At the end of his travails, a weary Odysseus was shipwrecked on the vernal island of the Phaecans, who patiently heard his tale before setting him on a boat home to Ithaki. This island is modern-day Corfu and you can expect the same level of kindness from this cosmopolitan jewel.
Achillion Palace or Mon Repos
The most popular attraction in Corfu; the evergreen estate of Mon Repos is located in Palaiopoli, about 3km from Corfu Town and has a truly outstanding sea view.
This is where Frederick Adam, the High Commissioner of Eptanisa, built his summer estate in 1831. In 1864 the Palace was granted to King George I and the legendary Princess Elizabeth (Sissy) also stayed there. In this very palace, Philip Mountbatten, the Duke of Edinburg and spouse of Queen Elizabeth, was born. The architecturally impressive colonial style with neoclassical and Greek elements is surrounded by lush gardens with more than 2.000 species of plants, mostly gifts from royal families.
Visitors will be enchanted by the two famous statues of Achilles, located in the gardens, just outside the palace; the “Dying Achilles” by Ernst Herter and a huge statue of Achilles the Triumphant. Scenes from the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only” were also shot there.
The palace is open daily, except from Monday, from 8.30 in the morning until 15.00 in the afternoon.
Having adopted its name from its peculiar shape resembling a mouse, the small islet is Corfu’s landmark. The vegetated rock in the middle of the sea has been declared as an open natural museum and can be visited by a small boat from Kanoni, just outside the famous church of Virgin Mary Vlaherna. If you happen to be in Kerkyra during the Metamorphosis of Jesus Christ (August 6th) you are in luck as it is the only day visitors are able to visit the islet and the Byzantine monastery of Pantokratoras, which is the only building standing there.
Agios Spyridonas Church
This is one of the most important Metabyzantine monuments in the city of Corfu, built in 1589 and located at the Old Town (a few minutes from Spianada and Liston). It has an amazing marble temple, the relics of the Saint are kept in a silver crypt of the 19th century and it has some astonishing frescoes and golden panels all around. Agios Spyridonas is the patron saint of the island and they say he saved the inhabitants from the plague epidemic. The church’s bell tower is the tallest on the island.
Fortezza or Old Fort
The Fortezza is located on the east part of the city and it’s an architectural masterpiece of the Byzantine and the Venetian era. Inside you will see a Venetian prison, two British barracks and a military hospital, which now hosts the music school. Enjoy the breathtaking view of the Old Town, the sea and the small port with the fishing boats.
Fortezza Nueva or New Fort
Dominating the hill of San Marco, the New Fort was built by the Venetians (16th century), after it was decided that the Old Fort wasn’t providing enough protection in the city. It’s said that in order to find the necessary building material, the architect Francisco Vitelli had to demolish 2.000 houses and churches.
The Old and the New Fort are still connected by underground channel that are now closed to the public. In its massive gate, visitors will see the amazing sculpture of a Lion, an emblem that will always be linking this Fort to Venice. Today, the New Fort hosts many cultural events, art exhibitions and concerts.
Museum of Asian Art – Palace of Saints Michael and George
The Museum of Asian Art (the only Asian art museum in Greece), is housed in a beautiful building of the British Protectorate, designed by George Whitmore. Initially it was the residence of the High Commissioner and then as the headquarters of the Knights of St. Michael and St. George. The museum hosts about 11.000 items of statuettes from China, bronze ritual vases, masks from the No Theater, Greek-Buddhist sculptures, nephrite objects, Chinese porcelain items and samurai armors.
Winter and summer operating hours differ (Monday it’s always closed), for exact details call 22610 30443.
Corfu Reading Society Library
Founded in 1836 during the English Protection, the Reading Society’s Library is the oldest intellectual institution in Greece. The library houses rare editions, valuable manuscripts, maps, engravings, newspapers, booklets and photographs, related to the history of the Ionian Islands and an incredible collection of paintings and icons.
Open daily from 9am till 2pm (except Sundays).
