Rows of multicolored houses piled haphazardly stretch toward a dark blue horizon. The sound of the waves falling softly onto the sand. The ease of access to the beach, town, and solitude. You can find it all in Corfu. Greece.
It's no secret that the Greek Islands are some of the most beautiful places in the world. The clear turquoise water, dark pink and purple bougainvillea, and the simple but powerful columns that denote Greek architecture can be found almost everywhere in Greece. But Corfu is a little bit different. I've got 11 reasons to travel to Corfu, Greece that will make you want to pack up your swimsuits and hit the island.
Corfu offers travelers a mythological past along with a military history and some of the most pristine landscapes in the world. Yes, you'll find typical Greek beauty, but you'll also discover some quiet hideaways, unique views, and even village life.
Below you can find a map of all the places discussed in this post:
Where is Corfu, Greece?
Corfu is just south and west of the land mass of Greece in the Ionian Sea. It's also very close to Albania and you can take a day trip to the country if you choose.
How big is the island of Corfu?
Corfu is the second largest island of the Ionian Islands. To give you perspective, Santorini is about 29 (76 square kilometers) miles total. Crete, a much bigger island is 5,179 (8,336 square kilometers) and Corfu is 225 miles (585.3 km²). So it's a sizeable island, but with a car, it's easy to see the entire island in about a week.
Where to Stay
I believe there are times when you save and times when you splurge. If you're headed to a Greek island, it's time to splurge. But if you are to splurge, what is your best bet? Because Corfu is large it can be hard to choose where to stay. Rest assured, I have you covered. MarBella Corfu is hands down one of the best resorts I've ever stayed in.
Often times, when you have an exceptionally beautiful place to stay, the idea of functionality is lost. For example, you'll have a gorgeous resort but maybe the place isn't close to the beach or the light switches are finicky. This is happily not the case at MarBella. The design is clean, bright, and beautiful with comfortable chairs, multiple pools, beach access, landscaped gardens, and exceptional dining in the various restaurants. Truly, you could situate yourself at MarBella and not leave the resort for your entire stay.
Located just a few miles south of Corfu's old town, MarBella offers you breathtaking views of the sea, spa options, nightly entertainment, all done sensibly and luxuriously. As I've noted before, some hotels simply check off boxes in order to be named a 5-Star resort. And I did stay in other locations in Corfu that claimed to be 5-star. But none of them even came close to MarBella. They offer quiet beaches, a family and kids play area, and activities such as sea-kayaking, diving, and sailing all from the resort. If you're looking for a romantic getaway I can't think of a better escape than MarBella Corfu.
When you book, you can choose either half board (breakfast and dinner) or full board (all meals included). I chose half board but the food was so good I could have easily chosen to have all meals here. Breakfast is continental and includes delicious Greek delicacies like yogurt with honey, an assortment of olive oil and breads. Dinner is decadent and the menu changes daily to offer the freshest options.
I loved MarBella so much, it's the best choice for hotels in Corfu.
11 Reasons to Travel to Corfu, Greece
1. The Mythological Beach of Paleokastritsa
I have always loved the beach. The sound of the waves and the soft sand beneath my toes relaxes me like nothing else. But driving up from the small two-lane highway to gaze upon the bright blue-green water of Paleokastritsa beach was not something I was prepared for. It was so shockingly pristine I almost swerved the car. I frantically looked for a parking spot just to get a glimpse of the water. After pulling off the side of the road and taking dozens of pictures I got back into the car and headed down to the beach. The beach looks like something only an artist could have envisioned: pinkish-beige sand, boats bobbing atop crystal clear water, and craggy rocks outstretched into the sea.
Paleokastritsa is said to be the place where Odysseus met the princess Nausicaa after the sea god Poseidon turned his ship to stone. You can still see the ship-shaped rock out in the harbor today. And while this is a mythological story, I can understand why Odysseus might have just decided to stay here and not return home.
Sincerely, one of the most beautiful beaches on earth. And one that everyone should come to at least once in their life.
2. The Old Town is historical and picturesque
One of the best parts of Europe, in general, is the quaint and charming old towns. But not only does the old town (Campiello) feel like a movie set, it's also a UNESCO world heritage site. You've got incredible historic sites like the Old Fortress and castle, built to protect the islands from attacks.
You'll also find tons of shopping and cafes. One of the most picturesque areas, The Liston, has white arcaded terraces and is the perfect spot to people watch. Make sure to go to the Esplanade for a large green space and you might even catch a cricket game. You can also visit the Asian Art Museum, which is housed in the impressive Palace of St. Michael and St. George.
Wander the streets and see the Church of Saint Spyridon with its tall red-domed bell tower. You can see the remains of the saint. Legend has it that his miracles saved the island from devastation on many occasions.
I loved strolling the streets (frozen yogurt in hand) to feel as the sun’s heat slowly evaporated. Kids streamed the alleyway, the pale yellow and camel colored houses cast in long shadows as people passed from shop to shop. So many people stopped and talked or waved to each other, it was such a lovely sight.
3. The large airport
One of the toughest parts about island hopping is that it's hard to get from place to place. You can take a boat, of course, but if you're anything like me, you might get seasick. Having a large airport means it's very easy to hop from almost anywhere and fly directly to the island. This saves time and sanity.
It's also surreal flying in and out of the airport since it's right by the water. Feels like you'll land right on the sea!
