Off the Beaten Track in Corfu

| October 4, 2011 | 1 Comment
corfu Off the Beaten Track in Corfu

The Old Town of Corfu. Photo by Robin Bazylek.

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Beyond the cheap sun, sea and booze-o image of the package resorts lies a remarkably little-known side to Corfu. This sickle-shaped Ionian Island is one of Greece’s greenest and most mountainous, and its landscapes have been eulogized by everyone from epic poet Homer to novelist Lawrence Durrell. Forget the brochure hype and take the less-trodden trail and within no time you will find quiet coves, coastal viewpoints and hilltop tavernas where you can enjoy home cooking at its best to the backbeat of goat bells.

Beaches

Some of the best villas in Corfu nestle in the cypress-studded cliffs rising above Paleokastritsa in the island’s northwest. Choose this as your base and you will have access to the bay’s grottos and turquoise waters without the day-trippers. Just as lovely is the half-moon bay of Liapades slightly south, backed by thickly wooded cliffs. For more seclusion still, follow the former hippy trail to bare-it-all Myrtiossa. Reached by a dirt track and footpath, the fine sandy bay has beautifully clear water and boulders affording nudists privacy. In his book Prospero’s Cell, Lawrence Durrell describes it as the “loveliest beach in the world”.

beach Off the Beaten Track in Corfu

Gordis Beach. Photo by Gavin Gilmour.

The east coast is undeniably more developed than the west, but you can still find some peaceful spots. Roads wiggle through pine and olive trees to Kalami, Kouloura and Agni, where crescent-shaped coves are lapped by crystal-clear water and Albania seems close enough to touch.

Arguably the best beach in the south is Halikounas, a three-kilometre swathe of soft sand and dunes, which attracts windsurfers, kite-surfers and birdwatchers who come to spot herons and egrets on Lake Korission.

Viewpoints

Corfu’s dramatic northwest is punctuated by vertiginous lookouts. A road swings around the cliff tops to Angelokastro, a Byzantine castle perched high on a rocky outcrop and commanding near 360-degree views of the surrounding coast and country. Take your pick of the taverna terraces in Lakones and Makrades for views of Paleokastritsa and the glittering Ionian Sea from above. The coastal panorama from the bougainvillea-draped courtyard of Paleokastritsa’s monastery is primetime sunset viewing.

view Off the Beaten Track in Corfu

View from the Old Fort. Photo by Gavin Gilmour.

A winding road takes you through quaint inland villages where life slows to a donkey’s pace, pine forests, and beyond to the barren summit of Mt Pantokrator at 906m. From here, there are breezy views across the island and over to Albania and Italy.

Neoclassical Achillion Palace, the lavish former summer retreat of Austria’s Empress Elisabeth, has photogenic sea views from its gardens littered with mythological statues. Arrive early before the coach tours get there.

Restaurants

Corfu’s Italian-inspired cuisine is a lingering taste of Venetian rule, but you’ll be pushed to find the real deal in many of the big resorts. High on the foodie agenda is Corfu Town, where the mazy alleys hide tavernas serving authentic dishes like pastitsada (meaty pasta casserole) and sofrito (veal in garlic, white wine and parsley). Or join locals at an ouzeri for glass of aniseed-laced ouzo and meze like dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), marinated aubergines and saganaki (fried cheese).

resturant Off the Beaten Track in Corfu

Zefiros Restaurant at Ai-Gordis. Photo by Dimitris Kilimis.

Several restaurants on the island stand out for their setting and food. First up is Etrusco in the tiny village of Kato Korakiana, where market-fresh Corfiot flavours are served with finesse. Some of the freshest fish on the island lands on your plate at the sea-facing Fisherman’s Tavern in Agios Georgios, tucked away in the olive groves (ask locals to show you the way). Among other coastal favourites are seafront Taverna Agni in the pretty bay of the same name.

Don’t judge tavernas solely by their appearance and reputation, though—some of the best are the no-name, family-run places in the hilly north, where the feta, olive oil and wine are home-produced.

The preceding was a sponsored post. Visit the Meon Villas website to book Corfu Villas. For more information about Meon Villas, see www.meonvillas.co.uk. For more information about sponsored posts, click here.


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About the Author ()

Kerry Christiani is an award-winning travel writer. She spent two seasons living and working in Corfu and knows the island very well. Her favourite places on the island are Mt Pantokrator (for views), Myrtiossa (for sand and solitude) and Corfu Town (for Venetian culture).

Comments (1)

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  1. Henry Williams says:


    The restaurants are great in this area! I loved Corfu. Different vibe than the other islands. I also remember it being more green and lush than the other islands but that could be my memory playing tricks on me.

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