Corfu

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Getting to Corfu

Ionian map

Where is Corfu? Corfu has been a popular Greek Island holiday destination for many years being the closest to the UK. It lies off the north-west coast of Greece in the Ionian island group.

Corfu has the shortest flight time to any Greek island at little more than three hours. There are domestic flights to Athens and Thessaloniki but the vast majority of traffic is in summer charter flights from Europe, most of which arrive on Monday and Friday.

Corfu is also a major port of call for ferries, notably from Italy, calling in on the way to the mainland port of Patras. Some independent holidaymakers opt for cut-price flights to Italy and a fast ferry to Corfu.

Roads are generally good, especially in the heavily populated north but lanes can be poorly maintiang in the hilly interior.

Corfu is a big island and journey times can be longer than visitors think, especially in the hilly north where steep, twisting roads can lead to slower speeds.

Updated for 2016

Corfu flights: travel by air

Find a flight to Corfu

Corfu Airport is about three kilometres south of Corfu town on Route 25 and officially called Ioannis Kapodistrias International (CFU). It is clean and modern but a single terminal building serves both international and domestic flights but it's notorious for long delays.

Outside seating installed beneath a sun canopy has helped but passengers report flight-time bottlenecks - especially on Monday and Friday - with long queues and just two luggage carousels.

Along with package charter flights, there are three flights daily to Athens and flights to Thessaloniki on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Flights to either city takes about 50 minutes. Budget airline Ryanair has new flights to Corfu from Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Glasgow and Edinburgh, while rivals Easyjet now fly from Gatwick, Luton, Bristol and Manchester. For information on flights call the airport on 30 26610 89600.

Facilities include a bank and ATM, money exchange and a post office. There are telephones and toilets for the disabled. Once through to the departure lounge there is a reasonable amount of seating and a cafe and bar for drinks and snacks. An information desk is in the arrivals hall.

No public buses serve the airport itself, but buses #5 and #6 run along the main road, about 500 metres from the airport entrance, into Corfu Town, a journey of about 15 minutes. Regular buses pass throughout the day and many hotels have their own free minibus services.

For those travelling by car or taxi, Corfu town is three kilometres to the north on the route 25 Kerkira-Kanoni road. Taxis are readily available outside the terminal but agree a price before getting in. There is limited car parking just outside the airport terminal.

Corfu ferries: travel by sea

Corfu lies close to the Greek mainland and its northern border with Albania and it's on the main ferry route between Italy's Adriatic coast and mainland Greece with daily sailings from Brindisi, Bari, Ancona, Trieste and Venice.

Ferries from Italy often continue on from Corfu to the mainland ports of Igoumentisa and Patras with further connections to Kefalonia and Zante.

The Trieste, Ancona and Venice ferries are operated by ANEK Lines with two sailings weekly and a 14 hour crossing; the route from Brindisi is operated by Egnatia Seaways with four sailings weekly to Corfu and an eight hour crossing; from Bari it's Ventouris Ferries with three sailings weekly and an eight hour crossing.

Foot passengers can get tickets at Italian ports but those who prefer a cabin or are taking a car are advised to book in advance, especially over the busy summer season.

Many people fly to Italy and then take the ferry. Car drivers to Italy should consider the motorway tolls and the special stickers needed when driving through Austria and Switzerland.

Daily ferries to and from the mainland port of Igoumenitsa run every 15 minutes in the summer from 6am to 10pm. An hourly service is operated by 2Way Ferries. There are two types of ferries: the open ferry is cheaper but takes longer at 105 minutes while the larger catamarans and hydrofoils take abut 60 minutes. From Igoumenitsa visitors can also sail to the small southern Corfu port at Lefkimi.

Daily ferry departures to Corfu are also available from the mainland Greek port of Patras but the journey time is seven to eight hours.

Four times a week, a hydrofoil 'Ilida II' leaves for the neighbouring island of Paxos, rising to daily in the summer months. Details of sailings are available here. The trip takes around one hour.

Kamelia Lines also operates a passenger ferry boat between Corfu and Gaios on Paxos throughout the year with a journey time of around 90 minutes.

