Corfu Island

This sun drenched cosmopolitan island combines the needs of the modern tourists, with natural beauty and history. Mentioned in Homers Odyssey, the island is where Jason and his Argonauts, sought refuge here after their epic voyage in search of the Golden Fleece. Countless numbers of artists and writers have extolled Corfu ’s beauty in paintings and literature. The island has been under the control of many states, from the Romans, Byzantines, Turks and the British amongst others. The island eventually returned to Greece in 1863.

Welcome to the magnificent island of the Phaeacians, the second largest island, in respect to size, of the Eptanissos group of islands, after Kefalonia, but the first in preference of not only the Greeks, but also of the foreign tourists. A stroll through the beautiful narrow pathways of the town is enough to enchant you, how much so, if you visit some of its stunning beaches…

It combines one of the most beautiful and historical cities, of archaeological interest with innumerous attractions, magnificent beaches and a very well developed tourist infrastructure, not to mention the many natural riches.

There is also no lack of choice for dining, or for nightlife, and a combination of all these elements, establish the island of the Phaeacians as one of the most popular tourist destinations. It offers choices for all types of visits: from family-orientated trips or for those who request a quiet vacation, to the younger crowd who choose more extreme rhythms and night entertainment.

The picturesque villages and the development of alternative forms of tourism, give the tourists the possibility to visit Corfu all throughout the year. Furthermore, a visit to the island during the Easter period will remain unforgettable, for it is the one of the most distinguishing islands, depicting Easter traditions, in all of Greece.

Corfu is possibly the most beautiful destination for holidays in Greece. It is located in the northern end of the large islands of the Ionian Sea, and it is the largest in size, after Kefalonia. The island is sickle-shaped and occupies the exact inlet, which connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian.

 

Its mythical past is rich with the influence from the Enetian occupation, and is felt in every corner. The modern way of life today continues to blend harmoniously with the landscape. One of the basic “supplies” a tourist must have in Corfu is the luxury of time, as one will not know what to admire first, and which locations to first visit. The need for a vacation to relax is transformed into one never ending stroll throughout the island, which eventually winds up at the Enetian ruled town of Corfu.

The town of the Enetians, the Achillion Palace, the Mon Repos, the temple of Artemis, and the temple of Apollo, are just some of the traces left behind on the island, by the past, the one more historical than the other. For one to choose what is more impressive seems impossible. By the above description, perhaps you now have a misled impression that Corfu is only about its past. On the contrary, its deep blue beaches, the hotel complexes offering all the modern comforts, and its raging nightlife are only some of the “modern” fascinations one may find on Corfu.

Corfu is able to fulfill everyone’s tastes – it is an island for all ages, and for all budgets. The only thing needed is the desire, and the time to explore it.

History of Corfu

Corfu, during the Paleolithic age was connected with the mainland, and with the end of the ice age, when the sea level was raised, it became an island during the Neolithic period [10,000-8,000 B.C.]

  1. During the Andegavo rule on the island, when on 1267 Charles Andegavo, the French King of Sicily seized the island, the division of the island into four districts took place, and this division still exists to this day. These are as follows: Giros, Oros, Mesi and Lefkimmi regions. During that period, the persecuted Spanish, Jews and Vagenetes from the coastal area of the mainland, settled, and worked in hard labor. With the fear of threat from Turkey, Corfu requested the assistance of the Venetians, and as a result, on May 20th 1386, found itself under its rule [the flag of Saint Marcos was hoisted on the Old fortress]
  2. During the Enetian rule, which lasted 4 centuries, Corfu met prosperity in trade and agriculture, as well as in spiritual and artistic life. While all of the remainder of Greece lived under the Turkish burden, Corfu, with prosperity in the intellectual and artistic fields, comprised a strong attraction for those associated with the arts, living in the rest of Greece. Nevertheless, the social problems encountered between the noble and the working classes were not few, and many times these lead to uprisings.
  3. On March 21st in 1800, The Eptanissos state is instituted, and Corfu is re-united with the remaining islands in the Ionian. In 1807, France, under Napoleon’s rule, dominates the island until 1814, when the Ionian Academy and Library are founded.
  4. The Ionian Academy is the first Greek University. In 1814, the Eptanissos State declares independence from the protection of the British and this period becomes a rather significant one: the economy flourishes, road networks are constructed, the Ionian Academy [1824] is re-established, and the Greek language is established as the official language. The British depart in 1864, when the Eptanissos state unites with the remainder of Greece.

