A major cultural centre of Greece, Corfu has also developed in recent decades into a tourist-friendly location with plenty to see and do.

Situated in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Albania, the inception of the island is intertwined with Greek mythology. According to the story, the god Poseidon fell in love with the nymph Korkyra, abducted her to the island and offered her name to the location. The inhabitants were thereafter named after the child (Phaiax), being known initially as Phaiakes. The name of Corfu actually derives from the corrupted Italian form, the true title being Koryphai (meaning ‘crests’, in reference to the two peaks of the surrounding fortresses).

Although Homer noted the island as Scheria in ‘The Odyssey’ (being one of Odysseus’ locations), little is known about the island’s early history. Courtesy of its trade, Corfu was always a potent naval presence, submitting the 2nd largest Greek navy during the 480 BC Persian Invasion. However, the island gradually declined in significance thereafter, culminating in 229 BC with the Roman takeover and a long period of quietude. This was disturbed by a stream of occupations from the medieval period onwards, starting with the Normans in the late 11th century through to the Venetians in the 1386 (lasting for almost four centuries) and concluding in 1864, when the island was ceded to the Kingdom of Greece.

Despite destructive bombing during World War II, the island has preserved its beauty and also modernised for the sake of tourism. As a result, whether you’re looking to relax on the beaches or search out antiquity, Corfu is a great place to visit.


The diverse mixture of peoples and occupants in Corfu’s history is reflected in the architecture. For a glimpse into antiquity, the ancient city of Kerkyra (the city’s capital, Corfu Town) provides a number of important remains, such as the Temple of Poseidon and the Tomb of Menekrates.

Elsewhere, the Venetian-Roman styled City Hall and the Palace of Mon Repos (formerly owned by the Greek royal family) provide a sight of Italian architecture. Moreover, the 15th-18th century Old and New Fortresses in the east and northwest of Corfu Town respectively show the fortifications which kept the island safe throughout the Venetian occupation.

Across the island, you can find a number of early Christian and Byzantine churches. One of the finest is the red-domed Church of St. Spyridon, built in 1589 to celebrate the city’s patron saint.

Unquestionably one of the most beautiful locations in Corfu is the Achilleion Summer Palace in the village of Gastouri. Built in the late 19th century by the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth of Bavaria, the motif of the palace is the handsome and bellicose Achilles, who was considered a metaphor for Corfu. As such, the interior and gardens are awash with statues and paintings of the great ancient hero, all utterly marvellous and making the palace un-missable.

Corfu enjoys a wide array of museums covering plenty of topics. As well as the Municipal Gallery (specialising in Greek art throughout the ages) in the Saint Michael and Saint George Palace, you can find a Museum of Asian Art in the Palaia Anaktora, an Archaeological Museum in Armeni Vraila and a Serbian Museum in Moustoxydou Street, commemorating Serbian soldiers during the First World War.

With over 200 km of shoreline, Corfu provides plenty of sandy beaches for relaxation. Some of the best can be found in St. Stefanos and Glyfada, being both tranquil and great for water-sports. Alternatively, for somewhere a bit quieter, try Avlaki.

Among the many festivals, the Festival of Corfu in Corfu Town during September is one of the best, with an array of concerts by theatrical groups and the philharmonic bands. August also sees a host of cultural events in Ano Korakiana village. There’s even a Cricket Festival in Esplanade Square in Corfu Town.


Corfu Town is naturally the best area for shopping. As well as the standard high-street shops, you can expect to find a number of local outlets. A leather market can be found on Dona Street and Nik. Theotoki Street, while a fine jewellery shop is located on Filellinon Street.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Corfu is packed with Greek tavernas and fish tavernas, as well as foreign alternatives like Italian and Chinese. The local cuisine is renowned as one of the best in Greece, with dishes like Venetian Pastitsio (specially prepared bread filled with various meats and cheese) and scorpion fish bourdetto. Also, be sure to have some of the famous local wine. Among the many restaurants, Janis in the village of Kassiopi and Pelargos in Corfu Town are fine establishments.

Bars can be found everywhere on the island, but the majority of night clubs are located outside of Corfu Town and around the beach resorts.

Tourist Information

Corfu Tourist OfficeRizospaston Vouleuton & Iakovou Polyla49100Corfu TownTel: +39 (0)661


Corfu is served by Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport, some 3 km south of the ancient city. International and domestic connecting flights are available, but mainly between April and October. Buses and taxis can be found at the airport.

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