1. Corfu Town
town is a beautiful area, split into old and the new parts. It is flush with elegant mansions and beautiful palaces from its colonial days being owned by France and Britain. It appears less a Greek town and more an Italian one along the lines of Sorrento or Naples. A great place to get a feel of the town is the square of the Esplanade, also known as Spianada which was planned by the French and is surrounded by beautiful buildings an old Venetian fortress and dotted with trees. If you get the chance, visit the Liston building built during the French occupation and modelled on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Inside it has fabulous restaurants and cafes, some say the best in Greece.
2. The Achillion Palace
The Achillion Palace is found in the picturesque village of Gastouri. This beautiful palace was built in 1890 exclusively for Elizabeth the Empress of Austria. The palace used to serve as her summer retreat. Unfortunately, she passed away in a rather tragic manner when she was assassinated in 1898 in Geneva. The palace was left empty for nearly ten years when it was bought by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. The palace looks down onto the coast and the jetty from where the Kaiser would take his pleasure cruises. The Palace is not only renowned for its architecture; the impeccably landscaped palace garden is beautiful too. For UK tourists it has interest in being the birthplace of Prince Phillip. The James Bond movie, ‘For Your Eyes Only’ was filmed here.
3. Mirtiotissa Beach
Corfu has a lot of lovely beaches but a favourite of regular visitors is Mirtiotissa. Its charm is in its inaccessibility. It’s isolated and accessed by a steep path meaning that few venture down to the beach. To get there you need to walk for about 45 minutes from Pelekas village. The walk itself is beautiful, crossing olive groves on the way. The last half mile is what puts most people off being a steep dusty path. Geographically, the beach is very interesting as the winter tides and storms clear away the previous year’s entire beach whilst the spring tides bring fresh sand to replace it. The beach is enclosed by cliffs covered in pine, myrtle and thyme bushes. Some little streams trickle down to the beach providing a cool freshwater shower. There is little natural shade on the beach and it has the sun most of the day.
One of Corfu’s most famous locations Paleokastritsa is part beach resort and part monastic community which makes for a bizarre and unlikely combination. Tourism hasn’t really hit here so the area is relatively unspoilt. Panagia Theotokos Monastery was originally founded in 1225 but the current buildings date to the early 1700s. There is a small museum, mostly filled with religious articles and books as well as a skeleton of a fabled sea monster! The main attraction here is Paleokastritsa’s clean sandy beach with incredibly clear, warm water, ideal for swimming. At each end of the beach are boats offering excursions to the nearby caves and grottos.
You need to know about Aqualand because if you don’t and your children find out first you could be in trouble! It’s considered as one of the best water parks in Europe and is situated 7km outside of Corfu Town but is easy to reach from anywhere on the island. The park is huge and covers an area of over 70,000 square metres with free parking. The slides are innovative and range from the gentle to the downright petrifying.
6. The Palaio Frourio (Old Fort)
The Old Fort sits on a rocky island on the east side of Corfu Town. There’s been a fort of kinds here since the 6th century although most of what’s there now is Venetian and added to and repaired by the British. The site was initially a peninsula but the inventive and distrusting Venetians dug a moat to convert it into an island for greater security. Due to the fortifications of the island, Corfu never fell to the Turks, despite many attempts. The fort and its small museum are interesting for what they add to Corfiot history and the art gallery has paintings from the first century, some of the oldest remaining on the planet!
7. Greek Music
Dancing and Folklore Many restaurants and hotels all over Greece put on shows for tourists but many question their authenticity. Whilst the same could be said for Corfu, many of the restaurants do try to supply the tourist with a more traditional performance and in many cases they are taught a lot of Greek history and culture through stories told by the performers. These take place in tavernas all over Corfu and are intriguing to say the least. It makes a refreshing change to come away from a meal having learnt something new.
8. Mouse Island
This is the iconic picture of Corfu. Open any travel guide or holiday brochure and there will be a picture of Mouse Island or Pontikonisi. It’s a very small island dotted with trees and stands only two metres above the water. Pontikonisi is home of the monastery of Pantokrator it is the white stone staircase of the monastery that when viewed from afar gives the impression of a mouse’s tail which gave the island its name.