Corfu, Greece cruise holidays
Corfu is nicknamed ‘the green island’ – and it’s easy to see why. Much of this small Ionian island (just 40 miles long by 20 miles wide) is covered in olive trees – some four million of them. That classic holiday combination of endless sun, sea and sand make Corfu one of the most popular, as well as one of the largest Greek islands, but it has a lot more to offer.
Head inland, through heavily-scented pine woods, and you will find tiny villages like Sokraki where only Greek is spoken and time appears to have stood still. And the capital, Corfu Town, is Greece's largest 'living' medieval town home to cobblestone streets and alleyways, historic buildings, statues and fountains. The stand-out is the Venetian-built Old Fortress, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. But do find time to pause for a drink or lunch at one of the cafes along the French-style Liston Arcade and Esplanade. For the best beaches, head for Paleokastritsa, Glyfada or, if it is history you want, head for Gastouri to visit the lavish 19th century Achillion Palace.
One of the locations used for the James Bond For Your Eyes Only, was the Achilleion Palace, in the village of Gastouri. Built in 1890 as a summer residence by Empress Elisabeth ‘Sisi’ of Austria, it is themed around, and named after, Achilles. There are plenty of statues and paintings of the Greek mythical hero to be found in the museum, which is set in beautiful gardens with a backdrop of mountains and views over the Ionian Sea.
The capital Corfu Town has a surprisingly cosmopolitan feel for a small Greek island, thanks in no small part to the Venetians, who ruled from 1386 to 1797 and left their legacy in the island’s architecture and food. The Old Town, full of narrow cobbled streets, charming squares and balconied houses, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and sits between two impressive Venetian fortresses – Old and New – that are well worth a visit.