Porto-Vecchio is a very popular town on the south-east coast of Corsica about 25 kilometers northeast of Bonifacio. The town has easy access to both beautiful beaches and high mountain scenery, which explains its popularity with visitors to Corsica.
The marina part of the town is built on ex-salt marshes and salt continues to play an important role in the life of Porto-Vecchio. It was because of the marshes that this region was not developed earlier – it was infested with mosquitoes and malaria until well into the 20th century, although the citadel on the hill dates back to the 16th century.
The town of Porto-Vecchio has two distinct areas to explore: the citadel and old town, and the marina. Start your visit with a stroll around the marina. The marina is attractive, and although quite small, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants overlooking the harbor. The citadel and streets of the old town date from the 16th century, when the Genoese controlled Corsica.
Within Porto-Vecchio old town, around the Place de la Republique, you can discover the original defenses and ramparts, some lovely old buildings pressing in on narrow streets, and squares of picturesque houses. One of the best known sights in the Place de la Republique is the tropical tree called the 'Bel Ombra' that was given to the town in 1901 and is now 10 meters across.
The Church of Saint-John-the-Baptist was built in the 19th century and is rather plain on the outside because the funds ran out before the facade was completed. Step inside to see the ornately decorated interior, then return to the Place de la Republique to visit one of the cafes in the square.
Another highlight is the picturesque Place Ettori, off Cours Napoleon. The old house with a big staircase in this square was once the hospital for the Genoese troops.
Above all, it is the beaches and coastline around the town that are the big attraction. Several stunning beaches in the bays along the nearby coast have fine sand and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean are backed by extensive pine forests. The beach at Palombaggia to the south of Porto-Vecchio is internationally renowned as one of the most beautiful beaches in Corsica. Other popular beaches along this stretch of coast include Santa Giulia, and a little further south, Tamaricciu, with several other smaller beaches between the two.