Corfu (also Kerkyra) is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Greece. It is the northernmost and second largest island of the Ionian group, with an area of 593 square kilometers and population of 102 000 residents.
Corfu is a diverse and green island, with a great selection of beaches, many historical sights, beautiful architecture and delectable local cuisine. It is also known for the breathtaking panoramic views from certain spots, like Bella Vista which overlooks Paleokastritsa or the view to Corfu Town from the old Venetian fortress.
Corfu is divided into three parts by two mountain ranges. The northern part is mountainous, the central is hilly and the southern - flatter than the rest. Due to the relief the island has very different landscapes, as the west and north coasts are characterized by large and predominantly sandy strips, and the east coast has smaller pebbly beaches with calm transparent water.
It is believed that the island was named after the nymph Korkira who, according to mythology, was kidnapped by Poseidon and forced to live on the island. The name Corfu has been given by the Venetians who ruled the island from 1401 to 1797 and left their imprint on architecture. In the course of years Corfu was also under French and British rule, and due to the mixture of different cultures and engineering, today the island has a specific Corfiot style you can notice in every village.
The capital Corfu Town is the heart of the island, a living historical monument which allures with its preserved old town and the two fortresses by the sea.
When you plan holiday in Corfu, keep in mind that traveling around the island takes time and depending on the location, you may be quite remote from the most popular attractions. For a really short stay (a day or two), Corfu Town is a good choice because it has a lot to offer and would fill your time. The west resorts are more peaceful and spread over larger areas, while the east ones are next to each other, densely built and more populated.
The central part from Pelekas to Liapades provides the best location for exploration of the entire island - it is relatively close to some of the best beaches of Corfu, to the picturesque coastal village of Paleokastritsa and less than 30 minutes drive from Corfu Town. If you prefer just to chill by the sea, without traveling too much, the long beaches on the southwest and north coast would be just for you.
Caution: On the island there are several places with duplicated names, so be very careful when you book and make sure you go to the right place. Corfu has two resorts called Agios Georgios, one is on the northern coast and the other one - on the southwestern. In the northern part of the island there are two villages named Agios Stefanos, one on the eastern coast and the other one on the western. Also, the resort of Agios Gordios is often confused with Agios Georgios which is in a quite different location.
Corfu has numerous named and unnamed beaches, enough in number and type so every visitor can find a place of their own. But doubtlessly the beaches in and around Paleokastritsa are the most eye-catching, with blue water, green hills around and interesting shore with sea caves and cliffs. Another famous beach of Corfu is Canal D`amour in Sidari - a narrow sea canal between terraced limestone rocks, covered with fine yellow sand.
The fans of long sandy beaches should their eyes to the west shore, and especially to the southwest - the whole coastline south of Chalikounas lagoon is an almost uninterrupted beach strip which varies in width and length. The largest beaches there are Issos, Marathias and Gardeno, all developed as resorts with plenty of hotels but relatively away from Corfu Town and the more interesting sights. There are large beaches in the north half as well, the most popular being Glyfada, Kontogialos, Agios Gordios and Acharavi.
The to-do list for Corfu is very long and time is never enough to see everything it has to offer. Some places of interests which are worth to mention (beaches not included) are:
- Тhe capital Corfu Town with its historical Old Town of Corfu, the Old Fortress, Liston and other monuments
- Paleokastritsa with its famous coves and the monastery
- Vlacherna Monastery and Pontikonissi at Kanoni peninsula
- The Achilleon Palace built for the Austro-Hungarian Empress Sissi, which now functions as a museum
- Bella Vista, an area with with spectacular sea view
- The old fortress of Angelokastro in northwest Corfu
- Kaiser Throne on the top of Pelekas village
Corfu can be reached by sea or by air. The island has an International Airport - Ioannis Capodistrias, which is located close to Corfu Town.
The ferries connecting Corfu with mainland Greece are very regular - there is a boat almost every hour from early morning to late afternoon. They depart from the coastal town of Igoumenitsa and arrive either at the port of Corfu Town or the port of Lefkimi in the southeast part of Corfu. The ferries which arrive at the capital`s port are bigger and the tickets are more expensive, the travel duration is approximately 1.5 hours. Those which arrive at Lefkimi are smaller, cheaper, and the journey takes about half an hour less. There are also fast passenger ferries which connect Corfu with the Ionian island of Paxos and with the town of Sarande, Albania.
Local transport on the island is well organized and if you do not have a car you can travel by bus from one place to another at very affordable prices.