Corfu is the emerald jewel of the Ionian Islands. The nature of Corfu is diverse; from the beautiful beaches and the Ionian Sea that surround the island to the breathtaking views and landscapes of the countryside. Grand palaces, museums, historic monuments and sites including Corfu’s “trade mark”, Pontikonisi, are all part of an island that is definitely worth exploring.
The main port of Corfu is on the north east side of the capital, Corfu Town. The port connects Corfu to the Mainland of Greece, (Igoumenitsa) and Paxos Island, the Italian ports of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, Venice and Trieste as well as Sarande in Albania. The cruise ship terminal makes Corfu a popular port for many ships sailing the Adriatic and Mediterranean.
I.Kapodistrias is Corfu’s international airport and is located approximately 2km from the city centre. From April to November there are daily charter flights to and from most European cities, the scheduled domestic services operates daily, all year round.
Lefkimmi port is in the south of the island. The ferries are smaller but the journey to Igoumenitsa is shorter. During the summer months a day cruise to Paxos and Anti Paxos leaves from this port.
Corfu has been described as a cultural mix of Italy, mostly Venice with a touch of Naples, France, at its most elegant and England, for its eccentricities, but always Greek. A stroll through the narrow kantounia, the cobbled maze of streets in the Old Town, bears witness to the influence of the conquerors of this small island.
Corfu Town has much to offer even the most well travelled visitor. The art galleries and museums, of which there are more than a dozen, hold regular exhibitions. The town’s three brass bands, symphony orchestra, opera company, choir, contemporary and traditional dance groups and drama societies guarantee a full programme of musical and theatrical events that make Corfu Town a vibrant home for its 30,000 residents.
Add to this the sporting and sailing events, cricket pitch, historical monuments and churches that sit next to artisan boutiques selling original pieces of jewellery, clothing and objet d’art make a day in Corfu Town exciting and interesting. As the sun sets the cafes and restaurants are perfect for absorbing the cosmopolitan atmosphere that makes Corfu Town unique.
Mouse Island or Pontikonissi, is a small, hilly and densely wooded island that legend says was formed when the ship that had taken Odysseus back to Ithaki returned to its home port. Poseidon, who was angry at being defied by the Phaeceans, turned the ship to stone. The 13th century Monastery of Pantocrator on Mouse Island, has a winding, white staircase that from a distance looks like a mouse's tail, is another explanation for its name. The chapel houses the memorial tablets of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her husband Rudolfo
At 906m high Mount Pantokrator is the highest point on Corfu. On a clear day at the summit, and despite it being 130km away, it is possible to see Italy, as well as the whole of Corfu and Albania. At the top is café for tourists who have reached the summit either on foot or by car, a well and a telecommunications tower. The church dates from 1689; however in 1347 the first monastery was built with the help of the Perithians, inhabitants of the village below.
Once inhabited by 1200 people the settlement began when people left the coastal properties for the safety of the mountains, away from pirate attacks. By lighting beacons they could warn others of imminent invasions. Old Perithia is one of the oldest inhabited villages on the island, with records dating back to the 14th century Of the 130 houses that were built, most are now derelict, but many are being restored. At 400m above sea level and surrounded by eight churches, it is tucked beneath the mighty Mount Pantokrator, it is a Heritage Protected Village and a Designated Area of Natural Beauty.
Mon Repo Palace is on Analipsis Hill on the edge of the ancient city of Corfu. Built by the British Commissioner Frederic Adams as a gift for his Corfiot wife in 1826. It is a small but very beautiful building with stunning gardens. In 1864 after the Unification of Greece it became the summer residence of the Greek Royal family and was the birth place of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1921. The people of Corfu stood as his Godparents at his baptism.
Located in the village of Gastouri, the route to the Achillion Palace takes you along coastal roads and through a landscape of orange, lemon and olive groves. Built in 1890 by the tragic Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the magnificent palace was designed with the mythical hero Achilles as its main theme. Massive sculptures dominate the grounds, and paintings throughout the palace pay homage to Achilles. After the First World War the Achillion was returned to the Greek state as part of the Treaty of Versailles. It was used as a military head quarters during World War II.
1000ft up a steep cliff on the north west coast is the Fortress of Angelokastro. The exact date of its construction is unknown although the first documented evidence of its existance is 1272. It was one of the most important fortifications and formed a defensive triangle with Kassiopi Castle on the north east coast and Gardiki Castle in the south. It afforded a strategic vantage point for its inhabitants ensuring that it never fell to pirates .
