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Last updated on June 20th, 2024 at 01:39 pm

About Corfu

Corfu, or Kerkyra in Greek, is our homeland and one of Greece’s most beautiful and significant islands, located off the northwest Greek coast.

Its rich history spans ancient Greece, Roman, Byzantium, Venetian, French, and British periods, all of which are reflected in its diverse architecture, from Venetian fortresses to British neoclassical buildings and Byzantine churches.

Corfu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its winding streets and pastel-colored buildings.

The island is also renowned for its stunning beaches, including Paleokastritsa and Glyfada.

The island’s culture blends Greek, Italian, and British influences, evident in its vibrant traditions, festivals, and delicious cuisine, featuring both Greek classics and local specialties.

Nature lovers will enjoy its lush landscapes of olive groves and vineyards.

With activities like water sports, hiking, and boat tours, Corfu is a perfect Mediterranean getaway.

Its combination of natural beauty and cultural richness makes it a cornerstone of Greek tourism, attracting visitors from around the world.

Read: The Best 25 Sandy Corfu Beaches: The Ultimate Guide

Faliraki under old fortress in Corfu
Faliraki under old fortress in Corfu

Corfu is the undisputed Queen of the Ionian Islands and is surrounded by the renowned Ionian turquoise sea, earning it the title of the Emerald Island of Greece. The island’s captivating beauty and unique charm contribute to its royal designation.

Where is Corfu in Greece?

Corfu, known as Kerkyra in Greek, is located in the northern Ionian Sea, marking the northwestern extremity of Greece opposite the coast of the Greek mainland and southern Albania.

Surrounded by three small islands to its northwest, known as the Diapontia Islands (Othonoi, Mathraki, and Ereikoussa), and by Paxos and Antipaxos to the south, with which it forms the prefecture of Corfu.

Collectively, these islands form the Prefecture of Corfu, showcasing the diverse beauty and charm of the region.

The island is approximately 600 km northwest of Athens and lies closer to Italy, its unique offerings make it a destination well worth visiting.

Corfu Old Town
Corfu Old Town

Where does the name Corfu come from?

During the Middle Ages, the Latins bestowed upon the island and its town the name Corypho, derived from the ancient Greek word “Koryphai” or “Korphes,” which translates to Tops or Peaks.

The Greek word “Koryphai” means “tops” and are the two peaks in the peninsula of the old fortress or perhaps the twin summits of its highest mountain, Pantokrator.

“Koryphai” after alteration became Corypho in Latin and eventually transformed into Corfu, the internationally recognized name for the island today. Therefore, Corfu signifies the “Island of Tops.”

In ancient times, Homer referred to the island as Scheria, but it also bore the name Drepanon, meaning sickle, due to its sickle-like shape.

This linguistic evolution highlights the historical interplay between different cultures and languages, shaping the island’s name into the familiar Corfu we know today.

The Greek name Kerkyra

The Greek name Kerkyra is rooted in Greek mythology and is derived from the nymph Corcyra, the daughter of the river god Asopos.

According to Greek mythology, Corcyra was abducted by Poseidon, the god of the sea (known as Neptune in Roman mythology), who brought her to the island. The union of Corcyra and Poseidon resulted in the birth of Phaiax, the founder of the Phaeacians – the first known resident of the island.

The island’s earliest residents, the Phaeacians, were said to have a mythological origin, although it remains uncertain whether they truly existed.

The name Corcyra evolved over time and later transformed into Kerkyra in the Doric dialect, and this is the modern Greek name for the island.

Population – How many people live in Corfu?

Corfu Island according to the 2021 census, has a population of 99,000 people.

The Town of Corfu has 40,050 residents, with 25,000 in the Old Town part and 15,050 in the New Town.

There is a significant drop from the 111,000 residents, recorded in the 2011 census. The population decline is mostly due to pandemic-era conspiracy theories, which led many residents to avoid the census for reasons unknown to common sense and not a real fact.

However, Corfu’s strength lies in its stories, landscapes, and resilient spirit, not in its numbers.

Still, Corfu, despite its size, is the third most populous place in Greece after Athens and Thessaloniki.

Notably, Corfu has a substantial British community, making up almost 5% of the population. Many British residents have chosen this land as their permanent home, particularly in the northern part of the island. Additionally, there are residents from various other nationalities, and their numbers continue to increase.

This demographic diversity highlights that Corfu is more than just a popular holiday destination; it offers a high quality of living, attracting individuals who choose to make the island their permanent residence.

Why is Corfu so famous?

