When it comes to summer and beach vacations, Greece is always my first choice. It has to do with the instant feeling I got the first time I visited the country. Like coming back from a very long journey and finally arriving home. It also has to do with its superb beaches, the incredible food, and welcoming people.
That’s how a few years back, we found asking ourselves again: where should we go this summer? And since it was already June or July, our options were not plenty. So after a little research and some calculations, we decided on a trip to Corfu, as neither of us had ever been there.
We opted for half board at Hotel Mare Monte (now apparently called Corfu Senses). As it was a last minute option we took what we found, so the conditions were not ideal, but it was cheap:
- The rooms are on the small side and the furniture kind of austere, but it was clean at the time.
- It’s placed in a secluded area of the island, so there are no restaurants, tavernas or bars nearby.
- The food was ok, but not traditional and nothing really delicious.
- On the good side, the hotel is placed on a small beach, better than others I’ve seen on the island.
- The hotel pool was kind of nice and we spent a lot of time there since we weren’t really crazy about the beaches.
We traveled from Romania by bus, which was not the best option, so wherever you come from, choose the plane.
Why I wasn’t impressed with Corfu
Before traveling to Corfu I heard so many good reviews that my expectations were set quite high. But once arriving there I must say the island didn’t live up to them. So here’s why my experience was different than what you might hear from others:
Maybe we didn’t stay in the best area and were not aware of better beaches, but nothing really made an impression on me. The villages nearby seemed desert, the beaches were not the best I’ve seen and there was not much to do around.
As I mentioned above, from what I experienced, Corfu really doesn’t have the best beaches in Greece. They are kind of small and crowded, mostly rocky and not really organized in any way.
Most of the beaches I went to in Corfu had bushes of algae up to the shore. And the only beach I liked – Paleokastritsa – is placed in a cold streamed gulf, making the water cold most of the time. This meant that while our “divers” (the boyfriends who wanted to scuba-dive) had no problem thanks to their diving costumes, the rest of us had to wait on the beach.
It worked well as a last minute option, but I would not return there.
The island tour
We booked an island tour through the agency and while we got to visit some interesting places, we were so hurried up by our guide that we barely had a chance to take it all in.
Corfu is not you typical Greek island. You’d think finding a nice taverna with decent food wouldn’t be so hard. After all, anywhere else I went in Greece, food has never been an issue. Well, not in Corfu! There are not many restaurants and the dishes don’t have much to do with the Greek cuisine.
However, it wasn’t all that bad
It’s kind of small but has a beautiful display of seashells gathered from all over the world. They also have an insectarium and some stuffed animals, with genetic disorders that didn’t really fit with the theme of the museum. However, I liked that you could buy many of the shells on display as a souvenir.
Princess Sisi’s summer home, it’s a far cry from her residence in Vienna, but the exotic gardens are breathtaking and the architecture, beautiful. It’s definitely worth a visit.
As I said before, the tour we took was poorly organized so we only got to spend literally 10 minutes in this beautiful town. The architecture is a mix of Venetian and British styles. The building facades look worn out, yet whimsical and multicolored. So I would surely spend at least one day here, exploring the narrow streets and small cafes.
They did everything kumquat, from jams to cookies and liquors. We were told that this fruit grows exclusively in Corfu and Japan. Although I am not sure that’s true, we got to taste a lot of interesting things and didn’t leave empty handed.
The scuba diving center in Paleokastritsa
While I didn’t dive myself, the boys in our group had a great time there. The owners were so nice as to come and pick us up from the hotel (which was on the opposite side of the island). Plus we got to eat at a restaurant nearby that had the best views and a delicious seafood platter!
On our hurried island tour, we stopped in a small village whose only industry relied on olives. We bought the cheapest, most fragrant olive oil there. If we hadn’t traveled by bus we would have bought a lot more.
And the airplanes that landed nearby. I loved it there, the monastery is very small and quiet, but really beautiful. Plus to me, there’s nothing more exciting than airplanes landing so close you feel you could touch them.
While we are not extremely religious people, Greek monasteries have their unique charm and this one is not any different. Beautiful flowers and views make for a lovely stop, so I wouldn’t miss it.
It’s a wonderful spot where you’ll have a 360 degrees view of the island. Great for those Instagram shots.
If you decide to visit Corfu
At the end of the day, our trip was far from a fiasco. However when in Greece I expect beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and delicious food. Corfu didn’t check any of these boxes, so that’s where my disappoint stems from. But if your heart is set on Corfu here’s what I’d say:
- Plan in advance and make sure to book a hotel in a populated area. I would avoid Paleokastritsa as I know the water there is cold most of the time.
- Skip the organized island tours, rent a car and visit what you want. I would check out everything I mentioned in the “what I liked” section.
- Visit the beaches where the Blue Lagoon was filmed, we didn’t and I kind of regret it.
- Research – there are a lot of things to do and see on the island, you could start here.