Is Corfu for You?
Is Corfu for you? Oh, yesssssss! It IS for ME! I'm not an expert about CORFU, but I'll tell you what I LOVE about this beautiful island. Located in the Ionian Sea alongside the western coast of the most northern edge of the mainland of Greece; the island of Corfu actually ALSO lies adjacent to the southwestern coast of Albania. This is the second Ionian island that I have ever visited, the other one being Lefkada, and I am blown away by these Ionian beauties!
Of the MANY Greek islands that I have visited, Corfu has made an impression on me because of its unique character. Historically, Corfu was ruled for 400 years by the Venetians. Later, brief periods of French and British domination, of about 10 and 50 years, respectively, also left their footprints on the island. Italian-style architecture, however, is most prominent and is particularly notable in Corfu Town, the port city and main town on the island. There, common Italian traditions are even practiced nightly, such as the passeggiata, which is the ART of an evening walk, and the Italian custom of enjoying an aperitivo, a pre-dinner cocktail. Broad cafe-type seating on outdoor piazzas, covered verandas, along narrow streets, and wider boulevards are reminiscent of what one sees in Rome or Paris. The menus are also reflective of both Italian and French cuisine. That being said, Greek cuisine and style ALSO permeate the island and blend nicely into the harmonious international flavor and feel of Corfu.
Liston, in Corfu Town, is an ideal place to stroll any time of the day, but it particularly appeals to both the local Corfiots, as well as the tourists, during the early evening hours. A long, straight, and wide boulevard lined with cafes and bars, it is the perfect locale for an evening stroll or a pre-dinner drink. Liston connects to the large piazza, Spianada Square, and is a great meeting point. Many cultural events and celebrations take place at this location.
Color, Coves, Caves and Coastline
Despite my perpetual love of and commitment to the Mediterranean Sea, the color, clarity, and seduction of the Ionian Sea undeniably justify an Ionian affair! The crystal-clear, turquoise-colored water contrasts gorgeously with the lush, green flora lining the shores of Corfu. The shoreline along the island is rugged and chock-full of little coves and caves to explore, MANY only accessible with a boat. Hence, these nooks and crannies are usually quiet and remote, and ALWAYS UNSPOILED. So when visiting Corfu, I HIGHLY recommend renting a boat (with or without a skipper) so that you can really explore and enjoy the shoreline. We rented from Corfu Town Boat Rental and had a very positive experience with them. A boat gives you the freedom to throw anchor along ANY quaint, inviting area you desire to explore. Catch some rays on the sundeck, take a swim, survey some coves, hop back in, and then move along to scout out more of the incredible shoreline.
There are restaurants along the coast where you can pull up in the boat and attendants assist with docking. You can briefly get some land under your feet, while you eat a tasty Greek meal, and then head out again. One fun, such taverna is Nikolas Taverna on Agni bay, located on the island's eastern coastline.
Official beaches accessible by land, are also great to visit. Some of these beaches offer many amenities such as sunbeds, umbrellas, food, drink, restrooms, showers, water sport rentals, etc.; others offer nothing. Of course, there exists the entire spectrum in between. As typical in Greece, there is also a spectrum of beach types, such as textile, topless, and naturist. Having tried them all, I have observed that the more clothes one is willing to shed, the more remote, secluded, intimate, and UNSPOILED is the land-accessible beach. They are more private and quiet: without kids, splashing, crying, yelling, water toys, or paddleball. Just peaceful serenity and beauty. One beach we particularly loved was Mirtiotissa beach with the nearby taverna, Bella Vista, alongside the sea. Atop the steep cliff, prior to even reaching the beach located in the hidden cove below, is another dining option called Elia Taverna which offers traditional Corfiot cuisine and even rents a few rooms. Another beautiful beach is Paleokastritsa beach located on a beautiful bay along the western coast.
Sunrise, Sunset ...Sunrise, Sunset
A visit to a Greek island is never complete without viewing the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. We always try to divide our time between both west coast and east coast accommodations whenever we visit an island. The clear skies and the horizon of the sea lend to the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, and I am a huge sucker for BOTH!
As you can see from the photos, Corfu is a gorgeous, fun, and relaxing island. When most tourists venture to the Greek islands, they more typically choose from among the many in the Mediterranean Sea, such as those in the Cyclades (Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Naxos) or the Dodecanesian (Rhodes, Kos) clusters. While those, too, are amazing, I encourage you to keep the Ionian Greek islands in mind when planning your trip. They offer something a little different, but no less spectacular.