Corfu is famous for its unique features, Culture, and rich history:

  1. The Esplanade and Liston Promenade: Spianada Square, one of Greece’s largest, is flanked by Liston, arched terraces with cafes and restaurants, central to the island’s events.
  2. Kumquat Fruit: Known for its kumquat fruit, used in liqueurs and preserves, Corfu is one of the few European places where they are grown.
  3. Easter Traditions: Unique celebrations include the throwing of clay pots from windows during Holy Saturday’s Resurrection ceremony.
  4. Pontikonisi (Mouse Island): Near Kanoni, this small island with the Vlacherna Monastery adds to Corfu’s charm.
  5. Corfiot Bands and Music: The island’s distinctive musical tradition involves wind and brass instruments, especially during religious processions and festivals.
  6. Corfiot Dialect: The local dialect reflects the island’s diverse historical influences.
  7. Historical Crossroads: Influenced by Venetians, French, and British, Corfu’s history is evident in its architecture, traditions, and culture.
  8. Venetian Architecture: Notable for narrow streets, arched doorways, and pastel-colored buildings due to Venetian rule.
  9. Old and New Fortresses: Prominent landmarks offering panoramic views, dating back to Byzantine and Venetian times.
  10. Achilleion Palace: Built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, this neoclassical palace features Greek mythology-inspired statues and gardens.
  11. Corfiot Cuisine: Influenced by Venetian, French, British, and Greek traditions, with dishes like Pastitsada, Sofrito, and Bourdeto.
  12. Population and Historical Significance: Corfu is the most densely populated Greek island, home to Greece’s first university, commercial bank, electricity factory, and modern theater.
  13. Palace of Saints Michael and George: The only Georgian-style palace outside the UK.
  14. Royal Birthplace: The Birthplace of many European royals, including Prince Philip of Edinburgh.
  15. The Durrells: The famous Durrell family resided in Corfu from 1936 to 1940.
  16. Cricket: Home to Greece’s only cricket team.
  17. Ottoman-Free: Corfu never experienced Ottoman rule.

These aspects make Corfu a captivating destination with a unique identity.

How big is Corfu?

Corfu is the second-largest Ionian Island and the seventh-largest in Greece, covering 593 km² (146,500 acres).

The island measures about 61 km (40 miles) from north to south and 27 km (17 miles) at its widest point from east to west.

Its picturesque coastline spans 217 km (135 miles), featuring numerous beautiful beaches.

The main national road, running from Paleokastritsa through the town to Lefkimi, is about 100 km long and well-maintained.

Traveling from the north to the south of the island takes approximately 2 hours, though traffic can be heavy during summer months.

While some village and former agricultural roads may be narrow and less optimal, the overall road network is extensive and well-connected, ensuring good accessibility across the island.

How to come to Corfu?

Corfu airport
Corfu airport

In recent years, Corfu has become a favorite destination for Greek tourists, gaining popularity, especially during the Easter holiday with its unique traditions.

August sees a mix of Greek and Italian visitors and tourists from farther north.

The construction of the Egnatia highway has significantly improved accessibility for residents of northern Greece.

The island is easily reachable from the port of Igoumenitsa on the mainland, offering a modern and frequent ferry service, with some crossings taking just over an hour. Ferries from Igoumenitsa also arrive in the southern harbor of Lefkimi.

Additional ferry routes are available from Patras, with travel times ranging from 6 to 7 hours. Ferries from Italian ports are also popular among visitors.

For many tourists, the primary gateway to the island is the international airport Ioannis Kapodistrias, which is well-connected to major European airports, facilitating convenient travel to Corfu.

The flight from Athens takes 45 minutes while most European airports take two to three and a half hours.

So, How Do I Get to Corfu?

  1. By Air: Corfu International Airport, also known as Ioannis Kapodistrias Airport, receives flights from major European cities and domestic flights from Athens.
  2. By Ferry: Ferries operate from Igoumenitsa and Patras on the mainland, and other Ionian islands like Paxos and Lefkada. International ferries also connect Corfu to Italy.
  3. By Bus: KTEL buses run from Athens and Thessaloniki to Igoumenitsa, where you can catch a ferry to Corfu.

What is the Best Time to Visit Corfu?

  1. Summer (June to August): Peak tourist season with hot weather and lively atmosphere.
  2. Spring (April to June): Mild weather, fewer tourists, and blooming flowers.
  3. Autumn (September to October): Warm weather, fewer crowds, and the sea is still warm.
  4. Winter (November to March): Quieter with mild weather, but some attractions and services may be closed.

Is Corfu expensive?

The cost of living and travel expenses in Corfu, Greece can vary depending on factors such as the season, accommodation choices, dining preferences, and activities.

Generally, compared to other popular European destinations, Corfu can offer relatively affordable options for accommodations, food, and activities, particularly if you avoid peak tourist seasons.

However, it’s essential to budget accordingly and plan to ensure your expenses align with your financial preferences and expectations.

Where to stay?

Corfu offers a diverse range of beautiful resorts catering to a wide audience, from families to the young and adventurous.

