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Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece

Corfu, known also by its Greek name Kerkyra (Κέρκυρα), is the northernmost of the Ionian Islands in Greece. Located off of the far northwest coast of the country, Corfu lies in the Adriatic sea, east of Italy and southwest of Albania. Historically Corfu has been controlled by many foreign powers, notably the Venetians, and British.

Regions

Corfu is 62 km long and at its widest point, nearly 30 km wide. The island is formed by two mountain ranges. The northern runs from the west to east and consists of limestones, reached in the

Mount Pantokrator

(914 meters) the maximum height of the island, while the southern mountain range is less high and streches from north to south. The North of the island is wider and more mountainous. The coastal... Read more

Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece

Destination:

Corfu, known also by its Greek name Kerkyra (Κέρκυρα), is the northernmost of the Ionian Islands in Greece. Located off of the far northwest coast of the country, Corfu lies in the Adriatic sea, east of Italy and southwest of Albania. Historically Corfu has been controlled by many foreign powers, notably the Venetians, and British.

Regions

Corfu is 62 km long and at its widest point, nearly 30 km wide. The island is formed by two mountain ranges. The northern runs from the west to east and consists of limestones, reached in the

Mount Pantokrator

(914 meters) the maximum height of the island, while the southern mountain range is less high and streches from north to south. The North of the island is wider and more mountainous. The coastal areas are well developed with good pebbly beaches. However, the northeast coast has always remained a favourite, aka Kensington on sea. It is also where the island's oldest village 'Old Perithia' is located just beneath Mt. Pantokrator, a Heritage Protected Site in a designated Area of Natural Beauty. The South of the island is less wide (only a few miles across from west to east) and tends to have sandier beaches.

Towns

  • Arillas. A beach resort that still feels like a village. Arillas has a long and wide sandy beach at the northwest corner of Corfu. Beautiful nature, clear waters and a beach offering much privacy. Many naturists have been coming to Arillas for decades because of this, so if you wander off to the left or right side of the beach, be prepared to encounter naked people! Arillas is also developing fast as one of the biggest spiritual spots of the world. There are three spiritual centers offering different courses on meditation, chanting, dancing, creative arts and also many people practicing all kinds of massage. Ideal to relax body, mind and spirit. The village is also famous for its festivals. The first is held on Ascension day (40 days after Easter, 13 June for 2013), another is held in the first weekend of August and the Wine festival is held on the first weekend of September. Many hundreds of people come to Arillas from all Northern Corfu to enjoy traditional dancing, great souvlakia, local wine, and the famous, fresh Corfu Beer which is produced in the village.
  • Old Perithia. This is the last remaining Heritage Protected Village on the island. Located in the north east, just below Mt. Pantokrator, the village nestles in A Designated Area of Natural Beauty and records date back to c. 1350. The village is made up of 130 houses and surrounded by 8 churches, it has 4 tavernas and 1 boutique bed & breakfast making ot one of the most unique and unspoiled places to stay and a regular feature of the Durrell Week that takes place around May each year as it's perfect for walkers and those interested in flora, fauna, insects and wildlife. A hideaway from Pirate attacks, the village has views to, but cannot be seen, from the sea, eventually tourism in the late 1960s and 70's drove villagers towards the coast but it always remained inhabited. Today, locals and visitors alike travel to the village to see the ruins and restorations - the food is 'mountain prices' and often locally sourced. Such is the popularity of the village that Corfiots visit at weekends throughout the winter, to sit around the fires and enjoy the authentic Corfiot dishes. Some of the best beaches on the island are just 20 minutes (8 km) drive away so you can enjoy slip away during the day and return to the peace and quiet of 'your own village' as the sun sets over the mountain tops.
  • Nymphes. A big village with a lot of water, green and legends built on a height of 200 meters. According to a legend, in old times, the Nymphs used to bathe in the village’s waterfalls. A walk to the wells and the waterfalls is enough to make you understand why this legend exists ! It is almost certain that you will come across a nymph, too and if you are lucky, you will see her bathe in the water especially in spring. After your walk to the myths, it is a good idea to visit the premises of the Agriculture Co-operative which elaborates kum-kuat and produces liquor and sweets. You will be offered some for free and you will have the chance to try the different liquor qualities (and of course, buy some, if you like). Just outside the village, you can visit Askitario, a small but historic monastery. According to tradition, here lived in the 5th century the monk Artemios Paissios from Epirus, who is said to have worked many wonders.
  • Kynopiastes. A traditional village of the Messi Region of Corfu and only 10 km away from Corfu town and airport, which is a must visit. Old mansions of the 17th to 19th centuries, a marble church, a 17th-century monastery and a museum (and the only one on the island) devoted to the olive tree with one of the world famous restaurants on the island tavern « Trypas », which has hosted Kings ike the Kings of Greece and England, Presidents of Countries like Konstantinos Karamanlis (Greece) and François Mitterrand (France), stars of the European and American cinema and music, like Jane Fonda, Anthony Quinn etc. The narrow tiled paths invite you to walk on them, looking at the small squares and at the houses which preserve the traditional colors. The main church is devoted to the Virgin Mary and it is in the central square. It is a traditional church with unique architecture and an impressive marble entrance. Inside, there are frescoes of the 18th century Ionian School of Painting. At the edge of the village there is the monastery of Agia Paraskevi, built in the 17th century.
  • Lakones. A typical Corfiot village on the slope of a green hill. You should go for a walk to Bella Vista to admire the view over the bay of Paleokastritsa and relax in one of the picturesque coffee shops. If you like trekking there is a path leading down to Paleokastritsa. The surnames of the inhabitants of the region refer to the soldiers who supported

