It's no surprise that we are in love with Greece, a charming, magical country with a wide diversity of sights to see and things to do.
One of our favorite locations in all of Greece is the Ionian Islands; an island chain often overlooked by travelers who head to Greek mainstays like Santorini or Mykonos.
The Islands are west of the Greek mainland in the Ionian Sea. Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian Islands and the westernmost point in Greece.
Corfu stolen our hearts with its piercing blue waters and lush green landscape, a stark departure from the rugged, rocky, volcanic Cyclades.
Corfu has rich history as it has been under rule of some of the most powerful empires in the world. Think the Venetian and British Empires. And because of this, Corfu has reaped the benefits of absorbing bits of each culture.
Arguably the best thing about this Greek Island; the beaches. Corfu is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece.
Fun Fact: Price Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born in Corfu.
We spent some time exploring Corfu and have put together a list of must visit places in Corfu.
1. Corfu Town and the Old Fortress
Spend a day exploring Corfu Town getting lost on the cobblestone streets. The ancient streets of Corfu Town are lined with shops, restaurants and old world architecture. Old Town Corfu was actually designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
After you've roamed the streets and explored the shops, head to the Old Fortress. The Fortress was built by the Venetians and dates back to the 6th Century. The fortress was so well built that the mighty Ottoman Empire failed on numerous attempts to penetrate the fortress and take control of the island.
Today, original cannons still stand within the grounds. Also inside, is the church of St. George. The church is build out of pure marble and in still in use by locals.
For a little exercise and killer views, continue past the church and hike all the way to the top for panoramic views of the Corfu Town.
Sidari is a beach town in the northern part of Corfu. The main street is full of bars, restaurants and shops. This area is know for its nightlife, so in the summer time the main drag can become a bit rowdy.
If the bar scene isn't your thing, Sidari is still worth a visit during the day.
Sidari is home to Canal d'Amour. Images of Canal d'Amour is what first put Corfu on our radar and it didn't disappoint. During the summer the rocks above the canal are full of sunbathers and the piercing blue water is filled with swimmers. In fact, legend has it that if you swim through the canal, the first person you see on the other side will become your true love.
Kassiopi is a charming village in the north east of the island, not too far from Sidari. It's a quiet little town with posh boutiques and restaurants. The beaches of Kassiopi are gorgeous with crystal clear waters and beaches with loung chairs. There are also a few secluded coves along the coast line that you can hike down to for a more private experience.
Perhaps the coolest part of visiting Kassiopi? From the beach, you can see panoramic views of the Albanian coast line.
Paleokastritsa is one of the most famous and often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Corfu. We were here on a cloud day but the beach was still stunning. There are massive, sweeping cliffs that surround the beach. The water is strikingly blue. At times it felt like being in Thailand rather than Greece.
If you want to do more that just lounge on the beach, you can enjoy lunch at one of the many restaurants that overlooks the water or take a boat ride around the cliffs.
5. Achillion Palace
Achillion Palace is located in Gastouri, a 20 minute drive south of Corfu Town. The Palace was built in 1890 for Elizabeth of Bavaria , the Empress of Austria. She loved the island of Corfu and was intrigued by Greek Mythology so she built the Palace as her summer vacation home. The theme of the palace is mythical hero Achilles.
Tragically, in 1898 the empress was assassinated in Geneva and the Palace was left vacant until it was purchased by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1907. During World War I, the palace was used as a military hospital by French and Serbian troops. In World War II, it was a military headquarters for the Axis powers. Today, it's a museum that welcomes visitors to come marvel at its lush gardens and ancients statues.
6. Day Trip to Paxos and Antipaxos
While there is a ton to do on Corfu, there are also some pretty epic day trips to take as well. If you are already in the area then you might as well explore! Our favorite is a boat trip to Paxos and Antipaxos.
Paxos and Antipaxos islands are only a two hour boat ride from Corfu. There are no airports on either island so the easiest way to reach them is by boat from Corfu. The islands a pristine as they are not overrun with tourists. In fact, no one lives on the island of Antipaxos. Nothing beats visiting a beach that is only accessible by boat.
7. Archontiko Restaurant
Last but not least, our favorite thing to do on any Greek island...eat! You can expect to find traditional Greek dishes that you would find on any Greek island, like fresh octopus, suvlaki and Greek salads. Corfu also has some dishes exclusive to the island. Try Sofrito, a traditional Corfiot dish of beef cooked is garlic and wine sauce.
One of our favorite things to do is to chat with locals about where to eat. Restaurants in tourist areas may be convenient but are often times more expensive and not as authentic. One our last night we decided to grab a cab and ask the driver to take us to his favorite restaurant. A bold move I know, but absolutely worth it. We drove for about 20 minutes up into the hills above Messonghi and ended up at Archontiko. A stunning restaurant with panoramic views of the sea below.
Archontiko was hands down the best meal we had in Corfu. The staff was so welcoming, like eating dinner in someones home. In between each course, our waiter came over with limoncello and ouzo we could all take a shot together. Greek hospitality at its finest!