The overall feel of Corfu Island’s north is simply majestic. The land itself, through its many breath-taking views, dramatic highs and lows, secluded coves and versatile landscapes exudes an energy of welcoming grandeur whom many visitors have stayed on and made their home.
From east to west Corfu Island’s north covers the widest distance of around 40 kilometres with Corfu’s tallest mountain, Pantokratoras, rising up between them. In fact there are intense differences between east and west coasts. The north coast is equally diverse and exciting. This stretches from the historical village of Kassiopi in the north eastern corner, past Acharavi resort in the centre and on to Avliotes in the North West.
A single coastal road runs the entire circumference of Corfu Island’s majestic north. As you leave Corfu Town behind you heading north you know you are on the east coast because you can see Greece’s mainland mountains in the distance. The graphic Venetian village of Agios Markos marks the beginning of a rather windy but unique drive along the coast with many exclusive residences along the way.
Barbati is a very popular family beach amongst locals and tourists alike. Its proximity to Corfu Town as well as its characteristic shiny white pebbles and crystal clear waters have given it a European Blue Flag time and time again. Piedra Del Mar and Verde Blue are trendy beach side bars and restaurants making it easy to spend the whole day by the beach.
Each turn on the road is yet another pretty beach or cove along the sea coast bellow. The famous Nissaki harbour is most visited for its picturesque location whilst Kaminaki and Kalami share the same characteristic shingle beaches with the mountain side rising directly above them. This is the area English author Gerald Durrell most fondly remembers growing up in as he describes in his famous book “My family and other Animals”.
Agni is famous for its restaurants rather than its small beach with visitors flocking by sea as well as land to appreciate the many delicacies served here. To eat whilst watching the sea change its many hues during the day you should book in advance. Kouloura is another welcoming harbour with the much photographed Agneli residence sitting right on the water.
The next headland is famous for many reasons. Geographically it is closest to the country of Albania with only a two kilometre stretch of water separating the two. The fishing village of St Stephanos has become a meeting point for the rich and wealthy with the likes of Sir Rothschild owning extensive property in the area. Kerasia Beach can only be accessed through St Stephanos and is a great beach to enjoy this distinct area from. It is also a great family beach as it is protected from the western mistral wind that often picks up in the summer months. Avlaki beach on the other hand catches every little breath of wind which is a welcome break during the hot summer months. Many footpaths and horse riding tracks are there for you to discover as the area is highly prised for its natural beauty.
The villages of Porta and Sinies offer spectacular views across the eastern coast of Corfu Island and beyond. To get to them one turns off the main coastal road and up the mountain rather than down to St Stephanos. Kassiopi village is the main resort in the area and a central meeting point all year around. Supermarkets, the post office and medical centres are available here as well as many popular gourmet restaurants and boutique hotels. Kassiopi Castle and other historic sights are worth a visit here too.
As you pass Kassiopi the road opens up and straightens out along the north coast, the landscape becomes flatter, the beaches sandier and the sea now looks up into the Adriatic. The sandy cove of St Spyridon is the first stop along the way with a possible handmade ice-cream pit stop in advance. Here you have the option of turning up into the mountains above to pay a visit to the renovated Venetian village of Perithia which was deserted early in the previous century. It is an entirely different landscape with traditional restaurants ready to welcome guests with local meet and fresh garden produce.
Apraos, Almiros, and Astrakeri are sandy family beaches along the north coast whilst Acharavi and Roda are large modern resorts that offer a wide range of shops and entertainment. Archaeological sites can be visited in the area such as the Temple of Apollo. Next along is Sidari which has gained an unfortunate reputation over the years. Its natural coastline that begins to change yet again, however, is quite spectacular. Sand sculpted islets you can swim to and the impressive Canal d’Amour are well worth visiting if you can get past the sunbeds and pedalos. Just past Sidari is the famous village and beach of Peroulades with 7th Heaven Café offering the best sunset seats in the Mediterranean.
The beaches and tourist resorts of Avliotes and Arillas mark the north eastern corner of Corfu Island. Looking out onto the Mediterranean Sea the open horizon becomes full of possibilities. The morning rise feel of the east coast here becomes a long and welcome sunset twilight. The sand is golden, the waters warm and shallow and the feel is an understated return to nature rather than rich and boastful. Many international spiritual centres claim predominance here over other forms of tourism with yoga and meditation becoming a fast growing industry.
The village of Afionas sits atop a cliff between St George north and Arillas. As well as being one of the most beautiful locations on the island with breath-taking views and rather more relaxed sunsets, remains of one of the few Palaeolithic communities in Greece have been found here. Afionas marks another coastal change from sandy and smooth to dramatic cliffs and caved rock formations that have been sculpted by the open sea. St George North is a huge natural embrace with fresh sparkling waters that keep you coming back for more.
Heading back south the coastal road becomes adventurous as it traces the top of high cliffs. It is not the easiest road to follow but certainly the most striking way to arrive at St Michael Castle, Lakones and the famous Paleokastritsa. Arriving from the lesser known north the feelings and impressions one is left with are sensational. Few words can describe the mythic beauty of these locations.