Last updated on April 24th, 2024 at 11:54 am

 

About Corfu

Corfu or Kerkyra in Greek, stands out as one of the most important and beautiful Greek islands.

It lies off Greece’s northwest coast and boasts a rich history influenced by ancient Greece, Byzantine, Venetian, French, and British periods due to its strategic location in the Ionian Sea.
Its architecture reflects this diversity, showcasing Venetian fortresses, British neoclassical buildings, and Byzantine churches.

Corfu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features winding streets and pastel-colored buildings.

The island is renowned for its beautiful beaches like Paleokastritsa and Glyfada.

Read: The 41 Best Corfu Beaches

Its culture blends Greek, Italian, and British influences, with vibrant traditions and festivals.

Corfu’s cuisine is influenced by its history, offering Greek delights and local specialties.

Read: Corfu Cuisine: Recipes With Traditional Corfiot Food

Nature lovers appreciate its lush landscapes of olive groves and vineyards.

Visitors can enjoy various activities such as water sports, hiking, and boat tours, making Corfu an ideal Mediterranean getaway.

Read: Corfu Monuments and Sights

In terms of tourism development, Corfu stands as one of Greece’s cornerstones in the tourism industry, attracting visitors from around the world. Its undeniable allure, both natural and cultural, makes it a standout destination within the Ionian archipelago.

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.

Read: Benitses: A Guide to the Charming Corfu Beach Resort

Where is Corfu in Greece?

Corfu is situated in the northern Ionian Sea, marking the northwestern extremity of Greece. Positioned opposite the coast of the Greek mainland and southern Albania.

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

To the northwest of the island, there are three smaller islands collectively known as the Diapontian Islands, Othoni, Mathraki, and Erikoussa. To the south lie the islands of Paxos and Antipaxos.

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

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

The name Corypho may have originated from the presence of two peaks in the peninsula of the old fortress or perhaps from the twin summits of its highest mountain, Pantokrator.

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, who was 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.

Even 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, which is the modern Greek name for the island. The island’s rich mythological history adds a layer of intrigue to its cultural identity.

Why is Corfu so famous?

Corfu, being a distinct island in the Ionian Sea, is very popular among tourists and is known for several unique elements and facts that set it apart:

  1. The Esplanade and Liston Promenade: The Esplanade (Spianada) Square in Corfu Town is one of the largest squares in Greece and is flanked by Liston, a series of arched terraces featuring cafes and restaurants. The Esplanade is a unique and spacious area that reflects the island’s history and is often a center for various events.
  2. Kumquat Fruit: Corfu is famous for its kumquat fruit, and the island is one of the few places in Europe where kumquats are grown. The small, tangy citrus fruits originated from China, and are used to make various products, including liqueurs and preserves.
  3. Corfu’s Easter Traditions: While Easter celebrations are common across Greece, this island has its unique traditions. The throwing of clay pots from windows during the Resurrection ceremony on Holy Saturday is a distinctive and festive event.
  4. Pontikonisi (Mouse Island): The small island of Pontikonisi, often referred to as Mouse Island is near Kanoni and is crowned by the Vlacherna Monastery. The combination of the monastery and the small size of the island contributes to its unique charm.
  5. Corfiot Bands and Music: The musical tradition, especially the use of wind and brass instruments, is unique. Corfiot bands are known for their performances during religious processions and festivals, adding a distinctive musical element to the island’s culture.
  6. Corfiot Dialect: The local Corfiot dialect has unique characteristics that differentiate it from other Greek dialects. It reflects the island’s historical influences and linguistic diversity.
  7. Corfu’s Historical Crossroads: Due to its strategic location in the Ionian Sea, Kerkyra has a history shaped by various civilizations, including the Venetians, French, and British. This historical tapestry is unique to Kerkyra and is reflected in its architecture, traditions, and cultural influences.
  8. Venetian Architecture: This island has a strong Venetian influence due to centuries of Venetian rule. The architecture reflects this influence, with narrow streets, arched doorways, and pastel-colored buildings.
  9. Old and New Fortresses: The Old Fortress (Palaio Frourio) and the New Fortress (Neo Frourio) are prominent landmarks. The Old Fortress dates back to the Byzantine era, while the New Fortress was built during the Venetian rule. Both offer panoramic views of the island and the sea.
  10. Achilleion Palace: Built by Empress of Austria Elisabeth of Bavaria, also known as Sisi, the Achilleion Palace is a neoclassical palace with stunning gardens. The palace is dedicated to Achilles and features statues and artwork inspired by Greek mythology.
  11. Corfiot Cuisine: It is a distinct culinary tradition influenced by various cultures. You’ll find dishes with Venetian, French, British, and Greek influences. Some specialties include Pastitsada (a spicy beef or rooster stew), Sofrito (beef cooked in a garlic white wine sauce), and Bourdeto (fish stew).
  12. Corfu is the densest populated Hellenic(Greek) Island.
  13. The city of Kerkyra is the only city in Greece surrounded by the walls of its castles, therefore it also holds the name Kastropolis (City within castles).
  14. The island is home to the first Hellenic University in 1823 which still operates from the 19th century until today. Is the Ionian Academy.
  15. Also, the first commercial bank on Greek territory was here. The Ionian Bank.
  16. The first electricity factory on Greek territory was operating here before 1860.
  17. The first theater in modern Greece was in this land. It was the San Giacomo theater.
  18. Corfu has the only Georgian-style Palace outside the UK, the Palace of Saints Michael and George.
  19. This island was the birthplace of many Royals of Europe, e.g. Philip Prince of Edinburg.
  20. The Durrells family were residents of Corfu from 1936 to 1940.
  21. Corfu is home to the only cricket team in Greece.
  22. And finally, it is a fact that this island never felt Ottoman oppression.

