Corfu – is it the perfect Greek island escape? When looking for a Greek island vacation, Corfu is not the first island that comes to mind for me. I always think of Santorini or Mykonos and Corfu often slips to the bottom of the list. That was until we discovered that one of the best luxury all-inclusive hotels in Europe is located in Corfu. Let me tell you, finding a luxury all-inclusive hotel in Europe that not only has superb decor, amenities and reviews BUT exquisite food to match is not an easy feat. You either get one or the other but never the full package. It wasn’t until we started to research Corfu properly as a Greek island destination we might want to visit that we realised what amazing things Corfu had to offer. This Corfu travel guide will share all our favourite sights, places to eat delicious authentic food and where to stay in style.
Corfu is different to most other Greek islands, mainly because it is covered in lush green vegetation and mountainous terrain. With over 217km of coastline and plentiful sandy beaches with turquoise water, a beautiful romantic old town and a rich cultural heritage, Corfu is a surprisingly fantastic island to visit for your vacation.
Due to its location off the northwest coast of Greece, Corfu is the most northern of the Greek islands. It is also one of 7 islands that make up the Ionian Islands. Rain falls in winter creating a lush green landscape of olive trees and cypresses followed by warm, sunny and dry summers.
The island of Corfu in Greece also has a town of Corfu, Kerkyra in Greek. Also known as Corfu Old Town, you can see Venetian influences due to the four centuries that it was under Venetian rule from 1386 until 1797. Corfu’s Old Town features Renaissance, baroque and classical architecture, old fortresses and a 19th-century Liston, a promenade on the central square, with arcades and cafes. If you are looking for a culturally rich and relaxing island to visit in Greece, then why not visit Corfu?
Where to Stay in Corfu
IKOS Dassia 5* All Inclusive Hotel
I can’t talk about the best luxury all-inclusive hotel in Europe without telling you what it’s called or why it is so fantastic. Read on to discover why you will be adding this hotel to your bucket list and why we included it in our Corfu travel guide.
The Ikos Dassia Experience
We stayed at the Ikos Dassia all-inclusive hotel for the first 5 nights of our trip to Corfu. Our plan was to find a modern luxury oceanfront hotel that offered an unparalleled all-inclusive experience. It did not disappoint. We wanted to simply have a luxuriously relaxing stay, and drink cocktails all day by the pool whilst gorging on delicious food. From the moment we arrived in our taxi, we were personally greeted by the concierge outside the hotel and taken to check-in in the most beautiful lobby which instantly made us gasp “wow” out loud. Champagne and gin and tonic (our drinks of choice) were served as our personal concierge showed us maps of the resort on an iPad and then walked us to our hotel room. Instantly, we knew this holiday was going to be amazing.
The Rooms at Ikos Dassia
Our room was booked as an inland view room, one of the cheapest categories on offer. Before we travelled, I emailed reservations and requested to have a room that was not facing the main road. (Tripadvisor reviews really do give the best tips). To our surprise, this meant we had a room with a partial ocean view for no extra cost.
The rooms are bright and modernly decorated with a simple luxurious feel. They include a fully stocked mini-bar (beer, wine, local spirits and soft drinks) that is included in the rate. It can be refilled with your favourite drinks on a daily basis. They also serve 24-hour room service which is quite handy if you fancy breakfast in bed or a late-night dessert snack.
The Ikos Dassia hotel has 2 buildings – Sea and Sky. Each has its own rooms and buffet restaurant. The Sea building is more appropriate for families and the Sky building is perfect for couples. I would request which building you would like before visiting as the vibes are quite different. The property really does cater for all types of travellers.
Dining at Ikos Dassia
There are 5 main restaurants at Ikos Dassia offering Michelin star chef-created menus. Our favourites were Anaya, for mouth-watering Asian cuisine and Provence for the delicious French fare. We didn’t particularly like the Flavors buffet and would recommend eating in the a la carte restaurants. You can pre-book these before you arrive at the resort to ensure you get a table at a reasonable time and can experience each one. Luckily the concierge is there to help with all your needs prior to visiting. And yes, before you ask – you can order as many dishes as you want. This was perfect for Anaya and being able to experience a variety of Japanese dishes.
Experiences at Ikos Dassia
Book a Mini Drive Adventure! Ikos Dassia offers the complimentary opportunity to drive a Mini Cooper for the day to explore the island of Corfu. This was such a great unique touch and we really enjoyed adventuring around Corfu on our own.
The wine tasting experience at Ergon. As part of the all-inclusive experience at Ikos Dassia, you are able to enjoy wine tasting. One might think, why would you do this when all the wine is included anyway? Well, let me tell you this, the wealth of knowledge we gained from the sommelier, along with the delicious food pairings made this a very educational and fun experience.
