Looking at the map of Greece one will see that Corfu is located north of the Ionian Sea, far away from the other Ionian islands. It is the “gateway” of Greece to the West and is worth visiting for many reasons.
Many describe her as the “queen” of the Ionian. Maybe because no matter how many times you visit her, she always has something new to show you from her manorial beauty. Corfu welcomes you with its most beautiful smile, which is none other than the amazing view you see, in the middle of the sea and with the sun reflected in the clear blue waters, between the Old and the New Fortress, two of the jewels of the island.
In Corfu, you will find anything that satisfies your taste, as it is an island that leaves no one complaining. It uniquely combines mountain and sea, while it is a refuge for those who seek peace, but also for those who want to enjoy intense moments. Green, like all the Ionian islands, it can seduce even the most demanding travelers.
Walk in the Center of the Old Town – UNESCO Monument
Starting your journey from the city of Corfu, you will be enchanted by its Venetian rhythm. Walking in its cantonments, you will think that you’re in another era. On such a journey you must let your eyes see beyond the obvious. In the cantons, where the sky seems to be divided into strips, Corfu will open its heart to you…
Spianada, the Largest Square in Greece
The next stop is Spianada, the largest square in Greece and the Balkans and one of the most attractive destinations for residents and visitors. Its history is very old. In 1576 the inhabitants began to demolish buildings located around the Old Fortress to increase their visibility, but also their defense capability. It is estimated that about 2,500 houses were demolished in 2.5 years, while the area was planted with trees by the French occupiers later. The walk in this square is enjoyable. The eye is “satisfied” with the green vegetation and with dozens of different flowers in bloom, the image looks like it was taken from a painting.
At the square, you will find the Ionian Style Sterna built in honor of the English Commissioner, Sir Thomas Maitland, the Monument of the Union of the Ionian Islands and an impressive fountain.
Liston Street, a Pedestrian Gem
The main “jewel” of Spianada, however, is the busy and famous Liston Street. Here all the people of Corfu make their appointment at “Pentofanaro” and enjoy their coffee in the morning and their cocktails in the evening. Liston is on Georgiou A’ Avenue and has the high-rise buildings created by the French during the second short period of their occupation in the Ionian Sea (1807-14) which were used as barracks. Today the people of Corfu use them as homes or offices. The famous arched gallery with Venetian lanterns was built by the engineer Matthieu de Lesseps, based on the model of Rue de Rivoli in Paris.
Garden of the People
A little further is the “Garden of the People” in the Old Palace of the city. Immerse yourself in your thoughts, while gazing at the clear blue waters under the dense shade of the trees, and take amazing photos with the background of the Old Fortress.
From there proceed to the so-called Mouragia and the famous Faliraki, where you will meet the “mansion of Agiolina” (there is the “Corfu Reading Society”) from the movie “The Countess of Corfu” with the famous Greek actress Rena Vlachopoulou.
In the cosmopolitan center of Corfu, the visitor can also, among other things, admire the City Hall (San Giacomo Theater), the Cannon, the Mon Repo and the Museums of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine History.
Garitsa, the Picturesque Seaside Promenade
Also, don’t leave Corfu unless you first take a walk in Garitsa. Historically, it is one of the two main ports of the ancient city of Corfu and is one of the most famous attractions of the island. The yachts anchored in its safe waters, combined with the wonderful view of the horizon and the imposing Old Fortress in the background offer you one of the most beautiful vistas in the city. Many wake up early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise while jogging.
Visit Achilleion Palace in Gastouri
It is one of the most famous royal villas in Europe and perhaps the most important architectural attraction of Corfu located in Gastouri, about 10 km from the city of Corfu. Designed by Italian architects Raffaele Caritto and Antonio Landi under the supervision of the Austrian Consul in Corfu Alexander von Warsberg at first and after his death Baron Von Bucowitz.
Achilleion Palace was built in 1890 at the expense of Empress Elizabeth of Austria (Sisi), who due to her sensitive health requested its construction. She dedicated the mansion to Achilles, hence its name, while adorning her courtyard with statues from ancient Greek mythology. Among these, the most famous works are “The Seven Muses” and Achilles of Hertz by Herter. Inside it bears frescoes and decorations by important artists of the time of its construction.
Last but not Least, the Church of Agios Spyridon
To feel Corfu, your last destination must be the Church of Agios Spyridon, patron and protector of the island. It is located behind Liston in the old town of Corfu. If you find it difficult to find it, almost on any street in the city, if you look at the sky you will see its impressive tower-like bell tower with a red top. Thousands of believers flock to the Saint of Corfu, who many times saved the island with his miracles from destruction and famine, seeking solace and help.
Stories say that when they open his glass case, on the day of his feast, to change his passages, they are worn out and on the floor of the case are piles of algae. The people of Corfu believe that the Saint walks in the sea and helps those in need, usually sailors, while whatever they “shout” at him is their only consolation in difficult times.
The Must-Swim Beaches
The beaches of Corfu are divided into those overlooking the Adriatic and those overlooking Epirus, but also those located north or south of the island. Despite the variety of their colors, sand and pebbles, the majority of them acquired the famous blue flag this year as well. Here are some of the best beaches on the island.
This is one of the most popular beaches on the island. The sand here is extremely fine and its bottom is also sandy, while the water does not deepen sharply and for this reason, it is suitable for children. The beach is organized and there is the possibility for various water sports.
