Visitors from across the globe get drawn to Corfu for its emerald waters, delectable cuisine, bustling nightlife, excellent museums, and its main town – a unique mix of Greek, Venetian, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. Neoclassical palaces such as The Achilleon, Mon Repo, and other remarkable historical sites – Angelokastro, The Old Fortress, the Venetian Shipyard and ancient Paleopolis – have long enchanted visitors, and it comes as no surprise that the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But beyond its cultural and historical allure, Corfu’s geomorphic variations and sandy coastlines also make it an adventure-lover’s paradise. Below, we suggest several noteworthy destinations and activities for your next trip.
Corfu by foot
Established in 2001, the Corfu Trail is a 220 km path crossing the length of the entire island, and offers trekkers the chance to discover places they wouldn’t see on the usual tourist track. It is a trail that can be explored over several days, or even weeks – depending on how fast you want to take it. It passes through scenic villages such as Sokraki in the north and Pelekas in the south, and stops at fantastic beaches, like Myrtiotissa. The trail also snakes around Lake Korisson – a birdwatchers’ paradise – and reaches valleys like Gardeno, gorges such as Parigori, and impressive monasteries such as that of Arkoudillas, which is surrounded by a beautiful cedar forest.
Corfu on horseback
Since 1992, Trail Riders have offered quality horseback tours for people of all riding levels. The rides take you through the island’s picturesque woodlands and valleys, with stops at different villages. Several other riding centers dot the island, such as the Corfu Riding Center in Kassiopi, and Green Corfu in Arillas, which offers numerous eco-friendly and holistic tours.
Tennis and Cricket
Corfu fell under British rule in 1814-1864, when the island became the seat of the British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. As a result, the island became largely influenced by British culture and sports. Locals developed an interest in cricket, it is said, after a match took place on St George’s Day in 1823, between members of the British Garrison and the British Navy. Today, there are 11 cricket teams across the island. Working with the Hellenic Cricket Federation, Cricket Corfu organizes games at the pitch inside the lawn of the Old Town’s main square. Another popular sport brought to the island by the British is tennis: in 1896, the Corfu Tennis Club set up Greece’s first tennis courts. The club, still active today, has 4 new tennis courts, offers lessons, and rents out space and equipment.
Corfu has had its own Golf Club since 1971. It is a 18 hole course, located in the heart of the island – only 14 km away from Corfu town. Surrounded by the fertile Ropa Valley, along which runs the Nafsika river, it is a perfect place for dining, weddings and other events.
Corfu by sea
In Dassia, a carefree resort town just 12km from the airport and 10km from the Old Town, you can easily organize cultural excursions, or you can just relax on the sandy, organized beach. At family-friendly Dassia beach, you can try waterskiing, scuba diving, windsurfing and wakeboarding, or you can hop on a boat for a day trip – group tours as well as private boats are available – taking you fishing, snorkeling or sailing. There are stunning coasts to visit in the north (the Blue Lagoon in Pyrgi, for example), and in the south (Mouse Island). The tours stop at any of the several quality tavernas and cafes lining Dassia beach, so that you can kick back and relax after a few fun hours at sea. Dassia is also where you’ll find the Corfu Mountainbike shop, which is a great place get informed about the island’s cycling routes. There are routes with varying degrees of difficulty, ranging from the forest tracks of the Pantokrator mountain range to simpler ones, which take you to pretty villages nearby.
In Dassia you’ll find accommodation for all budgets, amongst which are a few highly sophisticated gems, such as the Corfu Palma Boutique Hotel – completely renovated in 2014 and with a VIP floor added in 2015. Corfu Palma is just across the road from Dassia beach and offers the luxury of having it all – the beautiful simplicity of the surrounding nature, comfort and luxury, and many cultural sites nearby. Its 48 tastefully decorated, modern rooms and boutique suites offer either sea or pool views, and in its garden you’ll find 100 year-old olive trees, fragrant herbs and Mediterranean flowers, a pool and an outdoor Jacuzzi. The hotel has a fully-equipped gym a highly professional spa, run by the charismatic British-Greek Emily Moumouris, which offers indulgent relaxation therapies using the top-quality Apivita beauty products. The hotel also sometimes hosts gourmet dinners prepared by the up-and-coming chef Andreas Stefanis. The hotel’s worldly and artistic owner, Yota Pali, (whose artworks decorate some of the rooms) together with hotel manager Spyros Ioannides are very accommodating to their visitors, offering plenty of suggestions for nearby activities – from adventure sports to museum and gallery visits.
For several months, Corfu Palma was home to the cast and crew of ITV’s “The Durrels“, a series inspired by the globally-loved autobiographical novel “My Family and Other Animals”, written by Gerald Durrel who spent his childhood on the island. The cast and crew will come back to the hotel this autumn, to film the series’ next season.