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Kerkyra (Corfu) is the greenest and, quite possibly, the prettiest of all Greek islands-emerald mountains, ocher and pink buildings, shimmering silver olive leaves. The turquoise waters lap rocky coves and bougainvillea, scarlet roses, and wisteria spread over cottages. This northernmost of the major Ionian islands has, through the centuries, inspired artists, conquerors, royalty, and, of course, tourists. Indeed, when you look at Corfu in total, it's hard to believe that any island so small could generate a history so large. Classical remains vie with architecture from the centuries of Venetian, French, and British rule, leaving Corfu with a pleasant combination of contrasting design elements. The town of Corfu remains one of the loveliest in all of Greece, every nook and cranny tells a story, every street meanders to a myth, even during the busiest summer day. Corfu today is a vivid tapestry of cultures; a sophisticated weave, where charm, history, and natural beauty blend.
Internet Cafe Netoikos. Have a coffee or a drink from the bar at Internet Cafe Netoikos while you do business online from 10 am to midnight every day. It also has Wi-Fi, and offers printing and scanning services. Kalokeretou 12-14.
Tri-band GSM phones work in Greece. You can buy prepaid phone cards at telecom shops, news-vendors, and tobacconists in all towns and cities. Phone cards can be used for local or international calls. Vodafone is the leading mobile telecom company. OTE is the national domestic provider. Calls can be made at OTE offices and paid for after completion.
Relax over a coffee at the Liston. This is a wonderful place to immerse yourself in modern Greek life.
Take pictures of Pontikonisi. Mouse Island, as this tiny islet is also known, is one of the iconic Greek landscape views. Shimmering waters and verdant foliage contrast dramatically with the modest whitewashed chapel.
Explore Paleokastritsa. A breathtaking landscape of tiny rocky coves, azure waters, and fragrant woodland offers exceptional vistas surrounded by the sound of buzzing cicadas.
Boats dock at Corfu's purpose-built cruise port, which has a welcome center with an information desk, car-rental desks, and a taxi stand. A 10-minute ride into the Old Town costs around €15. Alternatively, you can walk along the seafront in about 30 minutes.
You can explore the town on foot, but you need a car to get to some of the island's loveliest places. Prices can range from €35 a day for a compact vehicle (where you pay an additional fee for each km driving) to €80 a day for a four-wheel-drive jeep with extras. Expect additional charges of around €15 for insurance, delivery, and so forth.
Corfu Town. Boats dock at Corfu's new cruise port, which has a welcome center with an information desk, car rental desks, and a taxi stand. You need a car to get to some of Corfu's loveliest and most inaccessible places.
Archaeological Museum. Examine finds from ongoing island excavations; most come from Kanoni, the site of Corfu's ancient capital. The star attraction is a giant bas-relief of snake-coiffed Medusa, depicted as her head was cut off by the hero Perseus-at which moment her two sons, Pegasus and Chrysaor, emerged from her body. Vraila 1, off Leoforos Dimokratias, past Corfu Palace hotel Admission charged.
Byzantine Museum. Panagia Antivouniotissa, an ornate church dating from the late 15th century, houses an outstanding collection of Byzantine religious art. More than 50 icons from the 13th to the 17th century hang on the walls. Look for works by the celebrated icon painters Tzanes and Damaskinos; they are perhaps the best-known artists of the Cretan style of icon painting. 3rd Parados Arseniou St. Admission charged.
Campiello. This medieval quarter, part of a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, is an atmospheric labyrinth of narrow, winding streets, steep stairways, and secretive little squares. Laundry lines connect balconied Venetian palazzi engraved with the original occupant's coat of arms to neoclassic 19th-century buildings constructed by the British. Small cobbled squares with central wells and watched over by old churches add to the quiet, mysterious, and utterly charming urban space. West of the Esplanade, northeast of New Fortress.
Church of St. Spyridon. Built in 1596, this church is the tallest on the island, thanks to its distinctive red-dome bell tower, and is filled with silver treasures. The patron saint's remains-smuggled here after the fall of Constantinople-are contained in a silver reliquary in a small chapel; devout Corfiots visit to kiss the reliquary and pray to the saint. The silver casket is carried in procession through the town four times a year. If you keep the church tower in sight you can wander as you wish without getting lost around this fascinating section of town. Agiou Spyridon.
The Esplanade. Central to the life of the town, this huge, open parade ground and park just west of the Old Fortress is, many say, the most beautiful spianada (esplanade) in Greece. It is bordered on the west by a street lined with Venetian and English Georgian houses and a famous arcaded building called the Liston, built by the French under Napoleon and meant to resemble the Rue du Rivoli in Paris. Between Old Fortress and Old Town.
New Fortress. Built in 1577-78 by the Venetians, the New Fortress was constructed to strengthen town defenses-only three decades after the construction of Venetian fortifications on the "Old" Fortress. The French and the British subsequently expanded the complex to protect Corfu town from a possible Turkish invasion. You can wander through the maze of tunnels and fortifications; the dry moat is the site of the town's fish-and-vegetable marketplace. A classic British citadel stands at its heart. At the top, there is an exhibition center. Solomou on promontory overlooking New Port Admission charged.
Old Fortress. Corfu's entire population once lived within the walls of the Old Fortress, or Citadel, built by the Venetians in 1546 on the site of a Byzantine castle. Separated from the rest of the town by a moat, the fort is on a promontory mentioned by Thucydides. Its two heights, or korypha ("peaks"), gave the island its name. Standing on the peaks, you have a gorgeous view west over the town and east to the mountainous coast of Albania. On eastern point of Corfu town peninsula Admission charged.
