A fantastic place to visit and vacation, Corfu lies in the Ionian Sea, just off the coast of both Albania and Greece. Also known as Kerkyra in Greek, it has a remarkably rich history to delve into with many also holidaying here for its divine scenery and the sparkling waters that surround it.
Due to its strategic setting, everyone from the Romans and Venetians to the British and French ruled over the idyllic isle at one point or another. As such, all kinds of impressive archaeological sites and age-old castles and ruins dot its scenic shores and soaring mountain ranges. Numerous locations are even linked back to the very beginnings of Greek mythology.
While Corfu Old Town attracts the most attention due to its charming cobbled streets and countless cultural landmarks, the rest of the island is also awash with amazing landscapes and attractions. Besides basking on its breathtaking beaches and exploring Corfu’s quiet little fishing villages, other fun things to do in Corfu include watersports and boat trips around this gorgeous Greek island.
In this post, we'll cover:
18. Angelokastro Fortress
Set in a very dramatic spot, the ancient Angelokastro Fortress is perched atop a very precipitous and rocky hilltop overlooking the Ionian Sea. Nestled away along the isle’s northwest coastline, not far from Paleokastritsa, its fortifications are fascinating to tour about with the views being just as good.
Certainly one of the most imposing architectural sites in the Ionian Islands, it was built sometime in the thirteenth-century by the Byzantines. Over the years, the castle suffered innumerable attacks and sieges but never fell. The Ottomans even abandoned their attempts at conquering Corfu after being defeated at its gates.
It is easy to see why they struggled as even the rugged, winding route up to the fortress would make it tough to attack. Asides from seeing its sturdy walls and taking in the phenomenal views of the sea and village below, you can also photo its small cave church and intricately hewn sarcophagi.
17. Paleokastritsa Monastery
Far, far below is another hugely interesting historic site for you to check out that is also situated in a spectacular spot. Constructed atop a clifftop alongside the sea, Paleokastritsa Monastery has lots of amazing old art and architecture to see with lush gardens lying all around it.
Located just a short stroll from the beautiful village and beach of the same name, the lovely historic monastery dates to 1226 with a medieval castle once having stood in the same spot. After climbing up its hill, you can see all the impressive icons and art in its chapel and peruse artifacts and exhibits in its small museum.
As they are coated in bougainvillea and geraniums, its buildings make for some fantastic photos as do the commanding views out over the craggy coast and shimmering sea before you.
16. Glyfada Beach
Head just half an hour’s drive directly west of Corfu Old Town and you’ll come across the gorgeous Glyfada Beach. One of the most popular places to soak up some sun on the island, it is hemmed in by high hills and olive trees with countless beach bars also lining its sandy shores.
Due to the tree-covered cliffs and striking rock formations around it, the beach’s fine, golden sands are a treat to lounge on lazily while taking in the spellbinding scenery. Other than splashing about in the shallows and swimming in the sea, beachgoers can try its fun inflatable obstacle course or book boat trips up and down the coast.
Sunbeds, umbrellas and showers are all readily available while dozens of tavernas and hotels cluster about its charming cove. In summer, the beach can get quite full at times with its lively bars usually attracting a younger crowd.
15. Aqualand Corfu Water Park
If you’re after even more splashtastic fun in the sun, then the enormous Aqualand Corfu Water Park is definitely the place to go. Full of thrilling rides, slides and relaxing pools, its green grounds have something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
One of the biggest and best waterparks in Europe, it can be found just twenty minutes drive outside of Corfu Town, along the Pelekas national road. In total, it now has over fifty slides for you to shoot down with lazy rivers and wave pools also lying alongside sunbathing areas.
On top of all its exciting slides and pools, the park also has a jacuzzi and spa treatments for visitors to make use of. With restaurants and a video arcade also scattered about its sprawling site, you can easily spend all day at Aqualand.
14. Corfu Museum of Asian Art
Packed with fabulous paintings, ceramics and sculptures, the Corfu Museum of Asian Art occupies a stately palace right by the old town waterfront. The only collection of its kind in the country, it really is a must-visit for art lovers with some 11,000 unique objects now on display.
First opened to the public in 1927, its innumerable holdings were mainly assembled by two Greek diplomats that were passionate about Asian artworks. In the museum’s grand rooms, guests can now see everything from fine Chinese porcelain and elaborate Indian sculptures to samurai swords and Tibetan textiles. Various sections also focus on the Himalayas and culture of Central Asian nomads.
