Corfu (Greek: Κέρκυρα, Kerkyra) is the northernmost of the Ionian Islands in Greece. Located off of the far northwest coast of the country, Corfu lies in the Adriatic sea, east of Italy and southwest of Albania. Historically Corfu has been controlled by many foreign powers, notably the Venetians, and British.
Corfu is 62 km long and at its widest point, nearly 30 km wide. The island is formed by two mountain ranges. The northern runs from the west to east and consists of limestones, reached in the Mount Pantokrator (914 m) the maximum height of the island, while the southern mountain range is less high and stretches from north to south. The North of the island is wider and more mountainous. The coastal areas are well developed with good pebbly beaches. However, the northeast coast has always remained a favourite, aka Kensington on sea. It is also where the island's oldest village 'Old Perithia' is just beneath Mt. Pantokrator, a Heritage Protected Site in a designated Area of Natural Beauty. The South of the island is less wide (only a few miles across from west to east) and tends to have sandier beaches.
Towns and villages
- 1 Corfu Town — the largest and most important town on the island. This is where the airport is located and where most cruise ships and long distance ferries dock. It is a small, pleasant city catering well to tourists. Its old town is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- 2 Arillas – A beach resort that still feels like a village, Arillas attracts naturists and is also developing fast as a spiritual spot.
- 3 Benitses - a very old, traditional fishing village. Benitses lies 12 km south of Corfu Town, and leads to the emerald valley. The water of the springs which flow from the mountains of Aghii Deka and Stavros, join together in two small rivers, giving the area the name Pinisse (derived from the ancient Greek word 'Pinio') = Pinitse = Benitses. The mild climate and the natural beauty of Benitses village has attracted a lot of tourists from the beginning of the century. It is only during the last 30 years that tourism has replaced all other sources of income and now is the sole occupation of the inhabitants during the summer season. The coastal road of Benitses is full of hotels, restaurants, cafes and other shops that offering everything the most demanding visitor can ask. Benitses is surrounded by the mountains in one side and the aquamarine waters of the Ionian Sea in the other, this unique combination of nature with the hospitality of the residents, which are very familiar with different cultures, are what make visitors to love the place. 3km to the north there is the famous Achilleion palace.
- 4 Kalami - the village is where the British novelist Lawrence Durrell and his wife Nancy Isobel Myers chose to live from 1935 until the Greek surrender in April 1941
- 5 Kassiopi - One of the more relaxed and atmospheric resorts with a pretty bay and beach that is mostly stony. The waters are crystal clear and calm. Somewhat spoilt by the prevalence of tacky tourist bars and cafes catering to the many English tourists that crowd the town.
- 6 Kavos - a seaside village that is a lively resort popular with young holidaymakers from Britain and Northern Europe.
- 7 Kynopiastes - a traditional village of the Messi Region of Corfu and only 10 km away from Corfu town and airport, which is a must-visit. Old mansions of the 17th to 19th centuries, a marble church, a 17th-century monastery and a museum (and the only one on the island) devoted to the olive tree with one of the world famous restaurants on the island tavern «Trypas», which has hosted Kings ike the Kings of Greece and England, Presidents of Countries like Konstantinos Karamanlis (Greece) and François Mitterrand (France), stars of the European and American cinema and music, like Jane Fonda, and Anthony Quinn. The narrow tiled paths invite you to walk on them, looking at the small squares and at the houses which preserve the traditional colors. The main church is devoted to the Virgin Mary and it is in the central square. It is a traditional church with unique architecture and an impressive marble entrance. Inside, there are frescoes of the 18th century Ionian School of Painting. At the edge of the village there is the monastery of Agia Paraskevi, built in the 17th century.
- 8 Lakones - a typical Corfiot village on the slope of a green hill. You should go for a walk to Bella Vista to admire the view over the bay of Paleokastritsa and relax in one of the picturesque coffee shops. If you like trekking there is a path leading down to Paleokastritsa. The surnames of the inhabitants of the region refer to the soldiers who supported Angelokastro in the late Byzantine period, as well as to refugees from Mani. Among the houses of the 18th and 19th centuries you will find churches and traditional coffee shops. At the central church you will see donations of the first emigrants to America of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- 9 Lefkimmi - a village with a wide long sandy beach that is quiet due to being in the less busy South. There's a practical taverna with a children's playground. The waters are extremely calm and very shallow, even out for quite some distance.
