Corfu is a beautiful green island, the second largest and most popular destination in the Ionian Sea. It has been owned by various nations over its history, some unexpected ones too giving it a cosmopolitan and regal air. Thereís plenty to keep the tourist busy from beautiful beaches to mountaintop monasteries, forts and castles. Here is a small selection of things to do in Corfu although many more could easily have been added to the list.
Posted on: June 01, 2012 by David Lewis
1. Gardiki Castle
Gardiki Castle is found in an idyllic setting perched high above Gardiki village. Partially destroyed now, it defended the inhabitants of Corfu successfully many times over the centuries. The castle was built by the same archbishop who built the magnificent Angelokastro Fort. Distinctly Byzantine in design, it is octagonal in shape and was once decorated around the ramparts with Byzantine art. Easy to get to, it is visited by thousands of tourists each year, drawn by its setting amongst olive groves.
2. Corfu Town
Corfu town is a beautiful area, split into old and the new parts. It is flush with elegant mansions and beautiful palaces from its colonial days being owned by France and Britain. It appears less a Greek town and more an Italian one along the lines of Sorrento or Naples. A great place to get a feel of the town is the square of the Esplanade, also known as Spianada which was planned by the French and is surrounded by beautiful buildings an old Venetian fortress and dotted with trees. If you get the chance, visit the Liston building built during the French occupation and modelled on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Inside it has fabulous restaurants and cafes, some say the best in Greece.
3. The Achillion Palace
The Achillion Palace is found in the picturesque village of Gastouri. This beautiful palace was built in 1890 exclusively for Elizabeth the Empress of Austria. The palace used to serve as her summer retreat. Unfortunately, she passed away in a rather tragic manner when she was assassinated in 1898 in Geneva. The palace was left empty for nearly ten years when it was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.
The palace looks down onto the coast and the jetty from where the Kaiser would take his pleasure cruises. The Palace is not only renowned for its architecture; the impeccably landscaped palace garden is beautiful too. For UK tourists it has interest in being the birthplace of Prince Phillip. The James Bond movie, ĎFor Your Eyes Onlyí was filmed here.
4. Mirtiotissa Beach
Corfu has a lot of lovely beaches but a favourite of regular visitors is Mirtiotissa. Its charm is in its inaccessibility. Itís isolated and accessed by a steep path meaning that few venture down to the beach. To get there you need to walk for about 45 minutes from Pelekas village. The walk itself is beautiful, crossing olive groves on the way. The last half mile is what puts most people off being a steep dusty path. Geographically, the beach is very interesting as the winter tides and storms clear away the previous yearís entire beach whilst the spring tides bring fresh sand to replace it. The beach is enclosed by cliffs covered in pine, myrtle and thyme bushes. Some little streams trickle down to the beach providing a cool freshwater shower. There is little natural shade on the beach and it has the sun most of the day.
One of Corfuís most famous locations Paleokastritsa is part beach resort and part monastic community which makes for a bizarre and unlikely combination. Tourism hasnít really hit here so the area is relatively unspoilt. Panagia Theotokos Monastery was originally founded in 1225 but the current buildings date to the early 1700s. There is a small museum, mostly filled with religious articles and books as well as a skeleton of a fabled sea monster! The main attraction here is Paleokastritsaís clean sandy beach with incredibly clear, warm water, ideal for swimming. At each end of the beach are boats offering excursions to the nearby caves and grottos.
You need to know about Aqualand because if you donít and your children find out first you could be in trouble! Itís considered as one of the best water parks in Europe and is situated 7km outside of Corfu Town but is easy to reach from anywhere on the island. The park is huge and covers an area of over 70,000 square metres with free parking. The slides are innovative and range from the gentle to the downright petrifying.
