Corfu

Visitors and settlers have been delighted by the green and pleasant island of Corfu for thousands of years. It was already a popular holiday destination in Roman times, and today it is one of the busiest spots in the Mediterranean. 

Corfu TownCorfu Town

What's in a name?
The Greek name for Corfu is Kerkyra. According to one tradition this derives from a nymph named Kerkyra or Korkyra, brought to the island by the sea god Poseidon who was in love with her.

Another possible derivation is from the Greek kerkos, meaning ‘handle’, referring to the island’s shape. Corfu has also been known as Drepanon or Drepani, meaning ‘sickle’.

The English name Corfu probably comes from the Greek word korifai (peaks), as a twin-peaked citadel once stood on the site of Corfu Town. The name was corrupted into Corfu by European settlers, and this is now how most of the inhabitants refer to the island themselves. 

Corfu has a population of just over 100,000, packed into its 593 sq kms (229 sq miles), making it one of the most densely populated parts of Greece – and that’s without the annual impact of almost one million visitors. Nevertheless, such figures are misleading, as about 40% of the population lives in the capital, Corfu Town.

A bay and beach on Corfu in the Greek Ionian islands

Corfu History

It has been established that Corfu Town was one of the first settlements on the island, with remains dated back to about 50,000 years ago. The island’s fertility, size and natural beauty all contributed to its development, and by the time of the Persian Wars it was so powerful that only Athens contributed a greater naval fleet to the Greek forces massed against the Persians. It remained a strong Greek power, and little surprise that it was coveted by the Romans, and indeed by many other powers over the succeeding centuries.

See our page on Corfu Writers and Artists.

It was the Venetians who have left the most impact culturally and architecturally, after their occupation here from 1386 to 1797, which also means that the Turkish influence, so strong elsewhere in Greece, is here quite negligible. Instead you will see in Corfu Town the tall houses, with wrought-iron balconies and shutters, and the narrow streets so typical of Italian towns, and reminiscent in places of Venice.

The British also ruled Corfu for a time and left behind a quirky legacy - a love of cricket on Corfu!

Don't miss seeing the 13th century hilltop fortress of Angelokastro.

Walking on Corfu

For some suggestions about walking on Corfu, see these pages:
The Corfu Trail
A Walk in the Old Town of Corfu
A Lawrence Durrell Walk

And this one about Corfu's neighbour:
Walking on Paxos

Driving on Corfu

For some suggestions of drives you can do on Corfu, see:
Drive to Palaiokastritsa
Mount Pantokrator Drive
Northern Corfu Drive
Northern Corfu in Three Days
Southern Corfu Drive

Getting to Know Corfu

You can get a broad view of the island by reading the following pages:
Northern Corfu Beaches and Villages
North-West Corfu Beaches and Villages
Southern Corfu Beaches and Villages

Corfu's Coastline

Corfu has some 217km (135 miles) of glorious coastline for visitors to enjoy, and the vast majority of these visitors shoehorn themselves into a handful of bustling seaside resorts, so escape from the crowds is still possible. Take a look at little Kalami, as one example. And though few coastal villages are totally untouched by tourism, some have not yet been taken over by it. 

Corfu's Wildlife

Be sure to read our pages on Corfu's Wildlife and Corfu's Marine Life.

Lizard on Corfu in Greece

Corfu's Food and Drink

Corfu's food and drink is definitely one reason to visit the island. Check out these pages:

Corfu's Food and Drink
Corfu's Olives
Corfu's Special Cuisine
Where to Eat in Corfu Town
Where to Eat in Northern Corfu
Where to Eat in North-West Corfu

Corfu's Popularity

What has made Corfu so popular? For one thing, it can boast some of the best beaches in Greece. Its climate is warm for most of the year and regular rainfall makes Corfu an unusually green Mediterranean island.

The scenery is outstanding, with the north dominated by the majestic slopes of Mount Pantokrator, and the people possess the traditional Greek friendliness (in Greek the word for ‘stranger’ and ‘guest’ is one and the same). To see the best of the scenery think about walking the Corfu Trail.

