The adequate infrastructure and the many options for diverse activities make Corfu and the adjacent islands ideal for group vacations. Every year, motivational excursions, convention tourism, school visits, Ferrari or vintage vehicle clubs, and Harley Davidson groups gather here.
Corfu’s landscape, water, and history all entice visitors. In a place with a tourism tradition dating back at least 130 years, with Greek education and the influence of “nobility” from England, France, and Venice, in a place that has been welcoming the international jet-set for decades, the possibilities for sports and entertainment are certainly impressive.
That being said, Corfu is not the place to go if you want to get a true Greek experience. There is little left of Greece due to the tremendous effect of tourists. Even the tiniest beaches are spoiled by costly “traditional tavernas” that serve burgers and English breakfast, have dessert on the menu, and touts to attempt to lure you in. There are just a few mountain settlements where you may get away from the visitors and be among the Greeks.
Corfu is an excellent choice for a family vacation. Corfu may not have a Disneyland, children’s museums, zoos, or other attractions for children, but the whole island is welcome and safe for them. There are no tropical illnesses in Corfu, and there is minimal risk from criminals, violence, hazardous waters, and so forth. Children may play securely in the streets, parks, playgrounds, and on the beach.
Kerkyra or Korkyra derives from two great water deities: Poseidon, god of the sea, and Asopos, a major Greek mainland river. Poseidon, according to legend, fell in love with the lovely nymph Korkyra, daughter of Asopos and river nymph Metope, and kidnapped her. Poseidon transported Korkyra to the previously unidentified island and, in marital happiness, gave the island her name: Korkyra, which later grew into Kerkyra (Doric). They had a kid named Phaiax, after whom the island’s people were termed Phaiakes, in Latin Phaeaciani. The island of the Phaeacians is Corfu’s nickname.
Corfù, an Italianized variant of the Byzantine o (Koryph), means “city of the peaks,” and stems from the Byzantine Greek (Koryphai) (crests or peaks), which refers to the two summits of Palaio Frourio.
Corfu is located on the wide end of a peninsula, whose conclusion in the Venetian fortress is separated from it by an artificial fosse created in a natural ravine, with a saltwater moat at the bottom, which currently serves as a marina and is known as the Contrafossa. The ancient town, which grew behind fortifications, is a maze of small alleys covered with cobblestones, sometimes tortuous but always colorful and tidy. Kantonia are these streets, and the older ones occasionally follow the gentle irregularities of the earth, while many are too small for automobile traffic. A promenade grows along the coastline towards the bay of Garitsa, as does an esplanade connecting the city and the castle known as Spianada, with the Liston arcade on its west side, where cafés and bistros thrive.
The ancient citadel is a historic Venetian castle erected on an artificial islet with defenses around its whole perimeter, however certain parts, notably on the east side, are gradually eroding and sinking into the sea. Nonetheless, the interior has been repaired and is now used for cultural events such as concerts and Sound and Light Productions, which recreate historical events with sound and light special effects. These activities take place against the backdrop of the ancient defenses and the Ionian Sea. The citadel’s central high point rises like a giant natural obelisk, complete with a military observation post at the top and a giant cross at its apex; at the foot of the observatory is St. George’s church, built in a classical style punctuated by six Doric columns, as opposed to the Byzantine architectural style of most Greek Orthodox churches.
The new citadel, or Neo Frourio (“New Fortress”), is a massive defensive structure that dominates the city’s northern outskirts. As one goes from Neo Limani (“New Port”) to the city along the road that passes past the fishmarket, the massive walls of the castle tower over the landscape. The new citadel was formerly limited owing to the presence of a naval garrison, but ancient limitations have been relaxed, and excursions through the labyrinth of medieval tunnels and walls are now available. The winged Lion of St Mark, Venice’s emblem, may be seen embellishing the defenses at regular intervals.
Ano and Kato Plateia and the music pavilion
A big plaza named Spianada can also be located near the ancient Venetian Citadel, which is separated into two halves by a street: “Ano Plateia” (literally: “Upper square”) and “Kato Plateia” (literally: “Lower square”),. This is the largest plaza in South-Eastern Europe and one of the largest in Europe, and it is filled with green areas and noteworthy buildings, such as the Maitland monument, a Roman-style rotunda constructed under the British government to honour Sir Thomas Maitland. There is also an opulent music pavilion where the local “Philharmonikes” (Philharmonic Orchestras) organize classical concerts in the aesthetic and musical heritage for which the island is highly renowned. “Kato Plateia” also acts as a location for cricket matches on occasion. Cricket is peculiar to Corfu in Greece since it was formerly a British colony.
Palaia Anaktora and its gardens
Just to the north of “Kato Plateia” lies the “Palaia Anaktora” (literally “Old Palaces”), a huge complex of structures in Roman architectural style that formerly housed the Kings of Greece and, before that, the British Governors of the island. It was once known as the Palace of Saints Michael and George. The Order of St. Michael and St. George, with the motto auspicium melioris aevi, was created here in 1818 and is currently granted by the United Kingdom. The palace is now available to the public and consists of a complex of halls and buildings hosting art exhibits, including a Museum of Asian Art, which is unique in Southern Europe in its extent and the richness of its Chinese and Asian displays. The Palace gardens, replete with ancient Venetian stone aquariums, exotic plants and flowers, overlook the bay via historic Venetian defenses and turrets, and the local sea baths sit at the foot of the fortifications encircling the grounds. The Art Café, a café on the grounds that features its own art gallery with exhibits of both local and foreign artists, is recognized locally. From the same vantage point, the observer may see ships passing through the narrow channel of the old Vido island to the north, on their way to Corfu port, as well as high-speed retractable aerofoil ferries from Igoumenitsa. Closed to guests, a wrought-iron aerial stairway descends from the gardens to the sea; the Greek royal family used it as a shortcut to the baths. Locals now refer to the ancient Royal Gardens as the “Garden of the People” in an attempt to rewrite history.
The Old Town and Pontikonisi
Corfu’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Buildings from the Venetian period may be seen in numerous locations of the ancient city. Because it was under Venetian administration for a long time, the old city’s architectural character is heavily affected by Venetian architecture; its narrow and historic side lanes, as well as the old buildings’ signature arches, are especially evocative of Venice. The most important of the thirty-seven Greek churches are the city’s cathedral, the church dedicated to Our Lady of the Cave, Saint Spyridon church, wherein lies the preserved body of the island’s patron saint; and finally the suburban church of St Jason and St Sosipater, reputedly the oldest in the island, and named after the two saints probably the first to preach Christianity.
The adjoining island, known as Pontikonisi (Greek for “mouse island”), is quite green and densely forested, and its maximum natural height (excluding trees and man-made constructions like as the monastery) is roughly 2 m. (6 ft 6.74 in). Pontikonisi is home to the Pantokrator monastery; when seen from afar, the white stone stairway of the monastery gives the appearance of a (mouse) tail, which gave the island its name.