Corfu is the largest city and capital of the island of Corfu and the region of Ionian Islands. Corfu Town has a footprint of former civilizations that passed through here, a little of Venice’s and Naples’s specific architecture, but also resembles of both France and England’s architecture. Corfu is on the east side of the island, built on a peninsula that essentially bisects the city, dividing it into two different sections. Corfu Town is divided into the old and the new town. The new part has a clear urban character and is structured as a modern urban center with avenues and tall buildings.
The old town of Corfu (town) is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece, very scenic and exciting. Corfu combines Venetian and medieval architecture performing a very special character.
Corfu town (Kerkyra)
Corfu town (Kerkyra) is the pretty, cosmopolitan capital of the island of Corfu, dominated by the striking images of the old fort, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel and flanked by yacht and fishing harbours, and the church of St Spyridon, a domed church that houses the remains of the island’s patron saint. With a small beach and easy access to surrounding areas of historical and aesthetic interest, this is the place to visit to experience a mixture of cultural influences and to combine sightseeing with a good dose of relaxation. Mon Repos is the main town beach and is a small patch of sand with a cafe. Beyond the town, some of the best beaches of the whole archipelago, ranging from long sandy stretches to pretty shingle bays, wait to welcome you. Kerkyra is a great place to find excellent seafood and the best place to go is the Garitsa seafront, where there are plenty of fine restaurants. The Liston is a good place to go for lunch with a view of the Esplanade, although prices can be high.
With numerous bars and restaurants, there is a lot to keep tourists happy in Kerkyra town. Most of the discos are situated in a small area a couple of kilometers north of the town and are frequented by locals and tourists alike. There are quieter options dotted about the town including the open-air cinema which shows mainly English-language films. There is a commercial center slightly inland and away from the old town, although this is a much more interesting place to shop. Try not to get lost shopping for the local olive wood items and jewelry that can be found here. An old morning market selling fish and farm produce can be found near the New Fort. For a spot of sightseeing, you don’t need to step outside of the resort. The Old Town is the most interesting place to visit and huddles around a great central esplanade with public gardens and a cricket ground providing a pleasant escape for locals and tourists alike. The British influence is evident in grand municipal buildings, while the French made their mark with the Liston, an arcaded block overlooking the esplanade that provides the perfect venue for a sip of ginger beer beneath the arches. 18th-century Venetian architecture is evident in the winding streets of the old town where colorful shops draw the attention below and the week’s washing hangs from balconies high above.
How to get to Corfu Town
Corfu is an international transportation hub.
One can fly here direct from many cities in Europe, or take a ship or ferryboat from Italy or other cities Greece.
From Corfu it is possible to visit : Paxi, every day except Sunday, Erikoussa, Mathraki, Othoni, Sami (Cephalonia), Patras.
Corfu is also connected by sea to Italy, Patras and Igoumenitsa. Itineraries to the islands of Diapontia (Ereikousa, Mathraki, Othoni) and Paxous are carried out from the islands harbour, especially in the summer months. Corfu can take pride in that it allocates one of the biggest and very well organised marinas in Greece, which offers its hospitality to hundreds of boats every summer and is located only 5 minutes from the city.
Via Patras: The large ferry-boats which leave the Italian harbors of Brindisi, Bari and Ancona stop at Corfu on their way to and from Patras.
For information on the schedules, ticket prices of passengers and automobiles, contact the Port Authority Office at Patras, tel. (+30) 2610-341002, 341024 or travel agencies in Patras, Athens, and Corfu. You can get to Patras either on the buses of OSE from Athens (Greek National Railroad), tel. (+30) 210-5136185 or KTEL from Athens (Public Bus Company) tel: (+30) 210-5136185.
Via Igoumenitsa: The trip from Igoumenitsa to Corfu is one hour and forty-five minutes by car ferry. For information contact the Port Authority Office of Igoumenitsa, tel. (+30) 22650-23870. One can travel from Athens to Igoumenitsa on buses of KTEL (Public Bus Company), Athens, Tel. (+30) 210-5125954, 5130428. The distance is approximately 500 km. You can also go on the buses of OSE via Patras, as well as the train. Information: OSE, Athens, rail: tel. (+30) 210-5131601, buses: tel. (+30) 210-8233235. From northern Greece and Macedonia connections to Igoumenitsa are via Thessaloniki by bus. Information, KTEL, Thessaloniki, tel. (+30) 2310-595444, 595495.
