Corfu. This beautiful little gem is one of Greece’s Ionian Islands and is the most northwestern island in Greece. Nestled perfectly between, Greece, Italy and Albania all of which are an easy ferry ride away, it’s a destination you should see when you’re stationed in Europe.
Corfu has over fifty beaches for every type of tourist. Beaches for water sports, sunbathing, boating, hiking, and just relaxing. Other beaches, such as the beach at Benitses, are close to tons of hotels so you can simply live on the beach for your holiday. Others offer a more secluded beach experience.
That’s what my family and I tried for when we visited Corfu. Our first stop was at Gardenos Beach. One of the more southern beaches, this beach has crystal clear water and a perfect spot for our son to sit and build sand castles. Our next stop was the clear water of Issos Beach, which became a quick favorite of mine. At one point my husband and I waded out to our necks and could still easily see the bottom. Issos is right next to Korission Lake; the lake and ocean are separated by only a mere two-meter slice of land. The waters vary in colors from one another and make it a beautiful spot. Then there’s the Canal d’Amour, a narrow stretch of beach that is surrounded by two tall masses of cliffs and rock. Some people lay out on the narrow stretches of cliff, while others climb down to the beach and enjoy the playfulness of this unique spot. According to the locals, the true gem of Corfu is Paleokastritsa Beach. Surrounded by high arching, lush, green cliffs, the beach makes the shape of a heart and can be viewed from a long hike up into the mountains and cliffs.
While the beaches are definitely the only reason you need to visit Corfu, they’re not the only thing the island offers. Corfu also has a beautiful old town, named just that. Old Town is gorgeous with tall Venetian buildings, bordered by the clear blue and turquoise ocean, and home to the magnificent Old Fortress. Old Town has the Old Fortress and the New Fortress, though locals say the Old Fortress requires a visit. Once there, it’s easy to see why. This fortress sits atop a mountain, and those who climb it get to witness a most spectacular view of never-ending ocean to one side and a stunning, expanding city on the other.
Also referred to as Sissi’s Palace in honor of Elisabeth of Bavaria–who was affectionately referred to as Sissi–Elisabeth built the Achillion as her summer home. Its design centers around her favorite Greek hero, Achilles. Its clean, white-washed exterior, gardens, breathtaking view of the ocean and Corfu town, the painted ceilings, the Greek statues on the patio, and huge monuments of Achilles make it a place you can easily spend half the day.
While hotels right on the beach are wonderful and make getting to the beach easier, they also tend to be more expensive and busier. We stayed at the serene Avra Sea View Paradise Aparthotel. Our host was fantastic, always kind and always helpful. When we arrived, she gave us a map of the island, told us some of its history and circled some of the best spots for us to visit.
And let’s talk gyros. Eating a gyro in Greece was on my bucket list. . . and it’s probably one of the best things I’ve eaten in our three-year stay in Europe. Especially if you go to a little restaurant called Fast Food. We ended up eating there every night of our vacation. You can get a gyro, fries, and a drink for around five euros (I have to say it was heavenly).
By Courtney Hall