The most popular and greenest of the Ionian islands in the northwest corner of Greece, Corfu is one of the lushest islands in the country, seeing more rain than any other Greek island. It’s a nature lovers dream with some of the best sandy beaches along its 135 miles of coastline, bird-filled lagoons and cascading waterfalls. Much of the landscape is mountainous, with Mount Pantokrator its highest peak. In between, there are photogenic Old Towns and traditional villages to explore.
While you’re here, be sure to put some of these things to do on your list.
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Admire Views from The Old Fortress, Old Town Corfu
Corfu’s Old Fortress was built by the Venetians in the mid-16th century on the site of an older, Byzantine castle. It sits atop a small, rocky peninsula just east of the Old Town and at its highest point, marked by a lighthouse, breathtaking views of the town, the sea, and the mountainous Albanian coast can be enjoyed. There’s a small church inside the citadel, built in the 19th century in the style of a Doric temple.
Get Lost in Old Town Corfu
UNESCO-listed Old Town Corfu may offer more photo-ops than any other town in the Greek islands. It boasts spectacular architectural styles from across multiple areas in Europe, with lots of Italian influences along with soaring spires and medieval walls that make it look as if it’s straight out of a storybook. Take a stroll through the maze of narrow pedestrian lanes lined with terracotta-roofed homes draped in bougainvillea, and along the Liston promenade with its numerous cafes reminiscent of Paris’ Rue de Rivoli.
Visit the Achilleion Palace Museum
Located in the village of Gastouri, about seven miles south of Old Corfu, the Achilleion Palace Museum sits inside a majestic palace that was built in the late 1800s at the bequest of Elisabeth of Bavaria, the Empress of Austria who was well known to be obsessed with beauty. After its use as a palace, it became a military hospital during World War I, and in the 1970s and ’80s, a casino that was featured in James Bond’s “For Your Eyes Only. The mythical hero Achilles is its central theme, with statues of Greek mythological figures, including Achilles, Zeus and Hera on its beautiful grounds. Inside are ceiling frescos and works of art that date back to the palace’s construction.
Capture a Photo of the Renaissance Bell Tower
Corfu’s most iconic church stands out among the Old Town buildings with its Renaissance bell tower the highest in the Ionian Islands. Dating back to 1580, it hosts the relics of St Spyridon, which were brought here from Constantinople in the 15th century. Not only should you capture a photo, but you’ll want to take a peek inside too. Its Corinthian columns and its ceiling are absolutely stunning, complete with gilded stuccowork around paintings that were originally composed in the 18th century by Panagiotis Doxaras, although they were repainted after deterioration. The entrance to the crypt is just to the side of the iconostasis, with a double sarcophagus plated with silver leaf holding the saint’s remains.
Watch the Monks at Paleokastritsa Monastery
Paleokastritsa is a monastery that dates back to the 13th century. It sits atop a lush green hill dominating the region on the northwest side of Corfu. Overlooking a beach and the sea, not only does it boast fabulous views but it offers the opportunity to experience a working monastery. Watch the monks as they go about their day-to-day business and explore the small ecclesiastical museum that exhibits holy books, rare Byzantine icons and other relics. You can also see a traditional olive oil press in the monastery itself.
Day Trip to Mouse Island
Mouse Island, referred to as Pontikonisi by the locals, is just a five-minute boat ride from Corfu Town. The myth says the tiny island is the remains of Odysseus’s ship after Poseidon turned it to stone. While it’s protected, visitors can disembark and climb the steps to visit a little monastery that hosts a souvenir shop and cafe. There’s a beach where you can lie down, soak up the sun and enjoy a gorgeous view of Kanoni just across the water, as well as a Byzantine chapel. Some believe it was the inspiration for the famous painting Isle of the Dead.
Spend the Day at the Beach
There are many beautiful beaches on Corfu, with a perfect stretch for just about everyone. Sidari offers endless sandy stretches with spectacular sandstone formations. On the western side of the island are fjords and the famous Canal d’Amour beach. One of the most unique spots on Corfu, just to the west of Corfu Town, the myth tells that if you swim in this natural passage, you’ll find your soul mate and marry soon. Not only does it offer swimming in warm, aquamarine waters in a protected cove, but it’s also become a popular place for marriage proposals.
