Homer placed on the island of Corfu, Kerkira, the Island of Phaeaceans, is one of the most beautiful episodes of the ‘’Odyssey’’, where Odysseus was offered warm hospitality from King Alkinoos and his daughter Nausicaa.
Apollonius of Rhodes mentions in his poem ‘’the Argonautica’’ that it was Corfu that Jason and his Argonauts found refuge from the Colchic fleet.
Today, the same land keeps inspiring visitors and luring them to follow in the footsteps of history, imprinted on every single corner of the island. Findings from the prehistoric and archaic period, masterpieces of the classic antiquity, roman, byzantine, medieval monuments and folk art coexist with the modern way of life.
Today, Corfu ranks amongst Europe’s most fascinating destinations. Marked by intriguing contrast and consecutive influences, the island is a crossroad of colors and civilizations. Located to the northern Ionian Sea, at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea, the island has been ‘’the apple of discord’’ among the big powers of each era. Furthermore, its position enables visitors today to reach the island by direct flights from almost all European countries, while there are daily ferry connections with many Italian ports.
The Mediterranean climate and the high quality of life make Corfu an ideal place to stay, any time of year. The winter is mild with relatively high temperatures (7-20 C) and sunshine for approximately 4.5 hours per day, so one can often go on excursions to admire Corfu’s beautiful nature. Springtime, with the ceaseless colour alternations is undoubtedly amazing! During summertime, the fascinating beaches, the cosmopolitan atmosphere and the uncountable traditional festivals guarantee a once-in-a-life-time vacation. In autumn, time has come to take your last plunge into the warm sea waters.
One of the richest Greek islands in terms of heritage, Corfu is home to notable museums, significant churches and a thriving musical tradition. Narrow paved lanes (kantounia) with hung out laundry, flowering bougainvillea, buildings with traces of Venetian, French and British influence attract any visitor. Local history, culture and tradition are thoroughly protected in museums and collections. In Corfu towns’ historic center, the medieval fortresses and the peripheral fortifications compose a unique architectural ensemble, which was added in 2007 to the list of UNESCOS’ World Heritage Monuments.
The Old Fortress and the New Fortress, perched on commanding locations on either side of the town, offer panoramic views of the Old Town of Corfu. Their architecture is testament all the major advances in 15th – 19th century defence-related design. The famous Liston, which constitutes the meeting point for most social gatherings and is the symbol of Corfu’s historic center, is the most characteristic monument that bears traces of the French presence on the island. The ‘’San Giacomo’’ building, which accommodates today Corfu’s Town Hall, was erected by the Venetians in the 17th century in order to house the Loggia dei Nobili. The Museum of Asian Art, which is unique in Greece, is exclusively dedicated to the art and antiquities from the Far East. It is housed at the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, a characteristic sample of British neo-classical architecture. The same palace is the home of Municipal Art Gallery of Corfu, with outstanding exhibits of the Eptanesian School. In the Byzantine Museum of Corfu (Antivouniotissa) are exhibited icons from the 15th to the 19th century, which bear witness to Corfu’s outstanding role in the evolution of the ecclesiastic art of painting. The Banknote Museum of Greece in Corfu is one of the top banknote museums in the world. Its collection includes rare banknotes and is accommodated in the historic Bank building. A visit to the Music Museum ‘’Nikolaos Halikiopoulos Mantzaros’’ brings to light Corfu’s long music tradition. The house where the national poet Dionysios Solomos lived, houses a museum of the same name with a rich library. In the Serbian Hearth (or the Serbian House) revive moments of the past, when Corfu, which was the allied forces’ military base, offered shelter to the Serbian army.
Findings that comes exclusively from the island of Corfu are exhibited in the Archeological Museum and the Museum of Paleopolis, in the Mon Repos Mansion. These exhibits display the islands’ continuous presence in the ancient world. The neo-classical style building of the Ionian Parliament is the place where the unification of the Ionian Islands with Greece was passed. Today, the building operates as a branch of the Municipal Art Gallery and serves as the venue for civil marriage ceremonies. The Ionian Academy housed the first Greek University and nowadays is a department of the Ionian University.
