When you come to Corfu, Corfu Town is a must on your to-do list. There is so much to discover and it is a pity not to witness its beauty. Only 5 minutes away from the airport, Old Corfu Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site is not something to underestimate. Old Corfu Town is a signifiacnt part of history, protected by the United Nations
The first thing you should do coming to Corfu Town is to make sure you have at least half the day devoted to Corfu Town! Walking around, getting to know the area is the best way to admire and soak in the architectural beauty, built mostly by the Venetians. The Venetians had control of the island for approximately 400 years from 1401 to 1797. During which, the Ottoman Empire attacked many times. Fortunately, they were never successful and remains one of the only Greek islands to be untouched by Turkey.
The Fortress that captures your eye
The Old Fortress in Corfu Town was built in the early 15th century by the Venetians. It is the Fort you see when you arrive to Corfu by boat. After the siege of Corfu in 1537 though, the Venetians decided to expand their defense in Corfu Town and built the New Fort. The New Fortress is right next to the fish market and close to the old port. Underground are tunnels that connect the forts.
Tip: Take a deep breath and walk up all the stairs to the top of the fort. Once at the top, take a panoramic photo of the view and image you were there when the Fortress was being built.
While you walk around Old Town, checking out the tourist shops and old churches, be careful not to get lost! Back then, the pirates would come to the city looking to steal and do the locals harm. The streets are like a maze which made it easier for the locals to getaway. Be certain to also check out Saint Spyridon Church. Saint Spyridon is Corfu’s patron saint, one of the main reasons if you yell the name Spiros in Corfu Town half of the people will turn around. The story has is that he saved us countless times from plagues and the Turks. For more history on Corfu and Corfu Town you can visit https://www.greecetravel.com/corfu/history.html.
An Unforgettable Experience: If you are in Corfu for Greek Easter, I would recommend visiting Corfu Town on the Saturday morning before Easter. There is a big parade and celebration where people throw big vases from the windows in Liston. This happens around 11 am. There is an enormous about of people, showing you the importance in this tradition.
Take a Break
Next, you might be getting a little exhausted so now is a good time to walk to Liston and sit for a coffee. Taking a coffee break is a big part of the culture in Corfu. Many countries will drink their country fast and leave. Greece is the opposite. When you drink a coffee in Liston, you should take your time to absorb the atmosphere. Some say the name Liston comes from many years ago because in order to go to Liston you had to be “on the list” “list on”. Others say Liston is a Venetian word that describes some squares in Venice. Far e liston was a phrase said that means “to walk around the square”. Liston in Corfu was built by the French between 1807-1814 copying the Rue di Rivoli in Paris, France.
Insiders tip: If you are on a budget, you can get a coffee to go, then go take a walk around Spinada Square, one of the biggest squares in the Balkans, also very peaceful.
There are many more interesting activities in Corfu Town, for instance, go visit the museum’s or wait for the night and check the nightlife. It is a very chill atmosphere with everyone having a good time.
You can read more about Liston in my blog Corfu Coffee Culture: Let’s talk coffee to get a better sense of the vibe it gives off.
One of my favorite areas of Corfu is absolutely Paleokastritsa. The scenery is breathtaking with all the different shades of green and the structure of the mountains and rocks. The crystal clear waters will leave you dreaming about it every winter. No wonder there are so many returning people every year. Agios Spyridon the main beach it is the first beach on your left when you arrive in the center. The 20-30 meter sharp edged rock wall from the continuous waves, act as a guard to the beach for both sides.
You should know: Take your time going into the water, the sea is known to be one of the coldest in Corfu!
There are plenty of Tavern’s in the area and many different beaches. There is plenty of accessible parking. During peak season, it will get very busy so make sure you arrive early to find parking.
Best way to enjoy:
One of the best things to do is pack a big lunch, lots of water, and rent a boat for the day. There are over 15 different beaches in the area, some only accessible by boat meaning, you will be of the few people at many of these beaches. If you are not a fan of big crowds this is a great solution. You can choose from a big variety of boats, slow and fast. If you don’t have a license and have never driven a boat before don’t worry, under 30 hp it is not necessary to have a license and they will give you a quick lesson before you take the boat out for the day!