These elements and facts contribute to the unique identity of Corfu which is obvious on this Travel guide, making it a fascinating destination for those interested in exploring the distinct features of this Greek island.

How long does it take to drive around the island?

Corfu is the second-largest of the Ionian Islands and the seventh-largest in Greece, therefore is a medium-sized island covering an area of 593 km² (146,500 acres).

In a straight line, from north to south, the length of the island is approximately 61 km (40 miles), while the greatest width is 27 km (17 miles).

The picturesque coastline, adorned with beautiful beaches, stretches for a total length of 217 km (135 miles).

The main part of the national road, extending from Paleokastritsa to the town and down to Lefkimi, is well-maintained and spans about 100 km.

Traveling from the north to the south can take just under 2 hours, accounting for potential traffic congestion, especially during the summer months.

While some narrow roads within villages and former agricultural roads may not be in optimal condition, the road network on the island is extensive and well-connected, contributing to its accessibility.

How to come to Corfu?

Corfu airport
Corfu airport

In recent years, Corfu has become a preferred destination for Greek tourists, gaining popularity, especially during the Easter holiday with its unique traditions. August sees a mix of Greek and Italian visitors, along with 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 the city of 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 between two to three and a half hours.

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.

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.

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.

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

Population – How many people live in Corfu?

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

According to the 2011 census, the population was 111,113 inhabitants. When accounting for temporary and semi-permanent residents, the total number approaches 150,000 people.

However, the 2021 census reported a population drop to 99,000, potentially due to pandemic-related factors and underreporting. Despite the numbers, Corfu’s strength lies in its stories, landscapes, and resilient spirit.

The old part of Corfu town alone has 30,000 inhabitants, and when combined with the suburbs of Kanoni, Potamos, Kanalia, Kontokali, and Alepou, the total reaches almost 50,000 residents.

Notably, Corfu has a substantial British community, making up almost 10% 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.

Mythology and Brief 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.

  • The island’s habitation dates back to the Paleolithic era and is mentioned in the Odyssey as being inhabited by the Phaeacians.
  • Corcyra, a nymph and daughter of the river god Asopos, was kidnapped by Poseidon, the god of the sea, and brought to the island. The couple gave birth to the Phaeacians, the island’s first known population. The name Corcyra later became Kerkyra in the Doric dialect.
  • Throughout its history, the island has experienced numerous conquerors, including the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Russians, French, and British Empires, each leaving a lasting mark on the island.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In 1386, the Venetians settled on the island, marking the beginning of 411 years of Venetian rule.
  • The Venetian era was followed by French dependencies, including democratic French and the imperial rule of Napoleon, followed by the Russians.
  • 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.

