Île-Rousse is an attractive city with buildings full of charm, but especially thanks to the islands of Pietra. These colored rocky islands which seem to guide the boats towards the coast.
Here are all our advices to reach the peninsula of La Pietra (now that there is a road) and to go up to see the Genoese tower and the lighthouse of La Pietra.
The views from the top are really worth the detour!
This guide is completely independent, based on our experiences. We visited the area anonymously, making our own choices, and paying all our bills in full.
Why visit the islands of La Pietra in Ile-Rousse
Are the island and the lighthouse of La Pietra worth it?
It is one of our favorite places in Corsica: the sea, the colored rocks, the lighthouse… and above all very beautiful views.
This is a short walk (or a short ride on the tourist train) that is worthwhile. Even more, if you can do it at sunset.
It is the essential of the things to do in L’Île-Rousse.
What to see during the walk to the island of Pietra
If you decide to explore on foot you will discover:
- the statue of the mermaid, along the beach of the port
- the Genoese tower of the 16th century which is part of the defense network of Corsica
- the white lighthouse of the Pietra which stands out at the top, and dates from the 19th century.
- magnificent views of the city and the mountains in the background.
We will describe all these magical moments in detail (and with photos) after the practical advice.
Peninsula de la Pietra or island or islands?
We can find all possible denominations for this rocky set.
The lighthouse is located on the island of Pietra.
But there are small islands next to it, such as the island of Broccio, the island of Piana and the island of Brocettu.
Together they are the islands of Pietra.
But since a road was built to connect the island (and the port) to the city, it is now technically a peninsula.
Before these constructions, the archipelago was composed of 7 or 8 islets.
Tips and Map – Pietra Lighthouse, L’Île-Rousse, Corsica
Where is Île-Rousse in Corsica? Card
- Northwest coast of Corsica
- Region of La Balagne
- Just north of the city of Calvi
- On the main road T30
- You can also arrive directly to Ile-Rousse by ferry
- Easy to get to
- Here is a map to help you find your way
- and see all our tips for planning a dream trip to Corsica here
Practical tips and map
- Go to the tourist office or to the reception of your hotel to get a map of the city. It includes the citadel and its streets.
- As you can see, Pietra Island is within walking distance of the city center. It takes 30min to reach the summit and the lighthouse
- Bring a hat and water because there is no shade at all.
- You have 2 options to go up to the lighthouse (in high season): on foot or with the tourist mini-train.
- If you are not sure, we suggest you take the tourist mini-train up and walk back down to enjoy the views.
You can start from the city center, with the large paying parking lot of the Place Paoli.
Or you can drive up and park near the beach train stop at the Parking Marin (day pass possible) or the Parking Fornole (free).
How to get to the Pietra lighthouse by foot – hiking
The process is quite simple, you don’t need a map!
It all starts on the seaside promenade. We love how they chose a reddish color to go with the environment.
The next part of the walk consists of crossing to the islands. Be careful: many cars can pass by when it is the arrival or departure of the ferry.
And then you have to go up.
It is a paved path to the top.
The walk is a regular ascent, so not too difficult.
The only problem is that there is no shadow at all. So bring plenty of water and cover your head.
How to get to the Pietra lighthouse by tourist train
Note that if you don’t want to walk to the top, there is a tourist train that leaves from downtown.
It saves you the climb in the sun and gives you some extra information.
But we strongly recommend that you walk back down to enjoy the beautiful views along the way.
Hotel de la Pietra / restaurant
Around the harbor, at the foot of the island you will find several restaurants and a hotel:
- Restaurant les Gones Corsica
- Restaurant La Brasserie du Port
- Hotel-Restaurant La Pietra – if you want views directly on the islands! See prices, pictures and availability
Where to stay in L’Île-Rousse
Ile-Rousse is an excellent destination to stay during your vacations in Corsica.
Here are our suggestions for where to sleep
Option 1 – in the resort town
At the arrival of the ferry, a very well located city with a lot of charm. It is also easy to walk around and explore the area.
