Exploring Corfu Old and New Town by Foot


Corfu Town is made up of Old and New areas of the Town and is well worth visiting. The Old Town (also called Kerkrya) is a perfect example of ancient Venetian and Byzantine architecture and is full of elegant churches set amongst a labyrinth of cobbled streets with tall houses built from local stones and handmade tiles with interior gardens. It is surrounded by the sea nestled between two fortresses and is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site.

The new town is full of cosmopolitan shops selling high fashion goods, gold and leather.

If you are planning to explore Corfu Town by foot (which is the best way) and you are staying at another resort on the island, you can park your hire car in the Old Corfu Port car park where parking is only €1.50 for the day and there are usually spaces available.

A good place to start your walking tour is in the Esplanade area with the Old Fort and the sea on one side. The area below and to the north of the Old Fort is known as Mandraki Harbor, while to the south the Corfu Yacht Club.

Dousmani crosses the Esplanade and on the far side is a circular monument that commemorates the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece. At the far north side of the Esplanade is the Royal Palace of St. Michael and St. George which is home of the Museum of Asian Art, the Historical Archive and the Classic Relics Authority of Corfu. If you head towards the North West corner of the palace you will come out above the coast and can walk around Arseniou above the mourayia (medieval sea walls).

On your way you will pass the Byzantine Museum in the Church of Antivouniotissa which is on your left up a flight of stairs. Here you can see a small and elegant selection of icons from around Corfu. The museum is open Monday from 12:30 to 19:00, Tuesday to Saturday from 08:00 to 19:00, and Sunday and holidays from 08:30 to 15:00. Admission is €3.00.

As you leave the church walk along the coast road and descend to the square at the old port. Above its far side you will see the New Fortress, and beyond this is the new port. Off to the left of this square you will see a large gateway which is the remains of the 16th-century Porta Spilia.

Go through it to get to the Plateia Solomou and go to the left along Velissariou, looking for the green doors of the 300-year-old synagogue with its torah towers on your right. It is open on Saturday from 00:00 until early evening. To gain entry during the week telephone the Jewish Community Centre on 26610/38-802.

You then walk on to the part of Old Corfu known as Campiello which is full of stepped streets and narrow alleyways making it feel like a labyrinth. If you carry on through here you will eventually come out on to a busy commercial street that will take you down to the Esplanade.

Head south on the Esplanade and you will see a bandstand with the Maitland Rotunda at its far end. This honours Sir Thomas Maitland, the first British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands and just slightly further on is the statue of Count Ioannis Kapodistrias (1776-1836), the first president of independent Greece.

Keep heading south and you will pass the Corfu Palace Hotel and the Archaeological Museum on the right. Off to the right on the corner of Marasli you will see the circular Tomb of Menekrates who drowned about 600BC.

Bear to the right here onto Leoforos Alexandros which will bring you into the heart of Corfu new town.

The western side of the north half of the Esplanade is lined by a wide tree shaded strip filled with cafes, a pedestrianized street and arcaded buildings known as the Liston which is full of cafes and ice cream parlours and was built by the French engineer Lesseps who was inspired by the Rue Rivoli in Paris.

At the back of the Liston is Kapodistriou from which several streets lead off into the heart of Old Corfu which is full of fine shops, old churches and souvenir stands. The broadest and most stylish is Nikiforio Theotoki.

At the northern end of Kapodistriou turn left onto Ayios Spiridon until you reach the corner of Filellinon and the Ayios Spiridon Cathedral which is dedicated to Spiridon, the patron saint of Corfu. Inside the church is his embalmed body in a silver casket.

You may also want to catch the ferry to explore some of the other Ionian Islands. Paxi is the closest with its pretty harbor at Gaïos. Most of the island is covered with olive groves and easily explored on foot. Lefkada is more rural and unspoiled by tourism, with many tiny satellite islands and Ithaki has an unspoiled, rugged natural terrain.