Read: The Fascinating Corfu History From Antiquity to Today

The Island of the Phaeacians

The Phaeacians are a mythical seafaring people in Greek mythology, mentioned in Homer’s epic poems, the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey“. They are known for their advanced seafaring skills and are associated with the island of Scheria.

The most detailed account of the Phaeacians is found in the “Odyssey”.

In the “Odyssey”, Odysseus, the hero of the epic, reaches the land of the Phaeacians 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. The Phaeacians live in a prosperous and peaceful society, and their ships are said to move magically and swiftly.

During his stay with the Phaeacians, Odysseus recounts his adventures and the challenges he has faced. The Phaeacians are impressed by his stories, and King Alkinoos decides to help him by providing a ship to finally return him to his homeland, Ithaca.

The Phaeacians play a crucial role in the narrative of the “Odyssey” as they facilitate Odysseus’ journey home. Their story adds an element of fantasy to the epic, with their advanced ships and seemingly magical abilities, although they are not prominent figures in other Greek myths, and their existence is mostly confined to the world of the “Odyssey”

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 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 Kerkyra

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 Corfu weather

Korission lake at Chalikouna
Korission lake at Chalikouna

Corfu boasts a lush and vibrant landscape, making it the greenest Greek island, primarily attributed to the abundant winter rains and the overall 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 details on the page about the weather in Corfu.

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 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.

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 referred to as 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.

Corfu Old Town 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: Corfu Old Town: Things to Do and See

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.

The traditional Corfu 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 of the island.

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.

Is Corfu a party island?

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

Corfu Musical tradition

Corfu Spianada square
Corfu Spianada square

Corfu boasts a rich and enduring musical tradition, evident in the presence of three main philharmonic societies in the city today: the Old Philharmonic, the Philharmonic of Mantzaros, and the Philharmonic of Kapodistrias. These societies frequently host outstanding concerts.

Throughout the island’s villages, there are additional bands that, on specific occasions, converge in Corfu Town to perform, eliciting enthusiastic cheers from their supporters.

The musical tradition in Corfu was strongly influenced by Italy, with many artists establishing music schools that incorporated classical influences.

The Ionian School of Music is typically divided into two periods: the first extending until 1870 and the second continuing until the early 20th century. In Greece, the Ionian School eventually gave way to the so-called National School, championed by “Germanists” Georgios Nazos and Manolis Kalomiris.

The Ionian School of Music

Greek-born Ionian musicians such as George Lambellet from Corfu and Dionysios Lavragas from Cephalonia were notable members of both the Ionian School and the “National School.”

These musicians often found themselves in disputes with “Germanist” Kalomiris, who claimed that Ionian music had connections to Italian music.

The founder of the Ionian School of Music was Corfiot Nikolaos Chalikiopoulos Mantzaros (1795-1872). The Ionian School encompasses a significant number of important musicians and composers from both the first and second periods.

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).

Literature

Corfu city hall at San Giacomo
Corfu city hall at San Giacomo

The Ionian Islands have also made significant contributions to literature, forming their own Ionian School. Renowned writers and poets, such as Dionysios Solomos from Zakynthos (1798-1857) – who lived for three decades in Corfu, have emerged from this literary tradition.

Other notable figures include 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 coined by the esteemed Greek poet Kostis Palamas, who introduced literary consciousness and the debate between Dimotiki and Katharevousa, representing two forms of the modern Greek language.

A distinctive feature of the Ionian School was the use of Dimotiki in poetry.

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

The significant contributions of Corfiot intellectuals to the establishment of the modern Greek state are widely recognized. The island has been a breeding ground for globally acclaimed individuals across various fields.

Corfu continues to be a cultural and economic powerhouse in Greece, particularly evident in its substantial tourist growth. However, the island may not have received the full recognition it deserves for its contributions.

Among the noteworthy personalities born or residing in Corfu, without even considering the younger generations, are:

Corfiot intellectuals

Ioannis Kapodistrias, a member of a noble family, served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia for several years and played a role in European political affairs, including the constitutional reform of Switzerland. He later became the first governor of modern Greece.

Nikolaos Mantzaros, a noble, musician, and composer, is known for creating the Greek national anthem and was a prominent figure in the Ionian School of Music.

Dionysios Solomos, the national poet, was born in Zakynthos (Zante) and spent the last 30 years of his life in Corfu.

