If you’re considering being a first-time visitor of Corfu, the Ionian island featured on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, it’s your lucky day! Here, we will share tips and suggestions to ensure that your first time in this magnificent island won’t be your last.
Rent a vehicle -no, not just the one you think
Sailing adventure - credits: Syda_Productions/Depositphotos.com
Corfu is a big island and figuring your way around can be a demanding task. Public transportation is always a choice, but it will make your life a lot more difficult than it needs to be; no one likes a bus full of sweaty vacationers cramped on top of each other. To make sure that you will wander around the beauties of Corfu comfortably, we highly suggest you rent a car. Driving around the different landscapes of Corfu will give you the opportunity to get to know the island in a more intimate way and discover its nooks and crannies that differentiate it from anywhere else in the world you’ve ever been. Guess what though? A car is not the only vehicle we suggest you rent on this trip. To enhance your stay on the island and experience it in an original way not many visitors do, you should grab the opportunity to rent a boat, exploring Corfu’s beautiful coastline and deep blue sea. You can easily rent a boat without the need of a boat license and become a captain for a day! Alternatively, if you’d prefer to sit back and relax without the responsibility of safe transport bearing down on you, you can take on a Corfu sailing adventure, where you’ll have a captain, along with helpful staff, take you on a tour around Corfu, visit the best beaches the island has to offer and enjoy a sumptuous lunch at Agios Stefanos.
Pick your accommodation carefully
Corfu temple - credits: Remy Musser/Shutterstock.com
Due to the size of the island, it can get tricky to decide where to stay. There is a plethora of beautiful hotels and rooms to choose from, but the most important decision you must make is regarding the area you’re going to pick for your accommodation. If you prefer your time in Corfu to be filled with striking views of the island’s shore and imposing mountains and cliffs, you should choose the northern part of the island, with towns such as Corfu, Gouvia and Agios Stefanos. If you’d prefer a milder, flatland landscape with sublime beaches, you should opt for the south part of the island. Additionally, the southern towns of Sidari and Kavos have the fiercest party scene for all you party animals out there! Kavos is the most intense of the two, however they can both offer a fascinating nightlife experience. All you need to do is be mindful of the fact that Corfu is massive, which means that it can take you up to an hour to go from one place to the other, so depending on what you’re looking for, make sure you choose wisely and avoid spending half your time in Corfu in-between places.
Check out Corfu’s long-lasting heritage
Corfu town - credits: lornet/Shutterstock.com
Wherever you decide to stay in Corfu, the island’s rich culture and heritage will be hard to miss. We know that it is tempting to completely ignore the cultural stimuli in your eagerness to enjoy your time in the sun, nonetheless, it would be a shame to skip the must-see monuments of the island. The Archaeological Museum of Corfu, built between 1962 and 1965, offers an array of artifacts and archaeological finds from the Temple of Artemis in Corfu, while its expansion in 1994 has put on display the more recent finds of the ancient city. The Solomos Museum, on the other hand, provides people with a more contemporary insight into the culture of the island, being a museum dedicated to the life and work of the national poet and creator of the lyrics of the national anthem of Greece, Dionysios Solomos. Located in the house the poet spent the later part of his life, the residence also houses the Society of Corfiot Studies. Achilleion Palace is one of the most popular attractions on the island, being built as a vacation home for the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, following the tragic loss of her only son. Its impressive architectural style resembles an ancient Greek palace, while it was designed with Greek mythology and especially Achilles, a hero of the Trojan war, as the core theme. The Church of St. Spyridon, is Corfu’s most well-known church. Built in the 1580s, it is home of the relics of Saint Spyridon. Apart from its religious significance, the church is of great architectural value as well, with its bell tower being the highest in the Ionian complex of islands. Last but not least, Corfu’s Town Hall is a sight not to be missed. Housed in one of the most important buildings of Corfu constructed across a 30-year span, from 1663 to 1693, it was originally designed for the officers of the Venetian navy. In 1720 this building of Renaissance aesthetic was transformed into one of the most renowned theaters in Greece, ‘San Giacomo’, before being established as the island’s town hall in 1903.
Visit the village of Paleokastritsa
Paleokastritsa beach - credits: Balate Dorin/Shutterstock.com
On the northwestern side of Corfu, lies the historical village of Paleokastritsa. The shoreline of Paleokastritsa is believed to be the place where Odysseus disembarked and met Nausicaa for the first time, according to the Odyssey. Today, Paleokastritsa is a well-known beauty spot of Greece, known for its beautiful beaches and historic monastery, the monastery of Theotokos, built in 1225. Even if you’re not religious, it is still worth paying a visit to the monastery, to admire its impeccable construction, with the interior of the building being a prime example of Greek monastic architecture. The monastery of Theotokos additionally consists of a courtyard, as well as a museum, where you can find on display Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons. On the village, you can come across seven beaches, all of exquisite beauty. The biggest and most beautiful one, but at the same time the busiest, is the beach of Agios Spyridon, attracting a large crowd of visitors and locals. At the other end of the spectrum, Ampelaki beach is the quietest beach of the region, accessible only on foot. Its secluded nature makes it even more idyllic, while it offers the perfect setting for diving, located right next to the diving center of the island.