Its difficult course however does not end here, for until the end of the 60’s, Corfu is met with many disasters. From then and after, it begins to flourish yet again, due to the development in tourism. However, tourist interest in Corfu exited very much earlier: a characteristic example is that of Princess Sissy, who in 1890 chose Achillion to stay.

Corfu Town (Kerkyra)

Situated on a promontory, Corfu Town is divided in two half’s, the northern and southern areas. The northern or old town is the largest, still functional medieval city in Greece . With the streets and lanes that meander around the town, lined with old houses dating from the Ventian period, it is a delight to explore on foot. The new town is with its wide avenues with large squares make a delightful contrast. The architecture of the town is of various styles due to the influence of successive foreign occupiers. There are two fortresses on either side of the town, the old Ventian Fortress (Sea Fort), separated from the town by a moat, and the new Ventian Fortress (Land Fort) situated above the old harbour. The town has everything a tourist can wish for, tavernas, shops selling a wide range of products, and interesting sights.

Sightseeing in the town

The Archaeological museum has exhibits from around the island. The Museum of Asiatic Art has a collection of Asian and Oriental art from the Neolithic era to the 19 th century. The Cathedral this splendid building contains the remains of St. Theodora Augusta as well as some fine Byzantine icons. The Old Palace this 19 th century building was the housed the governors of the British Protectorate from 1814 to 1863. The church of St. Spyridon where the remains of the islands patron saint rest in a silver sarcophagus decorated with precious stones. On Feast days, the casket is born through the town. The town has many interesting sights waiting for you to discover.

Northern Corfu

Dasia and Ipsos are wholly tourist areas though they have popular beaches.

Strinylas is a charming village, where one can take the road to Mt. Pantokrator the islands highest mountain, which offers fantastic views.

Nikati and Agni are small hamlets built around small coves.

Kalimi is well- known for its connections with the Gerald Durell and his brother Lawrence. Gerald the well-known writer, naturalist, and Lawrence a well-known author and playwright, lived in the “White House” situated on the waters edge, the house today is a restaurant. Agni has some excellent tavernas serving delicious food.

Kassiopi a pleasant summer resort built around a harbour.

Agios Stefanos near Arilas has a long sheltered beach. From here, you can take a boat to the Diapondia islands, ideal for those who like solitude.

Southern Corfu

Mon Repos Villa , on the Kanoni Peninsula was the place of birth of Prince Phillip, (Queen Elizabeth’s spouse). The beautiful grounds are open to the public as well as the Villa, which now houses the Museum of Palaeopolis , on display is the history of the estate as well as the history of the ancient city of Corcyra , which once stood on the peninsula.

Gastouri near the village is Ahillion Palace , in the 1890s it was the summer residence of Empress Elizabeth of Austria , the niece of King Otho of Greece .

Benitses, Moraitika and Messonghi are the usual package tourist resorts, with bars, nightlife etc,

Western Corfu

Moni Theoutokou, this charming monastery founded in the 13 th century, there is an added bonus of a taverna where one can sit and partake in a glass of wine and enjoy the fabulous views over the area.

Paleokastritsa is a large resort with coves, beaches and grottos and is especially charming, small boats make trips to the more secluded coves, beaches and grottos.

Lakones, Makrades and Krini , these small villages have many nice restaurants where one can take a good meal and relax from the days activities. Near the village of Pelakas is the Kaisers Throne, and from here you can enjoy spectacular sunsets.

Glyfada, Pelakas are popular resorts with the package tourist.

How to get there

By air

Aegean airlines flies twice daily, a morning and afternoon flight from Athens, the trip lasting 45 minutes, and prices start at 39 euro per way, but you must make a booking at least 15 days earlier. There is no direct flight from Thessaloniki with Aegean, only via a connection through Athens, and prices commence from 73 euro per way.

Olympic airlines also have 2 flights daily from Athens and one direct flight daily from Thessaloniki, except on Sundays and Mondays. Prices start at 138 euro per return ticket.

At the same time, during the peak tourist period, there are many charter flights which connect the island from various European cities.

With Hydroplane

Another original option is to fly via hydroplane from Patra, from where a number of flights depart daily during the peak tourist season. The prices for a one way ticket start at 90 euro and reach 140 euro, depending upon the availability and how early on you reserve your ticket. Should you choose this mode of transport, you will depart from the port of Patra and arrive at the Marina in Gouvia in Corfu in one hour. You may see more detailed information at the following site www.airsealines.com

By Road

you may also reach the island of the Phaeacians via Ktel regional bus, from Athens, as there are 4 regular schedules daily, and the trip lasts 9,5 hours, and the ticket costs 44 euro, which is inclusive of the ferry boat crossing. From Thessaloniki, there is only one daily timetable which departs at 09.00 am and the journey last in total 9 hours, whilst the ticket costs 42, 40 euro.