In Family-Friendly Resorts:

  1. Saint George of the South: Located on the southwest coast, ideal for families with organized beaches and numerous facilities.
  2. Glyfada: The most cosmopolitan beach on the middle west coast, suitable for families.
  3. Agios Gordios: A family-friendly destination on the west coast.
  4. Pelekas: Another family-friendly option on the middle west coast.
  5. Ipsos and Dasia: Positioned on the East, offering family-oriented amenities.
  6. Nissaki and Sinies: Located on the northeast side of the island, known for their family-friendly atmosphere.
  7. Benitses: Ideal for families with restaurants and very close to Corfu town.
  8. Moraitika and Messonghi: Featuring a vast and calm sandy beach, perfect for families.
  9. Paleokastritsa: Picturesque with hidden beaches, offering a serene setting.

In Lively and Young Resorts:

  1. Sidari: Offers a more lively nightlife, appealing to the younger crowd.
  2. Kavos: Situated in the Southend, known for its vibrant nightlife, especially popular among young and energetic British visitors.

In Corfu Town:

The town itself is a versatile destination suitable for families with children and vibrant for the young at heart. It offers a variety of choices, including monuments, sights, and nightclubs.

Whether you are looking for a family retreat or a lively nightlife experience, Corfu provides a range of options to suit different preferences. If you’re considering staying in a hotel, there is a curated selection of The Best Corfu Hotels around the island for you to explore.

Plane approaching Corfu airport
Plane approaching Corfu airport

 

Mythology and Brief Historic Facts

This is the Mythical Island of the Phaeacians

The island’s habitation dates back to the Paleolithic era and is mentioned in the Odyssey as being inhabited by the Phaeacians, a mythical seafaring people in Greek mythology.

Known for their advanced seafaring skills, their ships are said to move magically and swiftly.

In the Odyssey, Odysseus reaches the land of the Phaeacians, known back then as Scheria, after facing numerous challenges on his journey home from the Trojan War.

The Phaeacians are known for their hospitality, and their king, Alkinoos, offers Odysseus a warm welcome in their prosperous and peaceful society.

During his stay, Odysseus recounts his adventures and the challenges he has faced. Impressed by his stories, King Alkinoos decides to help him by providing a ship to return to Ithaca.

The Phaeacians play a crucial role in Odysseus’ journey home, adding an element of fantasy to the epic with their advanced ships and seemingly magical abilities. Their story is primarily confined to the world of the Odyssey.

Historic facts

Corfu’s rich and turbulent history spans over 3000 years, shaping its cultural significance and contributing to a multifaceted historical heritage that persists to this day.

  1. Throughout its history, the island has experienced numerous conquerors, including the colonial Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Russians, French, and British Empires, each leaving a lasting mark on the island.
  2. The first Greek settlers from Corinth arrived in 750 BC, establishing the first indigenous population and creating the city of Kerkyra, which lasted until 500 CE when it was destroyed by the Goths.
  3. During the Middle Ages, Corfu was part of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), but it faced occasional conquests by rulers from Naples, Sicily, and the Despotate of Epirus.
  4. In 1386, the Venetians settled on the island, marking the beginning of 411 years of Venetian rule.
  5. The Venetian era was followed by French dependencies, including democratic French and the imperial rule of Napoleon, followed by the Russians.
  6. The English protectorate period followed until 1864 when Corfu, along with the rest of the Ionian Islands, unified with Greece.

This intricate historical journey has shaped Corfu’s cultural identity, resulting in a unique blend of influences from various civilizations and empires.

Note: The first historical residents of Corfu were Dorians from Korinth and Eretria.

The island had a Doric influence but later became an ally to the Ionic Athenian Confederation.

The Dorian Spartans never set foot on this island as they had no reason to do so. However, some websites publish incorrect information based on unreliable sources.

It is frustrating to write about history without proper references.

Read: The Fascinating Corfu History From Antiquity to Today

 

Mouse island and Vlacherna
Mouse Island and Vlacherna

Influences by Corfu’s conquerors

Corfu’s cultural identity is distinct from the rest of Greece due to its significant historical connection with the maritime state of Venice during a period when much of Greece was under Ottoman rule.

The 411 years of Venetian rule had a profound impact on the island’s culture, leaving a lasting imprint on various aspects such as architecture, cuisine, music, and the overall identity of the Corfiot people.

This influence is evident in the architectural features of the island, the local culinary traditions, and the unique musical heritage.

The Venetian era played a pivotal role in shaping the cultural character of Corfu and its residents. Due to the authoritarian rule of the feudal nobility during this time, there was continual opposition and popular movements among the island’s poor population.

The development of arts and culture set Corfu apart, creating a landscape in stark contrast to the rest of Greece. While the rest of the country was influenced by the East, Corfu looked to the West.

As a result, Corfu boasts a rich tapestry of influences, with buildings and monuments spanning from ancient Greek and Roman times onwards. The old town, in particular, stands as a beautiful miniature reminiscent of Venice, albeit without the canals. This blend of influences has contributed to the unique cultural mosaic.

Geography, Is Corfu Hilly?

Corfu’s topography offers a diverse landscape with mountainous, hilly, and flat regions, as you see in the Corfu map.

Northern Part:

The northern part of the island is mostly mountainous and is prominently marked by Mount Pantokrator in the northeast.

