Used as the backdrop for epic tales by both Homer and Shakespeare, the island of Corfu, or Kerkyra, continues to attract weary travelers looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The sight of its lush green landscape speckled with wildflowers is enough to melt any ounce of stress. The scent of olives and citrus carried by the wind from nearby groves is enough to refresh anyone from the inside out. And ... continue»
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The best times to visit Corfu are the spring and fall. Although there is never really a bad season in the Mediterranean, you'll find that winter temperatures are too chilly to swim off the shores of Corfu, while the summer months draw hordes of tourists. The shoulder seasons, however, offer warm, sunny weather and plenty of open (and bargain-priced) hotel rooms, not to mention some exciting special events like Carnival.Best Times to Visit Corfu»
Sitting in the Ionian Sea several miles west off of Greece's northwest coast and Albania's southwest coast, Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian Islands. This T-shaped island -- with an area of approximately 229 square miles -- is home to several small towns and villages, the most prominent of them being Corfu Town, the island's main commercial hub, which is perched along Corfu's central-eastern coast.
Corfu (Kerkyra) Town is often the first place visitors see when arriving, as well as the island's main tourism center. Because of its position on a peninsula between two ancient fortresses, Corfu Town has played an important role in Greek history since the 8th century and continues to be a vivacious center for Mediterranean culture.
Perched on Corfu's east coast, the town is home to the majority of Corfu's attractions, hotels and restaurants; it's also the island's primary seaport. Corfu Town is separated into northern and southern sections with the historical district -- Old Town -- located to the north. The borders of Old Town are marked by the Spianada, a large park overlooking the Old Fortress (Palaio Frourio), on the east side of town and the Neo Fruorio, or New Fortress, to the northwest. Although the winding streets can be rather confusing, writers say that Corfu Town is easy to navigate when using popular points of reference, such as the Spianada, the Neo Fruorio and Plateia San Rocco, a large square which marks the center of the city.
Old Town is the site of the majority of Corfu's tourist attractions, including the forts, top-notch museums (such as the Byzantine Museum and the Archaeological Museum) and the famous Church of Agios Spiridon, which houses the embalmed body of Corfu's patron saint, Ag. Spiridon. Corfu Town is also speckled with traditional Greek restaurants, shops and cafés. If you're looking for a wild night, Corfu Town's numerous bars make it the place to be once the sun goes down.
The central strip of the island is dotted with small towns hidden amongst the lush green landscape or along the golden beaches of the west coast. If you find yourself tiring of Corfu Town, take a daytrip to one of these quaint locations for a bit of rest and relaxation.
Located a little more than five miles west of Corfu Town, the village of Pelekas sits high atop "Kaiser's Throne." Tucked just far enough inland to avoid crowds, the village of Pelekas offers a peaceful setting and magnificent island views. It is also home to several small reasonably priced guesthouses and charming tavernas.
Glyfada -- only four miles west of Pelekas -- is primarily a resort town with numerous waterfront hotels and bars. Renowned for having what experts say are the most beautiful beaches on Corfu, Glyfada is a popular spot for watersports since the waves can often be a bit too rough for swimming. If you are planning to stay in Glyfada in July and August, experts recommend making reservations well in advance.
About four miles north of Glyfada is Érmones, one of the busiest resort towns on the island. Sandwiched between the beach and the Rópa River, Érmones is home to the luxurious Érmones Beach Hotel, as well as numerous high-end restaurants and tavernas. This area is popular for swimming and other watersports, but it's also good for hitting the links. The area's Corfu Golf & Country Club is the only golf course on the island and according to some, one of the best in the Mediterranean.
Less than 10 miles south of Glyfada is the town of Agios Gordios, which sits along a wide stretch of sand and is framed by rock formations. The town itself -- a street dotted with touristy restaurants, convenience stores and souvenir shops -- runs perpendicular to the beach. Agios Gordios is popular with backpackers due to the infamous Pink Palace, a hostel with resort-like amenities, including a volleyball court, a Jacuzzi, a nightclub and a "booze cruise" complete with clothing-optional cliff-diving. Every night is like a party. According to Let's Go Ionian Islands, "Nights at the Palace are not for the faint of heart, or the weak of liver."
The northern section of Corfu is, according to travel writers, the most typically Greek part of the island, complete with tiny villages and mountainous scenery. It's popular with outdoorsy travelers because of its dramatic cliffs, pebbly beaches and the immaculate Mount Pantokrator, whose summit towers nearly 3,000-foot above northeast Corfu and offers spectacular views of the island as well as the coast of the mainland. Many of the towns along Corfu's northern coast have cashed in on the popularity of resorts and can now compete with Central Corfu in terms of accommodations.
