Journey to the land of the Phaeacians, one of the most beautiful Greek islands, Corfu with its distinctive and unique identity, with its historical presence from antiquity to modern times, with the amazing nature and beautiful landscapes.
It is a fact that a week is not enough to enjoy Corfu as it deserves. In order to experience the seaside small villages and the green hinterland with the small ponds and the unique landscapes, it takes time, good mood and … strength, so that you can leave the impressive beaches with the blue-green waters behind you!
It is also a fact that Corfu’s Old Town with its architectural ornaments, countless old churches and museums will win most of your time, but you must never believe that Corfu is “running out” somewhere. Because then, you will just miss the unique beauties of the North and the great ecosystems of the South …
We start from the town of Corfu with the intention to get to know the island from one side to the other within a week. Our first morning on the island is dedicated to a first walk in the old town and Spianada, after we enjoy a morning coffee in Liston, the heart of old Corfu.
Walking in Spianada, the largest square in the Balkans, where the cricket games take place on the island – because of the British rule, Corfu has a tradition in cricket – we see various monuments and sights. For example, the Maitland Peristyle, the circular building surrounded by twenty columns of Ionic style, is located on the south side of the square and was built in honor of the Englishman Sir Thomas Maitland in 1816.
Also at one end of Spianada is Mposketto, a small grove from which you will admire the sea, the statue of Gillford, dedicated to the philhellene Lord of Guilford who lived in Corfu and left a great work, and the view of the Old Fortress.
Passing through the arched gate of the fortress, passing over Kontra Fossa (the artificial ditch), through the iron bridge and the galley, we move to another era.
The well-preserved buildings, such as the Doric temple of St. George, built in 1840, the Schulenburg Statue, the Marshal who defended the Old Fortress successfully, repelled the Turkish attack in the 18th century, the Venetian prison, the military chapel, two barracks and even the English Military Hospital where the music school now operates give us a very good picture of the glorious past of the fort while Mandraki, the small port full of boats, with the beautiful Soranza gate wait for us in the north Side of the fortress.
Stone stairs lead to the highest fortification level of the Old Fortress, where you will enjoy panoramic views of Spianada and the Old Town, the bay of Garitsa and Vido, the small island that is very close.
After the Fortress we leave the town and head to the sea. The beach of Glyfada, which is almost in the opposite direction to the city and is orientated to the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic, is only 18 km away, which will require about half an hour of driving. The route is delightful, in the lush nature of Corfu, while the beach is fully organized, sandy, with clear blue-green waters.
Next we ascend to the nearby village of Pelekas, just 4 km away. Pelekas is known for the Kaiser Observatory, or Kaiser’s Throne, a location with panoramic views of the plains and the most famous sunset of the whole Island. In the center of the village we will find a variety of taverns, restaurants, cafes and bars.
The second day of our holidays starts with Paleokastritsa, one of the most famous resorts of the island. It is only 23 km away from the city of Corfu and is located to the north of the island. Extremely green with olive groves and pine trees ending in turquoise waters, lacy coastline and coves with golden sandy beaches …
First we go to Aggelokastro which is open to public only during the morning hours. It is built on the top of a rugged, rocky hill, and to get to it, we have to walk the path (about 20 minutes).
We continue for another morning visit to the Monastery of Paleokastritsa, which dates back to the 13th century and has a remarkable collection of Byzantine icons and ecclesiastical artifacts.
Time fir the sea and we have plenty of choices. The central beach of Paleokastritsa is organized and there we will find what we are looking for. Near Paleokastritsa however, there are small and more isolated beaches, such as Alypa, Agia Triada, Agios Petros, Ambelakia and Platakia, that attract swimmers seeking tranquility.
Paleokastritsa is famous for its extremely cold and deep waters, but it is crystal clear and spotless. The entire area is also famous for its seabed, which attracts divers from all over the world for diving and underwater explorations. In the traditional taverns and restaurants of the village we will eat extremely well when we are hungry, while on the way back home, the traditionally built villages of Laconas, Doukades and Krini also gain our admiration!
We are already two days in Corfu and we have not seen Pontikonisi, so on the third day of our holiday we will not miss it! Starting in the area of Kanoni in Corfu, right next to the town, where Pontikonisi and Panagia Vlahernon are located, we stop at the also famous Mon Repos.
The green estate of Mon Repos is part of the archaeological site of Palaiopolis, the most important ancient city of the island. The palace of Mon Repo was built in 1831 and after the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece it was given to King George to use it as the summer palace until 1967. King George I gave the estate the name that was established: Mon Repos, which means “my rest”.
The ruins of the largest ancient temple of Corfu are very close to the palace, and you will also see the best preserved temple of the island. The Palace of Mon Repos itself consists of two main buildings of neoclassical style, strictly symmetrical with each other. The verdant garden that surrounds the villa is equally impressive, with more than 2,000 species of plants, from smaller herbs and flowers, to towering trees!