Corfu map: getting around

Corfu is a long and thin island and most holidaymakers limit themselves to stays in the north or the south, with most based on the north and east coastlines. Corfu island roads are generally good, especially in the heavily populated areas around Corfu Town. Roads can deteriorate in the mountainous north-west and along the less populated western coast.

Villages are not always well signposted, so visitors may need a decent map especially if they leave the main road system, although even detailed maps may not always prove reliable. Rural Greek signposts are often not much use either.

Some visitors use water taxis to get around the beaches, although these are most useful where resorts are clustered close together such as along the north-east coast. Car and motorbike hire is available in all the main resorts and cycle hire has become very popular in recent years.

Walking trails are plentiful and the recently opened Corfu long-distance trail, at around 220km, runs the north-south length of Corfu from Cape Agia Ekaterini to Arkoudillas.

Corfu climate and weather

Corfu has high winter rainfall (more than three times London) but this keeps the island green for most of the year. Summers get very hot with occasional sub-tropical storms.

Early May has uncrowded beaches and wild flowers in abundance with sunny days and temperatures in the low 20s. By June beaches are busy, temperatures hit the high 20s and nights are warm. In July temperatures can hit the high 30s and afternoon breezes are welcome but nights can be stifling. August temperatures stay in the high 30s with high humidity too. By mid-September temperatures are back in the mid 20s but there are still warm October days, although they are much shorter.

Corfu is cold and wet over the winter. Winter rains are heavy and long-lasting. January days in Corfu are cool and wet while February is a little warmer and the trees come into blossom.

Corfu transport: travel on land

Car rental

Roads are generally good on Corfu, particularly to the east and north of the island, but they can deteriorate quickly when heading inland and may turn into dirt tracks in the less populated south-west. Car hire is plentiful on Corfu, with all the major resorts having several car and motorbike rental shops.

Corfu buses

Daily bus services run to Corfu from Athens and Thessaloniki. For details telephone (26610) 30627, 39985. Corfu itself has two bus services - the Blue Bus serves Corfu Town and the surrounding area while KTEL (Green Bus) runs routes to many island resorts and villages and to several cities and towns on the mainland.

The central bus station is in San Roko. Buses are modern and comfortable but can fill up fast at popular times so get there early to ensure a seat.

Timetables are posted on the bus stops but be aware that buses may wander around the villages as drivers drop local people off, even if it's not on the posted route - so times can vary. Click here to find KTEL Corfu bus shedules online - they are in Greek but most services can be made out.

Corfu taxis

Taxis are plentiful but not cheap as taxi drivers were allowed to double their rates in return for better services. There are taxi stands in central areas of Corfu Town such as San Roko and Theotokis Street while radio-taxis can be called on 26610 33811. Fares are often displayed in euros and British pounds on the most popular destinations and many taxi firms will quote for island excursions.

Corfu rooms: places to stay

Rooms

Corfu has plenty of good accommodation, less so inland and along the wild south-west coast. Most of the big hotels are located north of Corfu Town along the 40 kilometre strip that extends to Ipsos, most of it centred around Gouvia. As well as large hotel complexes there are any number of small hotels, villas and apartment blocks.

Big hotels are strung along the north coast in the Roda and Sidari areas otherwise it tends to be luxury villas, small apartment blocks and rooms to let. Smaller family hotels can be found on the north-west coast but, heading down the west coast will see accommodation becoming more scarce.

Those looking to escape the crowds should head inland where much of Corfu lies untouched by tourism and where there is a good selection of holiday accommodation off the beaten track.

Many hotels close down from November to March when Corfu's wet winters set in although a considerable number around Corfu Town stay open all year round. Many hotels offer substantial discounts out of season.

It's not a good bet to arrive on Corfu in July and August without a reservation but there is accommodation to be had and the local hotel and domatia owners still meet the incoming ferries to snap up any passing trade. The Corfu Room Owners' Association posts a list of hotels and phone numbers near the tourist office to the south-west of the main esplanade.