Corfu Travel Guide

Corfu Travel Guide

Corfu is the most scenic destination in northern Greece and the most grandiose island in the Ionian Sea. Its unique charms derive from the rich tapestry of international influences that kept Corfu between the Western and Levantine worlds for centuries.

Together with this cosmopolitism, a blissful natural coverage of thick forests, sandy beaches, emerald waters, royal palaces, colorful celebrations and interesting gastronomy make Corfu one of Europe’s most popular holiday islands.

Follow my Corfu travel guide to make the most of your visit – find out what to see, where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around.

Introducing Corfu

That August, when we arrived, the island lay breathless and sun-drugged in a smouldering, peacock-blue sea under a sky that had been faded to a pale powder-blue by the fierce rays of the sun.

Gerald Durrell, The Corfu Trilogy

Glittering Corfu Island is Greece’s largest island in the Ionian Sea and together with its islets forms the country’s northwesternmost point.

It lies 320 miles (515 km) away from Athens, and 230 miles (370 km) from Thessaloniki, but very close to the western Greek mainland and its principal port of Igoumenitsa. 

Corfu Old Town rooftops, Corfu Island
Corfu Old Town rooftops, Corfu Island

The island of Corfu (in Greek: Kerkyra) has never been occupied by the Ottoman invaders like the rest of Greece.

Instead, it was the principality of the Venetian Republic for centuries, before being passed down to the French and the British.

This made Corfu part of Western Europe, as reflected in much of its architectural, gastronomic, and linguistic heritage that makes you feel as if you are in an independent country somewhere between Greece and Italy.

The significance of this relatively small island for Greece is large – the country’s first head of state was a Corfiote Count, while the first modern Greek university, Fine Arts School, and Philharmonic Orchestra all originated here.

The relevance of culture, arts, and class is most easily seen in the islands’ royal and aristocratic mansions, country manors, and elegant townhouses which still dominate the architectural landscape.  

Don’t miss the island’s capital (also called Corfu), the Achillion Palace, the Mon Repos Palace, the Venetian fortifications, the beaches of Paleokastritsa, Canal’d Amour, Porto Timoni and Agios Georgios.  

The southern part of the island has been turned into a nightlife destination for (mostly) British youth, especially Kavos, so expect loud parties well until dawn if you stay in the south.

Map of Corfu

Map of Corfu
Corfu Map

How to Get to Corfu by Air

Corfu’s international airport makes this island very easy to reach from Athens, Thessaloniki and many European cities.

Plane on approach to Corfu Airport, Greece

Several daily flights from Athens take an hour, an hour and the airport is very close to the Old Town of Corfu.

🛫 How to Get from Athens to Corfu by Car, Bus, Ferry, and Plane

How to Get to Corfu by Car and/or by Ferry

Corfu is just a few nautical miles away from mainland Greece and its port of Igoumenitsa. Dozens of daily ferries make crossings to Corfu town in less than 2 hours (€ 5.60 one-way).

ferry hopper banner

This means that you can drive to Corfu from anywhere in mainland Greece by taking the car ferry over to the island from Igoumenitsa.

Ferries between Italy and Corfu via the Adriatic Sea are available during the summer.

Island Hopping

Corfu’s location is super convenient for island hopping around the Ionian Sea. Depending on the time available, you can take the southbound route and explore the islands of:

🏝️ Paxoi (Paxos)(where the picture-perfect Netflix series “Maestro“ is filmed)

🏝️ Lefkada (for the cliffs and the Porto Katsiki beach)

🏝️ Ithaca (for the serene atmosphere and mythological heritage)

🏝️ Kefalonia (where Myrtos Beach is, one of the most photographed places in Greece)

🏝️ Zakynthos (for the renowned Navagio-Shipwreck Beach)

🏝️ Kythira (for the natural beauty, remoteness, and the ferry to Athens)

Paxos is among Greece’s most picturesque islands and can be easily visited during a boat trip excursion from Corfu.

Getting Around Corfu: Local Transportation

Corfu is home to almost 100,000 locals, and 40,000 of them live in the main city. This makes the island’s road network developed and well-maintained, so driving around Corfu is not difficult.

Hiring a Car, Quad/ATV, or Scooter

As on any other island in Greece, a car is always the best option for exploring the surroundings.