Palace of St. Michael and St. George (Museum of Asian Art). It may seem a bit incongruous to admire Ming pottery in an ornate British colonial palace as the Ionian sea shimmers outside the windows. But this elegant, colonnaded, 19th-century Regency structure houses the Museum of Asian Art, a notable collection of Asian porcelains, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, Indian sculpture, and Tibetan temple art. Palaia Anaktora, at north end of Esplanade Admission charged.
Kanoni. At Kanoni, the site of the ancient capital, you may behold Corfu's most famous view, which looks out over two beautiful islets. Moni Viahernes is reached by causeway, and has a tiny, pretty convent. Also known as Mouse Island, Pontikonisi has tall cypresses guarding a 13th-century chapel. Legend has it that the island is really Odysseus's ship, which Poseidon turned to stone here: the reason why Homer's much-traveled hero was shipwrecked on Phaeacia (Corfu) in the Odyssey. June to August a little motorboat runs out to Pontikonisi every 20 minutes.
Mon Repos. The former royal palace of Mon Repos is surrounded by gorgeous English-style gardens that lend magic to an idyllic setting. The compact neoclassic palace (really a villa) was built in 1831 by Sir Frederic Adam for his wife, and it was later the summer residence of the British lord high commissioners. Throughout the 1990s, the estate was entangled in an international legal battle over ownership; the Greek government finally paid Constantine a settlement and opened the fully restored palace as a museum dedicated to the area's archaeological history. 1 km (½ mi) south of Old Fortress, following oceanfront walk Admission charged.
Gastouri. The village of Gastouri is still lovely despite the summer onrush of day-trippers.
Achilleion. This Teutonic palace, built in the late 19th century for Empress Elizabeth of Austria, is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction in Corfu. The empress used the place as a retreat to escape court life and to ease her heartbreak over husband Franz Josef's numerous affairs and her son Archduke Rudolph's mysterious murder or suicide at Mayerling in 1889. Today it's a museum, but not a terribly inspiring one. The gardens, surrounded by olive groves and with a distant view of the sea, are pretty but, all in all, the whole place looks a bit vacuous and forlorn. Still and all, lovers of period style won't want to miss this. Main street Admission charged.
Paleokastritsa. This spectacular territory of grottoes, cliffs, and turquoise waters is breathtaking.
Lakones. The village of Lakones, built on the steep mountain behind the Paleokastritsa Monastery, looks rather forbidding, but tourists flock there for the view. 5 km (3 mi) northeast of Paleokastritsa.
Paleokastritsa Monastery. Paleokastritsa Monastery, a 17th-century structure, is built on the site of an earlier monastery, among terraced gardens overlooking the Ionian sea. Its treasure is a 12th-century icon of the Virgin Mary, and there's a small museum with some other early icons. Note the Tree of Life motif on the ceiling. On northern headland Admission charged.
Corfu town has myriad tiny shops. For traditional goods head for the narrow streets of the Campiello where olive wood, ceramics, lace, jewelry, and wine shops abound. Kumquat liqueur is a specialty of the island.
Mironis Olive Wood. Bowls, sculptures, wooden jewelry, and much more are crammed into two tiny family-run shops. Smaller items are made as you watch. Filarmonikis 27 Agiou Spyridon 65.
Nikos Sculpture and Jewellery. Corfu-born Nikos Michalopoulos creates original gold and silver jewelry and sculptures in cast bronze; they're expensive, but worth it. Paleologou 50 N. Theotoki 54.
Rolandos. Visit the talented artist Rolando and watch him at work on his paintings and handmade pottery. N. Theotoki 99.
Water Sports. Snorkeling and diving are best in the many rocky inlets and grottos on the northwest coast, and Paleokastritsa and Ermones have diving schools where you can take lessons and rent equipment. The winds on the west coast are best for windsurfing, although the water on the east coast is calmer. Sailboards are available, and paddleboats and rowboats can be rented at many beaches. Waterskiing, water polo, parasailing, jet skiing, and other water activities are sponsored by resorts throughout the island. Motorboats and sailboats can be rented at the Old Port in Corfu Town; in Paleokastritsa, Kondokali, and Kassiopi; and on the northeast coast. To charter a yacht or sailboat without a crew, you need a proficiency certificate from a certified yacht club.
Glyfada. The large, golden beaches at Glyfada are the most famous on the island. Though the sands are inevitably packed with sunbathers, it remains one of the hottest hot spots in Corfu. Sun beds, umbrellas, and water-sports equipment is available for rent and there are several tourist resorts. 2 km [1 mi] south of Pelekas.
Myrtiotissa. The isolated Myrtiotissa beach, between sheer cliffs, is known for its good snorkeling-and its nude sunbathing. Backed by olive and cypress trees, this sandy stretch was called by Lawrence Durrell in Prospero's Cell (with debatable overenthusiasm) "perhaps the loveliest beach in the world." 3 km [2 mi] north of Pelekas.
Pelekas. The beach at Pelekas has soft, golden sand and clear water but is developed and tends to be crowded. The huge Aquis Pelekas Beach Hotel resort complex rises up behind it, and Pelekas village is popular with summer tourists. Depending on time of year and demand, there is sometimes a free shuttle service between Pelekas Village and the beach (which is a long and steep walk otherwise).
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