The natural beauty of the island is reason enough to visit Corfu. But that’s not to say that the Greek isle isn’t full to the brim with cultural and historic sites to see. The farthest north of the Ionian Islands, Corfu is just a quick hop from Albania and mainland Greece and remains one of the country’s most beguiling jewels.
With such beautiful surroundings, no one would blame you for just wanting to laze the days away in a luxury villa whilst taking in the views. While there is always time for relaxation, Corfu is a destination that rewards exploring a little further. With that in mind, here are some of its finest attractions.
Corfu Old Town
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Corfu Old Town is a must-visit location on the island. With a long and storied history that stretches back nearly three thousand years, the town has played a key role in the region’s past. It’s been under Greek, British and Venetian rule at varying points, with architectural traits as testament to this. Dominated by the large 16th century Venetian fortress, the town is a maze of winding streets and historic buildings. No trip here would be complete without visiting The Palace of St Michael and St George and a visit to the historic St Spiridon’s Church – home of the island’s patron saint.
In many ways, Corfu typifies the beauty and allure of a Greek paradise, and nowhere is this more apparent than at Paleokastritsa Beach. With spectacular views and waters that are so clear they’re almost invisible, this is where to go to enjoy Corfu at its best. Taking its name from the picturesque surrounding village of Paleokastritsa, the beach is a firm favourite with visitors to the island. Once you see it for yourself, it’s easy to understand why.
Achilleion Museum is among the key things to do on the island of Corfu. Originally inhabited by the Austrian Empress Elisabeth (known as ‘Sissi’) and Kaiser William the 2nd of Germany, it boasts both grandeur and a fascinating past. Yet its amazing sea views and opulent setting are reasons in their own right to visit the palace. Beyond them, it houses numerous antiques, pieces of art, and fascinating artefacts from the empress and her family.
At nearly a thousand metres high, Mount Pantokrator is easily the highest peak on Corfu. Thanks to its height it offers incredible views out over the island, and across the water to Albania. On especially clear days it is even possible to see right across the Aegean Sea towards Italy. The mountain makes up a portion of the popular Corfu Trail walking route, and it offers moderate hike and pleasant day out.
By Arianne Fabrice, a travel journalist who specializes in the popular resort destinations in and around Europe. Having worked for some of Paris’ premium travel mags, she’s recently moved into English-language publications.