    Angelokastro

    in the late Byzantine period, as well as to refugees from Mani. Among the houses of the 18th and 19th centuries you will find churches and traditional coffee shops. At the central church you will see donations of the first emigrants to America of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Roda. Visit the village resort of Roda on Corfu's northern coast. Traditionally a fishing village, the area has retained its chararcter while developing in to a popular destination for holidays. Unique in the sense that the old village still exists at the heart of the resort, locals mix with the different nationalities who visit time and time again. Roda is a contained resort, without the typical sprawl. There is plenty of accommodation, bars, restaurants which offer a wide range of menus, typical Greek and Corfiot dishes, Italian, Chinese and others. Roda is a relaxed resort but has a good nightlife, with nice bands, singers and comedy shows as well as the ever popular kareoke. If you want a laid back holiday, then Roda is the place, with quiet corners and a beautiful sandy beach, Roda offers something for everyone.
  • Corfu Town. known in modern Greek as Kerkira or Kerkyra, is the largest and most important town on the island. This is where the airport is located and where most cruise ships and long distance ferries dock. It is a small, pleasant city catering well to tourists. Its old town is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Benitses. is a very old, traditional fishing village. Benitses lies 12 km south of Corfu Town, and leads to the emerald valley. The water of the springs which flow from the mountains of Aghii Deka and Stavros, join together in two small rivers, giving the area the name Pinisse (derived from the ancient Greek word 'Pinio') = Pinitse = Benitses. The mild climate and the natural beauty of Benitses village has attracted a lot of tourists from the beginning of the century. It is only during the last 30 years that tourism has replaced all other sources of income and now is the sole occupation of the inhabitants during the summer season. The coastal road of Benitses is full of hotels, restaurants, cafes and other shops that offering everything the most demanding visitor can ask. Benitses is surrounded by the mountains in one side and the aquamarine waters of the Ionian Sea in the other, this unique combination of nature with the hospitality of the residents, which are very familiar with different cultures, are what make visitors to love the place. 3km to the north there is the famous

    Achilleion palace

    .
  • Kavos. is a seaside village on the island of Corfu in Greece, in the municipal district and the municipality of Lefkimmi. It is now a lively resort heavily devoted to tourism, and popular with young holidaymakers from Britain and Northern Europe
  • Kassiopi. One of the more relaxed and atmospheric resorts with a pretty bay and beach that is mostly stony. The waters are crystal clear and calm. Somewhat spoilt by the prevalence of tacky tourist bars/cafes catering to the many English tourists that crowd the town.
  • Lefkimmi. A village with a wide long sandy beach that is quiet due to being in the less busy South. There's a practical taverna with a children's playground. The waters are extremely calm and very shallow, even out for quite some distance.
  • Kalami. The village is where the British novelist Lawrence Durrell and his wife Nancy Isobel Myers chose to live from 1935 until the Greek surrender in April 1941