By Private car

you may reach this island via ferry boat from Igoumenitsa, in 1 hour and 45 minutes. There are a sufficient number of timetables daily, and for more detailed information, you may call the port authorities at Igoumenitsa. Other options include the ferry from Patra [6-7 hours], from Sagiada [1 hour], as well as from various locations from Italy.

Useful Tourists Information

USEFUL CONTACTS TELEPHONE NUMBER

KTEL Corfu- Long distance Bus: (+30) 26610 28911/12
KTEL Corfu- Local buses: (+30) 26610 31595
KTEL Athens – Long distance Bus: (+30) 210 5124910
KTEL Thessaloniki Long distance Bus: (+30) 2310 595409
RadioTaxi: (+30) 26610 41333/38071
Tourist Management Office for the prefecture of Corfu: (+30) 26610 89200
Tourist Police: (+30) 26610 30265
Corfu Airport: (+30) 26610 89600/89603
Corfu Port Authorities: (+30) 26610 40002
Olympic Airlines: (+30) 26610 38187
Aegean Airlines: (+30) 26610 27100, 801 11 20000
AirSea Lines International S.A. (ATHENS-GREECE): (+30) 210 940 2880

Getting around the island

Just like for the other larger islands, the ideal mode of transport for Corfu is for one to have their own private car or motor-bike so as not to rely on the regional bus service, Ktel, something which may lead to discomfort and enough wasted time in waiting for timetable departures. An equally good solution, if you do not want to bring your own car, is to rent a car locally.

Where to stay

Corfu, which is possibly the most popular destination in the Ionian, especially for the foreign tourists, comprises of a large selection of lodging possibilities, from hotels in all categories, to rental rooms, bungalows, and even camping sites. At whichever location you choose to stay, the choices are many, and they are entirely dependant upon the way you choose to spend your holidays: at some deluxe tourist resort, where the prestige and luxury makes you feel wonderful, in detached apartments, where in any case, will only be used for a quick shower, as during the day will be spent exploring the island, or in a camping ground, if you wish to be in closer contact with nature.

Provided you choose to stay in the town of Corfu, a boutique hotel at Spianada square, the Arkadion hotel, which operates throughout the whole year, is ideal for a central location in town. Another boutique hotel, the Bella Venezia, also operates throughout the whole year, but is disadvantaged in that it does not offer a view towards Spianada square, in comparison to the Arkadion. If however, you require the greatest amount of luxury for your vacation, then we could only recommend the Corfu Palace, which is situated at Garitsa bay, and is open throughout the year. Since its renovation, it now offers a beauty and health center, as well as a conference hall, and its swimming pool is situated amidst a very beautiful garden.

Another good option is the boutique hotel Siorra Vittoria, recently renovated, with its Venetian character. Its furniture has been specially ordered from Milan, and you will have the chance to enjoy your breakfast, or a drink in its garden. It offers 9 luxurious rooms and suites, each one with its own individual name, with central cooling/heating, satellite television with LCD screen, DVD, as well as internet facilities: you will favor it, if you don’t like to be separated from technology, even on vacation, despite it not being the most economical solution.

If you find yourselves at Agios Ioannis Persiteron, which is located 15 kms away from Corfu town, then consider the Marbella hotel, a hotel with bungalows which extend over green surroundings. Do not miss the stunning view that may be enjoyed whilst enjoying your breakfast or dinner. You can easily reach the organized beach which is situated directly below, via a bridge. There you will have the choice, apart from sunbathing and swimming, to indulge in some water sports.

At Aharavi, located 7 kms from Corfu town, the hotel complex Gelina Village Resort & Spa will seem idyllic, especially if you are holidaying with your family. It comprises of a main building and a complex of apartments, scattered amongst a magnificent garden with trees and grass. The water park, Aqualand Water Park also operates here, a great attraction for the children.

At Pirgi, [15 kms from Corfu town] choose the Marilena Hotel, a complex which comprises of many buildings which extend over the beach at Ipsos. Here you will find comfortable, spacious rooms with balcony as well as a swimming pool with a superb view. The breakfast, and in general the restaurant, is extremely satisfying.

