Beneath the hull of a neat white yacht, the waves rolled on gently, scattering the reflection of the early morning sun like spots of mercury as far as the eyes can see. As the coast drew nearer, the curved Venetian façade of Corfu and its moored boats peeked sheepishly through the misty air. Until finally, the genteel buildings flanked by the outlines of mountains arise from the smoky shades of blue, bathed in a brilliant pink morning light.
Mi Scusi! One cannot help but wax poetic when in the presence of such majesty as the island of Corfu. It’s easy to see why Corfu has been ruled by the French, English, Russians, Italians, and Turkish, until finally falling under Greek rule. Still, the island, which is unlike any other on earth, has managed to exist (or rather, coexist) gingerly around the sensibilities of its invaders throughout history, without losing its essence in the fray.
Today, Corfu sits proudly amongst the top vacation destinations in the world, and rightly so. If you plan on traveling to Corfu, then here’s how you can get the most bang for your buck.
A trip to this Greek Island will take you back in time. Here, you will revel in the island’s mythological past and take in breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea. The island is sizeable, so hiring a car rental in Corfu is the preferred method for vacationers. With a car rental you can traverse all 225 miles of this rich landscape with ease.
Upon arriving at Corfu, the first thing you’ll notice is the whitewashed homes of Corfiotes, which will seem strangely magical.Also called Kastropolis or “The Castle City,” the island’s capital is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets, which lead to modest courtyards, cafes, and restaurants. These structures seem to be built almost spontaneously with noplanning.But,still cleverly steers clear from giving off a “chaotic” architectural vibe.
The Esplanade is a park and open parade ground, located west of the Old Fortress. Many consider this to be the most beautiful Esplanade in Greece. Many games, celebrations, and concerts are organized at the Esplanade throughout the year. Here, you will get to see some exquisite Venetian homes and an arcaded building, known as the Liston. Constructed at the time of Napoleon, the structure was built to resemble the Rue du Rivoli in Paris.
You will also find the Peristyle, which was designed in 1816 by George Whitmore, a British General. The Peristyle was built over an old Venetian cistern. This is the reason why Corfiots call it the “Sterna.” As you stroll down the Esplanade, you can’t help but notice the statue of German General Johann Matthias Von der Schulenburg.
The statue was designed by renowned Venetian sculptor by the name of Antonio Corradini. It was made in honor of the general who led the Venetian army to repel the advancing Turkish forces during the siege of 1716. While you’re there, you will want to pop into the Palace of St. Michael and George. The palace is visible from every corner of the Esplanade and is just another example of the rich history of Corfu.
The Esplanade or Spianada is also considered to be the second-largest square in Europe and offers plenty of bars and cafes where you get to enjoy the local cuisine.
Just north of Corfu’s center is the Nymphes village. But, don’t be heartbroken to find that there aren’t any nymphs there anymore. According to legend, this is the place where nymphs would bathe in ancient times under the nearly 200-meter high waterfall, which makes for quite a sight even today.
We’ve all heard the stories and seen the movies, but none comes close to visiting the local museum at Corfu. Here, you will get acquainted with Greek Mythology at the Corfu Archaeological Museum. The museum is home to ancient artifacts discovered from all over the Greek island. You will find up to 1,600 exhibits, from statues, pottery, jewelry, and funeral offerings, which make up the rich Greek history of the island.
The exhibit not to miss is the stone pediment from the Temple of Artemis. The exhibit depicts the Greek mythological creature called the Gorgon that lived in the seas. Dating as far back as 590 BC, it is the oldest stone pediment in all of Greece. You also don’t want to miss a glance at the pediment from the Temple of Dionysis and the stone lion of Menecrates.
The Greek island of Corfu is home to around four million olive trees, which is why most of Greek history, culture, and cuisine is drenched in olive oil. Going on a Corfu olive oil tasting tour is a nice way to enjoy slow strolls through the olive tree groves and old mills and townhouses.
If you want to enjoy the cool sea breeze, then going hiking at Corfu is a great option. The Corfu Trail starts from the south end of the island and ends at the north. The 150-kilometer (or 93-mile) trek takes you straight across the island. It also offers some of the most breathtaking views of the hills, lakes, mountains, and lagoons along the way.
Corfu is home to many of the world’s most beautiful beaches. While you should try to visit all of them, one beach in particular definitely warrants a visit. We’re talking about the mythological beach of Paleokastritsa.
