Our guide to discovering traditional Corfu
Whilst the vast majority of Greek Islands remain uninhabited and undisturbed, Corfu has long since established itself as a popular holiday destination, and rightly so. The lush green landscape, abundance of fascinating wildlife and varied beach line is the setting for Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ and consequently Corfu had been firmly placed on the map by British holiday-makers by the 1960s. With its exquisite beaches and charmingly varied historical influences, from the Venetian styled Corfu Town to the cricket pitches established by the British in the 19th century, the island’s popularity is hardly surprising. However, despite the influx of tourists that the island has received, there are still parts which are reminiscent of Durrell’s childhood in a wild and unspoilt landscape.
The islands Venetian capital lies on the eastern coastline of the island and is an impressive UNESCO World Heritage site. Labyrinths of cobbled streets and historic architecture lead to the ‘Spianada Square’, where cricket is still played. Positioned above the town, overlooking the sea below, is the capital’s impressive Old Fortress. With a display of canons, this fortress is evocative of Corfu’s turbulent history and the continual changes in power that the island has faced. From its highest point, the fortress boasts stunning scenic views out to sea, and back over Corfu Town.
Standing at nearly 3, 000 feet, Mount Pantokrator is Corfu’s highest peak and, unarguably, offers the islands greatest views. From the summit, not only is the entirety of Corfu visible, but there are also views out to Albania and, on particularly clear days, Italy. Perched at the top is a café (for a refreshment after the hike up, or the steep drive!) and a church dating back to around 1689, with a 19th century façade.
On the north western side of the island sits the 13th century Byzantine fortress, Angelokastro. To the southeast, the fortress surveys mainland Corfu and in the distance Corfu Town can be made out. A steep cliff face drops away from the fortress out to sea, providing stunning views of the Ionian Sea.
In the shadow of the towering Mount Pantokrator lies the island’s oldest village: Old Perithia. Wandering through the 14th century remains of this deserted village, you can experience the oldest example of an original mountain village. With only a handful of tavernas in the centre, you will certainly feel a world away from Corfu’s tourist hotspots.