Corfu is considered the greenest point on the map of Greece. There you can find sandy beaches, olive groves and blue water, try great cuisine, including ice cream with kumquat, and feel the atmosphere of the noon that fosters relaxation. How to spend a weekend in the sunny and mountainous Corfu?
Geographically, Corfu is the northernmost island of the Ionian Islands, located off the coast of Albania, whose capital is the city of the same name. Kerkyra (Latin name of the island) together with a few smaller islands make up the municipality of Corfu.
Day 1: City of Corfu
What distinguishes the Greek Kerkyra? Certainly the location – right on the shores of the Ionian Sea – as well as history. In the past, it belonged to the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic, France, Great Britain, and the Russian Empire. The influence of so many cultures is still visible today, giving the city a unique atmosphere and architecture. A must see in Corfu is undoubtedly the Old Town situated between two fortresses – the Old and the New. The old town part has been entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is best to start exploring the city from the Spianada Square, which was used as a battlefield during the times of the Republic of Venice. From this place, go towards the Church of Saint Spyridon with its characteristic, tall bell tower. On the way, it is worth going for a Greek coffee or tsitsibira. Numerous cafés can be found on Liston Street. After seeing it, it is absolutely justified to mistake it for Paris. The French commissioner and diplomat Mathieu de Lesseps responsible for the construction of Liston modelled it based on the Rue de Rivoli running parallel to the Seine next to the Louvre. Only a 10-minute walk separates you from the 16th-century New Fortress, which offers a panoramic view of both the Old Town and the island of Vido. It holds a market place just behind the building, where you can buy seasonal fruit and kumquat treats – sweets, jellies, liqueurs and jams.
It is worth considering a visit to Casa Parlante, the museum located in a 19th-century mansion, where you will see what the everyday life of a noble family living on the island was like a hundred years ago. It is also worth mentioning the Byzantine Museum with an impressive collection of icons and the Museum of Asian Art – for lovers of the Far East.
Day 2: Paleokastritsa and Angelokastro
Paleokastritsa, with only 240 inhabitants, is considered one of the most beautiful islands in the entire commune of Corfu. The town is located in the western part of the coast – only 24 kilometres from the city of Corfu. There is a reason why it is often compared to paradise – there is no shortage of sandy beaches, rich vegetation, turquoise water, and caves that can be reached by boat from the Agios Spyridon bay. The beauty of Paleokastritsa in all its glory can be seen in the village of Lakones, specifically from the vantage point located at an altitude of 450 m a.s.l with the evocative name Bella Vista. If you want to know more about the Ionian Sea, visit the Aquarium. It is also a great attraction for children who can observe a variety of marine animals through underwater windows. Moreover, there is the Vrachos restaurant specializing in Greek cuisine that has been operating in Paleokastritsa since 1965. In addition, its terrace overlooks the bay, and, in the afternoon, also the sunset.
From Paleokastritsa, driving first towards Lakones and Makrades and then towards Krini, you will reach Angelokastro. The castle was built on the highest hill in this part of Corfu. Although there remained only ruins from the 13th century building, it is worth visiting it for its dazzling panorama of the Ionian Sea, olive groves, fortifications and the village of Krini. It is worth bearing in mind that the road leading to the destination is narrow and very steep, thus, it is safest to go on an organized trip with an experienced driver.
Day 3: Kassiopi and Old Perithia
It is worth going to the north of Corfu because of Kassiopi, which many consider one of the most beautiful places on the island. It is full of picturesque bays, lush green vegetation and beaches. From Bataria Beach and Kanoni Beach you can see the outline of Albania. The ruins of the castle dominate the town. The Byzantine fortress was fortified by the Venetians. It survived the siege by the Ottoman Turks. Moreover, this place offers a stunning view. In this part of the island, you will feel the refreshing effects of the sea wind, thanks to which the heat is not so bothersome.
If you want to discover the less touristy part of Greece, go to Old Perithia, an abandoned village in the shadow of Mount Pantokrator. At the top of the hill, which is over 900 meters high, there is the Monastery of Christ Pantocrator. It is true that the village looks forgotten and deserted, but it is worth going there for both the peculiar atmosphere and the Ognistra tavern. The restaurant serves classic Corfu cuisine, e.g. tsigareli – a dish of cabbage (or other green leafy vegetables) with tomato, hot red pepper, potatoes with parsley and dill, orange salads, or sofrito – beef in an aromatic garlic sauce.
On the way to Paleokastritsa is the village of Doukades, where Judy Quinn has been running a donkey shelter for over 17 years. These animals are exploited in Greece for heavy farm work. Many of them do not receive proper care from their owners and it is with them in mind that this special place was created - available to tourists every day from 10.00 a.m. to 05.00 p.m.
A palace built in Gastouri (approx. 12 kilometres from Corfu Town) for the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as Sissi. The monarch mourned the loss of the only son of Archduke Rudolf, who on January 30, 1889, together with his mistress Maria Vetsera, committed suicide. A year later - at her request - the construction of a summer residence began. It was to act as an asylum and to commemorate the deceased. The three-storey building represents the neoclassical style, and its extensive and well-kept gardens hold numerous sculptures. The palace is also full of elements referring to Greek mythology.
From the city of Corfu, you can also go on a day trip to the islands of Paxos and Antipaxos. During the cruise you will see, among others, the blue cave of Mouse Island, as well as monuments - the Old Fortress or the Vlacherna Monastery.
Good to know
Where to sleep?
The accommodation facilities in Corfu are well developed. Everyone will find something for themselves - from luxury hotels, through apartments and villas, to private accommodation and campsites. The best solutions are to be found at apartmentscorfu.com. The most important thing is to do your research in advance. In summer, it may not be possible to find a place to sleep without prior reservation.
What to eat?
A traditional dish in Corfu is pastisada - beef in tomato sauce with the addition of cinnamon. The spice gives the meat a unique flavour. It is also worth trying bianco - pieces of fish in garlic sauce with a little lemon juice. The Greek island is also famous for the production of olive oil and unpasteurized Corfu Local Beer. Kumquat ice cream is a good choice for dessert. This orange-like fruit was brought to the Ionian Sea from China by the British.
Did you know, that...
The influences of many cultures are visible in Corfu to this day, thanks to which the city has a unique atmosphere and buildings. In the Old Town, you can feel the Italian atmosphere in the Campiello district full of narrow, winding streets, hanged laundry and numerous cafés and taverns.
Did you know, that...
In ancient times, Corfu was called Kerkyra. The sea god Poseidon abducted the beautiful nymph Kerkyra to the island that was later named after her. To this day, many Greeks use this name.
BUS: There is a transit bus (bus no.15) between the airport and the center of Corfu. In the center, from the San Rocco Square stop, you can go anywhere. Tickets can be purchased from the bus driver. TAXI: Available 24/7, the stop is in front of the terminal building. The journey from the airport to Corfu town center takes approximately 10 minutes and the fare is usually € 10. If you are carrying multiple pieces of baggage, you may be charged an additional fee.