Corfu is ‘Garden Isle’ of Greece, with lots of wild flower and shrubs. The island is dotted with pristine blue beaches. The magic of corfu is very subtle, it grows on you. Island’s historic past definitely has a part to play in it’s charm. Due to it’s strategic location Corfu has changed hands between Ventian, French and British monarchs and resisted multiple attempts of seize from Ottoman kings, that’s why it’s one of the most fortified island.
Well, Corfu definitely is a Greek island. However, Corfu is closer to Italy and Albania than it’s to Athens. At the closest point in Northeast of island, Albania is just a few kilometres away from Corfu, so close that my mobile was actually picking up signal from there! So, purely on mobile signal terms, that’s another country checked off my list 🙂
Corfu is a sizeable island to keep you entertained for a week. Renting a car would come handy for exploring the island. We were there for 3.5 days and explored much of the upper half of the island. Corfu’s old town, Paleokastritsa, Sidari, Afinos, Dasia, Agni bay are some of the places we visited, I would recommend including them in your itinerary.
We hit the Old town on day 1. Corfu town is a beautiful maze of narrow cobbled streets surrounded by Venetian buildings and is best explored walking. Streets are packed with shops selling hand made wooden goods, like me if you are a sucker at kids wooden toys you’ll definitely enjoy these shops. K always gets something, this time he had fun exploring the shop with the owner while I decided what to buy.
As orange and olives are abundant in the area, olive oil and orange candy (like orange murabba) are definite buys. Other items we liked were honey coated peanuts with sesame seeds and olive spreads…yummy!
Spianada square is very beautiful and is lined with cafes and restaurants. There’s even a small cricket field (British influence) where the kids can run and play. One key attraction in the town is Old Fortress, which has defended corfu from many invasions. The view from the top is stunning but you need to be ready to take good number of stairs. This is the reason we decided not to visit, stairs and kids is not a good combination.
Day 2 was all about exploring North and north west region of island.
We started with Paleokastritsa, which is lined with amazing beaches, the bay is pretty quiet and you can take glass bottom boat rides to caves and secluded beaches. Sea is not rough therefore you can take kids along..Yay! Unfortunately for us it was very windy and therefore we decided against going for the ride with a 2 year old. There’s a small monestary just up the mountain from the main parking, you can take your car till the entry point or even walk as the distance is under 1 km. Gardens of monastery are filled with lovely colourful flowers, climbers and they look picture perfect against the backdrop of white walls. From monastery you get a superb view of the bay.
A touristy and commercial spot, I can guess it would be very crowded in peak season time as not many northern beaches are sandy. As it was, we went in the beginning of May and we had quite a bit of the place to ourselves, reason I love the ‘shoulder season’.
Canal D’Amour (Channel of love) is so charming and romantic. Flowing water and air have carved natural design on the sandstone cliffs and created coves and canals alongside. You could just sit there and look at the bay, take ample pictures without being photo bombed by anyone and marvel this natural wonder. According to the legend couple swimming here would remain in love forever (very romantic!!).
Afinos: Garden Village
From Canal D’Amour we headed to Afinos, a charming pictureristic small village boasting of the best sunset point on the island. The small walk to the sunset point from parking is dotted with white washed houses with colourful flowers. There are benches to just sit and admire the view and in particular, the sunset.
Day 3 was about exploring small fishing villages along north eastern coast of Corfu.
We started with a stop at Dasia, a small village with cute pebble beach, though after taking 2 – 3 steps in water, it wasn’t pebbly anymore. Weather was on our side and we were able to go for a dip in the sea. As we were there in shoulder season only shack on the beach was still closed and there were no beach beds. For beaches like this where not many facilities are available, best is to carry a couple of towels from the hotel and beach toys for kids.
Next stop was barabati beach, another small one but beach bar was open and so were the beach beds to lie down and enjoy the sea. Again pebbly beach but very clear water, light sea breeze, fresh stawbwerry mojito, kid busy with beach toys and yes you are in heaven!
From here we headed to agni bay for lunch at one of the famous taverns, we choose Nikolas as they seemed to have better vegetarian options. The views are amazing whether you choose any tavern. After delicious lunch we enjoyed sitting on the edge of wooden path looking at the bay and saying hi to Albania.
On our way back stopped at a cute cafe up the mountain for another good view, tea and ice cream soda. Cafe owner was friendly like everyone else on island and we even taught him how to make ice cream soda. He was very confused what we were asking him to do but happy to go along and see the result.
Pontikonisi: Mouse Island
The church of Vlacherna and the Mouse Island in the background is the post card picture of Corfu. A small passage connects the island with the church and Mouse island is short boat ride away from the church. According to legend, Pontikonisi was the boat of Odysseus which was turned to the green island by the God Poseidon during a storm.
we were short on time so couldn’t take the boat to the island. But if you have time at hand, then this should definitely be in your list.
Wrapping up the post with some handy tips as always.
BambinoTip: Corfu is generally very kid friendly, we didn’t have any problem at any place or restaurant. Old Fortress in Corfu Town definitely has a good number of stairs, so we skipped it.
ShakahariKhana: Greek food has good options for vegetarians, therefore you won’t have any problem finding some pretty delicious meals. Top recommendations:
Sea Breeze: A lovely seaside greek cuisine restaurant in Sidhari with indoor and outdoor space. They have good vegetarian options, the food is yummy and portion size is good. Recommended if you are in the area.
Karnveer Indian Restaurant: Yes, Corfu has Indian restaurant and I dare say this one is much better than some very pricey restaurants in London. Owner is from Punjab and its his wife who is the chef. They run the restaurant with the help of extended family. If you are craving for some home cooked Indian food, head over to the restaurant, you won’t be disappointed.
Where to stay: We stayed at Kontokali Bay Resort and Spa and loved it. It’s a seaside property with a small private beach.