- Introduction to Corfu
- Brief History of Corfu
- Essential Travel Information (Climate, Currency, Language)
- Overview of Corfu's Landscape and Culture
- Best Time to Visit Corfu
- Climate and Weather throughout the Year
- Peak and Off-Peak Seasons
- Seasonal Festivals and Events
- Getting to Corfu
- By Air: Information about Corfu's International Airport
- By Sea: Ferry Connections from Mainland Greece and Italy
- Visa Requirements and Entry Regulations
- Getting Around Corfu
- Public Transportation
- Renting a Car or Scooter
- Walking and Cycling Trails
- Taxi and Private Transfer Services
- Where to Stay in Corfu
- Luxury and Boutique Hotels
- Affordable Accommodation
- Family-friendly Resorts and Villas
- Beachfront Accommodation
- Unique and Authentic Greek Stays (such as Homestays)
- Top Attractions in Corfu
- Historic Sites and Landmarks
- Best Beaches in Corfu
- Natural Attractions and National Parks
- Museums and Art Galleries
- Must-try Greek Cuisine in Corfu
- Famous Corfu Dishes
- Traditional Greek Tavernas
- Seafood Restaurants in Corfu
- Best Spots for Sunset Dining
- Shopping Guide to Corfu
- Local Artisan Crafts and Products
- Best Local Markets
- Shopping Streets and Malls
- Souvenir Shopping
- Nightlife in Corfu
- Popular Clubs and Bars
- Relaxing Wine Bars and Taverns
- Cultural Nightlife – Theatres and Music
- Tips and Hints for first-time travelers
- Essential Greek Phrases for Travelers
- Tips for Safety and Etiquette
- Basic Guidelines for Responsible Tourism
- Money Saving Tips for Corfu Holiday
Introduction to Corfu
Brief History of Corfu
Corfu's rich historical tapestry dates back to 1300 BC when it was inhabited by the Greeks. It became a prized possession for several invaders over centuries, including Romans, Venetians, French, and British, reflecting a medley of cultural influences. In 1864, Corfu finally became a part of the modern Greek state. Its distinctive history and blend of architectural styles got it enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, the island's captivating past is proudly showcased in its forts, museums, and atmospheric old town.
Essential Travel Information (Climate, Currency, Language)
Corfu, located in the Ionian Sea, boasts a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. July and August are particularly sunny, while November usually sees the most rainfall. The official currency is the Euro (€) and Greek is the primary language spoken. However, English is widely understood in tourist areas. Sharing a mix of Greek and Italian influences, Corfu promises a unique island experience worth exploring.
Overview of Corfu's Landscape and Culture
Nestled in the Ionian Sea, Corfu lures with its stunning natural beauty, comprised of lush green valleys, pristine beaches, and turquoise waters. The island displays a blend of Venetian, French and British influences, charmingly visible in its architecture. The culture of Corfu is a harmonious fusion of Greek tradition and European refinement. It's renowned for its lively musical scene, unique culinary flavors and pulsating festivals. A place where history, myth, and modernity intertwine, Corfu indeed is a jewel of the Mediterranean.
Best Time to Visit Corfu
Climate and Weather throughout the Year
Corfu features a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers. From late May to early October, temperatures are warm to hot, ranging from 25°C to 35°C, accompanied by clear blue skies. Beach lovers will find this period ideal. Winter, from December to February, is mild with averages from 8°C to 14°C. It's also the wettest season. Regardless, the island's beauty is year-round and off-season visits can be a haven for wanderers who prefer fewer crowds.
Peak and Off-Peak Seasons
Corfu’s peak tourist season is from July to August. The Mediterranean warmth, long sunny days, and lively local festivals attract a large influx of travelers. Prices are high due to the demand and places can get crowded. Off-peak season runs from November to March, offering tranquility and cheaper prices. Despite the chillier weather, it's the perfect time to explore the historical sites and local culture. However, some tourist services may be reduced. Springtime, particularly April to June, provides a balance with pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and blooming landscapes.
Seasonal Festivals and Events
The Corfu Spring Symphonic Music Festival in May and the Wine Festival in September offer unique glimpses into Corfu's fine arts and culinary culture. These events reflect the locals' festive spirit and make a vacation in Corfu unforgettable. In Easter, Corfu also shines with unique, centuries-old traditions which are truly a spectacle to behold. Elaborate processions, philharmonic band concerts, and the impressive "Pot Throwing" ritual on Holy Saturday makes Easter exceptionally vibrant on the island. Visiting during these festivals ensures an enriched experience.
