Corfu is one of Greece’s many breathtaking islands that bedazzle the Ionian Sea and attract thousands of tourists each year. With so many islands to choose from when you’re considering a Grecian getaway, why is Corfu worth visiting over the other islands?
Not only does Corfu have its own very unique history, having been swapped between the hands of the Venetians, the French, the British, and back to the Greeks, but it is renowned for its sublime beaches and gorgeously rugged coastline and landscapes. Corfu boasts the same Mediterranean climate as its other island brothers and sisters, but with its own strong sense of identity, as shown through its biodiversity, its architecture, its cuisine, and its gorgeous settlements.
We have curated a list of the top 9 reasons why Corfu is worth visiting, from the tourist attractions it has to offer to the inherent spirit of the island itself. Corfu has something to offer everyone, so read on if you feel as though you need that one final push towards booking your next dream trip in Corfu.
1. Corfu Beaches
One of the biggest draws of Corfu for the majority of tourists is the island’s abundance of stunning beaches, making this Greek island a total paradise for swimmers, surfers, and sun-worshippers alike. Whether you prefer feeling the sand between your toes, or the ruggedness of a pebbled beach, Corfu has got you covered. Lie back and let the lapping waves of the gorgeous blue Ionian sea lull you into a state of pure bliss: whether you’re in Paleokastritsa, Issos, or Agios.
Corfu being a small island, you can travel to any beach that your heart desires. If you want a luxury beach-club vibe, head to Dassia beach where you can enjoy great vibes and great music. Want to try your hand at watersports? Head to the gorgeous marina in Gouvia. For unadulterated natural beauty with no threat of commercialization, be in nature at Halikounas.
With so many beaches scattered all over the island, it can be difficult to make a decision. Luckily, Corfu is very small and most beaches are easily accessible by public transport, or else a car. So, there’s no reason why your Corfu vacation has to be anything less than a beach-dwellers paradise.
2. Corfu Town
Corfu Town is Corfu’s biggest and most cosmopolitan town. Better still, its Old Town is a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its abundant history and beautiful architecture. Lovers of history and beauty will consider the Old Town reason enough to visit the island of Corfu.
Whether you choose to stay in Corfu Town itself, or somewhere more remote, this bustling town is accessible from all over the island. Take a day trip and experience its history and culture for yourself. Immerse yourself in the past as you walk the winding streets and gaze at the buildings, testament to centuries of foreign influences. Visit the town’s gorgeous, independent boutiques to treat yourself to something new and chic, or to get all your souvenir shopping done. Then, indulge in the local cuisine at any one of the town’s restaurants and tavernas.
Corfu Town is positively brimming with a wide choice of dining and drinking options. There are ample restaurants serving up traditional Grecian dishes in laidback atmospheres, as well as opportunities for upscale fine dining in a refined setting. The choice is yours.
3. Corfu Cuisine
Speaking of local cuisine, you will find no shortage of culinary temptation in Corfu. If you want to engage with Greek food culture, Corfu is where you want to be. What sets the food in Corfu apart from its other Greek siblings is the Venetian influences that can still be tasted in their cuisine to this day. Being such a popular holiday destination, Corfu is home to a plethora of wonderful restaurants, from fine dining to down-to-earth classics. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you will discover that Corfu is a wonderful world of gastronomy.
Corfu cuisine shares the same fundamentals as the rest of Greek cooking: fresh vegetables, meat, and plenty of olive oil. You will find all your Greek favorites in Corfu, of course, but you’ll also notice some trademark dishes of the island. Pastitsada, for example, is quintessentially Corfiot. This dish is a beautiful balance of rich, braised meat in a fresh tomato sauce, served with pasta and plenty of fresh, grated cheese. Usually eaten as a Sunday meal or for special occasions, there’s no reason why you can’t spend the entirety of your vacation dining on dishes of this caliber.
For meat eaters, Corfu is a dream. Chicken, fish, and lamb are on almost every menu. Vegetarians: fear not. Corfu cuisine is not exclusive to the carnivorous. At most restaurants and snack bars, you will find plenty of vegetarian-friendly dishes including deliciously fresh salads, unctuous spanakopita (a spinach and cheese filo pastry tart), and eggplants cooked any which way you can imagine.
4. Palaio Frourio
The Palaio Frourio can be found in Corfu Town, and is one of the island’s most important and historic landmarks. This 14th Century fortress was built by the Venetians during their time occupying the island of Corfu, but only certain aspects are still accessible to tourists. This is one for the history buffs.
This fortress alone shows the checkered past of Corfu, having structures from the Byzantine era, the time of Venetian settlement, and the era of British occupation. Not only is it a spectacle to behold in itself, but you can also get fantastic views of the seas and surroundings from the top, too.
Despite some parts of this fortress being off-limits, you can still pay a visit to the lighthouse, as well as the Church of St George and the Byzantine Collection of Corfu. This collection is small, but it is definitely worth seeing if you have an interest in history.