Understand

The satisfactory infrastructure and the multiple possibilities for various activities are ideal for group holidays on Corfu and the nearby islands. Motivation trips, congress tourism, school trips, Ferrari or antique cars clubs and Harley Davidson groups meet here every year.
Corfu's nature, sea and history have made sure so that you today, no matter when you come, or how long you will stay, or your style, you will certainly find original and interesting situations to exercise and to have fun. In a place with a tradition in tourism of at least 130 years, with Greek education and the influence of “nobility” from England, France and, surely, Venice, in a place which is used to welcoming the international jet-set for several decades now, the possibilities for sports and amusement are certainly impressive.
Corfu is also a very good destination for family holidays.
Corfu may not have a Disneyland, children's museums, zoos or other things closely connected with children, but the whole island is ideal for children. It's one of few places in the world, where children are bound to find what they really need: a warm welcome. In Corfu there are no tropical diseases, criminality, violence, dangerous sea and any other kind of "danger". Children here, as you will see for yourselves, play safely in the streets, in the parks, at the playgrounds, on the beach. The way of life of the Corfiot people is almost in family. Check this out, and you will see that it is worth bringing here your children some time.

Climate

The climate of the archipelago of Corfu is warm mediterranean. The summer here is warm and relatively dry with a blue sky, often cooled by seasonal breezes, offering the ideal conditions for surfing, while rarely is it interrupted by rains. The mountainous areas are cooler. The winter here is mild. Rainfall occurs mainly from November till March. On average, there are 3000 hours of sun per year with an average daily sunshine duration of 8.5 hours.
Spring here is impressive and offers visitors the privilege to enjoy the wealth of vegetation and colors, combined with high-taste tourism .
Easter celebration here becomes the experience of a lifetime .
Summer is the most popular season for Corfu, with beautiful beaches and crystal water for unconcerned hours on the beach.
Autumn is the season of vintage, the period during which the whole island smells of grapes; it may be the best time to get to know the routine of the island.
Christmas and New Year's Day in Corfu is music, hymns, carols, in a quiet, decorated place with a mild climate and a noble finesse.


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Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece: Port Information


Cruise ships dock at the New Port. To the center of Corfu is around 20 to 30-minutes walk. If less than 2 miles is too much for you, you can take a taxi or a shuttle bus.  

Get around Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece


By bus

There are two types of bus in Corfu - Blue buses serve Corfu town and the environs, Green buses serve the rest of the island.
The Blue bus terminal in Corfu Town is in San Rocco Square. The bus information kiosk displays timetables and provides maps showing exactly where the buses terminate (some terminate a few blocks south of the square). Bus stops have electronic displays, and self-service ticket machines. Tickets are single-journey only and must be validated on the bus. They can be bought from the machines, or from the driver (for €0.50 more).
Useful lines include the number 7 which goes to and from Dasia every 20 minutes (30 minutes on Sundays), the 10 which goes to and from Achilion every two hours, the 6 to and from Benitses (not quite hourly) and the 11 to and from Pelekas every 2–3 hours.
The airport bus is No 19 - check the timetable as frequency varies during the day with some big gaps. It is only a ten-minute ride, and costs €1.10. Number 6 Benitses bus also goes past the end of the airport access road from where it is a 500m walk to the terminal.
The Green Bus Station is near the New Port, from where buses depart for all villages of Corfu Island. Regular departures to Paleokastritsa, Sidari, Kavos, Roda, Acharavi, Kassiopi.

By taxi

There are plently of taxi lines in Corfu Town.

  • between the Spaniada and the cricket ground.
  • at the heart of the shopping center of the town in Methodiou street
  • at the Old Port
  • at the New Port
  • many others in Gouvia, Dassia, Benitses, Ipsos, the Airport etc.

And there is the radio taxi which can be reached by phone at +30 26610 33811

By car

You can rent a car at the airport or through one of many local companies. In general, it is cheaper to pre-book a hire car via the Internet before arriving. Many of the roads are very narrow so it can be better to choose a small car. While there is a good road running North-South along the East coast from Sidari to Lefkimmi and from Corfu town across the island to Paleokastritsa, many roads have poor surfacing. Often the insurance provided for hire cars does not cover damage to the underside of the car so watch out for large holes in the road. Hire car companies often provide a free map but you may find it worth buying one in advance as the maps are not especially good, especially for the North-West interior.

By boat

A great way to explore the island and access beaches that can't be easily accessed otherwise is to rent a boat. Most towns have at least one boat rental company and boats up to 30HP do not require a licence to hire.