Photo of the front entrance of Drive 46 Car & Motorbike Rental, Moraitika, Corfu, Greece
Drive 46 Car & Motorbike Rental, Moraitika, Corfu, Greece

Buses tend to be accurate and frequent, but will not allow for stops anywhere you want to stop and explore – a village, a sea-view cliff, a beach, a tavern, or kafeneion.

There are many car rentals around the island, both international and local ones, offering cars from €40 a day (ATVs from €30, scooters from €25).

🛵 Corfu Scooter Rental: The Complete 2024 Guide

🏍️ Quad Rental Corfu: The Complete Guide [2024]

Walking and Hiking

Corfu is a rambler’s paradise. One of the longest trails in Greece is in Corfu, spanning the island from North to South in a 220 km long trail that can be a holiday in itself.

Section of the Corfu Trail, Corfu Island
Section of the Corfu Trail, Corfu Island

The Corfu Trail was inaugurated in 2001 and focuses on natural and geological beauty, so expect stunning landscapes and scenic views.

Beside the Trail, several dozen other hiking circular paths allow for exploration of the island.

My favorite hike is the Paleokastritsa – Lakones – Bella vista route offering a moderate 7 km/2.5-hour walk above the azure Ionian Sea.

Public Bus System

Corfu City has its own intra-city public bus system that connects the major urban landmarks with the Old Town, the Port, and the Airport (tickets between €1.2-1.8).

Bus in Corfu, Greece
Bus in Corfu, Greece

Inter-city and suburban buses provide a decent network of connections between the island’s beaches, landmarks, villages, and cities (tickets between €1.6-8).

Best Time of Year to Visit Corfu

High Season (June – August)

Although Corfu is not as busy as Greece’s hotbeds of tourism activity like Mykonos or Santorini, it gets quite busy in July and August. This is the best time for swimming and visiting local festivals, though.

Shoulder Season (April – May, September – October)

September is the best month to visit as the sea and days are warm, while the nights remain pleasantly refreshing.

The school holidays are over too, so the island is left to its adult visitors and the locals tend to be more relaxed knowing the season is behind them.

Narrow streets of Corfu Old Town, Corfu Island
Narrow streets of Corfu Old Town, Corfu Island

Corfu is by far the most beautiful island to experience the Orthodox Easter in Greece. The Corfu town Easter festival coupled with the blooming spring is a sight like no other.

April or May are usually the months when Orthodox Easter falls.

Low Season (November – March)

Wintertime Corfu does get its share of rain and chilly winds, while most of the tourist infrastructure will be closed until late April.

If sunny weather is not your imperative, it is not a bad time to explore the city of Corfu. Do not expect a swimming holiday, though.

MonthAvg. Temp. (°C)Avg. Temp. (°F)Min. Temp. (°C)Min. Temp. (°F)Max. Temp. (°C)Max. Temp. (°F)Rainy Days

How long to stay in Corfu Island?

You could see most of Corfu’s blissful nature, beaches, and lifestyle in 4-5 days, but that does not include relaxation and swimming time. A 7-day stay is ideal.

Corfu Old Town, Corfu Island
Corfu Old Town, Corfu Island

Corfu’s Top Tourist Attractions

Corfu is on Greece’s top 5 destination list for its pristine beaches, lush nature, traditional villages, historical heritage, and island culture.

Unlike the barren landscape of the Cyclades Islands, the Ionian Islands boast thick forests and pine trees right next to the sea.

Expect insanely beautiful beach settings where greenery touches soft sands and gives way to the azure Ionian Sea.

Paleokastritsa Beach

Paleokastritsa Bay, Corfu, Greece
Paleokastritsa Bay, Corfu, Greece

A series of small sandy coves surrounded by olive groves and high cliffs make this my absolute all-time favorite place in Corfu.

There are plenty of beach and cliff bars around, together with a monastery, an aquarium, vantage points, a fortress and elegant accommodation to keep you relaxed and content for several days without ever leaving the place.

Canal D’Amour/Sidari Canal

This place is as busy as it is picturesque. No wonder, as a narrow canal ending in a strip of sand surrounded by two small cliffs adds to the super-cute character of the place.

