Discover the beautiful hidden gems that Corfu has to offer
We flew from Dublin early one Tuesday morning, flight departure was 6.55am and total flight time was 3 hours and 45 minutes. I grabbed some healthy breakfast from Nomad and a Butlers Coffee in Terminal 1. Boarding was swift and we were up and away. We travelled as a group of 2 with 2 carry-on bag and one 10kg. This included one non-priority seat and 1 for priority boarding. The non-priority “un-booked” seat happened to be an exit row, so this was such a treat. I recommend bringing your own snacks for the plane and your refillable water bottle beforehand. After security, there are many places to refill your own water, saving money and the planet. On arrival in Corfu, passport check is fast and with no baggage to reclaim you are on your way in minutes.
We booked a car with the Ryanair, from the suggested list that comes up when you book. We had never used them before so were a little unsure, but for €10 a day – yes €10 per day we said we’d give it a go. We booked a compact car and ended up with a choice of an uber stylist white hybrid Fiat 500 or the equivalent of a micra. The Fiat was manual, and I don’t think it had air con, so be mindful of this in the warmer summer months. Manual is cheaper than automatic, and you will not fit a 20kg suitcase in the boot of this car. A backpack probably but not a 20kg suitcase. The car cost us €10 per day and as it was hybrid, we were saving fuel and the planet and money. After all our tripping around, when we refuelled the car before its return it cost €23. We had booked the car excess insurance before we left, which was €17.
The Your Car Hire company sent a shuttle van to pick us up outside arrivals and brought us to their office. We were the only customers so the whole thing was super swift. On the desk there is a QR code poster for a Tour Guide in Your Pocket. It is called Self-Guided Corfu and allows you access to over 100 stories, audio, and maps, along with discovering over 40 hidden gems on the island, and it is available in 6 languages. This is super to learn more about the Old Town and the fortress and some fascinating landmarks on your trip.
I invested a few years ago in the TRIPP 4-wheel hard shell suitcase and I still love it. It is super hardy and then I also brought my Passenger backpack with is deceptively large. I fit all my other bits and bobs in there.
We drove to the Old Town centre which is close. Parking is so difficult to come by in the town of Corfu, but there is good news and good news.
There is so much parking, you just must be prepared to park a little away from where you may want to stay and it’s all free. We finally found parking out by the port, parked up, for free day and night and the car was so safe. It was about a 6/7-minute walk to the old town.
I would not bother with a hotel in the Old Town. The Palace Hotel looks a little dated and I would imagine it gets lots of bus tours. There is an amazing array of super stylist Air B&B options in Old Corfu Town, a much higher percentage than in most island towns I would say. We missed out on a stunning little apartment close with a Cathedral view for €90 per night. There are a lot of options around the €150 – €250 mark and a lot of times €200ish is my budget for Air B&B’s but not this time. We were only in the Old Town for 3 nights and we have so much to see and do we decided to save on the air B&B and have more budget for food and drink at night.
It seems the Wi-Fi is not great in a lot of rentals in old Corfu town as they are all housed in really old buildings so if you are trying to work or download from Netflix, I think you will struggle with that. The coffee shops and bars have great WIFI though. Our room was small and was right beside the Spiridon Church where the Easter processions were still happening with the marching band, the processions, the candles, and the bells we had a bird’s eye view from our 3rd-floor apartment when we opened the shutters. Be careful to note, our apartment had mosquito nets between with window and the shutters, I forgot and left it open one night to wake up the next morning to a mosquito in the bathroom and a bite each.
The location of this air B&B was epic, so central, on the street with gorgeous little shops, the church, the Liston promenade at one end and a gourmet boutique ice cream shop at the other. The room was compact when the windows were closed you couldn’t hear a sound, it was pitch dark at night and the bathroom was lovely. The kitchen was well kitted out but there were zero temptations to cook.
There are a couple of nice juice bars close by, one is housed in a small 100-year little fruit shop. The fruit is so fresh and he has a super array of juices, a creperie at the end of the street and the Meat Company as the Liston does a lovely large cappuccino and avocado on toast.
Everywhere felt like a 10-minute walk from the apartment. The old town has beautiful cobbles which are super uneven and slippy so I wouldn’t bother bringing heels it is impossible to wear them.
Breakfast is not a big thing in Corfu at all. The streets are not inundated with coffee shops and there is not a franchise chain to be seen, which I love.
Some of my top recommendations for dinner include:
fine dining without the stuffy pomp and reasonably priced for what you get. The restaurant is up a little street and is very subtle. It is as though they don’t need or want to be found by the masses. The dining room is stunning, with dark green walls, gold light fixtures on the walls and incredibly comfortable velvet dining chairs. The menu is based on local and seasonal ingredients and is created by GM and head chef O Aristotle Megoulas. The wine list is exclusively Greek and stunning. There is a gold vintage cocktail trolley on one wall and dark wood sideboards at the other. Two starters, two mains, a dessert and a €50 bottle of wine set us back €165 (including a tip ). This was a real treat and really good value for money from a culinary experience.
