The island of Corfu, or Kerkyra as the Greeks call it, is one of the most beautiful, fascinating and evocative islands in Greece. Tourists from all over the world choose it as a destination because of its beaches, its mild climate, its welcoming nature and its pleasant nightlife. Besides beaches, Corfu is worth visiting for its art, history and culture.
In fact, since 2007, the historic city of Corfu, the homonymous capital of the island, was included by UNESCO in the World Heritage Sites as an architectural example of universal value both in its authenticity and its integrity: the traces of Greek history, Byzantine spirituality, Norman and typical influences of some cities in southern Italy, Venetian Renaissance elegance, the eternal French charm, the imposing English neoclassical style live together in sweet harmony, giving eternal scenery.
The island of Corfu is located a few nautical miles from the Greek mainland. With an area of approximately 585 km² it is the second largest island of the Ionian archipelago after Kefalonia, as well as being the most populated with approximately 110,000 inhabitants. Most of its inhabitants are engaged in tourism or agriculture.
- Things To Do in Corfu
- Where to stay in Corfu?
- Typical dishes to taste in Corfu
- How to get to Corfu
Things To Do in Corfu
Visiting Corfu town
The city of Corfu, the capital of the same name, is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece. The architecture and urban planning of its historic centre, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2007, show a charming mix of elements reminiscent of Venice, Naples and Paris.
One of the most visited places is Spianada, the largest square in Greece and one of the largest in Europe. The southern part of Spianada, called Pano Plateia (upper square) by the locals, offers a pleasant walk among statues and historical monuments.
The northern part, Kato Plateia (lower square), is a large meadow that acts as a cricket field, a game introduced during the British Protectorate period. Beyond the lawn is the Palace of St Michael and St George, which houses the Museum of Asian Art, one of the largest collections in Europe: an example of how to consider the capital of Corfu as a true city of art.
At the Spianada overlooking Liston, a paved road with porch buildings, built during the French occupation. The architect was inspired by the famous rue de Rivoli in Paris.
Walking through the maze of streets and squares, you can discover elegant historical buildings, craft shops, modern and traditional cafes, typical taverns and quality restaurants.
In the heart of the historic centre is the church of Agios Spyridonas, patron saint of the island. Inside you can admire a pictorial complex that beautifully covers the ceiling. The Venetian style bell tower, the highest architectural element in the city, is also worth mentioning.
Campiello is the most picturesque district. Its name is a clear reference to the squares of the city of Venice: as in the city of the lagoon, the lanes intertwine to emerge in small squares, including the beautiful Kremastis stalls. To the Venetian architectural elements, an atmosphere reminiscent of Naples is added, with clothes stretched out between the buildings.
The city of Corfu is one of the few examples in Greece where two fortresses remain in excellent condition. The ancient fortress lies to the east of the old city on the top of a promontory and dates back to the time of the Byzantine occupation. Today it is used for musical concerts and cultural events. The New Fortress was built between the 16th and 17th centuries by the Venetians, with the intention of giving the city greater defences. Today it hosts musical concerts and art exhibitions.
Excursions and private tours to do in Corfu
If you wish to complete your trip to Corfu the best option is to take a private tour or excursion, you will be able to enjoy the best of the island and its surroundings with an expert guide. Corfu has a lot to offer, here you will find the best tours to do in Corfu to get to know it and enjoy it to the fullest:
There are many tours and excursions to do in Corfu, if you want to see a more detailed list please visit our dedicated post: Best tours and private excursions to do in Corfu.
The Palace of Princess Sissi
The Achilleion Palace in Corfu is a true oasis of serenity, desired by Empress Sissi to escape the austerity of Vienna, the rigid royal protocol but, above all, to recover from the depression and her psychological crises caused by the loss of her only son, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. The island of Corfu represented for Sissi a refuge in peace and well-being, which is why she chose this uncontaminated place to spend her summers from 1891 to 1898, the year of her death.
The Achilleion was built by the Neapolitan architect Raffaele Caritto, renovating the villa of the Corfiot Petros Brailas-Armenis, often frequented by Sissi, and given to her after the death of the owner.
The building was designed, following the instructions of the empress, in the Pompeian style. The splendid and refined building in white and cream recalls in every respect the classical Greek tradition and the myth of Achilles, whose colossal bronze statue (the dying Achille) symbolically dominates the gardens.
