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Warm Mediterranean sun and serene beaches are two main reasons why travelers come to Greece, and the island of Corfu happens to have an excess of both. Corfu cruises have risen in popularity in recent years, and luckily Corfu takes its popularity in stride. After all, Corfu’s elegant cobblestoned streets and stunning blue sea make it a quintessential stop on a Mediterranean cruise. But beyond Corfu’s charm and beauty, you’ll find unmatched history and culture.
Corfu itself means ‘peaks,’ referring to the island’s famous two hills, each featuring their own massive fortress to ward off invasion. This Ionian island is strategically located at the mouth of the Adriatic Sea, making it a critical port for trade, commerce, and maritime warfare throughout the centuries. Its rich history boasts a litany of sieges and occupations, and with that came an unforgettable mix of Venetian-style art and architecture, French design during the 17th and 18th centuries, and a classically Greek spirit all rolled into one island.
While on cruises to Corfu, Greece, explore Old Town, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Leave plenty of time for attractions like Achilleon Palace, the Old Fortress, and the Corfu Museum of Asian Art — to name just a few. Take in the intermingling scents of olive trees, lemon trees, and fresh sea air. Corfu welcomes you with every winding alley, terrace, and hillside.
Stop in for a wine tasting at one of the oldest wineries in Corfu. About a 25 minute car ride from Corfu Town, this family-owned estate produces red and white wines as well as signature olive oils. Don’t forget to make a reservation for a tour or a tasting at this busy winery. Their wine cellar is open from Tuesday to Sunday. An hour-long tour and tasting is only five euros.
French influence on Corfu is evident at the Liston. Designed during the short Napoleonic occupation of Corfu from 1807 to 1814, the multi-story houses were modelled after Paris’ most glamorous roads of the era. The Liston could best be described as a beautifully-designed esplanade, originally intended for French nobility to stroll through and connect with other high society in Corfu. Today, it’s perfect for people-watching and resting while en route to the OldFortress. While you’re there, stop in at the famous Liston Cafe for a coffee.
Old Fortress is a site to behold—in fact, it’s part of the reason why Corfu successfully defendeditself against the Ottoman empire during three separate sieges, and today it’s a source of pride for locals. Learn about Corfu’s illustrious chain of occupations and handovers throughout thecenturies while admiring this formidable site.
Art aficionados will find no shortage of beauty in Corfu’s architecture, and as luck would have it, Corfu happens to provide the only art museum dedicated to Asian art in Greece. The museum is housed in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George in Corfu. You’ll find collections inside from from China, Japan, and India—a can’t-miss tribute to collections dating as far back as the 11th century BC. Open from 8am-8pm Tuesday through Sunday.
South of Corfu Town and accessible by bus, take a seven mile jaunt to Achilleon Palace, a historic building in Corfu. The Achillion Palace was built during the 1890 designed to emulate themes of the hero Achilles in Greek mythology. It functioned as a summer palace for Austrian royalty. Scale the intricate staircase and look out into the palace’s garden from an ornate terrace. Take in powerful, perfect views from the terrace of Corfu unfolding before you.
Marked as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2007, Old Town contains every bit of influence from Corfu’s many occupations. The town Bazaar is a hub for shopping and cuisine, and the tightly packed roads have restaurants, taverns, and boutiques for travelers and locals alike to shop and enjoy the Venetian-inspired structures and balconies. Old Town is an essential starting-off point while you’re exploring Corfu.
Northwest of Corfu, you’ll stumble upon a village called Paleokastritsa, which is rumored to be the site where Odysseus disembarked to meet Nausicaa for the first time in The Odyssey. Paleokastritsa is nothing short of mythical. Swim, snorkel, and sunbathe at the beach. After, take a fifteen minute walk from Paleokastritsa Beach to a historic 13th century monastery which offers sweeping views of the coast.
