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One Week in Corfu

When I first told people that we were vacationing in Corfu, Greece, I definitely got mixed reactions depending on who went. Greece is Greece and no one would argue about its stunning natural beauty, but Corfu has a party reputation like Ibiza in Spain or Kuta Beach in Bali (I’ll never forget this blog post by Adventurous Kate). I kept an open mind about the place since I know without a car you can often ‘get stuck’ on one area and we weren’t going to have that problem. Plus this was my first time in Greece, so I was more than excited to add a new country to place I’ve visited.

Package resort holidays aimed at getting English-speaking young-ins drunk on the beach are generally not my kind of place though a great cocktail and a some dancing is just fine by me. Corfu is also home to the infamous ‘Pink Palace’ a party hostel in Agios Giordios, a place a few of my friends visited during their student traveler years. They recounted some stories that would make you want to bleach the island if you heard them, or at least the Pink Palace.

All that in mind, we were invited to a wedding of a friend who used to live in Florence which coinciding in August, is a normally ‘dead’ month for work in Italy.  While this is high-season everywhere in Southern Europe, during our stay, the island never felt ‘too full’ or crowded, which was a big surprise to me. We boarded a Ryanair Flight from Rome (thank god you can now bring a purse or small bad with no extra fee) where we spent the weekend of ferragosto (August 15), and headed to the second largest island of the Ionian sea, a place the locals call’ Kerkyra’ to see all that it had to offer.

Which Area in Corfu to Stay in?

Corfu is not a tiny island and most people either choose to stay in a specific area, or like us “hop around” to experience the most of Corfu which is the better idea. In order to do this, I thought a week was perfect and it is cheaper than you think. We started off  on the East coast, than Corfu Town, and ending in the West coast around Paleokastritsa. By doing this we were able to really experience a lot of different beaches, restaurants and had fun mixing up pure beach relaxation with night’s out on the town.

Car, Scooter or Four-wheeler?

Corfu has been in the hands in many empires, which makes visiting the island that much more interesting. The center of Corfu town has a definitive Venetian feel while the expansive coastline seems like an exotic world away. The variety was one of the many reasons that made this place such an enticing treat for us as we got to know ‘her’ on a closer basis. While many suggested renting a scooter or four-wheeler, my gut instinct said to rent a car instead and when we got there I was happy we did when I saw the roads.

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 Vintage Public buses in Corfu, how these made it through the tiny towns we saw is anyone’s guess!

Corfu’s winding streets and steep hills in the middle of the island can be fairly dangerous for the nervous driver. The scooters and four-wheelers zipping around the island were often rented by tourists who seemed unsure as seen as they veered off the wider roads. A car (albeit a small one) was the better option for my squeamish self and we were able to get to most place in under a half hour.

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 Tiny road in the middle of a small town in Corfu, saw lots of ‘nonni’ – our car somehow remained unscathed.

Exploring Corfu East

When we arrived in Corfu, getting our rental car was smoother than we thought despite having it filled with only 1/4th of a tank of gas. We actually drove back to the airport, thinking they made a mistake but instead were told to simply return the car with only 1/4th of gas when we leave. That was really strange and a lot more difficult than just filling it up before returning, but when in Corfu..  Our hotel in the west coast of Corfu was a very simple place called Hotel Aurora, midway from Corfu town to Kavos. Very quiet with its own pool and private beach for guest use. I was so happy to see the air-conditioning when we arrived, I almost teared up – the humidity was no joke. Blue skies, hot sun, I loved that our first few days were going to be focused on relaxing, eating and getting my tan on in this beautiful place.

View from Corfu Aurora hotel, not bad! 

First things first, food! We grabbed lunch at the little bar overlooking the beach, with a view that would take your breath away.  The woman taking our order was so funny and casual, she gave us a good first impression of island life and the people. As soon as we ordered our Greek sandwiches’ and some local wine and beer, we picked the most romantic vantage point, nothing seemed like it go wrong. Well, that was until we met the devil’ himself in the form of local wasps, lurking in the bushes nearby. I have to admit that the one issue I had in Corfu (in mid-August mind you) were these dreadful wasps. They seemed to always hide in the best places, with the best views which unfortunately means that they have taste! Whether we were on the beach, having an aperitivo, or reaching for the morning honey, where we were, the wasps followed. I suppose all part of the ‘fun’ though I did get stung my second day there. Just something worth noting.

