With an untamed interior, wild nightlife and a Venetian-inspired capital, holidays to Corfu introduce you to Greece, but not as you know it.
Au naturel isle
Corfu cuddles up to the very top of Greece’s west coast. It’s the most northerly of the seven main Ionian Islands, which bob in the Ionian Sea, part of the Mediterranean. But this Greek island goes by another name – the Emerald Isle. It’s got the signature sandy beaches that holidaymakers venture to this part of the world for, but its interior’s blanketed with olive groves, Cypress trees and mountain peaks.
A variety show of beaches
Lots of the island’s beaches stay true to its natural nickname, backed by cliffs and thick forests. The hush-hush hamlet of Nissaki flaunts a bay with clear waters for swimming, plus a Mount Pantokrator backdrop. Paleokastritsa has six coves to pick from – some of which can only be reached by boat. Then there are those that pack in endless activities – think watersports and marinas brimming with restaurants.
Corfu’s resorts span from family-friendly to traditional. There are plenty of lively seaside towns for action-packed family holidays. Aghios Ioannis, in the south, lines up a waterpark, while the sand-facing strip in northerly Sidari buzzes with bars and restaurants. But their karaoke bars and pubs are no match for Kavos, the island’s party capital. In the middle, meanwhile, Corfu Town boasts history in spades.
Places To Stay In Corfu View all places to stay »
Moraitika has a raised spot on Corfu’s eastern side. Generally speaking, this part of the island has calm as its middle name. But this place bucks the trend and errs on the lively – just the thing for families looking for a bit of a kick. It’s got a natural backdrop of olive grove-carpeted hills but, in the main, it’s purpose-built. There’s a parade of hotels and apartments running parallel to the sea, plus a kilometre-long strip of bars, restaurants and shops piggybacking either side of the coast road.
Kavos is a very bubbly place right at the southern end of Corfu. It sprang up in the Eighties as the island’s party capital, and it’s still bursting with enthusiasm as you’ll see from the numerous bars and clubs. The pace is non-stop on the beach, too, with its high quota of watersports – though you can always slow things down with a leisurely boat trip along the coast.
Roda is a quiet, picture-postcard village surrounded by lush fields and fragrant olive groves on Corfu’s northern coast. For centuries, fishing and farming have been the major breadwinners here, but in recent years it’s opened its arms to holidaymakers from near and far. And with one of the warmest receptions anywhere on the island, it’s no surprise that people keep coming back year after year.
Gouvia sits on the east coast of Corfu. Back in the 17th century it was a Venetian naval base, but now the village comes with more sophisticated waterfront credentials thanks to its smart marina. There are shops and lively bars in the centre, plus plenty of traditional Greek restaurants for meze. As for the beach, it’s a hotspot for watersports.
Aghios Ioannis Peristeron
Agios Ioannis Peristeron has both feet planted in the quietly-does-it camp. Nuzzling in to Corfu’s south-east corner, it’s not really a resort, more a low-key huddle of hotels, tavernas and bars dozing in the Mediterranean sun. It’s all set at the foot of olive grove-covered hills that slope up from the coastal road. Hushed coves and inlets pepper the coastline all around.
This quiet place on the northeast coast of Corfu is laid out around a trio of coves, with sweeping views over to Albania. Nissaki comes with a clutch of shops and restaurants, and spreads up into the pine-covered foothills of Mount Pantokrator, Corfu’s highest peak. You’ll find some premium hiking trails if you can drag yourself away from the village’s old-world charm and relaxed beach.
Probably the most famous destination on Corfu’s north coast, Sidari is certainly one of the liveliest. This one-time fishing village grew during the Eighties to become a veteran resort with beds for some 14,000 visitors. These days you’ll find a huge array of bars and restaurants on its busy main strip, but you’ve also got pretty, secluded coves and lovely coastal walks, too.
Corfu Town, birthplace of the Duke of Edinburgh, falls between 2 great Venetian coastal fortresses to the east and west. Within these historical bookends lies a very modern capital that offers great beaches and boutique shopping. The town’s cobbled streets meander through the UNESCO-standard old town as far the Esplanade – one of Europe’s largest.
Acharavi sits on Corfu’s northern coast. It’s the main town in this part of the island, which means you’ll find plenty in the way of shops and nightlife. The central street is dotted with bars, shops and restaurants, and you’ll find even more along the little roads leading to the beach. The surrounding countryside is pretty spectacular, too – one of the world’s best walking trails sits in the hills behind town.
