One of the largest and greenest of the Ionian Islands, Corfu is far more than its trademark blue-hued seas and sandy coastline. Boasting UNESCO World Heritage status and unbeatable strolling opportunities, there’s no better place to start exploring than the main town and its historic old quarter. However, ancient churches, scattered ruins and a handful of museums mean Corfu’s layers of history can be found just about everywhere. Looking for a base to explore it all? Check out our villas in Corfu and then get to reading our handy Corfu travel guide to start planning your Grecian getaway.
Foodies will be smitten with the emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and lovingly prepared dishes, while the natural beauty of the island – think blankets of olive groves, postcard seascapes and rugged mountain vistas – lends itself to scenic walks, hikes and bike rides. This is a place saturated in rustic, traditional character, yet packed with enough stylish bars, restaurants and attractions to make it a thoroughly cosmopolitan holiday destination.
Best time to visit Corfu
Temperatures average a toasty 32 degrees Celsius during Corfu’s peak months of July and August. The summer season boasts around 12 hours of sunshine a day, but it’s also when you can expect to be joined by the largest number of visitors. And although bars, restaurants and transport services taper off a bit outside of the summer seasons, there’s enough going on to make Corfu a viable destination from March right up until October. Late May, June and September are all comfortable months to visit. September is also when the sea is at its warmest.
• Old Town – Wander the ancient streets of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Corfu Trail – Tackle a stretch of the track that runs the length of the island.
• Peroulades – Watch the sunset on a beach backed by striking cliff faces.
• Paleokastritsa – Visit this lively village and its idyllic caves and coves.
• Old Fortress – Discover the historic and magnificent seafront citadel.
• New Fortress – Gaze out over the old town from this lofty hilltop castle.
• Pontikonisi – Take a day trip to this tiny island for a peek at its striking Byzantine chapel.
Corfu travel: How to get there, and around
- Airports: Flights to the island from UK shores take around three and a half hours and land at Corfu International Airport, which is just a couple of kilometres south of the city centre.
- By boat: Ferries and hydrofoils bob back and forth between Corfu and its neighbouring Ionian Islands on a pretty regular basis. They also put the rest of the Greek isles in island-hopping distance.
- By public transport: Local buses cover most areas within a half-hour drive of Corfu’s old town, while a second, long-distance network connects the town centre to destinations all over the island. Both are economical ways to get around, but watch out for reduced weekend services.
- By bike: Cycling is huge in Corfu. The island is crisscrossed with bike-friendly networks of road and dirt tracks. Bike rental is readily available and hiring two wheels will put secluded beaches and hidden corners of the countryside at your fingertips.
- Hiring a car: Dozens of car rental companies operate in Corfu and most will deliver your wheels to the airport or straight to your hotel. If you don’t arrange car hire before you go, the likes of Hertz and Avis have desks at the airport.
- Travel high into the hills on the north slope of Mount Pantokrator for a real glimpse into the past at Old Perithia. This medieval ghost town dates back to the 1400’s but has been uninhabited since the 1960’s. Today, you can wander its cobbled streets and rustic stone houses. When it’s time to refuel, there are a handful of tavernas worth visiting in the main village square.
- While you won’t find too much to explore inside Angelokastro castle, short of an underground chapel and a handful of ruins, it’s a must-visit for the views alone. This Byzantine castle was built on the highest peak of Corfu’s shoreline and on a good day you can see out to the Old Fortress – the two used to signal to each other in times of danger. It can take 30 minutes to amble up to the summit, but it’s well worth the climb.
- Corfu’s beaches are known for being easy on the eye, but for the best of the bunch head to the village of Sidari. Erosion has shaped the cliffs along the village’s coastline into striking, otherworldly shapes, tiny coves, and a channel that has the power to help its swimmers become lucky in love, or so the legend goes.
- The small but perfectly formed Mon Repos Palace, the birthplace of Prince Phillip, was built in the 1820’s and served as a residence for British governors, a school of fine arts and later, a summer residence for the Greek royal family. A number of royal births took place here, including the Duke of Edinburgh in 1921. After a long court battle over ownership, the hilltop palace was declared property of the Greek state and is now open to the public as a museum.
