Corfu is the second largest of the Greek Ionian Islands and one of the top most holiday destinations of the world. A true gem of the Ionian sea.The reasons to visit are plenty – the variety of beaches, crystal blue waters, ruins from an ancient civilization, a picturesque coastline with a mixture of architecture styles backed by hills,lush vegetation and wildlife, the silver green mountains, and mild weather are just a few general incentives to visit this beautiful island. All these aspects combined make a thrilling vacation filled with activity, history, and relaxation. All of this can be found on Corfu, Greece. There are plenty more that will be listed below.
1) Exploring Old Town is a stroll through history, the ageless mix of architectural styles is living proof that this northern-most Ionian island has been a prize for covetous conquerors through many centuries; Venetian bell-towers, tiny Greek Orthodox churches, gracious French-style shopping arcades, and British palaces. Unlike the gleaming white, blue trimmed, and pastel houses found on other Greek Islands, Corfu Town’s shady cobbled squares and narrow alleyways, decked in lines of laundry, would look more at home in Southern Italy. The red dome of The Church of St. Spyridon stands sentinel over Old Town, with literally thousands of Corfiot kids named Spyros in honour of the patron saint, whose mysteriously preserved remains and ornate casket are housed in the half-century year old church, and ceremoniously carried through the street on four holy days each year.
2) The Esplanade’s Liston Promenade and Spiannada Square is “the spot” to meet in Corfu (Kerkyra) Town. Crowded cafes line the wide pedestrian promenade, tables spill out of the elegant French and Venetian-style buildings, packed with people sipping thick Greek coffee, gossiping, and watching the world go by. Spiannada is one of the largest town squares in Europe, and the leafy Esplanade is filled with historic monuments, a Victorian bandstand, soccer-playing kids, white-clad cricketers, evening brass band concerts (apparently almost every child on the island can play a musical instrument), and straggling, early-morning partiers heading home from popular Liston cafes and bars.
3) The Old Fortress, (Palaio Frourio) is a Corfu landmark with amazing views from its towering headland, back over the town, and along the island’s east coast. Built initially during Byzantine times, Corfu’s entire population once lived within the walls of the Old Fortress, which is now a museum that features sound-and-light shows telling the fortress’s history.
4) Pontikonisi is that postcard picture of Corfu. But, even if I squint and use my imagination, I can’t see how tiny “Mouse Island” got its nickname. The picturesque little island’s lonely Byzantine Monastery lies hidden amongst towering trees, just a short boat ride from the scenic convent of Vlacherna, perched precariously at the end of a causeway, and just a head-duck away from the end of the runway at Corfu airport. I got a great bird’s-eye view of both when I landed. According to legend, Pontikonisi was formed when the ship that delivered Odysseus back to Ithaca, was turned to stone by an angry Poseidon. This Corfu landmark is definitely worth a visit, but it still doesn’t look like a mouse to me!
5) Achillion Palace is the Greek mythology inspired summer residence of Austrian Empress, Princess Sissy, named for the weak-healed hero Achilles, whose stone statue looms in the lush gardens of this royal retreat, set high in the hills above Corfu Town. Sissy’s sad, short life even reads like some Greek tragedy — a beautiful young woman married to a notoriously unfaithful husband, a meddlesome mother-in-law, a son’s suicide, and finally, in 1898, her assassination. James Bond fans touring the palace will recognize the casino setting from “For Your Eyes Only.”
6) Corfu countryside. You’ll need to rent a car to explore this second largest and greenest Ionian island. Flat in the south, craggy mountains loom over Corfu’s northern half, with steep, dramatic coastlines, and rolling peaceful countryside swathed in silvery green olive trees and stately cypresses. I’m told the road snaking up the slopes of Mt. Pantokrator, has some harrowing hair-pin turns, but the views from the top are worth the drive as there are many brilliant vantage points for admiring the dramatic mountainous regions.
7) Fabulous feasts come in a maze of Meze in Corfu — dish, after dish, after dish of local favourites. Greek salad with bread is a typical meal for Corfiots. But, that’s just the beginning of this feast of traditional Greek appetizers, like dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), tzatziki (yoghurt & cucumber dip), taramosalata (fish roe dip), and saganaki (fried cheese). The groaning trays of Meze keep coming, with local favourites such as pastitsada (pasta with veal sauce), bourdeto (fish in a spicy red sauce), and sofrito (veal in white garlic sauce with fries or rice). And just when you can’t eat another bite, a plateful of home-baked, honey-dripping baklava and kumquat cake proves you wrong.
There are plenty more awaiting for you to discover them by visiting the island either in summer or during winter, Corfu island has always something spectacular to offer to its visitors…