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From Cape Corsica to Syracuse — three Mediterranean islands

Ludovic Sanz (CC BY 2.0)

From Cape Corsica to Syracuse — three Mediterranean islands

Bike Touring Collection by Vincent Reboul

19

Tours

113:05 h

1,064 mi

76,675 ft

This Collection takes you through the three largest islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, following their western and southern coasts.

These islands are unique in their insularity but share similarities. Their inhabitants have been conquered by many nations, yet have shown remarkable adaptability in incorporating the cultures of their invaders into their own, without losing their identities.

Corsica’s nickname is ‘the Island of Beauty’. This name is not misplaced: its entire western region, free from urbanisation, offers landscapes that are still wild. It’s also a mountain rising from the sea, so you can enjoy alpine air and an enchanting beach, all in the same day.

Sardinia is not to be outdone: you’ll find remarkable and well-preserved natural sites, ancient temples, abandoned mining villages, deserted and winding roads and some of Italy’s most beautiful villages.

Sicily has a thoroughly engaging atmosphere. To land in Palermo is to land in another world where time seems to have stopped, rich in old landscapes and Greek temples. Villages and towns such as Selimunte, Agrigento and Syracuse in the southwestern part of the island, are built on ancient Greek settlements dating back thousands of years.

You’ll find all the logistical details about how to get to and from these islands in the Tour descriptions. However, I recommend arriving in Bastia and departing from Catania by night ferry to make the most of your days. The crossings from the mainland to the islands take about 11 hours. The crossing between Corsica and Sardinia via the Mouths of Bonifacio takes just one hour.

I recommend visiting in spring, between April and June, or in autumn, between the end of August and October. If possible, avoid driving during the summer months as the traffic on the road increases dramatically and the heat can be particularly intense.

These are three mountainous islands, where the gradient is significant and it’s wise to bring all-weather clothing and to know your limits. This Tour is primarily for experienced cyclists and bikepackers.

You can use any type of bike on these routes as most of the surface is asphalt. However, there is the odd section where gravel tyres would be more suitable.

The average stage distance over the 19 Tours is about 90 kilometres (56 mi), but there’s nothing to stop you from prolonging the pleasure or shortening certain stages. At the end of each stage, you’ll easily find a place to pitch your tent, find accommodation and eat.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    06:48
    62.8 mi
    9.2 mph
    5,350 ft
    5,350 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    When arriving by boat in Bastia, I recommend that you visit the second largest city in Corsica after Ajaccio before taking the road. Its upper town overlooking the old port is worth the detour, because it has a lot of charm.From Bastia you will follow the magnificent Cap Corse, which is often overlooked by many tourists and yet is a splendor to explore.

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  • Difficult
    06:57
    64.6 mi
    9.3 mph
    5,450 ft
    5,400 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You will explore the Agriates Desert by taking the only road that crosses it. It is a long but gradual climb of twenty kilometers.The descent then takes place to a main road that you will follow along the coast and which will offer you a splendid panorama.Near kilometer forty-four, after the second major climb of the day, you …

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  • Difficult
    06:34
    55.2 mi
    8.4 mph
    6,400 ft
    5,025 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This day will make you understand why Corsica is called the island of beauty. The course is extraordinary from start to finish.You will start with the Marsolino pass at the start of the day, about six kilometers after leaving Calvi.
    The Fango Valley opens up to you with beautiful mountain views. After crossing the bridge spanning the Fango river, you will resume an ascent of ten kilometers until you see a view overlooking the Scandola marine reserve.

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  • Difficult
    04:07
    35.8 mi
    8.7 mph
    4,350 ft
    5,775 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today, the route leaves the coastline to go deeper into the land. A long, very gradual climb awaits you up to the Sévi pass, located at 1,101 meters above sea level.Along the way, you will pass beautiful little villages like Marignana. The road will offer you exceptional views of the Spelunca gorges.Don't be surprised to see lots of …

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  • Difficult
    03:24
    31.2 mi
    9.2 mph
    2,775 ft
    2,775 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    It is a day of transition that brings you closer to the capital of Corsica: you will be in Ajaccio Bay this evening, more precisely in Porticcio which is just in front of the town where Napoleon Bonaparte was born.As I get closer to the largest city in Corsica, the traffic is increasing, so I chose to take less traveled roads.

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  • Difficult
    05:34
    50.2 mi
    9.0 mph
    4,700 ft
    4,675 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Today's itinerary first takes you along the coast, showing you more and more beautiful beaches. In Verghia, at the so-called silver beach and after a long straight line, you start a gradual ascent through a eucalyptus forest.

    When you arrive at the viewpoint, you will discover a typical bar restaurant which offers a magnificent 360 ° view.

    The rest of …

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  • Difficult
    04:55
    46.1 mi
    9.4 mph
    3,625 ft
    3,625 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From Propriano, you are only about fifteen kilometers from Sartène. It is an ideal city for strolling. I recommend that you secure your bike and go for a walk. There are indeed many stairs in the city. I also suggest that you have breakfast in the city center of this city that Prosper Mérimée, French historian, writer and archaeologist, had named the most Corsican city in Corsica.

