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Photograph: Cristian Mircea Balate // Shutterstock.comCORFU

The 16 best things to do on Corfu

From a pedestrian-only old town to stunning beaches and ornate palaces, these are the best things to do on Corfu

Written by
Kate Lloyd
&
Marissa Tajada
Written by
Heidi Fuller-Love
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Corfu is a little different to the other beloved Greek islands (geography plays its part), but this slice of paradise is inundated with annual visitors for good reason. The landscape is luxurious and leafy, brimming with olive trees and fruit groves, giving Corfu a verdant feel that is easy to get lost in. The good kind of lost, obviously, although the ever-present shimmering cerulean of the Ionian Sea means you are never truly lost.

What are the best things to do on Corfu? Well, be on Corfu for a start, but there is plenty to get your teeth into on this beautiful island. Gorgeous architecture, stunning walks, idyllic beaches and ornate palaces headline, but the beauty of Corfu arguably lies in the spaces. You’re going to love this place. Greece at its absolute finest.

Best things to do on Corfu

The Old Town
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Vince Smith

1. The Old Town

What is it? A Unesco-listed old town with some of the most photogenic corners on the Greek islands. 

Why go? What makes Corfu so beautiful is its confluence of world influences. Admire the Italian architecture, peaceful squares, towering spires and sturdy stone medieval walls that seem to paint a movie set like a backdrop – all ready for exploring. The architectural styles seem to span from all corners of Europe, including the very British town square called The Spianada. The cricket field here is the only one in Greece. A row of cafes lined along The Liston resembles Paris’ Rue de Rivoli. Meanwhile, the Venetian influences are tangled in a web of tiny walkable lanes where colourful bougainvillaea hangs over painted walls and tumbles off terracotta roofs.

Corfu Trail
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Corfu Trail

What is it? A long hiking trail that meanders 220km from one end of Corfu to the other.

Why go? If you want to really get to know Corfu’s gorgeous landscape, studded with mountains and lined with beaches and lagoons, this trail has you covered. Traversing the whole thing will take a bit of time – at least eight days – however, the stunning and diverse topography makes it well worth the walk.

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Church of Saint Spyridon
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Dimitris Kamaras

3. Church of Saint Spyridon

What is it? With a red-painted bell tower and a spectacular interior, this church is one of Corfu’s most colourful landmarks.

Why go? The red-domed belltower will pique your curiosity from afar. Inside you can admire the final resting place of St Spyridon, the island’s patron saint. His mummified remains lie in an ornate sarcophagus. According to local legend, the saint’s slippers are down to threads because he walks into town in the middle of the night.  

Old Fortress and New Fortress
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Slip

4. Old Fortress and New Fortress

What is it? The Old Fortress and New Fortress seem to watch over the Old Town, each a fascinating piece of the island’s history. 

Why go? Both offer panoramic sea views, so be ready to snap photos. The Old Fortress sits on a rocky islet built during the Byzantine era. Don’t be fooled by the name, as the New Fort also happens to be very old. It dates back to the sixteenth century, built by the Venetians.

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Love Canal in Sidari
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Paul Stephenson

5. Love Canal in Sidari

What is it? This swimmable picturesque canal (and its beach) is one of the most romantic places on the island.

Why go? This wave-worn rocky corner of Corfu attracts the romantics visiting the island. That’s because legend has it that couples who swim between the sea walls here stay together forever. For even more romance, hold hands with your significant other as you take in Sidari’s legendary sunset.

6. Dancing Tree Farm

What is it? A rustic haven where you can chill and enjoy a range of holistic programmes.

Why go? Lush and green for most of the year-round, Corfu is the ideal spot for a healing retreat. At the heart of Arillas, one of the island’s remoter villages, this healing haven offers a plethora of programmes and workshops, ranging from dance and yoga to chanting asanas and learning about healing plants, designed to help you connect with nature whilst reconnecting with your inner self.

 

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Diapontia Islands
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

7. Diapontia Islands

What is it? A trio of idyllic islands within easy reach of Agios Stefanos on Corfu’s northwest coast.

Why go? With clear-as-glass seas and endless dune-studded beaches, the three Diapontia islands - Erikoussa, Othoni and Mathraki - are the perfect place to live out those Robinson Crusoe fantasies. With only three fish tavernas and a handful of hotels, the smallest island Mathraki is best for getting off the beaten track, whilst Othonoi (the largest island at just six kilometres long) has shops, hotels, and even a police station.

