Why Corfu is Greece's most magical holiday island
Situated off Greece's far northwest coast, just across from Albania, is the second-largest Ionian island and long-time holiday favourite of Corfu*.
This great hulk of rock, carpeted with forests and laced with secluded beaches, is also a seriously fertile isle striped with vineyards, orchards and olive groves that have produced the goods for centuries.
Graced with warm weather and plenty of sunshine from spring to autumn, Corfu encapsulates much of what is deemed desirable on holiday. From its resort-studded coastline, family fun and historic attractions to the indulgent get-away-from-it-all feel, we think it could well be the most magical holiday island of them all.
For big & little kids
The excitement of a holiday on Corfu for all the family starts the minute the plane touches down on the island. The landing is pretty exciting as the runway is surrounded by water - make sure the kids are watching.
Family holidays usually revolve around spending time at the beach and Corfu won't disappoint. Shallow, clear waters are your best bet and some of the best can be found along the southwest coast.
Try Chalikounas, Marathias, Issos and Gardenos; these are all long and sandy with sun loungers, umbrellas and tavernas for a spot of lunch.
Did you know? As Corfu is located in the Ionian Sea, it doesn't get as windy as many other Greek islands in the summer. The Meltemi is a strong, dry wind that blows from June to September in the Aegean Sea and can make coastal areas very choppy.
For something a little more thrilling, take the kids to Aqualand Corfu Water Park, which is reputed to be one of the biggest water parks in the world with 51 slides, pools and games for 'children' of all ages.
For historic attractions
History lovers will delight in exploring Corfu. The UNESCO-listed Old Town, only about 10 minutes from the airport, is like a living museum.
It boasts ancient Byzantine and Venetian architecture and tiny, cobbled streets that are a treat to get lost in as you wander around the houses, all built using local stone with wooden attics and handmade tiles.
There are two fortresses on Corfu, the Old Fortress one was built on a small island near the Esplanade, linked by a bridge. It's surrounded by sea and the small moat is still used to dock fishing boats. It's worth a visit to see the bastions, military artillery, citadel, church and several other buildings intact.
Between 1576 and 1645 the New Fortress was built and sits above the old port. Partially destroyed in WWII, it's accessible through an ancient gate with the Venetian symbol of lions on them. Many tunnels underneath link it with the Old Fort and Old Town.
Corfu for two
Deciding where to go for a laidback break for two? Thanks to the many up-market resorts along the east coast, scenic vistas and sunsets in the west, it's hard not to find romance at every turn on Corfu.
For simplicity and rugged cliff faces promising breathtaking views, head to the likes of Sidari with its Blue Flag beaches.
There's also the Canal d'Amour, where legend has it that those who manage to swim the length of this naturally formed water passageway will meet the love of their life at the end.
The quiet beach areas of Agios Georgios and Paleokastritsa are surrounded by olive groves and lemon trees, perfect for sunbathing and strolling. The latter is also dominated by a 13th-century monastery on the high cliffs above.
Resorts such as Kassiopi ooze both tradition and modernity with its pretty harbour and glitzy yachts. Pull up a chair at a taverna and watch daily life go by with your loved one.
For the best beach spots
With more than 50 beaches and bays to choose from, there's a spot for everyone along Corfu's coast. Owing to the rainfall in winter, it's a verdant island, so most of the beaches are backed by beautiful greenery, which means you can easily combine a day of relaxing with a walk in nature.
Paleokastritsa, mentioned above, is one of the most popular beaches thanks to the surrounding caves, which can also be explored by boat.
But if you're looking to get away from it all, head to Myrtiotissa Beach, 17 km west of Corfu Town. There are no facilities like sunbeds, umbrellas or tavernas nearby, but that's part of its appeal.
It's also overlooked by the medieval Monastery of the Virgin Mary Myrtiotissa. While the beach is unofficially one for nudists, you will, of course, need to dress appropriately if you want to visit the monastery above.
For a taste of the traditional
If you're looking to sample the 'real' Greece*, head away from the coast and into the mountains to explore the villages, some of which are rarely frequented by tourists.
Over on Corfu's northeast side, the largely-abandoned village of Palia Perithia rests on the slopes of Mount Pantokrator. A visit here is like stepping back in time, an example of what the island's first villages looked like.
A 'Designated Area of Natural Beauty', it has cobbled streets, traditional stone houses and eight churches showcasing some striking Venetian architecture.
Meanwhile, Agios Matheos, an agricultural village in forest on the slopes of Mount Gamilios offers monasteries, as well as more churches and stone houses.
Weather in Corfu
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The above guide shows the weather in Corfu. You can find out more about conditions across the country in our complete guide to the weather in Greece.
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