Holiday to Corfu, Κέρκυρα – The Garden Isle of Greece
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Holiday to Corfu, Κέρκυρα – The Garden Isle of Greece
One of the most beautiful of Greece’s many islands, Corfu (Κέρκυρα) has a rich, historic past shaped by Venetian, French and English influences and a natural landscape blooming with wildflowers and more than two million olive trees.
Surrounded by the turquoise blue Ionian Sea, Corfu is nicknamed the ‘Emerald Island of Greece’.
Our 7 day/6 night holiday celebrates all of this – and the island’s fabulous food culture too. Based at the luxurious 5* Corfu Palace Hotel, we will visit grand houses and gardens, take walking tours of the enticing Venetian streets of Corfu Old Town, enjoy wildflower walks and talks with a local botanist, dive into ancient herb-lore with a local herbalist, and discover the gorgeous ghost town of Old Perithia on a guided tour.
And there's a daytrip to the incredible archaeological site of Butrint in Albania and lunch at the mountain village taverna, O Foros, famed for its delicious home-farmed produce, too!
What we love
- The wildflowers!
- The local experts!
- Corfu Old Town!
- The architecture!
- The food!
- The glamorous 5* hotel!
Experiences you will treasure
- Staying at the landmark Corfu Palace Hotel, overlooking Garitsa Bay on edge of historic Old Corfu Town
- Strolling along the terrace and through the gardens of the 19th century Achilleion Palace with its statues and panoramic views across the deep blue Ionian Sea
- Visiting Mon Repos House and Gardens where the late Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was born - reputedly on the dining room table
- Discovering the orchids, wildflowers, and animals of Corfu with a local botanist
- Exploring the beautiful Venetian backstreets of UNESCO-listed Corfu Old Town with an expert guide
- Visiting the Byzantine fortress of Angelokastro
- Walking through the ancient village of Palea Peritheia with the founders of the Durrell School of Corfu
- Eating lunch at picturesque O’Foros Taverna, made famous by Rick Stein in his television series ‘Mediterranean Escapes’
- Exploring the plant-rich slopes of Mount Pantokrator with a local herbalist
- Crossing the sea to Albania to visit the ancient archaeological site of Butrint
What people say
Gradually the magic of the island [Corfu] settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen.
Gerald Durrell, My Family and Other Animals
How much is it?
A Deeper Dive
Nestled amidst lush greenery and overlooking the Ionian Sea, Mon Repos boasts stunning gardens and a rich history, including a significant connection to the British Royal Family. Today, it serves as a museum and a cultural centre.
Originally known as Palaiopolis, Mon Repos was transformed into a summer retreat by the British Commissioner Frederick Adam in the early 19th century. Adam lived here and contributed to the building of other landmarks on the Island. Adam was later posted to India.
The estate's name, Mon Repos - "my rest" in French - was coined by King George I of Greece to whom the estate was gifted, reflecting the tranquillity and serenity it offers to its visitors.
In 1921, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was born here - it is widely believed that his mother Princess Alice of Battenberg gave birth on the dining table. The first photography of Prince Philip was taken here and he spent many happy days at the estate which was a summer residence to the Greek Royal Family up until King Constantine II fled the country in 1967.
There are several rooms open to visitors and together they provide visitors with a glimpse into the aristocratic lifestyle of the past. There is also a museum housing a collection of artifacts showcasing Prince Philip's life, accomplishments, and his ties to the island.
The museum also commemorates the pivotal role Mon Repos played in Greek history when it was the location for the signing of the Corfu Declaration in 1917. This declaration called for the reunification of all Greek territories and laid the groundwork for the eventual union of the Ionian Islands with Greece.
Surrounded by the Palaiopolis Peninsula, a nature reserve that offers breathtaking views and diverse wildlife, Mon Repos is a haven for flora and fauna too. Numerous species of birds making their homes in the lush vegetation, making it a popular spot for birdwatching.
ECT's own Alexander Oliver knows Corfu well, here are five of his favourite sights and sites in Corfu Town
1. Corfu Heritage Plaques
Dotted around Corfu Old Town, and often a challenge find, these plaques are similar to the English Blue Plaques and, like them, aim to educate passers-by about the cultural and historical significance of some of the buildings of the town and the notable characters who once lived inside them. A few hours spent hunting out these markers would leave you fully acquainted with the endeavours of the history of the last few hundred years, both colonial British and native Hellenic. However, if you have slightly less time, here are some of the most interesting:
1 Kapodistriou street - Ionian Academy. This was the first Greek university, founded by Lord Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guilford. It has been known as the Ionian University since 1984.
