What not to miss while in Corfu, Greece

With its green scenery, beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, charming villages and Venetian breeze calling for road trips, Corfu has claimed the title of the "Queen of the Ionian Islands", and rightly so. Situated in the northern part of the Ionian Sea, the island will fail to disappoint.

What not to miss while on holiday in Corfu © Ruth Johnson - Flickr Creative Commons
What not to miss while on holiday in Corfu © Ruth Johnson - Flickr Creative Commons

A firm favourite with summertime sunseekers, Corfu is a wonderful place to establish your own private base from which you can explore the island at your own pace. James Villa Holidays has residences dotted across the island for all budgets, ensuring you will find a great deal when you book your Corfu break with James Villas online.

The Old Town

A real gem, the Old Town of Corfu is a protected UNESCO heritage site and has a strong Venetian influence, which has a distinct flavour of the Italian about it. Quite different from most of the other Greek islands, the city's old quarters are a charm to wander around with no particular direction, taking advantage of the countless photogenic corners for your Instagram.

The Liston Arcade, Spianada Square, Corfu © Hajotthu - Wikimedia Commons
The Liston Arcade, Spianada Square, Corfu © Hajotthu - Wikimedia Commons

In Spianada Square, join the locals enjoying a cold coffee in the Liston, the legendary arcade resembling the Parisian Rue de Rivoli, while watching the world go by. Circling the town, its old fortress hosts an impressive exhibition of Byzantine and post-Byzantine mosaics and frescoes while the new fortress offers amazing views of the Old Town.

Culture

The Achilleion Palace

Located at Gastouri village, only a few kilometres away from the Old Town, the Achilleion Palace was built by Empress of Austria Elisabeth, commonly known as Sisi, in 1891, and served as her summer palace. She named it "Achilleion" in order to honour her favourite mythical hero, Achilles, who was also the palace's central theme.

Muses on the terrace of the Achilleion Palace, Corfu © Thomas Schoch - Wikimedia Commons
Muses on the terrace of the Achilleion Palace, Corfu © Thomas Schoch - Wikimedia Commons

The three-storey building designed by the Italian architect Raffaele Caritto is impressive, as is its location with panoramic views of the city of Corfu and the southern part of the island. The vast outside area with the verdant gardens is decorated with fountains and numerous sculptures inspired by the Greek mythology, such as the statues of the nine muses and the "Dying Achilles" sculpture, created by the German sculptor Ernst Herter.

Casa Parlante

Also worth visiting is Casa Parlante, an innovative museum that aims to time-travel you back to the 19th century, when Corfu was at its peak. Housed in a classical mansion within the historic centre of the island, this museum combines modern technology with the nostalgic atmosphere of the 19th century. Using robots and animated figures, visitors can see what the everyday life of the island's noble class looked like back then.

Out & about

Corfu has a superb coastline with numerous beaches, both secluded and more popular ones. The exotic beach of Halikounas is a favourite among surfers; the long, pebbly beach of Barbati with a scenic mountain backdrop is ideal for snorkeling with its crystal-clear waters and also provides facilities, including sunbeds, umbrellas and tavernas; Yaliskari beach is a small, sandy beach surrounded by pine trees while Canal d'Amour, with its quaint, rocky formations, attracts the crowds with its uniqueness.

Paradise Beach, accessible only from the sea © Lucian Bolca - Fotolia.com
Paradise Beach, accessible only from the sea © Lucian Bolca - Fotolia.com

The island's villages are as numerous as its beaches, and enticing for day trips. One to add to your list is Old Perithia, an abandoned village with stunning buildings, churches and a few tavernas offering delicious food. Another traditional village worth visiting is Kinopiastes, with its pastel-coloured buildings, an olive oil museum, impressive cathedral, and busy tavernas where you can sample local specialties.

The wetland habitat of Lake Korission, at the island's southwest point is a "Natura Region", attracting 126 different bird species. Go for a walk and discover its diverse ecosystem where you will encounter sand dunes and a cedar forest along the way.

Outdoor activities

With its rugged mountains, lush landscape and endless beaches, there are many opportunities for outdoor activities while visiting Corfu. If hiking is your thing, check out the Corfu Trail, providing a good variety of long-distance walking routes while discovering the island's spectacular scenery: from olive groves and gorges to beaches and dunes.

Riding in the foothills of the Pantokrator Mountains © Kat Sommers - Flickr Creative Commons
Riding in the foothills of the Pantokrator Mountains © Kat Sommers - Flickr Creative Commons

Based near the village of Ano Korakiana in the foothills of the Pantokrator mountain range is Trailriders Horse Trekking Centre, which offers a memorable experience of trekking on horseback.

Kids will also love a day visit to Aqualand, a water park with more than 36 different water slides, 15 adventure pools and plenty more to keep your little ones busy and happy. Restaurants, coffee shops and bars, and even massage and fish spa facilities, keep the older ones entertained as well.

Taste the local cuisine

The island's cuisine has been influenced by its western dominators: the Byzantines, the English, the French but mostly by the Venetians, who occupied Corfu for about 400 years. That's why many local specialties have Italian names and Venetian origins such as bourdeto, noumboulo, savoro, sofrito and bianco.

A few more local delicacies you should try is the corfiot kumquat liqueur, ginger beer which is locally called "tzitzibira", and traditional sykomaida - a combination of dried figs, grapes, chopped almonds, walnuts and black pepper, all wrapped in walnut or vine leaves - goes well with ouzo. For more inspiration and tasty experiences, join a food tour with Corfu Walking Tours and discover local cuisine by meeting the island's food artisans. Ideally, opt for this experience early on your trip so that you get your bearings and then know where to head for your gastronomic fix.

As you can see, Corfu is bursting with things to do for all ages and interests. Whether you're visiting the fort's museum, sampling sykomaida, or hiking the Corfu Trail, you can get even more from your holiday with a private villa from James Villas. Check out the latest online offers from James Villas, and find your dream accommodation with every facility to hand. You can also see what the weather in Corfu is like year round, and when we think is the best time to go for ultimate holiday conditions.

Rania Margari

Rania Margari
Posted on Tuesday 17th January 2017 in: Europe Excursions Family Summer

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