Further, significant cultural places are: the Reading Society of Corfu, which is the oldest intellectual institution of modern Greece, the Archives of Corfu, which are accommodated in the building of the former British Barracks inside the Old Fortress, and the Municipal Theatre, with an intense cultural activity, illustrating the Corfiots’ need for quality entertainment.
Some of the islands religious sites that are worth visited are the Church of St. Spyridon, which accommodates the Holy Relic of the islands guardian Saint in a silver shrine; the Church of St. Jason and Sosipater, which constitutes the islands’ most significant byzantine monument and the Metropolitan Church, which accommodates the Holy Relic of St. Theodora. A visit to the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Cathedral ‘’Duomo’’ and the Jewish Synagogue will acquaint you with the towns’ multicultural character.
At a breaths’ distance from Corfu Town lies the green island Vido. Worth visit on the island are two well-maintained beaches, the historic Church of St. Stefan and the Serbian Mausoleum. In the suburbs, the well-known Pontikonisi Island and the Vlacheraina Monastery, compose Corfu’s most familiar and recognized picture.
Villages and traditional settlements, depending on the years they were inhabited, trace back to the Byzantine epoch, the Venetian epoch but also to 20th century folk architecture. The stone paved houses, the classic town square with the small coffee houses (caffenio), the picturesque chapels and above all, the hospitable people will charm you and let you feel at home. Here, you will find unique sights to visit including imposing castles as well as collections and museums illustrating the islands identity in history, art, local habits and customs. The findings from the Roman mansions in the northern and southeastern coasts but also the famous ‘’Achilleion’’ prove that Corfu is an all-time tourist destination. The palace which was once the summer residence of the Empress of Austria Elizabeth and later on the German Kaiser Wilhelm II operates today as a museum and as a cultural events’ venue.
In Palaiokastritsa, the Monastery of Virgin Mary, with panoramic view, attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. The Pantocrator Monastery, with notable frescoes, is located on Corfu’s highest mountain and constitutes the reference point of the broader area. Angelokastro, one of the most considerable castles in Greece, is located on a 330 m high slope and offers a magnificent view. The Kassiopi Castle on the northeastern edge of the village date back to the distant past, at the time of the battles with pirates and aspiring conquerors.
In the Kapodistrias Museum, 4 kilometers away from Corfu Town, are exhibited personal objects of Greece’s first Governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias, who was an outstanding personality in the history of Europe.
Situated amongst the coves of the North East coast of Corfu lies the village of Nissaki. This is the traditional Corfu that we all remember and adore. Originally meaning ‘little island’ Nissaki was once a small rocky island. Local stonecutters used the Island to prepare stone brought by boat for use elsewhere on the island. Overtime the resulting stone waste produced allowed for the small island to be joined to the mainland forming a picturesque harbor where a traditional taverna now stands on the original site. The village hamlet of Nissaki is slightly further around the main road and has a church & school at its centre and overlooks the original small island site. Further, round the coast, the blue flag beaches of Kaminaki and Krouzeri make up the final stretches of Nissaki. Part of the Corfu trail runs through the heart of Nissaki. The main trail winds its way directly along the coast here and will take you further along the coast from where the beautiful bays of Agni and Kalami can be reached. Various paths & trails lead off from the main path and into the hills of Viglatsouri, Apolissies, Katavolos and olive groves behind Nissaki to the top of mount Pantokrator.
Barbati is situated between Ipsos and Nissaki on the North East coast. It can be reached by car but also by boat. The views around Barbati are stunning, lying in the foothills of Pantokrator, the majestic hills rise above the resort which overlooks Albania and the Greek mainland in front and along the Corfu coastline to Town. There is an impressive pebble beach which runs for about a mile and many tavernas, bars and shops to be found along the main road which runs through Barbati offering an expansive choice for tourists of all ages and tastes.
