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The northernmost of the Ionian Islands and the westernmost frontier of Greek territory, it lies at the mouth of the Adriatic Sea separated from the Greek mainland shoreline by a narrow water channel.
An international transportation hub, Corfu can easily be accessed through numerous charter flights from various European cities throughout the summer months or by regular ferryboat connections from the Italian ports of Brindisi, Bari, Ancona and Venice. Olympic Airways and a number of private airlines have daily connections from Athens and Thessaloniki to Corfu airport located at three kilometres south of capital Corfu. Regular ferryboat services connect the island with Patra. Igoumenitsa, Paxos and Sayiada in Thesprotia. Capital Corfu is an official entry/exit harbour with appropriate customs and health authorities, passport control and exchange services in place. A yacht marina Is located at Gouvia.
Homer's Odyssey provides the first literary reference to the island of the Phaeacians where Ulysses, having recently escaped the charms of Calypso, encounters Nausica, the local king's daughter. Inhabited as early as the Palaeolithic Age, it acquired its current name. Kerkyra in Greek, from its namesake nymph and daughter of Asopos, who was brought here by an enamoured Zeus. Corfu's highly strategic position at the crossroads between East and West made it a prize for numerous conquerors since earliest time. As a colony of the city of Corinth the island flourished during classical times. At the end of the 4th century BC it came under the Spartans only to be soon after occupied by the Romans. Having enjoyed great prosperity during the Byzantine period, as the Byzantine Empire entered its decline. Corfu was shortly occupied by the Venetians to be later annexed to the Despotate of Epirus. After one hundred years of Angevin rule it again submitted to the Venetians in the l4th century entering a 400-year period of great importance in history and distinction in the arts and literature. On the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, the island was surrendered to French rule that was quickly ended by the Russo-Turkish occupation, followed by a short interval of independence with the creation of the Septinsular (Seven Island) Republic. The i8th century was a period of intense artistic and cultural activity for Corfu. It had no fewer than fifteen philharmonic orchestras and a host of painters, writers, musicians and other artists. In 1807 it was reclaimed by France, but after Napoleon's treaty with the Russians in 1815, the island was placed under the exclusive protection of Great Britain. Finally, in 1864 Britain relinquished Corfu along with the other Ionian Islands to become part of the Modern Greek State. Corfu played an important role in the cultural and educational development of modern Greece. In 1815, the first Fine Arts School and first University of Greece was founded on the island by Lord Guilford with the support of loannis Kapodistrias who was born in Corfu to become later the first Governor of the newly liberated Greece.
Built on a narrow strip of land, the delightful capital Corfu town and one of the most attractive towns in Europe, owes its charm to the multitude of visible traces evidencing the diverse cultures that have settled it throughout the ages. The Italian influence is evidenced in Corfu's spacious squares such as the popular Spinada and its narrow cobblestone alleys known as kantounia. Having gracefully absorbed its many layers of history, the island combines the old with the modern harmoniously blending to provide an alluring mix. The Archaeological Museum in Corfu houses numerous collections representing various periods of Corfu's history. To the west of the town lies Palaeokastritsa, a miniature earthly paradise, and Angelokastro, a i3th century Byzantine fortress. To the south lies Kanoni, one of the most popular sites on the island.A narrow strip of land leads to the Vlacherena Monastery from where a caique takes visitors to the islet of Pontikonisi; opposite here, on the hillside of Gastouri, stands the extravagant Achilleon, the summer palace of Empress Elizabeth, or Sissy, of Austria.
Proud of their history and culture, Corfiots are characterised by simplicity and courtesy. They are genial and love entertaining, gregarious and always ready to turn the smallest gathering Into a party. In every location, at every event, the Corfiots make the visitor feel at home.
With its pure crystal-clear waters and picturesque bays and coves, the island enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate of mild winters and cool summers. Trees, grass and bushes stretch down to the shore lining it year-round with the colours of blooming flowers and trees laden with fruit. To the north, the slopes of the steep and imposing Mt. Pantokrator. The northern coastal area is replete with pretty caves and has the longest sandy beach on the island. Corfu is not exhausted in magnificent beaches and important historic monuments; there is also a wide number of sporting activities to enjoy, such as sailing, jet skiing, wind surfing, tennis, diving and underwater fishing, while the hills of the island are ideal for hunting. Every summer the World Championship Formula i and Intercontinental jet-ski races are held at Garitsa. Corfu is known for holding one more exclusivity in Greece: A legacy from the era of British rule the Kerkyra Cricket Festival is held in the summer with the participation of teams from many countries. Corfu also boasts the best golf course in Greece, located in the Ropa Valley, one of the finest in Europe. Nevertheless, with a variety of relaxing trekking routes through the lowlands and a number of hiking on foot or on bike, is still the best way to discover the hidden charms of the island. Experienced guides and bikes are available for hire throughout the island.
The Corfiot table is an essential expression of local hospitality. The local cuisine is based on the bounty of nature. Bustling or intimate, simple or sophisticated, the multitude of restaurants serve international dishes as well as local delicacies such as the famous local "pastitsada" and "sofrito" dishes, the Corfiot "noumboulo" smoked meat, superb cheeses, exquisite wines, nougats made with almonds dipped in red caramel, fragrant liqueurs and the tiny Japanese oranges known as "koum-kouat".
In Corfu age-old events are still celebrated in the traditional way. Of the most impressive are the festivities during Holy Week and on Easter Sunday, while four times each year a procession through the streets of Corfu town is headed by the preserved remains of Patron St. Spyridon accompanied by the island's many bands. Numerous art galleries house exhibitions featuring works of international and local artists and various romantic outdoor locations provide the venue for a variety of events ranging from rock concerts to classical music performances, theatrical plays and dances. The Corfu Festival is held in September and includes concerts, ballet, opera and theatrical performances.
Contemporary Corfu is an international tourist resort with a superb blend of leisure, recreational activities and exciting nightlife, supported by an excellent tourist infrastructure capable of meeting the needs of the most discerning visitors. Restaurants, cafes, taverns, bars, discos, nightclubs and casinos can be found in Corfu town, the suburbs and in many villages, where the party continues until the early hours.