St Spyridon is on Corfu’s northern tip. It’s as far as you can get from the island’s party-hard south, and it’s got the chilled-out atmosphere to match. The relaxing centres around St Spyridon’s beaches – they’re a dream-team duo. One of them boasts a Blue Flag, but both have shallow water and are piled with pearl-white sand, so you’re bound to find a soft spot to stretch out on. On the sand’s edge, there are a couple of bars and restaurants to keep you fed and watered, too.
Dassia is set on the east coast of Corfu, framed by deep pine woods and with dazzling views across to the mainland. It’s a fairly small place and the shops, bars and restaurants are strung along the coastal road. Pace wise, the evenings are just the right side of lively, while days on the beach flit between sunbathing and trying out the watersports.
Ermones whisks you away from the bustle of Corfu’s busier places to a pretty little cove on the island’s west coast. The main attraction here is the sand-and-shingle beach, which nestles at the foot of cypress-clad green hills. And just a few feet from the sands you’ll find homey Greek tavernas, along with holiday essentials like motorbike and watersports rental shops.
A lovely sandy beach and a few friendly tavernas – that’s about it in Glyfada, which is what makes it such a perfect place to turn down the volume and relax. This tiny village is tucked away on Corfu’s west coast with fantastic walking trails all around and Corfu Town – for culture, shopping and a livelier nightlife – within easy reach.
Halfway up Corfu’s eastern Ionian coast is the secluded Kommeno Bay, an up-and-coming place that boasts luxury hotels all along its pine-fringed shore. The main pastime is hotel-hopping – getting from cabaret shows to restaurants to bars, all housed in the grandest of settings. The quiet private roads give the impression of remoteness – but you’ve got bustling Dassia’s lively beach bars and Gouvia’s 18th-century Venetian architecture only 10 minutes away.
Escape the crowds and see an authentic side to Corfu. Tucked away on the east coast, the resort of Psarras is little more than a sand and shingle beach backed by forest-covered mountains. A scattering of laidback tavernas serve delicious Greek fare, but nightlife is reserved for the two neighbouring towns, so it’s a really peaceful spot.
Paleokastritsa is a lively village along Corfu’s rocky north-west coastline. It’s set in the middle of a clover-shaped bay surrounded by wooded hills and olive groves – and overlooking the town is an 18th-century hilltop monastery. Half-a-dozen little beaches dot the bay and there are tavernas and café-bars spread around them. Plus there’s a colourful little port about 5 minutes’ walk from the village centre.
San Stefanos lies along the winding coastal road between the villages of Arillas and Avliotes, about an hour’s drive north of Corfu Town. Despite being one of the most popular holiday spots in the Med, it’s still a friendly little fishing village at heart. Traditional whitewashed houses mingle with stylish hotels and holiday villas, sandwiched between a sandy, horseshoe-shaped bay on one side, and rolling olive hills on the other. And because the village sits right on the edge of Corfu’s north-west corner, it gets some of the best sunsets on the island.
Aghios Ioannis (Corfu)
Located right in the middle of Corfu, Aghios Ioannis is an ideal spot for anyone looking for a dash of traditional Greece. It’s all stone cottages, churches and lush olive groves. It’s the sort of place you can while away the mornings sipping coffee with the locals in the quaint old square. And you’ve got a choice of beaches on the east or west coasts.
Aghios Georgios South
St George South – AKA Aghios Georgios – is a relaxed spot on Corfu’s southwest coast. Bars, cafés, shops and tavernas spread themselves out along the coastline, and there’s a fantastic 6-kilometre sandy beach to kick back on. Inland, you’ve got country walks to peaceful villages. And you can be at the capital, Corfu Town, in just over half an hour.
People return again and again to this charmer of a village on Corfu’s west coast. It’s home to one of the island’s liveliest beaches, plus a decent cache of restaurants, bars and shops. And the surrounding countryside – all green hills, cypress trees and olive groves – is said to be among the prettiest on the island.
Alykes Potamos is a quiet seaside town on Corfu’s eastern coast. It’s a restful place with a secluded sandy beach and a couple of family-run tavernas along the sleepy main road. Dense pine woods give a dramatic backdrop, while a pretty little canal runs along its southern edge. It feels like you’re away from it all here – but this is almost a Corfu Town suburb, with the cosmopolitan capital just 10 minutes’ drive away.
As Corfu’s second largest town, Lefkimi is one of the more traditional places on the island. There’s a distinct lack of a tourist presence, and that’s where the appeal lies. In terms of looks, expect narrow streets lined by pastel-painted houses, time-worn churches and cobbled piazzas – all wrapped in a blanket of olive groves and vineyards.
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