Corfu (Kerkyra, Κερκυρα) is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Greece. It is located on the northwest part of the country, and it's part of the Ionian islands grouping.
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Greece, having an extensive infrastructure that includes hotels, marinas, airport, and a mature tourism philosophy that has managed to retain the island's character despite the multitude of visitors it hosts every summer.
Just minutes away from the main tourist centers you will be engulfed in lush green mountains, tiny traditional villages, and even places to get away from it all.
Corfu does not fit the stereotypical mold of the dry landscape that most people have in mind when they think of "Greek islands". It is a bit cooler than the southern Ionian and Aegean islands, more wet in the winter, and a lot greener all year long. It is also a large enough island to require either a long vacation or a second visit to experience it in its totality.
Corfu is a gem of an island, and its beauty was evident everywhere. Beautiful beaches lace its every shore, and abundant joy drives the night life of every small town. Although its soil seems to be overrun by tourists, its size prevents it from feeling crowded, while its infrastructure has developed to such a degree that no one feels deprived of goods or services.
Some beach towns in Corfu seem to have gladly accepted the role of the vacation resort for the large British (and other) groups that visit every summer to enjoy the hot sun and the beautiful beaches. If you visit from Great Britain, you would feel right at home in Corfu where all the televisions in the bars play live football games from the premiere league, and it is easier to find British newspapers than Greek ones.
If on the other hand you just want to get away from the daily routine of every day life, Corfu also has much to offer. A few kilometers away from the busy resorts one can still find the small Greek villages that have remained unchanged for centuries, where life is slow, and traditions are strong. Within a short drive you can be lost in a lush forest, or on the verge of a small gem of a beach which has not yet been discovered by travel agents. Corfu is perfect for exploring and getting lost on its serpentine roads up the mountains in search of the perfect view. It is the perfect place to find the narrow dirt roads that could lead to the perfect landscape photograph, or to an isolated swimming spot.
Corfu's history reaches back to antiquity. Based on Strabo's writings, Corcyra is believed to be the νησι των Φαιακων (Island of Cercyra, Scheria, or Land of the Phaecians) that is mentioned in Homer's Oddysey. With it's political, economic, and naval power it was a major player in ancient Greece, having founded many colonies around the Meditterranean shores during the Archaic Era (700-480 BCE). Corfu itself was founded by colonists from Corinth around 730 BCE.
The island played a pivotal role in the beginning of the Peloponnesian war that was fought in the second half of the 5th century BCE. Finding itself on the losing side of that war Kerkyra came under Spartan control and later joined the Epirotic alliance before it became subject of the Roman empire. After 395 CE it became part of the Byzantine empire.
Given it's strategic location between Italy and Greece it was the subject of desire for all subsequent naval powers that emerged in Italy and suffered frequent attacks. The Genoese took their turn in occupying the island for a brief time, but Corfu stayed under Venetian control for over 400 years (about 1400-1800 CE). After the Ottoman empire occupied the entire Greek mainland Corfu remained the last Christian bastion, resisting numerous attacks and sieges between 1431 and 1716. The island remained under Venetian rule from 1386 to 1797 BCE.
This long-lived connection to the Venetians can still be traced today in the island's unique language, food, and architecture. The island changed hands several times with the Italians, the French, the British, and the Ottomans, and finally by the Germans in World War II. The island was liberated in 1944 and reunited with Greece
Corfu is a large island and there are plenty of destinations that cater to every taste and travel style. The most popular destinations are Corfu town, Paleokastritsa, Sidari, Kassopi, Ag. Stefanos, Benitses, Lefkimi, Ai. Gordis, and Glyfada.
Corfu town is a very charming place with beautiful cobblestone streets and old buildings it has all the charm of old world to go with it's casual atmosphere. There is a small beach in town but to visit some of the best swim spots of the island you will need a car. Corfu town offers plenty to do on its own.
Sidari, Agios Stefanos, and Paleokastritsa would be excellent vacation choices for families and young couples who prefer a bit more quiet near a beach, without missing vital parts of a night life.
For more youthful excitement, beaches, and nightlife, Benitses and Lefkimi have already built a reputation as the wild party towns (with many negative reports about extreme behaviors often appearing in the media), while Ag. Stefanos, Glyfada, and Ai. Gordis offer a civilized setting to enjoy the best beaches in Corfu.