From 1387 until the end of the 16th century it was the capital of Corfu and seat of the Governor of the Ionian Islands and Commander of the Venetian Fleet, which was stationed on Corfu. It was used as a look out post by the Republican French and as a semaphore station by the Imperial French during their occupation of Corfu. Now the crumbling walls and battlements lie scattered amongst the rocky terrain.
Located in Agios Ioannis, the Aqualand Waterpark is 75000 square metres of fun for everyone. For the fearless there are 47 different water slides. Jump into one of the different pools or wait in the Wave Pool for the madness to start! Qualified lifeguards are never far away and a service is available for those guests with special needs. There are plenty of free sunbeds and umbrellas, spacious changing rooms, with secure lockers, and showers. There is an excellent selection of food outlets; fast food, a la carte restaurant, gelateria and a wet and dry central bar. (don´t change anything)
Opened in 1971 the Corfu Golf Course is considered one of the best kept in Europe. With some challenging holes that rival Augusta in the USA, it is a fair test for all handicaps. The fairways are lined with Eucalyptus and Poplar trees and there is plenty of water in the form of lakes and meandering streams.
In high summer there is a cooling breeze that blows in from the sea making for comfortable play throughout the year. The course blends seamlessly with the picturesque surrounding countryside.
The Corfu Golf Club is beautiful 18-hole course (Par 72-SSS 72, length 6,803 yards). There are no weak holes and the cleverly designed hazards make it a fair test for both low and high handicap players. It is perfect for golfers who wish to practice their favorite sport during their holidays.
Started in 1577 and completed in 1588, the New Fortress was built on the Hill of St. Mark and is on two levels. The lower was to protect the port and the upper to protect the city. As a Naval look out point and protected by a deep moat, the New Fortress was instrumental in protecting Western Europe from Turkish invasion. There are tunnels that link the Old and New Fortresses, but are not open to the public. The gates of the New Fortress are decorated with a carving of the Lion of St. Mark, the emblem of Venice. Recently restored, the New Fortress is a venue for concerts and exhibitions as well as housing the Corfu Naval Station.
Only 13km from Corfu Town on the West Coast of the Island is Pelekas. The village is small but quite busy, with a nice choice of restaurants with good sea views. Although the beach is small it is quite unspoilt and has a few facilities. Above the village is The Kaiser’s Lookout, where Kaiser Wilhelm II often went to admire the view and watch the stunning sunsets.
On the south west coast, next to Halikounas Beach is Lake Korission. A long strip of golden sand separates the lake from the sea. The lake is a protected area of natural beauty because of its rare combination of Cedar forest, sand dunes, lake and sea. It is popular with bird watchers and is a sanctuary for 126 different species of bird.
Thought to be named after the two peaks of the peninsula it stood on, (koryphi in Greek), the capital of Corfu lay within the walls of the Old Fortress from the 6th – 13th Century after the original capital at Kanoni was destroyed by the Goths. The two peaks were castellated and a moat separated the island which enabled Corfu to repel three attempted invasions by the Ottomans in 1537, 1571 and 1731.
The Venetians built the main fortifications. The impressive bastions were a masterpiece of military architecture. The western, higher, peak was called Castel a Terra or Castel Nuovo and served as residential quarters for military personnel, politicians and the aristocracy. The eastern peak that overlooks the sea Castel a Mar or Castel Vecchio and was later used as a gun powder store. It was hit by lightening in 1718. After this catastrophe and the Corfiots destroying building prior to the unification in 1864 means none of these original buildings has survived. The ones you will see today were constructed during the British occupation.
The Church of St. George, built in 1840 in the Doric style, was used by the British garrison. It was converted for the Orthodox religion in 1864. It is the only Greek Orthodox Church in the style of an ancient temple. What once were the British Barracks now houses the Public Library of Corfu
Also in the Bay of Kanoni is Vlacherna Monastery. The Vlacherna Womens Monastery was founded many centuries ago on the little rocky tip of the Kanoni peninsula. The present chapel was built in 1685 and the oldest gravestone dates from 1785. When Corfu was under the rule of the Democratic French it belonged to the family of the Greek composer N C Mantzaros, the composer of the Greek National Anthem.
Given its name by the French, the small Islet of Vidos lies opposite Corfu Town. Originally known Ptyhia or Hera, today it is a protected nature reserve and has many rare types of flora and fauna. There are 3 beautiful beaches and a taverna and cafeteria for refreshments.
The remains of a fort that was built be the French can be seen and it is said that underwater tunnels connected the island to the fortresses on Corfu.
During the First World War the island served as a hospital for Serbian soldiers who had retreated after their country was invaded by Austro-German-Bulgarian Forces, but continued to defend Corfu. The sick and near dying soldiers were treated on Vidos to prevent epidemics. More than a thousand soldiers died on the island and the Serbian Mausoleum was erected to honour them.