Mount Pantokrator, the ancient Istone mountain, boasts the highest peak in this region at 914 meters, with Stravoskiadi peak a bit to the west standing at 849 meters.

The mountain extends westward, dominating the northwest, where Troumpeta is the highest peak at 600 meters.

Southern Part:

The southern part is predominantly flat, with a few hills near the villages of Chlomos and Saint Mattheos.

Rest of the Island:

The remaining areas of the island comprise a fertile plain with small hills, contributing to the overall picturesque and varied terrain of Corfu.

This diverse topography not only enhances the scenic beauty but also influences the local ecosystems and the way communities have settled across the island.

Does Corfu have a volcano?

Corfu west side
Corfu west side

Corfu’s volcanic history is a narrative of ancient dormancy.

Mount Agioi Deka, situated in the central part of the island, and its summit, Pantokrator, at an altitude of 600 meters, may have been the stars of the volcanic show thousands of years ago, but they are long extinct.

At the summit of Pantokrator, an aviation radar station now stands. It’s important not to confuse this peak with the other Pantokrator mountain in the north of the island.

Today, the island stands completely devoid of volcanic activity. What you’ll discover are rolling hills, majestic mountains, and lush greenery that collectively form a fairytale landscape.

Unlike some other Aegean islands such as Santorini, Nisyros, and Milos, which boast active or dormant volcanoes, Corfu does not partake in the volcanic spectacle.

Its geology revolves around limestone, shale, and sandstone, which have shaped the stunning landscape over millions of years.

While Corfu has experienced earthquakes, they are usually small and not linked to volcanic activity. Thus, you can do your explorations with peace of mind, knowing that no volcanic surprises await you.

Does Corfu have Lakes?

Kerkyra features two lakes and several rivers that contribute to its diverse and ecologically rich landscape.

Lake Antinioti:

Located on the north coast, Lake Antinioti communicates with the sea and is situated between Kassiopi and Roda. It is known for its abundant fauna.

Southwest Salty Lake (Lagoon) of Korission:

Positioned just behind the renowned Halikouna beach on the southwest coast, this salty lake also functions as a lagoon and serves as a stopover for migratory birds traveling between Africa and northern Europe.

Does Corfu have Rivers?

Sidari River:

Originating from the mountain mass of Troumpeta, this river flows through Sidari.

Central Corfu Rivers:

The first river flows north of the city in the Potamos area.

The second river is in Benitses.

The third is the large river of Messonghi.

South Corfu Rivers:

One river flows along the beach of Gardenos in the south.

Another river crosses through Lefkimi and flows south of the Alykes area.

These lakes and rivers contribute to the natural beauty and ecological diversity of Corfu, offering habitats for various fauna and serving as points of interest for nature enthusiasts.

Administrative division

Corfu airport and Mouse island from an airplane
Corfu Airport and Mouse Island from an airplane

In 2011, an administrative reform known as “Kallikrates” was implemented, resulting in the consolidation of the Prefecture of Corfu into a single municipality.

The new municipality of Corfu was formed by merging the 12 former municipalities of Corfiots, Achilleion, Thinalion, Lefkimi, Korrision, Paleokastriton, Melitieon, Saint George, Esperion, Feakon, Kassopaion, and Parelion.

Additionally, the communities in the satellite islands of Diapontia and Paxos were also included in the restructuring.

This reform aimed to streamline and improve administrative efficiency by consolidating local governance structures.

Municipalities in Corfu

Since 2018, another administrative reform named “Kleisthenes” has been in effect, resulting in the reorganization of the Prefecture of Corfu into four distinct municipalities:

  1. The Metropolitan Municipality of Central Corfu and Diapontian Islands (Population 68,500): This municipality encompasses the original municipal units of Corfiots, Achilleion, Paleokastriton, Feakon, and Parelion, along with the three communities in the Diapontian Islands in the North.
  2. The Municipality of the North (Population 17,200): This municipality includes the former municipal units of Thinalion, Saint George, Esperion, and Kassopaion.
  3. The Municipality of the South (Population 15,700): Encompassing the original municipal units of Lefkimi, Melitieon, and Korrision.
  4. The Municipality in Paxos (Population 2,440): This municipality is centered in the capital, Gaios, and is dedicated to Paxos.

Climate and the Weather of Corfu

Korission lake at Chalikouna
Korission lake at Chalikouna

Corfu boasts a lush and vibrant landscape, making it the greenest Greek island, primarily due to the abundant winter rains and the wet climate. There are periods when rain persists for 40 or 50 consecutive days.

Despite the wet winters, the climate is generally mild, characterized by hot and dry summers and very mild winters.

Snowfall is a rare occurrence, typically limited to the top of Mount Pantokrator. Most Corfiots may only witness snow 2 or 3 times in their lifetime, primarily in the higher elevations.

January marks the coldest month, with average lows around 4-5°C (41°F) and highs at 15°C (58°F). Occasionally, temperatures can drop below zero.

