Corfu – Where the Sun, Sea and Souvlaki Meet: A Quest for its Location
by Stefanie Michaels
Where is Corfu?
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea and is part of the Ionian Islands, a group of seven more significant and several smaller Greek islands. It’s located just off the coast of mainland Greece and is known for its beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters, fresh seafood, warm and friendly locals and ancient history.
It’s rich and varied history, dates back to the 8th century BCE. It has been ruled by various civilizations throughout history, including the Byzantine Empire, Venetian Republic, French First Republic, and the British Empire.
During World War II, the island was occupied by Italian and German forces. Now, Corfu has become a popular tourist destination of the Greek Islands for its stunning beaches, historic landmarks, and vibrant nightlife.
Its historical legacy is reflected in its numerous museums, including the Archaeological Museum of Corfu and the Museum of Asian Art, as well as its well-preserved Old Town, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007.
Their currency is the Euro and most locals speak Greek.
One of the biggest exports for Greece, is their olive oil. There are about four thousand Olive trees, which produce three percent of the worlds olive oil.
Foodies will love a local’s recipe, called Pastitsada–the most famous dish of the island! Pastitsada is a certain the way meat is cooked, using the local olive oil, spices, onion, garlic and red wine.
Here are eight ideas for things to do on the island:
- Visit the Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore its narrow streets, charming squares, and Venetian-style buildings.
- Relax on one of Corfu’s many beautiful beaches, such as Glyfada Beach or Agios Georgios Beach. Some beaches are rocky, so it’s wise to bring water shoes.
- Visit the Achilleion, a palace built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the late 19th century. The palace, which features beautiful gardens and statues, offers breathtaking views of the sea.
- Go hiking on the Corfu Trail—a one hundred and thirty-six mile long hike, that covers most of the island. It starts in Kavos and ends at Saint Spiridon beach.
- Visit the Archaeological Museum of Corfu, which houses a collection of artifacts from the island’s long history, including ancient pottery and statues. It exhibits from excavated sites around the island, from places like Paleopolis, Kanoni, Garitsa and Kassiopi.
- Take a boat trip to one of the nearby islands, such as Paxos or Antipaxos, and explore their unspoiled beaches and charming villages. Ferries run regularly between Corfu old town and Paxos, particularly during summer. The trip takes 55 minutes.
- Try some of the local cuisine, which is influenced by both Greek and Italian flavors. Corfiot cuisine is known for its Mediterranean and Venetian influence. These two cooking styles are melded into some of the most delicious dishes. Be sure to try the island’s famous olive oil and Corfu wine, too.
- Take a dive in the crystal clear waters of Corfu and discover the island’s vibrant marine life, including colorful fish and octopuses. Pavlopetri, the Peloponnese 5,000-year-old sunken city is for both divers and snorkelers. Pavlopetri, thrived for around 2,000 years before it was claimed by the sea, is one of Europe’s first ‘planned’ cities, with residential and commercial neighbourhoods.
TIP: Before you go, check out this 4-part series, called the Durrells in Corfu.
Did you know?
Corfu has been influenced by various cultures, including Venetian, French, British, and Greek. This cultural blend can be seen in the island’s architecture, cuisine, and traditions. For example, the traditional music of Corfu, called “Nisiotika,” is a unique blend of Greek and Italian styles, reflecting the island’s Venetian heritage.
Additionally, the island’s cuisine features a mix of Greek, Italian, and British dishes, with local specialties like pastitsada, sofrito, and bourdeto.
A little history:
Corfu is a Greek island located in the Ionian Sea, off the northwest coast of Greece. The island has a long and rich history dating back to ancient times, with evidence of human habitation as far back as the Paleolithic era.
Corfu was an important strategic location in ancient times due to its proximity to the Greek mainland and its position on major sea trade routes. The island was controlled by various powers over the centuries, including the Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians.
The island was a key center of trade and culture during the medieval period, with a cosmopolitan population of Greeks, Italians, and other ethnic groups.
In 1797, Corfu was occupied by the French, who were then followed by the British. During this time, the island underwent significant modernization, with the development of new infrastructure, trade, and industry. In 1864, Corfu became part of modern Greece.
During World War II, it was occupied by Italian and German forces, and the island suffered significant damage during the conflict. Following the war, Corfu experienced a period of rebuilding and development, with tourism becoming an increasingly important industry.
It is a popular tourist destination known for its natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant nightlife. The island is home to numerous historical sites and attractions, including the Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.