- 10 Nymphes - a big village with a lot of water, green and legends built on a height of 200 m. According to a legend, in old times, the Nymphs used to bathe in the village’s waterfalls. A walk to the wells and the waterfalls is enough to make you understand why this legend exists. It is almost certain that you will come across a nymph, too and if you are lucky, you will see her bathe in the water especially in spring. After your walk to the myths, it is a good idea to visit the premises of the Agriculture Co-operative which elaborates kum-kuat and produces liquor and sweets. You will be offered some for free and you will have the chance to try the different liquor qualities (and of course, buy some, if you like). Just outside the village, you can visit Askitario, a small but historic monastery. According to tradition, the monk Artemios Paissios from Epirus lived here in the 5th century. He is said to have worked many wonders.
- 11 Old Perithia – This is the last remaining Heritage Protected Village on the island. Located in the north east, just below Mt. Pantokrator, the village nestles in a Designated Area of Natural Beauty and records date back to c. 1350. The village is made up of 130 houses and surrounded by 8 churches, it has 4 tavernas and 1 boutique bed & breakfast making ot one of the most unique and unspoiled places to stay and a regular feature of the Durrell Week that takes place around May each year as it's perfect for walkers and those interested in flora, fauna, insects and wildlife. A hideaway from Pirate attacks, the village has views to, but cannot be seen, from the sea, eventually tourism in the late 1960s and 1970s drove villagers towards the coast but it always remained inhabited. Today, locals and visitors alike travel to the village to see the ruins and restorations - the food is 'mountain prices' and often locally sourced. Such is the popularity of the village that Corfiots visit at weekends throughout the winter, to sit around the fires and enjoy the authentic Corfiot dishes. Some of the best beaches on the island are 20 minutes (8 km) drive away so you can enjoy slip away during the day and return to the peace and quiet of 'your own village' as the sun sets over the mountain tops.
- 12 Roda - a village resort on Corfu's northern coast. Traditionally a fishing village, the area has retained its character while developing in to a popular destination for holidays. Unique in the sense that the old village still exists at the heart of the resort, locals mix with the different nationalities who visit time and time again. Roda is a contained resort, without the typical sprawl. There is plenty of accommodation, bars, restaurants which offer a wide range of menus, typical Greek and Corfiot dishes, Italian, Chinese and others. Roda is a relaxed resort but has a good nightlife, with nice bands, singers and comedy shows as well as the ever popular karaoke. If you want a laid back holiday, then Roda is the place, with quiet corners and a beautiful sandy beach, Roda offers something for everyone.
The satisfactory infrastructure and the multiple possibilities for various activities are conducive for group holidays on Corfu and the nearby islands. Motivation trips, congress tourism, school trips, Ferrari or antique cars clubs and Harley Davidson groups meet here every year.
Corfu's nature, sea and history are draws for the visitor. In a place with a tradition in tourism of at least 130 years, with Greek education and the influence of “nobility” from England, France and Venice, in a place which is used to welcoming the international jet-set for several decades now, the possibilities for sports and amusement are certainly impressive.
That said, this also means that Corfu is not the place to go if you look for an authentic Greek experience. Because of the massive influence of tourism, there is nothing of Greece left here. Even the smallest beaches are spoilt by huge resorts, overpriced "traditional tavernas" that serve burgers and English breakfast, have dessert on the menu, and have touts to try to pull you in. Only a few mountain villages are left where you can hide away from tourists and be mainly amongst the Greeks.
Corfu can be a good destination for family holidays. Corfu may not have a Disneyland, children's museums, zoos or other things closely connected with children, but the whole island is welcoming and safe for children. In Corfu there are no tropical diseases and very little danger from criminality, violence, dangerous seas, etc. Children play safely in the streets, in the parks, at the playgrounds and on the beach.
The climate of the archipelago of Corfu is warm Mediterranean. The summer here is warm and relatively dry with a blue sky, often cooled by seasonal breezes, offering the ideal conditions for surfing, while rarely is it interrupted by rains. The mountainous areas are cooler. The winter here is mild. Rainfall occurs mainly from November till March. On average, there are 3000 hours of sun per year with an average daily sunshine duration of 8½ hours.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Spring here is impressive and offers visitors the privilege to enjoy the wealth of vegetation and colours, combined with high-taste tourism.
Easter celebration here becomes the experience of a lifetime.
Summer is the most popular season for Corfu, with beautiful beaches and crystal water for unconcerned hours on the beach.
Autumn is the season of vintage, the period during which the whole island smells of grapes; it may be the best time to get to know the routine of the island.
Christmas and New Year's Day in Corfu is music, hymns, carols, in a quiet, decorated place with a mild climate and a noble finesse.
There are direct ferry links exist from Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi in Italy, Himara and Saranda in Albania and Igoumenitsa and Patra on the mainland (Greece). In 2008, a bunk in a four-person cabin from Venice to Corfu was €107.
