THE ‘GRAND LADY OF THE IONIAN’
A majestic fort, romantic trails and beaches where the vegetation merges with the sapphire sea
Corfu, the Grand Lady of the Ionian, is characterized by a series of mythical images: Nausica, the daughter of King Alkinoos, the man who saved Odysseus when he was shipwrecked in the Country of Phaeacians, which many have identified as the island of Corfu; Sissi, the sad Empress of Austria and the Achilleion palace she built; the majestic Mon Repos, the 19thcentury summer residence built for the British High Commissioner and the Kaiser’s Observatory, from where Wilhelm II looked out upon the iridescent Ionian.
Equally majestic are the iconic city mansions, the Liston Arcade and Spianada Square – the largest in the Balkans. Venetians, English, French, Russians, Greeks all lived and flourished here, and left their mark on the island’s numerous sights and attractions. They composed a diverse culture that you will discover in every musical note of Corfu’s marching bands, in each glass of kumquat liqueur, in the labyrinthine alleyways of Campiello, in every love affair that sparks up in the Canal d’Amour. Corfu – or Kerkyra as it is known in Greek – will certainly seduce you.
Things to do in Corfu
Corfu’s historic centre: a scene out of a classic film
Unesco has declared the island’s historic centre a world heritage site. The stately buildings with neoclassical influences will dazzle you. Who could not be moved by the Palace of St Michael and St Georgiou, the Liston Arcade, the Reading Society, the Catholic cathedral, the Maitland rotunda, the Ionian Parliament and the Kapodistrias family mansion. In the famous alleyways of Campiello, with washing lines hanging above you, and in the opulent hotels with their VIP guests, you will feel like a star in a period movie.
The city’s keepers
On the eastern side of the city, the rocky shore crowned by two low peaks gave the name Koryfo (Κορυφώ) – Corfu (meaning peak) to the island. You enter the Old Fort (Palaio Frourio), built in the 13th century, via a bridge over a seawater moat. It includes the Porta Sopranza, the British barracks, two winged lions of St Mark, the Madonna del Carmine, the Savorgnan bastion, the Tower of Sea and the Tower of the Land (Castel del Mar, Castel della Terra) and the British-built church of St George resembling a Doric temple.
It’s an open-air museum, and each sight is a journey through time. Towering above the northwest border of the capital, the other guardian, the Neo Frourio (New Fort), is a masterpiece of military architecture built by the Venetians between 1572 and 1645. It is a fortress with planes and angles reminiscent of Picasso and Braque’s Cubist periods.
Photogenic attractions: Cannon and Mouse islands
The trademark of Corfu island are actually other islands! They are the diminutive Pontikonisi, which translates as Mouse Island, just large enough to hold the Pantokrator monastery, and right next to it, the famous islet Vlacherna, with its 17th century monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary, connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. Mass is held here on Easter Monday.
Hidden gems of Corfu
Blessed with hillsides thick with pine, cypress and eucalypt forests that tumble down to blue-green seas, Corfu is a nature and beach lover’s dream.
Sail away … to the Diapontia islands
A favourite destination for mariners, the Diapontia islands north of Corfu are ideal for diving and fishing.
Pastitsada (beef in a rich tomato sauce with pasta), sofrito (battered beef cooked in olive oil and wine) and bourdeto (fish stew) are among the regional delicacies you can enjoy in kitchens, traditional tavernas and restaurants. They will enrich your holidays with the aromas and flavours of the Ionian.
The footpaths of Corfu
Get to know the island’s rich flora and fauna and old settlements on foot or by bicycle. Among the hidden gems are Pantokratoras, a lovely spot next to the saltwater lake of Korission in the south and the area around the northern saltwater lake of Antinioti, where you can find wonderful routes that will fill your holidays with unique moments.
The best beaches of Corfu
The ‘Grand Lady of the Ionian’ has countless beaches of unbelievable beauty
How many shades of blue are there? All you have to do is list them as you lay back in your lounge chair and observe the waves breaking. Thirty beaches have been awarded a Blue Flag, adorning the 217 km of Corfu’s coastline with a lush, green background. Except for the awarded beaches, there are many others just as wonderful. We have collected them all here to present to you.
