The Complete Guide To Visiting Corfu From Saranda
Corfu is a Greek Island in the Ionian Sea in front of the mainland coast of Albania and Greece. From Saranda you can reach Corfu island in only 30 minutes with a fast ferry, so when you’re staying in Saranda, it makes for a great trip for a day or longer. On this page you can find everything you need to know when visiting Corfu.
How To Get To Corfu
From Saranda (Albania)
From Saranda you can reach the island of Corfu by a ferry that brings you to Corfu town. A fast passenger-only ferry takes only 30 minutes, while the slower car ferry takes approximately 1.5 hours. In summer there are multiple ferries a day and you can find all information about the ferry, how to get there, timetables, ticket prices on this page: Ferry Saranda – Corfu.
The ferry brings you to the international ferry terminal of Corfu Port which is only 2 kilometers from Corfu Town. By foot it takes about 20-30 minutes to reach the old town, but you can also take a taxi or the City Bus (Green Line no. 15) that runs between the port, Corfu Town and the airport. The bus stop is inside the parking lot in front of the terminal building.
From Corfu Airport
Many people visiting the south of Albania fly to Corfu Airport first, and then take the ferry to Saranda. So when flying via Corfu, why not hang around to see the old town? The airport is located very close to Corfu Town and you can take the same bus (Green Bus no. 15) that runs between the airport, Corfu town and the port. Alternatively you can take a taxi or, if you plan to make a road trip around the island, rent a car directly at the airport.
What To See In Corfu Town
Corfu Town is the biggest city and capital of Corfu island and conveniently located close to both the ferry terminal and the airport. The old town is a fabulous mix of history with a modern touch. Although the small streets are sometimes confusing to navigate, you can easily explore most of the old town by foot. Here are some of the highlights to see when visiting Corfu Town.
New Venetian Fortress
On your way from the Ferry Port to the Old Town of Corfu you can’t miss the New Venetian Castle. The massive structure is located on a hill north of the town and overlooks the town and harbor. The Venetians built the castle in 1577 to protect the island against the Ottomans.
In the north-eastern corner of the old town, next to the Old Venetian Fortress, there is a beach. Faliraki Beach also has a tavern and is somewhat secluded from the busy town, as it is located lower. From here you can see Albania on the other side of the sea.
The Esplanade (also called Spianáda) is a huge green area stretching between the dense streets of the old town and the waterfront with the Old Venetian Castle. It is claimed to be the second largest square in Europe, but looks more like a park. You’ll see plenty of people enjoying the sun in the grass or stretching their legs. Pictured below are the Maitland Monument (right), built in 1821 to honour Sir Thomas Maitland, and the Music Pavillion (left).
On the northern side of the Esplanade you can see the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, which was commissioned by Sir Thomas Maitland and served as the residence of the British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. Nowadays the palace is home to the Museum of Asian Art of Corfu.
Close to the palace, also on the Esplanade, you see the Mandrakinas Church. The church was badly damaged during World War II, but restored in 1950.
The Old Fortress dates back to 1546 and was built by the Venetians on the site of a former Byzantine castle. The fortress lies in front of the old town on a rocky peninsula and can be reached via a bridge over the small channel. Inside the fortifications you can find a clock tower and a 19th century Doric temple (Saint George Church). You can climb all the way up to the highest point of the fortress for magnificent views over the old town and you can also see the mainland of Albania from there.
Saint Spyridon Church
In the narrow streets of the old town you can find the Saint Spyridon Church. Its bell tower is the highest of the Ionian islands, making it the most famous church of Corfu. The Greek Orthodox church was built in the 1580s and houses the relics of Saint Spyridon.
The Bell Tower Of Annunziata
By the end of the 14th century the Annunziata church was built and dedicated to the Annuciation of the Virgin Mary. The church has since been demolished but the bell tower has survived and is now a monument.
To the south of the old town, inside the forest of Palaiopolis, you can find a villa that is called Mon Repos. It was built as a summer residence for the Brittish Lord High Commissioner of the United States and the Ionian Islands. Later it was used by the royal family and it became the birth place of several royal babies, including Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Inside the estate of Mon Repos, in the Palaiopolis forest, you can also find the archaeological remains of the Doric Temple of Hera. It was built around 610 BC and was considered a major temple of the ancient city of Korkyra.
