Corfu is the second largest Greek island on the Ionian sea. It is a sophisticated island with good infrastructure (it has twice as many hotels as in Kefalonia - the largest of the Ionian islands) for tourists and holiday makers. There is always something for everyone. As choices are plenty, it could be difficult to pick a spot to base - here is an overview of popular villages on the island.
Where is what in Corfu?
We start from Corfu town, on the east coast of the island, and works anti-clockwise. A map below.
The capital, Corfu town, is the most developed and commercialised part of the island. It's located in the middld of the east coast of the island and has a good selection of shops, restaurants and hotels. The old town is charming with lots of winding alleys and stone architectures. There are also several small but interesting museums - my personal favourite is the museum of oriental arts, where one could see a displays of elegant and tastefully selected oriental ceramics, paintings, cabinets from the 18-19 century.
About 10km from the port is the village of Gastouri, where the Achilleion stands. It is a palace commissioned by Princess Sisi (Empress Elizabeth of Austria, 1837-1898) in 1888, at around the time her only son committed suicide. As its purposed had been altered many times in the past, the interior is more of a functional indoor space than a royal residence. At any rate, it is a quiet place to contemplate history and it offers beautiful panoramic view of the island and a beautiful garden.
It is also the home of the airport (about 3,5 km from the port) so would be the most convenient place to stay if you're arriving on an international flight and want to explore the beautiful Corfu town before heading to the beaches on the island.
The Northeast coast
If you prefer a more traditional experience during your stay in Corfu, you may want to stay in one of the villages towards the north east of the island. These are more peaceful than the city and there are not too many big resorts here. For example, the village of Gouvia, about 10km from Corfu town, is a popular, family friendly village (mostly for self-catering) with one of the largest marina on the island. Along the coast towards the north, Dassia and Ipsos are also popular villages for tourists that offer different types of mostly self-catering accommodations. The beaches at Dassia and Ipsos are rocky, but shallow and suitable for children.
Our personal favourite part of the island is the section between Barbati and Kassiopi. There are various villages such as Nisaki, Agio Stefanos, Kalami… The vibe in this section is calmer with somewhat more sophisticated travellers - maybe deal to the rocky and deeper beaches and they are further away from the airport. This part of the island is also dotted with many trees and olive trees that is very beautiful in summer. There are many good restaurants, self-catering holiday houses and a few adults-only hotels. This section is a good place to get away from the crowds, dine at some very good seaside or traditional restaurants, enjoy a quiet time on some wonderful beaches while being not the furthest away from Corfu town.
Of course, there’s also family friendly options on this part of the island, Nisaki Bay, for example, is a charming small village that has some family friendly accommodations and options to do many water sports.
The North Coast
There are more sandy beaches on the north coast of the island. Our personal favourite is the long, shallow sandy beaches at Apraos. Kassiopi is a good base with many choices of accommodations but it could be crowded during high seasons. Sidari is famous with the Canal d'Amour - the “Canal of Love” beach - great for Instagram pictures but not a place for a quiet, peaceful holiday.
Of course one could always go for the interior of the islands and not staying at the coast. The accommodations in the interior often offer authentic Greek village charms, more value for money and panoramic view of the Ionian sea. However, a car would be recommended as one often need to climb to the village and may need it for restaurants or occasional grocery shopping.
The Northwest Coast
The northwest coast is dominated by cliffs and sandy beaches. The view and the sunset are gorgeous but the accommodation may not have direct access to beaches until we come to the village of Paralia Agios Georgios Beach - the former fishing village now offer a range of accommodations and restaurants. It is quieter than the other locations on the island as it is also the furthest away from the airport or ports. This part of the island could be windy in summer.
The West Coast
The west coast offers many less visited beautiful beaches with cliffs as backdrops and opportunities for fishing, snorkelling and caving. Still, there are popular holiday villages such as Palaiokastritsa and Glyfadas. There is also a lake - the Lake Korrission where one may spots different bird species.
The west coast is dotted with beautiful sandy beaches and accommodations and little large hotels. It could be ideal for holiday (if one don’t mind a bit of wind). The only “problem” is the transportation as the main “highway” of Corfu roughly run from the north to south - so reaching the west may sometimes requires some planning or driving on narrow hilly path. It also makes visiting other parts of the island a bit more inconvenience. The Arkoudilas beach in the southwest tip is one of the most beautiful sandy beach on the Island.
The South Coast
Kavos is the main village in the south and it has been the traditional party town of the island where one could club, drinks, and share the fun with a big crowd. Many budget accommodations and restaurants to choose from. It also has well-equipped water sports centres that offer many different types of fun things to do in or on the water.
The Southeast Coast
The stripe of the island from the south heading back to Corfu town offers many large all inclusive and luxurious resorts and waterside taverns. Across the Ionian sea is the view of mainland Greece. From the fishing village of Petriti, one could drive along the coast until the village of Perama, where it is only around 8km away from the airport.
Do you need a car in Corfu?
Renting a car in Corfu is not expensive. Compared to other Greek islands - of course also depends on the type of vehicle that you are renting. Taxi is easy to find (pre-booking mostly required), they are good for airport or port transfers but not a great way to explore different locations as it would be expensive. Also, if you are staying very far away from the airport or port, renting a car could be cheaper than a transfer.
Renting a motorcycle is also an option but we do not recommend for long distances as the road are winding.
As conclusion, it depends on where you stay and what you want to do.