A little further out of town is Avli, again with a focus on high quality, local and seasonal dishes with an air of simplicity and authenticity.
A great people-watching spot for an Aperol, a local beer of a delicious coffee is mykpoe, and right around the corner from here to the left is a classic taverna serving quality tasty gyros.
- Annoohkh kopinoinn 5
A little further up that street is a very hidden and unassuming little maze bar. Incredibly simple and popular with young locals the food and decor is rustic, but so flavourful and incredibly good value for money. We had drunk chicken, Iberian pork fillet slow cooked with herbs and wine and an insanely good taramasalata like no other with hazelnuts. The wine was average but cheap and the local drinks were so authentic and cheap. A 100ml carafe of a local connection of warm red wine, tippo and honey was a mere €3.50. Keep an eye out of this place with its twinkly lights outside and its twinkly waitress who was a delight.
One of other absolute favourite finds was Saluteria, down a side street which has a strip of fabulously trendy and gorgeous restaurants including a fast-food fresh pasta bar concept. Saluteria sits down a little on the right with its classic and elegant French style we had one of the best charcuterie boards I have ever had for €20. Insane, salami with fennel, mortadella, brie with fig jam, carob breadsticks……I could go on and on.. this is one I will be dreaming about for a while. My drink of choice here was a Venetian Spritz, Campari, Prosecco, soda water and olives. A new take on an Aperol spritz which was just perfect with the charcuterie. We went back another evening for some tapas and had the fish croquettes which were fabulous. The porchetta ones lacked some flavour.
Some other places that looked really good were Limoncello and 3 Monkeys Mexican along Liston. For a table with a view down by the old fortress and along the water there is a lovely little place serving traditional dishes and something for everyone in earnest. It may not be a gastronomic adventure like no other, but at the height of the season lots of people jump in and swim in the sea here and the view is just beautiful. Outside the city definitely check out Monastre for a special lunch or dinner.
Mona Lisa for boutique artisan Greek Ice cream. They have been mastering the Art of Gelato & Cioccolato since 2021, created to indulge all five senses.
Wine bars appear to be order of the day with several of them clustered together and fill every night. With their laid-back, chill beats and patio heaters they all had a good crowd each night.
Bristol seems to be the hippest bar in town, so get there early to secure a table and people watch the night away.
SWAY was the wine and cocktail bar we visited. Perched on our high stools and table we enjoyed some late-night nibbles and a bottle of overpriced rose. The truffle fries, the prawns and the chicken croquettes with a smoked pineapple sauce were delicious. It was hard to get a bottle of wine for under €35 but you are paying for the vibe and the gorgeous outdoor furniture and cool interiors. I think once you accept that and enjoy the whole experience it is worth it.
I recommend visiting a local Tavern for a people watching table with a view and traditional local Greek mezze dishes.
The Old Fortress is so beautiful. It is free entry and the vistas across the sea are stunning. It only takes about an hour to wander around and it is a perfect evening stroll before dinner.
Local Artisan Shopping The shops are lovely. I am not a bigger shopper on holidays, in fact, I rarely do it, but there was something different here. A sense of quality and local craftsmanship was evident where shopkeepers proudly told you of the locality of the wares. There was zero ‘hard sell’ or pushy invites which I love, and the shop assistants only offered help when engaged. If I had room in my suitcase, I would have some home with lots of gorgeous bits, ceramics, oils, kumquats, handmade jewellery, linen shirts and dresses, olive wood kitchen utensils and more.
Spiridon Church and its bell tower are mighty and regal and beautiful to have a wonder around and light a candle.
Old Venetian Streets Wandering the streets with the old Venetian vibes makes you forget for a moment you are on a Greek island as your mind wanders to Italian-style architecture and design. The beautiful sites of laundry handing on washing lines joining one side of the street to the next, old doorways, shutters, and the sunlight peaking up and down the spotless streets. It really is a little like a Disney fairyland old town.
Things we will do again (or if we brought the kids) There is a pirate boat cruise. I have seen others along the way and although we have no personal experience of it, it looked brilliant, and I would definitely take the kids on this one
Day 2 : Paleokastrites & Cape Drastis
Exploring Outside the City
After a leisurely lie-in and a quick juice pitstop we headed for the car, set the map on my phone and headed west to the other side of the island. Later we would progress north. After about 25 minutes on the 24 main road, we drove downhill to a stunning little beach town called Paleokastrites.