In contrast, July is the hottest month, with low averages of 20°C (70°F) and highs around 35°C (95°F). Some days may experience absolute highs exceeding 40°C (110°F), presenting challenging conditions.

Throughout the months in between, temperatures fluctuate accordingly.

Find more about Corfu Weather: The Climate and Temperatures per Month

What are the Main Attractions in Corfu?

  1. Corfu Town (Kerkyra): A UNESCO World Heritage Site with Venetian architecture, narrow streets, and historic landmarks like the Old Fortress and the Liston Promenade.
  2. Achilleion Palace: Built by Empress Elizabeth of Austria, it offers stunning architecture and views.
  3. Paleokastritsa: Famous for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and the 13th-century monastery.
  4. Sidari and the Canal d’Amour: Known for its unique rock formations and romantic legend.
  5. Angelokastro: A Byzantine castle offering panoramic views of the island.
  6. Mount Pantokrator: The highest peak on Corfu, offering hiking opportunities and breathtaking views.

Corfu town is called Kerkyra

The old citadel is a historical treasure trove and a Unesco world heritage site. As you wander its streets, you’ll return in time, encountering remnants from ancient Greek and Roman periods.

With its Venetian-influenced architecture and monuments that narrate the island’s rich past, every corner tells a captivating story.

Explore this living time capsule, where history comes to life, shaping Kerkyra into the enchanting destination it is today.

A part of Corfu town through a new fortress bastion
A part of Corfu town through a new fortress bastion

The city of Kerkyra stands as the sole town on the island, blending the Venetian architecture of the old part with the modernity of the new part characterized by spacious roads and contemporary buildings.

Upon approaching from the sea, the first glimpse of the island is the medieval old town, known as Kerkyra in Greek.

The city is also called Kastropolis, signifying a city within castles. In the past, it was one of the few cities globally surrounded by the walls of both the old and new fortresses.

The Old Town of Kerkyra maintains its Venetian charm with narrow streets (alleys) and tall buildings, presenting a cityscape more reminiscent of Italy than Greece. This unique character has endured despite considerable development over the years.

Beautiful building in Corfu town
Beautiful building in Corfu town

The city offers numerous attractions and monuments that need days to explore and admire.

Read about: Corfu Old Town: A Journey Through Time and Culture

Monuments to See in Corfu Town

Corfu old theater
Corfu old theater

The city offers a plethora of activities and cultural attractions, with many museums such as the Museum of Asian Art housed inside the Palace of Saints Michael and George, monuments, sights, and cultural centers to explore.

You can visit both the old and new fortresses, and witness the grandeur of Esplanade Square, touted as perhaps the biggest in Europe.

The Liston, once a gathering place for nobility, is now a social hub for all Corfiots. The Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George, known as the Old Palace, hosts various museums and exhibitions and is located around Esplanade Square.

The historic Ionian Academy, established in 1824 and the first university in Greece, is a significant landmark.

Nearby, you’ll find the Ionian Parliament building, as well as the town hall, originally built in 1663 as the Hall of Nobles (Loggia dei Nobili) and later transformed into the Theatre of San Giacomo.

Just outside the modern town, you can explore the ancient remains of Paleopolis, the ancient city of Corfu, situated on the peninsula of Kanoni near the summer palace of Mon Repos.

It’s noteworthy that the first modern Greek university was founded here, and by 1850, Corfu boasted an electrical power plant, which later moved to Piraeus after the union with Greece.

Monuments and Things to Do in Corfu Island

Corfu is rich in cultural attractions beyond the town itself, featuring numerous museums, monuments, and historical sites.

Some notable locations include the Byzantine fortress Aggelokastro north of Paleokastritsa, the castle ruins in Kassiopi, the Byzantine castle in Gardiki to the southwest, and the remains of the Venetian shipyard, also known as the Venetian Arsenal, in Gouvia.

These spots are all stunning and worth a visit!

The magnificent Achilleion Palace, located in the village of Gastouri, 3 km north of Benitses, was commissioned by Empress Elizabeth of Austro-Hungary, also known as Sisi.

The palace, named after the mythical hero Achilles, reflects Sisi’s deep appreciation for classical Greece. The Kaiser’s bridge, constructed by German Kaiser Wilhelm II after Elizabeth’s death, is a brilliant addition to the Achilleion Palace.

Other cultural attractions include the sea museum in Benitses, the olive museum in the village of Kynopiastes, and a variety of old neoclassical houses, mansions, small museums, fascinating collections, and ancient ruins scattered throughout many villages and other Corfu resorts.

Corfu’s medieval style has been well-preserved, as the town has been fortunate enough to avoid powerful earthquakes, that affected nearby islands like Kefalonia and Zakynthos.

Despite being located in the seismic geology of the Ionian arc, Corfu sits in a more stable part of the earth’s crust, preventing earthquakes that could destroy the unique architecture of the city.

