Corfu's Beaches and Resorts
It's often said that Corfu has a beach, and a resort, for every type of holidaymaker. Whether it be laid back or lively, bucket-and-spade or sophisticated, everyone will find an ideal spot for their perfect vacation.
With a beach that stretches for eight kilometres along Corfu's northern coast, Acharavi is a low-rise resort which boasts all the facilities of a real town along its busy main street, almost a kilometre inland from the coast. The sandy beach shelves gently into the sea, rendering it ideal for families with small children. The main part of the low-rise resort extends over the wide coastal plain between the main road and the sea, and contains villas, apartments and small hotels as well as the homes of local residents. Down at the beach a variety of watersports can be enjoyed, and a good selection of tavernas and restaurants borders the seashore. Acharavi also boasts the island's biggest and most luxurious spa, a large waterpark, and a very fine folk museum.
Agios Georgios (North)
Located in the north-west of the island, secluded Agios Georgios comprises a huge horseshoe-shaped bay anchored between steep, rocky headlands. The resort is relaxed and focused on the beach, with villas, apartments and small hotels scattered at random along the shore. The seemingly endless beach of fine golden sand is one of the best on the island. Visitors can enjoy a range of watersports, and frequent fresh north-westerly breezes assure particularly good conditions for windsurfing. Many of the local tavernas specialise in seafood. On the northern promontory stands the stunningly pretty village of Afionas, home to a number of good restaurants overlooking the view, and at the very tip of the headland is the famous 'Pirate's Cove', a double-sided beach only reachable by boat or on foot.
Ranging for miles along the coast in the island's south-west, the beach at Agios Georgios is backed by a plain covered with olive groves and open fields. The resort with its rooms, apartments, hotels and tavernas only spans a small portion of the wide and sandy beach, and to the north and south juniper-dotted dunes and low cliffs stretch into the distance, without crowds - and without shade. Scenes from the James Bond film 'For Your Eyes Only' were filmed amongst the dunes beyond the northern end of the resort.
Midway down the west coast of the island, Agios Gordis enjoys a dramatic setting against a backdrop of verdant mountains. Viewed from the top of the steep approach road, the huge sweep of the bay ends at a craggy monolithic islet, the resort's trademark feature. Most local workers live in three nearby villages, Sinarades (which has a fascinating folk museum), Ano Garouna and Pentati, and thus fishing and farming as well as tourism are part of the economy. Indeed, many of the beachside tavernas serve home-grown produce. Accommodation is mostly in apartments and quality hotels, large and small, and the resort is home to the world-famous Pink Palace, a mecca for back-packers. The mountainous surrounding countryside provides a marvellous environment for walkers and nature-lovers, and altogether this family-oriented resort is a perfect location for a relaxing, sun-filled holiday.
Located near Corfu's most northerly point, the beach at Agios Spiridon is set in a charming bay with fine sand, rocks and emerald waters. Behind the beach stretches a large lake, teeming with fish, bird-life and even otters. Beyond the beach, over a bridge, the extensive headland (designated a protected 'Natura 2000' site) is traffic-free and criss-crossed with sandy tracks and footpaths (the path along the coastline cliffs is the final section of the Corfu Trail, the island's long-distance hiking route), making it a wonderful area for walkers and nature-lovers. A couple of isolated, untouched beaches along the rocky coast can only be reached on foot. The small resort has a sprinkling of apartments and villas, and a neighbouring large holiday complex stands in the next bay, but does not intrude. Agios Spiridon beach was a favourite of the Durrell family when they lived on Corfu in the 1930s.
Agios Stefanos (North East)
Formerly a fishing village and still retaining its traditional atmosphere, Agios Stefanos is one of the most attractive of the resorts on the upmarket North East Coast, otherwise known as 'Kensington-on-Sea'. The resort is centred on the harbour with its excellent waterfront tavernas. The small Town beach lies to one side, while the huge pebble strand of Kerasia is within walking distance to the west. Boat hire is a popular way to visit nearby desert-island coves. The extensive headland to the east has no vehicular access, so that unless you rent a boat its quiet pebble beaches can only be reached by way of footpaths over grassland and through forest, with everywhere wonderful views across the water to Albania.
