This is one of the most impressive arrivals in Mediterranean cruising. Turning from the sea into the Goulet de Bonifacio, the sheltered inlet, it is easy tom imagine the days when the port was a pirate stronghold. The (lower level) of the town is right behind the quay, so there is no need for shuttles or taxis unless you want to go out of town. The upper town can be reached via a long flight of stairs or a hike up the sloping roadway. Access to the 100 steps is from the marina next to the Church of St. Erasme.
Most ships will anchor and tender you to the small, but smart cruise terminal of Bonifacio where all passengers pass through.
Printable map to take along.
Watch a destination video.
Bonifacio owes its renown to the majestic citadel that was built in the 9th century by Boniface II of Tuscany. Its Genoese influence and vivid colors evoke the traditions of a region which have managed to protect its historical and cultural heritage.
Corsica's picturesque southernmost town gazes across the blue Mediterranean to Sardinia. In its narrow cobbled alleys lingers a strangely medieval mood and the ancient stone houses of the fortress-like, once much-besieged community cling to one of the island's most striking sites - a towering promontory of sheer limestone rock jutting out improbably into the sea 200ft below.
Bonifacio is split into two sections. The Vieille Ville (old town), or la Haute Ville (the Upper city), on the site of a 9th-century citadel, is located on a peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the inhabitants reside in the Haute Ville,
The harbor offers nice views of the towering cliffs that surround it.
The municipal Tourism office of Bonifacio is at: 2, rue Fred Scamaroni.
A boat trip around the inlet offers the best views of the old ancient houses perched on the cliff side. There are some boat tours that you could book from the dock area.
There is a Petit Train up to the upper town, the commentary is in French but the views are pretty and it saves walking up lots of steps.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
A hired car is advisable if you want to explore outside the town, but driving is tricky because of the narrow and winding roads. Public transport is infrequent.
Map of Bonifacio
The wood from chestnut and juniper trees is used by local artisans to craft nice souvenirs. Several shops along the main street in the upper town offer a good selection of these beautiful carvings. A wide range of souvenir items can be found in the shops around the marina area. Most shops close between 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Local emergency number: 112
Most shops, businesses, information services, museums and banks in France stay open all day. The exceptions are the smaller shops and enterprises, which may close for lunch sometime between 12.30pm and 2pm. Basic hours of business are from 8 or 9am to 6.30 or 7.30pm Monday to Saturday for the big shops and Tuesday to Saturday for smaller shops (some of the smaller shops may open on Monday afternoon). You can always find boulangeries and food shops that do stay open, however, on days when others close – on Sunday normally until noon.
National holiday dates:
January 1 New Year's Day
Ascension Day (forty days after Easter)
Pentecost or Whitsunday (seventh Sunday after Easter, plus the Monday)
May 1 May Day/Labour Day
May 8 Victory in Europe Day
July 14 Bastille Day
August 15 Assumption of the Virgin Mary
November 1 All Saints' Day
November 11 1918 Armistice Day
December 25 Christmas Day
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