Greece is one of the top summer vacation destinations around the globe. More than 200 inhabited islands make choosing the right place difficult. The Greek island of Corfu is one of the most popular islands and one worth considering. Here are the top five reasons you should travel to Corfu when planning your next holiday.
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1. A Marvelous Old Town
Learn as you linger in Old Town (Campiello), particularly along The Liston, a pedestrian-friendly street modeled on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris and dating back to the early 19th century. Walk from here to the lively Spianada, the largest public square in Greece. Turn around and face the Venetian fortress, set on a peninsula, then stroll along the narrow alleyways of medieval Campiello.
While you’re in Old Town, visit the Esplanade for a cricket game and see the Asian Art Museum, housed in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George. Look, too, for the red dome of the Church of Saint Spyridon, whose miracles are said to have saved the island from devastation many times throughout the centuries.
2. The Beaches
Have you ever visited a mythological beach? Lounge in the sun or stroll along the sand at Paleokastritsa, a gorgeously pristine coastal paradise with soft, pinkish-beige sand and blue-green water. This is said to be the place where Odysseus met the princess Nausicaa after Poseidon, the sea god, turned his ship to stone. Gaze out into the harbor to see the ship-shaped rock that inspired the story.
Along more than 130 miles of captivating coastline, there’s a beach for every taste. Catch the sunset at the aptly named Logas, which, while small, is very impressive. If you like water sports, go to the quiet but larger beach of Kontokali, with comfortable beach chairs and umbrellas. Head to Kassiopi for the beach, then stay for the coastal drives and olive groves.
For an adventure, hike down to the incredible Porto Timoni, well worth the effort. Other favorites include the family-friendly Acharavi, a wide, golden-sand beach in the north of the island, and the Marathias beach, known for its clear water, on the southwest coast.
3. Tempting Cuisine
Of course, you will find all the traditional Greek foods in Corfu, including Greek yogurt, honey, and olive oil. Corfu, however, has the added benefit of an interesting history that has informed its culinary traditions.
It was occupied by the Venetians, whereas the Greek mainland was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. You’ll find Venetian, British and French influences in the food, as well as a strong reliance on local seafood.
Try bourdeto, served with scorpion fish cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and with potatoes. Or, sink into pastitsada, meat braised in red wine, garlic and onion, steeped with fresh tomato and aromatic spices, then served over pasta.
4. From Beach to Mountains
Get a history lesson and a look at the more rugged, mountainous side of Corfu with a visit to the 14th-century Palia Perithia, the oldest settlement on Corfu. The now-ghost-village is built on the slopes of Mount Pantokrator, a strategic position for defense against pirate attacks. Very few people remain in residence. If you like Palia Perithia, continue on to Lakones on Mount Arakli, a bit more bustling with tavernas and cafes overlooking the Ionian Sea.
5. Easy Access
Island hopping can be tough to plan, but the beauty of including Corfu in your itinerary is that the island’s large airport saves you time and sanity. You can hop here from just about anywhere, flying directly to the island. Corfu International (Ionnais Kapodistrias) receives year-round flights from Athens, Prevez, Thessaloniki and some European countries. Plus, the airport is conveniently located about 1.8 miles from Corfu Town.
Traveling to Corfu? Check out this tour: Paxos and Antipaxos full-day island hopping
If you do choose to come by water, there are many ferry options servicing several ports. Ferries typically depart from Igoumenitsa daily; the trip over is about 90 minutes. Corfu is also reachable by ferry from Venice, Bari, and Ancona, Italy. A summer-season hydrofoil carries passengers only between Corfu and Paxi Island.
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