One of the predominant landmarks of Corfu is the bay of Garitsa. Some say Odysseus himself once landed here, although others question whether Corfu is one and the same with Homer’s Scheria: the island of the Phaeacians and Odysseus’ last stop before his final destination of Ithaca. At the end of Alexandras Avenue – one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in Greece – and just adjacent to an affluent neighborhood of fine homes and tennis clubs, lies the working class district of Corfu. It has its own industrial history that long predates the age of tourism. Here if you sit at Agoris’s yellowed café for a cup of coffee or glass of tsipouro, you will hear some fascinating stories.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a breath of fresh air (known locally as “frescamento”) and happen across a quote from poet Lorentzos Mavilis in the park next to his home: “All young Greeks should come to Corfu to find the noble seed and cultivate authentic Greek philology.”
Away from the noisy tourist establishments, Campiello or the Old Town of Corfu (located near the Regional Administration building) is a joy to behold. Stroll through the winding cobbled alleyways or ‘kantounia’, where freshly laundered sheets hang between the buildings and breathe in scents of honeysuckle and jasmine. In the heart of the square in front of the church of Panagia Kremasti, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, have a rest by the old Venetian well built in 1669 and decorated with fine carvings.
On the western coast of the island, the village of Angelokastro features a Byzantine castle built in the 13th century by the Despot of Epirus, Michael Doukas. Thanks to its uninterrupted view west over the Ionian, it is also a great spot to take in beautiful sunsets.
To the north, Karousades is a quaint village that was named after the refugees who arrived there from the town of Karousa (modern Gerze, near Trabzon in Turkey). Another stately village is Aghios Markos, which once nearly disappeared in a rock slide.
A swim at one of Corfu’s more unique beaches and coves will make a lasting impression. Look for the sand dunes and the vast seaside cedar forest at Issos beach, just past Chalikounas and next to Lake Korission. Alternatively Myrtiotissa beach is a mesmerizing reward for those willing to make the hike.
Meanwhile at Sidari peculiar sandstone formations create an otherworldly vista. Here the wind and the sea have sculpted the Canal D’ Amour: a narrow inlet with incredible colors. According to legend, anyone who sets off to swim from one end of the channel and is brave enough to continue will meet the love of their life at the other end.
Daily flights from Athens International Airport and from Thessaloniki; by boat from Igoumenitsa (starting at €22 round-trip per person).