Corfù City Guide
This Greek island getaway that’s popular with British tourists, is perched northwest of mainland Greece in the Adriatic sea. Crowned the Emerald Isle, Corfu is the greenest island in the country, with fields of lush green plants, trees and wildflowers. The island’s landscape is rich and diverse, with valleys, olive groves, mountains to explore, yet it’s the turquoise water and over a hundred sunny beaches that bring in thousands of holidaymakers each year.
Corfu has a 200 kilometer coast lined with golden beaches to quench every beach bum’s needs. The best and most popular strips lay at the top and bottom of the island. Head up north to Sidari and Roda, where waves wash onto pebble shores. Sidari, a former fishing village, is a lively spot with many bars and restaurants for sun seekers to rest in between dips. If you prefer a sandier beach then Kavos in the south is your best option. If you are looking for a little respite from crowded beaches, simply go for a little walk and you will soon stumble upon a secluded cove to sunbathe to your heart’s content.
While topping up your tan is a priority, there are several other aquatic activities besides laying on the beach that will help you go fifty shades darker. Take your pick between water skiing, scuba diving and sailing, or all three if you’re ambitious! There are many boat tour companies ready to sail you around the island. If you do happen to stumble upon the Canal D’ Amour, take a swim through the passage and as the legend dictates, find your love on the other side.
As lovely as they are, if you can tear yourself away from the beach you will find Corfu has a lot more to offer. Take a walk along the Corfu Trail, which stretches 222 kilometers down the length of the island. The trail takes a good 8-10 days to hike and explore the island’s landscape in depth. While there is a printed book to accompany your hike, it’s worth noting that it’s not the easiest trail to walk.
Corfu may be a Mediterranean island, but its architectural design will soon reflect its past under Venetian, French and British rule. Visit the Old Town of Corfu to get lost in a maze of narrow, winding streets with washing lines hanging overhead. Take a walk through this medieval quarter and wind up on cobble-paved squares with towering old churches and buildings that tell the tale of the British and Venetian reign.
The tallest and perhaps most revered church on the island is that of St. Spyridon. Built in 1596, this place of worship is said to house the remains of the patron saint. It’s widely believed that St. Spyridon saved the islanders from famine, plague on two counts, the Turks and allegedly from a bomb that dropped during World War II and did not explode. It’s no wonder the locals pay their respects to the patron saint by carrying his silver casket in procession through the town four times a year.
However you decide to spend your time on Corfu, you can rest assured there is always a tavern open where you can feast upon some local delicacies. The pace is very relaxed on the island so don’t go expecting speedy service. Go with the Greek flow and enjoy a sumptuous meal made from local produce, consisting of local meat, seafood, vegetables, feta and olive oil.
The main bus terminal on the island is in Corfu Town, which has a blue line for getting around the city itself. The green line services the rest of the island, taking you to all the popular beaches and hotspots including Sidari, Kavos and Roda. Renting a car however gives you the freedom to explore the island at your leisure. Just be sure to book your automobile online with insurance, and bring your own GPS! Bearing in mind many of the streets are narrow, a motorized scooter is a bit more practical.
When to Go
On a good day the temperature soars to a lovely 32-degrees. Corfu is best visited anytime between March and October, with high season creeping in between July and August. Winters may not be too cold, but they certainly do come with a bit of rain.
Draped in deep, rich Mediterranean sunshine, with blue waters and lush vegetation, Corfu, the second largest of the Ionian Islands, is a delight to the senses.
Walk the cobbled streets of this ancient Greek island, surrounded by the Ionian Sea, and smell the spicy aromas wafting from tavernas, become enchanted with the local art and history, or while away an afternoon sipping wine with a new friend under a café awning. Corfu has beckoned visitors for a millennium and it’s not hard to see why.
Corfu is the world renowned island featured in Homer’s Odyssey as the “rich and beautiful land.” It figured prominently in Greek mythology as a favorite of Poseidon and has been fought over and claimed by kings for hundreds of years.
While many of the tourist-favored Greek islands are rather brown and bare, Corfu receives bouts of torrential rains in the winter that help keep the island uncharacteristically verdant, and the two million olive trees which drape the landscape add to the effect.
The main economic force on Corfu is tourism, followed by the olive harvests. Rather than urban sprawl spreading over the island, most of the tourism is focused on Corfu Town on the north coast, along with a few other villages.
Towards the center and southern island, visitors experience a whole different island, where time seems to have slowed; sleepy villages, rural festivals and magnificent vistas and beaches await.
How to get there
Most tourists arrive at Corfu by plane, flying into Johannis Kapodistrias, which has several flights arriving daily. Visitors can also choose to drive down from Europe and catch one of the many daily ferry crossings from the Greek mainland to the island.
For those with their own boats, berths are available at the marina. To get around the island, it is recommended that visitors rent a car, as there are well-maintained two-lane roads throughout the whole of Corfu. For those who prefer not to drive, there are buses and taxis available. The buses will get you around the main part of Corfu Town and other tourist hot spots. There is also a bicycle rental program for those who prefer to actively sightsee!
What to do
Whether you like strolling down ancient streets, fishing from a rented boat or off a pier, sunning yourself on white sand beaches, eating your fill, or swimming and scuba diving in the Ionian Sea, there is no shortage of activities to help make your visit memorable.
Corfu Town is a World Heritage Site, and there is plenty to occupy any history lover’s interest. From the now deserted village of Old Perithia, to the Old Fortress that overlooks Corfu Town; every step seems to lure you deeper into the past. Tour the old Esplanade, or visit the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, which houses the Museum of Asian Art. Make a point of visiting the Archeological Museum, which houses artifacts from the 6th century BCE.
Look for local festivals and take part! Many of the more rural villages hold religious festivals and fairs, and tourists are invited to respectfully join in. This is a great way to make new friends and experience the local culture at its best.
Nature lovers will adore the beaches and the Ionian Sea, with its clear waters perfect for swimming, boating and scuba diving. There are also hills to explore, and long, winding roads through scenic countryside perfect for bicycling.
What to eat
Greeks love to eat, and linger over long meals with friends. No vacation to Corfu would be complete without delving into the delights of Greek cooking. Be sure to give yourself enough time for meals, service at the restaurants and cafes is focused on perfecting the food and atmosphere, not on fast delivery.
Eat from the bounty of the sea, local chefs are known for their seafood dishes, though beef, lamb, and chicken dishes are also served at most establishments. The house wines, often made locally or delivered from mainland Greece, are an excellent and economical choice for a beverage; ordering them instead of a bottled Italian or French wine will save you money.
Where to stay
While there are accommodations for almost any budget, why not avoid the big resorts and look for a more local option? There are plenty of places to stay in Corfu Town, from cheap sleeps to private apartment rentals. Or look to rent a vacation home in one of the villages.
Let World Escape help you find the perfect place for your Greek getaway! Sleep. It doesn’t matter where you stay on the island, as you are bound to explore as much of the island as you can in one visit. Take a look at our list of accommodation on Corfu to claim your spot in paradise for the duration of your holiday.