We depart for Pontikonisi, on the edge of the cape at Kanoni and next to the airport. From the cafes, we see the most famous picture of Corfu: The green Pontikonisi in the middle of the narrow bay and in front of Panagia Blachernon.
We descend the stairs and the picturesque chapel, built on a small island in the Chalikipoulou lagoon, is in front of us. We cross the narrow stone path and we are in the monastery’s enclosure, built according to testimonies in the 17th century, while in about 1980 the last monk who lived there left.
Pontikonisi is full of tall cypress trees and other plants of rare beauty and is named after its shape, as if seen from above it looks like a mouse!
What the dozens of photos from Pontikonisi have not shown you are … the airplanes. Corfu airport is very close, and the landing and take-off corridor starts through the lagoon. Thus, the aircraft pass at a very low altitude above Pontikonisi, creating a unique spectacle, either seen from above or from the pier, from where you will see them literally passing over your heads!
We continue south to the famous Achilleion, the palace of Empress Sissy. It is located in the village of Gastouri, ten kilometers southwest of the city of Corfu, in the olive groves and the green nature of the island. There we take a stroll between the great works of art and end up in the lovely garden of the palace, from where we admire the endless view ..
We continue south to Mpenitses for another five kilometers. Restaurants, taverns and fish taverns await for us, while in front of the village is the organized beach with fine pebbles and crystal clear waters. The most distinctive feature on the beach is its seabed, as the aquatic plant Posidonia has the ability to filter the harmful substances of the water. It is also worth a visit to the Marine Museum, which has a huge collection of shells, sponges and fossils.
Kassiopi in northern Corfu is one of the places we should not miss to visit. With the beautiful village as our final destination, we start from the city towards the Erimitis, one of the island’s most important ecosystems.
The only way to get to know its greatness is, of course, walking in nature, so we will follow the path of Erimitis, starting from Agios Stefanos Sinion (30km from Corfu) and ending at Avlaki Beach. Dense vegetation, secluded beaches, and three lakes make an hour and a half of a magical journey.
In Kassiopi, we will eat and drink in one of the most beautiful residential landscapes of Corfu, because despite the fact that the centuries old fishing village has become one of the most touristic areas on the island, it retains its authentic identity.
The beach of Kassiopi with the blue-green waters challenge us for a swim, but if we manage to resist and leave before sunset, it is worthwhile to climb mount Pantokratoras to visit Palia Peritheia and the monastery.
Palia Peritheia is a deserted village today, eight kilometers from Kassiopi. It retains the atmosphere and the art of another era, with about 130 stone houses and the bell tower of Agios Iakovos of Persia, while in the square, Foros, we find traditional tavernas – in operation. We continue to Pantokratoras Monastery, which is built in 1347 at an altitude of 914 meters.
The next day we head to the south to visit the picturesque villages in the olive groves, the exotic beaches, and unique ecosystems such as Lake Korission. It is the largest lake on the island and the most important wetland and is located near the village of Argyrades, about 35 km from Corfu.
The scenery is fascinating, as only a narrow strip of land separates the lake from the Ionian Sea, creating two stunning sandy beaches, Halikouna and Isso. The area is protected by the Natura Convention, covers an area of approximately 6,000 acres and, apart from Lake Korissia, includes the coastal areas, Kedrodasos a unique cedar forest, as well as a large number of sand-dunes with a height of more than 15 meters.
We enjoy the nature and the sea, the tranquil Ionian Sea and we leave before night for Lefkimmi, the town of South Corfu. The picturesque town is built on a plain, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, from which passes the river of Lefkimmi that flows into the nearby Mpouka beach. Back to the north, on the west side this time, where we will pass the sixth day of our holidays in Corfu.
We start in the morning to get to the famous Canal on the northwest corner of the island, beside Sidari, before it gets swamped by thousands of visitors. We continue on the seaside and head towards Acharavi, one of the most beautiful tourist resorts in the north, where we will find restaurants and taverns for food, and if we have time, we can go to the waterfall of Kyprianades.
The village is 11 km away from Acharavi, while in the waterfall we arrive by walking a short path of about 500 meters, starting from the fountain which is southwest of the village.
Our last day on the island of the Phaeacians is dedicated to the Old Town. Stroll around the narrow alleys and visit the church of Saint Spyridon, the Metropolis of Corfu, Kampielo, the oldest building of Corfu at the Filellinon Street number 18, dating back to 1497, the building of the Ionian Bank, built in 1846 and the Town Hall of the city, also an architectural monument.
The Palace of Corfu is the impressive building that adorns the northern side of Spianada, the impressive square of the city, and today, there is the unique museum of Asian art with unique exhibits.