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Corfu is referred to in Greek as Korkyra or Kerkyra and has an intriguing story behind its native name. The mythical God of the Seas, Poseidon fell in love with a beautiful nymph called Korkyra, who was the daughter of Asopus. The God later brought her to an unnamed island and in marital bliss offered her name to the place Korkyra. The nymph later fell pregnant to a boy, who was named Phaiax, and in turn the inhabitants were called Phaiakes. This beautiful island is also said to have offered shelter to the mythical hero mythical Odysseus (also known as “Ulysses”). He was the ultimate hero depicted by Homer in the epic poems Iliad and mainly Odyssey, providing our imagination with great images to this day and a literature legacy for all humanity. Iliad and Odyssey are the two oldest surviving examples of Greek literature (8th century BC).
The history of Corfu will also provide guests with plentiful images and stories, as battles and conquests that took place on this beautiful Ionian island made their marks to this day. The feel of Corfu town will easily bear resemblance to that of other European countries, and the visitors willing to learn of the history will clearly see the influences from previous eras of the Venetians, the French, the Russians to the British Empire. Corfu manages to hold on to a multicultural heritage, simply by embracing the past and taking advantage of it through daily life and culture. The old town of Corfu is beautifully preserved and holds the status as a U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Site.
Corfu boasts an array of things to see and do, whether you are looking to enjoy your time close to the city, in a village in the mountains, a beach resort or a tranquil fishing village. The choices are endless. For a first time visitor, Corfu Town (photo) may be a sanctuary for guests arriving from bigger cities, however it holds so much history that a missed opportunity to visit this place would be regrettable. In addition, shopping and cafés provide the guests with an Italian feeling with a magnificent Greek cuisine mixed into it. It also holds several museums worth visiting. The most popular museums of Corfu are; The Archaeological Museum, with many findings from excavations of Corfu island, The Museum of Palaiopoli in the Mon Repos Estate and τhe Antivouniotissa Museum with its Byzantine and ecclesiastical relics and artifacts.
During the summer months, the seaside towns of Sidari, Acharavi, Paleaokastritsa, Agios Gordios and Benitses will attract guests looking to combine seaside activities with culinary experiences and to embrace the warm Greek island feeling.
Guests wishing to explore during their stay, may also take advantage of visiting smaller villages less travelled, such as Kastellani which holds one of the most picturesque monasteries of Corfu and the very first school on the island. Corfu, as many other islands are in abundance when it comes to beautiful and quaint churches.
From coastal resorts and mountain villages, guests are also able to learn that Corfu attracts nearly 130 different birds at the wetland habitat of Lake Korission. It’s an important ecosystem placed in the southwesterly tip of the island and a great place to have a swim too.
Easter in Corfu and the events that take place is very special for Greece as a whole. In fact, the local customs are so different that the Easter season attracts guests from around the world. It all starts on Palm Sunday – or «ton Vagione» as it is referred to locally. A procession takes place at 11 am with a litany performed since 1630 to remember the end of the deadly plague from the island. The unusual part is that the philharmonics of the island participate in the celebrations and later pass through the old city playing joyful songs.
Carnival is another event in Corfu which is unique and very much influenced by the Venetians. The carnival customs from the Venetians are still kept alive after more than 450 years.
Make sure you don’t miss the idyllic cedar covered dunes of Issos beach, Chalikounas beach, the scenic Marathias beach, and the mystic and undiscovered Arkoudilas beach.
When it comes to the beaches of Corfu in general, the northern shores are mainly characterized by large, sandy stretches of beaches with warm shallow waters. This is also where we find the developed resorts. Acharavi, Sidari and Roda are some of the beaches located here. The north-eastern beaches are great if you are searching for turquoise waters with white pebbles. Great beach options here are Pantokratoras, Barbati, Nissaki, Kalami and Kerasia. In the north-west of the island, guests will also be taken back by turquoise sea with a rocky coastline. The beaches of Agia Triada, Rovinia and Liapades can be found here.
The south-western beaches are sandy with shallow waters and several popular beaches include; Glyfada, Kontogialos and Aigios Gordis. The south-eastern stretch of the coastline has some small beaches with shallow waters of sand and pebbles. The beaches and with its resorts are Benitses, Moraitika and Messonghi.
The main economies of Corfu, being agriculture and tourism go hand in hand, as the harvest of olive and wine provide guests with great culinary experiences. The olive trees were brought to the island by the Venetians during 13th and 14th century, and as Greek olive oil goes, it is considered to be among the best in Greece.
The ''Cumquat'' is also one of Corfu’s specialties. This is a small orange that Marco Polo brought with him from China. ''Cumquat'' is a great ingredient in the making of liquor, dessert sweets to that of dry sweets. Other local produce includes Corfiot Graviera, Corfu butter, and the Noumboulo (Salami type sausage consisting of smoked pork and herbs).
Corfiot specialties include ''Sofrito'' (a veal rump roast of Venetian origin with a garlic sauce), ''Pastitsada'' (pasta served with diced veal, cooked in tomato and onion sauce) ''Bourdeto'' (cod cooked in a rarer sauce). ''Mandoles '' (caramelized almonds), ''Pasteli'' (honey bars with sesame, almond or pistachios), ''Mandolato'' (made of crunched almond sugar, honey) and ''Tzitzibira'' (the local ginger beer), a remnant of the British era. Another variant of beer not to be missed is the Corfiot Beer, which is a fresh beer in its own right made from 100% natural products being hops, beer yeast, cereal extracts and water. It has an expiration date of 45 days and you keep it cared for with your fresh products in the refrigerator.
There are daily flights to and from Athens. The flight lasts approximately 45 minutes. There are also flights to and from Thessaloniki as well as connection with the other Ionian Islands. Corfu has also connections with a wide range of destinations in Europe operated by charter flights.
By intercity bus service (KTEL)
The Intercity Bus Service (known in Greece as K.T.E.L.) of Corfu serves the local transportation from Corfu town to the most remote village on the island and connects the island with Athens and Thessaloniki daily and all the regional capitals which are in-between these two main routes, with ticket offices in Lefkimi, Larissa, Trikala , Kozani, Thessaloniki and Athens. The duration of the journey to Athens is approximately 8½ hours. For further information on the bus schedule please visit the official website of Corfu’s K.T.E.L. at: http://bit.ly/CorfuBusSchedule
There is a connection to Igoumenitsa, Patras, Saradje, Bari, Brindisi, Ancona and Venice. There are also ferry connections from/to Paxi, Othoni, Ereikousa ,Mathraki.
By Private Yacht
Marina Gouvia offers a comfortable stay if you visit Corfu with your yacht.