View Greece throuth Ioanna's eye

CORFU: a «lady» in the Ionian Sea

Discover the endless charm of Corfu, going up to the top of the Old Fortress, coming down strolling into the narrow streets of Kampielo, named “kantounia”, drinking your coffee in Liston, walking in the gardens at Mon Repos and Achilleion, discovering the picturesque mountain villages and making dives into beaches with exotic colors!

Text - Photos: Ioanna Paravalou

Flooded by olive trees, pines and cypresses, the verdant “island of Feakes" with the indented coastline and turquoise waters, and the atmospheric old town with “kantounia”, knows to respect the secrets for centuries, but also the poetry of a life that resists ephemeral influences of the times. Starting a journey of acquaintance with Corfu, that of the traveler and not that of the tourist, we will discover a unique island with a distinct culture, a high level of culture, traditions, and unique local flavors!

Crossroads of East and West, Corfu is the northernmost island of the Ionian Sea and over the years became the target of many conquerors. Formerly part of the Byzantine Empire, was conquered by the Venetians, French, Russian and English. Those influences helped Corfu to form a distinct cultural identity. The influence of the West appears in both the architecture of the facades and the interior decoration of public buildings, of aristocratic houses, but also of ordinary urban houses.


       

Strolls in Kampielo and coffee at Liston…

To discover the atmosphere of the old Corfu, walk in the magnificent Old Town. Surrounded by walls and fortresses with Venetian multistory houses between narrow “kantounia”, with coats of arms, lanterns and escutcheons the town, is among the places worth visiting at different times of the day. Kampielo, is the old Jewish settlement. The Old City is the largest "live" preserved medieval city in Greece and the different architectural elements, tied in harmony with each other, expressing the influences of different cultural experiences.

The new part of Corfu is not separated from the Old Town. So, next to the “kantounia” there are comfortable roads with large squares, which among them Spianada stands out and is considered the most beautiful in Greece and the largest in the Balkans. On the west side, lies the famous Liston. At arcades with the big lanterns hosted nice cafes and restaurants. The name came from the fact that here walked only nobles that were registered in the list (List on).

In Corfu town worth to visit the following: Byzantine Museum, Archaeological Museum, Museum of Asian Art, Old Palace (imposing building of the early 19th century), Town hall, Church of Agios Iassonas and Sosipatros, Church of Agios Spyridonas, Cathedral and the Monastery of Panagia Platytera. 

 

Going up to the top of Old Fortress…

Walking along the coast road to Garitsa, you will see it rising proudly facing the waves, the guardian of Corfu from bygone days ... It is separated from the town by a moat, Contra Fosa, above which there was a movable wooden bridge. Here stands the imposing church of Agios Georgios, built in patterns of ancient Doric temple. Inside the fortress there is a restaurant - café. The best, though, is to go uphill the alley leading to the top of the fortress. The view from high up of the Old Town and the sea is fantastic! However, on the island there is also the New or Stergiano Fortress, on the other side of the town, built by the Italian architect Vitelli, in 1577-1587, to protect the town from possible Turkish invasion.

At the legendary Achilleion…

One of the most famous sights of Corfu is Achilleion, the legendary palace which was built in 1884 -1891 to be used as a place of rest for the Empress Elisabeth (Sissy) of Austria. A stroll through its beautiful gardens is experience. Admire the two excellent statues (Achilles Dying and Achilles Victories). Inside the palace there is the huge oil painting "The Triumph of Achilles". (Open daily 08.00-19.00, tel.: 26610-56245).


       

At Palaiopolis’ Museum (Mon Repos)…

A must see is a walk through the natural and incredible gardens of Mon Repos. Is it a different experience to navigate in the Museum of Palaiopolis - Mon Repos, with the impressive mansion (formerly the summer residence of the former Royal family) and the overgrown botanical garden with rare trees and archaeological findings. From the staff at the entrance ask for a layout of the garden, to discover its hidden corners. (Open daily except Mondays, 08.00 - 15.30, tel.: 26610-41369).

Boating up to Pontikonisi

The most classical picture of Corfu is from the Cannon “Kanoni” overlooking the bay with the overgrown Pontikonisi and the Monastery of Panagia Vlaherna of 17th century, Joined by a narrow strip of land to the island. From here take a small boat to Pontikonisi to light a candle in the Byzantine church of Pantokratoras.

 

Walk in its beautiful corners…

To know Corfu, you will need a car, because the island is large and hides many remote beautiful villages, lush bays with beautiful beaches that you will want to discover. Following the northerly direction you reach Alykes, a beachfront location with summer residences, and Gouvia (former Venetian dockyard, now tourist center). Few kilometers away through the green Dasia, is a very touristic place, hosting the finest hotel resorts. Nearby is the picturesque fishing village Ipsos, with a nice beach and nightlife. Continuing along the coastal road, you will encounter many coastal villages, smothered in green with very beautiful beaches, Barbati and Nisaki (with wonderful colors in sea water). All over you can find hotels, rooms to let, tavernas next to the beach, with local delicacies, fresh fish and good wine ...