By road transport
- By the buses of Corfu KTEL (or Green buses), which connect to Corfu on a daily basis from Athens, Patra, Thessaloniki and other places in Greece.
In your own yacht
You can also moor off at Benitses Marina, which is not far from Corfu town.
There are two types of bus in Corfu - Blue buses serve Corfu town and the environs, Green buses serve the rest of the island.
The Blue bus terminal in Corfu Town is in San Rocco Square. The bus information kiosk displays timetables and provides maps showing exactly where the buses terminate (some terminate a few blocks south of the square). Bus stops have electronic displays, and self-service ticket machines. Tickets are single-journey only and must be validated on the bus. They can be bought from the machines, or from the driver (for €0.50 more).
Useful lines include the number 7 which goes to and from Dasia every 20 minutes (30 minutes on Sundays), the 10 which goes to and from Achilion every two hours, the 6 to and from Benitses (not quite hourly) and the 11 to and from Pelekas every 2–3 hours.
The airport bus is No 19 - check the timetable as frequency varies during the day with some big gaps. It is only a ten-minute ride, and costs €1.10. Number 6 Benitses bus also goes past the end of the airport access road from where it is a 500-m walk to the terminal.
More information about the timetables and routes of Blue buses can be obtained through their website,which is available in multiple languages.
The Green Bus Station is near the New Port, from where buses depart for all villages of Corfu Island. Regular departures to Paleokastritsa, Sidari, Kavos, Roda, Acharavi, Kassiopi.
There are plently of taxi lines in Corfu Town.
- between the Spaniada and the cricket ground.
- at the heart of the shopping center of the town in Methodiou street
- at the Old Port
- at the New Port
- many others in Gouvia, Dassia, Benitses, Ipsos, the Airport etc.
And there is the radio taxi which can be reached by ☏.
You can rent a car at the airport or through one of many local companies. In general, it is cheaper to book a hire car via the Internet before arriving. Many of the roads are very narrow so it can be better to choose a small car. While there is a good road running north-south along the east coast from Sidari to Lefkimmi and from Corfu town across the island to Paleokastritsa, many roads have poor surfacing. Often the insurance provided for hire cars does not cover damage to the underside of the car so watch out for large holes in the road. Hire car companies often provide a free map but you may find it worth buying one in advance as the maps are not especially good, especially for the north-west interior.
- 2 Auto Rent Corfu, Corfu Airport (in the area of Tria Gefyria, within walking distance from the airport of Corfu), ☏ , email@example.com. 08:00 - 00:00. From €10.80/day.
A great way to explore the island and access beaches that can't be easily accessed otherwise is to rent a boat. Most towns have at least one boat rental company and boats up to 30HP do not require a licence to hire.
In the city traffic is pretty wild and noisy.
An automatic bike sharing scheme, called EasyBike Brainbox was available to rent bicycles. As of April 2014 the system looked pretty dysfunctional.
By quad bike
There is nothing better than renting a quad bike and driving round the villages, it's a lot of fun and a lot quicker than walking!
The Achilleion is a palace in Corfu Town.
There is a good variety of beaches on Corfu. On the West side of the island, the beaches are sandier while the East tends to have calmer waters. The north-east coast is also home to most of Corfu's upmarket holiday villas. Nudist beaches  are also there in quite a number.
- 1 Sidari. A fair-sized resort dominated by British tourists. At one end of the beach is the "Canal de l'Amour": sand stone cliffs with narrow inlets, a natural archway and small paths to explore.
- 2 Dasia and Ipsos. A narrow stony beach with relatively calm waters. The resort runs along the road so there's a good variety of shops and tavernas.
- 3 Glifada. A long wide sandy beach with fairly rough waters.
- Pelekas beach. Also a nice sandy beach.
- San Stefanos beach. A long beautiful beach on the north west of the island, very good for sunbathing as there is loads of sunbeds.
- 4 Barbati beach. Crystal clear!
- 5 Chalikounas beach. A very long, virgin stretch of land, caught between Chalikiopoulos' Lake and the Adriatic sea. The natural landscape here is unique, it is a great place to get away from the world and just enjoy both sea and sun.
- Issos beach. Next to Chalikounas, again on the southwest of Corfu, this beach has a desert motive, because of the high sand hills right next to the seashore. Bring your bike and enjoy the terrain, or just enjoy the panoramic view from high above.
- 6 Prasoudi beach. High cliffs hang over your head, clean waters and a mix of sand and pebbles. A remote beach that will not leave you unsatisfied.
- 7 Mesongi beach.