— totallyGreece.com (@totallygreece) July 4, 2013
5. Corfu Biodiversity
Corfu is so much more than just a sunny getaway. Yes, it has plenty of beaches where you can sunbathe dawn til dusk, but Corfu is also rich in wildlife and other forms of natural beauty. Thanks to the agreeable climate of the island, it feels as though Corfu is in a perennial spring. Lush with greenery all year round, Corfu boasts verdant expanses and flourishing flowers as far as the eye can see.
If marine life is your thing, then you will not be disappointed with the array of sea creatures you can find off the shores of Corfu. As well as being able to witness the beauty of the crystal clear waters, you may be lucky enough to encounter dolphins, or even spot some whales further out!
Lovers of Gerald Durrell’s work will also know how inspirational the beauty of Corfu is, having inspired him to write so passionately about it in his literature. Between the luscious expanses of foliage and beautiful cacophony of birds, fish, and insects, nature lovers will have no problem finding something to capture their wild side in Corfu.
6. Hiking in Corfu
Hikers rejoice because in Corfu you will be able to find some of the world’s most stunning and rewarding trails for you to follow. Experienced hikers can enjoy challenging trails that lead you through the island’s gorgeously rugged countryside, up into the mountains, and out to find some of the most exquisite views of Corfu. Beginners can take it easy on beach trails, discovering hidden nooks and crannies as well as a newfound love of hiking.
Hiking around the island is also a fantastic way to discover the hidden gems of Corfu. The island’s extensive history means that there is no such thing as a boring hiking trail. Whichever direction you take, you’re more than likely to stumble across some ruins of years gone by, or else some breathtaking spots of natural beauty.
For the casual hiker, there are plenty of trails that will eventually lead you somewhere where you can gently explore and meander. Perhaps try a trail that leads into a small village or settlement. There, you can enjoy somewhere off the beaten track, and be able to reward yourself for all your hard work with a plate of something fried and delicious, as well as an ice cold beer in a local taverna.
Corfu’s landscape is paradise for hikers of all abilities.
7. Vlacherna Monastery
The Vlacherna Monastery is one of the most photographed and iconic landmarks on Corfu. No surprise, considering its location. Attached to the land by a small pier, this monastery was built in the 17th Century and is still in use today. It is surrounded by the gorgeous waters of the Ionian and is an incredibly popular tourist attraction in Corfu during the busy season.
One of the things that make this monastery so utterly unique is its location in the middle of the bay. Not only does it allow for stunning views around the bay, but you can get up close and personal with the planes taking off and landing at the nearby airport. Spirituality meets the sky.
Pontikissi island is also very nearby the monastery, although it is only accessible by boat. While you’re out in this part of the bay, though, it is well worth a visit, and boat trips are available if you visit Corfu in the summer months.
8. Corfu Water Sports
Water sports lovers need not feel left out on their vacation to Corfu. Yes, Corfu is abundant in natural beauty and tranquility, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your adrenaline fix either. The amount of beaches in Corfu means that there are plenty of locations to choose from, no matter what your sport of choice may be.
You will be most likely to find water sports centers in the island’s bigger, more touristic resorts, such as Dassia and Sidari. Keen sailors will be happy to learn that there are plenty of places out there that allow you to rent sailing boats, or even take lessons. If you want to be able to hire your own speedboat, you can also take courses that allow you to become qualified, and therefore rent your own boat to tear up on the open water.
As well as sailing, you can try your hand at scuba diving in the gorgeous Ionian Sea, and be able to witness some of Corfu’s famous aquatic biodiversity for yourself. For more of a high octane experience, there are also plenty of perfect spots for having a go on a jet ski or water ski. And, of course, surfing and paddle boarding are always a fantastic option, no matter which part of the island you are staying in. The calm waters off the shore of Corfu make it the perfect place for beginners to practice without fear.
9. Corfu Villages
Despite being a hugely popular tourist destination, there are still plenty of unspoiled parts of Corfu that are ripe to be explored by travelers who want to stray off the beaten path on their vacation. It is advisable to rent a car during your stay on Corfu if you are wanting to venture into the mountains, the countryside, or to those hard to reach spots on the coastline.
Are quaint, little fishing villages your favorite places to visit when on vacation? Then look no further than Kassiopi. Not too far from Corfu Town, this fishing settlement is probably one of the more cosmopolitan villages on the island, so is perfect for a visit if you’re looking for somewhere away from the hustle-bustle of the tourist resorts, but still with plenty to see and do. Endowed with history on every winding street, a visit to Kassiopi is perfect for those looking to get to know Corfu better. And, to top it all off, you probably won’t find fresher or more delicious fish anywhere else on the island.
To really escape into the past, villages like Palia Perithia are ready to welcome all inquisitive minds. This village in particular is utterly unique, as no visible change has been made since the 14th Century. In fact, it is forbidden to do so, in order to preserve its historic value. With a whopping eight churches in this tiny mountain village, a visit to Palia Perithia is for those who are absolutely serious about escaping tourism and engaging with the past.