Reading this section will help you decide if you have left it too long to sample a holiday in Corfu! It will help make sure you know what to expect when you come to Corfu on holiday, and will ensure that you have that holiday you have been anticipating for so long! Click here to download a handy guide.
Use the buttons below to learn more about Corfu.
Greece still remains in a category of its own for holidays.
Everyone’s enduring memory is always the hospitality they have received and the friendliness of the people. If we look at what most people want from a holiday it would be hot sun and warm clear sea, to feel welcome and looked after, to have fun...well, we can safely say that Corfu checks all those boxes.
The Greek way of life is an essential ingredient, and envied by many for the lassez-faire attitude, “Avrio" is the equivalent of "manjana" in Spanish and is very much the culture.
For the Greeks, people are the priority; the service is casual, usually friendly. Nothing is so important that it cannot be put aside for a chat and a cup of thick Greek coffee, or these days one of the many varieties of iced frappe coffees.
Children must be seen and heard and are regarded as a "gift from God", and are welcomed everywhere with a smile, and likely a pinch of a chubby cheek.
Corfu is still rural; many still have chickens, sheep or goats, and very possibly a noisy cockerel, which will have no respect for the hour! Some of the village elders still have a donkey to bring home firewood, he is likely to start the day with a loud honk "kali mera" (good morning) at 7am, along with the dog saying his piece, and so the day will begin!...
The simplicity of this lifestyle has long been its attraction.
One of our clients described their annual Greek holiday as soul food. For Greekophiles there is an indefinable connection that makes you feel as though you have come home.
On arrival, your house will be clean and beds made up, bath towels but NOT BEACH TOWELS are provided (except at Beachside Bungalows, Villa Marcos and Saouli Beach Hideaway).
The maid’s duties are just to make beds, empty bins and clean bathrooms and sweep through (as long as the floors are clutter free) - No washing up.
Linen is provided and is changed once a week, towels are changed twice a week (except where otherwise stated under each house description). You will need to bring your own beach towels (though not when staying at Beachside Bungalows or Villa Marcos).
Greek life is geared to outside living, so sitting rooms are rare; we "lounge" on our balconies. Showers not baths are the norm.
Kitchens are basically equipped for cooking breakfasts and knocking up a quick snack not a gourmet meal, but all have ovens, microwaves are rare (except at Beachside Bungalows where you will seek and find!) Besides eating out is fun and still good value.
Travel with Friends has supplied toasters, and kettles in most houses. Bedrooms all have wardrobes, but limited drawer space. Dress is any case very casual in Corfu. Don’t forget that it is easy to rinse out clothes and they will dry in a flash!
Please note extra beds are fold up camp beds.
Whilst all owners constantly try to keep up with changing demands, the plumbing sometimes causes comment! We all wonder how modern Greeks came to forget what their forebears had mastered 2000 years ago! Loo paper still often has to be put in bins. (EXCEPT AT BEACHSIDE BUNGALOWS).
Let’s mention too that electricity and water cuts are an occasional fact of life (not unlike rural Britain!) The internet connection is likely to be less reliable... or as fast as you are used to.
The water is perfectly safe to drink and Corfiots are proud of it.
The electricity in Corfu is 220 volts and runs at 50 cycles. Plugs have 2 round pins.
UK appliances and chargers for phones, tablets etc. will work with no problems but you will need an adapter which can be purchased from most supermarkets.
Corfiot Way of Life
The greatest attraction is its simplicity.
Things move at a slow pace, with relaxed days on the beach, followed by a night out at one of the many tavernas.
Corfu has a vibrant coffee culture where people, young and old, gather as evening draws in, for their “volta” an evening stroll, dressed up after a day at work or on the beach, with a break for coffee, people watching or maybe a quick game of Tavli (a kind of back gammon).
For many of us eating out on holiday is a large part of the fun. No matter what, you must try the local cuisine. The Mediterranean diet is now well known for using healthy fresh ingredients.
Eating outside, by the sea, combined with wonderful food and drink on a warm summer’s night is a fantastic experience.
Corfu is gentle on the eye, unlike more southerly islands that are treeless and barren Corfu is covered in luxuriant vegetation. Olive and Cyprus trees cover the mountain slopes thanks to the heavy rains that fall in winter. It also means Corfu does not suffer the water shortages other dryer islands have.