120 Kapodistriou Street - Corfu Reading Society. Founded in 1836 and based on the Société de Lecture de Genève, this is the oldest cultural institution in modern Greece, based on the Société de Lecture de Genève.
32 Agiou Spyridonos Street - Orthodox Church of St Spyridon, built in 1589 and dedicated to the patron saint of Corfu.
Agias Varvaras Street - birth place of composer & founder of the Ionian School of Music Nikolaos Halikiopoulos-Mantzaros (1795-1872).
7 Donzelot Street - home of English author & painter Edward Lear (1812-1888).
Konstantinoupolis Hotel, 11 Zavitzianou Street - birth place of the first female Greek doctor, Despina Papa-Lekka (1885-1971).
4 Kapodistriou Street - birth place of Georgios Rallis (1918-2006), Prime Minister of Greece from 1980 to 1981.
2. Spianada Square Cricket Field
Corfu became a protectorate of the British Empire in 1807 and there are still many quaint English trappings to be found - including this cricket field. Located on the edge of the busy hub that is the Listons, it is still used for the occasional exhibition match.
3. Archaeological Museum of Corfu
If you have a couple of hours to spare and would like to learn more about the mysteries of the island's past, then this museum is well worth a visit. The finds from the Temple of Artemis on the outskirts of Corfu Town take centre stage. The most significant of these finds is the monolithic pediment bearing a representation of a fearsome gorgon which is considered to be the oldest preserved stone pediment of any ancient Greek architectural order.
4. Museum of Asian Art
The centre of Corfu Old Town might seem an odd place to find a collection of all things oriental but this museum, housed in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George (originally the residence of the British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands), is a real gem. Founded in 1928 as the Museum of Sino-Japanese Art, following the donation of Gregorios Manos’ Sino-Japanese collection to the Greek state, it now comprises approximately 15,000 works of Asiatic art, including an incredible collection of Samurai armour and weaponry. The building itself is rather wonderful too.
5. The Rooftop Bar at Cavalieri Hotel
Originally built as a nobleman’s mansion belonging to the family of Count Flamburiari, this 17th century landmark and has been an upmarket hotel since 1967. The rooftop bar boasts great cocktails and the highest vantage point in the city. Open from 6.30 each evening and accessed via an old-style life, this is the place to go if you fancy some glamour with your views.
Traditional Corfu Food is an international fusion. Though Greek and Venetian are the strongest influences - the Venetian conquerors introduced many previously unknown products, such as corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, peppers, coffee and chocolate. Spices from the east, cooking methods from France, as well as other parts of the Mediterranean and even the remnants of British occupation, have all left their mark too.
Don't go home without trying
Beef Sofrito - one of the most famous Corfiot dishes, this delicious dish of slow-cooked thinly sliced fried breaded beef or veal is rooted in a Venetian recipe. Full of garlic and parsley, it is served with fries, spaghetti, rice or mashed potatoes.
Pastitsada - this is Corfu’s number one pasta dish and a traditional Sunday dinner. Spaghetti or penne is served with meat braised in a spiced (cinnamon and cloves) tomato meat sauce and topped with grated kefalotyri or parmesan cheese.
Bougatsa - a popular breakfast pastry made from phyllo dough wrapped around a creamy custard filling. After it is baked, it is cut into serving pieces and served hot.
Fogatsa - this traditional sweet brioche-style bread is usually round in shape but can also be found in a smaller version called Colombines.
Zorka - this is a simple and delicious vegetable pie made from whatever is available that day in the local market - zucchini, pumpkin, onion.
Tsigareli - also known as 'wild greens stew', this is popular side dish made from an assortment of greens such as spinach, sorrel, chard, mustard greens, dandelion and nettles, combined with a spicy sauce of garlic, paprika, red pepper and tomatoes.
Corfu is the greenest of the Greek Islands and its hillsides are covered in olive groves, punctuated by the narrow columns of pencil cypress trees. Over 400 species of wild plants flourish here - first to come are the daises, followed by pink geraniums, marigolds, irises, poppies, and grape hyacinths. The higher ground is home to blue anemones and bell-headed fritillaries, while the limestone rocks are carpeted in masses of purple-pink soapwort. There are also more than 30 species of orchid, including the bee orchid, Jersey orchid, man orchid, tongue orchid and monkey orchid.
No longer the well-kept secret it once was, this old and once abandoned settlement is still a highlight of any trip to Corfu. Originally settled in the hills to escape the attention of passing pirates, the advent of tourism saw the residents leave to find work on the coast. However, over the past few decades many of the descendants of these families have returned to reclaim old property and land and life is once more being breathed into Palea Peritheia. There are so many stories to uncover as you explore the old paths and dilapidated houses of this settlement and a romantic pathos hangs over every visit.
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