4. Greek Food
No trip to Greece is complete without some Greek yogurt, honey, olive oil, and salad. But the island of Corfu has an interesting history. Corfu was occupied by the Venetians, unlike mainland Greece, which was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. Corfu is also the one part of Greece never conquered by the Turks. You'll find influence from the British and French as well. This is reflected in the food, so you'll find a wide variety of cuisine for every taste bud.
Seafood is a staple, but some of the famous Corfu dishes are “Bourdeto”, which is usually served with scorpion fish cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and potatoes. You can also try “Pastitsada”, a pasta dish served with beef or fish. The pasta is thick and round and very tasty.
The food at MarBella is where I found some of my favorite dishes. With multiple restaurants on the property, you can choose from traditional Greek to American diner and even Mexican and Italian. I especially loved the wine pairings along with the variety of cuisine. Every morning (and night) I'd get a large bowl of fresh, cold yogurt, drizzle it with honey, and top it with walnuts. Does it get any better than that?!
My favorite thing on the island was the frozen Greek yogurt. I've always loved yogurt, but serving it frozen is taking it up another level. Add some lemon cream and you've got one of the most satisfying desserts ever. The best is found in Corfu Town at Yogart since it's served with fresh, simple ingredients. I also had one of the best gyros of my life at Sidari beach at Memories Cafe.
5. Beach parking
One of my main complaints in Europe is that it's so hard to find a place to park. Especially when you're eager to see a sight, you might have to circle for a while to try and fit your car in a too-tight-for-comfort parallel parking spot. Not the case in Corfu. I found most beaches had ample, clearly marked parking.
If you've been traveling for a while, like I have, these things really stand out. Really, this makes a huge difference and means I will definitely visit Corfu again.
People can truly make or break your trip. If you find the people simply don't want tourists to be there, it changes your perspective on a place. The people of Corfu couldn't be kinder. People not only struck up small talk, we also had true conversations with each other. They wanted to know what I really thought of the island, what I liked, what I didn't, and if I'd return. The answer was always yes.
7. Vlacherna Monastery
This small monastery provides a great view of the island and a haven away from the noise of Corfu town. You take a narrow bridge to reach the whitewashed convent on the tiny islet. This is one of the top photography sites of Corfu. You might also recognize it from the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only” since a scene was set here. There are over 800 monasteries and churches on the island so make sure to seek out a few as you're touring Corfu.
8. Rent a Boat
One of the best ways to truly see the island of Corfu is to rent a boat. Even if you don't have a boat license you can rent a boat and, for a reasonable price, cruise around Corfu. You can whiz around the island, stopping at scenic spots, beaches, and dine on seafood whenever you feel like it.
With over 130 miles of coastline, you're bound to find a beach you love. With ample parking (as mentioned above!) it's easy to find a spot and spend the day lounging on the beach. If you're up for an adventure, it's easy to beach hop. I listed out Paleokastritsa beach already, but here are some of the best beaches in Corfu:
Logas – Named “sunset beach” since you can have a great view, is the impressive and small Logas beach. Make sure to check out the restaurant 7th Heaven for funky swing chairs and beautiful views.
Kontokali – This quiet beach is large and sandy with comfortable beach chairs and umbrellas, as well as access to water sports.
Kassiopi – Once a fishing village, this well developed town is now a hub for tourists with picturesque coast roads and olive groves. If you look hard enough you can see Albania!
Sidari – I found this beach listed as a top rated beach on Corfu but it's not quite as enchanting as the other places. However, if you're looking for an easy place to find a hot pink beach chair, then look no further. You can also have delicious gyro and head to Canal d'Amour for the “Channel of Love” where the rock formations create a series of coves and canals.
Gouvia Marina – While this isn't a beach, it's a marina for lots of gorgeous boats, shops, restaurants, and a great place to relax.
Porto Timoni – You have to make the hike down in order to really see this beach in all its glory and it is a bit strenuous – bring your tennis shoes! But the effort is worth it for this incredible beach and view.
You can see more of the best beaches in Corfu here.
10. Flowers in abundance
When I took a cab from the airport to my hotel, I first noticed the bougainvillea… everywhere. Flowers seem to cover every open space. You'll find them on street corners, near trash cans, dotting houses, and lining walkways. Some of the most gorgeous flowers were found right at my hotel. MarBella had rows and rows of striking bougainvillea which I had to stop and photograph. Corfu town had a plethora of gorgeous blooms overflowing throughout the town.
11. Stay in luxury
I've never before put a hotel on a list of “things to do” in any of my seven years of blogging, but this hotel is something special. MarBella is truly a five-star hotel, offering an incredible dining scene with six restaurants and six bars along with incredible design touches. Each room has a beautiful view overlooking the lovely property or the sea. You can also upgrade to a suite with your own private pool. Going to MarBella was a vacation on its own. The staff was friendly, helpful and the attention to detail was unmatched. Every day I was greeted and seated exactly where I wanted to be.
MarBella really helped make Corfu a can't miss island in my book.
Corfu is an oasis full of life, crystal clear water, great food, and lovely people. It's a place I'll definitely travel back to one day. There are so many islands to choose from in Greece, but because Corfu offers such a wide variety of things to see and do I highly recommend this one. With culture, history, dining, and it's overall allure, I know Corfu will charm every kind of traveler.