Getting to Corfu
By Air: Information about Corfu's International Airport
Corfu's International Airport, “Ioannis Kapodistrias,” services both domestic and international flights. Several airlines, like Aegean, British Airways, and EasyJet, offer connections to major European cities like London, Rome, or Athens. The airport is conveniently located just three kilometers south of Corfu town. It is equipped with car rental agencies, taxis, and bus lines to easily reach your final destination on the island. For the convenience of travelers, the airport provides essential amenities such as duty-free shops, cafes, and ATM services.
By Sea: Ferry Connections from Mainland Greece and Italy
Corfu is accessible by sea, with regular ferry services from both mainland Greece and Italy. From Igoumenitsa, on the northwest mainland of Greece, ferries to Corfu depart daily, offering a quick and scenic 1.5 hour journey. Longer routes, like those departing from Brindisi or Bari in Italy, offer overnight services. These typically take 8 to 10 hours. Both options offer vehicles transportation and, during summer, frequency is often increased due to high demand.
Visa Requirements and Entry Regulations
Visitors from EU countries, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand require only a valid passport to enter Greece, including Corfu. Travel from these countries does not typically necessitate a visa for stays under 90 days. Non-EU visitors from countries where a visa is required should apply through Greek consulates or embassies prior to travel. To promote safe travel and mitigate illegal immigration, Greece conforms to Schengen Agreement policies for border control. It's wise to check your specific circumstances before you journey to Corfu.
Getting Around Corfu
In Corfu, public buses are a popular and inexpensive means of getting around. Two operators - the urban Blue Buses cover Corfu Town and surrounding areas, and the long-distance Green Buses connect the city with other towns on the island. Also, taxis are common in Corfu and can be hailed on the street or booked in advance. Alternatively, for travel across the water, there are several local ferry services linking Corfu to nearby islands and mainland Greece.
Renting a Car or Scooter
Renting a car or scooter in Corfu is a popular choice for tourists who wish to explore the island at their own pace. Numerous reputable local and international agencies offer a variety of vehicles at competitive rates. Remember to keep your license and passport on hand. For those with a thirst for adventure, scooters offer a nimble way to navigate through town or reach remote beaches. However, be warned that Greek roads can be challenging, with steep hills and sharp bends. Always drive with caution to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
Walking and Cycling Trails
Corfu is home to numerous walking and cycling trails, perfect for tourists wanting to explore the island's beauty at their own pace. Rimmed with olive groves and punctuated with cypress trees, these trails showcase Corfu’s picturesque landscapes. Patounis Path takes you through traditional villages and sinuous coastlines, perfect for cyclists. For those who prefer walking, the Corfu Trail stretches 220 kilometers from north to south, offering breathtaking vistas and historical sites along the path. Whether on foot or on wheels, these trails provide a unique way to experience Corfu.
Taxi and Private Transfer Services
Taxis are ample in Corfu; they're convenient for short distances within towns, much needed for reaching isolated places or late-night transportation. They can be hailed on streets, found at taxi stands, or booked in advance through apps like Taxibeat. Private transfer services also come in handy, providing much comfort and peace of mind. Companies like Corfu Taxi and Welcome Pickups offer pre-booked, door-to-door transport with professional, English-speaking drivers. They're best for airport or port transfers and day trips around the island. Prices may be higher, but the convenience is worth it.
Where to Stay in Corfu
Luxury and Boutique Hotels
For a lavish stay in Corfu, consider Villa de Loulia, nestled within the charming village of Peroulades. This luxury boutique hotel exudes elegance and provides exceptional services like a personal chef for intimate dining experiences and a relaxing pool area. Among another top-notch option is Bella Venezia, located in Corfu Town. Housed in a historic mansion, it offers beautifully decorated rooms, a serene garden setting, and a sumptuous breakfast. For ultimate pampering, Delfino Blu Boutique Hotel in Agios Stefanos avails a beachfront location with a tiered deck, inclusive spa services, and gourmet Greek cuisine.
