Nuggets of local info for a day out, best done by car.
Corfu in a Nutshell
The basic rule of thumb with Corfu is sandy beaches are on the north and west coasts and pebbly coves on the east coast. Car hire gives you the freedom to visit many of these place, non drivers will find some excursions will take them to the best known beauty spots.
This is only picking some of the better-known sights and beaches, there are more and there are some excellent guide books to help.
Roads mostly radiate from the town (as do the public bus services which makes sightseeing by public bus tricky), but there is as good network and signs are in Greek and English.
The islands permanent population numbers around 150,000 and is only about 40 miles long as the crow flies and varies from 2 ½ to 20 miles wide, but travelling time is slow, as is the pace of life. Drive slowly, allow for wandering goats, chickens and donkeys laden with hay or olive nets, and allow for lost tourists behaving erratically.
Mass tourism is mainly limited to small areas of coastline, most of the inland areas are untouched and the scenery and genuine charm and hospitality of the locals will captivate you. Do not be offended by personal questions, it is just part of their open curiosity and interest in you! It is well worth the adventure.
There is everything; peace and quiet, hustle and bustle, lively nightlife, lazy tavernas, beaches and mountains, sand and rocks.
North and North East
Sidari is a rather Anglicised resort with a good sandy beach and water sports, and is well known for the sandstone cliff formations of the Canal d’amour. Next comes Roda, also a sandy beach resort, walking distance or a short bus ride from Acharavi; a cosmopolitan village with a long sand and shingle beach and lots of beachside tavernas.
Just a few kilometres away is St Spiridon bay, a lovely sandy beach with safe swimming, a very pretty beach. The mainland you see in front of you is the mountain range of Albania.
Next village along the coast is Kassiopi once a busy fishing village now a busy resort that is still full of charm with its harbour front bars and restaurants and colourful caiques and yachts. It is is a lively place for a night out and has a good selection of shops. Near the turning to St Spiridon is a little known road which takes you straight up the mountain to a beautiful mainly deserted village. Old Perithia, a village of ancient stone built houses, established high in the mountains as a refuge from marauding pirates, is a step back in time. There are just a few tavernas set in mountainous scenery just below the islands highest peak Pantokrator. This peak is accessible from the Acharavi side and the south side through Spartillas.
Back down on the coast after Kassiopi comes Avlaki; a pebbly beach loved by wind-surfers and dinghy sailors. Then Aghios Stephanos; set 2 km off the main road is perhaps the beginning of Corfu’s Riviera. There is a tiny natural harbour, which usually has more than its fair share of expensive yachts! It has only a small man made beach, but there are many tavernas where you can practically paddle as you eat. The hillsides looking down on the bay are dotted with luxury villas. This village and its residents featured in a British TV programme a Tale of 2 Islands.
To get to the well kept secret of Kerassia you have to drive through Ag Stephanos; there you will find its pebbly beach where the white stones lend a brilliant blue colour to the sea. Though hectic on Sundays, when people in the know descend on it, in the week it is only visited by caiques that briefly fill the only taverna, and is peppered with the residents of the luxury villas and up market villa companies that use the area.
The next landmark is the beautiful harbour village of Kouloura. There is little there except a harbour and a little taverna but is a great photo stop, is very pretty with a relaxed atmosphere. The view point above the village looks out up and down the Corfu channel and across the Albania only 1 ½ nautical miles away at the nearest point.
On the other side of the same headland is Kalami made famous by its one time resident; the author Lawrence Durrell. His old home, the White house is now a taverna right on the water’s edge; its terrace is an idyllic setting. The beach gets quite busy in high season but it loses none of its appeal.
South of Kalami is the little bay of Agni which has become the gourmet capital of Corfu. The standard of taverna here is excellent and should be visited by all “foodies”! Though be warned prices are higher than average. Swimming is pebbly, as is all the east coast where all these little coves are lapped by the gentle waters of the clear blue Corfu Channel, it can be a challenge swimming between the luxury yachts moored at the taverna jetties.
Spot the famous face is a good sport in high season as Agni is a haunt of the rich and famous.
Kaminaki, our own personal favourite, is tucked away down a steep hill with a wonderful white pebble beach and cobalt blue sea. Nissaki is another tiny cove; both have the necessary lunchtime tavernas, warm sea and more of that beautiful scenery.
Barbati, another lovely pebbly beach, is longer and busier that the previous two and with several tavernas making the most of the views.
Right on the North West tip just after the dramatic cliffs of Cape Drastis is Peroulades, one of the places to go and watch a magnificent sunset. There is a lovely bar and taverna; The 7th Heaven, with a glass walkway out over the high cliff. A good spot for the must have selfie!
Arillas is the other side of the headland and also has a sandy beach with some beachfront tavernas, another get away from it all spot. Arillas is the home of Corfu Beer which is an award-winning micro-brewery. Click here to visit the web-site.