7. The Palaio Frourio (Old Fort)
The Old Fort sits on a rocky island on the east side of Corfu Town. Thereís been a fort of kinds here since the 6th century although most of whatís there now is Venetian and added to and repaired by the British. The site was initially a peninsula but the inventive and distrusting Venetians dug a moat to convert it into an island for greater security. Due to the fortifications of the island, Corfu never fell to the Turks, despite many attempts. The fort and its small museum are interesting for what they add to Corfiot history and the art gallery has paintings from the first century, some of the oldest remaining on the planet!
8. Greek Music, Dancing and Folklore
Many restaurants and hotels all over Greece put on shows for tourists but many question their authenticity. Whilst the same could be said for Corfu, many of the restaurants do try to supply the tourist with a more traditional performance and in many cases they are taught a lot of Greek history and culture through stories told by the performers. These take place in tavernas all over Corfu and are intriguing to say the least. It makes a refreshing change to come away from a meal having learnt something new.
9. Mouse Island
This is the iconic picture of Corfu. Open any travel guide or holiday brochure and there will be a picture of Mouse Island or Pontikonisi. Itís a very small island dotted with trees and stands only two metres above the water. Pontikonisi is home of the monastery of Pantokrator it is the white stone staircase of the monastery that when viewed from afar gives the impression of a mouseís tail which gave the island its name.
10. Watch a cricket match
A relic of British colonial days every summer the Esplanade Square hosts a cricket match between featuring players from Corfuís cricket club and a visiting team. Itís a great reminder of the influence the British had on the island in the 19th century when for nearly 50 years Corfu became a British protectorate before being returned, along with the other Ionian Isles, to Greece. The British are welcomed here because in their time of power they did much to modernise the island and bring a better way of life for the Corfiots.
Corfu 2661 0 39509-30188
Giannades 2661 0 51222
Ag.Matheos 2661 0 75113
Benitses 2661 0 72222
Argirades 2662 0 51422
Kastellani 2661 0 54222
Lefkimi 2662 0 22222
Magoulades 2663 0 95222
Gimari 2663 0 91261
Paleokastritsa 2663 0 41203
Skripero 2663 0 22222
Ipsos 2661 0 93204
Karoysades 2663 0 31222
Gaios Paxos 2662 0 32222
Othoni 2663 0 71592
Traffic Police 2661 0 39294
Traffic Police Karousades 2663 0 31233
Tourist Police Corfu 2661 0 39503-30265
Tourist Police Ipsos 2661 0 93204
Port Authority Corfu 2661 0 32655-30096-33108
Port Authority Palaiokastritsa 2663 0 41297
Port Authority Gaios Paxos 2662 0 32259
Port Authority Lefkimi 2662 0 23977
Coastguard Station 2661 0 30481
Hospitals-First Aid Centres
Hospital 2661 0 45811-45812-45815
Ipsos first aid station 2661 0 93816
Ag.Matheos first aid station 2661 0 75110
Lefkimi first aid station 2662 0 22201
Paxoi first aid station 2662 0 31179
Gimari first aid station 2663 0 91395
Othoni first aid station 2663 0 71550
Other useful numbers
Post office 2661 0 25544
O.T.E (phone services) 2661 0 34699
Town Hall 2661 0 39424
GNTO (tourist information) 2661 0 37520-37639-37640
Airport 2661 0 30180-38694
Green Bus Station 2661 0 39862-30627
Blue Bus Station 2661 0 39950
KTEL (buses) 2661 0 28900
Taxi 2661 0 33811-33812
National Bank 2661 0 34403
Commercial Bank 2661 0 39636
Alpha Bank 2661 0 21890
Eurobank 2661 0 40281
Ionian Bank 2661 0 34333
General Bank 2661 0 30460
Credit Bank 2661 0 38112
Pireus Bank 2661 0 49603
Cyprus Bank 2661 0 40533
Agricultural Bank 2661 0 39404
Great Britain 2661 0 30055
Germany 2661 0 31450
France 2661 0 30067
Italy 2661 0 42433
Belgium 2661 0 33788
Denmark 2661 0 35698
Switzerland 2661 0 39485
Norway 2661 0 39667
Netherlands 2661 0 39900