The second-largest of the Ionian Islands was one of the first Greek destinations to embrace mass tourism. Yet Corfu has far more to offer than just sun, sea and souvlaki. It is located just west of the Greek mainland and the southern coast of Albania. Shaped like a sickle, with its hollow side facing inwards, the island is about 65 kilometres long and 32 kilometres across at its widest point.
There are 217 kilometres of coast, although anyone venturing inland will find that the interior has at least as much to offer as the shore. Much of Corfu is mountainous. At 906 metres above sea level, its highest peak, Mount Pantokrator, is visible from most places on the island.
These days, Corfu caters for everyone, including those who prefer to travel independently or who want to elude busy resorts.
Corfu is an island which enchanted poets and kings It’s the port which linked the East to the West.
This place offered shelter to Ulysses , the divisive hero of Homer, it was chosen by Poseidon to indulge into his love for Amphitriti, and still it continues to welcome and inspire its visitors to this day: With its pretty, romantic, natural, historic and above all spontaneous nature, visitors find Corfu to be a really charming place. Visitors tend to ask hotel reception desks the same question: “Can I stay here a little more?;”
Europeans no longer consider it to be an exotic destination, however it continues to be one of the most fascinating places in Europe. It offers an impressively varied flora, desert beaches, crystal water, narrow paths through thick, perennial olive trees , Byzantine churches , medieval villages, traditional Greek taverna’s (small restaurants) as well as modern accommodation and amusement facilities. Corfu is a place which refreshes the mind and reactivates the human senses.
The climate of the archipel of Corfu is warm Mediterranean. The summer here is warm and relatively dry with a blue sky, often cooled by seasonal breezes, offering the ideal conditions for Surfing, while rarely is it interrupted by rains. The mountainous areas are cooler. The winter here is mild. Rainfall occurs mainly from November till March. On average, there are 3000 hours of sun per year with an average daily sunshine duration of 8,5 hours.
Most definitely. Corfu Town is a thriving metropolis in comparison with most other Greek island “capitals”, and is also very attractive. The town was a target for several foreign armies in the course of its long history, and the two fortresses which now protect its harbour were built by the Venetians, who ruled the island for four centuries and whose influence continues to give the town an Italian feel. From the old fort, or Palaio Frourio, there is an impressive 360-degree view over the town and the coast beyond it.
Just behind the fortress is the Spianada, a pleasant green space that incorporates a cricket pitch, a legacy of the early 19th century, when the British conquered the island. Running along the Spianada is the Liston, an attractive avenue part-shaded by trees, partly covered by arcades. With its many restaurants and cafés, it is a perfect spot from which to watch the world go by.
Most visitors concentrate on the coastal areas of the island, which means that they miss the opportunity to experience inland’s life, being untouched by mass tourism.
Corfu’s second-largest town, Lefkimmi, is located in the middle of the countryside and its inhabitants seem not to realize how many people visit other parts of the island during the summer months. The streets are quiet and there are no tourist shops. Many of the houses have a lemon tree or a couple of vines outside; colourful flowers bloom in old paint tins and olive oil containers and chickens peck in the yard.
On the contrary, the most popular inland destination in Corfu, the Aqualand Water Park is located in the area of Agios Ioannis, while driving to the west from Corfu Town. Within the park there is a selection of slides, tubes, pools, rafts, pirate adventures – anything that can be turned into a water-related attraction.
This could be the moment to take a trip up Mount Pantokrator, the highest point on the island. Remarkably, considering it compares in altitude to the highest peaks in England, you can drive all the way to the top. Cyclists might want to pedal up the slope starting in Ipsos.
The road winds up and up, through a series of seemingly impossible curves that carve their way through the grey rock; in spring, the mountainsides are carpeted in flowers. The summit itself, bristling with radio masts, is a disappointment, until you look around and absorb the breathtaking view: the map of Corfu, with its bays and headlands, seems to come to life before your eyes.
If you don’t have a head for heights, the Korission Lagoon is a more down-to-earth destination. Take the main road south towards Kavos, turning off at the signpost towards Issos beach. A marked path to the right just before the beach leads to the dunes that surround the lake; from there it is a case of wandering where the fancy takes you.
One of the most dramatic spots on Corfu’s north-west coast is Paleokastritsa, a rocky promontory on the top of which is a ruined castle, the Angelokastro. Paleokastritsa itself is a rocky, densely wooded headland around which nestle a variety of different beaches and coves. Each beach offers different facilities, with a diving school in Ampelaki, and trips out into the bay on a glass-bottomed boat starting from the little harbour of Alipa.
