What to do
Corfu located on the north western side of the country, is an island that enjoys a cosmopolitan feeling combined with a special traditional character and has a parallel but different history than mainland Greece. While the mainland was being occupied by the Ottoman Empire, Corfu (and other islands of the Ionian Sea) were occupied by the Venetians who ruled the island for four centuries and their influence continues to give the town of Corfu an Italian feel .
Paleokastritsa, Sidari, Kassiopi and Acharavi are popular tourist places on the northern side of the island, while the inland is dotted with lovely villages and many sightseeings. Apart from the wonderful beaches, the highlight of the island is the Old Town with the characteristic Venetian style.
The Old Town is a gem for sightseeing, with the two Venetian fortresses, the interesting museums, Spianada Square and Liston Street, the wonderful paved street that is a copy of Rue de Rivoli in Paris. In a street beside Liston, there is the church of Agios Spyridon, protector of the island. Very interesting are also the Jewish quarters. On a hill above the town, there is the spot Kanoni with wonderful view to the small church of Vlacherna and the famous Pontikonissi.
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….
History and Culture
Corfu was inhabited for several centuries after by the Byzantine Orthodox, the Normans, and the Franks before falling under the Venetian rule. The British remained in Corfu until 1864, when the Ionian Islands were united with the rest of Greece. The Italian architecture and feel is maintained in the City of Corfu which is the perfect destination for long walks that take you into the paved streets while discovering its treasures. Don’s miss the Campiello, the medieval quarter, part of a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, an atmospheric labyrinth of narrow, winding streets, steep stairways, and secretive little squares.
Visit the Old Fort, or Palaio Frourio, where there is an impressive 360-degree view over the town and the coast beyond it. If you are lucky enough, you might get to see the Corfiot marching brass bands – called (philharmonic orchestras!) which during summer may give Sunday concerts on the Spianada.
Plan a visit to Achilleion, a Teutonic palace, built in the late 19th century for Empress Elizabeth of Austria, currently perhaps the most popular tourist attraction in Corfu; In 1962 the palace was restored and the film fanatics should be aware that it was later used as the set for the casino scene in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only !
Whether you want to buy art, or just browse through contemporary creations of Greek and international artists, visit one of the numerous galleries located on the island. They very usually host exhibitions from contemporary, innovative and awarded Greek & foreign artists.
Glyfada is one of the most popular beaches in Corfu. It is fully organized, with umbrellas, sunbeds, showers, nice beach bars, lifeguards on duty, water sports facilities and locker rooms. It is also ideal for families, since the waters are shallow and crystal clear. An excellent choice, at a close proximity to the capital of the island.
Halikounas is a fairly exotic beach! It’s about 3 kilometers long, really wide and quite secluded, not organized and it can be quite windy, preferred by surfers! Bring your own umbrella, cause the sun can be very strong!
Longas is the ultimate “sunset beach” on an island surrounded by sculpted reddish cliffs which culminate in Corfu’s northwesternmost Cape. They cramp the strand severely, and make for chilly morning shade, but all is forgiven after noon as one gazes out to the Diapóndia islets.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
Corfu and the beautiful surrounding smaller islands of Paxos, Othoni, Erikousa and Mathraki are the top destinations for scuba-divers and organized diving centers exist around the islands of Corfu and Paxos. Secluded beaches and gulfs, capes and big reefs, consist the ideal place for younger and older divers. The sea is warm and anyone can practice their favorite underwater activity, as boats will take you on daily cruises to unreachable destinations revealing the underwater magic and history.
The meandering, waymarked Corfu Trail covers a 137-mile course from one end of the island to the other – is the best way for hiking fans to discover the variety of the Corfiot landscape, from bird-rich lagoons to the highest summits.
Venture off to Avlaki beach in the north of Corfu which is one of the most kids friendly on the island and its crystal clear, generally calm waters make it an excellent spot not only for a swim but wind surfing, scuba diving and snorkeling courses that will fascinate our younger guests. Kalypso Star, a glass-bottomed boat that leaves Corfu Town harbour several times a day takes you on daily trips to discover the Ionian Sea’s diverse marine life, For the mountain bike fanatics, discover Corfu through your wheels on a guided or a self-guided family tour!
Subsequent influences brought by the British, French, and Italians again shaped the island’s culinary evolution. However, since the geography of Corfu is similar to that of the rest of Greece, olives and olive oil, cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables are all basics on the menu, with a greater emphasis on seafood, but the tastes and cooking methods are totally and delightfully Corfiot.
ETRUSCO + 26610 93342 www.etrusco.gr is Corfu’s top gourmet choice in the village of Kato Korakiana, where chef Ettore Botrini offers an interesting interpretation of Ionian cuisine. Reservations are essential.
THE SAILING CLUB
THE SAILING CLUB +30 26610 38763 is a fine dining option in the atmospheric Venetian fortress on the seafront
BAKHOS +30 26610 71201 An unimprovably set beachfront taverna, going for 36 years now, prides itself on sourcing local, fresh seafood like baby kalamári, large prawns, perfectly friedkoutsomoúra and naturally colored (not pink) taramosaláta; farmed mussels from northern Greece are a departure from the pattern. Fresh springtime artichokes are fricaseed in a white sauce with parsley and celery.
Another option is to travel by ferry from the Greek mainland or from Italy, with services from Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi.