General Information on Corfu

Corfu or Kerkyra is the northernmost of the Ionian islands, at the entrance of the Adriatic, towards Albania. It is the second largest island of the group, after Kefalonia. It has a surface area of about 641km² and is inhabited by approximately 114,000 people.

Corfu was one of the first Greek islands that opened its doors to tourists, and since then, has evolved into an international tourist centre, attracting visitors from all over the world, and offering well-equipped and modern tourist facilities. Despite the fact that the tourism rate here is among the highest in Greece, Corfu has managed to keep its authenticity. Almost all villages and especially the capital Corfu Town seem untouched, retaining their local colours. Due to the size of the island, visitors can find peace and quiet, wild nightlife and amazing crowded and deserted beaches, all in one.

History of Corfu

Corfu or Kerkyra owes its name to the nymph Korkira, the daughter of the river god Aesopos. According to mythology, Poseidon, god of sea, fell in love with Korkira, kidnapped her and brought her to the island. It was also the island of Phaeacians, referred in the Odyssey. As Homer said, hospitable Phaeacians helped Odysseus return to Ithaca. Corfu is also considered the island where the Argonauts found refuge from the avenging Colchic fleet, after having stolen the Golden Fleece.

Archaeological excavations have proven that the island has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Era (7th–4th centuries B.C.), during which it was a very important commercial centre. Later on, the island became a Corinthian colony and further evolved. The efforts of its inhabitants to gain their independence from Corinthos led to many conflicts. Corfu asked for help from Athenians, who supported the island, and that was one of the many reasons that led to the Peloponnesian War. In 338 B.C., Macedonians, under the rule of Philippos II, won an important battle and conquered Corfu.

Starting in 300 B.C., the island was successively attacked and conquered by Spartans, Illyrians and Romans who stayed in Corfu until 337 A.D. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the island became part of the Byzantine Empire and later came under Norman rule, followed by the Venetians . At that point, the island gained a feudal hierarchy, and the population was categorised in three classes: nobles, the bourgeoisie and the commoners. When Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice in 1797, Corfu became part of the French State and Napoleon publicly burnt the “Libro d’ Oro” (Golden Book), which was the book enumerating the privileges of the nobles. While Corfu remained under French domination, the English began to occupy the Ionian islands and reached the island in 1815. While Corfu was under the prospering rule of the English, the rest of Greece was still under the Ottoman rule. The island offered financial help to the rest of Greece in the preparations of the Revolution of 1821. In 21 May 1864, the Ionian islands became part of the new Greek state. During the 20th century, Corfu suffered a lot. Both World Wars had serious consequences on the island. Whole blocks of historical and architectural monuments were reduced to piles of ruins including about twenty eight percent of the historical and beautiful old town.

Towns & Villages in Corfu

Corfu Town: it is the capital and the main port of the island and one of the most beautiful and elegant towns in Greece. It is also the largest town of the Ionian islands with 40,000 inhabitants, a number that doubles in summer. The architecture is a mix of different styles as it was influenced by the many conquerors. Sicilians, Venetians, French and English have left their marks on Corfu Town. Expanding throughout the years, the town is separated into a northern and a southern section between the Esplanade Square (also called Esplanade) and the new fortress. This is the central square of the capital and also one of the biggest in Europe. It was designed based on French garden architecture and, every summer, it welcomes the sole cricket competition of Greece. At the western side of Esplanade Square stands one of the most beautiful buildings of Corfu, the Liston building, which houses elegant, luxurious and, of course, expensive cafes and restaurants. The town is dominated by two fortresses: the 13th century Neo Frourio (New Fortress) with dungeons, cellars and impressive turret battlements, and the 6th century Paleo Frourio (Old Fortress).

Benitses: it is a fishing village situated 13.5km south of Corfu Town. In recent years, the village has become an important tourist resort with all kinds of facilities. Many hotels, restaurants and bars can be found here, contributing to the intense nightlife Benitses is known for. Despite the touristic development, the old village has kept its authentic colors and atmosphere. The beaches in the surrounding area are good with pebbles, clear waters and sport facilities.