Where to swim

It is not by chance that Corfu is one of the most popular destinations in the Ionian Sea, something which is attributed to a great extent, to its exceptional beaches which one can find here: not only crystal clear waters but also lush green landscapes in the greater part of the island, comprise a strong attraction for the tourists from all parts of the world.

Commencing from the northeast of the island, you will find some of the most widely visited, organized beaches of the island: Agios Stefanos, Gouvia, Dassia, Kommeno, Pirgi and Ipsos are just some of these. Heading further north, the following beaches will surely capture your attention: Aharavi, Roda, Kassipi and of course Sidari, with the famous “Canal d’amour,” [channel of love] an exceptionally beautiful beach with deep blue waters and white rocks.

Paleokastritsa dominates the western side of Corfu – one of the most well known resorts of the island with its picturesque harbors and its forested bays. Finally, towards the south, you will find a superb beach, including many good tourist facilities at Benitses, as well as at Moraitikia, Messonghi and Lefkimmi, whilst at the southern tip of Corfu, at Kavo you will surely go if you want to associate with British tourists, who seem to have a particular preference for this specific area.

Places to Visit

Palea Perithia: this is an isolated Venetian village on the northeastern side of the island, which was deserted in the 50’s- 60’s. It consists of a picturesque stone built settlement dating back to the 13th century, built on an altitude of 700 m, and houses displaying Enetian styled architecture, which have been declared historical properties. The little tavern here is the sole source of life existent in this settlement.

There are also many picturesque villages one may visit, either to enjoy a meal and the local products, or simply to admire the natural beauties and to become acquainted with the local residents, such as at Ano Korakiana, Doukades, Agios Markos, Sinarades and Sokraki.

In the northern part of the island, visit Roda and Aharavi, which combine the mountain with the sea and offer a superb beach, whilst in the traditional community at Ano Aharavi, you may admire the architectural style of the houses. If you wish to go to the most western tip of Greece, then you will have to go via caique to the small isle Othoni, whilst at the main village Karousades, you are able to visit the mansion of the Theotoki family.

Another suggestion is to visit Ano Garouna, which has a tradition in sculpture and hand woven carpets, as well as the picturesque village Peleka, which is built on a hill, from which you may admire a fantastic sunset from the top.

At the township of Kassiopi, which is built on top of the ancient city, one may find the ruins of the castle of the city [14th century], as well as the church of Panagia of Kassiopitissa [16th century]

The cedar forest, situated on the south western section of Corfu has been distinguished as a special protected zone, as it hosts a variety of endangered species. It is an enchanting setting, located by an endless stretch of sand.

Another option is to visit the islet Vido, which is located only steps away from the old harbour, or to embark on a one day excursion to Paxi and Parga, commencing from Lefkimmi.

Paxi: this is a good opportunity for one to visit this spectacular island, as it may be reached via hydroplane in only 10 minutes [ticket price: 40 euro], whilst due to the low level flight, you may enjoy a wonderful panoramic view. Paxi is the smallest island of the Eptanissos group of islands, and it comprises in total of a number of small islands and rocky uninhabited islets. It is situated at 7 nautical miles south of Corfu, 8 miles from the mainland coast, and 12 miles from Parga. Here you will visit Loggo, a quiet fishing village which extends along the sea, and manages to preserve in tact this image, despite its development in tourism. Even Lakka has managed to do so, which is the second largest village of the island with 500 residents and the most cosmopolitan.

Where to Eat

In Corfu, you will find a vast variety of restaurants which can satisfy all tastes and demands. Below, you will find some suggestions; mainly for the town of Corfu- nevertheless the choices are endless on the island, and its best to discover them yourselves!!

Take a break at “Egli”- an ouzeri which is open throughout the whole year, and located at one of the most busiest tourist areas, to taste traditional Corfiot dishes [cod-fish bianco, scorpio fish bourdeto, beef sofrito, and pastitsada] as well as fish and of course spaghetti lobster [Kapodistriou St No. 23, +30 26610 31949]. Also, with regard to traditional Corfiot dishes, another very good choice is the traditional restaurant, Rex, near Liston. Here, in summer, you may even request to have your fish cooked according to your wishes.

If your appetite dictates Italian cuisine, choose the Il Muro, and try the tastiest seafood risotto, on its pretty verandah, or equally a good choice, the Italian restaurant La Cucina, which is found behind Spianada square, and where you may delight in an assortment of handmade pasta and pizzas.

During the summer however, and particularly on the islands, it does not make sense not to try fresh fish, and as such look out for the numerous taverns, mainly found near the beachfront areas and do not miss out on savoring the famous spaghetti lobster.

