Impeccable beaches, see-through water, dozen of satellite islands with pristine nature and intact coast, dense olive forests, the capital city imbued in numerous cultural influences, and affordable gourmet food. That right there is Corfu island.
What I found most appealing, apart from the uplifting and eye-catching sites, is the accessibility once you set your foot on the island. Namely, the length of the island from its northern to southernmost point is around 60 km, and it is only 27 km wide at its best, so having/renting a car, a scooter or a quad bike, which was the case here, enables you to see most of what this beautiful island has to offer.
Each side of the island has its specificities, with the northern coast popular for its healing clay-like sand and the view of the Ionian sea merging with the Adriatic sea, west part known for some of the widest and most dazzling beaches, the south, meant for day or night partying and mingling, and the east side with the cheapest accommodation and beaches abundant in trees that provide you with shade, so there’s no need for a parasol! The last one was our (me and my wife’s) choice, and it served as a “hub” from which we traveled to all parts mentioned above!
So, without further ado, let’s check out some of the places you might not want to miss once you embark on your journey.
The north-east of the island: Dassia, Ipsos, Barbati
We chose Dassia as our place of residence because of its location and the fact that the cheapest accommodation could be found here, on the north-east side of the island. Namely, Dassia is 13 kilometers away from the city of Corfu, which is referred to as Kerkyra by locals, and it has a great road network that allows easy access to many nearby places including Ipsos and Barbati. Its name derives from the Greek word “Dasos” that translates as a forest, which this place certainly is. Once you start heading to the beach you will be followed by rows of trees and when you reach it you may find more of them providing natural shade. With its gradual descent to a transparent blue sea, Dassia is a perfect place for a family vacation overall.
Ipsos is located 2 kilometers north of Dassia and is quite popular with younger generations due to its abundant nightlife and traditional tavernas and cafes. On top of that, there are many daytime activities such as surfing and water skiing. The shingle beach is around one and a half kilometer long, the water is as clean as it gets, and the view from this part of the island is just amazing since you can get a glimpse of the mainland Greece, the Albanian coastline, the surrounding olive groves, and the highest mountain peak on the island – Pantokrator.
Barbati is a cosmopolitan place with a lot of greenery and natural shade, one of the best beaches, in my humble opinion, and a mild mixture of a mountain and sea breeze which makes you feel as you were in some kind of a bathing resort or spa. It’s 5 kilometers north of Ipsos.
The west of the island: Paleokastritsa and Glyfada
Around 25 kilometers west of the city of Corfu, Paleokastritsa stands proudly. It is said that it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. To be exact, it’s a complex of beautiful beaches, sandy and shingle ones, most of which can only be accessed by boat, but don’t let this discourage you since there are many cruise trips (which will be discussed in more detail later on) organized for tourists on an hourly basis. The rest of the beaches are easy to access on foot and are equally breathtaking; surrounded by reefs, they form bay-like areas with cold crystal clear water perfect for diving. On top of the hill above Paleokastritsa, there is a cafe with a view of the whole bay which, I am sure, will leave you speechless.
And now, my personal favorite, Glyfada! If you are a fan of wide and long sandy beaches with enough space to play football or volleyball if you please to, this is the right choice for you. Around 15 kilometers west of Corfu city, encircled with cliffs covered in woods, Glyfada offers a wide array of entertainment for young people, such as day parties, jet-skiing, beach volleyball tournaments, and various water sports. Its steep descent to the sea provides you with a stunning view of a bay, and if you happen to be on a bit more adventurous side, there is a nudist beach nearby named Mirtiotissa where water takes on a new dimension of transparency.
The north of the island: Sidari
There is an interesting legend that says that each couple that swims through Canal D’amour in Sidari will stay together until the end of their lives, so if you are on a vacation with your beloved one, why not try? And for the single ones, the legend goes on to say that if they do the same, they will find their significant halves in the near future. Pretty cute, isn’t it? But on a less romantic note, the rocky cliffs here are quite unique due to their clay-like structure (which can be used for signing names and date after swimming through the canal), and the beach sand which resembles mud is believed to have a healing effect on the body, so a lot of people actually rub it on their skin having a spa treatment free of charge! One more interesting fact about Sidari is that the Ionian sea here is merging with the Adriatic sea far north, so when swimming, or just gazing into a horizon, you can sense the currents intertwining making it a one-of-a-kind experience. Sidari is 35 kilometers north-west of the capital.
The south of the island: Kavos
Kavos is located in the far south of Corfu island, 46 kilometers south of the capital city, and it is famous and notorious for one and the same thing – parties. The beach in the center is fine, but because of many tourists having long nights out, it might not be the epitome of cleanliness during the day. However, there are some beaches nearby that you might be satisfied with, but overall, Kavos is a place where you would go to party and spend more time in some of the best clubs on the island than on the beach. Hence, you will see many more people under 25 than families and married couples, and you can also expect the price range to be extraordinary since it’s adapted to the culture of partying. To be honest, my wife and I just paid a short visit to this place to cross it out from the list and heard some local stories, but if I were thirsty for some fun of that kind, Kavos would be the first choice, most certainly.
The city of Corfu
Rising up above the turquoise Ionian sea, located on a dazzling place in the eastern part of the island, Corfu is the town of stunning architecture resembling that of some Italian cities. It’s no wonder the town was built in this style since it was ruled by Venetians for almost four centuries. Planned out as one large pedestrian zone with numerous wrought-iron balconies, terracotta roofs, and vivid allies, it provides tourists with a wide variety of sightseeing spots and gives off the sense of a renaissance period. There are a lot of places here that you might not find in the rest of Greece, so visiting Corfu is a must. Once you are here, you wouldn’t want to miss Old and New Fortress, The Esplanade, the Church of St. Spyridon, the Achillieion, Mon Repos, and my personal favorite, the Museum of Asian Art, to name a few.
Wonderful and mysterious Greece, the land of myths and legends, always offers more. Apart from the abundance of places you can visit on the island, there are some of them off the shore that would make your holiday complete. These are just a few I would recommend:
- Blue Lagoon – Organized cruise trip to Blue Lagoon and Sivota which are located on the western part of mainland Greece is a unique experience. Having lunch on a boat while gazing at the white sand beach and the translucent sea is really something you won’t forget.
- Parga – Parga is located a few kilometers south of Sivota and if one didn’t know better, he/she would say that the boat lost its track and ended up in an Italian village. Parga is a gem, with all of its wondrous houses of different colors grouped together on a small hill, narrow streets packed with various animating shops, and pristine beaches, you will want to visit again.
- Paxos, Antipaxos & Caves – South of the island of Corfu, there are these two tiny islands where real and surreal meet. Understandably, the water and sand here are heavenly, but what’s even better are the caves which will make this journey an unforgettable experience.
Once you visit Corfu, you will be enchanted by it to the extent of realizing that there’s no such thing as visiting Corfu only once. It’s the magic of this island and I hope you will have a great time and share that magic with others! Good luck and bon voyage!