Agios Stefanos (North West)
Located in the north-west corner of the island, Agios Stefanos is protected by olive-covered hills which run out at the sea in the form of high cliffs. The beach of compact sand is wide and very long, with the low-key resort at one end. The other end, at the foot of high cliffs, is deserted. Villas, apartments and a couple of small hotels dot the hillside, and tavernas can be found both on the beachfront and along the resort road. Through the village, the road continues to a working fishing harbour, where you can catch a trip to the Diapontian Islands far out at sea.
Reached down a steep and winding mountain road in Corfu's north east, Agni comprises a tiny, secluded bay with a narrow shingle and pebble beach. The three beachfront tavernas are a mecca for foodies, and they serve some of the best dishes on the island. Each has a jetty where diners land off the stylish yachts that are invariably anchored offshore. A few old cottages have been converted for accommodation, but there is little else.
Arillas is located on the other side of the headland from Agios Stefanos (North West). Behind lies a wide, fertile valley where vegetables (and artichokes in spring) grow in between the scattered visitor and residential accommodation. The golden-sand beach in front of the resort is narrow, but it stretches a distance in both directions, backed by high cliffs. The sea can get very rough. Along the resort front are a number of tavernas and a small hotel, and other restaurants are located just inland. Many of the eateries serve fish caught locally, and often their own garden products.
Barbati lies on the east coast of the island, and is the wester-most resort in the necklace of villages that form the upmarket North East Coast. South-facing, it enjoys great views to the mainland and to Corfu Town. Behind looms the bulk of magnificent Mount Pantokrator, Corfu's highest peak. The beach is formed of large white pebbles and shelves quite steeply into the sea. Behind the beach, several low-rise but densely constructed tourist and residential developments cover the old olive groves. Beach bars and watersports centres abound on the seafront, and several tavernas and other resort facilities lie along the main road.
Set on the east coast midway down the island and facing the Greek mainland, Benitses is backed by steep hills covered in forest. Once a simple fishing village, it is now home to a state-of-the-art marina, port-of-call for the vessels of still-working fishermen as well as expensive yachts. Around the harbour area and in the old village, many of the original buildings remain, some of them converted into tavernas and tourist accommodation. The harbour square which fronts the marina is partly a tree-shaded park and partly a pedestrianised street bordered with classy coffee shops, where visitors and local residents can observe the passing scene in the shadow of awnings. The beaches are shingly, but swimming platforms and jetties offer more choice, and plenty of watersports are on offer. Accommodation is mainly in hotels of various sizes and self-catering apartments.
Dassia lies on the east coast, north of Corfu Town, and looks out over a huge bay onto Albania and the Greek mainland. Falling from the low wooded hills of the inland zone, the coastal strip is home to a plethora of tourist businesses, tavernas, snack bars and coffee shops. The accommodation includes everything from a camp site to several massive luxurious hotels. Down on the beach, reached along a number of little roads, the narrow, shingly strand is backed by a wide margin of shady groves of olives and pine, interspersed with pleasant beach bars. The water is usually calm and ideal for water-skiing, and swimming platforms and other watersports offer a wide range of activities.
Occupying a small and picturesque west coast bay, surrounded by steep wooded hillsides and sheer cliffs, Ermones is one of the locations mooted as the spot where the shipwrecked Odysseus was washed ashore near the end of his epic journey. Of limited size but adequate for this small resort, the beach is made up of coarse sand and pebbles. The water deepens quickly and sometimes becomes murky. The low-rise Grand Mediterraneo Hotel covers the south-facing slopes of the bay, and guests access the beach by way of a cable-lift. Half a dozen smaller hotels are positioned in the steep valley behind the beach, while two tavernas and a beach bar sit near the seashore. Activities in the vicinity include an 18-hole golf course and scuba diving, and the surrounding countryside offers lovely mountain and valley walks.
