It’s no secret that the Greek Islands rank high on the list of “must do” destinations. But which one to choose? Each island has its own magnetic charm, but I submit that the beauty and activities on Corfu, Greece make it difficult for anyone to resist the island’s pull.
Corfu Island is the second largest island in the Ionian Sea, with a rich history dating back to Greek mythological figures such as Poseidon and Asopos. A land of castles, forts, and beaches, there’s plenty to keep tourists busy.
The beginning of my trip to the Balkans with JayWay Travel started with two days to immerse myself in the culture of this island. I chose to spend one day in and around Corfu Town and the other at one of the island’s best beaches.
1. Corfu Town
Also known as Old Town, most of the landmarks and sights of Corfu Town are easily within walking distance via a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets. Striking out from my centrally-located boutique hotel, this UNESCO World Heritage site was a delight to wander about, taking in the Venetian architecture.
The imposing Old Fortress complete with moat stands sentry on a craggy peninsula just off the Esplanade. The current fort was built in 1546 by the Venetians, but prior to that, a fort of some sort has existed on the site since the 6th century. There is a museum inside the fort which houses some of the world’s oldest paintings, dating from the first century.
The tree-lined square claims to be the second largest public square in Europe. The Esplanade connects the cobblestone streets of Old Town with the Old Fortress. Aside from the green space, this popular public gathering area also hosts upscale cafés and shops and it’s a great place feel the vibe of Old Town.
Museum of Asian Art
The museum is located at one end of the Esplanade within the Palace of St Michael and St George. The palace, which dates back to the period of English rule, contains an impressive collection of art from China, Japan, and India.
Church of St Spyridon
Built in the 1500’s, this Venetian basilica has a bell tower which is the highest point in the heart of town, making it an important landmark. It houses the relics of Saint Spyridon, whom it is believed saved Corfu from catastrophe four times between 1533 and 1716.
If you don’t have time to get to another beach on Corfu, a stroll to Faliraki Beach is a must! This tiny cove under a towering stone wall has a pretty beach with calm aqua and azure water. The small beach is stony, so water shoes are recommended.
There is a picturesque walk along the coast near the beach as well as an open-air café with views across to the Old Fortress.
Wander around the winding maze of streets in Old Town and you’ll find every manner of souvenir, from unique handcrafts, sculptures, woodcarvings, leather, and clothing, to typical tourist tchotchkes. You’ll also find lots of small shops selling local cheese and other delicacies to sample.
For my second day in Corfu, I struggled between visiting the coastal towns of Paleokastritsa – a seaside resort nestled between high cliffs, small crescent bays, and caves, overlooked by a historic monastery, versus the seaside village of Kassiopi. Kassiopi was more easily reached by public transportation which tilted my decision in that direction.
Situated at a small peninsula on the north-east coast of Corfu, the former fishing village has a crystal turquoise beach framed by the picturesque backdrop of Mount Pantokrator. The beach is just a block from the town’s square, shops cafes and bars.
If you’re interested in reading more of my adventures in the Balkans, check out these articles:
7 Reasons Why You’ll Love Macedonia (Huffington Post)
Europe’s Oldest Wine Area Going Biodynamic (Epicure & Culture – publish date 1/5/17)
Disclosure: The author was honored to be the guest of JayWay Travel during her stay on Corfu, but as always, the opinions, reviews and experiences are her own.