For budget-conscious travelers, Corfu offers plenty of affordable lodging options. Sidari on the north coast is known for its inexpensive apartment and studio rentals. It’s also a great area for nightlife, with numerous beach bars and tavernas. On the eastern coast, the resorts in Ipsos and Dassia offer budget-friendly accommodation. These areas also provide easy access to Corfu Town by bus for sightseeing. Lastly, Airbnb offers a wide range of options throughout the island.
Family-friendly Resorts and Villas
Looking for a family getaway in Corfu? Louis Family Resort in Acharavi offers spacious family rooms, a fun waterpark, and Kid’s Club activities. Enjoy the sandy beach nearby and Greek cuisine in a buffet style. Families also love Corfu Luxury Villas in Kontokali, with private pools and fully equipped kitchens. On-site facilities like garden and BBQ equipment make it perfect for a comfortable stay. Ensure to book early, as these family-friendly resorts and villas tend to fill up quickly during peak travel season.
Immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Corfu by choosing a beachfront accommodation. Hotels and resorts like the Arena Beach Hotel and Marbella Nido Suite Hotel provide stunning views of the Ionian sea and offer secluded beach access. If your budget is a bit tight, consider staying at more affordable beachfront properties such as the Mediterranean Blue resort. Regardless of where you choose to stay, waking up to the breathtaking Corfu coastline will surely make your trip entirely unforgettable.
Unique and Authentic Greek Stays (such as Homestays)
If immersing yourself in authentic Greek lifestyle is your desire, homestays in Corfu are perfect for you. Traditional yet comfortable homes, nestled amid olive groves or perched hilltop, embrace Greek hospitality. Residents host these accommodations, presenting an excellent opportunity to relish the local cuisine and culture. Kato Korakiana or Agios Matheos offer such immersive experiences. Connect with your gracious hosts, discover secret beaches, and unravel the island's history. Such authenticity is worth cherishing. Homestays also provide the thrill of living in centuries-old stone houses. They possess a unique allure divergent from regular hotels, making your stay memorable.
Top Attractions in Corfu
Historic Sites and Landmarks
Discover Corfu's rich history at the Old Fortress, an impressive Venetian fortification offering a panoramic view of the city. Also, the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George, housing two outstanding museums, is a must-see. Take a stroll in the old town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lined with beautiful Venetian-style buildings. Don't miss the Palaio Frourio, an ancient Byzantine Castle, as well as the famous Achilleion Palace, once the summer residence of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Lastly, visit the iconic Church of Saint Spyridon, which holds the remains of the island's patron saint. It's a testimony to Corfu's enduring Christian heritage.
Best Beaches in Corfu
Corfu's coastline is dotted with ravishing beaches, each with unique charms. Don't miss out on Paleokastritsa Beach, renowned for its turquoise waters and sweeping views. Its serenity is perfect for rejuvenating respite. If you're a party-lover, Kavos Beach is perfect. It's famed for its vibrant nightlife. Alternatively, Sidari Beach offers family-friendly attractions with its warm, shallow waters. Lastly, Glyfada Beach is a must-see with its golden sands set against verdant, hilly landscapes.
Natural Attractions and National Parks
The Ionian Island of Corfu offers breathtaking scenery unmatched elsewhere in Greece. Visit the impressive Cape Drastis cliffs, surrounded by clear turquoise waters, or saunter in the shadow of olive trees around the peaceful Antinioti Lagoon. You wouldn't want to miss the stunning Corfu National Park, known for its rich flora and fauna. Here, explore the tranquil wetlands, climb up the Pantokrator Mountain, or unwind by the shores of the splendid Gialiskari Beach.
Museums and Art Galleries
Immerse yourself in Corfu's diverse culture at the Museum of Asian Art, featuring an extensive collection from the Far East. Alternatively, visit the Byzantine Museum, housed in a 15th-century church, providing a deep dive into Corfus Byzantine and Post-Byzantine past. In the heart of Corfu Town, The Banknote Museum, offers an unusual insight into the history of currency. For art lovers, the Municipal Gallery hosts an impressive collection of 19th and 20th-century Greek art. These spaces give a deep appreciation for Corfu's rich history and artistic talent.
Explore the picturesque old town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its charming cobblestone streets and Venetian architecture. Shop for souvenirs or dine in a traditional taverna in the heart of the city. Take a stroll around the iconic Paleokastritsa Monastery accompanied by breathtaking sea views. Lastly, step back in time as you wander around the ancient ruins of the Old Fortress, an architectural masterpiece that tells the island's history.