Gardenos Beach is close to the village of Vitalades, an unspoiled village near the coast in the south-west of Corfu. It takes its name from the River Gardeno, which flows into the sea at this location. The long, and uncrowded beach of golden sand is regarded as one of the most beautiful on the island. While it is relatively undeveloped, a couple of tavernas supply refreshments.
Greeks often vote Glyfada as a national favourite for summer vacations, and on descending the steep approach road towards the huge beach of fine golden sand you understand why. The beach is highly organised with a profusion of sun beds and funky beach bars, while one vast hotel, a couple of smaller ones and lots of apartments provide accommodation. Beachside tavernas nestle between the sand and the swathe of trees that supply shade if you wish to find it. Active visitors will find plenty of watersports, but swimmers should beware of sometimes-rough seas and a strong undertow. A short drive away, the mountain village of Pelekas is famed for its sunsets.
Located on the east coast just north of Corfu Town, Gouvia occupies the central point of an almost completely enclosed natural bay, once a Venetian naval base and now Corfu's main marina, with berths for several hundred yachts. Close to the marina stand the dramatic ruins of the Venetian Arsenal, built in 1716. Slightly inland, the resort's bustling main street and the nearby main road offer a huge choice of snack bars and restaurants featuring a range of cuisines, and later on in the evening a vibrant nightlife. The main beach and adjoining shallow coves consist of sand and shingle, and the sea is generally very calm. Watersports of all kinds as well as boat trips are available.
Ipsos looks out from Corfu's north east coast to Albania, over a vast, seemingly landlocked bay. It's located at the littoral end of a wide, flat valley overlooked by the great southern wall of the Pantokrator mountain range. The narrow shingle beach, a mile long, curves into a harbour at its south end. Lying alongside the main road and rather noisy, the beach's appeal resides in the variety of watersports to be enjoyed there. At the northern end of the resort, and extending a distance inland, the large village of Pyrgi is home to hundreds of locals, and as a result many of the seafront businesses are open all year round. Tourist accommodation tends not to be in the luxury category, and ranges from camp sites and self-catering apartments to small hotels. Eateries include fast food, 'pub grub' outlets and tavernas serving local food.
Once home to author Lawrence Durrell during his stay on Corfu in the 1930s, Kalami has developed from a little fishing hamlet to one of the jewels of the upmarket North East Coast, with its string of pretty villages huddling around picturesque coves. Enclosed within the arms of two verdant headlands, the Kalami Bay is immensely scenic and, as a consequence< it served as the setting for the climactic sequence in the James Bond film 'For Your Eyes Only'. Sitting directly on the pebble and shingle beach are just a few laid-back tavernas; one of them - the White House - was Lawrence Durrell's abode.
Kaminaki, a former fishing village of a few dozen dwellings, nestles at the foot of the olive- and cypress-clad slopes of the North East Coast, and is reached down a very steep road. The old fishing cottages, along with a few more modern buildings, huddle around the secluded pebble beach, which inclines gently into warm blue-green waters, making it perfect for children. A centre for boat hire, it is a marvellous spot for exploration of the many coves along this stretch of coastline. Two tavernas and little else endow Kaminaki with a laid-back atmosphere. Prince William was spotted here when in his early teens.
Occupying a position at the north-eastern corner of the island, where the foothills of the Pantokrator range tumble into the sea, Kassiopi is in turns a bustling tourist resort, a working fishing harbour, and a shopping and administrative centre for residents of the village and its surrounding area. It dates from Roman times (when it was also a popular resort!), and the large, beautifully restored castle which overlooks the harbour is built on Roman foundations. Follow the lane out of the harbour and around the headland to find swimming off flat rocks and from white pebble beaches. The harbour and the village roads behind offer a plethora of choices, from fast-food joints to sophisticated restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines, plus lots of shops, including two large supermarkets and an excellent bakery. Low-rise apartment blocks nestle amongst gardens in the main resort, while expensive villas dot the hillsides above. At the harbour, often busy with day-trip cruise boats, you can hire a small boat to explore the nearby coast.
