Corfu has been a fashionable Greek Island holiday destination for many years being the closest to the UK. It lies off the north-west coast of Greece in the Ionian island group.
Corfu has the shortest flight time to any Greek island at little more than three hours. There are domestic flights to Athens and Thessaloniki, but the vast majority of traffic is in summer charter flights from Europe, most of which arrive on Monday and Friday.
Corfu is also an important port of call for ferries, notably from Italy, calling in on the way to the mainland port of Patras. Some independent holidaymakers opt for cut-price flights to Italy and a fast ferry to Corfu.
Roads are good, especially in the densely populated north but lanes can be poorly maintained in the hilly interior.
Corfu is a big island and journey times can be longer than visitors think, especially in the hilly north where steep, twisting roads can lead to slower speeds.
Corfu Airport is about three kilometres south of Corfu town on Route 25 and officially called Ioannis Kapodistrias International (CFU). It is clean and modern, but a single terminal building serves both international and domestic flights, but it's notorious for long delays.
Outside seating installed beneath a sun canopy has helped, but passengers report flight-time bottlenecks – especially on Monday and Friday – with long queues and just two luggage carousels.
Along with package charter flights, there are three flights daily to Athens and flights to Thessaloniki on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Flights to either city take about 50 minutes. Budget airline Ryanair has new routes to Corfu from Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Glasgow and Edinburgh, while rivals Easyjet now fly from Gatwick, Luton, Bristol and Manchester. For information on flights call the airport on 30 26610 89600.
Facilities include a bank and ATM, money exchange and a post office. There are telephones and toilets for the disabled. Once through to the departure lounge there is a reasonable amount of seating and a cafe and bar for drinks and snacks. An information desk is in the arrivals hall.
No public buses serve the airport itself, but buses #5 and #6 run along the main road, about 500 metres from the airport entrance, into Corfu Town, a journey of about 15 minutes. Regular buses pass throughout the day, and many hotels have free minibus services.
For those travelling by car or taxi, Corfu town is three kilometres to the north on the route 25 Kerkira-Kanoni road. Taxis are readily available outside the terminal but agree on a price before getting in. There is limited car parking just outside the airport terminal.
Corfu lies close to the Greek mainland and its northern border with Albania, and it's on the main ferry route between Italy's Adriatic coast and mainland Greece with daily sailings from Brindisi, Bari, Ancona, Trieste and Venice.
Ferries from Italy often continue from Corfu to the mainland ports of Igoumenitsa and Patras with further connections to Kefalonia and Zante.
The Trieste, Ancona and Venice ferries are operated by ANEK Lines with two sailings weekly and a 14-hour crossing; the route from Brindisi is operated by Egnatia Seaways with four sailings weekly to Corfu and an eight-hour journey; from Bari, it's Ventouris Ferries with three sailings weekly and an eight-hour crossing.
Foot passengers can get tickets at Italian ports, but those who prefer a cabin or are taking a car are advised to book in advance, especially over the busy summer season.
Many people fly to Italy and then take the ferry. Car drivers to Italy should consider the motorway tolls and the special stickers needed when driving through Austria and Switzerland.
Daily ferries to and from the mainland port of Igoumenitsa run every 15 minutes in the summer from 6 am to 10 pm. An hourly service is operated by 2Way Ferries. There are two types of ferries: the open ferry is cheaper but takes longer at 105 minutes while the larger catamarans and hydrofoils make the trip in about 60 minutes. From Igoumenitsa, visitors can also sail to the small southern Corfu port at Lefkimi. Daily ferry departures to Corfu are also available from the mainland Greek port of Patras but the journey time is seven to eight hours.
Four times a week, a hydrofoil 'Ilida II' leaves for the neighbouring island of Paxos, rising to daily in the summer months. Details of sailings are available here. The trip takes around one hour.
Kamelia Lines also operates a passenger ferry boat between Corfu and Gaios on Paxos throughout the year with a journey time of around 90 minutes.