- 8 Aqualand, Agios Ioannis (from Corfu Town: Blue Buses No.8 (Corfu Town – Afra/Agios Ioannis); Aqualand is the final stop of the No.8 bus route from Corfu Town to Afra/Agios Ioannis; the bus stop is approximately 100 m from Aqualand’s entrance), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 10:00-18:00. One of the biggest water parks in the world. Equipped with 51 slides, pools and a wide variety of other games.
- Walk the Corfu Trail. Corfu is an ideal location for a keen walker. The North is fairly rugged with Mt. Pantokrator, the highest mountain, and beneath it Corfu's oldest village, Ano (Upper) Perithia. At the other extreme is Korission Lake in the South; an inland lake, separated by a thin sand bar from the sea. The Corfu Trail is a 222-km long distance footpath covering the full length of the islands. The route is well signed and a book accompanies the trail, there is also an introduction, history and walking guide for Old Perithia, Corfu's oldest village which you pass through on the Corfu Trail.
- Meditation. There are several meditation centres on Corfu, and many people practicing massage and giving all kinds of sessions, from deep tissue massage to craniosacral and psychic massage.
- Massage. There are many people practicing massage and giving all types of sessions, from deep tissue massage, relaxation, Reiki therapy. One centre is Arillas in the north west of the island but there are also places in and close to Corfu town offering courses and sessions as well as mobile massage therapists who come to your villa, apartment or boat/yacht.
- Yachting. There is a lot of yachting going on in Corfu and the Ionian, it's an ideal spot due to calm weather conditions, Magic Islands, and fun people. Corfu and Ionian in general is an ideal place for sailing and yachting with steady fair winds all summer long. Motoryacht Pyewacket is the newest addition in Gouvia Marina, it's a 20-m motor charter yacht made by sunseeker with two professional UK/Dutch Crew members on their third season in the Ionian. Another operator is the Discovery Yachting offering yachts for sailing in the Ionian.
Eat at Agni Bay either in the evenings or during the day, arrive on foot or by boat, there are 3 places to eat on the beach all excellent, some of the best food ever. Water taxis run some evenings from some of the surrounding villages. Very romantic, but prices are high here. A very special place to be. As featured in Gerald Durrells ' My Family and Other Animals'
- Klimataria or Grapevine, benitses (opposite blue bus stop in benitses), ☏ . 19:00-23:00. If you aren't a seafood fan then this restaurant might not appeal to you as there are limited alternatives, although there is a good selection for vegetarians. Its a family run business and the setting, a very old building, must be the most photographed building in Benitses. Eat early to get a table as the locals rarely eat before 22:00. €10-40 pp.
- To Fagopotion, Agios Stefanos. Worth visiting but praise in the Guardian newspaper in 2008 (ostentatiously displayed at the entrance) may have gone to chef Christos Vlachos' head. Don't let him bully you. Some of the cooking is good, some is ordinary, and some has the feel of leftovers from the night before.
See Greece#Buy for general information on money, ATMs, credit cards and shopping.
As elsewhere in Greece, olive wood, ceramic and leather goods are common. In addition to many tourist shops in places such as Corfu town, you will find small shops along some of the more major roads, often combined with the factory/workshop. In some remoter areas, you may find locals selling locally produced wine, honey and olive oil from small street-side stalls.
Gingerbeer. Corfu was a British protectorate and gingerbeer is one of the British style drinks that the locals adopted with enthusiasm. The Greek version is simply excellent. Ask for it at Liston or better restaurants and coffee houses. Locally it is called "Tsitsibeera"
Corfu Beer. In Arillas, in the north of Corfu there is the Corfu Microbrewery. They produce four different kinds of beer, all of them unpasteurised (so they have to be drunk within a couple of months of their production) and all of them delicious! They are so good that they were selected by J.D. Wetherspoon to produce Koroibos Beer, exclusively for the London Olympics. You can visit the brewery and have a taste of their beers. Better give them a call in advance at ☏ .
Corfu has countless options for accommodation - from 5 star hotels in Corfu town to spare rooms you will only find by asking around as well as many private villa, a nudist hotel and vacation rentals that are typically booked in advance or online. With so many people staying in Croatia and other hot spots, accommodation in Corfu is plentiful, but note that most of the accommodation is in the coastal areas - budget hotels are not so easy to find in Corfu Town.
- 1 Belmare Corfu hotel (Corfu luxury hotel) (Kassiopi village). A friendly family-run hotel close to Avlaki beach of Corfu island.