Temple Of Artemis
In the suburb of Gartisa you can find the remains of another doric temple. The Temple of Artemis, built around 580 BC, was the first doric temple that was built solely with stone.
Next to the Temple of Artemis, on the same grounds, you can see the Saint Theodore Monastery.
Basilica Of Palaiopolis
The Basilica of Palaiopolis was built in the mid 5th century AD and by the bishop of Corfu, Ioviano. It was built in the middle of a Roman market and is considered one of the most important Byzantine monuments of Corfu.
On the other side of the road are the remains of some Roman baths (Romaiki Epavli Me Loutra).
Monastery Of Agia Eythimia
Dating back to 1478 the Monastery of Eythimia is one of the most ancient monasteries on Corfu.
Church Of Saints Jason And Sosipatros
The Church of Saints Jason and Sosipatros is located between the Garitsa neighbourhood and Mon Repos. The church was built around 1000 AD, making it the oldest church on Corfu. Its distinguishing architecture with stone and marble, a tall bell tower and large wooden doors make it a rare Byzantine monument.
Pontikonissi Island And Vlacherna Monastery
At the southern end of the Kanoni peninsula you have great views over the water, the bidge crossing the bay and two small islands. A small footbridge brings you to the first and smallest islet with the Vlacherna Monastery. A bit further away is the slightly bigger Pontikonissi Island, Greek for ‘Mouse Island’. From Kanoni, boats can take you to the Mouse Island.
The location also makes a great place for plane spotting, as you are right at the end of the runway of Corfu Airport.
Take The Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
A great way to see the highlights of Corfu Town while just sitting back and relaxing is to take the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour. There are two different routes, the Kanoni Line (1 hour) and the Achilleion Line (1,5 hours) which both offer a 360 degree view from an open rooftop bus.
Tours & Activities
There are plenty of other fun things to do on Corfu. What to think of a cycling tour or olive oil workshop? Or would you rather take a private tour around the island or go on a boat or kayak trip? Have a look at these tours.
Drive Around Corfu Island
To get to other places outside Corfu Town, there are buses going around the island. The central bus station is at San Rocco in the old town and you can find the bus routes and timetables on the website of Corfu City Bus. A better way to go around the island and be more flexible to reach secluded places, is to rent a car.
Car Rental On Corfu
On Corfu you can pick up a rental car directly at the airport or at the ferry port. If you plan on driving a rental car in both Corfu and Albania, we recommend dropping off your car before taking the ferry and pick up a new vehicle on the other side. Not only will you save out the extra charges for the car ferry, the fast (passenger-only) ferry will also save you about an hour each way and departs many more times a day. Most rental companies also won’t allow you to take a car across the border so do check this before and ask if there are any additional costs involved.
Both in Corfu and Saranda you can pick-up and drop off your rental car at or close to the port terminal.
Where To Eat In Corfu Town
Food lovers will be in the right place on Corfu where you can find delicious traditional Greek dishes from the best locally grown ingredients, like moussaka, souvlaki, gyros and saganaki (grilled cheese). Being an island Corfu is obviously also famous for its seafood and also has some very specific local dishes, like sofrito (slow fried beef), fish bianco and zorka (vegetable pie). Here are a few restaurant recommendations:
- Cafe Kanoni: This cafe is located at the very end of the Kanoni peninsula and has amazing outdoor seating overlooking the the small islands and the Vlacherna Monastery. It’s a great place for appetizers and to watch the sunset.
- Firi Firi – The Beer House: Small cafe and restaurant located a bit away from the busy streets in the old town. They serve anything from burgers to traditional Greek dishes and Corfu specialties. As the name suggests it’s also a walhalla for beer lovers, with a large selection of local and international draft and bottled craft beers.
- To Alatopípero: Located in the old town, this restaurant serves traditional Corfu dishes like sofrito and other delicious meat dishes as well as vegetarian options. It’s prices are very reasonable and the place is popular among locals.
Hotels In Corfu Town
Hotels on Corfu are moderately priced, but a bit more expensive than in Albania. Especially in summer, when the island sees a huge inflow of tourists, prices are much higher. Planning your trip and searching for hotels well in advance can help you find the best deals. Search here to compare among hundreds of hotels, apartments and guest houses so you can always find the best price for your stay.
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