For a few years I’ve been treating myself to a birthday gift in the form of a short trip abroad. This year my choice fell on a Greek island of Corfu. I’d been dreaming of visiting this part of Greece for a long time but somehow I never got around to do it. Meanwhile, I heard so many nice things about this island and I didn’t get disappointed. However nice and pretty Create was, it was Corfu that won my heart from a very first day. I know I have to come back here again as I only explored 1/3 of what this beautiful place offers. Do you want to know what entranced me in Corfu and why it is worth coming here not only in summer? You are cordially invited to read this text.
I went to Corfu with my girlfriend Karolina, who you should be familiar with from my other stories. We landed at the airport in Corfu on Thursday in July at 10pm local time and we went straight to Lord Travel desk where we had booked a shuttle bus for 15 € to Acharavi, the place where we had our accommodation in Marie Hotel (140 € for two persons for 4 nights).
This type of transport has both its pros and cons. On the one hand, it’s the cheapest way of travelling at night and with a bit of luck a driver may bring you right up to the front door. On the other hand, however, the journey took us almost two hours. However, if you are not in a hurry, I do recommend this service. A private taxi from the airport to Acharavi costs 60 € so the difference is quite considerable. The van is comfy and air-conditioned which, in my opinion, is quite relevant while travelling with kids.
The hotel was a nice surprise as well. Admittedly, it doesn’t offer a lot of a luxury but it’s situated merely a few meters away from a beach and a main road with a bus stop. The guests are welcomed with a hand-painted bottle of Greek wine. Breakfast (4 €) is typically British, so if you feel like having something Greek, I do recommend eating out. Both at the beach and by the main road you can find a wide selection of restaurants.
In the morning, as part of the plan, we were greeted by the sun and the smell of flowers from the garden surrounding our hotel. So that we wouldn’t have to waste time looking for food, we decided to have our breakfast in the hotel. While eating we got chatted up by Carl from Great Britain who, as it turned out later, was half Greek and his dad was a Greek millionaire. He himself, besides running his company as a part time job has a hobby work as a policeman in traffic police. Not only did Carl turn out to be a great source of information about the island but our future companion as well. I’ll tell about it later.
On Carl’s recommendation, we decided to spend a few hours at Acharavi Beach (the right side is prettier) and then take a bus to Sidari, a place 15 km away, famous for its cliff coast. The Acharavi Beach is, in my opinion, very average but as for Corfu quite wide and, most of all, sandy. It’s definitely worth visiting while being in the north of Corfu.
While being in Crete in May one year ago the water was icy, so I did expect the sea to be warmer in July. I didn’t get disappointed. The temperature of water was ideal for a relaxing dip. After a few hours of sunbathing there was time for dinner. Having looked through menus of local restaurants at the beach, we decided to stay in Florian bar (9th exit Acharavi Beach) which charmed us with its fish menu and extremely nice service. For lunch we had fish meze, which is a plate for two people with sea fruit and pieces of fish and a Greek salad. Everything was delicious and fresh.
Feta cheese appealed to me especially. I noticed that in Corfu the cheese is never cut but added to a salad as a big slice. Its flavour is delicate and it goes perfectly with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. It’s also very distinctive to add some red onion to a salad which is very sweet. In each tavern we dined this is how the Greek salad is served, so if you are fans of it you can really fill you up in Corfu.
It was already 4pm, so it was time to take a bus. Unfortunately bus connections between towns are not very good and a bus runs only a few times a day, so if you are late for a given bus, the next one is in a few hours. Buses run irregularly so it’s good to take a picture of a bus schedule at a bus stop or simply ask for a paper schedule in a bus. Most often you’ll be using the so called Green Buses which are relatively cheap. The ticket Acharavi – Sidari is merely 2,10 €. With little traffic, the journey takes about 30 minutes. A bus stops near the way leading to famous Canal d’Amour (Canal of Love), which is a canyon surrounded by white rocks and created by erosion. You can swim in the canal. The legend says that swimming across the Canal of Love is the warranty of being lucky in love. This is why this place is so popular among couples, especially around sunset.
Sometimes if the sea is rough and there’s the so called white foaming water, the swimming is inadvisable. A lot of drownings happened due to hitting against the rock. At the entrance to the canal there’s a small beach which gets completely flooded in the evening so if you plan to sunbathe it will be possible only on neighbouring cliffs. The place itself is spectacular though, and the views on rock fortifications are worth taking pictures of.