This town will be hopping in the summer I have no doubt with parking at a premium, but in April it was delightful. We parked the car and walked about 50 metres to be greeted with this blue and turquoise water-sheltered bay. With families beginning to sunbathe and little kids splashing it was just gorgeous. There are restaurants to the right and left of the beach. The one on the right, across from the aquarium has a toilet which I imagine they charge for its use in high season. Alternatively for about €3.50 grab a coffee, take in every millisecond of that view and pee at your leisure.
When you are finished the other ‘wow’ and reason to visit this little town is the Monastery. I have never been more tempted to convert to life in a religious order, until now). It is a working monastery with priests living on site and working here. As you climb the hill and still up, after about 10-12 minutes you come to the monastery. There is a church, a museum with whale bones and an oyster shell bigger than I could have ever imagined. There is a little gift shop here too with handmade olive oil soap and postcards and other bits. The view over the garden and out to sea is just breath-taking, take a few moments, pause, rest, and soak up the unique tranquillity this very special place has to offer.
Corfu Sea Discovery Aquarium
As you venture back down the hill you will hit upon the Corfu aquarium. Compact but effective it will delight all ages but the most exciting part for me was the Corfu Sea Discovery Boat / Submarine. It is a glass bottomed boat with seats underneath the water where you can get up close and personal with lots of local sea life.
There is a nice standard coffee shop here and the piece de resistance for me was these bright and inviting yellow deck chairs on a small terrace that you can book and sit out and watch the sea do its thing.
There is a small and overpriced supermarket here and on the left of the beach there are 3 typical beach bar restaurants. Greece is not cheap anymore. Expect in these parts to pay €15 for a Greek Salad, €20 for local caught fish, salad and chips and €60 for sharing seafood platter for two €6 for a glass for wine, €4/5 for a beer in a small beach side, family run tavern.
Buried into the rocks on the left is a little coffee shop and restaurant which is just stunning in terms of location, so in essence you are paying for the view, and you know what….. I am ok with that.
Cape Drastis is an extraordinary sight of geographical prowess . An outcrop of rock into the azure waters is like nothing I had seen before. The drive here is a little hairy across the mountains and through the centre of tiny little villages in parts. Let’s just say we were very glad for our tiny little Fiat 500 when we took a corner and were so close to some locals eating lunch inside a restaurant that we could almost have dined with them.
Parking at Drastis is ad hoc, and by that, I mean park it up on the side of the road, push in the wind mirror and head off. There is a semi-steep descent down and you can decide how far you go. It is a riverbed, mud bank trail down. After walking for 2/3 minutes you get the most beautiful view so there is no need to go any further really However if you are feeling adventurous, (and I highly recommend this ) keep walking about 10-15 minutes down the trail and you come to the bottom where the land meets the sea. There is a tiny changing hut, and you can choose to sit on the flat strata-style rocks and soak up the sun as the listen to the waves hit and lap of the rock, or you could jump in for a dip. (be mindful as it looked deep with possible strong currents )
After Cape Drastis, it is about an hour-long drive back to Corfu Old Town where you can have a little sundowner or a later afternoon nap and then head for some well-earned dinner.
To read what we got up to on Day 3, and to hear all around The Maldives of Europe, check out my Maldives of Europe travel blog.
Day 4 & 5
COOKS CLUB ALL INCLUSIVE RESORT
Where Tranquil Meets Trendy.
We did not book the hotel for day 4 until day 3. Risky, I know but it was low season. I preface all this information again with the fact that we got to bask in the calmness and peacefulness that was an off-season stay. I have never been here in high season, so I don’t know, but all I can say is if they manage the same level of chill-out vibes with excellent service and cost-effective options, they are going to be incredibly successful Cook Club Corfu is part of a chain of hotels around Greece and Turkey. Their tagline is next generation….. They are aiming their resort offer at trend-seeking, social media Generation Z, mid to late 20-somethings. I feel I could be wrong.
The decor is stunning, boho Bali luxe vibes everywhere you look, and the attention to detail is fabulous for the price of the offer. Even small things like the plaster effect of the staircase are rustic to the bamboo ornamental ladder on the balcony. Every place you turn is an Instagram vignette moment. The hotel offers garden-view and pool-view rooms and has a handful of swim-up pool rooms on the ground floor.
The central well of the lobby is the hub of the hotel with the reception area, beautiful seating areas, the a la carte restaurant and the lobby part all around this hub. From here, big glass double doors open out onto an ample and luxurious patio which gets the sun in the morning. Walk down these steps to the large pool area with its wicker style loungers, red and cream striped parasols and the natural water vibe huge swimming pool. Behind here there is the pool bar serving house cocktails created by a mixologist and bar food all day. Along with this, there is an all-day onsite is keeping the chill-out sounds coming all day.