Inside the palace you can admire statues, frescoes, historical objects and personal belongings of the empress, while outside you can walk in the immense and well-kept park of 80 hectares, which includes Doric columns, statues, stairs, fountains, a botanical garden rich in flowers and exotic plants and beautiful balconies with breathtaking views of the sea.
Location, prices and opening hours of the Achilleion Palace in Corfu:
The Achilleion Palace is located about 10 km from the city of Corfu, in the village of Gastouri. You can reach it by bus, number 10 (it drives from the city of Corfu to the Achilleion). You can also arrive with this tourist bus from Corfu and the Achilleion.
From June to August every day from 8:00 to 19:00
From September to May from 9:00 to 15:30
Visit Sidari, the love channel
Sidari is undoubtedly the most romantic resort on the island of Corfu. To make this place fascinating, with an essentially tourist vocation, is the Canal del Amor, or Canal d’Amour, a deep natural inlet that forms a series of bays and channels that represent some of the most beautiful beaches of the island.
According to legend, couples who swim in the channel are destined to get married as soon as possible.
Sidari is a picturesque town that is very lively both by day and by night, one of the favorites of young people, thanks to its lively nightlife, with many bars and clubs on the beach. But what attracts more tourists to Sidari is its geological make-up: a series of high, rocky, sandy walls eroded by the sea and smoothed by the wind in an imaginative, undulating way, to give life to coves, beaches and small natural coves, together with the fascinating crystal-clear, transparent sea with a sandy bottom, magnificent for enjoying the beaches.
Visit the Vlachérna Monastery and Pontikonissi
The Vlachérna Monastery is the true symbol of Corfu Island and the most photographed attraction, especially at sunset, when it is possible to capture truly spectacular colours and hues. This beautiful white church, characterized by the typical bell tower of the Orthodox places of worship, is located on the Kanoni peninsula, about 4 km from the old town of Corfu.
It is located on a small island connected to the mainland by a pedestrian bridge, not far from the airport. Built in the 18th century, the Vlachérna monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Vlahernon. The islet of Vlachérna, from which the monastery takes its name, can be reached on foot in a pleasant one hour walk (more or less). It is an enchanting place, completely surrounded by the crystalline waters of the island.
Within the splendid bay of Kanoni there is also the small island of Pontikonissi, “the island of rats”, which can be reached by boat from the Vlachérna dock. Potikonissi is a small green island, completely covered with pines and cypresses, where you can also find the Byzantine chapel of Christ Pantocrator, from the 12th century. This wild and virgin island was one of the most beloved places of the Empress Elizabeth of Austria. According to Greek mythology, however, the islet of Pontikonissi would be the ship of Ulysses who, on his return from Ithaca, the god Poseidon turned into a rock.
Visit the small town of Pelekas
Pelekas is a small mountain village surrounded by olive trees on the west coast of Corfu, just 12 km from the old town. One of the most impressive views of the island, chosen by Emperor William II to meditate and admire the view, surrounded by the tranquility and serenity in which this place is immersed.
William II, Emperor of Prussia and Germany, spent his summers, between 1908 and the beginning of the First World War, in Corfu, at the Achilleion Palace, choosing it as his summer residence after the death of Empress Sissi. But his favourite activity was walking the narrow streets of the picturesque village of Pelekas.
Once in Pelekas you can climb the Kaiser Throne, the “throne of the emperor”, a perched observatory where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the island of Corfu.
If you can spare a little time, it’s best to go up in the evening when the sunset makes the atmosphere more fascinating. During the day you can visit the beautiful beaches of Glyfada or Pelekas, located just a few minutes away.
Enjoy the most beautiful beaches of Corfu
Among the most visited beaches on Corfu Island are the beaches of Paleokastritsa Bay and the beaches of Sidari Canals. Starting from Corfu Town, there are a couple of beautiful bays that can be reached on foot: the spas of Gouvia, Dassia, Ipsos and Barbati, where you will find transparent waters and beaches very well equipped for tourists.
If you want less touristy beaches you can go further north, where you will find the Kalami bay with the paradisiacal Kerasia beach and the picturesque town of Kassiopi, dominated by its castle perched on the sea, at whose feet are the twin beaches of Batari and Kanoni.
On the west coast of the island of Corfu you can visit “Agios Georgios Pagon Beach”, a long stretch of sand of 5 km perfectly semicircular that frames one of the most beautiful bays of Corfu. For the more athletic, you can climb the rocky promontory that dominates it to admire its characteristic crescent shape.
