Greek short breaks: What to do in Corfu Town

A view of the old fort in Corfu Town in Corfu in Greece

By Emma Marshall

You don’t traditionally associate Greece with short breaks. People, understandably, tend to book longer holidays. Ones where culture vultures can combine sightseeing with sunbathing on white sandy beaches, sail among the many islands, and try out the wonderful food.  

I’ve done this myself and am well aware of why Greece is such a popular destination for sun seekers.

But just because it’s a destination that lends itself to spending time exploring (or chilling out for extended periods of time!), it doesn’t mean there’s not places that are perfect for a Greek short break.

Corfu Town on the island of Corfu is one such place. It’s a beautiful spot, with plenty to see and do (in fact, it was much nicer than I anticipated).

It also has an airport nearby (ideal if you’re trying to maximise your time on a short break) and is easily accessible to other parts of the island. 

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Greek short breaks: My Corfu Town guide

I absolutely loved my short break to Corfu Town and managed to pack quite a lot into just a few days. 

So, if this is somewhere that you’re also considering, the information below may help.

You can also check out tours in Corfu Town and around the island here.

Greek short breaks: Where is Corfu Town?

Corfu Town (known in Greek as Kerkyra) is the capital of Corfu, one of the six Ionian islands.

These are located in a more north westerly part of Greece, a short hop from the southern Albanian coast. Athens, the capital of Greece is located on the mainland more than 375km away.

Its location in Greece makes it one of the more suitable islands for a short break. The flight duration from London is at least an hour shorter than to some of the other more southerly Greek islands, such as Rhodes.

Corfu’s international airport (Ioannis Kapodistrias) is also only around 3km from the city, meaning it’s only a quick journey to your destination when you arrive.

Greek short breaks: What to do in Corfu Town

Part of the old town in Corfu Town that you can visit on Greek short breaks.  The buildings are pastel pink and you can see two small bell towers with red domes.

Corfu Town has tons of things to see and do. You won’t be bored during your stay.

These are the things that I think are the main points of interest in Corfu Town and that you should consider putting on your list.

Some of these you can see via Corfu’s Hop-on/Hop-off bus.

Spend time in the old town

Corfu Town has a delightful old town, with architecture that reflects the Venetian rule on the island for four centuries until the late 18th century. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.

My guide book tells me the town was spruced up for an EU summit in the 1990s. I can believe that having walked around and seen some of the beautiful buildings and churches.  

A square in the old town in Corfu Town.  It's surrounded by a pink pastel and orange pastel buildings.
A church in the old town.  This is small and pastel oink with white trimming.  It has a small bell tower on the side.  You can see the sea in the background.

There are picturesque small streets to wander through and shop in. Shops with all sorts of wares: clothes and shoes, ceramics, sweets and liqueurs, as well as the more typical tourist merchandise.

A street in the old town which you can wander through on Greek short breaks.  The buildings are pastel colours - pink, yellow and orange - with white arches beneath.

Make sure you look up when you’re wandering the streets to see the bell tower of Saint Spiridon church.

The bell tower of Saint Spiridon church

There are also loads of bars and restaurants to try out in the old town. As well as a lot of Italian influenced food (pizza and pasta), there’s also some great Corfiot food and drink that’s worth trying.  

In addition to their meat dishes such as moussaka and souvlaki, try their cheese and spinach pies, and zucchini fritters.

If you fancy this, some of their Corfiot dishes can be sampled on this foodie walking tour of the old town.

There’s also the local kumquat liqueur to try.  You’ll see this everywhere and if you like it, there are plenty of shops where you can buy small bottles to take home.

Bottles local kumquat liqueur in baskets outside a shop.

If wine is more your thing, check out this tour of the old town that includes a tasting.

I particularly loved the Liston, a trendy boulevard of cafes and bars under arches at the edge of the old town. It was apparently built during the French occupation of the island.

The Liston in Corfu Town  This stretches along the stretch and is white.  There are arches at the bottom with seating outside.

By early evening this street is buzzing with people starting a night out and has a lovely atmosphere. I was in Corfu Town on my own and it was a great place to sit with a book and watch the world go by.

Wander around the Spianada

Opposite the Liston is the Spianada (Esplanade), a wide grassy area that stretches along the side of the old town and leads up towards the sea.  

Here you will find the Palace of St Michael and St George (now containing the Museum of Asian Art). This was the residence for the British Lord High Commisioner Sir Thomas Maitland during the British occupation of the island in the early 19th century.  

The Palace of St Michael and St George.  It's a fairly long brick building with Roman type columns at the bottom.

There is also a small park with fountains. It is dedicated to Larry and Gerald Durrell, the British authors who famously lived on the island in the 1930s.

The Spianada is an ideal place for a wander on a sunny day. Moving away from the Liston you’ll find a bandstand, as well as the Maitland Rotunda dedicated to the aforementioned High Commissioner.

