Set like a bright jewel in the Mediterranean just off the west coast of Greece Corfu is a wonderful destination for a sunshine holiday. With a reputation for hospitality, sunshine, sandy beaches and some great nightlife, Corfu offers a mild Mediterranean climate and is a very green island. The rain in winter produces verdant vegetation with a multitude of olive trees.
The north east coast offers rocky coves you can explore and shingle beaches backed by fishing villages. The north and south of the island have spacious sandy bays and are more commercial. The craggy west coast has cliffs, sandy beaches and some of the islands best sunsets.
Inland you can still find quiet traditional villages where little changes. Get off the beaten track, find the local tavernas and enjoy the gentler pace of life.
Popular areas are around Gouvia, which can be reached from Corfu town by bus. Here you will find good hotels, tavernas and nightlife. Agios Gordios has some of the best sandy beaches and makes an excellent choice for a seaside holiday. Roda will give you outstanding sandy beaches, a village atmosphere and beautiful bays. Looking for the nightlife – try Kavos, probably the most popular for the clubbing visitor. The resort has great apartments and excellent nightlife.
Corfu town is a good excursion, if you are not actually staying there. You can try and navigate the maze of narrow streets overlooked by the fortress. There are many chapels, mansions and beautiful little squares to explore. Try the coffee or ginger beer at the famous Liston Hotel, built by the French and very Parisian.
It won’t take you long to find that eating and drinking are a very important part of life on Corfu. The choice is huge, if you really don’t want any excitement it is possible to eat nothing but fish and chips or pizza, but why come here just to do that. Try the selection of starters called mezze, followed by fabulous fresh caught fish and seafood of all varieties and well cooked meat. The Greek wines have improved tremendously from the well known retsina. However, the spirit Ouzo is still an acquired taste.
If you are in Corfu town and not looking for a fancy place to eat, try Tsikos Grill. Friendly, good value with home made pittas, kebabs and much more.
Taste some of these typical local dishes at any of the tavernas and restaurants all over the island. Tzatziki, yoghurt, cucumber and garlic dip. Dolmades, vine leaves stuffed with rice or meat.Keftethes, fried meatballs with garlic and herbsMousaka, layers of fried aubergine and minced meat with a creamy sauce.Stifado, meaty red wine stew with baby onions and tomatoKelftiko: Lamb slowly baked in the oven.Kalamari, baby squid, fried with a dusting of flour, or grilled.
For an evening sitting looking out over the sea, try Mitsos taverna. A family run beachside restaurant on the north coast in Nissaki village, right above the sea, with fantastic views all around.
If you are renting an apartment and self catering, there are small supermarkets in most towns and bigger ones in Corfu town. Markets are a great source of food and lots of fun. Expect to pay around €5 for a bottle of wine, €1.50 for 0.5L of beer and around €1 for 1.5L of water. Milk is in the order of €1.20 per litre. Lots of great cheeses on offer at around €10 per kilogram while a loaf of bread is about €1.
Corfu town and the immediate area around the town are very busy in the high season. The bars tend to be in the centre and the dance clubs out past the New Port. There are some great summer festival offerings, which change every year. Jazz is popular as well as live Greek artists in the summer.
In Corfu town have a look for Dizi bar, a favourite for visitors with theme night parties. Drinks are reasonably priced here as well. In most places, however, be careful of the bar bill, cover charges are unusual, but beers cost €4.50 upwards and cocktails €7–9.
Outside Corfu town the night life depends on the resort. If you are staying in a mainly hotel and beach area, the activity will be modest, tavernas, bars and maybe a club or two. In the apartment based areas, which attract a younger crowd you are more likely to find clubs, DJs and later closing times.
If you are staying in Corfu town, there are numerous tavernas, narrow alleys and churches to explore. The town is fairly central so you can easily plan a day trip if you are elsewhere on the island. Look for the the pink and white Orthodox cathedral built around 1580. Enjoy the peace of the Bosketto Durrell, named after the two Durrell brothers, Lawrence and Gerald. Don’t miss the Palace of St Michael and St George. Here you will find an interesting collection of Asian objects put together by Greek diplomats. If you fancy some sea life, try the town’s aquarium. Open from 10am to 4pm there are lots of sea creatures to stare back at you and interesting reptiles as well. It’s not very big so get the best value by booking a glass bottomed boat trip from the harbour and entrance to the aquarium for around €10 for an adult.