Explore Corfu Old Town
Different view of Corfu island - credits: Kite_rin/Shutterstock.com
While you’re in Corfu you should take full advantage of the island’s Old Town, a culture-heavy region that has a lot more to offer than its museums. The town’s cobbled alleys and squares combine an old-time charm with a modern elegance. Filled with historic monuments, traditional taverns and galleries, this part of the island covers all needs and tastes. Another point of interest of Corfu Old Town is its impressive architecture that combines Greek, French, Italian and British influences, leaving visitors enthralled by its beauty. One of the most well-known landmarks of the island, located in the Old Town, is the Old Fortress of Corfu. Built in the 16th century, the fort was used as a protection from the invasions of enemies. The fort’s interior has been restored to hold cultural events year-round. At the base of the fort you can find the church of Saint George, built in 1840 for the British soldiers who served in Corfu during the English Protection. In the Old Town you can also find the neighborhood of Liston, built by the French in the early 1800s to faithfully replicate Rue de Rivoli, one of the most famous streets found in the center of Paris. In those times, Liston was accessible only to the island’s aristocracy, while today it’s one of the most popular spots of the island, filled with cafes, bars and taverns for locals and visitors alike. Tip: If you want to make the most out of your time in Corfu, why not engage in a tour aligned with your preferences?
Swim in the best beaches of Corfu
Canal del'amour beach, Corfu - credits: https://greece.terrabook.com
It is argued that the Ionian Sea offers the best beaches found in Greece, with Corfu’s beaches certainly reinforcing this belief. Sidari beach is the best choice for those looking to relax in a fully-organized setting, where you can find umbrellas, sunbeds, bars, restaurants, cafes and tourist shops. Sidari beach is known for its long sandy shore, cold, shallow waters and impressive offering of watersports, making it an ideal destination for not only families with kids, but also adventurous travelers. Our personal favorite, Glyfada beach, is by far the most popular beach in Corfu and for good reason. This striking, long, sandy beach, only 16km away from Corfu’s town center, has been awarded the Blue Flag due to the unmatched clarity of its deep blue waters. The landscape surrounding it is just as magical, with lush greenery and magnificent rocky hills painting a picture of Greek excellence. At the other end of the spectrum, Kassiopi beach is one of the most secluded beaches of the island and the only one with a rocky shore, ideal for fun dives. Due to it being more isolated and quieter than the rest of Corfu’s beaches, it is a local favorite and therefore, a definite must-see. Finally, the beach of Canal del’ amour is, as its name suggests, the most romantic beach of Corfu, famous for hosting hundreds of marriage proposals annually. This true masterwork of nature, located on the north coast of Corfu, attracts many visitors daily, making the early morning the best time to visit it. If you’re up for a fun activity, seek out the caves along the Canal, where you can take on a snorkeling adventure!
Indulge in local flavors
Local dish of pastitsada - credits: https://akispetretzikis.com/
You couldn’t possibly believe we would leave you without tips and suggestions for trying Corfu’s local cuisine? The whole Greeking.me team clutched their pearls at the mere thought of it! Corfu’s cuisine is full of scrumptious offerings, following the secrets of the Mediterranean diet Greece is known for. Don’t miss out on the island’s local flavors and get insight into the local gastronomic culture. Bourdeto, -fish cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with onion, garlic and pepper- sofrito, - beef cooked with garlic and vinegar- pastitsada - red sauce pasta dish featuring veal, beef or poultry – and tzaletia – pastry dough made from maize and wheat flour, fried in olive oil and served with powdered sugar and cinnamon, are only few of the mouthwatering local dishes you’ll have the opportunity to try in Corfu. If you’re a seafood-lover, we suggest you visit Archontiko, for fresh fish dishes that are incomparable in flavor. For meat-lovers, George & Elena's Taverna is the place to be. Known for its delectable traditional dishes, its authentically Greek cuisine will sweep you off your feet! On the occasion that you want to treat yourself to a luxurious Greek meal, Venetian Well offers gourmet choices, beautiful presentation, high quality and impeccable service. To make the most out of your time in Corfu, as well as more bang for your buck, you can also join us on a Corfu food walking tour, where you can indulge in every local flavor there is, in a fun and stress-free way!
Corfu, the northernmost island of the of the Ionian complex of islands, and one of the most popular ones, is a beautifully packaged capsule of Greek culture and heritage. However, it is its vibe, more than anything, that visitors from all around the world get enchanted by. The luscious traditional dishes, the slow pace of life, the Greek hospitality and the beautiful scenery make for a divine combination that is hard to resist.
Book your vacations in Corfu and follow our advice to ensure a flawless trip. You can also join us on a tailor-made tour around the island’s highlights, to effortlessly get an insight into the local treasures. Fill your glass with Kumquat liqueur, the traditional Greek spirit of Corfu, and drink to Greece, our little paradise on earth!