 

Paleokastritsa Monastery
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Michael Button

8. Paleokastritsa Monastery

What is it? A thirteenth-century pastel-painted monastery set on a clifftop overlooking the sea.

Why go? The stunning views over the entire island are just one reason to check out this religious site. At the museum, significant icons are on display. It still runs as a monastery. You can see monks go about their daily business while you hang around here.

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Asian Art Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/John Kannenberg

9. Asian Art Museum

What is it? The Asian Art Museum houses a vast collection of Asian art and artefacts collected by two Greek diplomats.

Why go? If you love art, this unique Greek island museum (housed in a former palace) is definitely worth visiting. You’ll find eclectic exhibits from China, Japan, Tibet, the Gandhara Kingdom (now Eastern Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan), Cambodia and Thailand.

Durrell Day Tour
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

10. Durrell Day Tour

What is it? A full-day tour of sites associated with the hit TV series, The Durrells.

Why go? Fans of animal-loving Gerry, literary-minded Larry and other eccentric members of the Durrell family (who lived in Corfu from 1936 until the outbreak of WWII in 1939) will love this tour. Highlights include wandering the kantounia alleys of Corfu’s Old Town seeking out the spots where the hit series was filmed, and visiting the White House - now a fascinating museum - where Lawrence Durrell once lived with his wife, Nancy.

 

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Pontikonisi
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Alex Alishevskikh

11. Pontikonisi

What is it? Pontikonisi islet is one of the most peaceful spots in Corfu, featuring a small monastery and chapel.

Why go? If the tourist crowds are getting to you, head to Pontikonisi at the southern tip of Kanoni. The tiny islet’s name means ‘Mouse Island’ in Greek. Here you’ll find the seventeenth-century Venetian Monastery of Vlacherna – it’s a beacon of calm amongst a quiet landscape of trees. It’s an iconic spot that you might recognise from postcards.

12. Ambelonas Estate

What is it? A sprawling country estate where they make some of the island’s best wines.

Why go? Already praised by Homer in The Odyssey, Corfu has been producing wine for centuries. One of a new generation of vintners that are using the island’s skopelitiko and kakotrigis grapes to produce crisp whites and full-bodied reds, Ambelonas Estate has its own wine museum where you can learn more about the art of making the island’s grape juice, before sampling some in the estate’s cosy restaurant.

 

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Mon Repos
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ava Babili

13. Mon Repos

What is it? This stately nineteenth-century home was built for the British High Commissioner Sir Frederick Adam. It was also where author Lawrence Durrell lived in the 1930s.

Why go? To see the British influence on the island. The Duke of Edinburgh was born at Mon Repos.

Korission Lagoon
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

14. Korission Lagoon

What is it? Dubbed Korission Lake by locals, this five-kilometre-long stretch of wetland on Corfu’s rugged southwest coast is an ecological treasure.

Why go? Covering 6,000 acres of dunes, cedar forests and golden sand beaches, this vast wetland is a prime nesting site for rare flora and fauna. Come here to spot pretty pink flamingos, cormorants and Mediterranean turtles, or just sunbathe in the shadow of skyscraper-sized sand dunes overlooking the pristine golden sands of Issos Beach.

 

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Agios Gordios
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/sten m

15. Agios Gordios

What is it? Agios Gordios is a coastal village on the west coast of Corfu known for its views and charm.

Why go? A combination of Corfu’s lush mountains, olive groves, sandy beaches and pastel-hued buildings can all be found in this quaint, quiet and traditional village which connects to three smaller villages (Kato Garouna, Pentati and Siaredes) at the foot of Panteleimonas Mountain. Best for walks with a view and watching local life pass by.

Achillion Palace
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Elizabeth Ellis

16. Achillion Palace

Temporarily closed

What is it? Designed in the nineteenth century to be over-the-top and as palatial as Viennese palaces could be, this palace has held just as many glamorous roles since.

Why go? Located near Gouvia, this palace – now a museum – has several claims to fame. If you are a James Bond fan, you’ll recognize it as the casino in ‘For Your Eyes Only’. It has royal connections too. It’s the birthplace of Prince Phillip, but before that, it was constructed as a royal retreat for Empress Elisabeth of Austria. 

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