At the western end of Agios Georgios Pagon is Porto Timones, which includes two beaches separated by a narrow strip of land, one of the loneliest islands, because it can be visited only by boat, or by descending a long steep road of about 30 minutes.
Halikounas beach, in the southwest of the island, is a long and wide beach of about 3 km, a real paradise for surfers and kite surfers. Characterized by golden sand and crystal clear waters, Halikounas beach is actually a long strip of land that divides the Ionian Sea from the shore of Lake Korission, a feature that makes this place unique in the world.
Paleokastritsa or Palaiokastritsa, is one of the most charming areas of the island of Corfu, where nature and its crystal clear waters come together to create what the Greeks themselves call “the most beautiful place in the world”.
What makes this place even more romantic is the mythical encounter between Odysseus and Nausicaa that took place right on one of the beaches of Paleokastritsa, as told by Homer in his Odyssey. Located on the west coast and overlooking the Ionian Sea, Paleokastritsa is an irregular and rocky cove, which offers five bays and six sandy coves. It is a place for everyone, both for families with children looking for sandy beaches, comfortable and equipped, and for young people looking for adventure.
Paleokastritsa is a picturesque village where you can walk, relax in one of its many taverns, cool down with a drink on the beach, buy souvenirs or taste the delicious local dishes. You can also visit for free a monastery located on a promontory overlooking the sea.
You can easily move from one beach to another, using the water “bus” that leaves the port of Paleokastritsa and leads to the discovery of the most hidden destinations of the bay, passing under the caves and inside the granite bays, before stopping at the most beautiful beaches. A quick and easy way to explore especially the beaches not accessible by land, such as Paradise Beach.
Visit Paxos and Antipaxos
The small islands of Paxos and Antipaxos are very close to Corfu, they are an excellent destination to find tranquility, natural beauty and beautiful beaches. During the spring they offer a beautiful spectacle of flowers, birds, butterflies, and routes to do on foot between vineyards and olive groves. Excellent destination very close to Corfu.
Where to stay in Corfu?
Corfu is a fairly large island, the best place to stay depends on your tastes and type of holiday. The best option is undoubtedly the town of Corfu, with its narrow streets, history, shops, restaurants and life in general, is one of the best villages where you can enjoy the life of the island. It is also excellent for its proximity to the airport and the cruise ship/tourist port.
Book hotels and apartments in Corfu
To discover all the places to sleep in Corfu, you can read our dedicated post: Where to stay in Corfu? Best cities, hotels and apartments.
Typical dishes to taste in Corfu
On the island of Corfu you can taste the most typical dishes of Greek cuisine, such as the famous Greek salad, tzatziki, souvlaki, feta and moussaka. Among the gastronomic specialties that cannot be missed in Corfu: the Noumboulo foumikado: smoked pork fillet and sausages; bifteki, a meatball prepared with onions, parsley and garlic; papoutsakia, eggplant stuffed with meat and bechamel; the veal cooked in a casserole with wine sauce, white pepper and garlic; the tyropita, a typical focaccia stuffed with typical products such as Greek cheese.
Not to be missed are dishes based on fresh fish such as stuffed squid, octopus stew in wine, or cod in a spicy red pepper sauce, onion, garlic, salt, olive oil. Among the typical sauces, besides the tzatziki based on yogurt, cucumber and garlic, there is the melitzanosalata, made with eggplant and the taramosalata, made with fish eggs.
The typical drink of Corfu is the Chinese mandarin liquor, obtained from local crops (since 1924 thanks to the botanist Sidney Merlin who brought them from China). You can also taste the delicious Tsitstibira, a drink made with ginger and lemon, another very precious drink is the Ouzo, an aniseed liqueur that is served cold as an appetizer.
How to get to Corfu
The best option to reach Corfu is by plane, with direct flights from the main European cities. The International Airport Ioannis Kapodistrias of Corfu (Code: IATA: CFU, ICAO: LGKR) is only 3 kms from the capital and can be easily reached by bus or taxi. There are also numerous ferries from the main Italian and Greek ports. During the summer there are numerous flights and sea lines that will take you to Corfu. It is one of the easiest Greek islands to visit thanks to its size, importance and proximity to the Greek and Italian coasts.
If you visit Corfu, don’t forget to visit other wonderful Greek islands, here you can get more information:
What to see in Paros – Attractions, towns and beaches
What to see in Santorini
Greek Islands, how many are there and which ones to visit?
Best Tours and Excursions to do in Greece
How to get to Greece