With jagged coastlines and an idyllic old town, Corfu has a lot more to offer than paddling pools. Stylist shows you how to enjoy the Greek island here and now, with firsthand recommendations and reviews.
When the word ‘Corfu’ is uttered, it’s most likely that the following things spring to mind: beach, the kids’ pool, and more beach. So many of us flocked to the Greek island as kids for easy breezy fun for all of the family, which doesn’t make it an obvious choice when ranking destinations for an adult getaway.
Despite not exactly being a hidden gem, Corfu has a lot to offer, whether you’re booking a romantic trip, sun-soaked girls’ getaway, or some solo quality time. The miles and miles of remote beaches, jagged coastlines, ancient ruins and a beautiful old town make it nothing short of idyllic.
With warm-ish temperatures (20° C) in the spring time and a comfortably hot 28° in September, you can dodge the crowds and highest prices during the summer while still catching some sun – and honing in on the discounted off-season prices. Read on for the best things to do on the popular Greek island, the most delicious places to eat, and the luxury hotels that are nothing like the plastic-fantastic resorts of your childhood.
Best places to stay in Corfu
Tucked away in the south-east section of Corfu, this adults-only hotel is almost obscenely beautiful. With luxury rooms and suites overlooking the Ionian sea (most have private infinity pools or jacuzzis), sophisticated restaurants and lobby areas, and some of the best food on the island, it’s not to be missed.
Choose from different eateries including San Giovanni, a buffet-style restaurant like no other (create your own gourmet pasta and ice-cream sundaes - the grown-up way, of course) and Apaggio, the a la carte restaurant with the most amazing ‘pastitsada’: torn slow-cooked chicken stuffed into pasta tubes and smothered in bechamel, a Corfu classic.
Each room is designed with the details detail in mind, from the modern super-minimal bathrooms to the pillowy beds, where you can gaze out of the huge double doors to the sea right on the hotel’s doorstep. You’ll never want to leave.
Forget everything you know about all-inclusives. No stodgy metal tray pasta bakes or watered-down cocktails will you find at any of Ikos’ resorts. Instead, there’s fine dining and an endless wine list alongside beautiful light, airy rooms. Choose from a variety of suites complete with 24-hour room service (please get the brownie at 1am like I did), completely free minibar, and furnishings that’ll inspire your next interior design endeavours.
Take a trip to the spa and float between the indoor and outdoor pools before steaming it out in the spacious Turkish bath – whether you go to the gym beforehand is up to you, no judgement. The wide, open spaces in between the two resort sections (Sea and Sky) are filled with botanical herbs and are perfect for strolling.
And the food. With so many restaurants to choose from, it’s hard to settle, but make sure to reserve spaces for dinner before you arrive. Anaya’s Asian-fusion is decadent yet light, Ouzo offers the ultimate Greek experience (the honey-drenched baklava with almond ice cream and rose petals is otherworldly), and French-inspired Provence dishes up some incredible mussels in white wine sauce. With drinks included, there’s no excuse not to have a glass of wine with every course. There’s no reason to leave the resort, nor will you want to. Oh, and there’s a private beach with its own snack bar and towel service.
Once the summer site of the Onassis family (among other celebrities and royals from around the world), this resort is nestled right on the beach for unbeatable tranquility. With a mix of pools and gardens with ancient olive trees dotted in between, it’s the perfect escape.
Enjoy a private beach free of kids, and hop on the champagne-service shuttle boat for a tour along the coast. Each luxury villa has its own parking (you can get by without a car in Corfu but it’s recommended to rent one) and Turkish bath.
Best things to do in Corfu
Stroll around the Old Town
This UNESCO-listed site is pedestrian-only with incredible narrow streets and wrought-iron balconies. Visit the row of cafes along The Liston and people-watch, and get lost in the boutique-lined squares and streets while bright pink bougainvillaea tumbles down over walls and clay roofs. End your stop in the Esplanade, a vast green park with bandstands and skateboarders alike surrounded by ancient columns.
Climb the Old and New Fortresses
These respectable buildings watch over the town, and being inside their walls is quite the experience. The Old Fortress dates back to the Byzantine era, and the New Fortress was built by the Venetians in the 16th century – the differences between the two are notable. Work your way to the middle of the Old, where a typical Greek church gets the perfect vast blue background of the Ionian sea.
Swim in Sidari’s Love Canal
Legend has it that every couple who swims between the sea walls here will stay together forever. Or you could just take a dip in the picturesque waters and take in the famed sunset, no strings attached. Either way, this rocky section is completely idyllic.
Take a trip to the South
Not every beach in Corfu is packed full of noisy families. Take a car trip or bus ride to the south of the island, to small villages like Gardenos, Georgios and Halikounas where long stretches of sand and sea lie with barely any people during the off-season. Wander through the villages and test the local family-run restaurants, before walking it off on the empty beach as the sun sets.
Images: Getty/Courtesy of hotels