Read about all: Monuments and Sights in Corfu island

The traditional Local cuisine

Corfu’s culinary landscape has been significantly shaped by Venetian influences. The recipes of Corfiot cuisine originally came from Venice but were adapted to suit the local products and climate.

Various ingredients, previously unknown in Corfu until the Venetian era, were introduced by the Venetians.

These include tomatoes, beans, peppers, corn, coffee, chocolate, sugar, and some expensive spices. Alongside olive oil, these elements played a crucial role in defining the distinctive Corfiot cuisine, featuring renowned dishes like Pastitsada, Sofrito, Bourdeto, and others.

For a detailed exploration of these traditional recipes and to delve into the delicious world of Corfu food, you can visit the page dedicated to Corfu cuisine. To savor the local flavors, consider dining at the best restaurants in Corfu.

So, What is Corfiot Cuisine Like?

Corfiot cuisine is a delightful blend of Greek and Italian influences. Some must-try dishes include:

  1. Sofrito: Veal cooked in a garlic and white wine sauce.
  2. Pastitsada: Spicy beef stew with pasta.
  3. Bourdeto: Fish stew with a spicy tomato sauce.
  4. Bianco: Fish cooked with garlic and lemon.
  5. Kumquat Products: Including liqueurs, sweets, and preserves, made from the island’s distinctive citrus fruit.

Read: Corfu Cuisine: Recipes With Traditional Corfiot Food

What Activities Can I Do in Corfu?

  1. Beach Hopping: Explore beaches like Glyfada, Agios Gordios, and Myrtiotissa.
  2. Water Sports: Snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, and sailing.
  3. Hiking and Nature Walks: Trails in the Corfu Trail network and areas like the Korission Lagoon.
  4. Cultural Experiences: Visit museums such as the Archaeological Museum of Corfu and the Museum of Asian Art.
  5. Wine Tasting: Visit local wineries and taste the island’s unique wines.

What Are Some Practical Tips for Visiting Corfu?

  1. Transportation: Renting a car is the best way to explore the island. Buses are available but may be less frequent in rural areas.
  2. Safety: Corfu is generally safe, but take standard precautions against petty theft.
  3. Health: Tap water is safe to drink. Healthcare facilities are available in Corfu Town and larger villages.
  4. Electricity: The standard voltage is 230V, and the plugs are Type C and F.

Is Corfu a party island? Nightlife

Corfu truly comes alive when the sun sets, making it a hotspot for vibrant nightlife, especially in the lively summer months teeming with tourists. The island boasts many party hubs, the most known being: Corfu Town (Kerkyra), Kavos, and Sidari.

The Town of Kerkyra presents a diverse array of bars and clubs tailored to various tastes, from chic cocktail lounges to energetic dance venues. The Liston area stands out for its trendy bars and cafés, drawing in those seeking a stylish night out.

On the southern coast, Kavos steals the spotlight with its renowned party scene. This area is dotted with numerous bars and clubs that keep the festivities going well into the early morning hours.

For a more laid-back atmosphere, head to Sidari, another sought-after nightlife destination. Here, you’ll find bars and clubs offering a relaxed vibe compared to the lively energy of Kavos.

In essence, this island provides a plethora of choices for anyone eager to delve into its nightlife, whether you’re in the mood for dancing until dawn or simply seeking a chill evening out.

Read: Corfu at Night: Is Corfu a Party Island? Clubs & Bars

What Should I Know About the Local Culture and Customs?

  1. Language: Greek is the official language, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
  2. Currency: Euro (€).
  3. Etiquette: Greeks are known for their hospitality. It’s customary to greet people with a handshake or a kiss on both cheeks.
  4. Religion: Greek Orthodox is the predominant religion. Respect local customs, especially when visiting churches and monasteries.
  5. Festivals: Easter is the most important holiday, celebrated with processions and feasts. The Corfu Carnival and various music festivals are also popular.

Musical Tradition in Corfu

Esplanade Square from google earth
Esplanade Square from Google Earth

There is a huge long-lasting musical tradition in Corfu.

The city today has three main philharmonic societies. The Old Philharmonic, the Philharmonic of Mantzaros, and the Philharmonic of Kapodistrias, whose orchestras often give excellent concerts.

In many villages, there are also bands, and on certain days they all play in Corfu Town to loud cheers from their supporters.

The musical tradition was influenced by Italy and many artists created their music schools with classical influences.

Is the so-called Ionian School of Music divided into two periods? The first until 1870 and the second until the early 20th century.

In Greece, the Ionian School was finally overthrown by the so-called National School, created by the “Germanists” Georgios Nazos and Manolis Kalomiris.

1. The Ionian School of Music

The Ionian School of Music is a significant musical movement that emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in the Ionian Islands, including Corfu, as well as the nearby mainland regions of Epirus and Western Greece. The movement was characterized by the fusion of Byzantine, Venetian, and Western European musical traditions, resulting in a unique and innovative style of music.

The Ionian school includes a large number of important musicians and composers, of the first and second periods.

