Since ancient times, the island named after the nymph Kerkyra (the daughter of the God of the Rivers,), also known as Corfu has represented an important cultural center since the days of yore; largely inhabited by Phoenicians, it was later conquered by Philip II and his Macedonians took control of the island. With time, he was attacked and conquered by the Spartans, Illyrians and Romans, the latter remaining the absolute rulers for next five centuries, but were granted autonomy in exchange for using the island’s biggest port as a transit point in their expeditions. So the Roman mark is yet easily observed in the architecture and infrastructure. Also Corfu is hosting the first modern Greek University built in 1824.
A holiday in Corfu will make you feel like a god. As an Olympian god, namely, whether you’d like to be Poseidon and patron over the crystal clear waters surrounding the island or you would rather be Dionysus, god of wine – a drink appreciated by the Greeks during toga parties organized in Corfu. The island has everything you could want: the imposing Venetian palaces, durable fortresses, captivating museums and lively nightlife. You should know that Corfu has a rather different history, compared to the rest of Greece. The island has never been a part of the Ottoman Empire, so you will see no Turkish influences there; however, Napoleon Bonaparte had fallen in love (like the rest of us) with the island and decided to annex it to his empire. And there is a great Venetian heritage, due to the influences throughout the centuries – hence the amazing architecture.
Corfu is characterized by lush vegetation, complemented by olive groves and harmoniously embraced by the waves. To see all of the island’s scenery and wealth of attractions you would need at least two weeks. On the other hand somewhere around five days here could be enough – to begin with! -, because it will give you time to tick all the major attractions. And then you will want to return and enjoy the rest.
You could begin you close encounter with the two fortresses called simply the Old Fortress and the New Fortress, which certifies buildings Venetian architectural heritage. Venetian culture is not the only one that has put its mark on the appearance of buildings in Corfu, the city was subjected to French and English domination over time, then take a walk in the Palace built during Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
You can then discover the finesse of sand, pamper yourself for the day on one of the beaches of Corfu. You have plenty of choices, because Corfu has more than 30 beaches. You might choose the south, which is said to be the best, with fine sand, or you could head to the north. Here you will enjoy landscapes that are difficult to describe in words, but you have to bear the naughty white pebbles that cover most beaches in the area.
The most popular among tourists are the beaches of Paleokastritsa and Benitses.
Book one day to visit the archaeological sites. The ancient Palaiopolis site brings together samples of the most interesting monuments of the Greeks: Agora, the Roman baths and two temples in Doric style.
Near Mon Repos you will discover the Temple of Artemis Gorgous, built in the late sixth century BC. Menekratis’s tomb, located in Garitsa, is also worth seeing, especially if you love history.
Even if sunshine and the overall specific Mediterranean climate will tempt you to spend as much time outdoors, resist and assign one days visiting the most important museums. The Archaeological Museum, the Byzantine Museum and the Asian Art Museum you will surely love. Do not neglect the Solomon Museum, the Sea Shell Museum and the Municipal Art Gallery.
Rest a bit in one of the taverns of Corfu and enjoy Greek specialties that you can find here: Bourdeto (a stew very spicy fish stew seasoned with lots of red pepper), Bianco (a kind of stew, but made from white fish, garnished with a lot of garlic). You can still order Sofrito (a specialty made from slices of veal marinated in vinegar and seasoned with garlic and parsley). Of course, all these delights should be filled with ouzo, the Greek anise raki.
Reserve yourself a day or several hours to take a trip to the Mourtos. You will see so with your eyes where the Greek fleet was hidden during the Second World War.
When you come back, check the nightlife of Corfu. Pink Place and Palladium Night Club are two places which stand out and to any local would recommend them to you.
You have probably seen a t least a few American movies when college students take part in toga parties; it’s a habit borrowed from an ancient – and rather unusual, some might say – habit from the time their ancestors. Let yourself be enveloped by the rhythms and unmistakable Sirtaki, socialize with other tourists and befriend locals and you will never forget attending such a party. Just so you can say with hand on heart that you’ve received your initiation in having fun Greek style.
Before you go and say farewell to Corfu, even if you are not among those who love water sports, exceed your limits and try to scuba diving.
P.A.D.I. (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) licensed professional instructors will help you discover the lesser known side of the waves. Dive Easy, Die Seven Islands and Corfu Achilleon Diving centers are the most popular scuba diving clubs. On the other hand, if you’re more courageous and you’re not afraid of diving to the depths (up to seven meters), buy a special fork for snorkeling and hunt for octopuses!
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