Just as impressive is the delightful building itself which once served as the official residence of the British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. One of the largest and most important of its time, the palace still features ornate furniture and decorations from when it was built in 1819.
13. La Grotta Beach
On the eastern side of Paleokastritsa is one of the most enchanting spots on the island: the stunning La Grotta Beach. Besides basking in its epic scenery and views, you can go swimming, snorkeling and cliff diving here or enjoy a delicious meal or drink at its famous bar.
In truth, it is more of a rocky bay than a beach as lots of large boulders and a few wooden platforms for sunbathing lie between its two towering cliffs. It paints quite a pretty picture though what with the twinkling turquoise waters lapping at its dramatic-looking rocky outcrops.
At night, the small bay is majestically illuminated with many people heading to the lively La Grotta Bar for either tasty cocktails or a magical dinner under the stars.
12. Corfu Donkey Rescue
Just fifteen minutes drive from Paleokastritsa along little winding roads amidst the hills is the Corfu Donkey Rescue. At their tranquil site, you can meet, stroke, feed and photo their cute residents and learn all about the animals and the invaluable work the organization does.
Since being founded in 2004, over 500 abandoned, ill, old and abused donkeys have thankfully been taken in at the sanctuary where they are cared for by its loving staff and volunteers. Watching them amble happily about their spacious enclosures and interact with their friends is a moving experience that many animal lovers will cherish.
Also roaming about the rescue are dozens of dogs, cats and chickens, many of which are also happy to be petted and photographed either playing or lazing about in the sun.
11. Corfu Trail
A wonderful way to see even more of the idyllic island’s striking scenery, nature and historic sights is to hike along the Corfu Trail. Well off the beaten path, it takes you through loads of unspoiled and untouched landscapes both inland and along the coast.
Stretching 220 kilometers in length, the well-signposted path starts near Asprokavos along the south coast before slowly meandering its way right up to Agios Spiridon in the north. On the taxing hike, you’ll pass through rolling olive groves, rugged gorges and alongside vast beaches with the landscapes and views changing every hour or so.
This makes the small trail a delight to explore with ancient monasteries and traditional villages also lining the route. As it would take a week to complete, you can also just stop off and hike a few short sections to get a better feel for life in Corfu away from the crowds.
10. Saint Spyridon Church
Arguably the most beautiful of the churches on the island of Corfu is the Saint Spyridon Church, which was constructed in the 1580s. It boasts the highest bell tower in the Ionian Islands, and it is located in the heart of Old Town Corfu.
The church houses a collection of relics from St. Spyridon, which belonged to the Voulgaris family until the 16th century. The church’s crypt also houses the remains of the saint himself in a double sarcophagus.
Venetian silver and stunning paintings decorate the church, making it a truly breathtaking interior that even those without religious affiliation will appreciate.
9. Mount Pantokrator
The highest peak in all of Corfu is Mount Pantokrator, making the mountain an easily identifiable landmark for residents and visitors alike. From the summit of the peak, it is possible to see all of Corfu in one panoramic view, and even Albania can be spotted off in the distance.
Hiking to the summit of Mount Pantokrator takes an average of two hours for a reasonably fit adult, but it is also possible to drive to the top. A 17th century church stands near the summit, reminding visitors about the strong connection between mountains and gods in Greek culture.
8. Old Perithia
For anyone interested in history, or anyone simply fascinated by the traditional culture of the island, one of the top attractions in Corfu is Old Perithia. This village is the oldest that remains in Corfu, though it is almost completely abandoned.
Located at the base of Mount Pantokrator, the town was founded as a secure location that offers vantage points to the sea but can’t be seen from the coast. Old Perithia still boasts eight churches and more than 100 traditional Corfiot homes.
Travelers can walk through Old Perithia and see some of the few locals that still call the village home, dine at the few tavernas in the village and watch the sheep roam among fig and cherry trees.
7. Old Fortress, Corfu Town
On the easternmost point of the peninsula where Corfu Town is located stands the Old Fortress of Corfu. Known to Greeks as the Paleo Frourio, this incredible medieval structure was built in 1546 when the Venetians ruled over the island. The history of the site goes back even further, however, as a Byzantine castle one stood where the fortress is currently located.
