There are two sides to every Greek island, the tourist and the traditional, and this Northern Corfu Drive from Corfu Town through northern Corfu shows the two faces of Corfu.
There are two sides to every Greek island: the tourist and the traditional. Many visitors never stray further than the beaches and the bars, so have no idea what life is like for the average Greek person. To drive through northern Corfu is to see both sides of the picture, from busy resorts to quiet mountain villages, and to take in some of the most breathtaking scenery on the island.
Leave Corfu Town on the main coastal road (no. 24) going north, following the signs for the first two resorts, Kondokali and Gouvia. Only major roads in Greece usually carry a number, most of the time drivers must look for the names of their destinations. In Corfu roads are signed both in the Roman and the Greek alphabets.
In Gouvia the road divides, with the right fork continuing on around the coast, but you take the left fork marked for Palaiokastritsa. This takes you around the lower slopes of Mt Pantokrator and through a delightful wooded valley. You pass through the village of Sgombou, and about 2km (1.25 miles) beyond here the road divides again with route 24 carrying on towards Palaiokastritsa. You take the right turn signposted for Sidari.
The road now climbs to the Troumpeta Pass, one of the loveliest spots on the island, with some of the most dramatic views after those from the top of Mt Pantokrator. The whole of the fertile Ropa Plain in the centre of the island spreads out below to the left. At the pass, take the right turn marked for Roda and Sidari.
The road now winds and descends through the mountain villages on the western side of Mt Pantokrator, places where rural life goes on as it has for centuries: Khorepiskopi, Valanio, Kiprianades, Xanthatai, Platonas and Sfakera. You should stop in a few of these, take a walk round and get a feel for life in rural Corfu.
After Sfakera you continue on down back towards the sea and the coastal road which you left in Gouvia. When you reach it, turn left towards Karousades and Sidari. Sidari is the busiest resort on this part of the coast and has a lively waterfront, worth stopping off at perhaps to have lunch or just to look at the unusual rock formations here. After seeing the mountain villages, this is very much back in the busy tourist side of Corfu.
Continue on the main coastal road, where you can stop at a viewpoint at Avliotes on the northwest corner of Corfu. There are three offshore islands here (Erikoussa, Othoni and Mathraki) barely inhabited but with accommodation for a real get-away-from-it-all experience.
Continue on through Arillas and after about another 2km (1.25 miles) look for the left turning onto the road for Sidari. You are not going back there but starting to complete a circle that will eventually return you to the Troumpeta Pass. First you will reach Kavadades, where you should leave the car and look for the signs to the viewpoint. This gives you great views of the wooded mountain scenery around.
In Kavadades take the right turn towards Armenades, and when you get there you turn right again through Dafni, then Agros and back to the Troumpeta Pass. Here you carry on back down the way you first arrived, following the signs for Kerkyra Town (Corfu Town).