When we were there, there was such a mix of ages and groups. Gay couples, friends’ groups, middle-aged couples and older couples. Lots seemed to be from the UK and a genuinely lovely group. It was all so chilled out and relaxed, and everyone peacefully enjoying the vibe. As this is an adult-only resort there were no children which definitely helped the upkeep of the relaxed chill atmosphere.
We did the all-inclusive package which has an epic 25% off the standard price for the month of May. After the full experience, I would say as all-inclusive goes, it’s very good for the standard price, with the discount making it all the sweeter. For €149 we have the all-inclusive package for food and drinks, a one-night free meal in the a la carte restaurant, a free 15-minute spa treatment each and a garden view premium room.
They employ a very smart operating system in the La Cantina canteen-style restaurant where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. On arrival, you are given a secret QR code. Scan the code and this is your unique ordering system, Open the app, tap the restaurant, see what is on the “to order” menu that day, tap what you would like, enter your room number, and a chef’s hand cooks the dish for you fresh, and the waitress delivers it to your room or your table.
Now a few things there, the portion sizes are perfect for lunch, not too big, just right! Rather than having tonnes of foods cooked in advance and using the self-serve buffet model, which creates so much food waste, this is so much more sustainable. The food is fresher, and there is less food waste. They’re also offering gluten-free and vegan options and using items like chicken drumsticks for the tandoori Chicken. The cons, it was not proper tandoori chicken and the chicken lacked flavour, but it was fine. I think they will settle into the new season, hopefully, and the flavours will improve.
Along with the order-to-the-table service, there is a bar with white, red and rose wine (all local, all fine ) juice stations and coffee, tea stations etc. There were two lovely fresh salad options individually portioned and beautifully presented at a salad station, a bread station with olives, tapenade, hummus, pesto etc and a dessert station too. It was lovely.
There was an air of generosity and care taken at each point. You always felt like there was plenty, but not with that typical overloading sense the usual buffet takes. There was little discernment about the food offer, even if there is room for improvement.
The free a la carte meal was lovely. Great attention to detail, excellent service, and a step up for sure from La Cantina. We were offered a free a la carte or a paid-for version, which was very expensive. We were fine with the free.
We shared a salad to start, then had starters, then shared a mushroom pasta and then had sea bass and fillet steak for mains and a dessert each. It was lovely.
If you get peckish in the afternoon, there is the Feel Free all-inclusive pool bar menu, with has nuggets and chips, burgers, sandwiches and salads and a range of delicious cocktails, sodas, wines, coffees and spirits to indulge in all afternoon.
There was late check out at 12, and we are allowed to order lunch before we left, have more drinks, and use the facilities as we wished. There are showers and changing rooms in the lobby.
The other faculties we availed of in our whistle-stop 24-hour visit included the tennis courts with brand new Wilson balls and rackets, a modern and sleek class box gum perched in the shade of the garden with free classes during the day, including yoga, Pilates, core and HIIT. Book these in advance and early as there is a limit of 10 places per class. The spa had a complimentary sauna and steam room before my treatment. I was offered to use my free 15 minutes as an add-on to a treatment of the value of the 15 minutes be taken as a discount off my full-price treatment. I opted for a 25-minute back massage which should have been €67, but I paid €50. It was excellent. Like properly excellent.
Breakfast runs from 7am in low season until 11. There are fresh omelette and egg stations, porridge, pastries, fruit, yogurt, breads, jams, nut butters and a full hot breakfast offer available. Again, it was ample in selection, beautifully presented with care and attention to detail. I hope they will be able to maintain this in high season. Lots of excellent staff will be needed.
The pool is stunning and icy cold. A little too cold for comfort for the 22℃ April weather but I imagine it will be idyllic in the overbearing 35-40℃ high of July and August.
For me, the decor is sublime. Totally relaxation and wellness happens for me when I feel relaxed in comfortable but luxe surroundings, and this is that. It is not stuffy or overly fancy. It is fabulous and really well-priced for the experience you get.
The resort is about 6km outside of old Corfu Town in Gouvia. There is a flip all there, you are 100% going for the resort and nothing else. There is a bus top directly outside the hotel, and the bus costs €2 per person into the old town. Hearsay at the pool suggested a taxi in may cost €30 each way, but I feel on a hunch it may be closer to €20.
The hotel bar served free all-inclusive drinks all night until 1 am from the Feel Free menu, which was so ample, even by my picky standard. The Hugo Spritz were excellent with a notable difference in the standard of drinks preparation from the outside pool bar, which is totally fine.
The vibe was lovely, the couple just sitting around chatting, chilling, and playing cards. There was something very wholesome about the mix of ages and crowd and it was lovely. Again, I would be interested to see how these go in the summer.
Overall, for the price, you get so much bang for your buck. The all-inclusive is excellent. I would not dream of doing this resort any other way. They are rocking this natural luxe, chill, modern vibe brilliantly and I highly recommend it for the money.