Food and travel writer Anastasia Miari shares an insider's guide to her beloved island of Corfu, which still holds secrets yet to be discovered. She reveals the emerald isle's best beach-side restaurants, charming hotels, stylish boutiques and tavernas for authentic Corfiot cuisine.




More verdant than the wild and arid Cycladic islands, Corfu has been a popular escape from pallid skies for more than a century. It’s true that since the birth of package tourism in the 1960s, coastal resorts have taken over quiet fishing villages and picturesque bays, but Corfu has enduring appeal - found in the golden-toned Venetian old town, shimmering waters, charming farm stays and mountain villages.

Visible on a clear day from Puglia’s Santa Maria de Leuca, the island’s proximity to Italy historically made it a strategic entry point between the Ottoman world and the west. Not officially ‘Greek’ until the 19th-century, Corfu was jostled between the Venetians, Sicilians and also Napoleon, which influenced the food, architecture and culture of the island, making it distinct from the rest of Greece.


Where to Stay

Puppet Guest House: A charming B&B in the heart of the old town, Puppet Guest House offers one of the best panoramic views of the centre, if you’re lucky enough to book the top floor apartment with its impressive roof terrace. Choose for its excellent location and adjoining cafe where you can rub shoulders with locals.

Merchant’s House: Located in one of the oldest known settlements on Corfu, The Merchant’s House is a restored Venetian home that offers an alternative stay to the ubiquitous coastal apartments. Perched on the slopes of Mount Pantokrator, Old Perithia village boasts breathtaking views and tranquility. Wild flower-flecked meadows surround the the house, while the spacious rooms have been decorated in keeping with the golden tones of Corfu’s Venetian old town.

Roumanades Estate: One of a few truly beautiful properties that has retained its charm in the south of the island, Roumanades Estate is a family-owned home available to rent throughout the summer months. Set in 70 acres of dense olive grove, under the dappled shade of centuries-old olive trees, this 400-year-old house is ideal for a family of four. The rooms are furnished with family heirlooms and the expansive garden is the perfect place for dining al fresco.

Dr Kavvadias Organic Farm: Owner Apostolos Porsonidis-Kavvadias (married to Christina Martini, founder of Ancient Greek Sandals) has injected his grandfather’s old farmhouse with flourishes inspired by his time as a product designer in Milan. Depending on the season, you can take part in the olive harvest, sow and pick organic vegetables and collect your own eggs from the hens.



Where to Eat

Toula’s Seaside: Lapped at by turquoise waters on a pebble-strewn beach, Toula’s Seaside has become a favourite with the yachting crowd, for good reason. Fresh and simple Mediterranean fare is served alongside elaborate dishes at this seaside restaurant, still headed by the matriarch Toula, herself. Her taramosalata is amongst the creamiest on the island while the shrimp millefeuille has become famous.

Nautilus: In Garitsa Bay, this seaside restaurant is ideal for escaping the crowds during the busier summer months. Look to this spot for skin-on oregano fries, white wine steamed mussels and decadent fava topped with crispy red onion, capers and sun dried tomatoes. The spicy corfiot tsigarelia (wild greens) are a must. Order a selection of plates and enjoy views of Corfu’s old fort and bobbing fishing boats.

Cake Boutique: Angeliki Agathou has won awards for her ouzo spiked fig macarons that manage to combine the flavors of noumboulo (a Corfiot pork cold cut), cheese, fig and ouzo in one elegant bite. Taking all her knowledge of French patisserie and applying it to the produce of the island, Agathou offers mouthfuls of pleasure. Her cold chocolate mousse cake and profiteroles are irresistible too.

Papagiorgis: When it comes to ice cream, nowhere matches the quality and variety of family-owned gelateria, Papagiorgis. The chocolate kumquat gelato is so rich it will have you fooled into thinking it isn’t vegan. Papagiorgis uses local ingredients, so wild strawberry and kumquat feature heavily. If you fancy more, try the millefeuille, which the family has perfected by using the same recipe for a century.