Corfu cruises wouldn’t be complete without plenty of beach time. Sidari Beach is everything you’ve come to expect in a Grecian breach with sandstone formations that seem impossibly crafted. To the western side of Sidari Beach, see the fjords and a famous canal called Canal d’Amour, or the Canal of Love. Swimming in the passage of the canal promises a doozy of a legend: you’ll find your soul mate.
Families, too, can enjoy an all-ages water park in Sidari, which offers far less mythical results other than good old family fun. There are also boats available to take you on daily excursions to the Diapontia islands.
Be sure to try each of these traditional Greek delicacies while you’re in Corfu. Try a few traditional dishes for you to try as you travel, like gyros, souvlaki, and more. What could be better than an appetizer of bubbling, fried cheese melted in a small pan? Saganaki is served with pepper and lemon juice and eaten with bread. Don’t miss the chance to drink ouzo in Corfu. In modern Greece, ouzeries are like cafés and can be found in nearly all cities and towns, including Corfu. Ouzo is traditional aperitif. Slowly sip with appetizers like octopus or calamari.
Pane & Souvlaki
Address: 77, Gkilford, Kerkira 491 00, Greece
A budget option in Corfu Town, serving skewers of tasty meats, warm pita, and all the Corfu classics. Unfussy and simple with outdoor seating available to people-watch in Old Town.
Address: Skaramagka 367, Kerkira 491 00, Greece
This highly-rated bakery in Corfu has many options for treats, including vegan options, on the island. Traditional baklava, sweets made with Greek yogurt and honey, and much more is available for every level of sweet tooth, plus find a few savory options like spinach and cheese pies here too.
Address: Nikiforou Theotoki 6, Kerkira 491 00, Greece
Chrisomalis has been open for 150 years in Corfu’s Old Town. Try traditional dishes in an authentic, unassuming tavern setting.
Corfu has passed through endless hands of occupation since antiquity, The island’s geography, conveniently squeezed between Greece and Italy, attracted powers and conquests from both east and west. Over time, Corfu was occupied by the Goths, Lombards, Normans, and was fought over by the kings of Sicily and the Italian city-states of Genoa and Venice. Corfu bounced around between Italy and French rule for centuries before landing under British rule during the Napoleonic era in 1815, but in 1864 Corfu and the other Ionian Islands were ceded to Greece. Italian forces held Corfu again for a brief period in the 1920s, and even today, you can visibly see the Venetian influence on Corfu’s architecture.
During World War II, the city was occupied by the Italian and Germans from 1941-1944, and many buildings and landmarks were destroyed in the process. When Greece took back control of the island in 1944, Corfu placed continued emphasis on both tourism development and preservation of the island’s landmarks. In 2007, the Old Town of Kérkyra was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Cruises to Corfu, Greece include a shuttle bus from wherever your ship docks, including at the far end of the port. You also have complimentary Wifi in the port. Look for a bar and souvenir shop in the terminal as well. Note that many shops beyond the port of Corfu will be closed on weekdays for a “siesta” period between 3:00 and 5:00 pm.
To get around Corfu, use public transport available or traditional taxis.
Hop-On / Hop-Off Bus
Tickets to a hop-on/hop-off bus will be available for purchase in Corfu. These buses include two different routes which make 14 stops around the island of Corfu.
A shuttle may be provided to take you from the ship to the cruise terminal. Once outside the terminal, look for public buses at the end of the large port parking lot. Buses can take you to Old Port Square in Corfu for approx €1.50. You can take a 30-minute walk to the New Fortress.
Find jewelry, leather goods, objects constructed from olive wood, clothing, and needlework at shops along Filarmonikis, particularly around the Bazaar at Old Town, where small storefronts abound. Corfu’s exports, typically made by local artisans are available to you— think olive oil, fruit, grain, wine, soap, and textiles—in shops around the port.
The Euro is Greece’s primary form of currency. While credit cards are widely accepted, it’s recommended to double check before using one. Tipping taxi drivers isn’t common, but it’s polite to do so if the driver was extra helpful. A 10% tip is customary at restaurants if there is no service charge included. Finally, give your tour guide an additional €5-€10 tip when taking a guided tour in Corfu.