Sunset boat cruise around the island. A not very well-advertised perk of staying at Ikos Dassia is the opportunity to go on a complimentary sunset cruise. Unfortunately, the night that we had pre-booked (ensure you do this before arriving) was raining so it didn’t sail. However, we did watch the boat leave on previous evenings and it looked absolutely fantastic sailing into the sunset.
Dine out on authentic greek food in the renowned local restaurants with the Dine Out Culinary Experience all included in your stay.
Overall Score 10/10
All of these wonderful amenities are on top of the multiple beautiful pools including waiter service, all-day access to ice cream, insanely beautiful bars and views. Ikos Dassia was hands down one of the best hotel experiences we have ever had. We highly recommend staying here if you want the luxury all-inclusive experience at a reasonable price.
Bella Venezia 3* Boutique Hotel
On this trip, we wanted to experience Corfu Old Town and booked this hotel extremely last minute. We had planned on staying at another accommodation, however, they let us down whilst we were actually on our holiday in Corfu. So a last-minute search led us to Bella Venezia and we couldn’t have been happier that they had availability.
This traditional boutique hotel is ideally located close to the centre of Corfu Old Town and is a restored neoclassical mansion. Enjoy alfresco dining in their glorious courtyard garden with a gazebo sunroom and wisteria-adorned trellis. The breakfast is a traditional Greek breakfast and the rooms are classically designed. We highly recommend staying at Bella Venezia when you visit Corfu Old Town.
Things to do in Corfu
Corfu is one of those islands with little in the way of tourist attractions. You come here to relax on the beach, enjoy the culturally rich old town and explore the island’s wonderful natural beauty.
Inspired by a stunning photo on Instagram, we visited La Grotta in Corfu on our day trip from Ikos Dassia in the Mini Cooper. On the way to Paleokastritsa, imagine a secret cove located down 142 winding steps. Set at the base of the cliff with a sparkling turquoise lagoon below. The waves gently splash on the rocks that make up part of the beach bar that is built into the cliff. People jump off the turquoise blue diving board and snorkelers gather to swim around the rocky shore. We arrived before the beach cafe had opened and so had the lagoon to ourselves for a while before visitors started to appear. As we visited in the offseason it was a lot quieter than what we had heard it can be in peak season. We didn’t need to purchase anything from the bar in order to swim there, however the bar was closed when we arrived. When the bar did open we wanted to stop for a drink however no one served us for quite some time so we left.
Corfu Old Town
Corfu Old Town was named by UNESCO a world heritage site and is beautifully preserved with stunning Venetian architecture. Set on the East coast of Corfu island, the old town faces the border of mainland Greece and Albania. With a rich and abundant history, Corfu Old town is an absolute must-visit for your trip to Corfu island.
Historic monuments are nestled in between the charming cobbled streets and romantic, colourful buildings. The Venetian influences rose from the middle ages when Corfu was under Venetian rule for over 4 centuries. You would be forgiven for thinking that you were strolling through the streets of Venice due to how large the influences are here. It is quite honestly, a magnificent and unique old town.
There is no set itinerary recommendation for visiting the old town as you simply want to just wander the cobbled streets and get “lost”. Discover quaint cafes nestled into hidden cosy corners and admire the characteristic facades of the buildings.
A few points of interest for visiting Corfu Old Town are listed below to help you navigate a few of the must-sees:
Taking a page out of Venice’s book replicating St Marks’s Square vibe. With charming arcades forming a romantic background for the aristocrats in yonder years, this is the perfect place to come for an evening promenade, eat dinner or stop for coffee under the shade of the umbrellas.
Saint Spyridon Church
A Greek Orthodox church that was built in the 1500s with the highest bell tower in the Ionian islands. You can see the church peeking out from the cobbled lanes and it makes a truly fantastic photo. Watch out for traditional Greek weddings that happen here, it is wonderfully romantic.
The Old Fortress
Sitting on a peninsula on the East coast of Corfu’s Old Town, with 360-degree panoramic views of the Ionian sea and UNESCO World Heritage old town, the Old Fortress is a sight to behold. The Venetian-built fortress was erected to protect Corfu town from invaders in the Byzantine era. Access to the fortress is via the Contrafrossa, a moat that enabled the fortress to withstand three major sieges. Tickets are just 6 Euros to enter and are well worth purchasing.
The New Venetian Fortress
Built on the hill of St Mark on the west side of Corfu town is the fortress of Agios Markos. This magnificent fortress can be seen from the old port and is built over two levels. The New Fortress was built to fortify the defence of Corfu as the Old Fortress was no longer enough. This fortress is a great addition to visiting the Old Fortress and only costs a few Euros to enter, sometimes even free.
Plakada t’ Agioú Square
We stumbled upon Plakada t’ Agioú Square as we were wandering the old town streets. Located near Saint Spyridon church, this colourful square is one of the most central and historic points in the old town of Corfu. The beautifully colourful buildings adorned with white shutters make you feel like you have stepped into a bygone era.