Must-try Greek Cuisine in Corfu
Famous Corfu Dishes
Corfu, famous for its unique and divine cuisine, offers a rich menu of dishes imbued with Italian influences. Try Pastitsada, a slow-cooked beef or rooster stew poured over pasta. Another must-try dish is Bourdeto, a spicy fish casserole, pleasing for those who appreciate a little heat. For desserts, don't miss out on the Kumquat spoon sweet and Mandolato, an aromatic nougat dessert made with honey, nuts and egg whites. Whatever your culinary preferences, Corfu's diverse dishes are a gourmet paradise!
Traditional Greek Tavernas
Corfu proudly showcases its rich culinary heritage in its traditional Greek tavernas. These quaint establishments are generously scattered around the island, providing authentic local dining experiences. Nestled in charmingly rustic settings, they serve up dishes prepared with locally sourced produce. Feast on staples such as the succulent locally-reared meat souvlaki, zesty moussaka paired with a glass of traditional Corfiot wine. From the simple ambiance to the tantalizing flavors, the tavernas promise an unforgettable culinary journey. Some renowned picks are Tavernaki, Bellissimo, and La Famiglia. Considered as legendary in Corfu, these eateries provide a taste of tradition that will leave you hungry for more.
Seafood Restaurants in Corfu
Settle your taste buds at Nautical Doris, a quintessential seafood taverna in Corfu Town. Known for dishes like fresh octopus and lobster linguini, and vistas of emerald waters, it promises an unforgettable dining experience. Venture off the beaten path to Roula’s Place in Agni Bay. It offers spectacular seafood dishes, including the popular 'catch of the day'. Don't forget to end your meal with their famous honey-drizzled baklava. You'll be delighted by the authentic Greek hospitality and stunning seaside views.
Best Spots for Sunset Dining
Corfu offers several serene spots ideal for sunset dining. The Sunset Restaurant in Peroulades is a fantastic choice offering breathtaking sunset views, and delivers mouthwatering Greek dishes like Pastitsada. White House in Kalami Bay pairs exquisite Greek seafood with awe-inspiring sunsets over the Ionian sea, creating an unforgettable dining experience. Alternatively, Taverna Tripa at Kinopiastes village offers sunset views encapsulating the traditional Greek village charm and cuisine, a must-try when visiting Corfu.
Shopping Guide to Corfu
Local Artisan Crafts and Products
Corfu showcases a rich heritage of local artisan crafts that merge traditional techniques with contemporary design. Shop till you drop to discover unique ceramic pieces, handmade jewelry and exquisite lacework, which make for excellent souvenirs or gifts. If edible goodies are your thing, don't miss locally produced olive oil, honey, and wines; known for their top-notch quality. Additionally, Kumquat liqueur and other traditional products made from the miniature citrus kumquat, grown only in Corfu, are not to be missed. Your shopping spree in Corfu is incomplete without delving into the world of Greek music. Music stores across the island sell Bouzoukia, a popular Greek instrument showcasing their vibrant culture. With such an array of crafts and products, buying local in Corfu is indeed a delightful experience.
Best Local Markets
Corfu Old Town hosts a charming daily market brimming with fresh produce, local cheeses, olive oil, and homemade jams. It is an ideal spot for foodies to experience Grecian flavors and culinary traditions. The weekend flea market in Anemomylos, meanwhile, is perfect for bargain hunters and antique lovers. From handcrafted jewelry to vintage clothes, you can find novel keepsakes. Lastly, the exquisite boutiques of Liston promenade offer locally made artisan products, a regular delight for ardent shoppers. Immerse yourself in the unique shopping culture of Corfu during your visit.
Shopping Streets and Malls
Wander along the cobblestoned alleys of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for unique shopping experiences. Streets like Agiou Spyridonos offer local specialty shops, small boutiques, and souvenirs. Liston Arcade is a Venetian-style mall filled with fashionable boutiques and casual cafes. Alternatively, choose the Corfu Town Mall for a variety of brands under one roof. For local goods, Kerkyra Market offers a wide range of fresh produce, homemade specialties, and Corfu’s famous Kumquat liqueur. Be sure to try the local olives and honey.