View from Mount Pantokrator on Corfu towards AlbaniaView from Mount Pantokrator towards Albania

The island is divided into a mountainous north and a lower-lying south, with a flat and fertile plain in-between, so lush that it can provide the islands’ only golf course. The bulk of the tourist development is in the northeast, spreading north from Corfu Town, and there are numerous excellent beaches all around the island, which is big enough to provide escape from the crowds into untouched mountain villages, as this drive indicates. And finally, Corfu Town is probably the most attractive capital to be found in any of the Greek islands. 

Where to Stay on Corfu



Other Corfu pages

  • Donna Dailey of Greece Travel Secrets visits Albania by boat from Corfu Town, staying overnight and seeing archaeological sites with Sipa Tours.

    Visiting Albania from Corfu

    Donna Dailey of Greece Travel Secrets visits Albania by boat from Corfu Town, staying overnight and seeing archaeological sites with Sipa Tours.

  • If you want to tour northern Corfu in three days you can see busy resorts, quiet fishing villages, Mount Pantokrator, and the Andinioti Lagoon.

    Northern Corfu in Three Days

    If you want to tour northern Corfu in three days you can see busy resorts, quiet fishing villages, Mount Pantokrator, and the Andinioti Lagoon.

  • Paleokastritsa is on the west coast of Corfu and is one of the most popular holiday spots. This page gives information on beaches, boat trips, weather and map.

    Paleokastritsa, Corfu

    Paleokastritsa is on the west coast of Corfu and is one of the most popular holiday spots. This page gives information on beaches, boat trips, weather and map.

  • Sidari is a popular holiday resort on the north coast of Corfu with beaches and unusual rock formations as well as plenty of places to eat and to stay.

    Sidari

    Sidari is a popular holiday resort on the north coast of Corfu with beaches and unusual rock formations as well as plenty of places to eat and to stay.

  • This is the Greece Travel Secrets selection of where to eat in northern Corfu, from classy restaurants and traditional tavernas to beachside fish tavernas.

    Where to Eat in Northern Corfu

    This is the Greece Travel Secrets selection of where to eat in northern Corfu, from classy restaurants and traditional tavernas to beachside fish tavernas.

  • The Corfu Climate page describes the hours of sun, the rain, the winds, to help you plan the best time to visit this Ionian island.

    Corfu Climate: Sun, Rain, Winds

    The Corfu Climate page describes the hours of sun, the rain, the winds, to help you plan the best time to visit this Ionian island.

  • The history of Corfu and cricket goes back to 1823 when the island was under British rule, which left them with a legacy of loving both cricket and ginger beer.

    Corfu and Cricket

    The history of Corfu and cricket goes back to 1823 when the island was under British rule, which left them with a legacy of loving both cricket and ginger beer.

  • These Corfu shopping tips include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, jewelry, gold, silver, wood carvings, and food and drink, with tips on haggling.

    Corfu Shopping Tips

    These Corfu shopping tips include advice on buying souvenirs like ceramics, jewelry, gold, silver, wood carvings, and food and drink, with tips on haggling.

  • Corfu Town’s Old Fortress is the town’s most striking landmark, standing east of the Old Town on top of a rocky promontory.

    Corfu Town’s Old Fortress

    Corfu Town’s Old Fortress is the town’s most striking landmark, standing east of the Old Town on top of a rocky promontory.

  • Greece Travel Secrets’ pick of where to stay in southern Corfu including hotels in Moraïtika, Paramonas, Messonghi, Agios Georgios, and near Benitses.

    Where to Stay in Southern Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets’ pick of where to stay in southern Corfu including hotels in Moraïtika, Paramonas, Messonghi, Agios Georgios, and near Benitses.

  • Mount Pantokrator is the highest mountain on Corfu and it’s easy to drive to the top for spectacular views of Albania, Corfu, and even sometimes to Italy.

    Mount Pantokrátor

    Mount Pantokrator is the highest mountain on Corfu and it’s easy to drive to the top for spectacular views of Albania, Corfu, and even sometimes to Italy.

  • Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in north-west and central Corfu including luxury mansions, inexpensive rooms, and resort hotels.

    Where to Stay in North-West and Central Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets recommends where to stay in north-west and central Corfu including luxury mansions, inexpensive rooms, and resort hotels.

  • North-West Corfu’s beaches and villages include busy resorts, quiet beaches, hill villages, and places ideal for watching the sunset,

    North-West Corfu Beaches and Villages

    North-West Corfu’s beaches and villages include busy resorts, quiet beaches, hill villages, and places ideal for watching the sunset,

  • This Lawrence Durrell walk takes you from Kaminaki Beach in northern Corfu to the White House in Kalami where the writer Lawrence Durrell lived for four year.

    A Lawrence Durrell Walk

    This Lawrence Durrell walk takes you from Kaminaki Beach in northern Corfu to the White House in Kalami where the writer Lawrence Durrell lived for four year.

  • Corfu olives are an important part of this Greek island's economy, with an estimated 3-4 million trees producing olive oil of exceptional quality.

    Corfu Olives

    Corfu olives are an important part of this Greek island's economy, with an estimated 3-4 million trees producing olive oil of exceptional quality.

  • This drive to Palaiokastritsa starts at Corfu airport and takes you across the Ropa Plan and through hill villages before returning to Corfu Town.

    Drive to Palaiokastrítsa

    This drive to Palaiokastritsa starts at Corfu airport and takes you across the Ropa Plan and through hill villages before returning to Corfu Town.

  • Northern Corfu’s beaches and villages include busy resorts and secluded beaches, with several hill and mountain villages well worth visiting.

    Northern Corfu Beaches and Villages

    Northern Corfu’s beaches and villages include busy resorts and secluded beaches, with several hill and mountain villages well worth visiting.

  • Corfu’s wildlife includes rare and colourful birds, snakes, lizards, fireflies, and insects, with plenty of places to watch the wildlife like lakes and lagoons.

    Corfu Wildlife

    Corfu’s wildlife includes rare and colourful birds, snakes, lizards, fireflies, and insects, with plenty of places to watch the wildlife like lakes and lagoons.

  • Northern Corfu is the most diverse part of the island, with Corfu's highest point, Mt Pantokrator, and beach resorts like Sidari and Palaiokastritsa.

    Northern Corfu

    Northern Corfu is the most diverse part of the island, with Corfu's highest point, Mt Pantokrator, and beach resorts like Sidari and Palaiokastritsa.

  •  Information for travelers on Corfu Food and Drink including restaurants and tavernas, Corfiot specialties, desserts, wine and other Greek drinks like ouzo.

    Corfu Food and Drink

    Information for travelers on Corfu Food and Drink including restaurants and tavernas, Corfiot specialties, desserts, wine and other Greek drinks like ouzo.

  • Greece Travel Secrets has its list of favourite places where you can eat in north-west Corfu, including in Paleokastritsa, Pelekas, and Ayios Stefanos.

    Where to Eat in North-West Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets has its list of favourite places where you can eat in north-west Corfu, including in Paleokastritsa, Pelekas, and Ayios Stefanos.

  • The Corfu Trail runs from the southernmost point of Corfu at Cape Asprokavos and winds for 220km (137 miles) to the northernmost point near Andinioti Lagoon.

    The Corfu Trail

    The Corfu Trail runs from the southernmost point of Corfu at Cape Asprokavos and winds for 220km (137 miles) to the northernmost point near Andinioti Lagoon.

  • Greece Travel Secrets picks where to stay in northern Corfu with budget and luxury hotels in Sidari, Daphnila Bay, Kontokali, Ipsos, Barbati and more.

    Where to Stay in Northern Corfu

    Greece Travel Secrets picks where to stay in northern Corfu with budget and luxury hotels in Sidari, Daphnila Bay, Kontokali, Ipsos, Barbati and more.

  • Corfu’s marine life includes dolphins, loggerhead turtles, and rare Mediterranean monk seals.

    Corfu’s Marine Life

    Corfu’s marine life includes dolphins, loggerhead turtles, and rare Mediterranean monk seals.

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