The founders of the Ionian School were a group of composers and musicians who were trained in both Byzantine and Western music. One of the most well-known figures of the Ionian School was Spyridon Xyndas, who is often considered the father of modern Greek music. Xyndas was a composer, conductor, and music teacher who was born in Corfu and played a key role in the development of the Ionian School.

Other notable figures of the Ionian School include Nikolaos Mantzaros (1795-1872), who composed the music for the Greek national anthem and is considered the founder of the Ionian School of Music, and Pavlos Carrer, who is considered one of the greatest composers of Greek operas.

The music of the Ionian School was characterized by its use of Western musical forms, such as sonatas and operas, combined with traditional Greek musical elements, such as the use of modes and rhythms found in Byzantine chant. The Ionian School was instrumental in the development of a modern Greek musical identity and played a significant role in the cultural and intellectual life of Greece during the 19th century.

Today, the legacy of the Ionian School can be seen in the continued use of traditional Greek musical elements in contemporary Greek music. The movement also continues to inspire and influence musicians and composers in Greece and around the world.

Other Greek-born Ionian musicians were the Corfiot George Lambellet and Cefalonian Dionysios Lavragas. Members of both the Ionian School and the “National School”.

They were in constant quarrels with “Germanist” Kalomiris who accused them of the Ionian music being related to the Italian.

2. Corfiot and Ionian Islands Musicians

It is worth mentioning some musicians.

From Corfu

Domenikos Padovas (1817-1892), Spyros Xindas (1814-1896), and Spyros Samaras (1861-1917).
Eduardo, Louis, George, and Napoleon Lambellet are members of the large Lambellet family.

Other composers were Joseph Liveralis (1820-1899), Leonidas Alvanas (1823-1881), Joseph Caesaris (1845-1923), Spyridon Caesaris (1859-1946), Dimitrios Andronis (1866-1918), Sotirios Kritikos (1888-1945), and Alexandros Grek (1876-1959).

From Zante (Zakynthos)

Pavlos Karrer (1829-1896), Frangiskos Domeniginis (1809-1874), and Dionysios Viscardis (1910-1999).
Suzana Nerantzi from Zakynthos was a great woman pianist and student of Mantzaros in Corfu.

From Kefalonia

Dionysios Lavragas (1864-1941), Antiochos Evangelatos (1903-1981), and Spyridon Spathis (1876-1959) from Sami island.

From Ithaka

Dionysios Rodotheatos (1849-1892).

Others

Antonios Kapnisis (1813-1885), George Lambiris (1833-1889), Lavrentios Kamilieris (1878-1956), Georgios Axiotis (1875-1924), and Georgios Sklavos (1886-1976).

Corfu Literature and Corfiot Intellectuals

The island’s rich cultural history has been the inspiration for several literary works. Corfu’s literary tradition continues to this day, with many writers drawing inspiration from the island’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

  1. Ioannis Kapodistrias was a politician who, for several years, served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia. He was a descendant of a noble family.
    From his position, he was involved in many European political affairs, including the constitutional reform of Switzerland, before accepting the responsibility of becoming the first governor of modern Greece.
  2. Nikolaos Mantzaros was another noble, musician, and composer of the Greek national anthem. He was the major representative of the so-called Ionian School of Music.
  3. Dionysios Solomos our national poet was born in Zakynthos(Zante) and lived in Corfu for the last 30 years of his life.
  4. Spyros Samaras, another musician was the composer of the Olympic anthem. Yes, the one played during the opening and closing ceremonies of every Olympics.
  5. The famous Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi lived much of his life on the island, as did poets like Gerasimos Markoras, Lorenzos Mavilis, Andreas Kalvos, and Iakovos Polylas.
    All above were members of the Ionian School of Literature.
  6. A former Greek prime minister was Corfiot George Theotokis, whilst his relative Nikolaos Theotokis became archbishop of Russia.
  7. The important Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and St Filomena were born here.
  8. The unforgettable actor Nikos Kourkoulos originates from Corfu.
  9. Also, Albert Cohen and the singers Vicky Leandros and Nana Mouskouri were born here.
    There are hundreds of others not mentioned.
  10. Even Giacomo Casanova spent much of his life in Corfu but finally was forced to leave as he was involved in a scandal creating an affair with the young wife of the Venetian proveditore.
Musical Tradition in Corfu - San Giacomo theater
Musical Tradition in Corfu – San Giacomo Theater

1. Greek writers

With writers and poets such as the prominent figure of Dionysios Solomos from Zakynthos (1798-1857), who lived for 30 years in Corfu.

And many others such as Aristotelis Valaoritis from Lefkada, Andreas Laskaratos and Ioulios Typaldos from Lixouri, Gerasimos Markoras from Kefalonia, Iakovos Polylas from Corfu, Georgios Terchetis, and Andreas Kalvos from Zakynthos.

The term “Eptanissian School” was founded by the great Greek poet Kostis Palamas.

Kostis Palamas introduced the literary consciousness and the rivalry between the Dimotiki and Katharevousa. Two forms of the modern Greek language.