In Corfu, souvenir shopping is an essential part of the journey. Explore local markets and vintage shops, where you can find items unique to this mesmerizing Greek island. Jewelry made from Corfu's native olivewood, traditional Greek sandals, and local honey make great mementos. Kerkyra Old Town offers a charming shopping experience, with myriad boutiques selling handmade Corfiot products. Consider purchasing local ceramics and embroidered linen, which are quintessential Greek gifts. Remember to haggle, it's part of the fun and completely expected in local markets!
Nightlife in Corfu
Popular Clubs and Bars
Corfu’s nightlife is as vibrant as its rich history and beautiful landscapes. The Limani area is popular for its bustling bars like Imabari and Base which offer mixed drinks, lively atmosphere, and stunning sea views. Among clubs, Space Dance is a popular choice for mainstream music, while Edem Beach Club is loved for its beach parties. 54 Dreamy Nights is another must-visit spot, renowned for live DJ performances and themed nights. With an eclectic nightlife, this charismatic Greek island ensures a memorable evening for every traveler.
Relaxing Wine Bars and Taverns
In Corfu, wine lovers will be enchanted by the variety of local wines that can be tried in charming bars located in the old town such as Pharmako and Katoi. These spots provide a cozy setting ideal for long, calm evenings. You should not miss Greek meze in the local taverns. Avgoustis and Bella Vista are among the most beloved ones. They offer delightful local dishes and wines in a laid-back atmosphere. Whether you prefer sipping wine in an intimate bar or a hearty meal in a down-to-earth tavern, Corfu’s nightlife caters to relaxed revelers seeking a quieter pace.
Cultural Nightlife – Theatres and Music
Corfu takes pride in its rich cultural scene that thrives in the evening. A must-visit is the Ionian Parliament, a historic opera house, which stages impressive productions throughout the year. Alternatively, local bouzouki venues offer live traditional Greek music. For a taste of classical music, head to the Philharmonic Society of Corfu. Established in 1840, it offers frequent concerts featuring local talents. The music of Corfu is a vibrant blend of Western and Eastern influences, making its cultural nightlife truly unique.
Tips and Hints for first-time travelers
Essential Greek Phrases for Travelers
Start with simple greetings like ‘Hello’ - 'Yassou' or ‘Good morning’ - 'Kalimera'. Useful phrases include 'Thank you' - 'Efharisto', ‘I don’t understand’ - 'Den katalaveno' and 'Excuse me' - 'Signomi'. Don't worry about pronunciation, locals will appreciate your effort. When ordering food, 'beer' is 'bira', 'water' is 'nero' and 'bill please' is 'Logariasmo, parakalo'. For directions, 'where is' - 'Pou ine', ‘Right’ - 'Dexia' and ‘Left’ - 'Aristera'. These simple phrases will help you get around and connect more with the local people on your visit to captivating Corfu.
Tips for Safety and Etiquette
When in Corfu, respect local customs; modest dress is appreciated, particularly in religious sites. Greeks appreciate a friendly ‘kalimera’ (good morning) or ‘kalispera’ (good evening). As for safety, Corfu is generally a safe destination. However standard precautions apply including not leaving your belongings unattended and being watchful in crowded tourist hot-spots. Out in the sea, be cautious of sudden changes in sea currents, particularly on western Corfu beaches. It’s always safe to heed warning signs. Pay attention to the logistics of your trip - ensure your travel insurance is up-to-date and remember to drive on the right!
Basic Guidelines for Responsible Tourism
Respect the local culture and traditions of Corfu; dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites, and learn a few basic phrases in Greek. Keep an eye out for signs requesting limitations on photography and abide by them. Always ask permission before taking photos of locals. Disposal of waste responsibly is an important aspect of eco-conscious travel; do not litter and recycle whenever possible. Support local businesses by buying from local vendors and eating at local establishments. This not only boosts the local economy but also provides an authentic Corfiot experience.
Money Saving Tips for Corfu Holiday
Visiting Corfu doesn't have to make a big dent in your savings. Opt for local tavernas over tourist spots for affordable yet authentic Greek fare. Visit the local market to enjoy fresh Mediterranean produce if you're self-catering. Save on costly transport by exploring Corfu on foot or via public transport, which is cheap and reliable. To avoid steep entrance fees at popular sights, consider buying a combo-ticket that allows multiple attractions at a reduced price. Always remember, travelling off-season will cut your overall costs considerably.
Have a good trip!