Catch a Boat to Cape Drastis
One of the northernmost points on the island, Cape Drastis is a destination that shouldn’t be missed. When conditions allow, typically during the summer months, it can be accessed by boat. Incredibly photogenic, what makes it so unique is the bizarre shape of the cliffs that have little sеа сaves and odd fоrmatiοns, while several sаndу strips lie betweеn them. Up close, the сape lοoks liкe the head of a giant turtlе with several smallеr turtle fоrmatiοns swimming аround it. There is no sand in the cove, but the terraced rocks around it are popular for sunbathing. Swimming is possible when the winds aren’t howling and the water is calm.
Indulge in Lots of Mouthwatering Local Foods
Greece is famous for its mouthwatering cuisine, considered to be some of the healthiest and tastiest in the world. Corfu is no exception. It’s a blend of Greek and Venetian fare, with lots of hearty dishes focused on lamb and fresh seafood. Some of the island’s popular traditional items are often featured in meals here, including extra-virgin olive oil, sheep’s yogurt and honey. Lots of spices like cinnamon, allspice and cloves are used along with garlic and wine. Fresh produce is used in abundance as it’s so plentiful on the island. Sofrito is one of the trademark dishes, made up of thin, fried slices of beef cooked in a white sauce with white wine, garlic, vinegar, parsley and pepper, served with mashed peas or potatoes.
Catch a Sunset at Loggas Beach
Corfu’s sunsets are famous – you might want to plan to end every day by watching one. Some of the most popular spots include Loggas Beach near Cape Drastis where you can watch from the sand or the cliffs. This is where you’ll find the sold-called “7th Heaven” with a transparent viewing balcony that protrudes off the edge. The heart of Corfu Town offers one of the top sunset views along the outer ring road. From here you can gaze out at the boats tat come and go into the main port while waiting for the sun to splash its colors across the horizon.
Hike the Corfu Trail
The nearly 137-mile-long Corfu Trail winds from one end of the island to the other between Agios Spiridonas and Kavos, offering a bucket list experience for hikers. It’s the best way to truly get to know Corfu’s beautiful, diverse landscapes, from the beaches and lagoons to the mountains. It takes at least eight days to cover, but it’s well worth the effort for those with the time. While you’re trekking, you won’t want to miss the slight detour to the 13th century Angelokastro Castle. Not only does it boast views galore, but an ancient church dedicated to the angels Gabriel and Michael which was constructed in a cave.
Enjoy the Views from Agios Gordios
Agios Gordios is a beach along the island’s west coast, renowned for its gorgeous views sea and mountain views. While you’ll probably want to spend time on the sand and in the sea, there’s plenty of other things to do, including visiting the charming traditional villages nearby and watching the local life. Pagi is tucked in a wooded village less than two miles away and served as a James Bond filming site. Afionas has a historic church at its center, rising over the bay at the south end of the beach, boasting a panoramic vista of the small islands of Gineka, Kravia and Sikia.
Join an Olive Oil and Wine Tasting Tour
Two of Corfu’s most popular locally-made products are wine and olive oil. A tour will bring you inland into the hills covered with vineyards and olive groves to explore Theotoky Estate and enjoy tasting too. Learn about the history of the family-run organic winery and its winemaking methods, discovering lesser-known delights as you sip organic Theotoky wines. You can pick up a bottle to bring back home too. Don’t miss the optional premium olive oil tasting either.
Rent a Mountain Bike and Go Exploring
Mountain biking is popular on Corfu too if you can tear yourself away from those beautiful beaches and charming towns. There are options to rent one and explore independently or join a tour for a guided trip. Cycle Corfu offers rentals, with the largest selection of high-end bikes on the island, as well as hosting a variety of tours that will bring you along the coast, to mountaintops and beyond.