This drive to Palaiokastritsa starts at Corfu airport and takes you across the Ropa Plan and through hill villages before returning to Corfu Town.
Palaiokastrítsa (or Paleokastritsa) is one of the most popular beauty spots on Corfu, so much so that Sir Frederick Adam, the British High Commissioner in the early 19th century, built a road across the island to speed his journey. This drive takes you there on a more scenic, meandering route through the villages and idyllic landscape of the Rópa Plain.
From the airport, make a left turn on to the road for the Achilleion and Lefkímmi. After 1 km (0.6 miles), turn right, following signs for Pélekas; then left again when this short road ends, and continue on the Pélekas road through the suburbs of Corfu Town (about 10 minutes).
Turn right at the sign for Afra. (Note that it appears to point straight on, but is actually a right turn.) Cross a small bridge, and the narrow road winds uphill for 2 km (about 1.25 miles) past attractive houses with beautiful gardens.
Beyond the village, just past an old olive grove, you come to a stop sign. Go straight on (signposted Gouvía), along a cypress-lined forest and over a single-lane bridge. At the next stop sign, turn left towards Gouvía and after a few metres turn left again, following signs for Templóni.
The road winds through pretty rural scenery, bright with wildflowers in spring. Between the clusters of sage and olive trees there are views across the countryside to the distant hills. As you leave the small village of Templóni, you’ll have the first view across the Plain of Rópa before descending to the valley floor.
At the end of the road, turn right towards Palaiokastrítsa. After a few hundred metres take the first left, signposted Giannádes and Mármaro. You are now crossing the wide, grassy Plain of Rópa, dotted with pleasant rural houses surrounded by vineyards and beehives.
At the far end of the plain, ignore the turning to Mármaro and Kanakádes and continue uphill towards Giannádes, with stunning views back over the plain.
At a fork in the road, take a sharp right turn uphill into the village. Follow the parking signs and park near the village square. Unlike many mountain villages, Giannádes has a big, open square with a fountain and benches that affords a fabulous view over the Rópa Plain. Alongside the square is a taverna where the local men gather for coffee, brandy and gossip. Giannádes is a good place to stretch your legs with a walk around the pretty village and up to the yellow church with its stone bell tower.
Retrace the route back to the bottom of the hill and take the sharp left turn signposted for Mármaro (1 km/0.6 miles) and Kanakádes (2 km/1.25 miles). Drive through an idyllic valley of olive groves, grazing sheep, small gardens and vineyards. The villages are little more than a string of houses which run into one another along a stretch of the road. Once past these, the road continues through the Rópa Plain up to the main road.
Turn left for Palaiokastrítsa, which is 6 km (3.7 miles) away. After 2 km (1.25 miles) turn left for Liapádes. The town is uphill to the left, but the streets are narrow and steep so if you want to explore, it’s best to park below and walk up into the town. You may see local women in traditional dress with white head scarves instead of the usual black. Alternatively, check out Liapádes’ beautiful beach, 1 km (0.6 miles) to the right.
Leave Liapádes and at the main road turn left for Palaiokastrítsa. The road winds along its beautiful bays and inlets until it ends at the far edge of town.
You can return to Corfu Town on the fast main road (25 km/15.5 miles) or take another scenic route to the coast. As you leave town, you will see a right turn for Glyfádes and Ermónes. Ignore this, but watch for the next left-hand turn. It is unmarked from this direction but leads to Doukádes. (If you reach a petrol station on your left, you’ve missed it, so turn around there. It will then be signposted from this direction.)
This narrow, old road has hairpin curves winding up through the olive groves. At the stop sign, turn left and the road goes through the centre of Doukádes, a pretty village with two churches and a popular restaurant. Follow signs for the parking area if you want to stop.
Leave the village, following the signs for Róda, Sidári and Skriperó. The countryside is decked with wildflowers, poppies, tall grass and vines among the olive trees. At the road’s end, turn right onto the main road for Corfu Town. Continue through Skriperó. At the next stop sign, turn left and follow signs for Corfu Town, 14 km (8.7 miles) away.