You can also watch some daredevils jumping into water. Unfortunately for us we witnessed an accident. A young boy probably had a disk injury due to unfortunate water dive. When he got out of water he was curling up with pain and wasn’t able to walk. I was surprised by his friends’ reaction who, instead of helping him lie steadily on the rocks and call the ambulance, started to put him back on his feet and then made him pull himself up on the rope. Karolina and me couldn’t bear it any longer and decided to join the conversation. Finally after one hour paramedics arrived and pulled the boy out of the water on stretchers. Such situations make me wonder where people take that belief from that when something bad is happening to somebody it’s essential to put this person into vertical position again. This is how we can do even more harm.
The situation seemed to be under control. We went for ice creams to a neighbouring restaurant which offers free sunbeds and a swimming pool. We sat there for a while and then took a 9 € taxi from the main road to 7th Heaven restaurant at Logas Beach (also known as Sunset Beach). You can also get there in about 20 minutes walking through a field (however the way is not marked). But it was already late and we wanted to be on time for the sunset.
The place is amazing. The beach is situated at the foot of the Peroulades cliffs and the view of cliff Cape Drastis is breath-taking. This is where you will find one of the best viewpoints with a glass balcony reaching beyond the high cliff.
Standing on it gives you an impression of hanging over a precipice. It’s nothing unusual but it’s surely the most crowded place when it comes to taking pictures. Mostly because of a beautiful sunset that you can watch from it. We can also watch it sitting at a restaurant terrace or rock steps at the seaside.
I found out from a bartender that one of the episodes of “Podróże kulinarne Makłowicza” was filmed here, so Poles are usually cordially welcome.
Gazing at the horizon we didn’t notice that Carl was phoning us. After a few minutes it turned out that he was in the same place as we were. What a a funny coincidence, isn’t it? We had some wine and came back to town for dinner in a restaurant called Memories run by Carl’s friends. Very nice place (a lot of money was allegedly invested in interiors) right beside the beach with a beautiful view and delicious food in reasonable prices. It was nice to meet the owner who was a very friendly man and treated us to a drink. The selection is really wide but if you want to taste the flavours of the island I do recommend grilled shrimps, Greek salad, tzatziki, sofrito and stifado.
With full stomachs we lied down on sunbeds to watch stars. It was beautiful. It is very quiet and pleasant here at night. But you should watch out for walking Albanians as thefts happen, especially at nights. Carl told us, among other things, about an attack on a young girl. During a day the beach is crowded and the water is not very clean due to numerous restaurants. It’s definitely better to go sunbathing to a beautiful sandy Aporipiti Beach 2 km away.
The day was getting to an end. Carl suggested that we should rent a car for two days and do some sightseeing together. It seemed to be a good solution as public transport wasn’t too good. In the morning it turned out that some Italian teacher from Calabria also joined our happy bus. It was going to be an interesting day.
Our first target was a town of Kassiopi mostly famous for beautiful rocky beaches and beautiful villas. One of Carl’s friends rents a house in which George Cloney stays regularly. Basically we cover almost the whole route along beautiful coast overlooking neighbouring Albania.
On our way we pass, among others, small but very picturesque Astoriki Beach famous for swingers meetings and a vantage point in Kalumi where the distance between neighbouring Albania and Corfu is the shortest. No wonder there are so many Albanian immigrants in Corfu. It doesn’t seem too difficult to swim across from one shore to the other.
Finally we reach Kassiopi itself, a remarkably beautiful place in the north-east which will delight you not only with its views but with bustling atmosphere in the centre. In the distance you can see a popular mountain of Pantokrator and numerous hills covered with olive groves, vineyards and citrus fruit plantations. The most distinctive local monument of Kassiopi include the ruins of a Venetian castle situated on a hill that you can climb to fully admire the panorama of the town centre and the surrounding area.
Because of the location, we won’t find vast sandy beaches here. All beaches are small and rocky. But thanks to this they retained their natural wild look. The decline of water is quickly noticeable and the descent to the beach is steep and rocky so I strongly advise against sunbathing here with small kids. This place will be fully appreciated, however, by snorkelling fans. It’s good to have some bread with you. It’s amazing how it attracts fish. Within a few second you get surrounded by hundreds of colourful little fish. I’m lacking for words to describe the kind of joy I felt at that time.
Finally we spent a few hours at Kanoni Beach. Then we went to Dassia and Ipsos, and then to Corfu City, namely, Kerkira.
In Ipsos we had lunch in Moby Dick restaurant located at the beach. To be honest, the food itself was so-so but very nicely served. The beach is long but very narrow. There are plenty of bars, clubs and discos by the beach. You can hear partying Italian teenagers everywhere. Therefore I advise against sunbathing there unless you don’t mind the close neighbourhood of a street. If you want to take a swim only it’s, by all means, a good place to do it. The coast is clean and the water isn’t too deep. Dassia didn’t amaze us too much as well. It’s rather a typical tourist resort full of cafes, taverns and clubs. Nothing special.
