If you on budget and stay in Bastia, you can do some rides by train to Calvi, Ajaccio or Vizzanova and many other places. Buy a weekly ticket for 49 euros and be prepared for long trips through the island. There are two kinds of train: an old one, without air-condition and with closed WC in the direction of Calvi. In addition you have to change trains in Casamozza and Ponte Leccia. Another train to Ajaccio is a modern one. Though you have to be prepared for 3 and half of hour of long trip. In summer the train sets at 8.30 in Bastia and reaches a Napoleon’s city (Ajaccio) at 12.10. You have to return at 3.20 p.m. from Ajaccio to be at 7 p.m. back in Bastia. It’s better with time if you intend to see Vizzanova, a station at over 900 m above the sea. The trains arrives at 11.10 and comes back at 4.30.
One afternoon i took a train trip to Casamozza an half hour ride into the countryside, just because i like trains. The fare was 3 euro 60 each way. Casamozza is on the main road, theres not much there, but i had time to enjoy a pot of tea at one cafe and a beer at the other. The second photo shows that the train driver is in with the passengers. The track is single track and is the route to Corte etc.
Explore the wonderful streets of this neighbourhood. Start walking from rue Napoleon, with its cute shops, as you pass the Oratoire St-Roch (1609) with a rich Baroque interior and a rather fantastic/ecccentric organ.
Just a bit further you'll find Oratoire de l'Immaculee Conception (1611), watch your step (!!), you will be walking over a Ligurian black/white/brown pebble mosiaca of the sun. If you are feeling camp, than youll find the Baroque interior putting you to shame, red velvet, chandeliers, and even a copy of Murillo's Immaculate Conception is hanged over the altar. Have a look in the sacristry, it contains a mini museum of religious art.
Turn to the Place du Marche, where on saturdary/sunday there is a flea market, and a more ordinary one in weekdays mornings. You'll also find a modern fountain with a fat lady statue (who says you need vanity?), and several restaurants. You wont miss Saint-Jean Baptiste (17th century), Corsica's largest chruch, which has some paintings that Cardinal Fesch nicked from Italy.
Gay in Bastia? There are absolutely no bars, but if you want to get to know the locals rather intimately, head for the beaches. The nearest places to Bastia are two beaches in La Marana. The first, you need to drive to the Furiani roundabout, take a left, bear left, cross the bridge over the river, than take the second unpaved road to your left, drive on to the beach on your left. The beach is not exclusively gay, but walk a little south, and its likely you’ll meet some. If you are feeling hot , and I don’t mean the sun, then take some shade in the bushes just near the beach, it gets, ahem, very busy.
The second beach is a little more tricky to find, but more popular and has some nudists (mixed) dangling their bits… Drive like above, but continue almost to the south end of the lagoon, the road eventually bears sharply to the left and you will see, at the curve, a remainder of an older road curve. Take a left and follow the unpaved road till you get to the beach, then drive just a bit to your right and you’re there.
North: The beaches immediately to the north of Bastia are rocky and beautiful, with little coves. Follow the sign to the “cap corse” and the D80. The nicest beaches are Miomo (by a lovely Genoese tower), Lavasina, and Erbalunga (with another ruined tower).
South: La Marana beaches are, in fact, a long stretch of single beach sandwiched between the Biguglia lagoon and the sea. Drive the from Bastia to the roundabout in Furiani, take a left, and bear left, you will pass over a bridge. Immediately to your left there is the first beach (unpaved road, no signpost). There is a small hut serving food and drink, it’s a nice relaxed place.
Terra Nova is one of the most colourful (literally!) parts of town, just take time to wonder around its restored houses and mansions, it used to be poor, but now its very "in".
Place not to miss; St. Marie, which was Corsica's main cathedral between 1570 (Bishop moved here from Vescovatu) -1801 (diocese moved to Ajaccio). It has the silver of the Assumption of the Virgin (1858, Siena), that is pounced around town every 15th of August. Just behind the church is Oratoire de Sainte Croix with its magnificant baroque interior, and, the famous Cristu Negru (Black Christ) found floating by fishermen in 1428. Traditions have it that every year fishermen offer him their first catch. On May the 3rd its paraded in the citadel to ward off evil.
The Palace of the Governors painted in yellow/orange, would be worth a visit when it will reopen its Musee d'Ethnographie Corse (god knows when!! it was supposed to be reopen this year). Stroll around its once grand gardens of Jardin Romieu, from where you can enjoy a view of the Vieux Port, and descend via nice steps with a little fountain to Quai du Sud.
Place St Nicolas is where the markets are held and special events. The area has loads of bars and restaurants and looks the place for a night out. The Tourist Office is at one end of the Place.
The Citadella is high above the vieux port and gives a good view. It has many narrow streets of houses, shops and food places.
On Sunday morning, Place St Nicolas, in the centre of Bastia, under the palmtress, browse in the flea market to find old postcards of the island, stamps or antics.