Corfu, the rugged paradise of the Ionian
Whilst visiting far-flung holiday destinations may be off the cards for this summer, there is no reason why you should not start searching and planning for your next sun drenched utopia. If there is one place that should be at the top of the list for the summer of 2021, the northeast of the quaint, Ionian island of Corfu is it. With its rugged mountain landscape that gives way to sheltered and isolated coves lined with olive trees and cypresses, Corfu is a sanctuary that has not been exposed to the vast levels of tourism that various Greek islands have had. The Ionian retreat, along with Kefalonia, has managed to combine classy havens with its magnificent scenery. This has allowed Corfu to remain unique and unspoilt, and nowhere on the island is this best demonstrated than in the northeast, where its secret coves, mountain escapes and famed tavernas steal the show. Corfu is a place where you are spoilt for choice and so here at The Guide, we will take you through the best places that the northeast of the island has to offer from its culinary hotspots, to its unique attractions and the secretive bolt holts to stay at.
The abundance of tavernas and idyllic sea front restaurants located at many of the hidden coves in the northeast of Corfu can make choosing the right eatery a mammoth task. However, we have narrowed down the three best tavernas and restaurants, each embodying what makes Corfu such a distinctive destination.
If you want to indulge in the finest traditional Greek cuisine, make sure to venture to one of Corfu’s premiere tavernas located at the celebrated bay of Agni. The restaurant in question is Toula’s and it is the pinnacle of the Greek taverna in all its romanticism with rustic interiors, whilst serving the best Greek gastronomic delicacies . With the menu usually revolving around the catches of the day, with turbot, red snapper and sea bass all featuring, the seafood available at Toula’s is second to none and it shows in the dishes. With locally sourced ingredients, the dishes are fresh, zesty, and showcase the essence of the Ionian Islands. The tranquil setting compliments Toula’s all the more with the restaurant veranda being no more than a few feet from the sea shore, whilst the gentle waves of the Ionian lap up on the stone shore of Agni beach. Toula’s is the perfect representation of the illustrious Greek taverna, whilst providing a high-class culinary experience.
If you are looking for the more contemporary side to Corfiot cooking, then be sure to seek out the Avlaki Seafood Restaurant, located adjacent to the pebbled beach of Avlaki. Set in the gardens of an impressive villa, the restaurant is an intimate setting for long summery lunches or romantic evening meals. The tables are spread around the attractive garden, with some inside small follies, and others on the shady veranda looking out on the cobalt Ionian. Alongside the stunning surroundings at Avlaki, the dishes that are served are adventurous, but maintaining the principles of Corfiot cuisine. With a focus on fish dishes, you can expect expertly crafted starters such as ‘Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi’, with ‘Red Mullet Fillet, Cauliflower Textures and Chive Oil’, for a main course, followed by ‘Kanafeh with kaimaki ice cream’ for dessert. This is all topped off by the elegant presentation, which adds a twist of avant-garde gastronomy whilst eating at the alfresco restaurant. No trip to Corfu is complete without visiting Avlaki Seafood Restaurant!
Finally, when you are looking for a lazy lunch, or a relaxed evening meal, with fantastic Greek hospitality, then look no further than Taverna George found just behind the sandy Almiros beach. A family run establishment, Taverna George is Greek through and through, and makes the perfect place to indulge in classic Corfiot meals, whilst in the relaxing, open air terrace of the taverna. Make sure to order fresh zucchini, a proper Greek salad, with tzatziki and pittas, and wash it all down with an ice cold Mythos. The friendliness of the staff, coupled with the hearty, traditional cuisines make Taverna George a favourite; an ideal eatery for a more laidback atmosphere.
The beauty of the northeastern Corfiot landscape is profound and it is easy to see why Gerald Durrell fostered a love of nature and wildlife during his time on the island. The beauty of Corfu lends itself to exploration, adventure and attractions.
One of the best ways to explore the areas of natural beauty is (if of course you don’t happen to own a Sunseeker Yacht), to rent a motorboat, ideally from the small bay of San Stefano. This enables you to explore the fascinating coast of northeast Corfu and discover bays and coves that you would not be able to access by foot. The freedom that having a motorboat brings is great, allowing you to snorkel in the bright blue sea, in sheltered bays such as Vrachli beach. Moreover, a vast amount of the beaches that you can visit have a plethora of restaurants and tavernas, which allow you to moor your boat whilst a spread of the finest Greek cooking!
To break up the days of soaking up the balmy sunlight working on the tan, why not take a trip to the historic Corfu Old Town, and explore the Venetian back streets. The Old Town is packed full of quirky nooks and crannies, with plenty of quaint coffee shops, boutique clothing stores and other stimulating attractions. Not only is the Venetian influenced architecture impressive, it also forms the basis for the vast Old Fortress that is imposes itself over the Old Town. Take a stroll around the battlements and get a feel for the strategic importance of Corfu, and the various influences of previous imperial powers that have exerted their power over the Ionian island. The Old Town is large enough to discover plenty of charming attractions, whilst being smaller enough to navigate around and not feel overwhelmed.
Along the northeast of Corfu, lies a vast array of walking routes, which are set along the coast. The paths are lined with olive, orange and lemon trees with fantastic views across the Adriatic. The beauty of the coastal paths is that the vast majority of beaches and coves are linked together, which allows you to stop for an early morning coffee at a local taverna, or a mid-afternoon tipple of dry white wine at the various eateries and bars along the walks. Much like visiting Corfu Old Town, the walks along the north east coast offer a different perspective on the various aspects to the island, whilst being able to discover the attractive Corfiot countryside first hand.
Place to stay:
We realise where people like to stay when on their travels is subjective, with some preferring the comforts of hotels, and other enjoying the individual experience of a villa. Therefore, we have looked at one of the most exceptional places to stay in Corfu, and perhaps in Europe, that offers both a catered experience alongside the independence and individualism of a villa holiday; all whilst retaining the highest levels of luxury.
If you want to find a sanctuary enabling you to experience the Corfiot landscape in all its grandness, whilst spoiling yourself with all of the luxury amenities that we have grown accustomed to on summer escapes, the Rou Estate is the sun seekers haven. Located high up in the hills of the north-east of the islands, the Rou estate was a small hamlet built over 200 years ago, which in 2005 was reinvented by British architect Dominic Skinner and has been transformed into a luxury hideaway made up of 13 villas of varying sizes. Now run by Simpson Travel, the Rou Estate is a one of a kind and is absolutely stunning. Each of the 13 houses is unique and individual with a swimming pool or plunge pool, depending on the size. Furthermore the estate offers 270 degree views of the Albania and Greek coastline, which can be enjoyed by the jaw dropping infinity pool that is part of the estate. The estate also boasts all of the lavish comforts of modern holidaying, including a spa, a gym and a high-class restaurant. If you are looking for a debonair retreat, that is surrounded by the famous landscape of Corfu, the Rou Estate has it all and will not let you down.
For more information on the Rou Estate: