Table of Contents
- Corfu itinerary
- Top things to do and see in Corfu
- Achilleion Palace
- Vlacherna Monastery
- Corfu Old Town
- Paleokastritsa Monastery
- Paleokastritsa Beach
- Old Perithia
- Cape Drastis
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea and a popular holiday destination. Its coast is dotted with beautiful beaches and resorts from budget to upscale. If you are interested in an active or cultural holiday you don’t need to worry as Corfu has enough to see and do for you as well.
Corfu was my first post pandemic destination for a reason. I had to renew my Star Alliance gold status. There are plenty of low-cost flights from within Europe brining thousands of people to the island, but I choose to fly Aegean Airlines. From Amsterdam to Corfu via Athens meant it would be 4 flights and close to enough miles to keep my status. I always hop to one of the Greek islands to do these flights and at the same time visit some UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
All the places of interest on Corfu can be seen in 2 or 3 days and that is what I did. I didn’t go to relax for a week. Let’s explore the best things to do and see in Corfu but first I share my Corfu itinerary.
Corfu is a rather large Greek island and driving from south to north easily takes 2 hours. However, most if not all places of interest are in the norther half of the island. I recommend covering all the sights in three days, but you can do them all in two as well. If you just have two days combine day 2 and 3.
Must do Corfu day trip #1: Old Corfu day trip
If you just want to get out one day, then you must visit Old Corfu including the Achilleion Palace and Vlacherna Monastery which are located near the town. The most efficient way is to start early (8-9 AM) at the Achilleion Palace and once finished continuing to Vlacherna Monastery. Make sure to hop to Pontikonisi as well. Now continue to Old Corfu but make a stop at the Archaeological Museum first and then park either near the harbour of the old fortress. Spend the rest of the day exploring the forts, churches, and museums.
Corfu day trip #2: Angelokastro & Paleokastritsa Monastery & Beach
First head to Angelokastro early morning when the temperature is still low. The climb up to the castle isn’t long but better done when it’s cool. Continue to Paleokastritsa which is a 20–30-minute ride south. It’s a beautiful beach to relax the rest of the day but don’t forget to visit the monastery at the top of the rocks.
Corfu day trip #3: Old Perithia, Cape Drastis and Kassiopi
First head to Old Perithia in the morning. It’s an old, mostly deserted, village on Mount Pantokrator. Go for a hike and finish back in Old Perithia for lunch or continue directly to Cape Drastis. There you can have lunch as well, relax at the beach, do a boat ride along the cliffs, or go snorkelling. In the afternoon continue to Kassiopi for a stroll in the harbour and dinner.
If you combine day 2 and 3 into one then drive in this order: Paleokastritsa Monastery (no time for beach), Angelokastro, Cape Drastis, Old Perithia (lunch here first then hike) and finish in Kassiopi.
Top things to do and see in Corfu
Now, let’s have a closer look at the top things to do and see in Corfu that are included in the above Corfu itinerary.
The Achilleion is a palace build by Elisabeth of Austria, or also called Sisi, as a refuge after her son died a tragic dead. Its architecture is, as the name suggests, based on ancient Greek style. Decorations in and around the palace are mostly related to Achilles, from which the name is derived. At my time of visit, unfortunately, the upper two floors were closed for renovation. I unfortunately missed the huge painting of Achilles on the second floor. However, the illustrations and sculptures on the ground floor were amazing as well. The interior is further filled with items related to Elisabeth and Franz Joseph II. Don’t miss the garden for some magnificent views over the island and the statue of Achilles. You can’t miss that one, it’s huge! I found the entrance fee of 10 euro quite steep, but the place is simply amazing.
The Vlacherna Monastery is one of Corfu’s icons. It’s a monastery on a small island connected with a walkway to the shore. The place is also great if you like plane watching as it’s right in front of the runway. Not that close as in St. Maarten though where you get blown away by planes (read more in my Sint Maarten itinerary). Vlacherna (Holy Monastery of Blachernae) dates to the 17th century but served as a nunnery most of the 19th and 20th century. A visit doesn’t take long as it’s just a small place which you can walk around. The interior you can visit the courtyard and the small chapel with has an icon of the Lady of Vlacherna. Before you go, make sure to hop to Mouse Island as well.
PRO-TIP: Once you drive back up stop at one of the restaurants/bars for a great view of the monastery below. There you can see the sharp contrast between the white monastery and the blue sea.
Pontikonisi Island (Mouse Island) is a must go to if you’re at Vlacherna Monastery. It’s a couple of minutes by boat which costs a couple of euro at most. The island is rocky with a tiny monastery on top surrounded by large cypress trees. First monks arrived in the 10th century and the chapel was built in the 11th century. Well worth spending half an hour on this idyllic island.
Corfu Old Town
Corfu Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for me personally the reason to go to Corfu. It’s my goal to see all the UNESCO sites worldwide. Park either at the old or the new fort and make your way around town. I parked at the harbour and new fort. There is quite a lot to see as the town dates to the 8th century BC and was also ruled for 4 centuries by the Venetians before the French and British took over. Now it’s one of the many Greek islands. Half a day in Corfu Old Town is enough but you can also easily spend a day there. I’ll list the places of interest in walking order starting at the old fort where I parked. You will pass plenty of other great spots as well like gardens, squares and other churches.
Archaeological Museum of Corfu
The Archaeological Museum of Corfu has a great display of archaeological finds. You should visit if you want to learn about the history of the island. As it’s located just outside of Corfu Old Town, I recommend visiting it early morning when it opens before exploring the town itself. There is parking at the corniche and the streets around the museum.
The Old Fort
Venetians built Corfu old fort in the 15th century on top of remains of an older Byzantine fort. It was built to defend the island. The old fort of Corfu played a vital role in the Ottoman sieges. The Ottomans conquered most of the island, but the old fort of Corfu fell never in their hands. You can walk through the various parts of the forts in about 60-90 minutes depending on what you want to see. There is a small museum and a church as well. The latter, the Church of Saint George, dates from British rule and looks like a Greek temple. I do recommend climbing to the top for a magnificent view of Corfu old town.
The Palace of St. Michael and St. George
Next up is the Palace of St. Michael and St. George or also called Royal Palace. It was built in the early 19th century for the British Lord High Commissioner. At that time Corfu was under British rule. Today it houses the Museum of Asian art. If you’re into art this is a must see in Corfu old town.
The Esplanade is just next to the Museum of Asian Art. It’s arcaded Liston with its many cafes is a great place for a coffee. It was built by the French and part of the Corfu Old Town UNESCO inscription. After a coffee start wandering the streets in Corfu Old Town and make your way to the new fort.
Church of St. Spyridon (Áyios Spyrídon)
The Church of St. Spyridon (Áyios Spyrídon) is a must see in Corfu Old Town. This church dates to the late 16th century and is dedicated to Corfu’s patron saint: Saint Spyridon. There are remains of him in the silver sarcophagus. It’s said he saved the island on various occasions. While you walk through Corfu Old Town, you’ll see more churches. Make sure to visit them as well. I’ll not list them all as the Church of St. Spyridon is the most important. Continue up to the new fort.
The new fort
The name New Fort is misleading as the fort is just a bit newer as the Old Fort. Corfu New Fort dates to the 2nd half of the 16th century and was build by the Venetians. The Fort is empty, and you can wander around and climb to the top. You’ll have a beautiful view there over the red terra cotta roofed city.
Walking from the Old Fort to the New Fort will cover all major sights in Corfu Old Town. There are more places of interest just outside of the old town which I have listed separately in this Corfu itinerary. If you have time left, you can go either shopping, stop at the beach or just have a drink at a terrace and watch people walk by.
Angelokastro castle is a beautiful Byzantine fort just north of Paleokastritsa. It dates to the 13th century and is build on top of a rock. The fort is a ruin but plenty of walls and remains of a church are left. You’ll have to park your car at the base of the rock and climb up in about 20 minutes. On a clear day you can see the complete island of Corfu. Angelokastro castle is for sure on of the highlights of this Corfu itinerary.
Just above the beach of Paleokastritsa you will find a monastery with the same name: Paleokastritsa Monastery. It is one of the main monasteries of Corfu and thus a must add on a Corfu itinerary. It dates to Byzantine time (early 13th century), but most current buildings are from the 18th century. When you visit, make sure to dress appropriate. The church is beautiful as are the gardens. In the small museum you will see various important Byzantine icons. After visiting the Paleokastritsa Monastery make sure to walk a few meters uphill and take the path to the top of a rock. You will have splendid views from there.
Paleokastritsa Beach is a beautiful beach on the north western coast of Corfu. The perfect spot for water activities and relaxation. There are plenty of bars and restaurants as well. Enough to do for a full day or, if you’re like me, to have a cold beer and continue further.
Old Perithia is a ghost town in northern Corfu. Although, it was a ghost town, as there are several restaurants now and a guest house as well. Half a century ago the small town had over one thousand inhabitants. The area is a wonderful place to make a hike and enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the restaurants. I highly recommend going if you visit Corfu. So make sure to include it on your Corfu itinerary.
Cape Drastis is in north Corfu and a perfect spot to spend a full day. It has beautiful beaches, crystal clear water for snorkeling, you can do boat trips and more. On a clear day you can see Albania across the waters as well. As I was on a schedule, I only had time to look around, but I do regret not having more time here!
Kassiopi is a lovely coastal town in North Corfu. The town is worth adding to a Corfu itinerary if you have the time. I visited late afternoon after exploring the northern part of the island. It has a fort which is nice, but the best part is the harbor with its many restaurants. Of course, go for fish which is fresh!
Although I only spend 3 days on Corfu, I think this Corfu itinerary includes all the places of interest. I even had a couple of hours at my hotels beach to relax. If you visit the island to spend more time at beaches a week is easily filled as well. Let’s see which island I will visit next year. Maybe Rhodes?
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Did you visit Corfu too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!