Separated from the town by a moat, the Old Fortress boasts two small peaks, or korypha, that are responsible for the island’s name of Corfu. Inside the fortress, visitors will find several British structures, such as the Church of St. George, which were installed in the place of the original Venetian buildings.
Tucked away right along the northeastern coast of the island is the charming little fishing village of Kassiopi. As well as boasting a very scenic center and the remains of a centuries-old Byzantine fort, its wealth of top-quality restaurants and luxury villas attract hordes of holidaymakers each summer.
Unlike the rest of the region’s beach-focused resorts, its main hub of activity is based around its tiny horseshoe-shaped harbor. Here you’ll find terrific tavernas, seafood restaurants and souvenir shops with the whole area being delightfully lit up at night.
Aside from hiking up the hill to the castle and seeing its ruins, there are several beaches to visit just ten minutes walk away. You can also book to go on boat trips or swimming and snorkeling outings from Kassiopi along the coast.
5. Canal D’Amour, Sidari
On the western side of the island are several popular resort areas, most of which are busy year-round thanks to international tourism. One, called Sidari, is especially popular thanks to its proximity to a natural landmark known as the Canal de l’Amour.
Accessible on foot right at one end of the beach, the Canal de l’Amour is a series of narrow inlets created by sandstone cliffs. Each of the inlets offers something unique, ranging from a pristine strip of white sand to paths that lead to gorgeous stone archways or hidden caverns. Thanks to the cliffs, the inlets are protected by the winds, making them a great place to soak up the sun on cooler days.
4. Vlacherna Monastery
One of the most iconic landmarks, and one closely associated with the Corfu’s history, is the Vlacherna Monastery. The woman’s monastery is located on a tiny island off the coast. In order to access the island, which is almost entirely covered by the monastery itself, visitors have to walk along the narrow wharf that leads from the coast to Vlacherna.
The bright white architecture of the Vlacherna Monastery, built at the end of the 17th century, stands out against the background of the blue waters surrounding it, creating an iconic image that is even more beautiful in person than in photographs.
3. Achilleion Palace
One of the most beautiful landmarks in Corfu is the Achilleion Palace. As the name suggests, the palace was built with the theme of Achilles himself, so there is an emphasis throughout the structure on beauty, symmetry and sculpture.
The opulent palace was built in 1890 by Empress of Austria Elisabeth of Bavaria (also known as Sisi), a woman known to be obsessed with physical beauty. After the death of her son in 1889, she threw herself into the creation of Achilleion Palace, which served as a summer palace for decades.
Visiting the palace today offers the chance to see inside the refurbished rooms as well as the sculpture garden, including the noteworthy sculpture of Achilles dying.
2. Paleokastritsa Beach
Undoubtedly one of the most popular and pristine swathes of sand on the isle, Paleokastritsa Beach is set right by the village and monastery of the same name. Surrounded by little bars and tavernas, it is a lovely spot to sunbathe, swim and take in the spectacular scenery all around you.
Curved about a sparkling bay with high walls of rock bordering it, the beach is sandy unlike most of the shingle coves up and down the coast. As it is quite narrow, it often gets quite full during the day with sunbeds and umbrellas studding its shores.
The beach is definitely well worth visiting though for its crystal-clear waters and stunning views of the soaring cliffs and shimmering sea. After topping up your tan, you can grab a bite to eat at one of the local tavernas before making your way to the nearby monastery and hilltop castle.
1. Corfu Old Town
Home to a mesmerizing mess of enticing streets and attractive squares, Corfu’s Old Town really is a treat to stroll about. The heart and soul of life on the island, its fine Venetian buildings and countless bustling businesses occupy a broad peninsula in between two fabulous old fortresses.
As the island was long ruled by the Republic of Venice, its Italian influence is ever present though both Spianada Square and The Liston are respectively more British and French in nature. Scattered about its winding streets are loads of interesting historic sites and museums with all its pretty pastel buildings draped in bougainvillea appearing as if out of a movie set.
Other than exploring the amazing Old Fortress which is perched atop a promontory overlooking the town and harbour, the phenomenal Palace of St. Michael and St. George is also a must-see. As well as enjoying its ambience and architecture, there are lots of great cafes and restaurants to try out with plenty of other sights like the serene Saint Spyridon Church also packing out its streets.