Roads are generally good on Corfu, particularly to the east and north of the island, but they can deteriorate when heading inland and may turn into dirt tracks in the less populated south-west. Car hire is plentiful on Corfu, with all the major resorts having several car and motorbike rental shops.
Daily bus services run to Corfu from Athens and Thessaloniki. For details telephone (26610) 30627, 39985. Corfu itself has two bus services – the Blue Bus serves Corfu Town and the surrounding area while KTEL (Green Bus) runs routes to many island resorts and villages and several cities and towns on the mainland. The central bus station is in San Roko. Buses are modern and comfortable but can fill up fast at busy times so get there early to ensure a seat.
Timetables are posted on the bus stops but be aware that buses may wander around the villages as drivers drop local people off, even if it's not on the published route – so times can vary. Click here to find KTEL Corfu bus schedules online – they are in Greek, but most services can be made out.
Taxis are plentiful but not cheap as taxi drivers are allowed to double their rates in return for better services. There are taxi stands in central areas of Corfu Town such as San Roko and Theotokis Street while radio-taxis are available on 26610 33811. Fares are often displayed in euros, and British pounds on the most popular destinations. Many taxi drivers will quote for island excursions.
Corfu has plenty of excellent accommodation, less so inland and along the wild south-west coast. Most of the big hotels are north of Corfu Town along the 40-kilometre strip that extends to Ipsos, most of it centred around Gouvia. As well as extensive hotel complexes there is any number of small hotels, villas and apartment blocks.
Big hotels sit along the north coast in the Roda and Sidari areas otherwise it tends to be luxury villas, small apartment blocks and rooms to let. Smaller family hotels are available on the north-west coast but, heading down the west coast, accommodation becomes more scarce.
Those looking to escape the crowds should head inland where much of Corfu lies untouched by tourism and where there is a good selection of holiday accommodation off the beaten track.
Many hotels close down from November to March when Corfu's wet winters set in although a considerable number around Corfu Town stay open all year round. Many hotels offer substantial discounts out of season.
It's not a good bet to arrive on Corfu in July and August without a reservation but there is accommodation to be had, and the local hotel and domatia owners still meet the incoming ferries to snap up any passing trade. The Corfu Room Owners' Association posts a list of hotels and phone numbers near the tourist office to the south-west of the main esplanade.
Corfu is a long and thin island, and most holidaymakers limit themselves to stays in the north or the south, with most based on the north and east coastlines. Corfu island roads are good, especially in the densely populated areas around Corfu Town. Roads can deteriorate in the mountainous north-west and along the less populated western coast.
Villages are not always well signposted, so visitors may need a decent map especially if they leave the primary road system, although even detailed maps may not prove reliable. Rural Greek signposts are often not much use either.
Some visitors use water taxis to get around the beaches, although these are most useful where resorts are clustered close together such as along the north-east coast. Car and motorbike hire is available in all the main resorts, and cycle hire has become very popular in recent years.
Walking trails are plentiful and the recently opened Corfu long-distance trail, at around 220km, runs the north-south length of Corfu from Cape Agia Ekaterini to Arkoudillas.
Climate of Corfu
Corfu has high winter rainfall (more than three times London), but this keeps the island green for most of the year. Summers get very hot with occasional sub-tropical storms.
Early May has uncrowded beaches and wildflowers in abundance with sunny days and temperatures in the low 20s. By June beaches are busy, temperatures hit the high 20s and nights are warm. In July temperatures can reach the high 30s and afternoon breezes are welcome but nights can be stifling. August temperatures stay in the 30s with high humidity too. By mid-September, temperatures are back in the mid-20s, but there are still warm October days, although they are much shorter.
Corfu is cold and wet over the winter. Winter rains are substantial and long-lasting. January days in Corfu are cool and wet while February is a little warmer and the trees come into blossom.
|Size||65km x 18km|
|Season||Apr – Nov|
|Time (GMT)||+2 hrs|
|Coast Guard||Dial 191|
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