One of the main features of the Ionian School was the use of Dimotiki in Poetry.

One of the most well-known is the Greek poet and philosopher Angelos Sikelianos, who lived on the island in the early 20th century. Sikelianos was a leading figure in the Greek literary world and was a pioneer of the “new poetry” movement.

2. Foreign writers lived in Corfu

But also many non-Greek writers contributed to the Corfu literature, perhaps the most well-known is Lawrence Durrell, who lived on the island for several years in the 1930s and 1940s.

Durrell’s most famous work is “The Alexandria Quartet,” a series of four novels that are set in Alexandria, Egypt, but draw heavily on his experiences in Corfu.

Other notable writers who have lived on the island include Henry Miller, who wrote “The Colossus of Maroussi” while staying in Corfu in the 1930s, and Gerald Durrell, Lawrence’s brother, who wrote a number of books about his experiences studying and collecting animals on the island.

Another notable intellectual from Corfu is the art historian and critic John Boardman, who is known for his work on ancient Greek art and archaeology. Boardman was born on the island in 1927 and has written numerous books and articles on Greek art and culture.

Corfu’s contribution to the formation of the modern Greek state

Corfu played an important role in the formation of the modern Greek state. During the Ottoman occupation of Greece, Corfu was one of the few places that remained under Venetian control. The island served as a refuge for Greek intellectuals and revolutionaries who were seeking to overthrow Ottoman rule and establish an independent Greek state.

One of the most significant events in Corfu’s contribution to the formation of the modern Greek state was the arrival of Ioannis Kapodistrias, a Corfiot who served as the first governor of independent Greece from 1828 until his assassination in 1831. Kapodistrias was a key figure in the struggle for Greek independence and played an important role in shaping the country’s early political and social institutions.

Corfu also served as a center of Greek culture and education during this period. The island was home to several schools and educational institutions that played a vital role in preserving the Greek language, culture, and traditions. Many of the intellectuals and leaders of the Greek War of Independence, such as Theodoros Kolokotronis, Andreas Miaoulis, and Nikolaos Kriezotis, spent time on Corfu and were influenced by the island’s rich cultural heritage.

Today, Corfu remains an important cultural and historical center in Greece. Its museums, monuments, and historic landmarks serve as a reminder of the island’s important role in the formation of the modern Greek state.

Environment and biodiversity

Corfu is like a mini-continent in terms of its environment. It offers a diverse landscape, featuring lush forests, green mountains, and even deserted sandy beaches that might remind you of the Sahara. Each of these areas hosts unique ecosystems teeming with diverse plant and animal life.

This captivating scenery has served as inspiration for numerous writers, artists, and cultural figures from across the globe.

Photos by Pascal Debrunner, HP Koch, Erik Karits, and Ijon Tichy on Unsplash

Corfu is home to hundreds of rare bird species, wildlife, insects, and diverse plants and trees, not only native to the Mediterranean but from even farther regions. The extensive exploration and documentation of these species were carried out by Gerald Durrell during his stay on the island from 1936 to 1940 with all his family.

The predominant tree is the olive, closely followed by citrus fruit trees. The cypress spires stand as a reminder of Corfu’s Italian influence.

Corfu experiences the highest rainfall and boasts the richest soil in Greece. It has the potential to be self-sufficient in various areas of production. However, due to the growth of tourism and other factors, the local population has shifted towards alternative means of livelihood.

Corfu Nightscapes – A Company of Stars by Bill Metallinos
Corfu Nightscapes – A Company of Stars by Bill Metallinos – Video

Corfu Greece map

Corfu Map green
Corfu Map green

Finally, What Unique Experiences Should I Look for in Corfu?

  1. Olive Oil Tours: Visit olive groves and learn about the production process.
  2. Boat Trips: Explore nearby islands like Paxos and Antipaxos or take a day trip to Albania.
  3. Traditional Villages: Visit villages like Pelekas and Lakones to experience local life.
  4. Cycling Tours: Discover the island’s beauty on two wheels.
  5. Local Markets: Explore markets in Corfu Town for local products and souvenirs.

Conclusion – Is Corfu worth visiting?

Absolutely! The queen of the Ionian Islands is situated where the north Ionian meets the Adriatic Sea.

Known as one of Greece’s most tourist-friendly spots, Corfu boasts large and beautiful beaches, a diverse and stunning landscape, a rich multicultural history, mild weather, and the unique Old Town of Kerkyra, a UNESCO heritage site.

In addition to the countless attractions, the island’s exceptional cuisine ensures that all your needs are met during your stay.

Corfu is a must-visit island, but exploring and truly understanding it requires more than just two or three weeks.

It’s like a magnificent piece of art that reveals more the longer you look at it.

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One Response

  1. Sheela Ravi
    | Reply

    Wow amazing island . Very interesting and that would love to visit one day from Canada. Very beautiful mann. Corfu is a whole continent in miniature well said…

    Thanks a lot

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