Canal d'Amour, Sidari, Corfu
Canal d’Amour, Sidari, Corfu

I love it for the nearby caves and lunar landscape that resembles that of Sarakiniko Beach in Milos.

Agios Georgios Beach

Large horseshoe-shaped beach on the western side, perfect for families. Sunbeds and umbrellas are available for rent, water sports, and spectacular sunset views over the Ionian Sea.

Agios Georgios Beach, Corfu
Agios Georgios Beach, Corfu

Porto Timoni Beach

Grab a boat from Agios Georgios to reach Porto Timoni, a set of 2 pebbly beaches separated by a lush green ridge in the middle and a cliff overlooking the open seas.

Porto Timoni Beach, Corfu Island, Greece
Porto Timoni Beach, Corfu Island, Greece

The beach is not organized, so pack all you need for the day.

You can also reach it after a 20-minute downhill hike from the village of Afionas.

Major Historical Sites and Museums

Corfu Old Town is a treasure trove of historical sites. There are three Corfu Palaces, numerous villages to explore, as well as the Monastery of Paleokastritsa.

Corfu Old Town

Corfu’s Old Town is a destination in itself and make sure to book a 2-night stay there when visiting the island.

Corfu Town, Corfu Island, Greece
Corfu Town, Corfu Island, Greece

The rich history, the architecture and doorways of the town’s narrow streets, and buzz of daily life will make you think of much bigger cities.

Don’t miss the:

📷 pedestrian Liston Street with cafe-lined colonnades,

📷 Church of Saint Spyridon, dedicated to the island’s protector,

📷 Old Venetian Fortress followed by the New Fortress (erected in 1577),

📷 Archaeological Museum of Corfu,

📷 islets of Pontikonisi (Mouse Island), and Vlacheraina for its Byzantine Chapel and 17th-century Holy Monastery of Panagia Vlacherna.

Corfu Palaces

Corfu has 3 Royal palaces, a staggering number for such a small place.

1. The Palace of St. Michael and St. George

This palace was built in 1824 as a residence of the High Commissioner during the British protectorate.

Palace of St Michael and St George, Corfu
Palace of St Michael and St George, Corfu

It passed into the hands of the Greek State as an official Royal palace of the crown. Nowadays, it houses the Corfu Museum of Asian Art.

2. Mon Repos Palace

This residence was also constructed during British rule in 1831. It later became a summer palace to the King of Greece.

It is known internationally as the place where Prince Phillip, the late Duke of Edinburgh was born in 1921.

3. Achillion Palace

This palace was built for the Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) of Austria-Hungary in the late 19th century. Now it’s a museum with panoramic views towards Corfu town.

Monastery of Paleokastritsa (Theotokos)

A large and colorful monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary has stood on top of Paleokastritsa since 1225, making it one of the oldest in Corfu.

Monastery of Paleokastritsa, Corfu Island
Monastery of Paleokastritsa, Corfu Island

It’s definitely the one with the best panoramic view over the sea.  

Corfu Villages

Corfu is an island of many villages. Most of the coastal ones turned to tourism, but the mountainous ones keep a lot of the traditional way of life alive and so are very much worth a visit.

Sinarades Village, Corfu
Sinarades Village, Corfu

These include iKasiopi, Lakones, Sinarades, and Sidari, plus the 3 settlements on Mt. Pantokrator – Strinilas, Spartilas, and Sokraki for sweeping views of the island.  

Corfu Cuisine: What to Eat in Corfu

🍽️ Sofrito – beef stew with potatoes

🍽️ Pastitsada – beef stew with pasta

🍽️ Tsitsibira – local ginger beer, not made anywhere else in Greece

🍽️ Kumquat Liqueur – a citrus-fruit digestive

Emergency and Useful Numbers

Any Emergency: 112

Police: 100

Fire Department: 199

Ambulance: 166

Tourist Police: 171

Corfu General Hospital: +30 26610 88200

Medical Clinic (Paleokastritsas National Road): +30 26610 36044 

Police Station (Corfu): +30 26610 39509

Tourist Police (San Rocco Square, Corfu): +30 26610 39294 

Greek Tourist Organization (Iak. Polila Street): +30 26610 37638

Bus Service (KTEL): +30 26610 37186

Corfu Urban Bus Service: +30 26610 31595

Corfu International Airport: +30 2661 089602