Lying in the Adriatic Sea, Corfu is the northernmost and the second largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece. A popular tourist location, the island has easy connectivity, and accommodations for visitors. All seasons in Corfu provide one with sensory treat. The vibrant colors of spring provide visual delight, whereas in autumn the smell of grapes permeates the entire island. Summer is the best backdrop to enjoy the touch of the lapping waves and the winters are a time when one can hear music of hymns and carols wafting on the winds. Corfu provides the tourists with spectacular seascapes and pristine nature.
The history of this island is interspersed with myths. Corfu’s Greek name Korkyra can be traced back to two powerful water symbols in Greek mythology- Poseidon (god of sea) and Asopos. The island otherwise has been ruled by French, Venetians and British. The place has century old accounts of visiting travelers of all nationalities, which continues even today. The old city of Corfu displays marked Venetian influences, where the houses and architectural structures resemble those found in Venice. The city is also replete with Greek churches, including city’s cathedral. This lends the cultural variety to the place.
Greek villages, their picture postcard quality, the quaint life of the local people, and the rich history make up for memorable explorations. Benistes, for instance, is an old and traditional fishing village near Corfu. It leads to the emerald valley and is replete with natural beauty. 2 miles to the north of this village is the popular tourist spot, Achilleion.
Old Perithia is a famous tourist attraction. Some 400 feet above the sea level, this oldest village of Corfu is nestled below Mount Pantokrator. In the old days this village served as a hideaway from pirate attacks. Nymphes is another legendary village worth visiting. The legends state that the village waterfalls used to be places where the nymphs bathe. A walk down the lanes of this village- the clear blue of the water, the blanket of the greenery- all give a chance for interactions with nature.
Other traditional Greek villages worth visiting on the island of Corfu include Kynopiastes, Lakones, and Roda. The cobbled pathways of Kynopiastes provide a stroll down the historical lane- architecture in these areas dates back to 17th century. Churches and monasteries can be seen between the traditional structures of Greek homes. These places prove memorable not just for those interested in myths and monuments. Roda particularly is known for its cafes and bars and nightlife. The cuisine here is also a food lover’s delight. From the native Greek to Chinese to Italian food, there is no dearth of options here. Lakones enjoys beautiful landscapes, the green hills, view of the bay, make it a favorable place for nature walks.
The island is dotted with several castles which bear a testimony to the battles that Corfu has witnessed in the past. The Old Fortress is a must visit place on this island. Built in 1546, its history is layered with Byzantine, Venetian and British elements and additions. Today the fortress provides a breathtaking view of the town and the mountainous Albania coast. The fort also hosts cultural events and Light and Sound productions. The Esplanade, between this old Fortress and old town of Corfu, figures amongst few of the most beautiful esplanade in Greece. It has a park and an open parade ground.
Other historical sites include Liston which is an exemplary structure of Italianate architecture. It was meant to resemble the Rue du Rivoli in Paris. It is on the edge of the Esplanade, an arched colonnade lined with cafes.
Palace of St. Michael and St. George is a 19th century palace, which houses the Museum of Asian Art today. For art enthusiasts this place offers collections from Japan, India and Tibet among other places. Venetian stone aquariums, exotic trees and flowers, overlook Venetian fortifications and turrets form a part of the gardens of this palace which in the old days functioned as residence for Greek kings.
Built in 1890 Achilleion is a summer palace in south of the city. Attributed to the Empress of Austria, Elizabeth of Bavaria, this palace has mythical hero Achilles as its central theme. The palace is abundantly decorated with statues and paintings depicting scenes from Trojan War, revolving around the Greek hero Achilles. Today it serves as a museum and a tourist attraction.
Ernst Herter carved the marble statue of wounded Achilles, stripped of his pride which also serves as the centerpiece of the gardens. After the death of the empress, the palace was sold to Kaiser Wilhelm who went ahead with installation of figures of a victorious Achilles in his entire splendor.
Corfu has several stunning beaches on both the west as well as east side of the island. Some of the more popular and picturesque beaches include, Sidari, Dasia and Ipsos, Kassiopi, Chalikounas, Issos, and Prasaudi beach. There are all kinds of beaches available for the tourists to select from, be it the sandy beaches, to ones with calmer waters, shallow to rough waters, from the crowded to the isolated beaches. At the end of Sidari beach is the Canal de l’Amour, with natural archways and sandy cliffs. Kassiopi has multitude of cafes and resorts for the tourists. These beaches also offer pristine blue waters. Chalikounas beach is a virgin stretch of land; it is a relatively isolated beach with abundant natural beauty.
The geographical location, flora and fauna, history, cultural heritage, and the waves and sand all combine to make Corfu and incredible island. If you are looking forward to dapple in sea and sun, myths and monuments, then the Island of Corfu is the right place for you.