Afionas set up on the next headland a very pretty whitewashed village with craft shops and a few of good tavernas, all with spectacular views, looking south over the wide expanse of the beautiful sandy beach of Agios Georgios, and looking north west to the off lying islands. There is a walk down to the headland of Porto Timoni where there are two isolated beaches with magically clear water. It can be reached by pedalo or sea taxi from Ag Georgios.
Angelocastro is worth a visit, an ancient castle on a cliff with clear views of any attack from north or south.
Paleokastritsa is undoubtedly the best known beauty spot on the island, consequently very busy in high season. The bays and steep cliffs are indeed very beautiful, the water clear and blue and the little monastery on the top of one of the cliffs with its folklore museum is charming. A short boat trip out of the bay to see the wonderful colours of the water and the caves is to be recommended.
On the west coast there are the lovely sandy beaches of Glyfada and Ag. Gordis but they are close to Corfu town, so are busier.
Sinarades is a little traditional whitewashed village with a folklore museum.
There is a good Golf Course in the Ropa Valley near to the small beach of Ermones.
Myrtiotissia is famous as a beautiful, if small, sandy naturist beach over looked by a monastery
Pelekas is set high on a hillside, with beautiful views and known for the Kaiser Wilhelm's throne, a view point with 360° view where the Kaiser himself went to watch the sunsets. It is a small relaxed village with tavernas. The lovely sandy beach of Yialiskari below, is accessible by car or a steepish walk from the village.
Just south of Corfu town near the airport is Corfu’s iconic Mouse Island and Vlacherna which can be reached by causeway from Perama or by road from Kanoni.
The beaches from Perama to Messonghi are unremarkable but do have lovely view across the channel and the water is warm and clear.
The village of Benitses has been revived partly by the construction of a harbour, it is a pretty whitewashed village with narrow paved alleys.
The Achilleon Palace, the onetime summer Palace of Empress Elizabeth of Austria, is set on the hillside above Benitses in Gastouri.
South of Messonghi are two well know areas for fish restaurants, Petriti and Boukari with some excellent tavernas right on the shore.
Lefkimmi is a bustling little town with a harbour for ferries and the salt flats often home to migrating flamingos.
Kavos, right on Corfu’s southern tip, is a party village for youngsters looking for a good time. Luckily for the rest of us it’s so far away we are unaware of its existence. The good sandy beach is always deserted till late in the day as everyone sleeps off the party hang over!
Just outside Kavos is another world, just a short distance away are some magnificent almost deserted sandy beaches, Aspro Kavos, Marathias, Vitalades, Ag. Georgios, Issos Paramonas. The Korisson lake is a good place for bird watchers and nature lovers with is juniper forest and sand dunes.
This atmospheric world heritage site is a place well worth a visit during your holiday.
There are many ways of getting to Corfu Town; by organised excursion (best for the nervous or lazy), public bus (good for the intrepid with time to spare) or by renting a car. For those fortunate enough to be staying in Acharavi you can travel the cool way; by boat.
Corfu Town is a lively place built on a rocky promontory surrounded on three sides by the sea. Originally the town just occupied the Old Fort, the Venetians constructed most of what you see today and built underground passages connecting it to the New Fort, both forts are open to the public at certain times, and they are still in military use. Some of the city wall still exists and is inset with Lion of St Mark, emblem of the Venetian Empire, near the market.
The market is not a flea market but a proper market with fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, and dried herbs, it is daily from very early till lunch time when most produce has been sold and the local buses return people to their rural villages.
St. Spiridon Church named after the islands patron saint is worth a visit, here you can even see the saints casket. The British cemetery is more like a secret garden but tells the tale of British history in Corfu.
The social centre of the town is the plateia, with its well known cricket pitch (now only used for special occasions, the main sporting pitch is inside the marina at Gouvia), the Palace of St. Michael and St. George and the Liston. On Corfu's Bond Street; Kapodistriou Street, behind the Liston, there are beautiful jewellery shops like La Laounis and coffee shops like Haagen Daz.
Every evening Greeks dress up to go for their daily “Volta” here, parading up and down or relaxing, people watching, keeping an eye open for friends, sipping ouzo or ginger beer (Tzitzi bira) a relic of the British rule.
Don't be put off by the myriad tourist shops all seeming to sell the same thing, have a good look; there are some charming souvenirs to be found. Undoubtedly best buys here are leather goods; often in Italian styles, fake designer clothes and accessories, casual cotton clothing, ceramics; there are some lovely items in bright Mediterranean colours. Greek speciality products like olive oil cosmetics and Corfiot delicacies can be found in many side streets.
There are several shops where you can watch olive wood being made into beautiful salad bowls and other very desirable things. There are too many jeweller shops to count but there are some stunning designs around and gold is still good value.