The beautiful bay of Agni is set on the North east coast, about 27 kilometers from Corfu town and overlooks the coastline of Albania. If travelling by car, the bay can be reached from a turn-off just after Nissaki, however most visitors stop here for lunch or an evening meal via private boat hire or boat taxis from neighboring resorts. The bay also lays on the Corfu trail and can be reached on foot from nearby Kalami or Nissaki. Agni means ‘un-spoilt’ in Greek and with just three tavernas and a coffee/wine bar, Agni has remained largely un-spoilt.
Kalami is a beautiful small bay in the North East about 30 Kilometers by car from Corfu town. Here you will find the White House where Gerald Durrell a famous English naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist and writer once lived. His books ‘My family and other Animals’, ’Birds, Beasts and Relatives’ and ‘The garden of the Gods’ where inspired by the time he spent here with his family. Along the beautiful pebble beach and along the road you will find plenty of shops, bars and tavernas, there are also water sports facilities and you can also hire boats from here. Walking through the olive groves on the road to Kouloura you can feel like living in the past, as the nature relaxes your soul and your eyes are full of beauties.
Agios Stephanos on the North East is situated between Kalami and Kassiopi about 40 minutes by car from Corfu town. It is a small harbour village but has become a very upmarket resort. Agios Stephanos and the surrounding areas have gained the nick name ‘Kensington on Sea’ and ‘’the posh part of Corfu’’ nicknames given by the UK media, attracted by great figures. There are many villas set in the hills and plenty of traditional tavernas by the sea, bars and a small selection of shops. A small beach runs to the right of the area and there are plenty of good walks and beautiful scenery to be found here.
Kerasia beach lays on the North East coast and can be reached by car in a little over 40 minutes from Corfu Town. The only road to Kerasia is via Agios Stephanos and cannot be reached directly from the main road. Due to its position, it is a regular stop for those hiring boats for the day as it is easily accessible from the sea. There is a long pebble beach with a beautiful taverna where you can enjoy amazing dishes and a bar. The beach and surrounding area is very peaceful and there are some lovely walks and scenery to discover. To the right of the beach as you face out to sea you will find the start of the Rothschild estate, you are able to walk along the costal path here through a beautiful wooded area and admire the wonderful walk around the headline.
Kassiopi is an attractive village at the northeastern part of Corfu, approximately 30 km from Corfu town and the airport. It is in beautiful surroundings created by mount Pantokrator, endless olive groves which cover the surrounding hills and the numerous small bays with pebbles formed by the rocky shore. Once a traditional harbor village the resort has spread out now and offers a wide range of shops, taverns and bars. Towards the harbor on your left hand side you will see the Byzantine Castle. The path leading up to the entrance is sign posted but it is uneven in parts, the path takes you up past a few back gardens. It is a historic and picturesque village at the entrance of the northern part of the straights with the mainland and it still gives off something from its intense history.
Sidari is set on the North coast about 45km from Corfu town and about 45 minutes by car. Once a small fishing village, it is now a large lively resort with a long sandy beach. There is plenty to do in Sidari and you will be spoilt for choice with its wide range of restaurants, tavernas, bars, clubs and shops. The choice of dining here includes traditional Greek, Chinese, Indian and English dishes. You will also find a good selection of entertainment, with bars offering quiz nights, Karaoke, singers and much more. The beach has a good selection of facilities and water sports activities. Visit the Canal D’amour or the ‘channel of love’, the stunning rock formations, as it is known locally and you can climb up to them or follow one of the many paths around them. The Canal D’amour is separated from Sidari by a river inlet.
Agios Georgios in North Corfu (also known as Agios Georgios Pagon) is a quiet area, 35 km north of Corfu Town.
The beach of Agios Georgios Pagon is distinguished for its endless sandy beach and for its cool waters. On the right hand side, north, the water deepens sharply, while on the left side the waters are too shallow for this and is preferred by families with young children.
The area of Agios Georgios has remained relatively unaffected by the tourist wave of recent years and remains a friendly, traditional village. The area is definitely not famous for its nightlife and is ideal for people of all ages who want to rest on Corfu while at the same time the beach of Agios Georgios is a terrestrial paradise for children. You will find a wide variety of water sports, from sailing, to diving lessons. In the evening, after your evening dinner, you can enjoy a cocktail on the beach with your friends.