One of the most picturesque harbors of the island, with beautiful beach and turquoise waters is Kalami. In this green bay you will find many accommodations to stay (for all budgets). Combine a swim at the beautiful beach with very good food, enjoying unique traditional dishes, fresh fish and seafood and what attracts our appetite at the tavern «Thoma's Place», where the waves burst ... The excellent service and the smile of the people is another advantage of this well-known quality tavern. If you want a sea ride, go to the next picturesque harbor, Kouloura, where  boats for excursions to nearby beaches are available.

The route to the North is particularly beautiful, and at every turn of the road on the slopes of Pantokratoras (the highest mountain of Corfu) a new landscape emerges. Next you will arrive in Kassiopi, the picturesque fishing village with a beautiful harbor and the proud Castle from years long ago ... Here you can swim in crystal clear, turquoise waters, just outside the harbor, walking about 10 minutes on foot..

From Kassiopi, Roda and Sidari there are daily boat excursions to Diapontian Islands, Othonoi, Ereikoussa and Mathraki. In these one can enjoy the beauty of nature, without the crowded tourist beaches.


       

At Peroulades and Canal d’ Amour…

Exotic colors, curious rock formations, waters with tropical colors and idyllic coves compose the landscape after Sidari. The area is known as the Canal d' Amour and belongs to the region of Peroulades.  At every creek a beach is formed with white sand and emerald waters. A dreamy landscape! Many, stylish cafes and restaurants have been created around the beaches and hotel resorts. One of the most breathtaking landscapes on the island is Cape Drastis, near the village Peroulades. Going down to the sea from the dirt road, you can go by a small boat to the nearby deserted beaches. (Information, tel.: 6992785352). After a swim in the afternoon, take a walk in the village Peroulades with its picturesque neighborhoods that are deeply marked from the Venetian domination... At sunset be sure to at Logas beach, where you will see the strongest sunset enjoying a cool cocktail at the amazing café bar «The Sunset Beach»!

At Palaiokastritsa and Aggelokastro…

Moving to the west coast of the island facing the Adriatic you will be enchanted by the natural landscape. About 26 klm from Corfu is Palaiokastritsa, which, according to many scholars, is considered the Homeric city of Feakes. The view from above as you go down is the unique. turquoise waters, very cold water with a crowded beach. Up the hill, is the historic monastery of Palaiokastritsa, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the village Krini is Angelokastro, a fortress built on a steep hill top where you will enjoy the incredible view to the endless blue ... The most beautiful view of the area is from the village Lakones can be found at «Bella Vista».

Glifada (16 klm from Corfu) and Agios Gordis are two sites with small bays ideal for swimming. Northwest of Corfu, at Agios Stefanos Arillas, is one of the most beautiful and largest sandy beaches of the island.

Also from the village Pelekas you will enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets of the island.

At its picturesque mountain villages…

On the island you will discover mountain villages with special atmosphere, nestling on the green slopes of Mount Pantokratoras. Their houses are painted with bright colors and in the picturesque streets the time stops ... The first of these is Sokraki. Leave the car at the entrance of the village and we stroll through the cobbled streets on foot. Lower is Ano Korakiana with many colorful houses. On the slopes of Pantokratoras discover Palia Peritheia, another stone Venetian village, built in the Middle Ages and was invisible from the sea, for fear of pirates. Trademark of the village, is the tall pink bell tower of the church of Agios Iacovos Persis. Worth the walk...

A beautiful mountain village overlooking the sea is Nymfes. The valley is filled with many kumquat trees (characteristics of the island). Arriving at the square with trees and fountains with crystal clear waters, take the direction to Askitario (1 klm.), with one of the oldest Christian monuments of the island. Many hikers follow this route on foot. The more adventurous will discover a waterfall that is located in the area (ask for information from the locals ...).


       

At Benitses and Lake Koryssion…

It’s worth a trip to Benitses, an old fishing village, now a tourist resort, with nice tavernas by the sea. Continuing south, you will arrive at Agios Ioannis Pristeron, Moraitika and Messogi, which is located near largest olive grove on the island. A fork in the road leads to Lake Koryssion.

The beaches of Agios Georgios and Kavos are close to Lefkimmi, the richest village of Corfu, retaining many traditional features. Its wine is famous. A small canal runs through the town’s center, with a bridge and trees that cast their shade in its waters.