Vidos is a ten minute boat ride from Corfu, with boats leaving every hour during the summer months.
The Canal d’Amour is 32km from Corfu town, close to the village of the Sidari on the North West coast of the island.
Nature, by way of the sea and wind, created the Canal d’Amour. The sandstone has been eroded by the elements and the grooves that scarred the rock face formed the channel.
There are legends attached to these stunning rock formations, the most famous being that if a couple swim together in the Canal they will stay together forever and if the Canal is in shade whoever swims in the water will always be lucky in love.
The water here is shimmering shades of blue that contrast with the yellow hues of the rock. As well as the canal there are some interesting caves and secluded coves along this stretch of coast
High above the beaches of Paleokastritsa, on the promontory farthest north is the 13th century Monastery of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Byzantine church, a single nave basilica is at the centre of the monastery complex however, the monk’s cells and the courtyard date from the 18th century. The Monastery is home to eight monks, who hold traditional masses and are very hospitable. The museum has Byzantine and Post Byzantine icons; the most notable is the beautiful Dormition of the Virgin Mary.
The Esplanade is a beautiful open public park full of trees, wide paths, benches, a band stand, fountains, monuments and a cricket field. At one end of the Esplanade is the Royal Palace of Corfu also called St Michele and St Giorgio Palace which is now home to the Museum of Asian Art. Designed by Colonel George Whitmore in 1819 it is an imposing neoclassical building, with its beautiful Doric Colonnade, wide archway and Georgian style.
In the middle of the Esplanade you will find a fountain, this was originally a Venetian spring. Facing away from the Old fort towards town you will see the large colonnade building known as the Liston.
Large, sandy and full of activites, Sidari's main beach is situated between the harbor and the cliffs of Canal D' Amour. The Channel of Love is one of the most popular spots in Corfu, as according to tradition, couples who swim through the narrow canal will get married soon. With beautiful crystalline waters, and unique formations of rocks, it is a very stunning area. On the streets of Sidari there are plenty of snack bars, cafes and restaurants, which keep the area quite busy in general.
The beautiful coastal settlement of Barbati is situated 17 km north of Corfu Town. This beach is pretty long and full of local restaurants and bars. It is quite a pebbly beach, so be sure to take suitable shoes. Nice for children, since some of the local bars have shaded area and playgrounds. In the past it was actually awarded with the Blue Flag for its cleanness and organization. There are plenty of sunbeds, umbrellas and watersports in the area.
Dassia beach as most on the East side of corfu, is mainly pebble and shingle. There are lots of lovely olive trees for shade, plenty of hotel bars and cafes, some offering free sunbeds if you eat/drink at their bar. At the centre of the beach there is a platform where one can experience nice dives into the crystalline waters. The water is clean, clear and the views across the bay to Corfu Town, Albania and mainland Greece are amazing. The bay is surrounded on one side by a lovely mountain area. If you are looking for boat hire, boat trips and watersports, Dassia has it all.
Agios Georgios Pagon, that has taken its name because of its chilly waters, is located on the west side of Corfu, just above Paleokastritsa. The natural bay is surrounded by cypress trees and olive groves, with a long stretch of sandy beach. The beach is well organized with plenty of taverns, restaurants and bars. The surrounding cliffs and historic villages are ideal destinations for hiking.
The Ipsos beach lies around the green crystalline bay where one will enjoy a fascinating swimming experience. The water is shallow thus quite safe for children. The beach offers some tourist facilities while you will definitely get the chance to practice your favourite watersports.
Glyfada is situated on the west coast, surrounded by scenic green mountains, just after Pelekas village. It's gained its popularity due to its sandy beach and clear waters. There's a big variety of taverns and beach bars in the area. The beach is well organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, also there are many different types of watersports. Glyfada attracts mostly young locals and Italians for the beach parties and events.
One of the most popular beaches in Corfu, Agios Gordios , is positioned midway down the west coast of the island. The combination of tree-covered mountain cliffs, clear blue sea, and golden sand makes this beach a breathtaking sight. It's an organized beach with plenty of tavernas, renowned for their Corfiot cuisine and fresh fish, as well as fast food and tourist eateries. To the left of the beach you can see the impressive rocky formation of the Ortholithi, whilst on the right end you can find the rather recently abandoned shipwreck.