To get incredible views of the Old Fortress, head to the Kapodistrias Statue. Located only a few minutes stroll through a park from the centre of the old town, you will find sweeping coastal views here including the magnificent Old Fortress.
On our list of places to visit in Corfu was Port Timoni, for obvious beautiful reasons. However, we did not get to visit it whilst we were there and felt I had to add it to the list of places to visit as it simply looks amazing. Access involves a little hiking and you need a car to access the car park, there are no facilities and so coming here isn’t for the faint-hearted. The views just look simply breathtaking.
We visited Paleokastritsa due to its close proximity to La Grotta. It is quite a pleasant area with a monastery on top of a hill, olive tree forests and clear blue ocean views. It is a very small rural resort, with quite pretty views, however, we only stayed for a very short time (probably less than an hour) as we felt it didn’t quite offer what the internet had described. Worth checking out if you are in the area.
Where to Eat in Corfu
All of the restaurants I am recommending in this post are located in Corfu Old Town as we spent part of our trip eating in the all-inclusive restaurants at Ikos Dassia. Since most visitors will be spending some time in the old town these are our must-visit restaurants for your visit.
We found Abakas the usual way that we find our favourite places to eat – via Trip Advisor. It gets 5/5 and is No.4 of all the restaurants in Corfu Town. We were not disappointed by the delicious local Mediterranean food served for a very reasonable price. Think large portions of succulent grilled meats, fresh salads for 10-15 Euros and wine for only 5 Euros for half a carafe! Set a little away from the usual tourist traps, Abakas is a must-visit and worth arriving early or booking a table as it’s very popular with locals and tourists. We went twice we loved it so much in the short time we were in the old town.
Pane E Souvlaki
Pane E Souvlaki is located in the centre of Corfu Old Town in a beautiful building overlooking the Old Town Hall of Corfu and a bustling picturesque courtyard. There’s alfresco seating and cute, albeit small balconies with wonderful views. They serve delicious traditional Greek food with their main special being the Souvlaki, which is mouth-wateringly good. We hadn’t planned on coming here, but as we were sitting in a restaurant opposite that was serving up mediocre food, we popped over and are very glad we did so.
If you are looking for a traditional Greek dish to take away whilst wandering the cobbled streets of Corfu Old Town, then pop into To Mikavziko. This little hole-in-the-wall establishment serves Gyros (pronounced yee-rro) for just a couple of Euros and makes the perfect takeaway lunch.
How to Get to Corfu
Flying to Corfu
You will fly into Corfu International Airport (airport code CFU), also known as Ioannis Kapodistrias, located only a short 5-minute drive from the old town. There are direct flights to Corfu from most airports in the UK with the flight only taking around 3 hours.
We flew from Bristol with Easyjet and for a week’s trip, with just hand luggage that fits underneath the seat in front of you (you will be surprised how much this fits), it cost us £156 for 2 people return. We travelled during the low season (October) and prices can peak higher during the Summer.
You can also fly from mainland Greece with flights from Athens taking only an hour.
Ferry to Corfu
If you are in Greece living out your Mamma Mia dreams and island hopping, you can also catch the ferry to Corfu. The closest ferry departs from mainland Greece from Igoumenitsa and takes 1 hour. Bear in mind that Corfu is located in the Northernmost part of Greece on the West Coast and is the furthest Greek island to travel to.
How to Get Around Corfu
Corfu is a large island, about 585km² and if you compare this to another Greek island like Santorini for example which is only 76km², you will need some sort of transport if you want to see different sights.
Hiring a Car in Corfu
Hiring a car is the most ideal situation as many places you would want to visit are off the beaten path. However, if you are planning a trip to spend a week on the beach in an all-inclusive hotel, you could easily get away with taking a taxi or the local bus for the odd trip.
Taxis in Corfu
Taxis are available easily in Corfu and are handy to use if you need a late-night transfer or want a private alternative to a shared shuttle. To give you an idea of taxi prices in Corfu, we pre-booked a taxi from Corfu International Airport to our hotel, Ikos Dassia, and the total cost for 2 people was approximately £28. The journey was 13km and takes 20 minutes.
Top Tip: We did notice that the prices of taxis from Corfu Old Town to Corfu International Airport were quite expensive given the distance. They cost up to 20 Euros for a 4-5 minute journey (around a 2km distance) and there are cheaper alternatives. You can walk which takes about 20 minutes or catch the local bus number 15 for 1,10 Euro in advance or 1,70 Euro on board.
Local Buses in Corfu
There are local buses in Corfu that you can easily use to travel around the island on a budget. The Blue buses are used for short distances and the Green buses travel further around the island. Fares are only a few euros and make travelling without a car in Corfu a breeze. Also handy if you want to have a few cocktails at lunch and don’t want to worry about driving. Some of the bus journey durations are also similar to taking a car.