A wrought iron bandstand in the Spianada.  it is surrounded by bushes.
The Maitland Rotunda.  This is a small stone structure with Roman type columns around it.  There are trees to the side.

Nearer the Liston is the cricket ground, which is a bit of an oddity for Greece and in fact reflects the British influence during the occupation. 

The Spianada was one of my favourite spots and is clearly an area where families and young people congregate. There were groups on the grass, picnicking and playing games. The only downside for me was the heavily congested carpark located nearby.

Visit the Paleo Frourio (Old Fort)

A picture of the Old Fort with the lighthouse mast on the top.  You can see a small narrow bell tower (partly pink) at the front.

The Paleo Frourio (Old Fort), a Viennese fortress at the side of the Spianada, is definitely worth a visit and will cost you eight euros to enter.  

Alternatively, you could book an organised tour that includes a visit to the Old Fort.

There’s a walkway over the water which takes you into the fort. Once inside, you can then walk around the lower part before climbing to the lighthouse and ship mast at the top.

Part of the bottom of the Old Fort.  There's a small bell tower here (the bottom part is red/pink) with a clock on the front.
A view of the top of the fort with its lighthouse and mast.

This gives you a spectacular view across the town and over the sea.

A view from the top of the Old Fort.  You can see the base of the fort, the sea and the buildings of Corfu Town in the background.

On the day I went, the weather changed and the sky suddenly went dark. This gave the top of the fort a decidedly eerie feel to it.

The top of the old fort with its lighthouse and mast.  The clouds behind are grey.

Check out the Neo Frourio (New Fort)

Surprisingly, there’s not one, but two forts in Corfu Town. 

The New Fort was also originally a Venetian fortress.  However, the existing fort’s buildings were built by the British during the occupation in the 19th century. 

You can explore inside the castle and climb to the top to take in the views of the town from up high.  

Visit a museum

A building in the old town with people outside.

There is no shortage of museums to visit in Corfu Town.  

These include the Corfu Museum of Asian Art housed in the Palace of Saint Michael and Saint George at one end of Spianada.

Its collection covers art and artefacts from India and the Far East, with separate sections covering Chinese art, Japanese art, central Asian art and south east Asian art.  The museum is open every day except Tuesday from 8.30am until 4pm.  

The Banknote Museum of the Ionian Bank is housed in a beautiful building that you’ll no doubt see when you walk around the old town.

It includes all the Greek currency circulated over a 180-year period in its permanent exhibition. At times, there are also temporary art exhibitions held in the building.

The museum is free, but if you do want to visit I’d recommend checking out the website in advance: the museum is not open every day and off-season opening hours are even more restricted.

There is also the Casa Parlanta Museum near the Liston. The museum labels itself as “the most alive historical museum in Corfu”.

For eight euros, you can learn about life in a 19th century mansion which “includes animated figures and features the essences and sounds of the age, creating an authentic and involving experience”.

See the beautiful monastery at Kanoni

The monastery at Kanoni that sits in the sea.  This is a must on Greek short breaks.  You see the jetty running up to it with boats moored off of it, and Mouse Island in the background.

I’ve written separately about Kanoni. This is in the suburbs of Corfu Town, about a 20-minute bus ride from the centre.  Alternatively, you could book an island tour that also takes you to Kanoni.

After getting off the bus, you walk down the hill to a tiny whitewashed monastery which sits at the end of short walkway in the sea. You may have seen this from your plane when coming into land in Corfu Town.

The monastery at Kanoni.  You see the small whitewashed building with stones in the sea leading up to it.  There are trees in the background.

The monastery sits in front of small wooded island, known colloquially as Mouse Island. You can take a short boat trip to the island (boats are moored in front of the monastery).  

However, my understanding is that there is very little to see on the island and it may not always be possible to get off the boat. So check before you part with your money.

The restaurant in the bay at Kanoni.  It has outdoor seating.

It’s absolutely stunning here with a great waterside restaurant. If you walk around the side of the restaurant, you’ll also discover a delightfully secluded and sheltered bay with crystal clear – and extremely inviting – water.  

The bay is tucked away, but it’s worth the short walk to reach it. This would be a wonderful place to spend the afternoon swimming or just having a quick paddle to cool off from sun. 

Get out of the sun at Mon Repos Palace

If you go to Kanoni, you can get off the bus on the way back to take a look at Mon Repos Palace (the open top bus tour also stops here).

Mon Repos Palace.  This is large white building with an arched porch and balcony at the front.  There are Roman type columns around the arch.

This is more of a large villa or house than a full-blown palace and contains an archaeological and history museum. It is also apparently where the UK’s Prince Philip was born!

If you want some peace and quiet, this is the place for it. There seemed to be very few people milling around here and lots of shady wooded places to get out of sun. It’s open from 8am until 8pm and is free to enter.