Halikounas is a very sandy beach, surrounded by unique sand dunes and wild vegetation. The rich flora divides the shore from the Korission Lake, where over 2000 birds seek refuge at certain times of the year. It is an ideal beach for people seeking serenity, as it doesn’t get very busy and only has a few beach bars and watersports in the area. Halikounas is the ideal place for kite-surfing as it has its own kite-surfing club, with equipment suitable for beginners and professionals.
Paleokastritsa is one of the most picturesque beaches in Corfu. It is known for its aqua blue waters and stunning views. The small bay is surrounded by rocky cliffs and greenery. The sea is refreshingly cooler there, which offers a great relief from the heat! It is rarely quiet during the day, due to the many bars and taverns. There are many other beautiful coves in Paleokastritsa that can only be reached by boat.
Issos is a long sandy beach famous for its natural sand dunes, making it one of the widest beaches on the island. The sea is shallow and calm, perfect for families with children. The lush green forest and the lake make a unique spot for hiking while the high sand dunes offer excellent sunset views. There are bars and taverns at a close distance.
Marathias is one of the most organized beaches on the island, located in the southwest region. Plenty of choices of beach bars, snack bars and restaurants. It's a long and wide beach stretching up to 2km with golden fine sand. The clear blue sea can get quite wavy in the afternoons, that can be fun to jump around in!
Gardenos Beach is very peaceful and uncrowded. It takes its name from the River Gardeno, which flows into the sea there. It has golden soft sand in and out of the water which makes it comfortable and enjoyable for swimming and other activities, it stretches out for about two kilometers and is ideal for exploration and discovery of the nearby beaches. There are several local tavernas in the area.
This is a small, sandy beach located 32 km south of Corfu that merges with Issos beach, creating the longest stretch of beach on the Island. Agios Georgios is a popular resort and has many shops and restaurants in the area, even so the beach maintains its natural beauty. The sandy beach is well-organized with sunbeds and umbrellas but its main attraction is the tranquil and beautiful environment.
Agios Ioannis, located 18 km south of Corfu Town offers the perfect beach for relaxing and reading. The surrounding area is full of lush trees and mountain cliffs. The beach is sandy with a few pebbles and the sea is crystal clear. Along the beach you will find a nice choice of taverns, cafeterias and bars.
Messonghi beach is quiet and relaxing, ideal for families and young couples looking for serenity. The beach has calm warm waters and uninterrupted views of mainland Greece. Due to its ideal position away from the main coastal road, it has maintained it’s authentic Greek atmosphere. Also the majority of facilities are within a 50 meter radius. There is a rather large wooden pier which you can sunbathe and relax on, if you don't wish to get sunbeds. Centuries old olive groves populate the majority of the surrounding. Beach co-ordinates: 39°28'38.0"N 19°56'03.7"E
Nissaki bay is protected from the strong winds, nevertheless the water becomes gradually deep. It is a great place for families while the soft rocks on either side are safe for children activities.
Surrounded by towering cliffs, Paradise Beach can only be reached by boat from Paleaokastritsa Beach where a boat can be rented. For those who prefer a skipper, a water taxi will take you and collect you. Depending on whom you choose there is the possibility of a tour of the caves as well. For the adventurous a pedalo can be hired and as long as you are fit the hour’s journey can be immense fun.
The stunning, rocky landscape of the area emphasises the drama and the beauty of the coastline and the crystal clear water. Snorkelling is highly recommended.
The beach is pebbles/small stones and appropriate footwear is recommended for those with sensitive feet!
There is a small booth that sells cold drinks but take your own snacks and lunch. Sunbeds and umbrellas are available for daily rent.
Avlaki is not particularly known among tourists, although it is a very nice, pebbly beach with crystal clear water. Is a quiet beach, an ideal tourist destination for families. The beach has sunbeds and few taverns with delicious local food.
The KTEL (Green) bus network runs a reliable service all over the island as well as Athens, Larissa and Thessoloniki. The bus station is close to the airport. http://greenbuses.gr/?module=default&pages_id=2&lang=en
The City (Blue) bus station is at San Rocco Square. They travel as far North as Ipsos and Dassia, South to Benitses and West to Agios Ionnis. http://www.astikoktelkerkyras.gr/dataeg.php?cat=40407
Corfu’s coast line can be explored by boat. Looking at the landscape from the sea adds a different perspective to the island.
Many beaches and coves are inaccessible from the land and can only be discovered by small boat that can be rented nearby. Wherever you choose to stay there will be places that only you will discover.
Hiring a car is one of the best ways to explore Corfu. Getting lost is all part of the fun!
A taxi is the best way to reach your accommodation, especially if you are coming for the first time, or late at night. A private guided taxi tour is a great way to explore the island at your own pace, tailored to your interests.