The Greek Emerald Isle – Why Visit Corfu? – words Al Woods
Because of the TV serial based on Gerald Durrell’s childhood memories, more travellers are becoming interested in Corfu, the capital of the Greek Ionian island group. Its plentiful water supply has made its landscape greener than more arid Greek islands and earned it the nickname ‘The Emerald Island’.
Located to the west of mainland Greece and within close proximity of other islands and Albania, boat hire Corfu is the perfect choice if you feel restricted in one place and wish to explore further afield or go island hopping. But what does Corfu have to offer its visitors?
The picturesque charm of Corfu Old Town
Nominated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, the Old Town in Corfu reflects the island’s chequered past as the Venetians, French and British all left their mark. It has narrow cobblestoned streets which wind through vaulted passageways (called ‘kantounia’) and outdoor staircases, all lined with pastel-coloured Venetian buildings. Now the premises of restaurants, boutiques and cafes, a stroll through the picturesque Old Town is a definite must if you visit the island. After sightseeing and souvenir hunting, stop off for a refreshing drink and just watch the world go by.
Imposing Monuments and Museums
The 15th-century Old Fortress successfully repelled 3 sieges by the Ottomans and its imposing stonework helps you to understand how. The citadel now houses the Museum of Asian Art which was established in 1927 by a private collector and contains over 10,000 pieces of priceless Oriental artwork. It is also worth visiting the island’s Archaeological Museum to see the enormous 6th-century BC Gorgon pediment.
Other museums include the Banknote Museum and the Dionysios Solomos Museum, dedicated to the life of the Greek national poet and writer of the country’s national anthem.
Whether you prefer your beaches to be lively and with lots to do or whether you’re looking for peace and quiet, you’ll be sure to find a beach to suit you on Corfu. For the more energetic, the best beaches are the 2-kilometre stretch along Kavos where you’ll find bars, music and water sports.
For those who prefer more remote beaches, Cape Drastis, located to the north, has dramatic-looking cliffs and is rarely frequented by other tourists.
Those on a sailing holiday have the most choice as some coves, such as Porto Timoni, are difficult to access by car. As a result, they remain quite deserted even during the peak season.
Delicious local specialities
Apart from the more well-known Greek dishes such as dolmadakia and moussaka, Corfu has developed its own unique cuisine as a result of its foreign occupiers. Being an island, freshly-caught fish and seafood dishes are a must, especially Bourdeto (a Corfiot peppery fish stew). For meat-eaters, Sofrito (veal in a vinegar, garlic and parsley sauce) is a Corfiot speciality which is definitely worth trying.
Whatever your age and interests, Corfu is the ideal island destination with something to offer everyone. Those on sailing holidays have even more options as they can access places off the beaten track.