Byzantine Museum of Antivouniotissa
The church of Panagia Antivouniotissa located in the Old Town, was built around the 15th century and is the oldest church in the city. It hosts some amazing icons of Virgin Mary, Agios Sergios, Agios Dimitrios and of Kyrillos Alexandrias.
Open daily from 8.30am till 3pm (except Mondays).
A cosmopolitan spot, with a magical sea view overlooking the islet of Vlaherna and the famous Pontikonisi, the town derived its name from the original French canon located just in the middle of the little square. This is where the ancient city of Corfu (8th century BC) and the ancient temple of Artemis are located. The entrance to the legendary Casino is also there.
A place of rare natural beauty, just 26 km northwest from the city of Corfu, Palaiokastritsa consists of two long sandy beaches surrounded by astonishingly sculpted rocks with cold, emerald waters. The coast is ideal for diving and snorkeling, due to the numerous coves and the underwater caves. Scenes from the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only” were also shot here.
Some of the best beaches of the Ionian Islands, awarded with European Union’s Blue Flag, can be found in Corfu.
The best beaches in Corfu are mostly located on the west side of the island. Agios Stefanos is a long sandy beach located in a scenic fishing village. The cosmopolitan Glyfada beach is situated 15 km from Corfu Town, with turquoise waters, golden sand and beach bars. Agios Georgios is a sandy beach with clubs, bars and many hotels. Kavos beach located southeast of Corfu Town is extremely popular amongst the younger crowds who visit the open bars until the small hours. Dassia is a lovely coast, northwest of Corfu Town, fully organized.
All of them: Kavos, Avlaki, Kerassia, Nissaki, Ypsos beach, Channel of love, Sidari, Issos, Acharavi, Benitses, Palaiokastritsa beach, Agios Gordis, Halikounas, Kontouialos, Glyfada beach.
Corfu is well known for its delicious cuisine influenced by its conquerors; Italian, Turkish, German and Greek references are present in every dish. With the Venetians holding the biggest impact on the culture of Corfu, the Corfiot cuisine is a little different than the typical Greek or Mediterranean cuisines. Though the ingredients, olive oil, pepper, past, vegetable, fish and meat are the same, the combination is different. The climate conditions (humidity and heavy rains during the winter) affect the vegetation of the island.
The locals prefer to cook in casseroles rather than frying or roasting. Since the ancient years, people made their own bread, wine and oil, they were cooking collectively and they would create dishes with lots of broth, where they dipped their bread.
Below are some of the authentic Corfu dishes, famous in Greece and Europe, and served around the island.
Bourdetto, Pastitsada, Famous Soffrito, Tsigarelli, Bianco, Savoro, Roasted Easter Lamb, Avgolemono Soup, Tsilihourda
The Vibrant Corfu Nightlife
A popular holiday destination, Corfu’s tourism infrastructure, beaches and uniqueness have the island stand out from the rest of the Ionian Islands in Greece. The beautiful surroundings of Corfu Island and excellent service of the Corfu Restaurants make the island a popular destination amongst families, while the nightlife of Corfu attracts many young couples and groups of friends.
Corfu nightlife is definitely vibrant. Tendering to everyone, Corfu nightlife is quite diverse and lasts until the early morning hours. The best bars in Corfu are mainly located around Liston. Corfu town, the center also has some of the best bars in Corfu while Kavo is popular amongst the party people for its ongoing nightlife.
A cherished destination by many, Corfu has so much to offers its visitors, which is why Cycladia has compiled a list of the best places to eat in Corfu and located the best bars in Corfu for your enjoyment!
Tip: Kumquats were introduced to Corfu from China by Merlin, an English industrialist. They are small orange fruits that grow on the island. Islanders harvest them then they are used to make a liqueur using the fruit and the zest. They are also bottled as fruit, crystallised and made into marmalade.
We went to a local distillery to see how the fruits were harvested and made into liqueur. The best part of the tour was the tasting. The liqueur is delicious a bit like snapps.
Source: Lonely Planet