At any point of Corfu travel of this island has its own way of enchanting every visitor, either seeking the luxury and comfort of modern tourist facilities, or looking for the beauty in tradition and charm.

 

INFO

Activities

  • In Corfu you will enjoy swimming in enchanting beaches, all water sports on the beaches, but also hiking in the overgrown trails near the picturesque mountain villages.
  • Horseback Riding: Another exciting experience is to discover the beauty of nature in Corfu by horseback in Corfu Riding Centre, at Avlaki. The routes combines mountain, lake and sea ... The programs are based on our capabilities.(Information: Dimitris Katsaros, tel.: 26630-91172, 6977 399481, www.dimitriscorfu.gr ).

The best beaches

Kassiopi, Kalami, Nisaki, Canal d’ Amour, Logas, Agios Georgios Pagon, Agios Stefanos, Palaiokastritsa, Barbati, Glyfada, Agios Gordios Sinaradon, Sidari, Ipsos, Acharavi, Kontogialos.

How to get there:

  • By plane from Athens Airport El. Venizelos and there you can rent a car.
  • By your own car or with KTEL buses up to Igoumenitsa and from there by ferry to Corfu.

Where to stay:

Kalami: «Mandalena», tel. 26610-28590, 6845 957600 (a beautiful cottage in a property, in the overgrown Kalami, with panoramic views from its terrace in the picturesque harbour and the sea. It has two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom and private pool, for 2-6 persons. At an economical price!)

Nisaki: «Nisaki Beach »: tel.: 26630-91232-5, www.nisakibeach.gr  «Corfu Residence», tel.: 26630-91711, www.corfuresidence.gr

Palaiokastritsa: «Bella Vista Studios», tel.: 26630-49101, 6977 008006. «Akrotiri Beach Hotel»: tel.: 26630-41237, 41275, www.akrotiri-beach.gr

Dasia: «Dassia Chandris»: tel: 26610-93458, www.chandris.gr/dassia . «Livadi Nafsika Hotel»: tel.: 26610-93276, 93173. «Grecotel Dafnila Bay Thalasso»: tel.: 26610-90320-4, www.grecotel.gr

Peroulades: «Hotel Socrates» tel.: 26630-99201, 95860, www.socrateshotel.com

Kommeno: «Grecotel Corfu Imperial»: tel.:26610-88400, www.grecotel.gr «Eva Palace»: tel.: 26610-90003, www.grecotel.gr

Where to eat:

Kalami: «Thoma’s Place». For unique traditional tastes, such as, bourdeto, sofrito, pastitsada and sea food … by the wave. «Steki tou Dimitri» for thoughtful flavours, nice views and musical evenings.

Overlooking Palaiokastritsa: «Golden Fox» (lobster-spaggeti, sofrito, pastitsada with lamb or rooster, sweet kumquat, pecan pie).

Canal d’ Amour - Sidari: «Aquarious» (good food, drink and view at Canal d’ Amour).

Beach Logas: «The Sunset Beach». Impressive space overlooking the beach Logas. (Try pan-fried pork with wine sauce and fresh mushrooms, pumpkin pie, garlic sauce “skordalia” and cod refreshing cocktails!)

Kouloura: «Tavern Kouloura».

Cofru Town: «Istioploikos» (Old Fortress - Mandraki), «La Cucina» (13, Moustoxidou Str.), «Rex» (60, Kapodistriou Str.).

Boukari of Corfu: «Boukari Beach» (lobster and seafood).

Avlaki of Corfu: «Cavo Barbaro» (stuffed lamb).

Agni of Corfu: «Toula’s seafood».

Barbati: «Piedra del Mare».

Kassiopi: «Trilogia».

What to buy:

  • Handmade wicker baskets, made ​​with love by Ms. Vasilis Giganas. You will find him outside the supermarket Diellas (8 klm. away from Corfu Town), daily except Sundays 17.30-20.00. (tel. 6950 096927).
  • Traditional products ( Kumquat liqueur and preserves, mantoles and mantolata) from the store «Maria Malaha» at Agios Spyridonas (tel. 26610-36130) and from the pastry shops of the island.

 
       

Presentation

 

Villa «Mandalena»

For your stay in Corfu, a smart solution is to rent a beautiful cottage in an well grown property, with private pool and wonderful views of Kalami with the idyllic bay, where the trees glide to the sea… It has two bedrooms, a spacious living room, equipped kitchen, bathroom and terrace with incredible views! It hosts from two to six people. And you will enjoy all of them at a very economical price!)

At Kalami beach, where the wave crash, you will enjoy unique flavors, with traditional recipes, fresh fish and seafood and lots of imaginative dishes at the tavern «Thoma’s Place».

Info - reservations: tel.: 26610-28590, 6845 957600 (responsible person: Mr. Thomas Katsaros).

 

 

 



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