Offering sandy beaches, traditional town squares and some of the best nightlife in Greece, holidays to Corfu cover summer holidays from every angle.
The Emerald Isle
From the stripes of the national flag to its sugar cube villas and sparkling seas, Greece wears a uniform of blue and white. But Corfu throws an extra colour into the mix – green. Known as the Emerald Isle, the second-largest of the Ionian Islands is covered in cypress trees, olive groves and wild flowers.
Where you choose to stay will depend on the atmosphere you’re after. Gouvia and San Stefanos, in the north, are 2 of the quieter resorts. There’s plenty of space on the wide sandy beaches here, and the candle-lit tavernas tend to be family-run affairs.
Lively beach resorts
In Sidari and Roda, the pace picks up with the introduction of karaoke bars and cafés serving British breakfasts. That said, you’ll still find quiet coves on the coast when you need a bit of down-time. If partying is your main priority, make a beeline for Kavos, where strobe lights and DJ booths are the tools of the trade.
Things to See and Do in Corfu
The 200k coast
Corfu has more than 200 kilometres of coastline to its name, so beaches are easy to come by. The best-know beach resorts top and tail the island. You’ll find Sidari and Roda on the north coast and Kavos on the southern tip. Gouvia, Corfu Town and San Stefanos sit comfortably in between.
The big beach
At 5 miles long, Kavos is a pretty big beach by Corfu standards. It’s fully facilitated with sunloungers, umbrellas and watersports. If you like your bands of sand busy, this is the place to go. If you’re looking for more of a family feel, try San Stefanos Beach. It’s smaller than its southern counterpart, but it’s really popular with mums and dads.
The secret beach
None of Corfu’s beaches are completely hush-hush, but Sunset Beach in Sidari is probably one of the quietest. You can watch the sunset from the sand or one of the cosy tavernas by the beach. The taxi ride here from the centre of Sidari takes roughly 5 minutes and costs about 10 euros
Kumquat liqueur is a cheap and very cheerful souvenir. You’ll find bottles of it in most supermarkets, but if you want a Corfu-branded bottle, you should head to a gift shop. There are some good ones on Agion Doulon-Rodas in Roda and along the main strip, Lefkimmis-Kavou, in Kavos. Alternatively, take home some locally-made soap. Patouni is the big-name soap producer and you’ll find their official shop in Sanrocco Square in Corfu Town.
Bearded by olive trees, the Corfiot woodland is a gift horse to local craftsmen. And that’s why you’ll find an olive wood shop in every island town. You can pick up a hand-carved salad bowl for around £30, and a set of wooden wine glasses for around £70. The duel-level shopping centre on Karousadon-Sidariou in Sidari has a cluster of olive wood shops, as does Christoforou Kontokaii in Gouvia, and the road that connects the main street to the beach in San Stefanos.
Corfu has a proud tradition of jewellery design. You’ll find the best collection of stores around Liston Square in Corfu Town. Some shops here go down the traditional route, making Byzantine designs from 18-carat gold, and other stores keep it modern with contemporary silver pieces. You’ll also find some jewellery designers around Kapodistriou Street in the downtown area.
If you’re staying in San Stefanos, ease yourself into the evening by watching the sunset at one of the cocktail bars on the beach. Then head to the main street to watch live music or Greek dancing with a frosty Mythos beer. In Gouvia, nightlife revolves around al fresco eating and drinks on taverna terraces. You’ll find some of the best eateries and cafés branching off from Ethiniki Odos Palaiokastritsis.
Kavos rules the nightlife roost in Corfu. Shots, shorts and cocktails flow thick and fast on the main strip, Lefkimmis-Kavou, which runs parallel to the beach. At the opposite end of the island, nightlife is quieter but it’s not dead. Pub quizzes, live music and the odd DJ set are available on the main roads in San Stefanos and Roda. In Sidari, meanwhile, Karousadon-Sidariou delivers cocktail, karaoke and live music bars.
Sofrito is Corfu’s flagship dish and, as such, you’ll find it on the menu of almost every tavern on the island. It’s made from a veal fillet, which is simmered in white wine, garlic, parsley and marjoram. The finished product is usually served with a generous helping of rice or mounds of crispy roast potatoes.
A combination of saucy pasta and casserole, pastitsada is Corfiot soul food at its best. It’s made by slow-cooking beef with red wine, cinnamon, tomatoes and onions, and baking the tender stew in the oven with pasta. It’s served in an earthenware pot with lashings of mozzarella cheese on the top.
These bite-sized pastries are the ultimate sweet treat. They’re made from a mixture of crushed almonds, tangerine juice and sugar, which is made into a paste and moulded into little balls. Sometimes they’re served with melted bitter chocolate in a type of ultra-indulgent fondue.
Decades ago, most of the Ionian islands brewed their own ginger beer. Today, Corfu is the only one still flying the flag for the spicy fizz. The drink is brewed in large cauldrons and distributed to Corfiot cafes between Easter and autumn.
Bizarrely, Corfu’s national drink is made from a Chinese fruit. The kumquat has been cultivated in Corfu since the 1800s and, today, the sweet alcoholic drink is sold all over the island. Traditionally, it’s served neat but it can be poured over ice-cream for a real treat.
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Acharavi sits on Corfu’s northern coast. It’s the main town in this part of the island, which means you’ll find plenty in the way of shops and nightlife. The central street is dotted with bars, shops and restaurants, and you’ll find even more along the little roads leading to the beach. The surrounding countryside is pretty spectacular, too – one of the world’s best walking trails sits in the hills behind town.
Aghios Georgios North
This little village, perched on Corfu’s northwest coast, takes you to the island’s rural side. Here you can kick back and unwind, surrounded by beautiful wooded valleys, cypress trees and olive groves. The village itself dishes up a clutch of houses and hotels, together with a few essential shops, bars and restaurants. Then you’ve got the real star of the show – the huge, golden-sand beach.
People return again and again to this charmer of a village on Corfu’s west coast. It’s home to one of the island’s liveliest beaches, plus a decent cache of restaurants, bars and shops. And the surrounding countryside – all green hills, cypress trees and olive groves – is said to be among the prettiest on the island.
Aghios Ioannis (Corfu)
Located right in the middle of Corfu, Aghios Ioannis is an ideal spot for anyone looking for a dash of traditional Greece. It’s all stone cottages, churches and lush olive groves. It’s the sort of place you can while away the mornings sipping coffee with the locals in the quaint old square. And you’ve got a choice of beaches on the east or west coasts.
This village in northeast Corfu wins hearts for its pretty mountain backdrop and white shingle beach, which stretches for almost 2 kilometres. The main street has all the essentials – tavernas and a supermarket, as well as the odd gift shop. And the views are something else – you can see across the bay to Corfu Town, as well as catching an eyeful of Albanian coastline.
Alykes Potamos is a quiet seaside town on Corfu’s eastern coast. It’s a restful place with a secluded sandy beach and a couple of family-run tavernas along the sleepy main road. Dense pine woods give a dramatic backdrop, while a pretty little canal runs along its southern edge. It feels like you’re away from it all here – but this is almost a Corfu Town suburb, with the cosmopolitan capital just 10 minutes’ drive away.
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