In which direction should you walk the GR20?

Insider Tips

The traditional route begins in the north and ends in the south. When preparing for the GR20, you will notice that the guide books generally describe it in this direction. However, it is perfectly possible to walk it in both directions, i.e. from north to south or from south to north. It is also possible to choose to walk only one half of the trail.  

The GR20: one of Europe's most famous long-distance hiking trails

The GR20 is considered to be one of the most difficult long-distance hikes. Located in Corsica, it stretches for around 180 kilometres through spectacular scenery of rugged mountains, lush forests and crystal-clear rivers.

Its reputation for being both physically and technically demanding attracts hikers from all over the world, in search of challenges and breathtaking panoramas. The GR20 is not just a test of endurance; it also offers a deep immersion in the wild beauty of Corsica, with its paths winding through the maquis and offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

For hiking enthusiasts, the GR20 is more than just a trail; it's an iconic adventure that symbolises challenging yourself in the face of nature's majesty. Its impact on the hiking community is such that it is often listed as one of the best and most memorable trails in the world.

Should I start from the North or the South?

Start from the North: for adventurers looking for a challenge

This direction is often recommended because the most technical and demanding sections in the north are tackled first. This allows hikers to tackle the most difficult sections with fresh legs and finish with slightly easier stages in the south.

Terrain and difficulty: The GR20 North is renowned for its technical and demanding terrain. It has significant vertical drops, with steep, rocky paths and sections that sometimes require the use of hands for climbing. 

Landscapes: This section passes through spectacular Alpine scenery, with mountain ridges, glacial lakes and panoramic views of the mountains and sea. 

Target Group: Ideal for experienced hikers and adventurers looking for a physical and technical challenge. 

Opting for the South: a step up in difficulty

Starting the GR20 in the south offers a gradual acclimatisation and an increase in difficulty, ideal for those who want to prepare themselves before tackling the more arduous terrain in the north. In the south, the mountains are less technical and gentler, offering a gradual progression in difficulty, a significant advantage for beginners. What's more, by starting in the South, you generally walk with the sun at your back, which enhances the visual experience of the trek.

Terrain and difficulty: the GR20 South is generally considered to be less technical and more accessible than the North. Although challenging, the terrain is often gentler with less steep paths.

Landscapes: this section offers a wide variety of landscapes, including pine forests, green plateaux and picturesque villages.

Target group: perfect for intermediate hikers or those who prefer a less technical hike with a greater variety of scenery.

Guide sur le GR20


Guide sur le GR20

Ultimately, there is no 'best' way to do the GR20; it depends on your personal preferences, your hiking experience and your physical condition. In short, if you're an experienced hiker looking for a challenge from the start, start north. If you prefer to acclimatise gradually, or if you are less experienced, starting in the south may be a better option.

From a logistical point of view, the choice can be made depending on where you arrive

Choosing which direction of the GR20 to walk depends on where you arrive in Corsica, and on a number of factors, including proximity to the airport or port, ease of transport to the trailhead, and the time you have available. Here are some general tips:

Arrival in Bastia

  • Access to the GR20 Nord: Bastia is closer to the starting point of the GR20 Nord at Calenzana. You can get there by bus or taxi. 
  • Access to the GR20 South: it is also possible to reach the GR20 South from Bastia, but this will involve a longer journey to Conca.

Arrival in Ajaccio : 

  • Access to the GR20 South: Ajaccio is closer to Vizzavona, an intermediate point on the GR20 which provides easy access to the Southern section of the trail.
  • Access to the GR20 North: It is possible to reach the GR20 North from Ajaccio, but this requires a longer journey to Calenzana.

Arrival in Figari : 

  • Access to the GR20 South: Figari is close to Conca, the starting (or finishing) point of the GR20 South, making it easily accessible.
  • Access to the GR20 North: Access to the GR20 North from Figari is possible, but requires more transport time. You'll need to go via Ajaccio or Porto-Vecchio.

Arrival at Porto-Vecchio : 

  • Access to the GR20 South: Porto-Vecchio is also relatively close to Conca, making access to the GR20 South easier.
  • Access to the GR20 North: As with Figari, reaching the GR20 North from Porto-Vecchio is feasible but takes longer.

Our advice

  • Remember to allow enough time for transport from your arrival point to the start of the trail.
  • Also factor in the time needed to return to your starting point after the hike.