Paleokastritsa: it is the most famous village of the island of Corfu, located 26km northwest of Corfu Town. The village itself is not something special but the surroundings are amazing. The area consists of six small coves with incredibly clear waters, nestled in a coastline of hills and promontories full of olive, cypress and lemon trees.

Pelekas: The lovely village of Pelekas is situated 13km of Corfu Town and stands on a 270-meter hill. The village has an authentic Greek character and offers amazing vistas, especially during sunsets. Pelekas is a busy village due to its position and it is used as an access point for some of the great beaches nearby.

Agios Matheos: it is a mountainous village located 25km southwest of the capital. It is built within a dense forest on the side of Mountain Agios Matheos and is full of charming stone houses. The beach of the village, located few kilometers away, is very popular and crowded but there are other more quiet beaches around.

Lefkimi: The village Lefkimi is situated 40km south of Corfu Town and it is the second largest settlement of the island. Lefkimi is a lovely village well off the beaten track and a step back in time. The settlement has two impressive churches, Agios Theodoros, located at the main square, and Agios Arsenios with a distinctive orange dome.

Beaches in Corfu

The island of Corfu has some of the most beautiful beaches of Ionio. There is a great variety of beaches all around the island. Most of them have been turned into resorts, while others remain untouched and remote.

Agios Georgios (SW): the beach is situated at the northwestern part of the island. Many regard this long and sandy beach as the best in Corfu. It is a popular destination for families. It’s 5km long with quite deep waters, and is also one of the few remote beaches.

Myrtiotisa: the English writer Lawrence Darrell said this is “the loveliest beach in the world”, and it might well be. The beach is surrounded by steep hills covered in trees. It is sandy, unorganized, totally untouched and unofficially nudist. It is relatively difficult to reach from the nearby village of Vatos, as the road is very bumpy and rocky. At the end of the road, there is private parking and a small path that leads to the beach. Of course, the climb back up is quite exhausting.

Glyfada: it is located 16km west of Corfu Town and is one of the most popular beaches of the island. The large surface of fine golden sand is surrounded by cliffs covered in trees. The beach is popular among families and it is fully organized.

Ermones: the beach is very nice, small and quiet. It is located in the west coast of Corfu. The bay is tiny with pebbles and sand and it is surrounded by very steep hills. The beach is organized with many hotels, and water sports facilities, like diving and sailing.

Sidari: It is the most famous tourist resort of north Corfu and well worth visiting. It is 32km away from the capital. The place is famous for the “Canal d’ Amour”, an underground path between two rocks that the visitors can easily walk to, due to the shallow waters. The beach at Sidari, which has been awarded the Blue Flag, is beautiful and very crowded. The carved, white rocks that look like natural sculptures and light blue waters create an exotic scenery.

Kouloura: The fishing village of Kouloura has a small and not so populated beach with sand, pebbles and many cypress trees. The beach is ideal for those who want to avoid crowded and organized beaches. There are no water sports, no boat hire, no bars and no clubs; the closest tavern is a 20-minute walk away in nearby Kerasia.

Kerasia: This is a nice, pebble beach with crystal clear waters. It is very quiet, organized and offers a great view of Albania. Kerasia beach is located at the northeast tip of the island.

Avlaki: It lies between Agios Stefanos to the south and Kassiopi to the North. The beach seems to be visited by few, probably because of its better-known neighbour Kassiopi. However, the beach is popular among Corfiots for its crystal clear waters. Avlaki beach is narrow and long, with pebbles. It is also organized and has few water sports facilities.

Almyros: it is a very long sandy beach with an interesting view of the rolling hills of Albania to the right. The centre of the beach is the busiest part, with hotels and bars around. However, as you keep walking towards the outer parts, it gets a lot quieter and more isolated.

Agios Georgios (NW): Agios Georgios Pagon (=ice) is one of the most beautiful beaches of northwestern Corfu. It is situated 30km away from the capital. It has golden sand, clear waters and some tourist facilities.

