the support Marmot Tours gave us was flawless
Although very close, the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica are remarkably different. One thing they do have in common is that they are both great places to ride a bike! This two-week holiday is a combination of our Sardinian Classics and our Classic Cols of Corsica holidays. Our vehicles travel between the islands, so we thought it would be nice to offer a lift to anyone wanting to explore both. What’s more, we’ll throw in a complimentary ferry ticket and a night’s accommodation in Bonifacio!
Further information about each week can be found on the Trip Notes for each holiday. We will require you to book each trip separately, so this will count as two holidays when it comes to your loyalty discount.
In case you’re wondering “What’s the difference between Sardinia and Corsica?” (something we’re often asked), we posted a blog to answer this question (in two parts, in fact – there was a lot to say!). It’s a great read and we hope it gives you a flavour of what to expect for each island. You can read Part I & Part II by following these links.
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Departure Dates & Prices
We are pleased to offer some tempting discounts on the basic trip cost (not including extras such as single rooms or bike hire):
- Book & pay your deposit more than 6 months in advance of the start of your holiday for our 5% Early Bookers discount
- Be rewarded for your loyalty by receiving a 10% discount from your 3rd Marmot trip onwards
- Get a group of 10+ people together for a 10% Group discount
Please note that there is a maximum 10% discount on any holiday.
Day 0: Travel Out
We offer included airport transfers from Cagliari Airport to the 4* Spa Resort Hotel SaMuvara (1hr 45min). Situated up at 800m, in the heart of the Gennargentu mountains, this is the perfect place to start and end your holiday. Assemble your bike (or set up your hire bike) before the welcome briefing and dinner. For those arriving early, the afternoon can be spent relaxing by the pool, or there are several good rides that can be done from the hotel.
Full travel and group airport transfer information can be found in our Trip Notes.
Day 1: Aritzo to Valico Strisaili
Today’s ride is the perfect introduction to cycling in Sardinia. Circumnavigate the Gennargentu Massif on a series of quiet roads to Arcu Correboi (1246m). The views from here are spectacular and the descent on the ‘old road’ is an absolute gem: the gradients are constant, the corners are sweeping and it is virtually traffic free! On reaching the valley bottom you undulate through a sparse landscape of rock and ancient oak trees.
Your destination is the 4* Orlando Resort Hotel, nestled in Santa Barbara National Park. With a fine kitchen, spa & pool facilities you will be pleased to hear that we stay here for the next two nights. Retiring gracefully to a lounger is a good option, but, as always, there is more cycling to be done and the Arzana loop will certainly test your legs.
Day 2: Tour of Monte Tonneri
The mountainous landscape to the West is your playground for today. Undulate around the craggy flanks of Monte Tonneri on a narrow and very pleasing road, surely built for cycling pleasure! A vast reservoir, vertical limestone cliffs, ancient forests, olive plantations and massive rock columns are all on the menu. Needless to say, there are a few cheeky little climbs towards the end of the day to ensure you build up your appetite for another feast at the Orlando Resort.
Today’s optional extra takes you on an epic descent, almost to sea level, down the Western side of the mighty Rio Flumendosa. The return to your hotel at 900m requires that you dig deep and take on the 16km climb up the Eastern side of the valley. It is a stunning climb, through terraced plantations and vineyards.
Day 3: Valico Strisaili to Cala Gonone
Your destination is the beach front hotel Bue Marino in Cala Gonone, a quiet coastal village once only accessible by sea. Luckily for you they bored a hole through the mountain and laid a fantastic series of hairpins, guaranteed to deliver you to the coast with a smile on your face.
Day 4: Cala Gonone to Bitti
Re-acquaint yourself with the fantastic hairpins of yesterday evening, leaving the coast of Cala Gonone behind you as you climb. From here, undulate down onto the coastal plains that lead you to Siniscola at the foot of Monte Albo (820m), a massive white limestone ridge. The climb is ‘jaw dropping’, benefitting from both mountain and sea views. Continue on this quiet and winding road before turning inland once again, ticking off the final few km to the restaurant just over the summit.
Suitably fed and watered, you meander with a downhill bias into the picturesque pastoral village of Bitti, famous for its Tenores (and nothing to do with Little Britain!) and the fabulous boutique-style 4* Hotel Su Lithu. As always, there are a few optional climbs for those wanting a bit more at the end of the day, making the most of the limestone ridge.
Day 5: Bitti to Lago di Gusana
Day 6: Lago di Gusana to Aritzo
For your final day it seems fitting to cycle up the highest surfaced road in Sardinia. Your destination is the refuge of Bruncu Spina (1570m), which is the islands only ski resort (more of a shed with a couple of lifts!). Climbing directly from the hotel (650m), the forests give way to open moorland and spectacular views. The climb itself is full of character and although the gradients are generally kind, there are a few short, challenging sections (up to 12%). It is well worth the effort though and the descent is exquisite.
A short climb takes you back up the Arcu de Tascusì (1245m) for lunch. Here you have the option of heading directly to the Hotel SaMuvara, where your adventure began or taking the long way home which includes a few more short climbs. Then it’s time for a party!
