Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek) is the capital of Ionian Islands and, with 108,000 inhabitants, the largest island in the region. Together with the islands of Othonoi, Ereikousa, Mathraki, Paxos and Antipaxos, it forms the prefecture of Corfu.
The island of Corfu is located in Western Greece, in the Ionian Sea, and borders Italy and Albania across the sea. Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan and beautiful islands in Greece and one of the most important tourist destinations in the Mediterranean.
The Greek name Kerkyra (Κέρκυρα) comes from the Nymph Kerkyra, daughter of the river Asopos. In English, it is called Corfu, because of the mountain peaks in Corfu Castle, which face visitors to the island.
History of Corfu
Corfu was already mentioned in antiquity as the island of the Phaeacians. Thus we encounter the island in Homer, who mentions in his Odyssey that Odysseus was shipwrecked on the shores of an island and was treated by Nafsika and her father Alkinoos, king of the Phaeacians.
The history of Corfu is associated with conquerors, but also with particularly prosperous times. Vandals, Ostrogoths, Muslims and Normans who plundered the Italian coast also passed through Corfu.
After the fall of Byzantium and Constantinople, Corfu became the property of the Venetians. The Venetian occupation left its mark on Corfu, both culturally and architecturally, and is the most important period in the island’s history, as it lasted for about six centuries, during which the Turks undertook many raids and destructions, but never occupied the island. The famous Barbarossa and Napoleon passed through Corfu.
The Ionian Islands or the Ionian State were founded in the 18th century as a result of an agreement between the Turks and the Russians who were in the region at the time. The Ionian State was officially united with Greece in 1864.
The inhabitants of Corfu have always been great seafarers and traders, but today most of the population is involved in agriculture, livestock breeding and especially tourism.
Places and Beaches on Corfu
Corfu is an impressively rich and beautiful island with many excellent beaches, each with its own style. It is worth taking a rental car to explore this green and scenic island. Corfu’s road network is excellent and it is easy to visit the beaches and the island’s various attractions by rental car or motorbike.
Sidari with the famous Canal D’Amour, Paleokastritsa, Prasoudi, Glyfada, Dasia, Kassiopi, Benitses and Lefkimmi are among the well-known and popular beaches on Corfu. Kavos, on the south side of the island, is a tourist resort where thousands of young tourists, mainly from the UK and Scandinavia, flock every year.
Corfu is famous for its many attractions, including Achillion, the summer residence of Empress Sissy of Austria, Mon Repo – the summer palaces of the country’s former kings – Paleokastritsa with its outstanding morphology and topography, Canoni and Pontikonisi, and of course Corfu town itself, which is one of the most beautiful towns in Greece, with distinct Venetian and Frankish elements.
Activities and General Information about Corfu
Corfu has a wide range of hotels, both luxury and budget. It is an island recommended for holidays and relaxation, but also for many activities such as sailing, trekking on Mount Pantokrator and tennis or even cricket!
From Corfu you can easily visit Paxos, both by boat and seaplane, Lefkada and Kefalonia, or organise day trips to the small islands near the island.
Corfu can be reached by plane from Athens and Thessaloniki, while you can reach Igoumenitsa by car and then take the ferry that arrives at the port of Corfu after 1 hour and 45 minutes. Corfu has direct sea connexions to Ancona, Bari and Venice, as well as smaller ferries to Albania and Croatia.