It is normally fine from May to October. Here is a link to a weather chart.
Greekophiles and walkers will come in early season knowing the mountains will still be green and everywhere ablaze with flowers, the fireflies will light up the olive groves making a fairy land, but bring a waterproof in case of the odd late April shower. Everything is clean and fresh - including the locals. The sea is cool in May and warms up by June.
July is the hottest month. In August we often have the Maistro wind which blows strongly from the north and clears the heat haze. It can makes seas choppy, great for jumping the waves, and tempers the heat.
In September the pace noticeably slows down, the evenings start to draw in and thanks to the odd storm a second spring brings forth the cyclamen and crocus again. The sea remains warm right into October when preparations start for the winter crop of olives.
Most restaurants are open all day, though Greeks tend to eat late.
In Greece, especially in the many family run restaurants, children are very welcome and are not expected to be seen and not heard, as is sadly often the case elsewhere. In fact, though they sometimes get carried away with pinching children’s cheeks, they are usually treated like guest stars.
Children’s menus are quite common, but where not available most places will willingly do a half portion of most things.
Culturally, table manners are much more relaxed, fingers are used with impunity, knives are often returned unused and bread dunking is almost compulsory!
Greek food is simple home fare at its best, in Corfu many years of Venetian occupation has left its mark in some of our traditional dishes like Sofrito, slow cooked beef in wine and garlic sauce, Bourdetto a spicy fish stew, and Pasitsada, a goulash-like dish served with pasta.
It usually appeals to all tastes as it is not spicy and generally only uses the best fresh ingredients (often from their own garden) especially the wonderful salads.
As fresh produce is only available in its season, vegetables are not plentiful in summer, and do not feature much on menus. There are lots of aubergine and pepper dishes, courgettes and fresh green beans are around for part of the summer and, if you are here early enough in the season, you may just catch the broad beans and artichokes.
Contrary to reputation it should not be swimming in olive oil, though there should just be enough to mop up with the abundant fresh bread you will automatically be served! Remember Greeks consider olive oil to be liquid gold.
During the day, most people wear swimming costumes with sarongs or shorts, and in the evening something tidy, but casual.
It is a good idea, always to bring a warm sweater or a cardigan. You can be more aware of the cool sea breeze after a hot day in the sun. Don’t forget the old adage take less clothes and more money!
With the advent of airline fares where luggage is an optional extra it is perfectly easy to survive on what you can fit in your hand luggage.
Beach towels are cheap to buy locally, though things like suntan lotion can be more expensive than at home.
English is widely spoken, though many locals also speak some German and Italian. As with anywhere in the world, it is always very much appreciated if you try to use one or two words of the local language.
A few greetings:
- Yassas - Hello
- Kalimera - Good morning
- Kalinikta - Good night
- Efharisto - Thank you
- Ti Kanete? - How are you?
Here is a link to a very helpful BBC web-site with audio - BBC Guide to Greek Essential Phrases.
Festivals are innumerable.
Greece is an orthodox country and religious holidays are celebrated with fervour.
People are baptised with saints names accepted by the Orthodox Church which means they celebrate their “saints day”, usually a day that marks the death of that saint. It is a more important day than their birthday and will involve buying cakes and drinks for friends and probably having a large family celebration.
We have parades on national holidays with an English heritage of brass bands, and colourful local fiestas. We will be happy to advise which ones fall within your holiday.
The biggest ones that fall in Summer are:
- 21st May - bank holiday celebrating the union of the 7 Ionian islands and is a big name day for all those called Konstantinas and Eleni
- 11th August celebrating the failure of a Turkish attack on Corfu, the win being attributed to our patron saint St Spiridon
- 15th August Assumption day Feast of the Virgin Mary
- 26th October St Dimitrios day, one of the bigger saints days for all those called Dimitri or Dimitra
- 28th October Ochi Day celebrates the day in 1940 when the Prime minister, Metaxas said NO to an ultimatum by Mussolini
Cheap rate Greek international phone cards can be bought at local shops. Make sure you have activated a roaming service with your mobile phone provider.
With Pay as you go mobiles, ensure that your card has sufficient credit, as you will not always be able to top it up locally.
