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- Canary Islands
Being the most northern of the Ionian Islands, Corfu is privileged to have some of the best beaches to be found anywhere in Europe. Those to the west are predominantly virgin, sandy and gently shelving, those to the east smaller, pebbly coves. A total of more than 30 hold coveted Blue Flag status.
Inland you will find a seemingly infinite number of picturesque, traditional villages where a simple way of life has remained largely intact for decades. Higher up the lush mountainsides lie a myriad of olive groves and the occasional remote, often deserted hamlet.
Two forts dominate Corfu Town, a 6th Century original and a later 13th Century counterpart.The focal point of the capital is the elegant esplanade alongside the bustling main square and park, home to the island's famous cricket pitch. Nearby the famous arcaded Liston, built to resemble the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, is lined with elegant cafés.
Make time to visit Mon Repos, the 200-year-old summer residence of the Greek royal family and birthplace of our own Prince Philip.
A 10 minute boat ride from Corfu Town takes you to the small island of Vidos formerly an ancient Venetian fortress, latterly used as the Corfu 'Alcatraz' and now, thankfully, a tranquil nature reserve, perfect for a gentle stroll. Pontokinisi or Mouse Island is a tiny tree covered islet housing a lovely Byzantine chapel and convent. Ferry boats run regularly from the Kanoni Peninsula, a short drive from Corfu Town.
Heading north, the Blue Flag beach is awarded to the pretty and tiny shingle beach at Nissaki, its respected waterfront tavernas well worth a visit, with a watersports jetty and boat hire available. It is from this point on the north east coastal road that it reaches its highest point, where glimpsed below, are a series of superb bays and coves, totally unspoilt because they were only accessed by boat until recently.
Coyvenas and Avlaki are two northern beaches blessed with calm waters, Avlaki has the Blue Flag status and a sailing and windsurfing school, proven popular with sailors and water sports enthusiasts. All of them have their own style and character, Kalami is a great beach with another blue flag, and excellent for families, it's famous for its literary connections with the Durrell family, where their family home, the 'White House' is easily spotted, and has the same appeal as it did then.
Kouloura's tiny harbour is famous for it's breathtaking views, and Yialiskari is popular with sailors for safe anchorage. Kassiopi is a busy fishing village, a good centre for shopping, excursions and all round entertainment,with an ancient fortress perched atop.
High above, the little hamlets such as Vigla keep watch over the Ionian sea, and have magnificent views of Albania in the distance. Aghios Stefanos is a pretty little harbour round a horse-shoe shaped bay,with waterside tavernas, a few shops and great watersports.
Further south, near to the salt-water lagoon at Lake Korision, lie the remote sandy beaches of Halikouna, Prasoudi and Alonaki. The lagoon itself and its unspoilt sand dunes extend for miles and is a designated nature reserve, home to an array of wildlife including turtles, lizards and various migrating birds.
Halikouna has soft sand dunes, and it nestles in the midst of green rolling hills. Tavernas and bars provide lunch time dishes and drinks, and there is a range of water sports facilities for the more active amongst us!
Corfu has many Ouzeris, simple bars often around harbours, which offer a selection of 'mezes'. Traditional 'meze' can range from a few olives and a little feta cheese, to a large platter of peppers, tomato, octopus and Calamari.