By bicycle

In the city traffic is pretty wild and noisy.

An automatic bike sharing scheme, called EasyBike Brainbox was available to rent bicycles. 

By quad bike

There is nothing better than renting a quad bike and driving round the villages, it's a lot of fun and a lot quicker than walking!

What to see in Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece


  • Achilleion (Αχίλλειον). Is a palace built in Corfu by Empress of Austria Elisabeth of Bavaria, also known as Sissi after a suggestion by Austrian Consul Alexander von Watzberg. Sissi was a woman obsessed with beauty and very powerful but tragically vulnerable since the loss of her only son, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria in the Mayerling affair in 1889. A year later in 1890 she built a summer palace in the region of Gastouri (Γαστούρι), now the municipality of Achilleion, about ten kilometres to the south of the city of Corfu. The palace was designed with the mythical hero Achilles as its central theme.

Beaches

There is a good variety of beaches on Corfu. On the West side of the island, the beaches are sandier while the East tends to have calmer waters. The north-east coast is also home to most of Corfu's upmarket holiday villas.

  • Sidari. A fair sized resort dominated by British tourists. At one end of the beach is the "Canal de l'Amour": sand stone cliffs with narrow inlets, a natural archway and small paths to explore.
  • Dasia and Ipsos. A narrow stony beach with relatively calm waters. The resort runs along the road so there's a good variety of shops and tavernas.
  • Glifada. A long wide sandy beach with fairly rough waters.
  • Pelekas beach. Also a nice sandy beach.
  • San Stefanos beach. A long beautiful beach on the north west of the island, very good for sunbathing as there is loads of sunbeds.
  • Barbati beach. Crystal clear!
  • Chalikounas beach. A very long, virgin stretch of land, caught between Chalikiopoulos' Lake and the Adriatic sea. The natural landscape here is unique, it is a great place to get away from the world and just enjoy both sea and sun.
  • Issos beach. Next to Chalikounas, again on the southwest of Corfu, this beach has a desert motive, because of the high sand hills right next to the seashore. Bring your bike and enjoy the terrain, or just enjoy the panoramic view from high above.
  • Prasoudi beach. High cliffs hang over your head, clean waters and a mix of sand and pebbles. A remote beach that will not leave you unsatisfied.
  • Mesongi beach.

What to do in Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece


  • Aqualand. Agios Ioannis. It's quite a small water park with only a few main "rides". It is best to travel to and from the park under your own steam as a whole day there with an organised trip might be too long.
  • Walk the Corfu Trail. Corfu is an ideal location for a keen walker. The North is fairly rugged with Mt. Pantokrator, the highest mountain, and beneath it Corfu's oldest village, Ano (Upper)Perithia. At the other extreme is Korission Lake in the South; an inland lake, separated by a thin sand bar from the sea. The Corfu Trail is a 222 km long distance footpath covering the full length of the islands. The route is well signed and a book accompanies the trail, there is also an introduction, history and walking guide for Old Perithia, Corfu's oldest village which you pass through on the Corfu Trail.
  • Meditation. There are several meditation centres on Corfu, and many people practicing massage and giving all kinds of sessions, from deep tissue massage to craniosacral and psychic massage.
  • Massage. There are many people practicing massage and giving all types of sessions, from deep tissue massage, relaxation, Reiki therapy. One center is Arillas in the north west of the island but there are also places in and close to Corfu town offering courses and sessions as well as mobile massage therapists1 who come to your villa, apartment or even boat/yacht.
  • Yachting. There is a lot of yachting going on in Corfu and the Ionian, it's an ideal spot due to calm weather conditions, Magic Islands, and fun people. Corfu and Ionian in general is an ideal place for sailing and yachting with steady fair winds all summer long. Motoryacht Pyewacket is the newest addition in Gouvia Marina, its a 20m motor charter yacht made by sunseeker with two professional UK/Dutch Crew members on there third season in the Ionian. Another operator is the Discovery Yachting offering yachts for sailing in the Ionian.