New European laws mean that you are now able to use your data on your mobile phone package at no extra cost (beware of the phrase normal usage, sometimes data is limited). Be very careful on Corfu’s north eastern corner not to use the Albanian phone services. Your phone will connect to the strongest signal and Albania is very close and they have a VERY strong signal! The carrier name will usually end AL. Albania is not in Europe and charges are exorbitant.
You should be able to make use of free wi-fi in most bars and restaurants with your smart phone. Calls to other UK numbers will be part of your package and international calls, ie Greek numbers, will be charged as per your package.
Sterling cash and most main currencies can be exchanged at local exchange bureau or banks.
Cash withdrawals can be made at cash points, using your pin numbers in all over the island. ALWAYS bring some cash for emergencies for when you can't get money from an ATM... power cuts stop ATMs working, machines run out of money at busy times or it can refuse to communicate with your bank!
Bank and credit cards are now fairly widely accepted, though there are still many small businesses who do not take cards and you will often get a better price when souvenir shopping for a cash purchase.
Taxis are reasonable and there are ranks in Sidari, Roda, Kassiopi and Acharavi.
Buses radiate to and from Corfu Town. There is a service along the north coast between Sidari and Kassiopi (click here).
Car Hire can be arranged for part or all of your stay. It is a great way to explore the island. When arriving tired and perhaps never having been before, then have a car delivered to your resort and if you return it to the airport you can save on a transfer cost. OR simply have a few days rental in the middle of your holiday for a change of scenery, visit different beaches, or get off the beaten track up in the spectacular scenery of the mountains.
Activities and Things to Do
You need not read "boring" for quiet and peaceful!
There are numerous activities available, Folklore museums in Acharavi, Pelekas, Sinarades. Car hire, sightseeing excursions, cruises to Albania and Paxos, local Boat trips to Corfu town, Erikoussa, & Paleokastritsa and diving.
Scooters deserve a mention, we realise they are a cheap and fun way of getting about, but the roads are entirely unsuitable for inexperienced riders and are not recommended. At the time of writing; quad bikes have been banned for used on public roads due to the number of accidents.
Corfu's temperate early and late season is ideal for babies, as long as sensible precautions of sun block and sun hats are taken.
No family should worry about bringing a small baby, but do stay out of midday sun. Nappies are easily found. Baby food is available, though limited in choice. If concerned, bring it with you.
WE SUPPLY COTS FREE OF CHARGE
- Bring your own cot linen and plastic sheet
- Highchairs/Pushchairs available on request
Disabled clients, please contact us for advice as we know all the properties and areas inside and out and know which are suitable, and which are not.
Bring With You
We know that life as we know it, can end if someone cannot get his or her favourite!
The answer is simple - bring it with you to be safe!
All imported items are inclined to be more expensive i.e. cereals, and kiddie snacks like beans, or hoops or peanut butter, so put 'em in! Nothing can beat a real English cuppa so bring the Typhoo too. A torch is useful. Don't forget your phone charger! An umbrella and sweater are wise in early and late season, and for cooler evenings. Adaptors are needed for all your appliances, European appliances DO all work on Greek voltage (220V) Beach towels.
Please be considerate to fellow travellers - bring a plastic sheet for your small child if necessary.
You have the reassurance that our Medical contact number operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do not hesitate to use it in an emergency. Put the number in your phone on arrival!
Acharavi has an English speaking doctor, who will make house calls; it also has 2 dentists and 4(!) chemists, a paediatrician, cardiologist and a radiology centre.
Agios Stefanos has an English speaking doctor on call who will make house calls.
Kaminaki has an English speaking doctor on call who will make house calls.
We always advise our clients to take out holiday insurance. This enables you to be treated privately, as well as through the equivalent of the British National Health, and gives a far more comprehensive cover, for instance, in extreme cases; you should be then covered for an air ambulance back home, and sadly the repatriation of the body of a loved one.
HOWEVER, please make sure you declare any pre-existing illnesses, and read the small print as cover can be limited and exclusion clauses can trip you up, especially on cheaper policies.
Flora and Fauna
Tortoises: Perhaps best loved and are often seen bumbling across the road.
Stone Martens: Harmless small nocturnal mammals that look rather like ferrets, dark brown in colour with white spots on the chest. Often seen feeding on insect road kill.
