Last updated on September 30th, 2023 at 07:39 am
Your Passport to Paradise – Discover Corfu Today!
Corfu (Kerkyra), a pinnacle among Greece’s captivating islands, showcases an emerald landscape adorned with lush vegetation, vibrant wildflowers, and over 2 million olive trees.
This paradise offers a symphony of natural beauty and cultural heritage, with ancient ruins and Venetian architecture gracing its terrain. Over 215 kilometers of coastline hide pristine beaches, each a unique gem, easily accessible thanks to a well-connected road network.
What truly distinguishes Corfu is its enchanting embrace by the Ionian turquoise sea, earning it the title of Greece’s Emerald Isle.
Corfu has played a vital role in Greece’s tourism industry, captivating visitors with its sunsets, charming alleys, and coastal allure. It invites all to be a part of its incredible story.
Yes, Corfu is the undisputed Queen of the Ionian islands, in every and any aspect, this is a fact!
Where is Corfu?
Corfu, in the Ionian Sea’s northern embrace, lies on Greece’s northwest frontier, facing both the Greek mainland and Albania’s southern coast. As the second largest Ionian island, Corfu is a significant presence in the archipelago.
Located about 600 km northwest of Athens, Corfu’s proximity to Italy adds to its allure. It comprises the Diapontian islands to the northwest (Othoni, Mathraki, and Erikoussa) and the charming duo of Paxos and Antipaxos to the south.
Corfu’s position invites exploration of a world filled with wonders waiting to be discovered.
Where does the name Corfu come from?
In the Middle Ages, the Latins left their linguistic mark on the island and its town, naming it “Corypho.” This name was a playful variation of the Greek word “Koryphai” or “Korphes,” meaning “Tops” or “Peaks,” adding a touch of linguistic magic to the island’s identity.
In ancient Greece, “Koryphai” was a reference to the towering mountain peaks. The Latins transformed it into “Corypho,” eventually evolving into “Corfu,” the island’s modern international name. This name encapsulates the essence of the island – the Island of Tops, alluding to peaks like those on the old fortress peninsula and the lofty Pantokrator mountain.
This linguistic journey through time highlights the magic of words and the stories they carry. Corfu has worn various names in its rich history, from Homer’s “Scheria” to the curvaceous “Drepanon” or sickle shape, reflecting the island’s ever-enchanting history and evolution.
Is Kerkyra the Greek name of Corfu?
Corfu’s name is a living myth, beginning with the Greek name “Korkyra,” linked to the nymph Corcyra, daughter of the river god Asopos. In Greek Mythology, Poseidon (or Neptune to the Romans) swept Corcyra to this land, giving birth to Phaiax, the founder of the Phaeacians, the island’s earliest inhabitants. The truth behind the Phaeacians remains a mystery.
Amid these myths, “Corkyra” evolved into “Kerkyra” in the Doric dialect, firmly rooted in the island’s modern Greek identity. Corfu’s name is a tale of nymphs, and gods, and a name straddling myth and reality, a piece of ancient history.
What is Corfu known for?
Corfu boasts a collection of unique features that you won’t discover anywhere else in Greece. Among the most significant are:
- Corfu is known for its lush landscape.
- By the endless and beautiful sandy beaches.
- For the long, fascinating, and turbulent history.
- Also the beautiful sightseeing.
- It is the densest populated Hellenic(Greek) Island.
- Known for the many Unique monuments left behind by the colonial rulers.
- The fantastic Corfiot Cuisine is influenced by Venetian and Greek food.
- For the strong tourist infrastructure with exceptional luxury hotels among the best in Greece.
- Corfu town is the only Kastropolis in Hellas(Greece), which is a city surrounded by the walls of its castles.
- It was the first Hellenic(Greek) island to open its doors to the first tourists.
- Corfu was the home of the first Hellenic University in 1823 which still operates today. Is the Ionian Academy.
- The first commercial bank on Greek territory was here. The Ionian Bank.
- Also, the first electricity factory on Greek territory was operating here before 1860.
- The first theater in modern Greece was in Corfu. It was the San Giacomo theater.
- The largest square in the Balkans is the Esplanade Square.
- This island is the place with the largest musical and intellectual tradition by far in Greece.