Spyros Samaras, another musician, composed the Olympic anthem.

Antonio Vivaldi, the famous Italian composer, lived much of his life on the island.

Poets Gerasimos Markoras, Lorenzos Mavilis, Andreas Kalvos, and Iakovos Polylas, poets, were also part of the Ionian School of Literature.

Corfiot George Theotokis, a former Greek prime minister, and his relative Nikolaos Theotokis, the archbishop of Russia, were notable figures.

Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and St. Filomena were born in Corfu.

Actor Nikos Kourkoulos, as well as Albert Cohen and singers Vicky Leandros and Nana Mouskouri, hail from Corfu.

Many others, including Giacomo Casanova, who spent much of his life in Corfu, have contributed to the island’s rich history and culture. Casanova was forced to leave after a scandal with his affair with the young wife of the Venetian proveditore.

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.

The captivating scenery of Corfu 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 in Corfu 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

Conclusion – Is Corfu worth visiting?

Surely it is! Corfu, 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 Corfu, 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.

Read more about Corfu

Secrets of Corfu and Hidden Gems for Curious Travelers

|

Corfu is a wonder of an island. If you’ve never explored it, it’s high time you did. Its golden beaches along with its salty seas make Corfu one of the most explored islands in Greece.… Read More

What is Corfu known for? Reasons to Visit Corfu

|

Corfu boasts a collection of unique features that you won’t discover anywhere else in Greece. Among the most significant are:… Read More

Melodic Corfu: A Symphony of Culture, Music, and Beauty

|

Corfu, the musical heart of Greece, where the very air seems to harmonize with the soulful sounds of music when musical charm doesn’t stop at instruments and performances only.… Read More

Corfu Musical Tradition, Literature, and Intellectuals

|

There is a long-lasting musical tradition in Corfu called the Ionian School of music, influenced mostly by Italian music and artists.… Read More

The Best 10 Traditional Old Villages in Corfu

|

Corfu has over 200 villages and settlements, Exploring Corfu’s old villages is the perfect way to discover the unique charm of this Greek island.… Read More

Mon Repos Palace in Paleopolis of Corfu

|

Mon Repos palace lays in Corfu ancient city Paleopolis at Kanoni. Built in 1828 by the British Commissioner Sir Frederick Adam. Birthplace for Duke of Edinburgh Phillip.… Read More

Corfu Golf Club Course Review

|

If you’re going to be in the paradise that is Corfu, Greece, any time soon, why not take a few hours to play some golf? Here’s our Corfu Golf Course review.… Read More

5 Essential Items To Pack When Travelling To Corfu

|

You will need to pack your luggage for the vacation. So, here are the five essential items that you cannot miss while going to Corfu.… Read More

10 Great Movies That Were Filmed In Corfu Island

|

What better way to film a movie is on Corfu Island in Greece. With the picturesque natural vistas of Corfu, many film producers have seen the potential in this beautiful island… Read More

Corfu Easter 2020: All Events Canceled Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

|

For Easter 2020 it would be funny to think about events and celebrations and even more for visitors.
After all, to limit the COVID-19 disaster as much as we can, we have no other way than isolation.… Read More

Sagrado – What does this word finally mean?

|

Have you ever heard of Sagrado? No, not the restaurant in Corfu town, but a term that harkens back to Medieval and Venetian times.… Read More

Angelokastro: The Castle Next to Paleokastritsa

|

Angelokastro was the westernmost outpost of the Byzantine Empire and the Despotate of Epirus to which Corfu belonged until 1267 AD, it is near the village of Krini north of Paleokastritsa.… Read More

Corfu Blue Bus Routes and Timetable 2024

|

Blue Bus Timetables for all lines – The Corfu Blue Bus company has very frequent routes with 12 areas and villages around Corfu town.… Read More

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

|

Corfu nightlife offers, and always offered, some vivid nightclubs. There are many bars and large Clubs in the town and the other resorts on the island.… Read More

Water Sports and Sailing Holidays in Corfu

|

There are many Sports Activities in Corfu island, Diving, Skiing, and Sailing can be found in almost every holiday resort… Read More

We Answer to Your Questions About Corfu

|

We give some direct and short answers about Corfu island for People who asked about… Read More

Comments