Capital cities on islands hardly amaze their visitors but in the case of Corfu City I’ve been told by every person that I have to see this city. I acknowledge that it would be a great pity to be in Corfu and not to see its capital which is remarkably charming. There are wonderful cultural monuments here from different historical periods and museums all in entertaining atmosphere. The old town is full of charming narrow streets and historic buildings and churches resembling Venice a bit. The city is dominated by a castle and two spectacularly illuminated fortresses.
The old fortress Paleo Frourio surrounded by a moat consists of a beautiful clock tower, Venetian well, a lighthouse and St. George’s church. The new fortress Neo Frourio, created during the Venetian reign, is located between two harbours and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
On the central square of the city, called Spianada, you can find located, among others, Maitland Rotunda and a statue of Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first president of Greece. Other amazing sites include the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George and Panagia Antivouniotissa, the oldest church on the island.
Near the centre stands surrounded by gardens Achillon which is the 19th century palace built by the Empress Sisi. Here the scenes for the Bond movie “For your eyes only” were filmed.
However, before we got to the city centre, we went near Kanoni. Along the way on the right you pass by the ruins of the early Christian basilica of Palaiopolis of 5th century AD. Right beside, you only need to cross the street, there are the ruins of Roman baths built around the year of 200 with fragments of mosaic on the floor.
From Kanoni hill you get a magnificent view over Mouse Island (Pondikonissi) and a white church Panagia Vlacherna which can be found almost on every postcard from Corfu. Vlacherna monastery was built in 17th century on a small rocky island connected with the mainland by a narrow causeway where local fishermen still moor their boats. The small island is, according to mythology, Odysseus’ ship turned into a rock by Poseidon. There is a chapel on the island which you can get to by boat from Kanoni.
It’s worth coming here at sunset not only because of this mythical atmosphere but also to be able to see landing planes. Due to a close proximity of a runway, you can watch planes flying at the height of 5-10 meters. It’s good to watch this from a nearby bridge.
It takes about an hour to walk from the centre of the old town of Corfu to Kanoni. An alternative way of getting to Vlacherna monastery is taking a city bus (1,5 € one way).
Before we began our walk around the old town we decided to have dinner in a restaurant located near the port at the foot of the castle hill. This time I decided to have moussaka and I must admit it was delicious. Unfortunately during our dinner we witnessed fire at the castle. Probably it was caused by dry grass around the fortification.
About 1am after a short stroll around the old town we dropped in a well-known night club Eden located in the town of Dessa. However beautiful this place is and the dancefloor situated right above the sea, the atmosphere was average. The club was full of drunk Italian teenagers and they played house music. We only stayed for an hour and wanted to come back home.
Our way back ran though the village of Ano Korakinado and Sokraki located partially in mountainous terrain. Consequently we covered one of the most dangerous roads, the so called 25 serpentines, which owes its name to many sharp turns and leads up to the highest summit of Pantokrator.
Next day, due to the fact that Carl overslept, we leave Acharavi as late as 1pm and head straight to the beach to sign for a parachute flight towed by a motorboat. Unfortunately it turns out that it’s going to be a storm the next day, so if we want to fly it has to be today and basically right now because later we have already planned a trip to a lovely place of Paleokastritsa located on the western coast.
A moment to collect our thoughts and we finally make a manly choice. We’ll quickly eat out some sandwich as we were without breakfast and we make a decision to fly. Thanks to Carl’s discount, instead of 65 € we paid 55. It’s not the cheapest form of entertainment and the flight takes only a few minutes but it was well worth it. The bird’s eye view is to die for and the possibility to drift in the air above the water surface provides us with amazing experience.
We only have to sign up for a horse ride on the beach. It is one of the attractions available in Sidari. And it turns out again that Vlaseros Travel owner is Carl’s friend. We decide on a Monday morning ride at 11am hoping that our bus will arrive on time. One hour ride costs only 8 € so it would be a shame not to seize this opportunity.
Feeling happy that we managed to sign up, we return to our car and head towards Paleokastritsa which, among others, is famous for the fact that James Bond’s adventures were also filmed there. The only road full of turns and incredible views over a rocky coast leads through the whole town and then it ends. This is where the breath-taking scenes of car chases were filmed. There are many small beaches in the area. Some of them are sandy, some are pebble or shingle. The town itself is located on a slope in the form of two promontories cutting into the sea. In my opinion it is one of the most beautiful views I’ve seen in my life, and most definitely the most beautiful one in Corfu.
On the way to a small bay where boats to a cave depart from there is La Grotta bar with a beautiful view over crystal clear azure water. The port is located on the main beach.