- Corfu has the only Georgian-style Palace outside the UK, the Palace of Saints Michael and George.
- Corfu was the birthplace of many Royals of Europe, e.g. Philip Prince of Edinburg.
- The Durrells family were residents of Corfu from 1936 to 1940.
- It is the home of the only cricket team in Hellas.
- The old city of Corfu is A UNESCO Heritage monument, that keeps its multicultural character with Venetian, English, and French influences.
- And finally is known by the fact that this island never felt Ottoman oppression.
All of these elements combine to crown Corfu as the paramount jewel of the Ionian islands, a true standout in Greece’s tapestry of beauty and allure.
How long to drive around the island?
Corfu, the second-largest gem in the Ionian Islands and the seventh-largest in Greece covers 593 km2 (146,500 acres).
To put it in perspective, a straight line from north to south spans 61 km (40 miles), while the broadest width stretches 27 km (17 miles). Yet, Corfu boasts a stunning coastline of 217 km (135 miles).
The island’s main artery, the national road, runs smoothly from Paleokastritsa to the town and Lefkimi, covering around 100 km. During summer, traffic adds a few extra beats.
Corfu’s road network is diverse, with village lanes as narrow as threads and former agricultural roads with their own tales. Despite imperfections, the network weaves a dense tapestry, connecting every corner of this enchanting island, See on a Corfu map.
How to come to Corfu?
In recent times, Corfu has become a beloved destination for Greek tourists, particularly during Easter with its unique traditions. August witnesses a mix of Greek, Italian, and northern visitors drawn to the island’s magic.
Thanks to the Egnatia highway, Corfu’s accessibility has improved, making it an easy journey for those from northern Greece. Ferries from Igoumenitsa now connect frequently, with some trips taking just over an hour. Lefkimi’s southern harbor also welcomes travelers.
Sea routes from Patras take around 6 to 7 hours, while Italian ports are bustling with ferry activity.
For many, the gateway to the island is Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport, linking Corfu with major European airports.
A short 45-minute flight from Athens and a two to three-and-a-half-hour journey from various European hubs bring travelers into Corfu’s embrace.
Where to stay in Corfu?
Corfu offers a diverse range of resorts tailored to every traveler, from families to young adventurers.
For families, Saint George in the southwest and Glyfada, Agios Gordios, and Pelekas in the middle west coast offer sprawling resorts with organized beaches and abundant facilities. Ipsos and Dasia in the northeast also have their unique charm, as does Nissaki and Sinies.
Culinary delights and the magic of Corfu town can be found in Benitses, while Moraitika and Messonghi boast vast sandy shores. Paleokastritsa hides hidden beaches waiting to be discovered.
Sidari takes the spotlight with vibrant nightlife, perfect for young and adventurous souls, while Kavos welcomes young and wild-hearted British visitors.
Corfu town is a hub where families and young travelers find their rhythm amidst monuments, sights, and nightclubs.
The island offers a treasure trove of fine hotels, not only in Corfu town but all around, ensuring a memorable stay. Don’t miss the chance to explore, experience, and embrace the magic of Corfu.
Population – How many people live in Corfu?
Corfu is a medium-sized island but is the third most densely populated place in Greece after Athens and Thessaloniki.
As of the 2011 census, Corfu had a population of 111,113, but when you consider temporary and semi-permanent residents, it swelled to nearly 150,000.
The old town of Corfu itself boasts 30,000 inhabitants, and when you include neighboring areas like Kanoni, Potamos, Kanalia, Kontokali, and Alepou, the community grows to 50,000.
However, the 2021 census recorded a noticeable dip in the population, now at 99,000. Yet, this decline may not tell the whole story. The COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of conspiracy theories led some islanders to avoid the registration process, potentially resulting in an undercount.
A population below 100,000 could mean fewer resources from the central state for infrastructure development, but Corfu is more than its numbers. It is a tapestry of stories, landscapes, and a resilient spirit that remains strong.
Corfu is home to a thriving British community, with nearly 10% of the population proudly bearing the British banner and making the island their beloved haven.