The buildings that pepper the hillsides comprise a mixture of rooms for rent and small hotels, each with a path down to the beach.
Perched on a rock above the beaches is Paleokastritsa Monastery. Inside the gate is a lovely courtyard filled with plants, and a small, intricately decorated orthodox church. But the high point, in every sense, of a visit to this part of the island, is the Angelokastro. The road, which in places is barely wide enough for a single vehicle to squeeze along, winds through the picturesque villages of Lakones, Makrades and Krini before reaching a taverna, above which is the final slope to the castle.
Members of Royal families first came on Corfu when Empress Elisabeth of Austria chose the island as the location for building a summer palace in the late 19th century. The result was the Achilleion in Gastouri. After Elisabeth had died it was sold to the King of Prussia, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who visited it regularly until the First World War.
The palace is open to visitors to explore a handful of ground-floor rooms. Far more interesting are the terraced gardens, with their classical statues, palm trees and walkways shaded with wisteria.
Corfu’s season starts with a weekend of celebrations marking the Greek Orthodox Easter and continues until October.
During the winter the island is extremely quiet, with many hotels and restaurants remaining closed. In the height of summer, temperatures average 30 C or more; the sun is slightly less fierce in May and September.
Wear good hiking boots. Footpaths are often broken at places with large potholes. Boat trips do not start until towards end of April and ends late October. People are friendly in general. If you are travelling with little kids, expect them to be cuddled by locals (especially old people). Please don’t be offended by this.
Shops open in the morning around 08:30-09:00 and then they close between 13:00/14:00 – 17:00/18:00 and then are open again 18:00-21:00. If you want good landscape photos, walk upwards from usual tourist spots.
Considered by many to be the most beautiful spot on Corfu, upon seeing it for the first time, it is stunning. Situated on Corfu’s North-West coast, it is a short drive from Corfu town (20min) or from other large resorts, like Sidari (30min). With it’s beautiful coves and large, submerged caves, Paleokastritsa is a must see for someone visiting Corfu this summer.
Almost directly North, we arrive at the town of Sidari and one of corfu’s main resorts. Situated between the cliffs of Logas, Canal D’ Amour and Agios Ioannis – Sidari has a perfect mixture of natural beauty and holiday fun. From water sports, boat trips, excursions, great food to relaxing beches – Sidari has it all for you this summer season.
Last but not least, we arrive in Kassiopi and one of Corfu most stunning harbor towns. While sporting only a small rocky beach, the water is gorgeous and crisp. With water sports and some amazing ruins, kassiopi is a must see while visiting Corfu’s North coast. Also, while in kassiopi, don’t forget to try some of the amazing sea food that is served up fresh everyday.
The largest and most built up town on Corfu’s North coast is the resort town of Acharavi. While it does have a long pebbly beach, Acharavi’s main attraction is its shopping and restaurants. With live music, fun bars and yummy food, Acharavi is a great place for a meal and some fun. Additionally one can relax in one of the many beautiful beach bars.
This seaside village is located 14 km away from the town centre of Corfu and is the most commercial area of the northeastern part of the island.
Ipsos boasts a long beach, offering many opportunities for enjoying activities in the water or on the beach, while there are pubs, clubs, restaurants and taverns for everyone’s tastes. From the beach you will be able to enjoy the view to the magnificent mountain of Pantokratoras and the Albanian mountains.
Dassia is an area that surely meets everyone’s requirements: places for having fun at night but also a nice beach with lots of facilities for spending your time during the daytime.
The sandy beach of Dassia – with tiny pebbles – is very long and well-organized with sun beds, umbrellas and a great variety of water sports installations. The shallow and still water is ideal for families with children, while from the beach you can enjoy the view to the Albanian mountains. Finally, for those who like sailing, there are boats available for rent.
Heading East from Sidari, we arrive at the town of Roda. More built up than the other towns we have seen until now, Roda is a busy intersection between the towns to the West and Acharavi and the towns of the East. With many shops and some lively bars, Roda is a nice place to stop for a drink or two. Make sure to drive along the beach for some nice restaurants.
Situated between Agios Georgios and Agios Stefanos is the small beautiful town of Arillas. Sleepy in nature and perfect for the person wanting to get away from it all. Arillas has a great beach, clear water and really good food. Also, it is close enough to other large resorts, where you have the services it can’t provide.
Continuing North from Agios Georgios, we arrive at Agios Stefanos. A large bay with crystal clear water and small rolling waves, Agios Stefanos is a more mature – built up version of Agios Georgios. There are plenty of bars, resaurants, car hire and other services to fulfill your holiday wishes this summer.