Corfu Car Rental
Renting a car is the most flexible way of exploring. The roads are a little challenging, but well worth the effort. Greek roads are not like most North European roads – look out for pot-holes, hairpin bends at every 50 meters, laden donkeys and in August ‘the Italians!’ The overriding problem though is ‘olives’.
Flights to Corfu
Daily flights from and to Athens and Thessalonica are carried out at the international airport Ioannis Kapodistrias while the island is connected to a lot of European cities with direct charter flights.
The international airport of Corfu, situated 3 km south of the Town in the Kanoni area, accommodates international, domestic, as well as charter flights.
Tel. (+30) 26610-89622, 89823
If you are looking for airline tickets and flights to Corfu Island and Corfu Town, the dates of arrival and departure in the left box, and the online reservation program will show you suggestions and prices for your flight where you can make your reservation directly and securely.
Organized tours lasting half a day or all day can be arranged to different parts of the island as well as to Epirus, the islands of Paxos and Antipaxos and Parga. For information, contact the local travel agencies.
Museums in Corfu Town
Corfu Archeological Museum (26610) 30680 Daily. 08:00 – 14:30
Corfu Vizantium Museum (26610) 38313 Daily. 08:30 – 17:00
Corfu Museum Asian Culture (26610) 30443 Daily. 08:30 – 15:00
Corfu : Sightseeing
Archaeological Museum (tel: 36680): Houses finds from excavations at various parts of the island.
Byzantine Museum (tel 38313): In the Church of Our Lady Antivouniotissa.
Museum of Asiatic Art (tel 30443): In the Old Palace.
Contains a superb collection of Chinese, Japanese and Indian Art from the Neolithic era through the 19th century.
The Palace also houses the Archives of the Ionian Academy.
Old Palace: The imposing 19th-century building of the governors of the British Protectorate with its two gates of St. Michael and St. George.
The European Unit summit meeting of June 1994 will be held here.
Town Hall: Built in 1663, a splendid example of Venetian architecture.
Church of Sts. Jason and Sosipater: At Anemomylos.
A typical example of 12th century Byzantine architecture, decorated with beautiful icons and a remarkable icon-screen.
Church of St. Spyridon: A silver sarcophagus adorned with spacious stones encloses the remains of Corfu’s patron saint.
In addition to this and its wonderful icons, the church has a fascinating collection of gold and silver votive offerings left by faithful supplicants.
The Cathedral: The majestic church contains the remains St. Theodora Augusta as well as a fine collection of Byzantine icons.
Monastery of the Virgin Platytera (near Mandouki): Apart from the tombs of Ioannis Kapodistrias (Greece’s first governor) and the Revolutionary hero, Fotos Tzavellas, it also possesses some rare post-Byzantine icons.
N. B. Corfu Town has a great many more landmarks worth visiting, which you’ll find shown on the map that follows.
Ionian University (tel 22993-4): Aspiring to emulate the prestige the 19th century’s Ionian Academy, the Ionian University has the following departments: History, Foreign Languages, and Interpreter’s School, Music, Archive and Library Science.
In summer it operates as a Greek language center.
Shopping in Corfu
Shopping in Corfu is an unavoidable vacation enterprise. If you want to spend time trying on shoes and clothes that are in fashion now or if you just want to go window shopping, head for the stylish streets of Corfu town. Here you will find elegant shops and boutiques that can easily turn your vacation budget upside down. The jewelry isn’t cheaper than at home but they attract you with their unique design.
In Corfu, one can find special icons in stores and in monasteries which vary from small portraits to elaborate paintings. The most beautiful and most expensive icons are created using only traditional techniques.
There are a lot of souvenir shops in most of the resorts on the island with traditional food, ornamental ceramics, embroidery and laces, spices and other small things that you have to discover.