What to do in Corfu with kids
While Corfu’s sea, sand and sunny skies all score top marks with young travellers, children will be equally impressed with the island’s line-up of kid-friendly days out. There’s everything from classic family attractions, such as waterparks and aquariums, to slices of local Corfiot life courtesy of interactive museums and local-led walking tours.
- The Greeks consume more olive oil than any other nation in the world and their diet is among the healthiest on the planet. Coincidence? The experts don’t seem to think so. Get your fill of this liquid gold at one of the many olive oil factories in Corfu, where you’ll have the chance to explore production set-ups that range from old school to thoroughly modern. The family-run Mavroudis company has been crafting olive oil for generations, so its production site offers more than just an insight into modern techniques. They’ve tracked down lots of old olive oil making machinery from as far back as the mid-1800’s and set up a small but perfectly formed museum to showcase them.
- Just because Corfu is best known for sun and sand doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of art and culture to sink your teeth into. Away from the beaches, there are some excellent art galleries and museums that tell the story of the island and the role it’s played in Greece’s history. While the majority of children won’t be able to stomach long stints in historical museums, they’ll enjoy an afternoon at Casa Parlante. This one-off heritage site in Corfu’s old town gives a glimpse into the life of the island’s 19th-century nobility with realistic household scenes from the era. The treasures and artefacts on display are slotted into settings brought to life by noises, smells, animated figures and robotics.
- When travelling with kids of pretty much any age, waterparks are always a hit and Corfu just so happens to be the home of one of our favourite ones! Surrounded by 75,000 square metres of woodlands, Aqualand has loads of activities and other facilities that make for a fabulous day or half-day out with the whole family. There are free sunbeds for lounging parents, great family-friendly restaurants and a great selection of fun shops. The attractions are separated into a children’s area for kids age 4-8, a family area for kids age 8+ and finally an extreme games area for kids older than 12.
Best family tours
- From knockout mountain scenery to colourful marine life, there’s so much to explore away from Corfu’s famous beaches. A guided tour on foot, boat or horseback will showcase the best of the island’s natural beauty and really help you get to grips with its history and culture. For a relaxed trek through sun-dappled olive groves and idyllic local villages, sign up for a guided horse ride with Trailriders, who offer treks on gentle horses for ages six to 70-plus.
- Get under the skin of Corfu’s atmospheric old town with Corfu Walking Tours, which will lead you down ancient alleyways and into pretty old squares, revealing the secrets of the city as you go.
For more kid-friendly holiday inspiration, read our blog post on Corfu’s top family attractions.
Our Corfu guide of things to do
Group holidays to Corfu can be of the laid-back, wine tasting, moseying-around-the-old-town variety, or chock-full of exciting adventures such as sailing, mountain biking and scuba diving. The natural beauty of the island together with its captivating history provide an endless list of potential days out, some relaxing and others more high-energy. And with a coastline of sandy beaches and quiet coves, plus 12 daily hours of sunshine in the summer, there’s always the option of spending the day on a lounger.
- If you’ve got plenty of energy, hiking and cycling tours are the best ways to discover Corfu’s gorgeous scenery. Idyllic rural countryside, time-worn villages and panoramic views are among the sights you’ll be rewarded with for tearing yourself away from the beach. You’ll need a fairly good level of fitness to tackle the guided Corfu Mountain Bike Tour as it includes a stint on the slopes of Mount Pandokrator, but the views are worth the effort. You’ll cycle through pretty olive groves and the rural village of Old Perithia, too.
- If you can’t spoil yourself on holiday, when can you? For an indulgent dose of R&R, head to one of Corfu’s luxury spa and wellness centres. Everything from hot stone massages to fish pedicures can be found on treatment menus in private spas across the island. One of Corfu’s top-rated spas is the Asian Spa Ayurvedic & City Retreat, which mixes traditional treatments with ancient Ayurveda techniques from southern India. Whether your skin needs pampering after too many hours in the sun or your body’s natural energies need to be rebalanced, you’ll find the perfect antidote here.