Nightlife & Entertainment

You will find many cafes and bars, particularly in Corfu town, at Liston and Spianada square, as well as on all the main roads. To continue your evening on a more upbeat rhythm, head towards the main road towards Gouvia, where you will find nightclubs with live Greek music and lots of clubs around the New and Old Fortress [Frourio.]

However, also in other areas of the island, such as Agios Stefanos, Messonghi, Gouvia, Lefkimmi, Glyfada, Benitses and Paleokastritsa will you find many cafes and clubs as well as beach bars!

Entertainment, however, is not limited to cafes and bars, particularly in Corfu, which is renowned for its 18 philharmonic orchestras. If you find yourselves on the island during summer, aspire to attend one of the concerts performed by the philharmonic orchestra, with the choir of the island, at Spianada square.

Attractions

A vacation does not only comprise of beaches, swimming in the sea, and fun in the sand. It also entails becoming acquainted with the landscape, its history, its customs and traditions of the locals, something which may be accomplished with a visit to the main attractions of the place.

The island of the Phaeacians offers a great number of attractions which will not leave anyone indifferent, beginning from the historical town with its narrow, picturesque and stunning pathways. In its paths, one may find many important buildings, such as those of the Town Hall, and the Ionian Academy, the Old and the New Fortress, historical churches such as Saint Spyridon, as well as numerous museums. After your sightseeing tour of the town, you will surely need to take a pleasurable break at the famous square at Liston, facing the largest square in Greece, Spianada Square.

Very important attractions are also to be found out of the town, which are definitely worth being included in the list of every traveler. Amongst these is the eminent Achillion Palace, Kanoni, the palace at Mon Repos, Paliapoli, as well as a distinctive museum, the Corfu Sea shell museum, which is located at Benitses.

  1. Achillion Palace
  2. Paleopoli
  3. Spianada Square – Liston
  4. Old Fortress
  5. The church of Agios Spyridon
  6. Kanoni
  7. Museum of Asian Art
  8. Mon Repos
  9. Corfu Sea shell Museum – Benitses

 

Low Season Holidays

The island of Corfu allows tourism throughout the whole year as it provides a sufficient amount of attractions and picturesque villages, one may visit. The choices for accommodation and dining will of course be limited quite significantly, but, in the town of Corfu in particular, you will not find yourself short of anything. A very good option is to become acquainted with the island via cycling, or hiking, or even horse-riding. Below you may find some of the hotels which remain open throughout the whole year, but remember that this list is only indicative of the hotels.

AREA HOTEL NAME TELEPHONE
ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ ARCADION * (+30) 26610 37670/30104
ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ CORFU PALACE (+30) 26610 39485
ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ BELLA VENEZIA (+30) 26610 46500
ΚΑΝΟΝΙ CORFU HOLIDAY PALACE (+30) 26610 36540

* the hotel remains closed for a month approximately from 15/12-15/01 for maintenance purposes.

Corfu Hotel Union: +30 26610 36629

Accessibility for persons with Special Need [Disabled]

The island of Corfu is not particularly hospitable for persons with special needs, and it surprises us that an adequate amount of large hotel complexes do not offer even one room suitably modified for persons with special needs. However, there is some accommodation, and below we refer to some as only an indication, but it would be suggested to contact the accommodation you are interested in, well in advance, to be informed about how well suitable it is.

  1. Corfu Palace: it is located at the bay of Garitsa, in Corfu town, and it provides facilities for disabled persons, as well as remaining open throughout the whole year. [tel: +30 26610 39485]
  2. Fundana Villas: this renovated mansion is located in Paleokastritsa and offers 4 studio-apartments on ground level with only one step, which however is not specially installed for disabled persons, in the toilets. [tel: +30 26610 22532/22930]
  3. Corfu Chandris: this hotel complex, located at Dassia, provides ramps and accessibility to toilets in the common areas, but unfortunately does not provide any other facilities for disabled persons. [tel: +30 26610 97100-3]
  4. Grecotel Corfu Imperial: is built at the cape of Kommeno [10 kms from Corfu town] and provides ramps in the lobby of the hotel, as well as accessibility to the restaurant and the swimming pool, lifts and toilet in the common areas, but unfortunately does not offer one specially modified room [tel: +30 26610 88400]
  5. Corfu Holiday Palace: this hotel which is located in the area of Kanoni, and is open throughout the whole year, provides specialized ramps in the lobby, as well as lifts, but no specially modified rooms.

 

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