Top Things to Do in Corfu

1. Museums: Corfu is noted for its peculiar collections and interesting museums. In Corfu Town, there are many museums, such as the Serbian War Museum with items and papers regarding the Balkan Wars of 1915-1917. Also in the capital, the Ionian Bank houses a Museum of Banknotes. One of the most interesting museums of Corfu is the Museum of Asian Art; it is the only Asian museum in Greece and was founded in 1927 by Gregory Manos, an ambassador, who donated his private collection of 10,500 objects of Sino-Japanese origin. Nowadays, the museum houses more collections with Asian items. The Archaeological Museum of Corfu was built between 1962 and 1965 to house the Gorgon pediment from the temple of Artemis, which was found in the area of Paleopolis. Today, the collections of the museum include excavation finds from the ancient city of Corfu, the Kerkyrean Cassiope, and many more. Another very interesting museum is the Museum of Sea, located in Benitses village. It was founded in 1989 by diver and collector Napoleon Sagja, and contains one of the largest collections of shells, corals, sponges, fossils and shark teeth.

2. Achillion Palace: The Palace, located in the village of Gastairi, was built in 1891 for Elizabeth (Sissy), the Empress of Austria, in honour of the hero Achilles, whom the Empress admired. Later, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany bought it. The Palace is a beautiful building with picturesque gardens overlooking the sea and Corfu Town. Achillion is famous among British visitors as it is the birthplace of Prince Phillip.

3. Bosceto Garden: Bosceto Garden is situated in the historical city of Corfu, opposite the famous Esplanade Square. The Garden is known for its many types of flowers, its beautiful architecture and decoration of its parterres and for the many scattered statues.

4. New Fortress: The New Fortress was built between 1572 and 1645 by the Venetians, to protect the west side of Corfu Town. The fortification works were completed by both the French and the British. The Fortress consists of two twin bastions, and the most impressive architectural characteristics are the two gates bearing the emblem of Galinotatis, the winged lion of Saint Mark.

5. Pondikonisi: Pondikonisi is a trademark of Corfu. The island owes its name (“Mouse Island”) to its size. The main characteristic of Pondikonisi is the dense vegetation. According to mythology, this tiny island is the rock where the ship of Odysseus crashed. The ship was destroyed and Odysseus ended up as a castaway to the island of Pheakes.

How to Reach Corfu

Air: Corfu has several flights weekly to/from Athens and Thessaloniki. Charter flights also land here from various European countries.

Coach: KTEL coaches run two or three times daily between Corfu Town and Athens (11 hours including the time with the ferry between Corfu and the mainland). Some services go via Lefkimmi to the south. There is also a service once or twice daily to/from Thessaloniki.

Ferry – Domestic: Hourly ferries run between Corfu and Igoumenitsa (1 ¾ hours). You can also travel to Patra on one of the frequent international ferries that call in Corfu in summer. There are also a few daily ferries between Lefkimmi and Igoumenitsa (1 hour).

Ferry – International: Corfu is on the Patras-Igoumenitsa ferry route to Italy (Brindisi, Bari, Ancona, Trieste, and Venice). Ferries go a few times daily to Brindisi (7 hours) and in summer usually once daily to Bari (10 hours), Ancona (14 hours), Triesta (21 hours) and Venice (30 hours).

Hydrofoil: from May to September, there are at least two hydrofoils daily between Corfu and Paxi via Igoumenitsa and one hydrofoil daily from Corfu to Igoumenitsa.

Getting Around in Corfu

To/from the Airport: there is no bus service between Corfu Town and the airport. Nos 6 and 10 from Plateia San Rocco in Corfu Town stop on the main road 500m from the airport.

Bus: Destinations of KTEL buses (green and cream-coloured) are posted at the long-distance bus station on Avramiou street. Destinations of local buses (dark blue) are posted at the bus stations in San Rocco Square.

You can also Rent a Car in Corfu using Greece.com's Corfu Car Rental Engine.