Built on top of a verdant hill with evergreen olive trees, Makrades, is a very old village with history that goes back to the 13th century. Probably his first inhabitants were craftsmen who built the famous Angelokastro, which is only one kilometer from Makrádes. The special feature in Makrades is the architecture, which is preserved until today even though it has been 8 centuries since the village was founded. The old church, the main road and the picturesque alleys make up this enchanting setting of authentic Corfu countryside.
Visit Agia Paraskevi Makrádon, a monastery dating back to the 17th century, Prokima, where you can admire the stunning view of St. George Pagon, the Diapontia Islands and North part of Corfu till the Mountains of Albania. In Makrades you will find a tavern serving traditional Corfu cuisine which houses an Olive Press & Folkloric Museum, mini markets and some souvenir shops with a large variety of traditional agricultural products. Makrades are about a 15-minute drive from the beautiful and long beach of Agios Georgios Pagon. Do not miss to visit Aggelokastro and the beautiful picturesque village of Krini at the entrance of this Byzantine castle.
Paleokastritsa, which means old castle, is situated on the North west coast 25 km from Corfu town. The drive can be made in a little over half an hour as the main road from town takes you there and the driving conditions are very good. Paleokastritsa itself is very spread out and is surrounded by two small peninsulas which run between six different bays. The main and most visited bay can be found at the end of the road through Paleokastritsa. You can swim in the crystal clear waters, due to the rocks and caves the snorkeling is fantastic or you can take a boat trip to the sea caves. There are plenty of bars, shops and tavernas. Visit the famous historic monastery of Panagia Palaiokastritissa with Byzantine icons kept in the sacristy, founded in 1225. It is believed that a castle once stood on the cliff, where the monastery now is, overlooking the breathtaking landscape, astonishing even the most discerning guest. The monastery also faces the islands of Ortholithos, Kolovri and Skeloudi and while also many tourists visit Angelokastro, a stunning location in the Corfiot countryside.
Lakones is located 4 km away from Palaiokastritsa to an altitude of 182 m. It has preserved the old spirit with its stone houses from 18 and 19 century. Getting there on the narrow and steep road gives a bit unpleasant feeling but the view of Paleokastritsa and its bays, is getting more and more spectacular as you proceed up. Lakones with its surroundings is also known as Bella Vista - one of the top 10 views in Europe.
The coasts, the coves, the capes and the endless reefs compose a small paradise for the seabed fans. Therefore, plenty of organized scuba diving centers operate all over the island.
On many of the island beaches, there are water sports centers where water sports trainers will initiate you to the charm of a ride over the waves: water ski, sea jet, windsurf, kite surf, parachute but also pedalos and canoes stay anytime at your disposal in order for you to trace out your own course on the sea surface!
The lush vegetation, the traditional villages and the mild terrain make trekking on the island of Corfu an exciting experience. Even on your first ‘’off the road’’ walking route, you will encounter uncommon wildflowers, ‘’secret’’ lakes and shadowy olive groves. Path networks with signs and rest areas offer the ideal conditions to enjoy a wonderful excursion in Corfu’s nature.
With horses for beginners but also for experienced riders and plenty of old paths and rural roads, the horse riding centers offer unrestrained possibilities to horse riding fans.
There are organized tourists’ groups who visit the island exclusively for a bicycle tour. An exploration adventure through unknown paths ending up in isolated beaches is a unique experience.
On the island of Corfu, there is a well-known eighteen-hole golf course. The Corfu Golf Club was designed by the famous architect Donald Herradine and it is located in the Ropa Valley in Ermones. It is open to the public from March until November and it is suitable not only for beginners but also for experienced players.
An almost two-century tradition has been continued to the present day in Greece’s only place with such a notable infrastructure for cricket. Official tournaments and friendly matches are organized all year round in the most atmospheric pitch in Europe, the Spianada Square (Espianade), within the historic center of the town. However, the cricket pitch which is located in Gouvia marina offers more comfort and better infrastructure.