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Corfu island, Greece

Corfu is a beautiful overgrown island in the Ionian Sea, with very long history and lively people. It is situated at the Northwestern part of the Greek territory, opposite to the Albanian coasts. Along with Cefallonia, Leukada, Zakynthos (Zante) and a few smaller islands form the complex of "Eptanissa" (meaning “seven islands”); the complex was incorporated to the Greek State in 1864.

The island has a mild, rather humid, climate, its coastline is more than 200 kilometers and its extent is some 580 square kilometers. Corfu has numerous beaches, all of them very nice. The road network is quite dense, so, you can reach almost every place, with the help of your map and the advise of the locals. Don’t hesitate to ask them; possibly, they will show you something worth visiting.
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Corfu town general view corfu greece The beach of Glyfada ermones resort Detail from the springs in Benitses
Corfu town, general view   The beach of Glyfada   Detail from the springs in Benitses
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If you are lucky enough to have a yacht, private or rented, you will discover remote coves and beautiful beaches with access only from the sea and, thus, much less crowded than the other ones. The only ...problem you will have with the beaches of Corfu is that you will not easily decide which one to choose; all of them are wonderful! Besides, a lot of them have been awarded a blue flag. Actually, Corfu is the place that has the highest number of beaches awarded a blue flag all over Mediterranean Sea; their number varies from one year to another, but you will always find a few decades of them.

The history of the island goes back to Prehistory. There is evidence that the island had been inhabited as early as the Palaeolithic times. According to Mythology, it was the home country of king Alcinoos and his daughter Nausica, who had picked up and hosted Ulysses, shipwrecked on his way home, to Ithaca. During the historic times it was a colony of the Corinthians; very soon the place had soon outdistanced the metropolis. During the Peloponnesian War, Corfu (Kerkyra as it is its Greek name up to now) the island was an ally of Athens; as a result, after the defeat of the latter, it declined and ever since it has been under the domination of various Powers along history (Spartans, Athenians, Macedonians, the king Pyrrhus, Romans, Byzantine empire).

The island had suffered several destructive invasions up to the 13th century when it passed to the Venetian domination, which lasted until 1797. After Napoleon had demolished the Venetian Republic, in 1797, Corfu was under French domination, which was succeeded by the Russians, the Ottomans, up to 1815 when the Ionian islands were declared “autonomous”, in fact a protectorate under British domination. In 1864 the island, along with the rest of the Ionian Islands, was incorporated to the Greek State and ever since its history follows that of Greece.

During the last decades Corfu is flourishing again, thanks to tourism; nowadays the island is one of the most famous and important tourist destinations not only of Greece, but also of the whole Mediterranean.

The name “Corfu” under which it is known worldwide, derives from the false pronunciation of the name “Coryfo” it used to have during the Medieval times. The island is the birthplace of several personalities both of politics and of culture. The most well known personality coming from the island is Ioannis Capodistrias (1776-1831), the first governor of the independent Greek State (1828-1831), a man to whom the newly formed Greek State owes many of the structures of a contemporary state. Ioannis Capodistrias was assassinated in Nafplio in 1831. Few people know that Spyros Samaras, the musician who composed the music of the Olympic Anthem was a Corfiot.

Access to the island of Corfu is possible by plane: from the International Airport El. Venizelos in Athens there are some 6 flights per day in winter and 7 in summer. The flight schedule might be different, according to season, so you are recommended to get up-to date information before you travel. The flight lasts some 45 minutes. You may also get to the island by public bus (road travel up to Igoumenitsa and then by ferryboat). There is daily service from Athens and 3 times a week from Thessaloniki. From both cities the travel lasts some 8 hours. 

Apart from Igoumenitsa, there is also a ferryboat line from Patras to the town of Corfu, with daily service. The travel lasts some 9 hours. Finally, in summer you will find local boats from Parga (excursion boats) as well as from and to Cefallonia, Ithaca and Paxi (duration of the travel 1 h.30). You may also use rented or private car and motorbikes; the island is 560 kilometers far from Athens, 470 kilometers far from Thessaloniki, 355 kilometers far from Patras and 379 kilometers far from Ioannina. The new port of Corfu offers facilities of mooring and fuel and water supply to tourist boats and yachts.
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