Kavos lies in flat country close to the southern tip of the island and looks out eastwards to the distant hills of the Greek mainland. The sweeping sandy beach is five miles long, with very shallow water providing safe swimming for children. However, the resort caters in high summer mostly for young adults, and the centre with its huge clubs and bars gets very rowdy at night. Self-catering apartments, pensions and hotels provide accommodation. Fast-food outlets with mainly British menus are in abundance, but there are also a few Greek tavernas.
Kommeno sits on the peninsula which comprises the northern arm of the almost landlocked Govino Bay, home of the Gouvia Marina. The area is wooded and boasts lovely scenery and divine views, but it is also heavily built on, with expensive homes and two large hotels. Small shingle and sand coves provide swimming. Tavernas are mostly to be found inland, on the main road.
Located on the east coast just a few miles north of Corfu Town, Kontokali shares the island's main marina with the resort of Gouvia, a short distance away. The small beach is a mix of sand and shingle, and some hotels open their pool to non-residents. Accommodation is in apartments and hotels of all sizes and categories. The administrative centre of the Marina is a short walk from the village centre and boasts excellent waterfront bars and restaurants, as well as a croquet ground and the island's cricket pitch. Fish is a speciality in the mainly high-end tavernas.
Located on the east coast in the southern part of Corfu, Messonghi started life as a fishing hamlet at the outlet of one of the island's major rivers. It is now a busy resort which extends on the plain between the original settlement and the main road, well inland. The beach is narrow but long, running in a sweep to a headland to the south, and is formed of coarse sand and shingly pebbles. Watersports abound, and children will find some safe shallow spots for swimming. The main feature of the resort is a vast hotel complex, but there is also a choice of self-catering accommodation and smaller hotels, along with a cosmopolitan selection of restaurants. Behind the plain, a ridge of hills forms the eastern boundary of the Messonghi River valley with its endless olive groves and sun-scorched heathland.
The writer Lawrence Durrell described Myrtiotissa as 'the loveliest beach in the world’ and few would dissent. The beach of fine golden sand extends at the foot of a sheer cliff covered in pines and other shrubs, and is reached by way of an acutely steep concrete lane - most people park at the top, near a taverna, and walk down. The poor access keeps development at bay, and only one rustic taverna sits near the beach itself. The southern end of the beach, sheltered from view by rocks, is unofficially designated for nudists only. From the northern end, a few minutes' walk takes you to a monastery, dedicated to the Virgin of the Myrtles, giving the beach its name.
Molos is a locals' beach, in use mainly by residents of the nearby town of Lefkimmi, and except at weekends and during high summer holidays it tends to be very quiet. It is reached by a traffic-light road which runs alongside the Lefkimmi river and past a small, colourful harbour. Stretching a long distance along the coast from the river outlet, the beach, very wide and sandy, is backed with stands of cane and reeds. The only facility is a single beach bar serving drinks and snacks; the nearest tavernas are at Lefkimmi's river bridge. The water is extremely shallow for a long way out, making the location a very safe one for children.
On the east coast in the island's south, Moraitika falls into two sections. The main part of the resort is spread out on the plain between the main road and the sea, with its long beach of shingle and sand which offers many types of watersports. Slightly inland is the old village of Moraitika, picturesquely set on a low hill. Between them, the main road is bordered for all its length with a profusion of shops, tavernas and fast-food outlets, as well as businesses serving locals. Accommodation consists mainly of small hotels and apartments of all categories.
Set on the North East Coast, Nissaki straggles along the main coastal road, a necklace of expensive villas hugging the mountainside, with the exquisite little harbour with its tavernas and fisherman’s cottages as the main jewel. The small white pebble beach is by the harbour and is overlooked by a wide terrace, home to one of the tavernas. The sea is very clear and excellent for snorkelling, whether off the beach or from one of the small boats that are for hire, an ideal way to explore the small coves of the nearby coastline. Accommodation is in two enormous, good quality hotels and in top category villas, as well as better class apartments.
