Corfu Destination Guide

By Natalie Walsh, TravelMail

Last updated at 16:13 18 December 2008


The island that inspired the Durrels


Corfu is the most popular of the seven Ionian Islands that lie off the northwest coast of Greece. While Corfu was one of the first Greek islands to suffer from the excesses of commercial tourism, with many once beautiful bays now scarred by cheap hotels, happy hour bars and noisy discos, there are still enough quiet corners and unspoiled beaches to draw visitors to this magical island.

Modern Corfu Town is upbeat and cosmopolitan while the sleepy agricultural villages of the island's lush and green interior seem to have escaped the tentacles of tourism altogether. The more remote west, and southwest in particular, boasts wild, unspoiled beaches and stunning scenery and it is still possible to search out a secluded cove or two even in the busy season when the over developed resorts on the east coast are awash with package tourists.


The pretty bays of Kalami and Agni and smart Agios Stefanos are in demand


When you tire of the beach, take a trip to Corfu Town (Kerkyra), the capital of Corfu and one of the most elegant and impressive towns in Greece. As you approach the port by boat you could be forgiven for thinking that you've arrived in Italy.

The old town was laid out by the Venetians in the fourteenth century and features narrow alleys lined with pastel coloured buildings with red tiled roofs. The hub of activity in the town centre is the Liston, an arcaded row of cafes and restaurants, copied from the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.

It's largely traffic free which makes exploring on foot a delight and the star attraction is the ornate church of St Spyridon.


Take a trip to Corfu Town (Kerkyra), the capital of Corfu


North of Corfu Town, the resorts of Gouvia and tacky Ypsos are shining examples of the worst of Corfu's overdevelopment with wall-to-wall burger joints and music bars, while Sidari on the north coast and Kavos on the south are the lager lout enclaves that sadly give the island a bad name.

The northeast corner has moved upmarket and a few resorts, notably the pretty bays of Kalami and Agni and smart Agios Stefanos, have escaped the desecration of their more southerly neighbours, and enjoy the more typically Greek atmosphere that comes with small pebble coves and dazzling turquoise waters.

Here you'll also find the bustling resort of Kassiopi, which has a pretty waterfront and still has room for more traditional tavernas in addition to sports and karaoke bars. The next resort down is the long and inviting bay of Avlaki. Popular with weekending Greeks, Avlaki's narrow 800m long beach is mostly shingle, but there are boardwalks and sunbeds and a couple of charming tavernas.

In the south, the beautiful beach at Paramona sits below the village at Agios Matthaios, an idyllic setting with a handful of hotels and apartments, some restaurants and tavernas. There are more remote beaches at Prasoudi and Skidi, accessed by a 30 minute walk through olive groves.

The lovely village of Lefkimi is well off the beaten track and a step back in time. Donkeys are still used as transport and you may even spot the odd Greek in traditional costume. There are small beaches and fishing harbours at nearby Petriti and Boukari.


Life on the water is an everyday fact


Tuck into the catch of the day and Greek treats such as dolmades and souvlaki but don't expect eating out here to be super cheap, unless you stick to the simple harbour side cafes. But what's on offer is simple, fresh and invariably superb.

In the three taverna bay of Agni, Toula's is the star spot, famous for it's Toula's shrimps, a seafood and rice dish that draws the locals for big family lunches on Sundays. For romantic dining, the famous White House in Kalami, which was former home of writer Lawrence Durrell, offers great food and lovely views, while Agios Stefanos is the place for chic nights out and its many restaurants have tables right on the sand.


You'll find beaches of all shapes and sizes

After dark

Corfu is famous for its rich and lively nightlife. The capital offers a wide variety of bars and cafes with music to suit all tastes while the big nightclubs are situated outside Corfu Town, mostly concentrated in the beach resorts of Kavos, Roda, Ypsos, Gouvia and Dassia, which are also crammed with lively bars.

If your idea of a good night out is a relaxing dinner alfresco, simply pick a taverna in one of the quieter bays and watch the sun go down with a glass of rosé in hand.


Unless you need another bikini or a jaunty sailor's hat, shopping does not rank highly in most resorts, which are invariably filled with tourist tat. For those who can't spend even a week without smart boutiques, a daytrip to the capital is called for. Corfu Town has some surprisingly chic clothes shops and stores selling good quality traditional Greek products such as olive wood bowls and pretty pottery.

Day trips

From the northeastern coast you can see Albania, which lies just a couple of miles across the water. Numerous operators now offer day excursions taking in ancient ruins, traditional villages and markets. For island hopping, Corfu lies North in the Ionian and the closest islands are Paxi, Lefkada, Ithaki, Kefalonia and Zakynthos.

Getting there, getting around

You can fly direct to Corfu International Airport and taxis are readily available. To explore the island, hire a car or jump on a bus.

Corfu has two bus services: Blue Bus which serves Corfu Town and its immediate locality and KTEL, or Green Bus, which is a national company and provides routes to all the towns across the island and several major cities on the mainland. However, the most enjoyable way to go is by boat; hire a little motor boat and chug around the coast to find your own secluded beach or cove.

For Families

Enjoy a little animal magic on a horse riding trek through the hills and olive groves. Beginners are welcome at most riding centres around the island. Most beaches are suitable for snorkelling and have pedaloes for hire. Water babies can learn dinghy sailing and waterskiing, both available to children as young as five. But if it has to be a fun park, head to Aqualand in the centre of the island, or Hydropolis at Acharavi for rides and adventures.

Take a tip

Summer time is hectic on Corfu, with charter flights arriving daily from European cities, ferries disgorging travellers from Italy, and cruise ships docking. To see the island at its best and avoid the madding crowds, book your trip in the shoulder months of May or September.

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