The Venetian Well: You may get lost down the old town’s narrow alleyways trying to find it, but The Venetian Well is Corfu's best fine dining option. Set around a 500-year-old Venetian well in a hidden piazza, it serves Corfiot flavours redefined. Head chef Spyros Agious is to thank for an expansive and exciting tasting menu, promising Corfiot produce and an ode to the island’s rich culinary heritage.



What to See & Do

Corfu Old Town: The Venetians are to thank for the island’s gold and red toned architecture and narrow pedestrianised alleyways that make up its UNESCO listed old town. The town’s main square - the ‘Liston’ - is a grand esplanade built under Napoleon’s rule of the island and was modelled on Paris’ Rue de Rivoli. It’s now at the very heart of Corfu’s nightlife, the spot to pull up a pew and enjoy a glass of Assyrtiko while watching locals take to the cobblestones on their evening ‘volta’.

Mon Repos: The late Prince Phillip was born on the dining room table at Mon Repos mansion. Visit the grand home where the Duke of Edinburgh began his life and, just around the corner, tucked behind dense cypress trees, is a swimming spot that even most locals don’t know. The beach of Kardaki is lined with lush vegetation and provides a secret place to take a dip, just minutes away from town.

Sail Away: Owing to Corfu’s unique topography and mountainous, pristine forests, the island holds secret stretches of coastline that aren’t easily reached by land. You haven’t seen the Ionian until you have sailed it so use to find the right boat for a day trip on water. Stop off at tiny islands Ereikoussa and Othoni for empty white-sand beaches, great hiking and caves that demand further exploration.

Wine tasting, Pontiglio: The island’s fertile land is one reason Corfu is known for its gastronomy. Pontiglio ( in the south of the island offers tours and tastings at the small, family-run vineyard that was set up in the years following the crisis and now provides wine for the island’s best restaurants.

Achilleion Palace: Built in 1890 as the palatial summer home of Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria, this dramatic mansion perched atop a hill with impressive views onto the neighbouring Greek mainland was inspired by the myth of Achilles for its neoclassical architecture and interiors. The building, with its expansive gardens and enormous statue of Achilles was once used as a set for the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only, but its now open to the public as a museum.



Where to Shop

Koryfo: Half French, half Greek designer, Marianna Kastrinos, has made a name for herself as the island's most-wanted bridal designer, but last year she opened Koryfo, a boutique of high-end resort wear. Here, she sells elegant pieces for everyday wear, replicating motifs she finds in the old town’s architecture or in nature to create 100% silk scarves that add elegance to any beach look.

Plous: This centuries-old bookstore is in the heart of the old town; step over the cobbled threshold and you find a place of calm. At Plous, full of Greek literature and translated versions of Greek classics, locals while away hours in the garden with a coffee and hefty tome. Look to Plous for a slice of Corfiot life that hasn’t changed in many years, an insight into how important slow, mindful living is to Corfiots.

Muses: This boutique expertly curates pieces - from ready-to-wear and jewellery to art work, books and ceramics - from craftspeople and artists across Greece. The emphasis is on high quality craftsmanship and statement pieces that combine the traditional with a contemporary, functional feel. They’ve expanded into homeware with a new showroom dedicated to art and ceramics just across from the boutique.

Patounis Soap: Visit Greece’s oldest soap factory, Patounis, for traditional olive soap. Offering an age-old, tried and tested method for crafting soaps completely free of chemicals since the 1850s, the Patounis family still make soaps by hand in their Corfu workshop down Ioannou Theotoki Street.

Markosian: For foodie souvenirs, visit Mr Markosian and his family-run enterprise that is now over 100 years old. The kafekopteio (coffee grinding house) is a trove of wonders of the edible kind, built into what is left of the old Venetian gate walls in town. An antique wood panelled bar akin is filled with boiled sweets, freshly ground coffee, ouzo, sesame seed koulourakia (biscuits) and preserved kumquat.


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