Located on the northerly part of the west coast, Paleokastritsa nestles beneath a vertiginous mountainside, clad with olive trees and citrus orchards in enclaves between sheer cliffs. The spectacular setting encompasses five deep-cut bays, separated by rocky headlands, some with sea caves at the waterline. The northernmost promontory is dominated by a 12th century monastery, which with its lovely gardens, quirky architecture and great views is one of the most-visited sights on the island. One of the bays boasts a harbour, visited by yachts from all over the Mediterranean, from where small boats can be hired to visit coves and beaches to the south of Paleokastritsa, some of which are inaccessible except by sea. Below the monastery, the main beach is shingle, and the crystal-clear sea is deep and always icy-cold, not suitable for small children. Accommodation is mainly in good-class hotels and in self-catering apartments and villas, some seafront, most on the hillside. High above the resort, the picturesque village of Lakones is renowned for its magnificent vista, often described as the 'best view in Europe'.
Lying on the west coast towards the south of the island, Paramonas is perhaps the most unspoiled of all the beaches that provide tourist accommodation, mostly in apartments and villas located on the steep hillside above the shore. On the long and wide beach, made up of sand and interesting pebbles, stands only one building, a small hotel and restaurant, and another taverna is on the coast nearby. This is a place to experience sheer peace.
On the west coast in the centre of the island, Pelekas Beach, otherwise known as Kontogialos, is a huge expanse of golden sand, dominated by a massive hotel, with satellite tavernas and bars. But at the quieter northern end, development dwindles, and the beach still possesses an atmosphere of the seventies and eighties, when it was the haunt of hippies. Most amenities, such as sunbeds and watersports, are clustered in the vicinity of the hotel. Access is down two very steep roads from Pelekas village, famous worldwide for its sunsets. As at nearby Glyfada, strong undertow currents can make swimming hazardous at times.
On the east coast just south of Corfu Town and ringed with verdant hills, Perama is joined to the town suburb of Kanoni by a narrow causeway lying across the mouth of the lagoon beside the airport. Little shingle coves below the busy main road were the venue for Gerald Durrell's first forays into learning about Corfu's aquatic wildlife; his famed 'Strawberry-Pink Villa' is to be found on the hillside if you know where to find it. Several medium-sized mid-category hotels and apartments, and a few tavernas, look out over the romantic view of Corfu's trademark Mouse Island.
Roda stands towards the easterly end of the beach that stretches along much of Corfu's north coast, on the littoral of a vast plain. In front of the main part of the resort, the main beach is made up of compact sand, and other sand-and-pebble strands lie a short distance away in the direction of Acharavi. As well as along the seafront, the resort extends inland to the main road, and boasts a multitude of tourism enterprises, including apartments, small- and medium-sized hotels, and eateries of all types. A very large first-class hotel complex lies just to the west of the resort centre.
At the western end of Corfu's long north coast, Sidari is one of the island's biggest and most popular resorts. Lying on a plain beside the sea with green hills rising inland, it comprises several different areas, each with their own character. Furthest east is Agios Ioannis, a very low-key area with a couple of small hotels and modest tavernas fronting a narrow sandy beach. Inland, where the main roads enter Sidari, is Upper Sidari, a built-up area where hotels, apartments and restaurants meld with all sorts of commercial enterprises, both for visitors and locals. Upper Sidari merges with Sidari proper as the resort road approaches the sea and runs parallel with it, slightly inland. Here, Sidari High Street is 'party centre', with bars, pubs and clubs bordering the road on both sides. Just behind the seashore buildings, great Sidari Beach with its hard, flat sand stretches to the distant water. Most westerly of Sidari's neighbourhoods is the Canal d'Amour area, more laid-back than the resort centre. Here, apartments and medium-sized hotels lie close to the famous coastline, where the low sandstone cliffs have been eroded into deep-cut bays and channels. One, now washed away by a storm, was supposed to guarantee true love if a couple swam through it. The sea here is warm and shallow, but children should take care as unexpected waves sometimes hit. Overall, Sidari has a profusion of facilities, including a small waterpark and lots of watersports. Over 40 restaurants offer a multitude of different cuisines, including British, Chinese and Italian, as well as traditional Greek.
On the west coast between Pelekas Beach and Agios Gordis, Yaliscari is a small, sheltered sandy beach with pine trees growing right down to the water's edge. Two tavernas provide refreshment and local wine.