- 2 Zambeta Apartments (Zambeta Apartments Arillas), Arillas, Corfu 49081 (Located in Arillas, 300 meters from the beach), ☏ , email@example.com. Zambeta Apartments is a small, family-run pension in Arillas. 300 m from the beach, near the center of Arillas but still quiet, with a beautiful garden. Clean, light and spacious apartments for couples or singles. Two meditation centres within 1 km, a third one at 3 km. From €30.
- 3 Hotel Corfu Secret, Agios Markos, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. From €45.
- 4 Corfu Santa Barbara (Corfu Santa Barbara), Perivoli (South Corfu), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- 5 Palms and Spas, Corfu Boutique Apartments, Messonghi Beach (18km from Corfu Town), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Elegant apartments within olive groves and palm trees, overlooking the Ionian Sea. The accommodation has Suite rooms (with private outdoors jacuzzi/hot-tub, living-room) and smaller quaint Studios; all have sea views and Messonghi beach is just 100 m/5 min away. Free Wi-Fi in the rooms and parking on site. From €39/night.
- 6 River Studios & Apartments, Messongi (Bus servise or taxi), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. River studios & apartments for two people, or group of friends. Rooms equipped with TV, air conditioning, kitchenette, fridge, bathroom. Swimming pool for guests available. €40.
- 7 Corfu Villa Lefki, Chalikouna beach. Villa on a unique virgin beach, next to St. Matthew village in the southwest of the island.
- [dead link] Family Studios, Marathias Beach. Budget studios and apartments run by very friendly family and staff, on the sea front of Marathias beach.
- Govino Bay Hotel, Gouvia 491 00, ☏ , email@example.com. In front of Gouvia Bay. Most of the resort is covered by green gardens, olive and palm trees. The complex is built amphitheatrically, with buildings of four to five apartments each one, all scattered around.
- Hermes Apartments Dassia, Dassia (Opposite the Chandris Hotel), ☏ .
- Kaiser Bridge Hotel, Benitses, ☏ , , fax: . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Hotel Kaiser Bridge is on the beach, 9 km (6 mi) to the south of Corfu Town, between Perama and the picturesque fishing village of Benitses. 10 m from the beach, the hotel has breathtaking views of the shorelines of mainland Greece, Pontikonissi and of course of the famous Kaiser’s Bridge, once used by Queen Sissi to access Achillion Palace, which is situated just 1.5 km (0.9 mi) above the hotel in the village of Gastouri. Jorgos and the rest of the family where great hosts. Lowest price: €18 depending on the season.
- Lena Mare Hotel Apartments, Acharavi, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Lowest price: €40.
- [dead link] Marlina Corfu Villas, Kommeno. At Kommeno bay, 8 km from the airport.
- Pantokrator Hotel (northeast of Corfu town, next to Barbati). Panoramic views over the southern part of the island.
- Saint Nicholas Hotel, Gouvia, Corfu, ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00.
- The Pink Palace, Agios Gordios Beach, ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 24 hr, check-out: 09:00. A backpacker spot, the hostel offers free transportation from the ferry by their pink bus, and new arrivals are given a shot of pink liquor. Activities offered at the Pink Palace include a Kayak and ATV rental, as well as a number of guided activities such as other island excursions. Most other activities on offer (of which there are plenty) revolve around drinking - the booze cruise for example (jump off the big rock naked and get free beer) and the hostel's own club - packed out during the summer months. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price of the room. Dorms from €17; single rooms from €30/45 low/high season.
- Sunrock (on the West Coast, down the cliff from Pelekas). Sunrock is a low-key, relaxed place, just up from Pelekas beach. Many people find themselves here in order to escape from the incessant partying down the coast, yet Sunrock has a bar and is often full of young people with a less commercially oriented party in mind. A shuttle is normally offered to carry passengers from the port, and during warmer months daily scooter rentals are available.
- The Merchant's House Boutique Bed & Breakfast (The Merchant's House), Old Perithia (in Corfu's oldest village in the north-east of the island), ☏ . Check-in: 14:30, check-out: 11:00. There are six suites in beautifully restored houses dating back to 1828, providing a unique accommodation in a Heritage Protected Site (dating back to the 14th century) and area of natural beauty beneath Mount Pantokrator (the island's tallest mountain). from 135.
- 8 Castelli Cottage, Acharavi, Fourni, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Castelli cottage is a traditional 150-year-old stone house, that was restored and renovated. The guesthouse is in a green natural environment among old olive trees and cypresses, with a spectacular view to the northern coast of the island and to the off-coast island of Othonoi.
Day trips to Paxi are widely available.
Day trips to Sarandë in Albania are also very popular. This is usually combined with an excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint which is to be highly recommended! A tour of the Albanian Riviera is a must!