For example, the Rocabella Hotel in the heart of the city, with a soothing natural setting – see prices, photos and availability
or the hotel Casa Rossa, with a good quality-price ratio – see prices, photos and availability
Option 2 – near the port
On the way to the Pietra Islands, near the port, you will find another selection of accommodation. The atmosphere is calmer while being close to the center on foot.
The Best Western Santa Maia Hotel even has a private beach – see photos and availability
Option 3 – on the heights
And if you prefer to have beautiful views, you can choose a hotel a little higher up in the city or even in my villages above, to sit on your balcony and relax facing the sea and the mountains.
We suggest the hotel A Piattatella, for a dream stay – see prices, photos and availability
Discover the availability of the best rated accommodations in Ile-Rousse
or see our complete guide on where to sleep in L’Île-Rousse (coming soon)
What to see on the walk to the peninsula of Pietra
Already along the road that takes you to the lighthouse, you can notice some points of interest.
Siren and view from the promenade
Walking along the water towards the islands, don’t miss the statue of the Mermaid of L’Île-Rousse at Scalu. Don’t walk too fast with your lighthouse lens, look around!
It was made in Bronze by Gabriel Diana. It has been sitting there since 2016 near the Orleans Pier.
Small beaches and water sports
There is also a small beach here. When we walked along it, it was covered with Posidonia algae but this is not always the case. (Impossible to know in advance the very important leaves to regenerate the beaches).
You will find water sports equipment: paddle, kayak…
One of the beaches to discover around L’Île-Rousse(see our list)
Notice the orange / red rocks
From this beach, and the road after, you can enjoy beautiful views of the islands.
What makes the area famous is the series of rocky islands of red porphyry. This vibrant color is what attracts many visitors.
The main island with the lighthouse is the island of La Pietra. This is the biggest one.
You should know that on these rocks there are the remains of a semi-permanent habitat that has been dated to the Neolithic. But they are not visible.
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Tower of Pietra
The Genoese tower of the main island is the Tower of Pietra. It is part of the vast defense network of Genoese towers around the island.
It was built in the 16th century, among the first
It is not permitted to enter the building. But it is in good enough condition that you can admire the construction from the outside. It blends very well with the rock of the island.
Below is my favorite view along the way.
The island of Pietra has a bay on the northern shore that offers splendid views of the ochre rock and the lighthouse.
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Lighthouse of Pietra and views of Ile-Rousse
And then you reach the top with the white lighthouse.
It is called Phare de la Pietra.
This lighthouse was built on the highest point of the islets at 64m above sea level.
It dates from the 19th century, under the reign of Napoleon III. And it is part of the second program of maritime signage of Corsica.
The lighthouse itself is not fascinating except that the white is very photogenic against the blue sky.
It is a square base with a green lantern. Next to it you see a house for the lighthouse keeper.
It was first lit in 1857 with a red light, then with a white light in 1877.
Now it is automated (since the end of the 1970s), with a 3 flashes light every 12 seconds. Its range is 15miles for the white sector.
And, unfortunately, you can’t visit it.
As you can see in the photo above, the energy to run the lighthouse is provided by solar panels.
The best part is the view of the city and the mountains in the background.
There is a panorama with landmarks on the peaks.
We love it when there is a mix of sea, mountains and rock formations.
What to do in Balagne: our 5 essential articles
The peninsula of Pietra seen from afar
The islands of Pietra are very visible from the surroundings.
For example, if you take the road north to the beach of Lozari (and further on to the beautiful Agriates desert), you can stop at a small restaurant and admire the islands from afar.
And if you go up to the villages of the Balagne above L’Île-Rousse, you can also enjoy beautiful views of the islands.
In the photo below, this is the view from the village of Monticello.
Discover all our favorite Balagne villages.
Frequently asked questions
Snorkeling from the cove of the island of La Pietra
In one of the bays of the island of Pietra, which you can see on the picture below, you can find one of the best snorkeling spots in Northern Corsica. The rocks of the islands of Pietra are indeed perfect to discover many species. This is where the customs officers’ cabin is located.
But stay in the creek, because outside the currents can be strong.
From what we read, you can see siphonostomes that imitate the leaves of posidonia, small silver fish, posidonia meadows with schools of saupes …
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