Endless sandy beaches with stunning sandstone formations, as if the sea moulded the sand like a potter. On its western side there are the fjords and the famous Canal d’Amour. The myths have been passed along for generations: as legend has it, if you swim in this natural passage, you’ll find your soul mate. In Sidari there is also a water park that’s fun for all ages, while at the port there are boats ready to take you on daily excursions to the Diapontia islands.
Six beaches, each more beautiful than the next in an area that for decades reigns as Corfu’s queen of tourism. Take note:
Agia Triada: Deep waters with a sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy sea bed. Water skiing, para sailing, boat rentals, bars and restaurants are just some of the facilities and activities you’ll find here.
Alipa: A sandy beach, with big rocks along its northern part. Clean and crystal clear waters. Here you’ll find umbrellas, sun beds, boat rentals and a restaurant, as well as a fishing port.
Agios Spyridonas: The most picturesque and popular of all the beaches in Paleokastritsa, since it looks out at the cliffs. It is fully-organised, and offers all sorts of water sports.
Agios Petros: A beach with both sand and pebbles, it’s ideal for water sports.
Ambelaki: A quiet beach with deep waters and a rocky sea bed. It is fully-equipped with umbrellas, sun beds and boat rentals.
Platakia: Two neighbouring beaches with pebbles, umbrellas, sun beds and a restaurant.
In this village you’ll find more than one beach with sand or pebbles. The biggest –the first one you’ll encounter after the Kaiser Bridge – is fully-organised, with umbrellas, sun beds, water sports, bars and tavernas.
Just a stone’s throw from town and very near the Gouvia marina, you’ll find one of the most developed tourism resorts in Corfu. The beach is impressive: large and sandy, with high standards of service and facilities, hundreds of umbrellas, and a large selection of water sports.
Situated between Ermones and Glyfada, you’ll find the cape of Agios Georgios. On its southeastern side, the area of Myrtiotissa has one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. To get to the beach, you need to have a 4X4 or walk for about twenty minutes. It has refreshing water, golden sand, a vibrant seabed perfect for snorkelling or scuba diving, and a little fresh water stream that flows from the rocks into the sea.
A very popular beach, with shallow waters and fine sand. It has facilities for water sports as well as tavernas.
Myrtiotissa’s neighbouring beach. It’s very busy and popular, with fine sand, surrounded by pine-studded hills, olive groves and villas. It is fully-equipped, including a space for beach volleyball. About 4 km away you’ll find the Corfu Golf Club and the Corfu Horse-Riding Cub. Nearby is the well-known water park, Aqualand.
One of the busiest beaches on the island, located right after Acharavi. It’s fully-organised, with plenty of options for water sports, restaurants and bars.
Right after Kavokefali you’ll encounter Arillas, a large sandy beach with shallow waters. Aside from water sports, it offers many opportunities for hiking, horse riding and excursions to the surrounding areas. The sunset in the nearby village of Afionas is breathtaking.
A thin strip of land separates the beach from the protected Korission lagoon. Leave the sand dunes and walk across the wooden bridge to a rare forest with cedars and orchids. The wind and waves in the area make Halikounas an ideal kite surfing destination.
Agios Georgios Pagon
A beach shaped like a horseshoe, surrounded by rugged cliffs that descend to the sea, creating isolated coves. Deep waters to the right and warm waters to the left – perfect for small children. It’s worth taking a boat ride, canoe or paddle boat to the natural bay of Porto Timoni. Here you’ll find snacks, food, cocktails and water sports, as well as accommodations.
Agios Georgios South
Crystalline, refreshing waters and a beach 8 km long. In the northern part, you’ll find Issos beach with its sand dunes, that extends as far as cedar Forest of Korrision Lake. In the southern part, there are two successive beaches, Marathias and Agia Varvara, perfect for para gliding, scuba diving and other sea sports.
Apraos or Kalamaki
Sand on shore and shallow waters for several metres into the sea. Anyone who wants to swim in deep waters that exceed the knee must walk along the wooden pier that reaches the edge of the continental shelf. Perhaps the best beach on the island for small children.
On the southernmost tip of the Ropa Valley, 3.5 km after Giannades, there is a deep bay with a small sandy beach encircled by green, steep hills. Restaurants, bars, shops and hotels ensure that you’ll have everything you need.
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