The islands of Corsica and Sardinia each have a unique history stretching back millennia. They have distinct languages, culture and identity. This tour offers an exploration of these two Mediterranean islands which, despite centuries of invasion, plunder and settlement, retain a proud independent spirit. In their beautiful setting, we discover the diverse histories of each island, from their ancient sites through to their rich contemporary cultures. Extended stays on each island combine site and museum visits with time for independent sightseeing.
Two Mediterranean islands whose diverse landscapes, cultures and history belie their proximity
Fascinating evidence of past settlements dating back millennia
World Heritage-listed sites and museums and spectacular coastal and mountain scenery
Vibrant contemporary cultures which have remained defiantly independent, despite centuries of invasion and occupation
A culinary heritage which blends history and tradition with the best of local produce
The pre-historic site of Filitosa with its collection of extraordinary stone warriors
Bonifacio, perched on the precipitous limestone cliffs of southern Corsica, and Ajaccio, birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte
Boat excursion along the stunning west coast of Corsica, including the Scandola Nature Reserve
Distinctive nuraghe, the prehistoric conical stone towers for which Sardinia is famous, and ancient port cities at Nora and Tharros
The Castello district in Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, dating back to the 13th century
The fascinating medieval melting pot of Alghero, with its Catalan-Gothic monuments
Days 1–3: There is a group flight from Nice to Ajaccio to commence the tour. Explore Ajaccio, the birthplace of Napoleon, and take a boat trip to the Scandola Nature Reserve.
Days 4–6: Visit the megalithic site at Filitosa en route to the harbour-side citadel of Bonifacio.
Days 7–9: Ferry across to Sardinia, admire the Costa Smeralda on the way to Alghero.
Days 10–12: Travel to Cagliari via Nora, Tharros and Anghelu Ruju. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Su Nuraxi at Barumini.
Day 13: There is a group flight to Rome.
A detailed itinerary for this tour is available. Click on the link above to view or download.
Emirates flies into Nice and out of Rome at times that coincide with the tour. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Saturday May 5: Arrival
Passengers arriving or staying in Nice fly to Ajaccio on an afternoon domestic flight. Meet your tour leader Dr Estelle Lazer upon arrival at Ajaccio airport to commence the tour. Travel together by coach to the hotel, about 30-minute drive from the airport. After time to check-in and freshen up, time permitting, we’ll head out for an orientation walk of the old city. This evening, after a light dinner in a local restaurant, we have an early night. Overnight Ajaccio (D)
Sunday May 6: The Bonaparte Family
Napoleon Bonaparte is Ajaccio’s most famous son and the city makes the most of the connection, however ironic that may be in historical retrospect. This morning we visit the Maison Bonaparte, Napoleon’s childhood home, now a museum dedicated to the Emperor and his family. We also visit the nearby Chapelle Imperiale, holding the Bonaparte family tombs. In the afternoon visit the adjacent Palais Fesch – Musée des Beaux-Arts, once home to Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch. The palace now houses part of the Cardinal’s extensive art collection, assembled while he was in Rome serving as French ambassador. The Cardinal’s Italian paintings, including works by Titian and Botticelli, are said to constitute one of the most important collections of Italian art in France, outside of the Louvre. The later afternoon is at leisure to explore Ajaccio before we meet for our welcome dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Ajaccio (B, D)
Monday May 7: Scandola Nature Reserve
We make an early start today to meet our boat to travel along the famously beautiful western coast of Corsica. We make our way up past Porto and Piana to the fishing hamlet of Girolata where we have a break for lunch. From here we head to the Scandola Nature Reserve whose sheer red granite cliffs, transparent waters and abundant flora, bird life and underwater fauna have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Returning to Ajaccio the evening is at leisure. Overnight Ajaccio (B)
Tuesday May 8: Sartène and Filitosa
Departing Ajaccio today we make our way south to Bonifacio. En route we stop at Filitosa, Corsica’s most important prehistoric site. We explore the famous site where 4,000-year-old anthropomorphic menhirs – extraordinary stone warriors – were discovered by local land owner Charles-Antoine Cesari in 1946. The site is still maintained by the Cesari family. We continue to Sartène, whose architecture of grey granite walls, tall town houses and narrow alleyways is the result of centuries spent staving off attacks from Barbary pirates and internal vendettas between the town’s leading families. Happily, neither is rife these days and Sartène is instead becoming well known for its gastronomy and wine. After our visit, we continue on to Bonifacio where we have dinner together at a local restaurant. Overnight Bonifacio (B, D)
Wednesday May 9: Bonifacio Harbour and Citadel
Today we take a closer look at Bonifacio, a settlement on a precipitous limestone promontory founded by Boniface, the Marquis of Tuscany, in 828. The proximity of Bonifacio to Sardinia makes it a mecca for sailors and the town around the marina has a contemporary Italian flavour. This changes as we head up to the fortified Old Town and Citadel, built by the conquering Genoese at the end of the 12th century, where the atmosphere is distinctly medieval but with the added advantage of a good selection of modern boutiques and cafes. After our guided tour of the upper town there is time to explore at leisure. Overnight Bonifacio (B)
Thursday May 10: The capital of ancient Corsica