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  • Difficult
    06:41
    60.4 mi
    9.0 mph
    5,575 ft
    5,400 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    One of the first things you will notice when traveling in Sardinia are the signs.In general, road signs in Italy are very varied and they are differentiated by their colors: blue for road routes, green for highways, white for city centers. Industrial zones are marked in yellow letters on a black background and tourist sites are marked in white letters on a brown background.

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  • Difficult
    06:54
    70.9 mi
    10.3 mph
    2,900 ft
    2,975 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This very beautiful course will make you explore an exceptional coastline. A detour through the Porto Conte Maritime and Terrestrial Regional Natural Park is included in the itinerary. It would be a shame indeed to miss the view of Cap Caccia on this day.Along the way you will find beautiful beaches, especially in Porto Torres. In this city, I …

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  • Difficult
    07:41
    73.1 mi
    9.5 mph
    5,225 ft
    5,250 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This relatively long day will delight you with its diversity. You will start in style by driving on a road with a very good surface with little traffic.The landscapes are superb. I highly recommend you take a break in the small town of Bosa, located on the north bank of the Temo River.
    The latter was elected among one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

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  • Difficult
    06:07
    60.6 mi
    9.9 mph
    2,775 ft
    2,625 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You will find very little difference in altitude over the first fifty kilometers of today's route between Cabras and Buggerru. This first part will be made up of long segments of straight roads as well as a few paths and ten kilometers of cycle paths.At the very beginning of the route, about twenty kilometers from Cabras, you will pass …

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  • Difficult
    05:07
    44.2 mi
    8.6 mph
    3,450 ft
    3,575 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    It’s a beautiful day ahead with a stop at the temple of Antas. The route to get there takes a few paths but they are all passable.The climb is steep though, as you start from sea level and get to an elevation of around 560 meters over just under sixteen kilometers of distance.A little less than halfway along …

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  • Difficult
    04:41
    46.1 mi
    9.9 mph
    1,800 ft
    1,775 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    A day without too much difficulty awaits you, the first climb not arriving for about 40 kilometers.It will take you to the village of Teulada where a gourmet break is recommended before enjoying the beautiful road which winds through the hills and which will take you back to the seaside after Domus de Maria.From there, after a long straight line, you will come in sight of Pulia, your destination tonight.

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  • Intermediate
    04:37
    48.4 mi
    10.5 mph
    1,100 ft
    1,125 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This route will allow you to devote a longer time to the Sardinian capital, Cagliari.The port is indeed located a stone's throw from the city center. When you arrive, all you have to do is cross the avenue to find yourself in the pedestrian streets of the old center.Previously, I would have taken you through the outskirts of the city, which includes a very pretty beach, a regional park and the Sant Elia lighthouse.

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  • Difficult
    06:27
    60.3 mi
    9.4 mph
    4,875 ft
    4,850 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Palermo, which I invite you to explore over several days, is absolutely exceptional. It fascinates by its authenticity, its profusion of life and its architectural, historical and cultural richness. It is both very Sicilian and testifies to the culture of the many occupants of the island over the centuries.It experienced Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, French, Spanish and Austrian influence …

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  • Difficult
    04:53
    46.8 mi
    9.6 mph
    2,750 ft
    2,675 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Today, to change the coast a bit, I chose a route that goes deeper into Sicilian lands and has little traffic. Part of the route you take is part of the first stage of the Sicily Divide between Trapani and Gibelina.At the high point of the day, namely the very pretty hilltop village of Salemi, you will be halfway …

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  • Difficult
    06:29
    62.3 mi
    9.6 mph
    4,075 ft
    3,425 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This very beautiful day could be called: "from one temple to another". You leave the Greek city of Selinunte to reach the city of Agrigento and its Valley of the Temples a hundred kilometers further on. Among these that of Hera.The Greek gods will therefore accompany you today and will watch over you without a doubt.On the way …

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  • Difficult
    09:16
    89.5 mi
    9.7 mph
    5,075 ft
    4,200 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This very beautiful stage is the longest of this journey in Sicily. You can easily split it in two if it seems too difficult, for example by staying in one of the small coastal towns of Licata or Gela.You will appreciate the rugged coast of Palma di Montechiaro, where you will notably see a pretty beach at the foot of a cliff.

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  • Difficult
    05:54
    55.1 mi
    9.4 mph
    4,475 ft
    6,050 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    To crown this journey in Sicily in an exemplary manner, I have one extremely varied last day in store for you.You will first pass through the small town of Palazo Acreide. It is a very beautiful village perched on the heights which owes its attraction in particular to the ancient site of Akrai which you can visit.You will …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    19
  • Distance
    1,064 mi
  • Duration
    113:05 h
  • Elevation
    76,675 ft

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From Cape Corsica to Syracuse — three Mediterranean islands