Looking for some road trip inspiration? Here are 5 must-see destinations that reflect the authentic Corfu and life beyond her resort-laden shores. Exploring these stunning destinations by car is as enjoyable as it is convenient.
Open your eyes to the sun-kissed Ionian island of Corfu, Greece. Not one to shy away, Corfu makes good use of its natural resources: voluptuous mountains, fertile lands, and passion-fuelled traditions. In doing so, it’s flirted with, and won over many a visitor from Homer’s Odysseus to the Durrells. An aged beauty, she continues to tempt the modern adventurer with her numerous pleasures and romantic soul.
An intuitive start to any Corfu road trip, Corfu Town is just minutes from the airport and car rental pick-up stations. Grab a bite to eat at one of the city’s thriving cafes before setting off on your island adventure. Liston Square is a good place for lunch, and among one of the trendiest spots in town when it comes to casually sipping on a coffee and people watching (a favorite Greek past time). Though parking is available adjacent to the square, spots fill up fast. Instead, try the public, and often free-of-charge car park near the new port. Even when a fee is tacked on, daily rates are around 3 Euros. The heart of the city can be reached by foot in under ten minutes, and Liston Square in half that time from this parking lot.
Allow yourself enough time to take in the sights, including the port, new and old fortresses, and mix of Greco-Roman-Franco architecture – without neglecting the rest that this island paradise has to offer.
Ready to go? First stop, Agios Matthaios, is a 40-minute trek southwards through mountain communities characterized by their breathtaking views.
In the late-afternoon heat, Agios Matthaios (Agios Mattheos in some translations online) is every bit the somnolent Grecian town as one might hope to find. Untouched by tourism, it moves to the beat of its own drum, setting a slow albeit steady pace. Park next to the church perched atop the mountain-side village and follow the inlaid stone paths to make your descent on foot. Enjoy the varying architecture and the scent of home cooking in the air. In mere moments, the mountain laneways give way to a bustling main street. As the sun heads west overhead, this stretch of road welcomes farmers, businessmen, and children alike. Locals make good use of the cafe patios here to exchange stories of the day. Crammed onto both sides of the street, seats come at a premium. Take the first available and order a cafe frappe. Then, sip slowly, basking in the sunlight.
Before sunset, take up residence at local design-apart-lodging, Mavres Studio. Nestled in a centuries-old olive grove, a two-minute drive from the center of town, it provides the perfect sanctuary after a sun-drenched day. Consider picking up fresh produce, beverages, and fish from a grocery near the cafes. Mavres was designed with privacy and relaxation in mind and comes equipped with a large BBQ, generous veranda, and reclaimed wooden picnic table, plus kitchenette for two.
When you wake up the next morning, get yourself into the mood for further gastronomic exploration. Hop into your rental car and head to The Governer’s Olive Mill. Award-winning, and touted as the best producer in the world when it comes to taste, quality of production, and health claims: it’s a must-see. Treat yourself to a tour and soak up 5 generations of olive making tradition. Known to delight guests, purveyors Spyros and George are as passionate about their craft as they are generous with hospitality. Expect to be well taken care of.
Ready for the next stop? Jump back into your car and travel north to the quaint beach town of Agios Gordios. The trip along the coast is captivating, to say the least. Try to soak it all in as it totals less than a half hour’s drive.