From here, you can walk back into Corfu Town along the wide promenade Dimiokratias. I’d recommended this, as you get to walk along the sea, past the town lidos and a charming old windmill.

The windmill by the sea in Corfu Town.

Visit the Achilleion Palace

I also visited the Achilleion Palace, about a 40-minute journey outside Corfu Town.  You can catch tours here, including private tours that include a trip to Kanoni.

Achilleoin Palace outside of Corfu Town.  This white Italianate villa is another must on Greek short breaks.  You can see trees in the foreground.

Built in the 1890s and reflecting Italian influences, you can tour the inside of the house. You’ll see its grand staircase and opulent rooms displaying artifacts from the period.  

A staircase inside Achilleoin Palace.  It has a red carpet and ornate patterned ceilings above.  There is a statute flanking each side of the base.

Outside, at the top, there is an impressive terrace leading to a small garden where a statue of Achilles overlooks the sea. 

Outside Achilleoin Palace.  there is a statue in between trees and bushes that is looking out to sea.

The Palace is open from 8am until 8pm every day. But I’d advise getting there early to avoid the crowds as this is a popular stop off for tour buses.

Swim and chill out

If your accommodation doesn’t have a pool, all is not lost. There are places in Corfu Town where you can sunbathe and swim.  

I particularly liked the Faliraki Beach area, a short walk from the old town.

Looking down over the Faliraki Beach area.  This area juts out into the sea and has cafes with outdoor seating.  You can see the sea and hills and mountains in the background.

Once you’ve got down to the waterside, you’ll find a café in front of steps that go down into the water. Take a dip here and you’ll have an amazing view of the old fort.

A view of the Old Fort from an outside cafe in the Faliraki Beach area

There are also lidos around the windmill on Dimokratias promenade. This was a particularly popular place when I was there with people jumping off the walkway into the water and lounging around in the sunshine.

A lido on the outskirts of Corfu Town.  There are steps leading into the sea and people swimming in the sea

Take a day trip from Corfu Town

If you’re interested in day trips from Corfu Town, there are lots of places that you can drive to or take the bus to.  

In a short break, you won’t be able to do everything, but it’s worth noting that the island is relatively small (it’s only 64km long).  This means that most things can be reached within an hour or so.  

I visited Gouvia, a small village and bay about 20 minutes north of Corfu Town. There’s not a great deal to do here, but if you wanted to combine your city break with a beach break, you could consider this as one option.

A beach in Gouvia.  This is a circular bay with a shingle beach

I also went to Paleokastritsa, another resort on the west coast that is more rugged. It has a small monastery that you can visit, which is a short walk up a steep hill.

You can catch the public bus here, or take an organised tour.

A view of the circular sandy bay at Paleokastritsa, another place you can visit on Greek short breaks

Take a trip to another country

Corfu Town is only a few miles away from the Albanian port of Sarande. So you can even visit another country on Greek short breaks!

Hopping over to Albania is a popular day trip. You can catch boats from the main ferry port.

There are also organised tours that will take you there. These include some time in Sarande and then a trip to Butrint, the remains of an ancient Greek city. 

Greek short breaks: Getting to Corfu

There are flights to Corfu Town from a number of airports across Europe, including from the UK, France, Germany and Italy. Carriers include British Airways, EasyJet, Thomson Airways, Ryanair, Aegean Airways, Eurowings and German Wings. 

The airport is very close to the main town and a taxi costs around 25 euros.

You can also catch the number 15 blue bus from the airport to the bus terminal in Corfu Town. These leave once an hour and take around 30 minutes. It costs 1.20 euros for adults and 0.60 euros for children.

Greek short breaks: Getting around Corfu Town and the island

If you want some flexibility, then you could hire a car to get around the island.  

However, if you’d prefer not to, or will mainly be based in Corfu Town, catching the public bus might be a better option. I took these a few times and had no problem.  This is also a cheap way to get around.  

The system is quite simple. Blue buses run in Corfu Town and its suburbs, green buses go further afield. For more information, click here.

Where to stay in Corfu Town

There is a good choice of accommodation in Corfu Town that you can choose from for your Greek short break. 

I stayed at the Bella Venezia hotel. This is in an old building just a few minutes’ walk from the old town.  As I was solo travelling, this was a perfect location for me.  There’s a lovely outside area where you can have your breakfast.

There’s also the Corfu Palace Hotel. This is 1 mile outside of the centre of Corfu Town. It has large pool, as well as a spa and casino.

If you want to be further away from the action, there is the Rodostamo Hotel and Spa. It has a variety of different accommodations, including bungalows and villas, several bars and restaurants and a spa.   

Further information

If short breaks are your thing, check out my website for great ideas for destinations in Europe and further afield.

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