Weather in Corfu

Being the northernmost island of Greece, Corfu has a unique climate. It is characterized by a mild winter and high precipitation. Summer in Corfu is cooler than in other parts of Greece, with temperatures not exceeding 39 degrees Celsius. The high humidity level is characteristic of the island.

Top 10 Destinations in Corfu

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All Destinations in Corfu

Airport: Corfu
Capes: Kavo Drasti :: Kefali
Castle: Angelokastro
Deserted settlement: Palies Sinies
Islands: Erikoussa :: Mathraki :: Othoni
Island complex: Othoni Islands
Isolated islands: Diaplo :: Trachia
Locations: Kalipso Cave :: Kokikylas :: Triklino
Mountain: Pantokrator
Municipal district: Stavros
Rocky islands: Diakoto :: Karavi :: Kravia
Seaside settlement: Parakladi
Settlements: Achilio :: Afionitika :: Agia Anna :: Agia Paraskevi :: Agia Paraskevi Kerkyra :: Agia Pelagia :: Agia Triada :: Agios Dimitrios :: Agios Elias :: Agios Georgios :: Agios Georgios Armenades :: Agios Georgios Kassiopi :: Agios Georgios Kerkyra :: Agios Georgios Pagi :: Agios Gordios :: Agios Ioannis :: Agios Ioannis Peristeron :: Agios Martinos :: Agios Panteleimon :: Agios Stefanos :: Agios Vassilios :: Agios Vlassios :: Agni :: Agnitsini :: Alepochori :: Almyros :: Alykes :: Anapaftiria :: Apolyssi :: Argyratika :: Aspai :: Assirmatos Potamou :: Avlaki :: Avramis :: Barbati :: Bastatika :: Bastouni :: Boukari :: Chalidiata :: Chorio :: Dafnata :: Dafni :: Dafnilas :: Dassia :: Dendra :: Dragotina :: Drosseri :: Episkepsi :: Episkopi :: Eriva :: Ermones :: Estavromenos :: Fourni :: Garnades :: Gefyra :: Gitonies :: Glyfada :: Imerolia :: Kaizer Bridge :: Kalami :: Kardamatika :: Karniaris :: Karyotiko :: Katavolos :: Kato Spileo :: Katsouratika :: Kavalerena :: Kedroma :: Kelia :: Kokinogia :: Kokkini :: Kokokylas :: Komianata :: Kommeno :: Kothoniki :: Kouknikades :: Kouloura :: Kounavades :: Kouramaditika :: Kourkouleika :: Kremithas :: Krinias :: Kyprianades :: Lafki :: Lazaratika :: Lithiasmenos :: Loykata :: Magarika :: Makrata :: Manatades :: Mastoratika :: Mega Ydri :: Mengoulas :: Notos :: Omali :: Pagalatika :: Paleochori :: Paliokaliva :: Papadatika :: Papathanatika :: Paramonas :: Pelekito :: Perama Petalias :: Perouli :: Petalia :: Pigadia :: Pikoulatika :: Pilida :: Pithos :: Plagia :: Plakoto :: Podolakos :: Priftiatika :: Psachnia :: Psaras :: Psathylas :: Pyrgi :: Rachi :: Rafalades :: Riliatika :: Roda :: Rou :: Roumanades :: Santa :: Saoulatika :: Sarakinatika :: Sfakera :: Skala :: Souleika :: Spartera :: Staoussa :: Stavros :: Strongyli :: Tantoulis :: Termenades :: Trimodi :: Tritsi :: Troubetas :: Tsaki :: Tsoukalio :: Tzavros :: Vassilika :: Vathy :: Vatonies :: Vingla :: Vistonas :: Vitsetzatika :: Vlachatika :: Vlachleri :: Vouni :: Vrachleri
Small islands: Lagoudia :: Lazaretto :: Pontikonissi :: Ptychia :: Tholeto
Small ports: Ammos :: Avlaki
Town: Kerkyra

Map of Corfu

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