The more savvy taverna restaurants we visited had a special incense or candle to smoke these little bastards away.  Which we appreciated. The private beach at the hotel was very small but nice, though an Italian family definitely robbed all of the chairs our first morning, cleverly leaving their towels draped on them as they had a three-hour lunch. I sort of felt bad when I gingerly moved two of their towels and took over the chairs but it didn’t stop me. I know that probably is a huge no-no but get real, but ‘reserving’ the free chairs while you play at the pool and eat is not gonna happen near when the beach is made of rocks.

That night we found a taverna on the Main Road Lefkimmi {Chlomotiana Village} with a view overlooking the ocean, high up upon a hill. We hungrily sampled fried feta cheese, meats, local wine and shared too many shots of ouzo with the owner. He was very eager to share his local bew ;-).

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Archontiko restaurant, come here for dinner and an incredible sunset

The next day, we hopped in the car to head a little further south towards Agios Nikolaos, Lefkimi , stopping quite often to check out the view, which naturally being an island in Greece, is pretty flippen fantastic! Boats take center stage here, older ones managed by locals like this one below and your fancier yacht or sailboat, hopping from one side of the island to the other.

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We found a taverna to have lunch, Savvas Fish Taverna, and lo and behold, they too, had a private beach. With no one there. That looked like paradise lost. I should mention that to use the beach, chairs and umbrellas was completely FREE? This felt almost too good to be true or this merely means that I have lived in Italy too long where in August you can expect to pay 30 euros a day for a chair.

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Can you imagine a beach in August like this being totally empty? I couldn’t believe it either

Lunch was perfect, your typical greek salad with a large slice of feta hanging out on top, local white wine, garlic bread covered in cheese and fried ham and cheese in filo pastry. The view was of the beach below which was once again to me, almost too good to be true. But for once, it actually was.

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After lunch we headed to the southern tip, Kavos which to be honest wasn’t that impressive to me. I suppose this was the area that I had heard about with tons of places advertising English breakfasts for a low price, t-shirt stands, bars and larger resorts. Not my favorite area of the island to be honest but there was some fun people watching from the beach. I’m sure we didn’t see all there was to Kavos but I’d love to hear other traveler’s thoughts on this area of the island. Where should we have gone?

Exploring Corfu West

We headed over to the west side of Corfu to have lunch and explore Glyfada beach. Stunning and shaped like a horseshoe, this blue flag beach is considered one of the best on the island. After dropping  6 euros for two chairs and an umbrella on the beach. Take that Italy! We spent the morning swimming and soaking up that beautiful sun, with factor 30 sunscreen mind you, before finally stopping for lunch beach-side at a local taverna (In front of the Glyfada beach hotel).

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The carb-lover in me was in a garlic nirvana when we found the best garlic bread on the island, with the garlic baked directly in the bread which went perfectly with a fresh salad, club sandwich (I couldn’t help myself) and ending with the richest, most decadent slice of baklava (rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey.). The waiter who previously was a little cold, changed moods dramatically when we ordered it, beaming as he claimed this treat ‘one of the best on the island, gives you energy’ he told us as he hurried off to take care of the other customers. The key to happiness is apparently a huge slice of baklava. 