As it was already late, around 4pm, we managed to negotiate the cruise to the caves and the Paradise beach for only 15 € per person. To our surprise, there was nobody besides us on a boat, so basically we had a private cruise among cliffs with a super nice captain who showed us the following sites Nausika caves, San Nicolas and the 13th century Zoodohos Pighi monastery.
Then we headed towards a picturesque Paradise Beach, surrounded by amazing cliffs, which you can access only by sea. The beach is quite small and shingle but it’s worth spending at least 30 minutes there and feasting your eyes with the view of the sea surrounded by cliffs. At the end we went to a few smaller and wild yet extremely picturesque beaches.
On our way back we dropped in Blue Eye Cave famous for its water gap where the water has a unique sapphire colour and despite its depth water transparency reaches a few meters down. It makes the fish visible from a boat. The whole cruise including sunbathing took 2,5 hours but it’s definitely one of those things that has to be done while being in Corfu. It’s been a long time since I felt so relaxed and charged with positive energy.
We had to return the car at 8pm. So it was time to get going. We only had time to chuck down a Greek salad. Having returned, we took a quick shower and hit the town. We decided to go to one of the restaurants in the centre. Our choice fell on The PumphouseThe Pumphouse (near main taxi stand at the roundabout) which turned out to be the oldest restaurant in Acharavi (1978). I do recommend this place for its delicious food and great atmosphere. The service is very nice and the waiters hilarious. They joked all the time and made toasts with us. Within one hour we already knew the whole staff including deputy chef, head fishermen and the owner. At some point the atmosphere became so relaxed that we felt like being at some Greek party.
The greatest fun we had from a spiny dogfish, a small bottom-dwelling dogfish, and everything started with the Internet search on the derivation of this fish name and the desire to try it. It’s insane what a photo shop can do. One way or the other, I recommend this fish served Corfu-style. It has a very peculiar taste and is usually served as fillet.
After 3 hours grinning from ear to ear, we left with the intention of going to bed. We had to pack our bags in the morning and then take a 9am bus to Sidari.
Luckily for us the bus wasn’t late so we managed to get there on time and still had time for breakfast before our ride. A very nice boy picked us up from the office and drove us to a horse farm. At first we thought he was the owner’s son due to this striking resemblance but he turned out to be a distant relative. There were 8 horses waiting for us on a farm. All of them were well tendered and looking gentle.
Two tall brown horses remained the exception. They definitely disliked being petted. And ironically, one of them was given to me. At first I was a bit stressed as the last time I had ridden a horse was at the age of 15. The horse was kicking from the very beginning and was irritated by being nibbled in the rump by other horse. Our caretaker calmed us down saying that it was a good horse and I needed to trust it. It’s the youngest horse with a big temper, but it was still a good horse- this is how the boy tried to calm me down. Subconsciously I thought to myself that the name Capo couldn’t be accidental.
Later however the horse was really good and I even got the impression that me and Capo were a good team. He reacted to all comments and kept in line very well. A few times, as a matter of fact, Capo walked away from the group but thanks to this I had a chance to trot a bit. A ride through the fields and along the coastline relaxes greatly in the morning so I do recommend it to anyone. Time was passing very quickly and before we knew it, it was already time to come back.
Later we had a little time to take a short walk in town which is a typical tourist destination with plenty of bars, restaurants and shops. We had our bus at 3:15pm so we decided to stay at the beach and have moussaka in our favourite restaurant – Memories.
I have to admit that we planned our time rather badly as our bus from Acharavi to the airport was at 3:45pm. There was a great risk that we might not catch it. We even figured out a plan that I would stay at a bus stop whereas Karolina would run to collect our bags. Unfortunately our brilliant plan did not work as the bus did not show up. There was nothing else for us to do but go to the beach and come back for another bus at 6:10pm. Our plane was at 9:50pm so we still had plenty of time left.
This time we decided to be 15 minutes earlier in case our bus arrived ahead of time. 30 minutes passed and nothing. After one hour we ran into a little panic as another bus wasn’t until 7:45pm and the journey to the airport by bus takes one hour. A couple of British people who arrived at the bus stop much earlier than us, waited there too so it was impossible that we might have been late for that bus. Finally we came to the conclusion that it was no use waiting and high time to take a taxi and share that 60 €.
We made it. We got there on time but it was already too late to go anywhere outside the airport. The centre was a 30-minute walk and the coast a 20-minute one. We decided to check-in and it was a good decision. The queue was so long and passport control so slow that as a result we had our last call 30 minutes before the departure which was rather strange but as soon as I saw another queue to a plane everything became clear to me. No wonder the flight was delayed. This is how our Corfu adventure came to an end and I already can’t wait to come back there.