The Ionian island of Corfu is a favoured Greek destination for a myriad of reasons. Some say it is for the beauty of the North, the dramatic shorelines, traditional villages, the green hillsides and the wild mountains, others claim that Corfu with its party resorts in the south is the place to enjoy the hedonism and excesses of the modern world and they are all right – Corfu is a contradiction that shouldn’t work, but it does and it works to perfection.
This island is a melting pot of civilizations, all of them leaving their mark; from the Venetian architecture to the perfectly English cricket pitches the atmosphere is beautifully diverse and entirely Corfu. A stay on this island of contradictions can take you to the best party in town and then back into the corners of a hidden Greece, a Greece that the locals are fiercely proud of but also love to show to those that visit.
To get a sense of the old town colonial feel of Corfu stay in Corfu Town itself and the Belle Venezia is perfection with its converted mansion feel, the carved ceilings are an absolute delight and light contemporary furnishings help them to avoid any sense of being overbearing, the rooms are large and airy although the history of the building does lead to some rather oddly shaped bathrooms – this of course just adds to the charm of this great little hotel.
If you are in Corfu for the views then the Akrotiri Hotel overlooking Paleokastritsa in the north east of the island is the place to be, perched high above the main resort the views are second to none; the facilities are adequate and the hotel is consistently highly rated but the real draw is the fabulous location and as views go it really can’t be bettered.
There are many great places to eat in Corfu and those relying on the local produce are generally excellent; olives, herbs and lemons give the cuisine a rustic feel, local recipes use these ingredients to give a heady but simple flavour – fresh seafood with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon is one of the greatest pleasures to be found on the island.
Corfu Town is a great place to visit on the island with its history and architecture, as a tourist favourite there are a huge selection of restaurants and although they can vary in quality it is rare that you will ever be disappointed by any of them; Khrysomalis is often filled by locals enjoying the homestyle cooking which is always a good sign – if you find yourself in Corfu Town then this is the place to eat.
For the true lover of nature, the outdoors and activity the Corfu Trail is a designated walking route from one end of the island to the other avoiding roads along the way; the trail is outstandingly beautiful and although fairly gentle does cover almost 150 miles. The map guide takes you from one end to the other and accommodation is bookable along the way – allow between 7 & 14 days to complete the full trail.
Corfu Town may be seeped in history but it has a cosmopolitan heart, the architecture and twisting narrow streets are evocative of Italy but the influences go much deeper than that, the Old Fortress that overlooks the town is built on the site of a Byzantine Castle and shows signs of British rule in the renewed architecture that replaced the Venetian fortifications. Visit the esplanade to the west of the Fortress for one of the best loved and most charming sights in Greece.
Corfu is very much a summer destination although the summer season does stretch from April until October; the very beginning and the end of the season is when you will find the reduced hotel rates but the weather can be unpredictable and although warm there is a high possibility of rain and storms.
Local festivals take place during the summer season, known as a Paniyiri these village festivals are most common during July and August, the locals welcome tourists to these events and will always know when and where they are taking place – if possible try to fit one of these traditional events into your schedule.