Lay of the Land
Located in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece and a one-hour flight from Athens, the Ionian islands here are markedly distinct in topography and culture. Compared to the small, windswept isles of the Cyclades, Corfu is much larger (about 10 times the size of Santorini) and its landscape is lush and green year-round, owing to heavy winter rains.
Also known as Kerkyra, Corfu has ancient roots and myriad international influences. Corfu Town is located in the middle of the island, on a scenic bay across from Albania. A UNESCO World Heritage site with great shops, restaurants and museums, Corfu Town is worth spending time in, although there are no good hotels in town. To really experience the beauty of the island, stay in one of the island’s many coves. The two best hotels, Corfu Imperial and Eva Palace, are located in the Kommeno Peninsula, a 20-minute drive north from town.
The most luxurious accommodations are private villas. While they are spread all over Corfu, choose one at the northern end of the island, where the seaside villages still retain an idyllic charm and the area is still largely undeveloped. The western side of the island is less popular for staying, since it is farther from town and the airport, and the sea is not as calm as in the secluded coves on the eastern side.
Day trips to nearby islands leave from the pier just northwest of Corfu Town, where many of the cruise ships and large yachts dock. Note that the nearest islands of Paxos and Anti-Paxos are three-and-a-half hours each way by public ferry, so they are only worth visiting if by fast, chartered yacht.
It is recommended to rent a car to explore the many small bays and beaches on the island. If chartering a yacht, cruise to the smaller islands of Paxos and Anti-Paxos, and check out their charming villages and pristine beaches.