Hello readers! I can’t believe it’s been nine years since I first posted on my website. Since then, I’ve been through a lot of change and visited some truly amazing places. Thank you for reading. With that, here’s a post about Greece.
I had wanted to visit Greece for years, but where to go? There are endless options. Sometimes it’s fine to just go for what’s convenient. Like my Mallorca trip earlier this year in July, there were some direct flights to Corfu from Stuttgart and that made it relatively easy. Once you arrive in the airport in Corfu, you soon realize everything on the island is built for tourism. Like Mallorca, in the 1950s the island began to be developed for mass tourism from primarily England and secondarily Germany.
From my perspective, the bus system in Corfu is what made my trip fantastic. Renting a car in Corfu is expensive and parking is tough. If you can’t find a space in the off season, I have no clue how to find one when it’s the high season. Gas prices were higher than in Stuttgart. From the little I had read before arrival, it seemed renting a car was necessary, but I’m happy to report it’s not. If you want to get into town from the airport and then traverse the larger metropolitan area, the Blue Bus lines are what you need. The Green Bus lines run all over the island and are cheap. I didn’t have to worry about anything, I just showed up at the main bus terminal and was able to reach the best tourist destinations. Most trips are only 30 to 45 minutes (the longest one to Kavos is 90 minutes) and cost 2.20 to 4.40 one way. (https://greenbuses.gr/)
If you are wondering when to go, consider that Corfu has rather unpredictable weather in the spring and fall. If you miss the proper summer, you’ll have to plan your days on the fly if sunbathing and swimming is your main goal. October is the start of the slow season there. While the reliably dry, sunny days ended in September, at least the sea was still warm enough to swim in and often I had the beaches to myself on the most overcast days.
I stayed in Corfu Old Town, which is very close to the airport. It is near restaurants and museums, and the area is a UNESCO World Heritage site itself. I wandered and lost myself in the labyrinths of tiny alleys, which is all part of the fun.
The new and old fortresses loom over the city and can be admired from afar or you can enter the Old Fortress site for a small fee. Near the Old Fortress is the Boschetto Garden, of interest to “The Durrells” fans.
There are a number of museums to choose from to sit out the rain. Even if you don’t want go in, many are in lovely buildings and surrounded by lawns and gardens. Some of these are: the Corfu Museum of Asian Art, the Museum of Palaiopolis (Mon Repos), the Municipal Gallery of Corfu, Casa Parlante house, the Archaeological Musem of Corfu, the Serbian Museum of Corfu, the Banknote Museum of the Ionian Bank, the Byzantine Museum of Antivouniotissa, and the Museum of Dionysios Solomos.
In the high season, there is no shortage of boats for hire to go anywhere from just up and down the coast near Corfu Town to other points around the island, and even to Albania. In the slow season, it is more rare to find anyone waiting for tourists on the piers. One example is that there was supposed to be an hour trip to Vido island (4 Euros return trip), but when I went to queue up, the others said they’d been waiting for hours. I was apprehensive to waste time waiting for something that might not materialize and I also didn’t want to be stranded on the tiny island for hours when I was ready to head back. Thus, I decided on the cheesy but dependable Black Rose pirate ship. For 10 Euros, you get a 70-minute tour up and down the coastline of the town proper. (https://niakas.com/tours/corfu-pirate-ship-tour/). There is a bathroom and bar on board and they even pause at Kanoni to watch planes arrive and depart. Speaking of Kanoni, it’s a beautiful spot south of town where you can see a small monastery and have a bite to eat or a drink and watch the runway. I had gone a few days before and didn’t notice a small beach right around the left corner, which looked inviting from the prow of the Black Rose. There are cheap boat trips to Mouse Island, which is very close.
Without a doubt, Paleokastritsa and Kassiopi were the top beach villages I visited. Not that there aren’t some great spots to go swimming right in town. You can climb a ladder down at the Old Windmill and Faliraki, but my favorite spot was at the Nautical Club Korfu (N.A.O.K.). Paleokastritsa and Kassiopi are easily reachable with the Green Buses and are surrounded by shops and cafes. They are ideal day trips from Corfu Town. Like most beaches on Corfu, the water is totally clear, calm and shallow. Sunbeds with umbrellas are rentable for about 3 to 5 Euros a day in the off season. One place I was not too impressed with was Kavos. It is the southernmost tip of the island and while it seems to boast the sunniest weather, it’s also a complete wasteland of a party zone. If that’s your thing, this is your place. However, there are more picturesque and relaxing beaches elsewhere. Note that most beaches are pebble beaches. The stones are usually very smooth, but aqua socks or water sandals would be useful for hiking to some spots and for getting in the water.
Get out there and see the world, and stop in justifiably famous Corfu.
As a final note, air travel within Europe is still rocky. Staffing levels have not returned to normal, although the appetite to travel is stronger than ever. Crews are constantly striking, which also causes chaos. The recommended arrival two or even three hours before departure should be followed.