Most of them can be found along the warm embrace of the northern shores. But it’s not just Brits who have discovered their slice of paradise here. Other nationalities have also become permanent residents, and their numbers are on the rise, enriching Corfu’s vibrant mosaic.
Corfu isn’t just a vacation spot; it’s a place people choose to call home. Many have decided to set up permanent residence on this island, creating a vibrant community that goes beyond the ebb and flow of tourists.
Brief Corfu Historic facts
Corfu’s history is a thrilling rollercoaster ride that spans over 3000 years.
From its ancient roots dating back to Paleolithic times to the mythical Phaeacians and the island’s namesake nymph, Corcyra, to waves of conquerors including the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Russians, French, and the British Empire, this island has seen it all.
The Greeks from Corinth established the city of Kerkyra around 750 BC, but it faced challenges from the Goths in 500 CE.
In 1864, Corfu and the Ionian Islands joined Greece, concluding its remarkable historical journey.
Influences by Corfu’s conquerors
Corfu’s unique cultural identity is a result of its 411-year-long Venetian domination, which set it apart from mainland Greece.
This extended period of Venetian influence left an enduring mark on the island’s culture, from its architecture and cuisine to its musical traditions. The Venetian era was more than just a historical footnote; it was a transformative cultural makeover that shaped Corfu’s identity.
Despite the challenges and conflicts that arose during Venetian rule, including popular uprisings and social tensions, the island’s arts and culture thrived.
Corfu emerged as a cultural haven that embraced Western influences while the rest of Greece looked eastward.
As you explore Corfu’s picturesque streets and savor its delicious cuisine, you’ll experience a unique cultural fusion that sets the island apart from the Greek mainland. It’s not just a vacation; it’s a journey through a one-of-a-kind cultural tapestry.
Corfu’s old town is a historical treasure trove. As you wander its streets, you’ll step back 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 Corfu into the enchanting destination it is today.
Geography, Is Corfu Hilly?
Corfu’s landscapes are a thrilling rollercoaster. In the north, you’ll be surrounded by majestic mountains, with Mount Pantokrator towering at 914 meters and Stravoskiadi Peak at 849 meters.
Heading west, Troumpeta peak reigns at 600 meters, adding to the mountain extravaganza.
Now, let’s head south, where the terrain stretches out, with some hills near Chlomos and Saint Mattheos villages.
But there’s more – the rest of the island features rolling plains and gentle hills, enhancing Corfu’s natural beauty. Whether you’re a mountain enthusiast or prefer valleys, Corfu’s landscapes will capture your heart.
Does Corfu have a volcano?
Corfu’s volcanic history is a tale of ancient slumber. Mount Agioi Deka might have been the star of the volcanic show in the past, but today, Corfu is completely volcano-free.
Instead, you’ll find rolling hills, majestic mountains, and lush greenery that create a fairytale landscape.
Unlike some other Aegean islands like Santorini, Nisyros, and Milos with active or dormant volcanoes, Corfu doesn’t participate in the volcanic party. Its geology is centered around limestone, shale, and sandstone, which formed over millions of years, shaping the stunning landscape you see today.
While Corfu has experienced earthquakes, they aren’t linked to volcanic activity. So, you can explore Corfu with peace of mind, knowing there are no volcanic surprises waiting for you.
Does Corfu have Rivers and Lakes?
Corfu’s natural beauty extends beyond its beaches and history, offering a water wonderland for nature enthusiasts. Starting with Lake Antinioti on the north coast, nestled between Kassiopi and Roda, it’s a wildlife paradise connecting to the sea, teeming with diverse critters.
Moving on, the southwest coast boasts a saline lagoon near Halikouna Beach, a favored hangout for birds on their journey between Africa and northern Europe. This lagoon is not just a lake; it’s a natural marvel.
And let’s not forget the rivers! Sidari boasts a river flowing from the majestic Troumpeta mountain. Central Corfu has three more river stars with their own scenic routes, including Potamos, Benitses, and the impressive river of Messonghi.
The south side of the island has two more river rockstars, one at Gardenos beach and another meandering through Lefkimi before making its grand exit south of the Alykes area.
So, Corfu’s natural beauty isn’t limited to its coastlines and historical sites; it’s a water wonderland with lakes, lagoons, and rivers that steal the spotlight in the island’s natural scene!