What to eat and drink in Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece


Eat

Eat at Agni Bay either in the evenings or during the day, arrive on foot or by boat, there are 3 places to eat on the beach all excellent, some of the best food ever. Water Taxis run some evenings from some of the surrounding villages. Very Romantic, but prices are high here. A very special place to be. As featured in Gerald Durrells ' My Family and Other Animals'

  • Klimataria or Grapevine, benitses (opposite blue bus stop in benitses), ☎ +30 2661071201. 7PM-11PM. If you aren't a seafood fan then this restaurant might not appeal to you as there are limited alternatives, although there is a good selection for vegetarians. Its a family run business and the setting, a very old building, must be the most photographed building in Benitses. Eat early to get a table as the locals rarely eat before 22.00. 10-40€.pp.
  • To Fagopotion, Agios Stefanos. Worth visiting but praise in the Guardian newspaper on 13 09 08 (ostentatiously displayed at the entrance )may have gone to chef Christos Vlachos' head. Don't let him bully you. Some of the cooking is good, some is ordinary, and some has the feel of leftovers from the night before.

Drink

Gingerbeer. Corfu was a British protectorate and gingerbeer is one of the British style drinks that the locals adopted with enthusiasm. The Greek version is simply excellent. Ask for it at Liston or better restaurants and coffee houses. Locally it is called "Tsitsibeera"
Corfu Beer . In Arillas, in the north of Corfu there is the Corfu Microbrewery. They produce four different kinds of beer, all of them unpasteurised (so they have to be drunk within a couple of months of their production) and all of them delicious! They are so good that they were selected by J.D. Wetherspoon to produce Koroibos Beer, exclusively for the London Olympics. You can visit the brewery and have a taste of their beers. Better give them a call in advance at +30 26630 52072

Shopping in Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece


As elsewhere in Greece, olive wood, ceramic and leather goods are common. In addition to many tourist shops in places such as Corfu town, you will find small shops along some of the more major roads, often combined with the factory/workshop. In some remoter areas, you may find locals selling locally produced wine, honey and olive oil from small street-side stalls.

Safety in Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece


Greece is generally a safe destination for the traveler: the vast majority of people you interact with will be honest and helpful.

Health care

Despite a loud call for health care reform from both the voters and the political establishment, the nation's health care system has received very high marks from the World Health Organization (WHO), a branch of the UN. However, many citizens prefer private health care for longer-term hospital stays. Depending on the age and nature of a particular hospital or clinic, services range from adequate to excellent. Health care is free and universal for all citizens, as well as for all EU nationals upon presentation of an EHIC card (Formerly the E111 form). For non-EU nationals, only emergency care is provided for free.

A network of helicopter ambulances serves the islands, transporting patients who need immediate attention to the nearest island or city with a major hospital.

The country's pharmacies and medications are of top quality, and pharmacists are highly trained experts in their field. Many medications that need a prescription in the UK and US can be purchased without a prescription in Greece. When sick with a simple, common illness, a visit to the pharmacist will provide you with the medication you need. If you are looking for a specific medication, be sure to know its generic name, as brand names might be different. Most pharmacies close on Sundays, but a sign will be posted on the door indicating the nearest pharmacies that are open.

Healthcare provision is different to Anglosphere nations in that many specialists are in the community. GPs are replaced by community pathologists. Hotels and tourist agencies can provide advice on where to go if you are ill.

Language spoken in Corfu (Kerkyra), Greece


Greek is the official national language and is the native tongue of the vast majority of the population, although the English speaking visitor will encounter no significant language problem. English is the most widely studied and understood foreign language in Greece, followed by French, Italian, and German. Basic knowledge of English can be expected from almost all in the tourism industry and public transport services. Learning a few Greek terms, such as "hello" and "thank you" will be warmly received.

The Latin and Cyrillic alphabets were derived from the Greek alphabet and about half of Greek letters look like their Latin counterparts, and most Greek letters resemble their Cyrillic counterparts. With a bit of study it's not too hard to decipher written names, and common terms such as "hotel", "cafeteria", etc. You'll find that place names on road signs throughout the country are often transliterated into Latin letters (some signs, especially on the newer roads, are even outright translated into English).

As true throughout Greece, you will find multiple spellings for the same place because of the transliteration from the Greek to Roman alphabet and because Greek grammar rules change the word's spelling depending on whether it is the subject or object of a verb, or to indicate possession (each of these also change the pronunciation), and because of the language reform in 1976. You will see road sign and place names on maps that spell the same place different ways. Sometimes a place will be spelled how it is pronounced, sometimes it will be spelled using Roman letter substitutions. So you will see Heraklion, Iraklion, Heraklio and Iraklio for Ηράκλειο and Rethymnon, Rethymno, Rethimnon and Rethimno for Ρέθυμνο.

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