Located in the northwestern section of Greece and in the Ionian Sea, a bay of the Mediterranean Sea, Corfu is the country’s seventh-largest island. The northern half of the island is close to the coastline of Albania. Like the majority of the Greek islands, Corfu is a popular summer vacation destination for Brits, Germans and other visitors from Europe and has recently attracted a growing number of tourists from Russia and the Near East.
While most foreign visitors flock to the island for its beaches, Corfu also has a long history that it proudly displays. It has also assumed roles in movies and literature as well as in Greek myths, most notably as being one of the places where famous divine hero Heracles spent time. Locals often refer to the island as Kerkyra, sometimes sowing confusion among travelers.
Corfu covers an area of some 610 km² and is home to a little more than 100.000 permanent residents. The island’s largest town is Corfu City on the eastern coast. It features an old town area that has been listed as a World Heritage Site. There are tourist resorts and accommodation options in all parts of the island and tourism plays a vital role for Corfu’s economy, but it has still retained the reputation of being “Greece’s green island”, thanks to an abundance of vegetation thriving in comparatively mild climate. Nature lovers will find a wide variety of species here, depending on where they look. Two mountain ranges divide the island roughly into three sections. Beginning in the low-lying southern third, the elevation gradually increases, reaching its highest point at Mount Pantokrator in the North which has a height of 906 meters.
The mountain’s summit is a popular destination for hiking trips. A good place to start the route to the summit is Old Perithia, the oldest village of the island. A famous cross-island hiking trail, The Corfu Trail, also passes through the area. The mountainous landscape provides for a scenic backdrop to the coastal areas, which typically draw most visitors. Popular spots include the picturesque, crescent-shaped bay at Agios Georgios in the Northwest, several historic castles and palaces in and around Corfu City, the small town of Sidari with a historic monastery in the North and the beach town of Lefkimmi.
Apart from various options to visit sites grounded in ancient history, newer cultural trends have also left their marks in Corfu. The island has been the location where many famous movies were shot. In the 18th century, the Nobile Teatro di San Giacomo in Corfu became Greece’s first and most influential opera house. The Teatro is just one of several prime examples of the traces left behind by the Venetian rule over the island from 1386 to 1797.