The second-largest Ionian Island in Greece. It has seen the Byzantines, Venetians, French and British come and go over the last 1,000 years, and all these cultures have left something behind.
If you need a place to begin, try the World Heritage Old Town of Corfu City, which is guarded by two mighty Venetian fortresses that withstood everything that the Ottoman Empire could throw at them.
Corfu’s coast is sprinkled with resorts, some more appealing than others.
But if you’re a free spirit you can get behind the wheel as the easiest way to explore Corfu is by car and set a course for secluded coves, sweeping sandy beaches and castles and monasteries stranded on rocky pedestals.
When travelling, there is some spots they call “must see”. Some places if you miss, you can’t say you visited this place.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Corfu:
1. Corfu Old Town
A city packed tight between two fortresses, Corfu’s Old Town is a knot of walkable streets and alleys between Venetian and Neoclassical houses painted pale yellow and orange.
2. The Esplanade and Liston
Between the Old Town and the old fortress is the esplanade, a long green square that is a remnant of the Venetian fortifications in the 17th century.
3.St Spyridon Church
Corfu’s foremost church is from 1580 and its Renaissance bell tower is the highest in the Ionian Islands. Hosting the relics of St Spyridon, brought to Corfu City from Constantinople in the 15th century, the church moved to this location after its predecessor was demolished to make way for the citadel.
4. Vlacherna Monastery and mouse island or pontikonisi
One of Corfu’s signature images, the Vlacherna Monastery is on an islet at the end of a narrow jetty off the southern end of the Kanoni Peninsula. The chapel, which you enter beneath a typical campanile, dates to 1685 and has tomb monuments going back to the middle of the 18th century. You can catch a boat to this small island where a 12th-century Byzantine monastery is crowded by pine and cypress trees.
5. Paleokastritsa beach and monastery
The water could hardly be calmer or clearer and is a snorkeller’s dream and just right for families with smaller children. The beach, though narrow, has soft golden sand as opposed to the shingle coves nearby. The limestone coastline around Paleokastritsa is perforated with sea caves, and there’s a jetty on the beach where you can catch boats for a tour. Topping a rugged headland on the northwest coast, Paleokastritsa Monastery dates to the 13th century and is on the site of a Medieval castle that has long since disappeared.
In the northeast of the island, looking across the straits of Corfu to Albania, Kassiopi is a traditional fishing village that has grown into a low-key resort. The built-up area sits at the base of a small peninsula which is etched with little pebble coves and has a charming fishing harbour on its east side.
7. Old Perithia
A “Designated Area of Natural Beauty” to the northeast of Corfu, Old Perithia is a mostly abandoned upland village under Mount Pantokrator. Once home to as many as 1,200 people the village sits at an elevation of 650 metres and dates back at least as far as the 1300s.
Corfu’s highest peak is in the north of the island, cresting at 906 metres and accessible by road. At the summit is a cafe, telecommunications station and a monastery dating from the end of the 17th century.
9. Sidari and Canal d’Amour
The sea has weathered the rock, and near the entrance to the creek is a tunnel. Pick a day when the sea is calm (which is most days in summer) and you can swim through the tunnel.
10. Pelekas and Kaiser throne
It is a peaceful village on the west coast of Corfu where you can enjoy the most romantic sunsets on the island. You can find Kaizer’s throne at Pelekas’ highest point.
11. Achilion Palace
In 1888 Elisabeth of Bavaria, Empress of Austria, commissioned a summer residence at this elevated setting about 10 kilometres south of Corfu City. This Neoclassical palace was designed by the Italian architect Raffaele Caritto with the hero Achilles as its central theme.