- Corfu is packed with heritage sites celebrating its history and its people. So when you’re looking for a break from the heat of the midday sun, seek out a slice of culture at one of the island’s excellent museums and galleries. From grand ceiling frescoes to enormous garden sculptures, every extravagant inch of the Achilleion Museum celebrates Greek culture. Built in 1890 by the then Empress of Austria, the former royal palace is a treasure trove of art and heritage.
- Only the savviest UK wine buffs are likely to be clued up on Greece’s wine scene, but anyone can go home an expert thanks to Corfu’s vineyard tours and wine tasting sessions. The country has the perfect grape-growing climate and hundreds of grape varieties, so there are plenty of local labels to try. Corfu Walking Tours host relaxed but informative tasting evenings, during which participants get to sample half a dozen of Greece’s finest vinos, each matched with a Greek dish from their award-winning chef.
- Explore Corfu’s epic coastline the way it was meant to be seen: from the water. Hire a private boat with Filippos Boat Hire at Kassiopi Harbour and spend your day discovering the best beaches and hidden coves on the north side of the island. Fillipos even have some great suggestions for stops to make on your way, and our personal recommendation is stopping at Agni Bay for lunch. The food at Taverna Agni is just what all the foodies came to Corfu for.
Get the full lowdown on the best of Corfu’s activities and attractions on our blog.
The Corfu food scene
Corfu’s food scene is defined by fresh, seasonal ingredients and hearty meals shared with friends and family. Family-run tavernas are your best bet for getting authentic local specialities, whether it’s plates of meze, hearty game stews or spinach pies. If you want to go one step further and learn a little about the preparation of Corfiot dishes and food products, you can take part in cooking classes or even tour one of the olive oil production sites. The best part? You can feast on the island’s cuisine completely guilt-free as it’s part of the famous longevity-boosting Mediterranean diet.
- For a romantic dining spot, try the beachfront Trilogia Restaurant Corfu, which is located beneath the ancient castle walls. The kitchen here is run by a master chef with close to three decades’ experience, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a better setting for a cosy meal for two.
- With sea views and its very own private stretch of beach, top-rated restaurant Pyramid enjoys an enviable location. The menu is classic Greek, with dishes featuring fresh ingredients from the restaurant’s own gardens. Plus, there’s a stylish beach bar attached that is perfect for pre or post-dinner cocktails.
- Vegans and vegetarians don’t always find it easy to dine out away from home, but both diets are well catered for at Vitamins Taverna. Run by the same family for 30 years, the restaurant specialises in nourishing Med cuisine. And while meat-free diners can feast here, carnivores and pescatarians will also have plenty of choices.
- Featuring everything from baked feta to grilled pork sausage, the menu at Avli is traditional Greek through and through. The setting is also pretty special, with a homely indoor dining room that spills out onto a eucalyptus-shaded terrace.
- Positioned inside the historic old fortress in Corfu Town,Corfu Sailing Restaurant is surrounded by history. The dining room is right on the water’s edge and serves a menu of fresh fish, seafood and classic Mediterranean dishes.
- One of Corfu’s signature plates is sofrito, a hearty dish of veal or beef cooked in white wine. Sofrito is usually served with potatoes or beans.
- Another dish to look out for on Corfu’s menus is pastitsada. A traditional celebration meal, pastitsada features veal or chicken cooked with fresh tomatoes, seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices, and served with chunky pasta.
- Corfu’s local firewater is Greece’s famous aniseed-flavoured ouzo. But if you want something less fiery, try one of the island’s locally made real ales at the Corfu Beer microbrewery.
For more mouth-watering inspiration, read our blog post on Corfu’s best foodie experiences.
We hope our Corfu travel guide has inspired you to choose this sun-baked island as your next holiday destination! If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Corfu, then look no further than our villa collection – from beach side wonders to rural retreats… you’ll be able to find somewhere perfect for you and your loved ones! If you need a hand or have any questions, our concierge team are always happy to help.