On this beach, you will find pebbles and sand together. It is also organized and you can go water skiing and other fun water sports.
It is a deserted and sandy beach surrounded by rocks, small but wide. Ideal for those who dislike organized beaches and are in favor of nudism.
The sandy beach of Logga is a short distance from the village of Peroulades. The beach is very small, but it is one of the most enchanting on the island. The right time to visit it is just before sunset, because the sun is right in front of the beach when it gets lost in the sea. Just above it, there is a café-bar from where you can enjoy your drink as the sun sets.
Sidari is a village in the northwest of Corfu in a hilly area. The main tourist destination here is the “Canal d’Amour“, where white carved rocks and clear blue waters compose an exotic setting. It is an ideal destination for couples and the right place to exchange vows of eternal love. Legend has it that if a couple swims together in these waters, then they will be together forever! The rocks that form the “Channel of Love”, due to their fragile composition, allowed overtime in the sea, but mainly in the corrosive action of the wind, to make them “grooved”, thus digging the channel below. Between them, there is an underground path, which one can walk or relax by swimming. The seabed is also interesting at this point, as there are several sea caves, which are a challenge for diving enthusiasts.
In Sidari, however, there are two more beaches, one is sandy with a long length and very touristy and the other a small and beautiful bay opposite which there are rock formations.
It is worth noting that in Sidari traces of a settlement of the Neolithic Age have been found dating from 3000 BC. and, according to the data so far, is the oldest on the island.
There are various small beaches with sand and pebbles that are included in the area of Paleokastritsa and its crystal-clear waters. The water here, of course, is quite cold.
At most of the beaches, you can rent umbrellas and sunbeds, while you can take a boat to visit the caves in the sea. Its main beach is below the monastery of Panagia and has the most tourist infrastructure because it is the largest.
In Paleokastritsa, there is also the beach La Grotta and is the ideal destination for swimming and exploring the seabed.
It is located on the southwest coast of the island and is known for its long sandy beach with crystal clear waters. At this beach, everyone can find what they are looking for. To have fun, but also to find peace. The beach is organized, but if you want quiet, there is a more secluded part of it, where you can relax away from the crowds.
The beach of Gardenos is of medium size, but with a large width. Its sand is golden, while sunbeds and umbrellas are rented. It is a quiet beach with few facilities and some taverns. Gardenos beach is ideal for those who want peace away from the crowds. It takes its name from a small river that flows into the sea right at this point on the coast.
It is a large, sandy beach with shallow and clear blue waters. Behind the beach, there are many dunes, which are a pole of attraction for motorcyclists. It is “crowned” with the rare for the Greek flora, cedar forest, which separates it harmoniously, from the most important wetland of Corfu, Lake Korissia, while the whole area is protected and included in the “Natura” network. The landscape that unfolds in the eyes of the visitor is unique.
It is located on the southwest coast of Corfu and is one of the most impressive beaches on the island. The long sandy beach stretches along Lake Korissia, separating the lake and the sea. Unlike the most touristic beaches of the island, the beach of Chalikouna is quiet, without overcrowding and still retains its natural beauty. It is a paradise for surfers, due to the strong winds that blow here. It is worth noting that this beach is accessible to people with mobility difficulties, as it has ramps for wheelchairs in specific strategic locations.
Saint Gordios Beach
It is one of the most popular sandy beaches on the island and is hidden under a green mountain, while it is surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. Still, the impressive rock formations that surround it are the same as valuable works of art. The beach of Saint Gordios is organized and has shallow and crystal-clear waters, ideal for swimming. Also, from the top of the mountain, at an altitude of 370 meters, lovers of paragliding can enjoy their favorite sport.
The Flavors and Foods you Must Try
Corfiot cuisine is traditional, Mediterranean and purely Venetian. The housewives of the island like spices and almost all their food is spicy. The people of Corfu are accustomed to eating sofrito on Sundays, pastitsada during the holidays, Bianco fish and burdeto on weekdays. You will find these foods in all the taverns of the island.
Sofrito is a beef fillet that is simmered in white wine, plenty of garlic and quite fragrant. The characteristic of this food, apart from the melting meat, is its sauce which becomes very tasty. The people of Corfu usually serve it with yellow rice. It got its name from Italian, where So fritto means simmered and the food comes from the Venetian era on the island.
It is meat braised with spaghetti; however, it differs far from the usual recipe. The secret of the people of Corfu is the “spetsierika”, a mixture of spices that is not missing from any house on the island. What does this mixture hide inside? Cinnamon, grated clove, allspice, nutmeg, bay leaf and cumin. You can buy it ready and in the right proportions, while the best recipe for “spetsierika” can be found in a pharmacy on the island! The pastitsada is made mainly with rooster or beef, while it is accompanied by thick spaghetti.
There is little to say about this food. Those who love fish will love the Bianco of Corfu. Usually, the fish fillet is used in the recipe, while here, as in sofrito, garlic is plentiful. Its white sauce goes perfectly with boiled potatoes and promises to satisfy even the most demanding palate.
This food is extremely spicy. The fish commonly used by the locals for this recipe is Scorpina. Its sauce is crimson with a very special taste. If you like bread, you will not stop dipping small bites in the sauce, until you have finished it all.
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If you want to get even more inspired, we suggest reading our “Paros, the Jewel of the Cyclades” article, as you may want to get a glimpse of the famous Cyclades as well…
Credits for Featured Image: Kurt Bauschardt