Welcome to the Ajaccio cruise port guide. With 65.000 inhabitants Ajaccio is the capital city of the island of Corsica. This adorable small town has a yacht-packed marina, a buzzing centre filled with history and quaint streets that fill all your shopping wishes. Ajaccio doesn’t feel 100 percent French. It is quite hard to say what it is exactly, but this also makes it a very unique spot. When you talk about Ajaccio there is 1 person in particular that needs to be mentioned: Napoleon Bonaparte. It is the famous, honored French military leader known throughout the world for various accomplishments under various reputations. He was born in Ajaccio in 1769. His birth house, church etc still stand in the town today. Therefore it is quite hard not to get acquainted with this man’s fascinating life story. Aside from all the history combined in this town there is an immense dramatic coastline not far from Ajaccio. Other than that are the wonderful little towns, the striking Prunelli Gorge and Cargese in the area that are just a true gem to explore. The options are definitely there. Either stay in town and have an easy day or make the most out of your day and explore the country side, coastline and villages of Corsica.
Cruise ships dock at the Ajaccio cruise dock in front of town. From here it is a short walk to the historical center. You can easily explore the city center bij foot. Find out what facilities are available at the Ajaccio cruise port in the full cruise port guide.
There are beaches within walking distance of the ship. Most of them are only occupied in the summer months. Keep in mind that most of the year Corsica is not suitable for sunbathing.
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in a 4 story house in the city centre of Ajaccio. Visit the charming streets where you’ll find the Napoleon museum and birth house. It is a not to be missed sight in town. It introduces you to the fascinating and turbulent history of the Bonaparte family.
Place Foch is the town hall square and the true heart of Ajaccio. Traditionally the only gate to the citadel and today the square is dominated by the white marble statue of Napoleon surrounded by 4 lions. This is also where you’ll find the main marche: the local market. It is open 6 days in the week except for Monday.
There are many citadels and fortifications around Corsica to prevent seaborne raids mainly from North Africa. Ajaccio is no exception. Here you’ll find a citadel from the 15th century used as citadel, military fortress and prison during WWII. Nowadays it still belongs to the army and it is off limits to the general public.
Corsica and Ajaccio might be French, but the winemaking traditions and grape varieties are Italian in origin. The island has 9 AOC regions. Ajaccio mainly produces medium-bodies red and rose. Pick up a bottle in the local supermarket.
The old town of Ajaccio is very scenic. Picturesque pastel painted houses, modest 16th century baroque style and narrow streets dotted with cafe’s and restaurants.
A local specialty is the Corsican Nougat. Make sure you try it. This is nothing like the worthless stuff in your snickers. Corsican Nougat is a real treat! Try with lemon or chestnut for example. Find these at specialty shops but also in the local supermarkets.
Rue Cardinal Fesch is the pedestrian shopping street of Ajaccio full of craft shops and boutiques. When you need a break you simply sit down at on of the outdoor cafes and see the world pass by.
Palais Fesch is a must-see in Ajaccio. It is an art museum established by Napoleon his uncle. It has France’s largest collection of Italian paintings outside the Louvre. The museum houses temporary exhibitions, also work of 14th – 19th century minor or anonymous artists, but also canvases by Titian, Veronese, Botticelli, Bartolomeo and Bellini.
Ajaccio Cathedral was build in 1593. It is said that Napoleon was baptised here. Go inside to get a feel for this magnificent cathedral.
Although there is a tourist information point in the port you can always obtain more information at the tourist information office that is about a 3 minute walk from the ship.
On the first floor of the Town Hall you’ll find the Salon Napoleonien. It is a museum displaying documents and paintings relating to this glorious man. Find his baptism certificate here, a replica of his bronze death mask and paintings of him and his family.