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Sightseeing in Corfu

Achillion Palace, which is located in the village of Gastouri, was selected by Elizabeth (Sissy) the Empress of Austria in 1980 as her summer refuge to relax. Later the palace changed hands and was bought by the Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany built an unusual bridge which for accuracy is stone built jetty where he set out on his yacht for swimming trips. This beautiful Palace in picturesque gardens overlooks the sea and Corfu town is definitely one of the best places to visit in Corfu.

At the Northern part of the Island is located the Mount Pantokrator which is the highest mountain of the Island  with an altitude of 906 meters. The route will compensate you since the top view is stunning. On your way you will meet the Strinilas Village, the settlement with the highest altitude in Corfu, which worth a visit. From the top, you will have the chance to see the Islands of Paxos and Anti Paxos. Over 80 miles away, is located Southern tip of Italy.

From the village a path winds across the sun scorched headland and down to Porto Timoni, a half-hour walk, where there are reputedly the ruins of a fortress, built in 300 BC by Pirros, King of Epirus.

Paleokastritsa is set around three main bays. It is famous for being Corfu’s most treasured beauty spot, and becomes busy with day trippers throughout the season. Luxury yachts sail in to admire the back drop of the beautiful green hills around Paleokastritsa, while coaches clog up the narrow roads leading into town!

The monastery (Moni Theotokou) located on the headland is the main focus of attention and was built during the 17th century. Visitors are welcome inside to view the famous ceiling carving of the ‘Tree of Life’, but please, out of respect, make sure that you are suitably dressed.Also worth a look are the nearby ‘sea’ caves. These can be visited by small ‘trip boats’ lasting about 30 minutes.

The ancient ruin of Angelokastro, perched high on a rock overlooking the sea and the beautiful bays of Paleokastritsa, can be easily reached by car from Agios Georgios, through a route which offers magnificent views: Drive to the northern end of the bay and follow the signs to Pagi. On entering the village of Pagi turn right at the second junction (sign posted Prinilas). Go up the steep hill through several hairpin bends and proceed straight through Prinilas. Keep going uphill. The road now turns inland towards Makrades village. For a breathtaking viewpoint – a fairly steep walk is involved up a long winding trail of steps – turn right in the center of Makrades village towards Krini, go through Krini village and follow the signs to Angelokastro.

The village of Pagi (real spelling Pagoi), pronounced with the soft Greek “g” so it is almost Payee, means “Rocks” after the nearby dominating rock features. But others say the name is from the Greek word ‘Pagos’ (‘ice’) and is because of the icy cold waters of the village spring. Whichever are correct Pagi is an interesting old place. Nestling on the side of a wooded valley this small hill village is set about 2 km from the sea. This dates back to the time when pirates roamed the Mediterranean and for their protection the inhabitants built their houses away from the sea. Most visitors to the area only know Pagi as the village with the narrow road through which they must carefully drive every time they take the “main road” from Agios Georgios towards Corfu town. However those prepared to pause a while will find a world so different from the busy flowing avenues of modern European cities. I hope to encourage you to enjoy the real Corfu by finding time to wander into Pagi. Seek out the local businesses of this little village that miss most of the tourist trade which passes straight through in typical hurried fashion.

In the center there are several cafes and a traditional bakery, from which the delicious aroma of freshly baked loaves and bread rolls fills the air in the early mornings. The streets are narrow so park your car just beyond the village and walk back. You can park your car on the roadside opposite the old school. Then walk back for a coffee, frappe, cool drink or food at either Cafe Bar Spiros (now ‘007 Cafe’) or Romeos Cafe Bar (Hari’s). There are also a couple of small General shops nearby for grocery items etc. Visitors love to visit ‘The Village Shop’ to find those more genuine Greek gift items to take home.An unusual feature is the junction in the village center where there is a drop of about 3 metres from one road to the other. These streets were used in a car chase sequence in the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only” featuring Roger Moore! The cars took the lower road but were detained (understandably) by meeting the local bus just here beneath the high wall. Nervous British tourists unaccustomed to left-hand drive cars dread meeting a lorry or bus on this corner, knowing they will have to reverse back towards that unprotected drop!

Old Perithia is an abandoned village, located between Acharavi and Kassiopi. It is strange driving in the mountains, coming across this deserted village with a few sheep and a couple of Tavernas in the middle! Perithia was built in Byzantine times around the 14th century when people fled their coastal homes in fear of the pirates raiding there coastal villages. Even when this threat subsided the villagers were still not able to return to their original villages and homes due to an outbreak of malaria carrying mosquitoes. Old Perithia grew and boasted eight churches, each one belonging to a different family in the village. There was a school, a police station and even a court. Over 1,500 people lived in Perithia. In 1912 the village was made part of the Municipality of Kassiopi. As tourism developed, down on the coast, more of the village inhabitants and families moved down to the ‘new’ coastal resorts. By 1955 the village was occupied only during the summer months. After these months the remaining villagers would come down to their olive groves to harvest their crops. By 1975 most of the villagers had moved further down the mountain and only a few remained. Today there are six people who live in the old village throughout the whole year, they tend the local crops and look after livestock.

Once you found your way up to Old Perithia you shouldn’t miss out on the Loutses Cave. The “ceiling” is filled with stalactites which make the scenery a breathtaking one. The bottom of the Loutses cave is covered by green algae which are lightened up by the sun touching them. In the wintertime the cave is filled with water. This offers an even more amazing view.

Corfu Beer brewery is a modern microbrewery in Arillas, where you can try delicious fresh beers, and meet the people behind the idea, who are passionate about real ale, and driven by making real beer from pure ingredients, free from any chemicals, stabilizers and pasteurization – beer just as it is supposed to be!

Placed few kilometers far from the North West Coast of Corfu Island, the Diapontia islands represent a Mediterranean Paradise still far from massive tourism. Diapontia islands consist of 3 small islets with a distance between 2 and 7 marine miles from the coast of Corfu, and 9 uninhabited rocky islets There are few persons who live permanently in small and picturesque villages on the islands of Ereikoussa (the northern part of the Ionian islands), Othonoi (the western most part of Greece located only 43 miles off the cape of Otranto, Italy) and Mathraki (the closest to Corfu but the most isolated one). There are no tourist structures except some family complex of apartments or simple rooms. The Mediterranean nature there is still wild and several lonely sandy beaches offer privacy and quiet even during the high season. The Diapontian islands are the right place for a daily trip to escape the tourism during July and August. During all the summer it is possible to reach them by a regular ferryboat service from Corfu town or from the tourist villages of Sidari and Ag. Stefanos, as well as by fishing boats and excursion boats from most shores of the northern part of Corfu.

There are many local festivals or ‘paniyiria’ during the summer in Corfu. Most of the villages have a festival in the summer, particularly July and August, though there are some in June and September. Just ask around. They are well worth a visit, providing you can find your way there and back – especially after all the eating and drinking!

If you have children, then no trip to Corfu is complete without a visit to Aqualand – one of Europe’s largest water parks.

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