The island is famous for a special fruit bred here, similar to the tangerine tree, but a lot smaller, kumquat. The inhabitants produce liquors, marmalades, sweets, and very tasty cookies.
A jar of candied fruits or a bottle of liquor with an original design could be pleasant souvenirs.
Visitors who seek more westernized shops and galleries also can keep their shopping bags full. Fetich Fashion and Atropos are examples of stores that can fulfill one-stop shopping, complete with display cases and cash registers.
Corfu Food and Drinks
Greece has a culinary tradition for about 4000 years. The tourists appreciate the simplicity and the healthy character of the Hellenic gastronomy – olive oil, salads, vegetables, a little meat and fresh fish with some exotic wine.
Each group of islands has a distinct culinary identity, which reflects its geographical location and its history.
Corfu has a unique character due to a long Venetian occupation. There are a few specific dishes that you can enjoy. With a lot of bays scattered around the island, the fresh fish and the fruits are abundant.
Try the appreciated red mullet or the swordfish on the grill, served with a green salad and sprinkled with lemon juice.
If the great wealth of the sea doesn’t attract you, indulge yourself with other specialties of the Corfiot kitchen, like Sofrito, boiled beef with olive oil and tomatoes, seasoned with fresh garlic or Pastitsio, macaroni pie, filling with meat and tomatoes, sauce and cheese. Sweeten yourself with a typical dessert: yogurt with honey next to retsina, and local aromatic wine.
Going out - Entertainment
Corfu is a city known for its nightlife and various types of entertainment offered to tourists and visitors of all ages. Corfu Town has a large number of bars and clubs and many restaurants where you can enjoy delicious recipes of the Ionian cuisine and local wine.
When the sun sets over the island of Corfu, holidaymakers of every age and background begin looking for something to occupy the evening hours. While it’s probably fair to say that entertainment here is geared largely towards the 18 to 30 crowd, there are family-orientated options available as well as venues catering for those preferring a slightly more sedate scene. Movie theatres are on hand for parents who want to keep their children busy in the evening, while scenic candlelit restaurants are perfect for those looking for a quiet evening meal and a few glasses of wine.
Corfu is something of a party island and it attracts large numbers of European. Travelers during its main tourist season. If you like staying up all night, drinking and dancing, then you’ll find plenty of opportunities in Kerkyra and also at many of the island’s other popular resorts.
As the island’s capital city, Kerkyra is probably the hottest spot when it comes to nightlife, offering the widest selection of after-dark entertainment venues. Here, you’ll find plenty of bars geared towards tourists, many with European themes such as Irish or German. If you prefer something a little more traditional, however, there are also Greek tavernas where you can raise a glass of ouzo and shout ‘yamas’, which means ‘cheers’, with the locals.
If you are seeking nightclubs that stay open until dawn then you’re best venturing out of the city to resorts such as Kavos, Roda, Ypsos, Gouvia, and Dassia, where you’ll find venues that rarely get going before midnight and that remain open until the last punters leave.
There are no traditional theatre venues in Corfu; however, visitors will find that some reputable hotels and apartment complexes are home to their own auditoriums that offer live entertainment in the evenings. Additionally, if you check the blackboards outside local bars, you’ll invariably find several with musical acts billed for the evening. Depending on the venue, these might be local Greek singers or expat performers.
There are a number of annual summer festivals that are unique to the island, with highlights including:
The Anniversary of the Union is an annual event in which the island’s residents gather in Kerkyra to celebrate the joining of Corfu to mainland Greece in 1864 (May).
The August Cultural Events festival runs the entire month of August in the village of Ano Korakiana and sees a varied program of cultural events and celebrations (August).
The Festival of Garouna and Ano Gerakiana is a three-day affair, held in the villages of Ano Gerakiana and Kato Garouna, and it sees cultural events and performances along with general festivities (August).
The Festival of Corfu takes place in Kerkyra and includes concerts from the philharmonic orchestra and other musical acts plus various theatrical performances. This is one of the island’s most important annual events (September).