In 2011, the Prefecture of Corfu underwent a significant administrative transformation named “Kallicrates“. It merged into one large municipality, bringing together a total of 12 former municipalities, including Corfiots, Achilleion, Thinalion, Lefkimi, Korrision, Paleokastriton, Melitieon, Saint George, Esperion, Feakon, Kassopaion, and Parelion.
Additionally, communities from the satellite islands of Diapontia and Paxos were included in this administrative consolidation, creating a new chapter in the island’s administrative history.
Which are the Municipalities in Corfu (Kerkyra) now?
In 2018, Corfu’s administrative landscape underwent a significant transformation known as “Kleisthenes” resulting in the creation of four new municipalities:
- The Metropolitan Municipality of Central Corfu and Diapontian Islands (Population: 68,500) includes areas like Corfiots, Achilleion, Paleokastriton, Feakon, and Parelion, as well as communities from the Diapontian islands.
- The municipality of the North (Population: 17,200) covers areas such as Thinalion, Saint George, Esperion, and Kassopaion, offering a fresh and vibrant vibe for North-siders.
- The municipality of the South (Population: 15,700) encompasses the laid-back regions of Lefkimi, Melitieon, and Korrision, providing a perfect beachside retreat.
- The municipality of Paxos (Population: 2,440) focuses on the charming island of Paxos, with its town hall located in the capital, Gaios.
This administrative restructuring marked a significant change in Corfu’s governance, with each municipality offering its own unique character and charm.
Climate and weather, Why is Corfu so green?
Corfu boasts a climate as diverse as its landscapes. With its rainy winters and moisture-kissed climate, it’s no wonder this island is so lush and green.
During the winter, Corfu experiences long periods of rain, sometimes lasting up to 40 or 50 days without a break. It’s like Mother Nature’s waterworks show!
But don’t be fooled by the wet winters – the climate here is quite adaptable. Summers are hot and dry, while winters are mild and gentle, perfect for sipping cocoa by the fire.
Snow is a rare sight, mostly reserved for Mount Pantokrator, read more about the weather in Corfu.
In the lowlands, you might see snowflakes only 2 or 3 times in a lifetime. January is the coldest month, with lows around 4 – 5°C (41°F) and highs at 15°C (58°F). Occasionally, temperatures can dip below freezing.
Come July, things heat up. Lows average around 20°C (70°F), while highs can reach 35°C (95°F). On some daring days, temperatures soar past 40°C (110°F) – it’s like a heatwave party!
Each month has its own unique temperature story, so pack your sunglasses and umbrella because Corfu’s weather is ready to surprise you!
Let’s talk about the Old Town of Corfu or Kerkyra
Corfu Old Town is a captivating blend of Venetian and modern architecture. The medieval old town, known as Kerkyra in Greek, is the first sight that greets visitors arriving from the sea.
Corfu Town is also referred to as Kastropolis, a city within castles, as it was one of the rare cities enclosed by the walls of both old and new fortresses.
This historical city has retained its Venetian character with narrow streets, tall buildings, and an Italian influence that has persisted despite modern development.
Corfu’s beating heart is its one and only city, offering a captivating mix of old-world Venetian charm and a bustling modern landscape.
As you step ashore, the medieval old town of Corfu, Kerkyra, welcomes you like something out of a fairy tale, with cobbled streets and Venetian-inspired architecture.
Corfu Town is a treasure trove of attractions and landmarks, offering a journey through history, art, and culture. Whether you’re captivated by charming alleys or eager to uncover tales of empires, this living museum invites you to explore, admire, and be enchanted.
What are the Monuments to See in the Town?
Corfu Town offers a wealth of activities and discoveries, featuring museums, monuments, and cultural treasures for all interests.
Explore the old and new fortresses, stroll through the grand Esplanade Square, and embrace the vibrant atmosphere of The Liston. Dive into the world of culture and learning at the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George, home to various museums and exhibitions.
Corfu’s historical significance shines through landmarks like the Ionian Academy, Greece’s first university, the Ionian Parliament building, and the town hall – a structure initially erected in 1663 as the Hall of Nobles (Loggia dei Nobili), eventually assuming the role of the esteemed Theatre of San Giacomo.