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 Exploring Corfu Town

As soon as we left our seaside hotel and headed to Corfu town, I wasn’t sure really what to expect. Thinking island life and small towns, I was so impressed when we arrived at our second hotel. Corfu Mare Boutique and Corfu town itself. Since the wedding took place here, we wanted to spend a few days here and this was the priciest part of our stay, but also one of the most memorable. The hotel itself was modern, beautiful and something out of L.A. nights. Glittery pool, hammock and indoor/outdoor bar, beautiful modern rooms and a wonderful breakfast. It was about a 20-25 minute walk to Corfu town though we easily found a parking lot near the town for the ‘steep’ price of 3 euros for the entire day/night.

corfumareMy advice is to plan more than one visit to this town, the vibe is so different from day to night, like many charming Southern European towns. The port gives off a lovely light in late-evening and it is quite easy to get lost in Corfu Town’s windy streets. The more we discovered here, the more we liked. You can stock up on local treats like Kumquat, an orange-colored sweet fruit, often made into candies and liquors which was brought to Europe from China in the late 18th century. Stop for a ‘frappe’ all over the island or iced espresso at trendy Cafe Bristol in town, these cold coffees seem to be in everyone’s hands when we were there. Yet another reason that I knew I was going to love this place, I prefer to live life in a semi-caffeine induced haze.

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You definitely don’t want to miss the The Esplanade (Spianada), between the Old Fortress and Old Town, rumored to be one of the best in Greece. Stop by the old royal Palace, which now happens to be the Museum of Asian Art, built by the French under Napoleon to resemble the Rue du Rivoli in Paris. We visited the old fortress which was built by the Venetians in 1546 on the site of a Byzantine castle. The lovely Church of St. George looks like a Doric temple against the stunning backdrop of the island. I definitely felt like I could have used another afternoon to explore local sights.

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Temple from the Gods that was actually built by the British!

Our favorite meal in Corfu town was at a little wine bar near the old port, the romantic and charming Salto. They served up delicious bite-sized treats like mini-kebabs with yogurt sauce, fried cheese with a fruit reduction, and a cheese & meat plate. After having wine that was, well just ok, we finally found one that we really liked, a Sauvignon blanc blend that paired perfectly with our meal. Of course an after dinner walk is more than necessary, also to see Corfu’s streets filled with people at any time of night.

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Exploring Corfu North-West

We headed to the North-west side of the island, saving the ‘best for last’ as we heard the beaches in this area were like no other. Our third hotel was the rustic Aphrodite Studios, which almost felt a bit like being an Italian agriturismo. Simple rooms and wood furniture, while not luxurious: it was perfect, clean and close to where we wanted to be. Plus 135 euros for three nights was pretty darn awesome. We were really excited to explore Paleokastritsa, a bay enclosed by two mountains with beautiful water.

paleoPaleokastritsa, too many people but oh so gorgeous!

When we arrived, it was full of people, clearly this is a very popular place. We ended up spontaneously getting on a boat (around 10-12 eyros p/p) to head to a private beach which was nice (despite some wasps invading the place) before heading back and moving on to another area that was a little less filled with people.

We later discovered the old village of Afionas (first settled in 6th century BC) which was a real treat. High up on a hill, it looks down at the Agios Georgios Bay, the panoramic views from this place can’t be beat. I suggest hiking around the village and getting a drink, not dinner, at Anemos Taverna which has views like the one below.

corfusoc21My margarita never tasted so good, Anemos Tavernagreat views, bad service

That night, we ate at a really special poolside restaurant, once a luxury villa built in the 60’s, called Akron, back in Paleokastritsa. The kind of place you almost expect to see in an old movie with film stars leaning against the island bar against the beautifully lit night sky.

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This place was all class and fine dining, live jazz serenaded us while we enjoyed grilled octopus, mussels with ginger, peperoncino and garlic, tuna steak and pea puree plus a rather tasty steak.

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Come to mommy 

Our last adventure was discovering the area around famed Canal d’Amour near Sidari beach, I think every romantic place is required to have some sort of myth where if you kiss, touch, declare love or lock something to something and Corfu joins the trend. We ended up getting lost but eventually found this idyllic area, with unique rock formations that form a series of wonderful coves and canals. We started at a small rock cove beach where we ended up hiring a boat for only 10 euros, just the two of us, to visit the famous ‘channel of love’ . Our boat guy was just amazing, an English teacher during the winter months while taking tourists on his boat during the summer, he made sure we saw the best of the area. Of course we swam through the (very crowded) canal and made our way back onto the boat to visit more of the area surrounding  Cape Drástis.