The history of the ancient settlement of Aléria, on the marshy east coast of Corsica, began when Greek colonists set up a commercial outpost here around the mid-6th century BC. After a period of Carthaginian domination, in 259 BC Aléria was invaded by the Romans and initiated the conquest of the island, which lasted for more than a century. Aléria was the capital of Corsica in the Imperial Age, and Augustus, Hadrian and Diocletian beautified it with large public works. In the 5th century AD, the increase of malaria and invasion by the Vandals led to the abandonment of the city. Today we explore the archaeological site, the ruins of the Roman city, with time afterwards to stroll the cobble-stone streets of the town. Overnight Bonifacio (B)
Friday May 11: To Sardinia
We depart Bonifacio this morning by ferry, a short journey across the strait to the port at Santa Teresa Gallura. When we arrive in Sardinia, we explore the stunning coastline of the Costa Smeralda. We visit seaside towns and the nuraghic monuments of Azachena. After arriving in Alghero, we stroll from our hotel to one of the harbourside restaurants for a relaxed dinner. Overnight Alghero (B, D)
Saturday May 12: Anghelu Ruju and Alghero
This morning we drive a short distance to the Necropolis at Anghelu Ruju, the largest ancient burial ground on Sardinia, dating back to the late Neolithic age. The extensive site includes over 38 rock cut tombs. Returning to Alghero we take a guided walking tour of this striking medieval city. Founded by the Catalans when they took control of the island in the 14th century, the old city remains the most Spanish city in Sardinia with many examples of Catalan-Gothic architecture and streets signs printed in both Italian and Catalan. After our tour, the afternoon and evening are at leisure for independent sightseeing, shopping or relaxing. Overnight Alghero (B)
Sunday May 13: Pisan Romanesque churches
This morning we travel north to visit the Basilica di San Gavino in Porto Torres, the largest and oldest of the Romanesque churches of Sardinia. We break for lunch to enjoy two local culinary specialties synonymous with Sardinia, these are Cannonau wine and pecorino cheese. We briefly visit Sassari, the island’s second-largest city, to see the Duomo, Cattedrale di San Nicola, and to visit the Museo Nationale Sanna, boasting a comprehensive archaeological collection. Later in the day we visit the Basilica della Santissima Trinità Saccargia, which contains the only extant cycle of 13th-century frescoes in Sardinia. The construction is entirely in local stone, black basalt and white limestone, with a typical appearance of Tuscan Romanesque style. We return to Alghero late in the afternoon. Overnight Alghero (B, L)
Monday May 14: Tharros
We depart Alghero this morning and head south to Cagliari, first stopping at the well preserved nuraghic site at Paulilatino. We continue on to Tharros, an ancient port city in a stunning coastal location. Founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, the fortunes of Tharros waxed and waned in much the same way as those of Nora. The town was abandoned in the 11th century, and its structures pillaged for stone for surrounding villages, and the site is now an open air museum and we see remains from periods of Phoenician, Punic and Roman occupation, including a tophet – an open air sacred site common to a number of Phoenician settlements around the Mediterranean, the Cardo Maximus – the main street with its excellent drainage systems still evident, a bath complex and the Torre di San Giovanni, a coastal watchtower built on the site of the acropolis with stone from the city. Finds from the site can be found in the archaeological museum in Cagliari (and in the British Museum). Re-joining our coach, we head to Cagliari. Dinner tonight is in a local restaurant. Overnight Cagliari (B, D)
Tuesday May 15: Cagliari
Known in Sardinia as Casteddu, the islands capital has steep streets and architecture spanning medieval to modern times. The Castello district is the oldest part of Cagliari. Built by the Pisans in the early 13th century, the fortified inner sanctum which gives the district its name was later enlarged by the Aragonese, Spanish and Piedmontese rulers. We make our way to the Bastione San Remy, which offers spectacular views over the seafront, then wander past the art and antique shops of the Via Marmora to the Duomo, Cattedrale di Santa Maria. While some of the original 13th century features remain, it has been rebuilt several times. Continue on to visit the Museo Archeologico to admire the fine collection which covers finds from Neolithic times through to the Middle Ages. In the afternoon, we travel south to the site of the ancient city of Nora. Founded by the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC, the settlement continued to enjoy prominence under Roman rule and, thanks to its strategic position and sheltered harbour, grew to become the island’s most important city. We see the Temple of Tanit, dating from the Carthaginian era, Roman bathhouses with mosaic floors and a small theatre. This evening we have a talk in our hotel then the evening is at leisure. Overnight Cagliari (B)
Wednesday May 16: Su Nuraxi
Our full day tour begins with a visit to the church of San Saturnino, built to commemorate the martyrdom of Saturno, Cagliari’s patron saint. Dating from the turn of the 4th century AD the basilica is one of the oldest Christian buildings on the island. From here we make our way north to Barùmini where we have a guided visit of the vast Bronze Age site at Su Nuraxi. This exceptional site, which has UNESCO World Heritage status, is characterized by the distinctive nuraghe, truncated cone shaped towers made from huge blocks of stone, for which Sardinia is famous. Returning to Cagliari in the late afternoon, this evening we have our farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Cagliari (B, D)
Thursday May 17: Departure
Our flight departs mid-afternoon for Rome, arriving in time to meet the late evening departing Emirates flight for Australia. (B)
Dr Estelle Lazer
An archaeologist who has worked on site at Pompeii for seven seasons and has an international reputation for her research on the city's skeletal remains.
She lectures at both the University of Sydney and the University of NSW. Estelle has led numerous trips to southern Italy for Academy Travel.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.