from the old town. With a large outdoor pool, an extensive spa and wellness provision, two restaurants and a bar with an attractive terrace, this delectable hotel takes care of all your relaxation needs. Another option is taking in the delights of Alghero's old town, with its honey-coloured buildings, and churches. Whether exploring the shaded streets, the tree-lined esplanade or the historic ramparts, you will be able to find an attractive spot to enjoy a cooling aperitif or a high-quality local wine.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 10 - Stunning fortified village of Castelsardo

After breakfast, we travel by coach to Castelsardo, where we find one of the 'loveliest towns in Italy'. Appearing as an imposing hilltop fortress, the early 12th-century Castello dei Doria is only part of Castelsardo's beauty. Hiding behind the impressive castle is the delightful old town. A cluster of pale-hued buildings overlooks a network of narrow, shaded lanes, while trattorias and cafés spill out on to the characterful alleys. There are magnificent views of the rugged coast from the Piazza del Duomo, where the cathedral of Sant'Antonio Abate stands. Its campanile tower was originally a lighthouse but is now topped with a colourful tiled cupola. Inland, the modern town with its painted houses cascades down the slope in a burst of colour.

Dinner tonight is a highlight of our holiday as we attend a family-owned 'agriturismo'. An amazing farm-to-table experience, we enjoy a delicious four-course meal of local specialities in idyllic surroundings.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 – Overnight ferry to Toulon

A leisurely morning in Alghero provides an ideal opportunity to relax before we transfer by coach to nearby Porto Torres we board the overnight ferry back to the mainland. With en-suite outside-facing cabins, each with a porthole, you may want to take the opportunity to relax in your cabin while you sail across the crystal blue Mediterranean, or head onto the outside deck to enjoy the sights and sounds of the journey. A range of restaurants and bars are available for food and drink.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 12 – Homeward bound

Disembarking back on the French mainland at Toulon, we transfer to the station and our First Class seats to Paris. Passing vineyards and beautiful Provençal landscapes, we join the Rhône at Avignon and weave alongside this mighty river towards Lyon. Boarding the Standard Premier Class of the Eurostar in Paris, we enjoy a light meal before arriving back at London St Pancras. With shared memories, we bid farewell to our travelling companions and look back with fondness on the laidback island life experienced on Corsica and Sardinia.

Includes
  • Eurostar light meal

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Smy Carlos V Wellness & Spa, Alghero

Smy Carlos V Wellness & Spa, Alghero

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Hôtel L'Abbaye, Calvi

Hôtel L'Abbaye, Calvi

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Hotel Bartaccia, Propriano

Bartaccia Hôtel, Propriano

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Trains

Eurostar
TGV
Balagne local train
Heart of Corsica: Ponte Leccia to Ajaccio

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Upgrades

London Hotels
UK rail connections
Door to door luggage service
Europe by Rail 2024

Europe by Rail 2024

Our definitive guide to our 2024 summer rail holidays to a wide range of destinations in Europe.

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