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If you are looking for stunning beaches but less crazy crowds (a must for me) I would actually skip touristy Sidari and go to Longás aka Perouládes, the ultimate “sunset beach” along the large reddish cliffs. The beach is narrow and you have a steep walk to get there, but trust me it is worth it.

corfubeach3 corfubeach4There is also a really fabulous restaurant called ‘7th heaven’ (made me think of the tv show when I saw that..) Panorama restaurant which is a popular place to visit with many arriving via taxi from Sidari. Stunning sea views and share swings. My last meal with chicken souvlaki (kebabs) and our last garlic bread made me never want to leave Corfu, this island has me won over, one beach and slice of garlic bread at a time.

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We also visited a last beach on the North area of the island, I’ll call it ‘our little secret’ since I can’t remember the name or how we got there, it was an accidental but prize finding. I would have loved to have discovered more of the north-east coast but we ran out of time. I honestly can say that this holiday was one of the only times that I have truly rested during a vacation. We spent many afternoons just reading and swimming, our only plans dinner and walks along the beach or in town. It’s definitely motivated me to not ‘over plan’ as I tend to do (I’m a blogger!) and sit back and smell the Kumquat. Corfu is absolutely amazing, budget-friendly with many beaches charging nothing or very little for a chair/umbrella, we always found parking in the height of August and restaurants were cheaper than Italy. The perfect seaside escape and I really hope to come back one day. Ps. If you made it this far reading this extremely long post, bravo!

Have you been to Corfu? What are your thoughts on this dynamic island? What did I miss? 


How To Get There

It is quite easy to get to Corfu, with several budget airlines like Ryanair, Air Berlin, Easyjet, Wizzair flying into Ioannis Kapodistrias” airport (CFU) (IATA) all day long. You can get a shuttle or a taxi to the main town, if you rent a car, expect to pay no less than 335 for a week with a smaller, budget automobile. We went with Thrifty and besides the 1/4th of a tank surprise, we had no issues with our car or with the company.

Where to Eat

Archontiko, Main Road Lefkimmi- Chlomotiana Village, 49080, Greece

Savvas Taverna, Corfu 490 80, Greece (private beach), website.

Corfu Town: Salto Wine Bar, 23 Donzelot, Corfu Town 49100, Greece. One of my favorites!

Akron, Corfu 490 83, Greece +30 2663 041226website

Panorama Restaurant 7th Heaven, Above Logas ‘sunset beach’, Peroulades 49081, Greece

I also recommend trying the local ‘ginger beer’ as a ‘gingerholic’ this has to be mentioned. It’s sharp and flavorful and locals call it Tsitsibeera.

For a Drink

Anemos Taverna, Afionas, Greece (north-west).

Where to Stay

Corfu Aurora, Agios Ioannis Peristeron, Greecearound 66 euros a night

Corfu Mare Boutique, Nikolaou Zervou, Kerkira, Greecearound 260 euros for two nights.

Aphrodite’s Studios, address (North-west) Paleokastritsa 490 83, Greece. Price: Around 135 euros for three nights. facebook page

Check out this Telegraph Corfu Town guide. 

Don’t Miss

Unfortunately we weren’t able to visit the Achilleon Palace which is something I really wanted to see.  This palace was built in Corfu by the Empress of Austria Elisabeth of Bavaria, also known as Sissi, after a suggestion by Austrian Consul Alexander von Watzberg. The mythical hero Achilles inspired the palace and Corfu also happened to be Elizabeth’s favorite vacation destination. I also would have loved to see the Theotókou monastery in Paleokastrítsa. I also highly recommend a boat ride, you can find the opportunity anywhere you see a port, especially int he more populated areas in the island. We paid around 12 euros per person for around an hour, very worth it!

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13 Comment

  1. Reply
    Maxine
    30.09.2014 at 15:40

    Amazing post! The photos are beautiful and the information better than a travel book! Glad you enjoyed it! And thank so much for such an informative post and sharing it with us!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      30.09.2014 at 15:45

      Ciao Maxine, thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate the support. To be honest I had a hard time doing research on this island which is why this post took forever to write (had to give proper suggestions and not mess up the names and whatnot), the fact that you see how much work this is makes you awesome! Have you been to Corfu?