The pinkish-beige sand and bluish-green water make this beach truly unique, but its main claim to fame is its legendary status amongst the beaches in Corfu. According to legend, this is where the sea god Poseidon turned Odysseus’s ship to stone.As mentioned in the Homeric epic Odyssey, this was to prevent him from meeting princess Nausicaa.
You also wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the other beautiful beaches that Corfu has to offer, such as:
There are plenty of options when it comes to beaches at Corfu. Not to mention the six beaches located at Paleokastritsa, which provides ample opportunities for vacationers who want to kick their legs back and enjoy the sun.
If you’ve had enough of the picturesque beaches at Corfu and are looking for something different, then why not try the island’s only waterpark? Aqualand is a family-friendly water park that offers 15themed rides along with other attractions, making it a great choice for the entire family.
In the middle of the bay is a tiny monastery and Corfu emblem called Vlacherna. The monastery is truly a haven for those who want to get away from the bustling town of Corfu, but it also offers some great views of the island.
Having been featured in iconic movies such as the James Bond movie, ‘For Your Eyes Only,’ the tiny islet can be reached via a bridge and is one of the top sites at Corfu for photographers. Apart from this convent, there are over 800 monasteries that are spread across the island and are worth visiting during your trip to Corfu.
Also, you cannot help but notice the clifftop fortress of Angelokastro. It was constructed by the Byzantines to repel invading forces, and today keeps a watchful eye over the city. Aggelokastro is one of the most important Byzantine castles of Greece.
If you love fortresses, you will find two other options at Corfu; built on St. Mark’s hill is the New Fortress. The New Fortress was built by Italian architect Francesco Vitelli between 1576 and 1645. The New Fortress is connected to Old Corfu town and the Old Fortress via underground tunnels.
Italians are known to be faithful to their daily square meals. And as a result, you will find no dearth of eating options while in Corfu.The local cuisine has been influenced by Italian and Greek traditions. There are also hints of British and Turkish influence in the languorous meals that are enjoyed by both locals and holiday-makers.
While in Corfu, you don’t want to miss out on a local delicacy called Sofrito. The dish is prepared with meat that’s seasoned with wine and garlic. You will also be spoilt for choice when it comes to tasting wines, olives, and delicious feta cheese.
The best time to visit Corfu is during the shoulder months, which is the period between the on and off-peak seasons. In Corfu, peak months are July and August. This is when vacationers visit the island to take advantage of the balmy weather, which hovers around 32 degrees Celsius. May, June, and September are all comfortable months to visit Corfu. But, there’s usually a lot going on from March all through October.
Getting around in Corfu is a breeze when you have a car rental. But, here’s some information that you can use while traveling to Corfu.
The Corfu International Airport, known locally as, “Ioannis Kapodistrias,”is just a couple of kilometers south of the city center. It receives daily flights from Athens and many other European countries, including the UK. The bus station is located near the entrance of the airport. You can also go for a car rental at Corfu, which is considered to be a more viable option.
You will find plenty of options to travel to the rest of the Greek isles thanks to hydrofoils and ferries. These can be found bobbing back and forth on a regular basis. However, boat trips do not begin until the end of April.
If you choose to travel by bus, you will find two options. A local bus service covers almost all areas located within an hour’s drive from the old town. There’s a second bus service which connects the town center to other areas of the island.
The Blue bus terminal runs from San Rocco Square. The Green bus terminal is located around one kilometer to the north and takes you if you want to go further from Corfu town. It should be noted that the frequency of the Green bus is less. Only a few buses leaving to other locations on the island. This makes car rental in Corfu a smarter choice if you don’t want to stand around waiting for the bus.
When hiring taxis, the meter is started not when the passenger is picked up, but rather when the taxi is called, which is weird. Also,taxis at Corfu do not accept credit cards – only cash. This is just another reason why you should go for a car rental in Corfu instead.
Hiring a car rental in Corfu is as easy as contacting Royal Car Rental, either when you arrive or (ideally) a few days before your plane lands in Corfu. The best part about hiring a car rental in Corfu is that your wheels can be delivered to you at the airport or your hotel.
As a rule of thumb, make sure your phone has got offline maps if you opt for a car rental in Corfu. Or else, you could get lost or take the wrong road to your planned destination.
Besides, Mountain roads are narrow, so hiring a car rental in Corfu will be a smart choice. The journey from Corfu to Kassiopi and Paleokastritsa offers some splendid views that are postcard-worthy. Also, if you’re looking for a truly magnificent sight. Walk up to the monastery once you get to Paleokastritsa for a view you are not going to forget any time soon.