Located just more than18 miles north of Corfu Town along the island's eastern coast is the small town of Kalami, formerly home to Corfu's most famous literary resident, Lawrence Durrell. Visitors to Kalami are welcome to check out Durrell's former residence, the White House, which has since been transformed into a top-notch restaurant. However, aside from the White House, a couple tavernas and a few small hotels, Kalami has little to offer tourists aside from its proximity to Mount Pantokrator.
Another several miles north along the northeast coast from Kalami is Agios Stefanos, a small beach town. The wide sandy shores acts as the jumping-off point for parasailers and boaters, and the town's several small tavernas offer tasty meals stave off hunger after an active day. Although there is not enough activities in Agios Stefanos to last more than a day, those who decide to hang their hats in this town can find small hotels with reasonable rates.
Continue to drive approximately three miles from Agios Stefanos around Corfu's northeastern tip and you'll find yourself in Kassiopi, a fishing village that has become a popular resort location. Kassiopi has maintained its ultimate getaway status by promoting fashionable accommodations, multi-cuisine tavernas and a wild nightlife scene. The town's five beautiful beaches are also a big draw.
Acharavi, Rodha and Sidari
The three towns of Acharavi, Roda and Sidari -- all located along Corfu's northern coast -- have become major resort towns often dominated by European tourists. Despite being somewhat overcrowded and slightly dirty, the beaches are still popular in these towns, as are the café-lined, winding streets and numerous tavernas and shops.
It is off the coast of Paleokastritsa where, Homer's Nausicaä discovered the shipwrecked Odysseus. Located along the northwest coast approximately 12 miles from Corfu Town, experts say that the beaches and coves of Paleokastritsa are the oldest and most beautiful on the island. The town itself is trapped in history; vendors sell crafts along a beach guarded by the 13th century Panagia Theotokos Monastery.
Boats are available for hire for intrepid snorkelers who want to see the underwater scenery. If you'd rather stick to dry land, travel sites suggest exploring the area caves -- tours are available in English -- and the Angelokastro, the town's castle. The Angelokastro is located approximately four miles north along the coast and makes for a great hiking destination.
Corfu's southern tail is only several miles wide and home to both beautiful beaches and quaint Greek settlements. This thin stretch of island has caught the attention of tourists looking to catch some rays on the beach or escape the activity of northern and central Corfu's busier towns and resorts.
Sandwiched along a narrow strip of land between the Ionian Sea and the Korrission Lagoon -- a place popular with nude bathers -- the water is Issos' main attraction. Travel sites say Issos is ideal whether you're looking to work on your tan or your windsurfing skills. However, accommodation and restaurant options are very limited here.
Welcome to traditional Greece. Sitting on Corfu's southern tip, the town of Lefkimi has managed to maintain an authentic atmosphere despite being the island's second-largest settlement. Lefkimi is the south's administrative hub as well as the island's alternative port, with ferries to Igoumenítsa (on mainland Greece) passing through several times a day. Like Corfu Town, Lefkimi is known for its architecture with several stunning churches -- Ayii Anaryiri, Ayios Theodhoros and Ayios Arsenios -- dominating the skyline.
About five miles south of Lefkimi near the southernmost point of the island, Kavos overflows with bars and clubs -- many named after British pop culture sensations -- which cater to night owls. During the day, Kavos' beach offers watersports galore. If you'd rather spend the day on land, Kavos has no shortage of extreme sports from go-karting to bungee-jumping. Because Kavos caters to a younger demographic, room rates and restaurant prices are a bargain-lover's dream -- at the expense of peace and quiet.
TripAdvisor says, "Despite growing crime rates, Corfu is still one of the safest, major tourist destinations in Europe." Still, make sure to exercise extra care of your belongings at heavily touristed areas and at resorts.
The best way to get around Corfu depends on where you spend most of your time. If you plan on staying in Corfu Town, your own two feet should suffice; although public buses are available should you grow weary. For those of you itching to explore, the most convenient way to get around will be by car or by moped. Although KTEL buses service most of the island, their schedules are often sporadic. They also don't operate routes to the Corfu International Airport (CFU), so you'll have to spend about €12 EUR ($16 USD) on a taxi. Once you're in Corfu Town, you should have no trouble tracking down a car rental agency.Getting Around Corfu»