  2. Reply
    Gil
    30.09.2014 at 20:51

    This post is a work of art. It was long, but I read it all and found it very interesting and informative. Pictures are so beautiful. I bet you could sell this to a travel agency. Also, love the format with large type and spacing as it makes it so much easier to read.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      01.10.2014 at 9:39

      Hello Gil, thank you! That is so nice of you to say. I had such a hard time researching this trip that I knew I needed to write something a little clearer for future travelers. I sure wish a travel agency or visit Greece would have been more supportive, would have been great ;-). I reached out to the tourism boards for more info to add to the article but no-one responded..

  3. Reply
    Robin
    01.10.2014 at 1:13

    Loved your post, both for the details and tips for places I haven’t been, and for the sweet reminders of the few I had visited. The one day off a cruise ship was certainly not enough, but we did get to walk through the Old Fort and some parts of Corfu town…..before I bailed to rest my weary feet at a cafe in the shade and people watch with a snack and a Greek beer. It sounds like you found that tiny shop that should be called “More Things Made with Kumquats Than You Ever Imagined.” My friend bought a kumquat liqueur and I bought jelly and candies. Like you, I missed the Achilleon Palace….just one more reason to go back again! We did make a stop at the Fish Spa to let the fishies nibble the dead skin off our feet…that was a hoot!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      01.10.2014 at 9:41

      Ciao Robin, thank you so much for your comment! I’m happy you at least got to explore the city for one day, it really is a special place isn’t it? We did find that shop since my boyfriend is obsessed with these kinds of syrupy candies/liquors so we of course had to pick up a few and some Turkish delight while we were at it (naturally it was called something different there… ;-). I saw the fish spa a few times, it looked like fun but I am super squeamish when it comes to fish touching me, perhaps I should give it a try sometime. I highly recommend coming back, renting a car and heading North-West and East, some truly beautiful spots on this island.

  4. Reply
    cindy
    05.10.2014 at 4:51

    Well written and interesting post on what was surely a fantastic trip! I’ve never been to Corfu, but I would love to go there and it brings back memories of our own Greek Islands trip. I had been to Italy/Spain so often that by the time I went to Greece with my Greek hubby(first time for us both), I realized we were really in for a very different kind of vacation. I found that the accommodations outside of Athens varied and you could find really great deals on the islands. And the food was a huge surprise, everything we ate was extremely fresh, tasty, and reasonably priced. The views were all amazing-from where ever you were. It had the right combination of culture, beaches, and history for a very nice holiday. I loved reading all about your trip, it seems that you really made a great trip out of it and got to relax to the max!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      06.10.2014 at 13:19

      Hello Cindy, thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for reading the article. I think I was expecting a much more ‘touristy’ and overpriced feel being that it was August in Southern Europe but I was honestly SHOCKED by the low prices and non-crowded beaches in Corfu. We also ate really well, i can’t get enough of the classic Greek Salad and chicken skewers, and don’t even get me started on that garlic bread. This was one of the best trips I have ever taken, the perfect mix of relax/adventure and romance ;-). I hope one day to be back!

  5. Reply
    Bea
    05.05.2015 at 21:47

    Hi, my husband and i are planning a week holiday to Corfu. Were there any towns/beaches that you wished you had stayed in? If you could go back for one week, where would you go? We would like to split our time up between 2 places, 4 nights each.

  6. Reply
    Gerrica
    30.10.2015 at 14:48

    Ciao! I’m currently staying in the Pink Palace. I loved all of your info here about Corfu island. Are any of your suggestions near me? Because the pink palace is in a closed residential area.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      30.10.2015 at 15:15

      Hello Gerrica, the bar where I got the ginger margarita should be near you. Have fun!

      1. Reply
        Gerrica
        01.11.2015 at 10:40

        Thank you! (:

  7. Reply
    Charlie
    14.07.2016 at 11:15

    Thank you for this blog post – I was considering a week in Corfu with my fiancee and I think this has just made up my mind, it looks wonderful!

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