no alt text

Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 08 December, 2022
Expert travel writer: John Malathronas

The British have developed a deep connection to this fertile and fragrant island, whose dramatic landscape of sandy coastlines and turquoise waters sandwiched between wooded canyons feels like Britain in the Med: it’s greener than Kent, and even clocks the greatest rainfall in Greece.

Corfu and the Ionians feel Italian – more Bari than Paros – because they never experienced Ottoman occupation, moving from Byzantine control to rule from Venice. After a short French occupation, they passed to Great Britain and were gifted to Greece in 1864 upon the ascension to the throne of King George I.

Thus, along with the island’s Greek and Venetian aspect, it’s the vestiges of British culture (marching bands, cricket, ginger beer) that stand out.

Orientation

Corfu is the westernmost point in Greece at the junction of the Adriatic and Ionian seas, only 35km from Albania, at its closest point.

Corfu Town lies on the east of the island and its Historic Centre, a UNESCO site, is a walker’s delight.

Hotel-resorts in Corfu tend to be self-contained and spread out all over, built on their own stretch of shoreline.

Food & Drink

As might be expected, Corfiot cuisine owes much to the Venetians and uses a base of tomatoes and garlic for most dishes.

Pride of place goes to pastitsio (minced meat with bugatini pasta under a topping of bechamel), the Greek answer to lasagne.

Try also the sofrito (veal in white wine), bordetto (scorpion fish in a tomato, garlic and hot pepper sauce) and tsigarelli (local mountain greens in a, yes, tomato and garlic sauce).

There’s no way you won’t be trying tzitzibira (a non-alcoholic ginger beer) which is drunk in cafes as an alternative to Coke or lemonade.

The other drink to order is kumquat liqueur; the kumquat tree native to South-East Asia was introduced to Corfu by Sidney Merlin, a member of a British landowning family and immediately won the hearts and minds of the locals.

Also see John’s round-up of the best traditional Greek foods you must try in Greece.

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Achilleion Palace
Experience

Achilleion Palace

Corfu, Greek Islands, Greece

Built in 1890 by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria and subsequently bought by Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II, this is a Victorian folly dedicated to Achilles with classically inspired statues, murals, colonnades and gardens but, admittedly, breathtaking views.

Best for ages: 18+ | £7

Website >
Overview >
Corfu Historic Centre
Experience

Corfu Historic Centre

Corfu, Greek Islands, Greece

A UNESCO Heritage site, the Old Town (Xopoli) lies between the Old and the New Fortress and grew horizontally inside the fortified walls along twisted, narrow cobbled alleys (kantounia). Great for a lazy wander.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Website >
Overview >
Corfu Museum of Asian Art
Experience

Corfu Museum of Asian Art

Corfu, Greek Islands, Greece

Art museum exhibiting over 10,000 pieces from China, Japan, Korea, India, Central and Southeast Asia – all bequests from wealthy Greeks. It’s housed in a remarkable building – the Palace of St. Michael and St. George – an early 19th-century Georgian-style palace and seat of the British High Commissioner.

Best for ages: 18+ | £5

Website >
Overview >
Kalami
Experience

Kalami

Corfu, Greek Islands, Greece

This charming, unassuming fishing village, with its quiet Blue Flag beach, has become famous because of the Durrell family who used to live there.  Their family mansion, The White House, is now a popular museum. Book a boat tour along the eastern coast; it includes a stopover at a small private beach.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Website >
Overview >

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Zefiros Traditional Hotel

Corfu, Greek Islands, Greece

This simple and stylish boutique, on the best location of the most picturesque resort of the island, is the ideal alternative to the Corfu resort.

Official star rating:

Bella Venezia

Corfu, Greek Islands, Greece

A fabulous 1896 neoclassical gem ideally located in a central, but quiet, part of Corfu’s old town.

Official star rating:

Delfinia Hotel

Corfu, Greek Islands, Greece

An all-inclusive four-star oasis on a five-star, laid-back stretch of Moraitika beach. Great value for the location and five-star facilities.

Official star rating:

Ikos Dassia

Corfu, Greek Islands, Greece

A stunning family five-star on its own thin, long sandy stretch at Dassia packed with facilities for all ages.

Official star rating:

When to go

The best time to visit is spring when the flowers bloom, especially during Easter, when brass bands march around Corfu Town.

Unlike other islands, the high season in July and August does not feel that crammed – the capital excepted – because the island is large and resorts are spread around.

Beware the autumn rains that come sometime in September shortening the season; October is definitely out.

Getting there and away

Corfu’s Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport lies 2km south of Corfu Town with good connections to the centre.

There are over 30 ferry crossings daily in season to Italy (Brindisi, Ancona, Bari and all the way to Venice), Albania  (Saranda and Himare) and to Greece (Igoumenitsa) from Corfu’s two ferry ports: the main one 3km west of Corfu Town and a smaller one at Lefkimmi in the south operating only crossings to Igoumenitsa.

Getting around

Buses are frequent and cheap connecting Corfu Town with every village of note on the island, as well as to Athens and Thessaloniki. Extra services operate in the summer to seasonal resorts.

Because of this, taxis are only worth hiring locally.

Where to stay

First-timers should definitely budget for 2-3 days sightseeing in and around Corfu Town. So maybe choose resorts close to the capital: Gouvia with its fish tavernas, Ypsos/Pyrgi with their wide selection of activities in the north or bougainvillaea-strewn Benitses in the south.

Leafy Palaiokastritsa on the west coast is also a great introduction to the island with good connections to the capital.

Kavos in the extreme southeast is Corfu’s youthful 24/7 party capital, so avoid if you are not into drunken antics.

Where to eat or drink

For the best restaurants head for Corfu Town. The Venetian Well is set in a 15th-century square riffing well on Corfiot/Italian fare while Mpakalogatos in Corfu Old Town is a traditional ouzeri where you order a glass of ouzo and a plate of meze.

For a fish feast, go to Toula’s at Agni Bay for crayfish moussaka and her own inimitable bourdetto.

Where to shop

You’ll find the jazziest shops under the arcades of Liston at Corfu Town, on the central avenue built by the French, modelled on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris and just as elegant.

Other guides relevant to this destination