Hedgehogs: Often seen wandering along hedge-rows.
Foxes: Very shy and rarely seen sometimes caught in car headlights.
Otters: Very shy live in lake Antinioti in the north near St Spiridon.
Stoats: Small and very fast.
Glis Glis: That has the extraordinary name of edible dormouse.
Ghekos: Little pink indoor living lizards who are great for gobbling mosquitoes.
Lizards: Both the larger bright green and smaller dark blue lizards often seen sunning themselves.
Terrapins: In freshwater ponds and streams
A big variety of frogs and toads, especially cute is the bright green tree frog seen climbing trees with their suckered feet.
Snakes: In spring you will hear the rustle as they speed away from you in long grass. Normal protection should be worn if out walking the olive groves, stout shoes, and make a noise so they know you are coming. The only poisonous snake is the viper, rarely seen except high in the mountains
Insects: The noisy cicada and crickets, bright green grasshoppers, and the praying mantis; an insect with attitude.
Mosquitoes: Are a Mediterranean nuisance easily controlled with repellents -best bought in UK -and small electric machines, best bought locally.
Ants: Are an occasional nuisance in summer, tidy up spilt sugar and breadcrumbs and shouldn’t have a problem. If any appear a surface spray from the supermarket will repel them.
Fireflies: In May, a little bit of magic in the insect world.
Butterflies: Galore, especially pretty the swallowtail butterfly. The giant peacock moth and tiger moth worth a mention and the hawk moth that is often mistaken for a humming bird as it hovers collecting pollen.
Sea urchins: Spiky and dark in rocky crevices on the sea, painful to stand on, a delicacy to eat when with eggs!
Birds: Early and late season it is a birders’ paradise, migratory birds like the Hoopoe, and Golden Oriole, Flamingos, Snake Eagle, Turtle dove, Honey buzzard, Sparrow Hawks, Kestrels, Owls: Barn ,Little, Scops, Nightjars, Egrets great and small , Herons, Spoonbills, suffice to say we have advice from professionals for those who seek to bird watch whilst in Corfu.
Flowers: Such a huge subject! In brief, Corfu is well known in Spring for its abundance of different wild orchids: money, man, milky, giant, pyramid, bee orchid and many many more. The spring with its wild cyclamen, Narcissi, wild Iris, anemones, cranesbill, wild marigold, love in the mist, borage, sage, bay trees... The list is endless and again we can give guidance to the serious flower spotter. Suffice to say that in spring the vibrant colours of mother nature are a joy to see.
Corfu with a higher winter rainfall than most Greek islands has luxuriant vegetation. The most obvious trees on the island are Olive trees; in summer often seen with the black nets used for collecting the fruit rolled up ready for spreading in Autumn to collect the fruit for pressing,, Cypress trees with their dark spires piercing the skyline, Ancient Oaks and Beech, Eucalyptus, the poisonous castor oil tree. Again, to name but a few.
Prospero's Cell by Lawrence Durrell
The Papas and the Englishman Roy Hounsell
To Watch the Waves go by Peter Stoneley
Corfu Sketches by John Waller
The Greek For Love by James Chatto
Songs Of Blue And Gold by Deborah Lawrenson
Paging Aphrodite by Kim Green
The Taste of a Place: Corfu by Vicky Bennison
Corfu Cooking by Alice Padova Anderson
Blue Skies and Black Olives by John and Christopher Humphries
It's All Greek To Me", by Jon Mole
Walking the Corfu Trail by John Waller
Eleni by Nicholas Gage (NB considered harrowing by some; story of a woman's struggle in the mountains of mainland Greece in the civil war)
Suntouched: A Dark Comedy on the island of Corfu by Theresa Nicholas
Tales from a Greek Island by Roger Jinkinson
Bartholemew - Corfu & lonian Island Map.
Landscapes of Corfu - Noel Rochford, for walks & drives.
My family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell. (A wonderful glimpse of Corfu wildlife, still to be seen today). Rough Guide to Corfu.
2nd Book of Corfu Walks - Hilary Paipeti
In the footsteps of Laurence Durrell - Hilary Paipeti
Prospero's kitchen - Diana Farr
Captain Corelli's Mandolin- Louis de Berniere
A house in Corfu -Emma Tennant
Greek Walls - John Waller