The island of Corfu, best known of the seven Ionian islands that lie off the northwest coast of Greece, differs markedly from the other popular Greek islands because not only is it green and lush, but also very developed with tourist resorts and hotels. Summertime is busy, with charter flights arriving daily from European cities, ferries disgorging travellers from Italy, and cruise ships docking.
There is plenty to draw visitors to this magical island, also known as Kerkyra. Modern Corfu Town is upbeat and cosmopolitan, offering an exciting conglomeration of Greek, Italian, French and British influences. The old town was laid out by the Venetians in the 14th century and features narrow alleys lined with multi-storied, pastel-coloured buildings with red tiled roofs, creating a scene reminiscent of Italy. The hub of activity in the town centre is the Liston, an arcaded row of touristy cafes and restaurants, copied from the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.
Most tourists stay in one of the popular beach resorts like Sidari and Roda in the north, or the party capital, Kavos, on the southern tip of the island. Quieter resorts include Gouvia and San Stefanos. Those wishing to escape from the melee can head for the interior to enjoy some spectacular scenery and greenery. Corfu has 43 different kinds of orchids growing wild in the countryside, and there are countless olive groves. There are dozens unspoilt coves with beaches washed by the sparkling, warm Ionian Sea. It is still possible to search out a secluded bay even in the busy season when the package holiday resorts are awash with tourists.