Day 7: Travel to Corsica
After you have said goodbye to your new mates from the Sardinian Holiday, the morning is free to relax at the hotel and enjoy a bit of time off the bike. In the afternoon we will transfer (4hrs) to the port of Santa Teresa Gallura in time for the 17:00 ferry to Corsica. In just under an hour you dock in the spectacular and naturally protected harbour of Bonifacio.
We stay in a hotel within walking distance of Bonifacio. Tonight’s dinner is not included, giving you the opportunity to explore this historic fortified town.
Day 8: Short ride from Porticcio
We transfer you to Porticcio (3 hrs) via Figari Aiport in the morning. This will give you plenty of time for an afternoon ride in the hills behind the hotel (climb to 550m for some spectacular views) or relax on the beach and enjoy the cafés!
The rest of your Corsican group will arrive throughout the afternoon. We will get together in the evening for a trip briefing and good dinner.
Day 9: Ajaccio to Zonza
Your Corsican adventure starts by undulating down the coastline to Propriano for a coffee in the idyllic harbour. The first climb up the Col de Mela (717m) is relatively gentle followed by undulations through fantastic rural scenery to the mountain hamlet of Zonza. Here you can head to the hotel swimming pool or continue (up) to the beautiful Col de Bavella (1218m), a Mecca for rock climbers and walkers taking on sections of the GR20. Some of you might even be tempted to continue to the Col de Larone (600m), so you can take on the Col de Bavella (1218m) from the steep side.
Day 10: Zonza to Aleria
Today you explore the mountainous interior of the island on an amazing road linking remote unspoilt villages; expect to see more pigs than people today! We all set off over the Col de La Vaccia (1194m) and the Col de Verde (1289m) to Ghisoni. Here those on the Classic Route continue to descend down the spectacular gorge of the Orbu river to our hotel in the town of Aleria with its Roman ruins (worth a visit!).
Those on the Challenge Route will head upwards from Ghisoni through the forest to the Col de Sorba (1311m). You can then enjoy an incredible descent on a new road to Vivario, before heading over the remote and very pleasant Col d’Erbajo (910m) and descending to the hotel.
Day 11: Aleria to St Florent
With the rising sun on your back, you leave the coastal plane and head gently up the Tavignano valley through an ever changing landscape to the town of Corte, once the capital of Corsica, and hosting an imposing citadel. From here you pass over the Col di San Quilico (560m) to the town of Ponte Leccia where you head off the beaten track on a narrow road that climbs, with some big views, to the Col de Bigorno (885m). The descent takes you to the port of St Florent where we stay for 2 nights. As always there are options for making the ride harder. First thing in the morning you can detour to the church of Piedicorte-di-Gaggio (730m) before descending to Corte. Then you have the options of adding in the Col de Ominanda (653m) and the Col de Croce d’Arbitro (664m) before joining the Classic Route over the Col de Bigorno (885m)
Day 12: Circular Route from St Florent
St Florent is an idyllic Corsican town so anyone wanting a day on 2 feet as opposed to 2 wheels could enjoy a spot of exploring and taking advantage of the hotel pool. That said, cycling around Cap Corse is one of the highlights of the week! We do the loop anticlockwise, so get the climb up the Col de Taghime (552m) done first thing in the morning. After the descent to Bastia, you join a spectacular road that undulates its way along the coast linking sheltered coves, for 30 km’s to the fishing village of Macinaggio. You then cross over the Col de la Sera (365m) to the west coast. This side of the peninsula is dramatically different and the road stays high linking hilltop villages and commanding great views.
Yet again there are options involving crisscrossing the peninsula two more times, over the Col de Notre Dame des Graces (368m) and the Col de Sainte Lucie (381m)
Day 13: St Florent to Calvi
Leaving St Florent this morning, you climb through the geological chaos of the Desert des Agriates – another strikingly different landscape. After a fantastic descent, you head inland once more, on a very narrow road taking you through the isolated hamlet of Novella and up to the Col San Colombano (694m). The final part of this is on the old ‘main road’, which traverses the mountainside with big views of the coast to the North.
After lunching in Belgodere, join a ‘balcony road’ that winds its way around the mountainside linking remote villages, while remaining fairly flat for 25kms! Eventually, you descend to the historic town of Calvi, hopefully in time to explore the citadel and enjoy the sandy beach.
For challenge routers: Today’s first optional extra takes you in search of an even more spectacular view from the Col de Batailie (1096m), where there is a great restaurant for lunch. At the end of the day, the route can also be extended by continuing along the ‘balcony road’ a bit further to Calenzana.
Day 14: Calvi to Sagone
Regardless of your route choice, you will enjoy a fabulous last day on the bike today. Head off around the stunning NW coast road, which despite the fairly rough surface, is a highlight. It leads you into the Col de Palmerella (408m), which commands a great view along the rugged western coastline.
In the village of Porto its decision time: 1) continue on this spectacular road past the famous red cliffs of Piana to the Col de Lava (491m) OR 2) leave the coast and head for the highest road pass on the island – the Col de Vergio (1477m). Both options lead you down to our seafront hotel overlooking the Golfe de Liscia.
All that is left to do is enjoy a celebratory dinner and final glass of Pietra beer from our beach restaurant as the sun sets over the horizon. Happy Days!
Day 15: Travel home
We offer included airport transfers back to Ajaccio Airport (AJA) at specified times.
We are also able to drop you at Ajaccio Port for any ferry crossing.