About 10 km from Corfu town is the Achillion Palace, built by the Empress of Austria. Tickets are €7 entrance and €3 for an audio guide. Probably worth having the guide, there is a lot to see. The house is a mansion turned museum, with the rooms laid out as they were used in the past. The gardens are reckoned to be the best part of the visit, many levels, lots of planting and statues all around as well. The palace might not be very suitable for anyone with walking difficulties as there are a great number of steps.
In the middle of the island is Mount Pantocrator. The amazing views make it a well worthwhile excursion, you could always have a coffee or beer at the top. Try and avoid the obvious times as there is not a lot of parking.
Roda has an unusual attraction for those not frightened of snakes or reptiles. It’s the Corfu Reptilla, which houses a great collection of snakes, reptiles and similar. Hands on if you want to get up close to a snake and great fun for the children. Open from 11am to 8pm and around €5 each.
If there isn’t enough water in the sea for the family, then try Aqualand in Agios Ioannis. BETAIt’s a fairly typical water park with all the slides and water features you would expect to find. It is open from 10am to 6pm and the tickets are priced at €25 for adults and €17 for ages 5 to 12 and over 65. Discounts available on group bookings and entry after 3pm. Many hotels run trips with transport included so enquire if you are staying in a hotel.
Both a place to consider staying and for a day out, the Sidari Water Park and Hotel offers free use of the slides for hotel guests and a good offer of €5 each for day visitors. The beach at Sidari is wide, sandy and good for children. Good choice of bars and restaurants as well.
Corfu has almost every style of beach imaginable, from rocky coves to wide sweeping sandy stretches of golden sand. With so many to choose from, it’s not a bad idea to decide what sort of beach you want and plan your stay from there. It is generally thought that the west coast has the sandier family beaches.
Acharavi on the northern coast is also good for families with a gently shelving long sandy beach joining it to Roda. Water sports available include windsurfing and pedaloes, water-skiing and para-gliding. You will not find it hard to spot a good taverna or restaurant for refreshment.
Agios Georgios at the northern end of the west coast is a horse-shoe shaped bay. It’s a narrow road to get there but worth it when you do as it is usually quiet and offers golden sand and some water sports. It’s a bit windy, great for windsurfing. The local restaurants specialise in serving fish dishes.
Roda is on the north coast offers a beach of sand backed mainly by hotels, apartments and lots of great tavernas.
On the east coast Gouvia is an enclosed bay with olive groves on the hillsides. There is a marina to enjoy the yachts coming and going and great boat trips are available. The area has good night life as well. You will find narrow sand and shingle beaches as well as little coves. Paragliding and a variety of water sports are all here to enjoy.
Shopping in Corfu is a great idea. If you are just looking for a few tourist presents or some well made jewellery you will have great fun finding it on Corfu.
Olives feature in many products from woodcarvings, olive oil to soap, and lace, embroidery and jewellery are also popular. Small sculptures of Greek classical design can be unusual and a nice present.
Corfu town is probably the best place to shop with lots of choice from the usual tourist shop to little studios in the side streets. Look out for leather goods, jewellery, honey and much more.
Go and enjoy the morning market, unless it is Sunday, below the Fortress walls. It is a bustling fresh fish, vegetable and fruit market.
Kassiopi is a good choice for shopping with a range of shops. You will find traditional and modern products on offer here, as in many of the smaller villages. Almost all resorts have a few good shops tucked away amongst the souvenir stores.
With one airport on the eastern coast of the island and roughly mid-way between the north and south ends of the island Corfu is just over three hours from Gatwick and around three and a half hours from Manchester. A taxi from the airport to Gouvia is around €30 and to Kavos around €60. Do think about going on the water, you can hire your own little motor boat to explore the coastal villages. Alternatively, arrange to go on one of the daily excursions to Anti Paxos to experience the astonishing turquoise crystal clear waters.
Locals use the bus services on a daily basis, they are reasonably reliable in Corfu town but a bit irregular in the countryside. Scooters and motor-bikes are a bad idea on the local roads. We know two wheels are popular, but suggest you spend a little more and hire a small car.
May is the start of the season on Corfu. Beautiful weather and not as hot as the high summer. July and August are the hottest and busiest months on Corfu. Temperatures are around mid 30 C. You will probably need to find accommodation with air conditioning at this time of year.
September has daytime temperatures around 30 C. Evenings are warm but getting colder as the month goes on. The beaches are quieter as the families have returned home and the sea is still warm.
October temperatures are around 20C and the island starts to close down. Evenings are starting to get too cold for outside eating as well.