Visiting Corfu - What to See and Do
(Corfu International Airport Ioannis Kapodistrias CFU, Greece)
Odysseus made Corfu
his last stop on the way home and Homer called this island a 'beautiful and rich land'. The island certainly deserves its fame. Besides its long and rich history, it also has a thriving agricultural scene thanks to the abundance of rain that falls here (the most in Greece
This Greek Ionian island is a mix of obtuse beachside resort tourism and the inevitable partying that follows, as well as a delightful array of historic attractions and sites that remind you of its storied past. Lovely places like the Venetian-style Corfu Town take the edge off the unsightly overdevelopment that plagues many of its seaside spots.
If it is a party you seek, Kavos is where you will find it. However, there are a dozen more tranquil beaches that represent the stylish grace that put Corfu on the map centuries ago. From the west coast's Paleokastritsa Beach to the crescent-shaped and rather enchanting Kalami Bay, it is a charming scene when olive groves meet turquoise seas. Whichever scene you prefer, this is a worthy Greek island destination.
Ten things you must do in Corfu
- Corfu Town, or Kerkyra as it is known locally, is the hub of culture, sophisticated attractions and stylish nightlife on the island. Its stone fortress, pastel-coloured townhouses and wealth of tasty cafés and bars tucked into the maze of backstreets combine to make this town a real pleasure to explore.
- Pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum in Corfu Town to get a sense of the depth of history that has taken place on the island. Several of the highlights date to 560 BC, including stone carvings of the Gorgon Medusa and a piece of the Temple of Artemis. It is a small museum, but definitely worth an hour to add some antiquity to your visit.
- When the Venetians ruled this island, they built two castles on top of twin hills on the promontory at the edge of the harbour. The Old Fort is open to the public and is still in decent shape, considering its age. The main reason to visit is for the views that stretch far into the distance. There is also a nightly sound and light show during the peak summer tourism season.
- Take a look at the crystal-clear undersea world around Corfu aboard the Kalypso Star. This glass-bottom boat takes small groups of passengers offshore several times a day from the Old Port to see the marine life and seafloor scenery.
- There is plenty of evening entertainment in Corfu Town, whether you prefer a night of electronica dance music or a cool little beer bar. For the latter, stroll over to the Liston district where the line-up of cafés transform into bars after dark. The Esplanade is another good spot for pub crawling, especially at its north end. Hit the rooftop bar at the Cavalieri Hotel for some serious sunset cocktails.
- The Corfu Holiday Palace is the island's one and only casino. When the tourist high season is in swing, the casino puts on a pretty good showing with the international crowd. While no Las Vegas, it is a solid spot to gamble if you are over 23 years old.
- The Kanoni area offers a great way to spend an afternoon out of Corfu Town and soak in some amazing views at this former canon lookout. Down below the cliffside Kanoni are two little islands that you can explore. You can walk down a path to the Monastery of Vlacherna, but if you want to get to the scenic Mouse Island you will need to take an equally small boat across the channel.
- Another great little day trip from Corfu Town is the Achilleion, a summer palace built by the Empress of Austria-Hungary in the late 1800s. There are countless back stories to this place, which makes a tour guide worth the meagre expense. Wander the lovely grounds and admire the views over the sea after looking at the unique and unusual interior rooms of the palace itself.
- Some of the prettiest bays and coves on the island are found just north of Corfu Town at Paleokastritsa. Though the village has been developed for tourism, it has a rich history. Spend a day out here and climb to the medieval Angelokastro (Castle of the Angels) that looks down on the whole area, or visit the 13th-century Monastery of the Panagia perched on the edge of the sea.
- A surprising attraction in Corfu Town is the Museum of Asian Art. The neoclassical building itself is quite attractive, and inside are treasures from China and Japan. While not a major Asian art venue, it is a pleasant diversion with its very decent collection of sculptures, ceramics, wood blocks and other ancient relics.