1. Why go?
Corfu has figured in our consciousness since Edward Lear visited and painted while it was a British possession from 1814 to 1864. The Durrell brothers (and Henry Miller) lodged it even more firmly in the Anglo-Saxon psyche with their late-1930s sojourns, and subsequent rhapsodising in print. Today the island has a somewhat chequered reputation, due in part to its associations with Peter Mandelson/Jacob and Nat Rothschild (habitués of the north-east coast, popularly dubbed “Kensington on Sea”) but also the notoriously downmarket excesses of Kávos in the south.Yet there is plenty in between for the rest of us, on one of the greenest of the Greek islands – thanks to intermittent but torrential rains from September to June, and the thousands of olive trees that carpet the land-scape. It is also, perhaps surprisingly, one of the more rural, sleepy islands away from the touristic honeypots. Tourist development is quarantined on certain coastal patches, and once inland you really seem to be on another island, even another era. Secondary roads appear not to have changed (in width at least) since British times, and perennially rutted surfaces make driving a challenge, and some of the steep access tracks down to the beaches from main roads are white-knuckle jobs – not recommended for novice or nervous drivers.
In remote glades, Corfiot villagers still celebrate summer-and-autumn panigýria (religious festivals-cum-fairs) with music and merchandise stalls – watch for posters (usually Greek only) plastered onto olive trees, and don’t expect much action until after 8pm as a rule. Olive culture was traditionally rather desultory – the Corfiots for years didn’t prune, or pick the fruit, local patron saint Spyridon having forbidden the practices in a vision – and many groves still retain a romantically half-wild aspect. The old quarters of the east-coast capital, Corfu Town, have been designated a Unesco heritage site.
2. How to Get Around Corfu
Car hire – A car rental is an excellent way to get around Corfu. It is the easiest, safest and cheapest way to move around on the island.
Bus – Other than walking, taking the bus is a budget option. The blue buses run between the airport, the cruise ship terminal, and into Corfu Town. The green buses travel elsewhere around the island.
Bicycle – You can find many daily rentals by searching a bit. While the island is bike friendly with lots of routes, keep in mind there are lots and lots of hills!
3. Corfu Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Four to eight bed dorms cost from €18 EUR per night while dorms with ten beds or more costs about the same price. In the off-season, dorm rooms are about €17.
A standard twin private room with an ensuite bathroom in one of the hostels starts from about €82 EUR per night for two people. In the off-season, private rooms for two start at about €54.
Budget hotel prices – A room with a private ensuite bathroom in a two-star hotel will start at about €54 EUR anywhere on the island, including beachfront property in Sidari. In the off-season, you’ll find rooms for €36.
Airbnb is available everywhere on Corfu, with shared accommodation (like a bed in a dorm) starting at €17 EUR per night, but those rooms are rare. For a private room, expect to pay about €36 EUR per night, while a full apartment averages about €88 EUR per night.
Food – Street food like gyros or souvlaki is cheap in Corfu, costing less than for between €4.55 EUR each. A hearty Greek salad will also cost no more than €4.55 EUR . A meal at McDonald’s will cost about €6 EUR.
Traditional Greek dishes are also very affordable, especially when it comes to local specialties. Pastitsada (slow-cooked rooster in a wine tomato sauce season with herbs and served over pasta) is Corfu’s signature dish, and you can find it in most restaurants for €10 EUR. Traditional veal dishes like psito and sofrito cost about €11 EUR. Seafood like lightly fried octopus, calamari, or mussels will cost from €8 EUR. A beer to go with it will cost from €3.50 EUR.
At a higher-end restaurant, you can get an appetizer and an entree (including bass or tuna) for about €19 EUR. A glass of local wine is another €5.50 EUR.
If you cook for yourself, you can spend as little as €40 EUR on groceries per week, which would include some meat, eggs, pasta, some veggies, cheese, and fruit.
- Why go?
- How to Get Around Corfu
- Corfu Travel Costs
- Best Times to Visit Corfu
- General Tips
4. Best Times to Visit Corfu
The best times to visit Corfu are the spring and fall. Although there is never really a bad season in the Mediterranean, you’ll find that winter temperatures are too chilly to swim off the shores of Corfu, while the summer months draw hordes of tourists. The shoulder seasons, however, offer warm, sunny weather and plenty of open (and bargain-priced) hotel rooms, not to mention some exciting special events like Carnival.
Best Months to Visit
Sandwiched between the rainy winter months and the tourist high season, you’ll find pleasant weather and miles of sandy beaches free of fellow sunbathers. Although high temperatures only reach the 60s and 70s, clear skies make for a great backdrop to any hiking excursion or stroll along the coast. Keep in mind that this is the season of Greek Easter: Book your hotel at least two weeks in advance to ensure a place to stay for the celebrations.
With temperatures soaring into the upper 32s, you’ll have no choice but to spend time at the beach. But be aware that you’ll be sharing that stretch of sand with plenty of other visitors. Reserve your hotel room at least a month in advance to ensure availability and the lowest price possible. Also brace yourself for lines out the door at many of the best sites and restaurants.
For a relaxed Corfu getaway complete with prime beach weather and hardly any crowds, plan a trip for early fall. Average highs in September rest in the low 25s, perfect for a swim in the Mediterranean. However, you can expect temperatures to decline steadily as November approaches, with 20 marking the average low. It might be too chilly to don your trunks, but the weather is ideal for hiking and sightseeing.
5. General Tips
Wear good hiking boots. Footpaths are often broken at places with large potholes.
Boat trips do not start until towards end of April and ends late October.
People are friendly in general. If you are travelling with little kids, expect them to be cuddled by locals (especially old people). Please don’t be offended by this.
Shops open in the morning around 08:30-09:00 and then they close between 13:00/14:00 – 17:00/18:00 and then re open 18:00-21:00.
If you want good landscape photos, walk upwards from usual tourist spots.
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