If you would rather not be the captain of the boat there is still a solution. There are companies that do private and public boat tours all the time of the caves and more. You can also have them bring you to a beach by boat and then pick you up later in the day usually for around 15 euros one way.
For the Adventurer: Scuba diving is also offered in Paleokastritsa!
Caution: Make sure to ask your guide about the “tripa to haa”. Take a deep breath, dive into the water, swim a couple of meters, and come out inside a hole in the mountain where you can see the sky.
Are you a Hiker??
There are also many different hikes in and around Paleokastristsa that lead to wild beaches and great views! For example, the donkey path up to Lakones. Here you can get fresh handmade ice cream at Dolce enjoying the best view of Paleokastritsa. However, the best hikes in the area are definitely in the mountains of Liapades some leading to not well-known beaches. The famous Corfu Trail passes through Liapades so it can be a great option for nature lovers. Green arrows along the road are for the Corfu trail. https://www.corfu-trail.com/en/corfu-trail-map.html
The best way to finish the day in Paleokastritsa is to grab 2 Corfu beers from the supermarket and head up to the monastery to catch the sunset. The monastery dates back to the 13th century where the Monks still press their own olive oil from the monasteries Olive trees.
ATTENTION: Be sure to cover your knees and your shoulders because they follow a strict dress code and will not let you in unless.
PRO TIP: As you leave Paleokastritsa be sure to stop at La Grotta Cafe/Bar and take a picture/selfie from the top. The view is amazing and will make your day better. As far as to go down to La Grotta, it is about 200 steps down. During the day, it is a party spot for young travelers, but in the evening and night can be a quiet romantic spot to enjoy a cocktail.
Kanoni is one of the wealthiest villages in Corfu located right outside of Corfu Town.
First, you have the Mon Repo which was built in 1828 for Frederick Adam the British Lord High Commissioner of the United States Ionian Islands. After he left, it ended up being a summer home for the royal family. The villa isn’t the only thing at the Mon Repo. It is a big property and a special place to take a relaxing walk under the trees and even take a dip in the sea like the King and Queen would many years ago.
Not too far down the road there are a couple of cafe’s looking over the sea where you can see many planes landing and taking off. This and the combination of the sunset is one of the most romantic spots in Corfu.
However, don’t forget to walk down the steps and check out the Vlacherna Monastery. This monastery was built in the 17th century and is an iconic place in Corfu. There is also a small harbor where people tie up their fishing boats. Not even a 10-minute boat ride will get you to the very popular Mouse island.
If you are still looking to walk a little there is a pathway across the sea to the village Perama.
Mount Pantokrator is the highest mountain in Corfu at 906 meters. From the top you can see all of Corfu, Albania and sometimes even Italy. There is a coffee shop with some snacks at the top!
Mount Pantokrator is an all-around great place to visit. There are plenty of options if you are interested in history, religion, sightseeing, nature, or even hiking. Every year there is a festival here where you can find food, drinks, souvenirs, and new friends. The first monastery built in 1347 was destroyed a couple of hundred years later. What is currently there was started in the 1600s and was continued to be worked on in the 19th century.
The Corfu trail and the Corfu Mountain Trail race pass through Mount Pantokrator and is a stunning path for nature lovers. If there is a place on Corfu to find truffles, up here would be the place!
In between, the villages of Sinies and Agios Stefanos, Erimitis is definitely one of the hidden beauties of Corfu. Erimitis consists of 11 beaches all in a line. It is the perfect spot for all nature lovers. There are many different species of animals, sea ceatures, and plants. It is a great place to go for a long walk/hike along the coast and then eventually settle on the beach of your choice for some lunch. You have a good view of albania, only being a couple of kilometers away.
The shore is always washing up old logs that can be a great way to make some DIY lamps or something of your choice which is a great ornament to add to your house or as a gift. Erimitis also holds a race for runners and bikers in the spring called Kassoios Dias Trail Run Race. https://kassiosdias.gr/en/ . They have a couple of different races for all different ages and skill levels. It is a very enjoyable, memorable experience to have in Corfu.