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Porto is a small village to the west of Corsica, ideally placed for exploring many of the highlights of this dramatically beautiful region of Corsica, with local highlights such as the Scandola Nature Reserve, the Calanches de Piana, the Gorges de Spelunca and the Foret d'Aitone.
Indeed this region of Corsica is of such great beauty and interest that it has been designated a UNESCO World heritage Site.
Porto barely existed 50 years ago and has done its best to cater to the ever increasing numbers of tourists that are drawn to this part of Corsica, but in summer the roads and town can be very congested. It gets a bit of a bad rap from some tourist guides but we loved it.
The Calanches and the coastline here in the Porto area was our favourite area of Corsica. The calanches are absolutely breathtaking. Porto itself we found had a nice atmosphere, when we visited in May it was lively but not too much so and had a great selection of bars and restaurants.
Porto Marina, which is where the action is, runs along the edge of a river with a backdrop of tree covered mountains and many of the hotels and appartments in Porto look out over these. As you get to the end of the road the vista opens out to views of the sea and the watchtower on the rock above.
The watchtower is the only real site of historical interest in Porto and was built in the 16th century. You can visit it for a couple of euros which is well worth doing for the magnificent views that it provides from its dramatic location on top of the red cliffs. There is a small museum in the tower too.
The marina is the centre of life in this well placed Corsica resort, and from here you can discover the watchtower and town beach. This is also where you go if you want to go on one of the many boat excursions that leave from Porto and take you either to get a sea view of the Calanches or to the stunning Scandola Nature Reserve.
There is also a smalll aquarium in the town where you can see some of the sea creatures that live in the sea off the coast of Porto.
Although there is a small beach in Porto (see photo above), you are better travelling a few kilometres out of town to enjoy a better experience - head north for a selection of possibilities, and if time permits head as far as Osani and the Plage de Gradelle, probably the best in the area and with lovely views of the Calanches.
If you want to escape from other tourists for a while, perhaps the best way is to ascend the Capo d'Orto behind the town - 1300metres high and more great views.
Boat Excursions from Porto
Boat trips from Porto head for each (or all combined) of these scenic highlights and although these trips are rather expensive (25 - 55 euros per person) they are an exceptional way to appreciate the dramatic scenery.
You can also book sea-fishing trips from the marina.
Places to Visit Nearby
Be sure to drive south along the corniche road to the little village of Piana. Piana is listed as a most beautiful village but really it is seeing the Calanches that is the goal. This is reputed to be one of the most beautiful stretches of road in all of Europe and rightly so. It really is magnificent. Stop at the rock called the 'Tete de Chien' which really does look like the head of a dog and there is a very pretty walk on one of the Calanche paths from here. Another couple of walks leave from the nearby cafe. All are wonderful to do.
Driving north along the D81 and the calanche road gives you splendid views over the crimson Calanche. This is also the road you need to take to get to the better beaches in the area. The first you come to, after 5km, is the Plage de Bussaglia. Another few kilometers brings you to the Plage de Caspio and then 10km further, take the turning to Osani and then continue to the Plage de Gradelle - the best beach in the area.
Further along the calanche you get great views from the Col de la Croix. This is also the start of a 7km walk to a tiny fishing village called Girolata.
You can find more local travel ideas in the guide.