Corfu has a rich history in academia, boasting the pioneering modern university in Greece, and was an early adopter of electricity.
Whether you’re passionate about history, and art, or simply curious, Corfu Town’s cultural tapestry is ready to be discovered.
Monuments and Things to Do in Corfu Island
Beyond Corfu Town, the island boasts a treasure trove of cultural sites waiting to be explored.
Discover the Byzantine fortress of Aggelokastro and the ancient ruins of the Kassiopi castle.
In the southwest, the Gardiki Byzantine castle stands as a historical marvel, and the Venetian Arsenal in Gouvia hints at Corfu’s maritime heritage.
Achilleion Palace in Gastouri, built by Empress Elizabeth of Austro-Hungary (Sisi), is a must-visit attraction that showcases her fascination with classical Greece.
Nearby, the Kaiser’s Bridge, built by Kaiser Wilhelm II, connects the palace to the beach.
Corfu’s cultural gems include the Sea Museum in Benitses, an Olive Museum in Kynopiastes, and charming villages with neoclassical houses and small museums.
Unlike some other Greek islands, Corfu has preserved its medieval architecture due to its stable geological location.
As you explore these cultural wonders, you’ll uncover Corfu’s rich history and architectural heritage.
Oh, We shouldn’t miss the mouthwatering Corfiot cuisine!
Corfu’s culinary delights are a product of its historical ties with Venice.
The island’s cuisine incorporates Venetian ingredients like tomatoes, beans, peppers, corn, coffee, chocolate, sugar, and exotic spices, all adapted to the island’s local produce and climate.
This fusion of ingredients, along with the island’s precious olive oil, has given rise to Corfu’s unique culinary heritage.
You can savor dishes like Pastitsada, Sofrito, and Bourdeto, each offering a distinct and flavorful experience.
For a deeper dive into Corfu’s traditional recipes and flavors, explore our Corfu cuisine page, where you’ll discover the secrets behind these delectable dishes.
To fully indulge in Corfu’s culinary heritage, visit the best restaurants in Corfu, where you can taste the essence of its culinary soul. Your taste buds are in for a delightful treat!
Corfu environment and biodiversity
Corfu’s environment is like a continent in miniature, with a diverse landscape that includes lush green forests, majestic mountains, deserted sandy beaches, and unique ecosystems teeming with biodiversity.
This captivating scenery has inspired writers, artists, and cultural luminaries from around the world, leaving an indelible mark on their works and thoughts. Corfu’s unspoiled natural beauty is a testament to its enduring allure that resonates globally.
Corfu is home to a diverse array of rare bird species, wildlife, insects, plants, and trees that extend beyond the Mediterranean region.
This ecological treasure trove was meticulously studied and documented by Gerald Durrell during his stay on the island from 1936 to 1940.
The olive tree is a prominent presence, along with abundant citrus fruit trees. Cypress trees also stand tall, serving as reminders of Corfu’s enduring Italian legacy.
Corfu benefits from ample rainfall and fertile soil, making it capable of self-sufficiency in various areas of production.
However, the influence of tourism and other factors has led the island’s population toward different livelihoods, as they seek to secure their future while preserving the island’s multifaceted charm.
Corfu Musical Tradition, Literature, and Intellectuals
Read all about Corfu Musical Tradition, Literature, and Intellectuals.
Corfu, the crown jewel of the Ionian Islands, where the northern Ionian Sea meets the Adriatic, boasts a unique allure.
This island, a standout among Greece’s tourist destinations, offers expansive beaches, a diverse landscape, a rich history, and a mild climate, all accentuated by the UNESCO-protected Old Town of Kerkyra.
Corfu’s tapestry includes must-see attractions and exceptional cuisine, catering to every desire.
To truly understand Corfu’s essence, a few weeks may not be enough. It’s a captivating masterpiece, an enigma that deepens with each gaze. A visit here transcends typical travel, immersing you in a captivating masterpiece.
Read more about Corfu
Although Corfu Town is not the best place for swimming, there are a few smaller “city beaches” in the city, they are a bit cramped and not the most kid-friendly but good enough for you to swim while in Corfu town.… Read More