Can we be totally honest with you? Corfu Old Town is not only the cultural center of Corfu, but also a whole new historical world to explore!
Let us set the scene. Fairy tales and legends, along with french, Venetian and British influences create an enchanting atmosphere, while the natural beauty of Corfu highlights it in a unique way!
Wondering where to start from, to explore the magic world of Corfu Old Town?
No, worries! We did the hard work just for you.
So, keep reading to learn everything about the best places in Corfu Old Town.
Corfu Old Town in short
Being in the World Cultural Heritage Monuments list of UNESCO, Corfu Old Town breaths history!
Stone paved alleys (the so called “kandounia”), stunning villas, colorful courtyards and romantic balconies make strolling around the town a unique experience.
Honestly, you have to try to find a corner that's not pretty!
Now, that’s something you don’t hear very often. In order to experience Corfu Old Town at its fullest, you need to get lost.
Yeah, you read that right!
Its endless narrow alleys may seem to form a labyrinth, but you have to follow the narrow paths, to discover the most beautiful corners of this medieval town.
The two fortresses of Corfu, the New Fortress, at the south side, and the Old Fortress, at the northeast side of the town, set the limits of Corfu Old Town. In the past, these two fortresses used to be connected through walls, protecting the whole Corfu town.
Corfu Old Fortress
Corfu Old Fortress is also known as Fortetsa or Saint Nicolas Fortress. Built on a rocky peninsula with two hills, it is the most imposing monument of the town. It was constructed in the 6th century, when it basically consisted Corfu town, until the 15th century, when it became a military area.
Its location has a strategic importance for the town’s defense, as it allows direct access to the sea and wide view to the nearby shores.
Corfu Old Fortress is separated from Corfu town by an artificial ditch, named “Contrafossa”. This small ditch also serves as a shelter for little boats, which anchor there. So, to reach it, you need to cross the bridge connecting the peninsula with Corfu town.
Inside the fortress, there are many other buildings, such as a chapel, two barracks and a military hospital, which now operates as a music school.
Apart from its historical significance, though, Corfu Old Fortress offers a breathtaking view to the Ionian sea. So, make sure you don’t leave your camera at home, cause this view is worth to be captured!
Corfu New Fortress
Corfu New Fortress, also known as Fortezza Nuova, is located on Saint Mark’s hill. Overlooking Corfu Old Port, it offers a stunning panoramic view to Corfu town and the sea.
It was built by the Venetians in the 16th century, when the old fortress wasn’t enough to meet the defensive demands of Corfu. Its construction started in 1576, but was completed in 1645.
Corfu New Fortress has two levels. One in order to protect the port and one to keep an eye on the town. On the upper level, which is called the “Bastion of the seven winds”, there is a bar, from where you can enjoy a fantastic view while having your drink. Cool, right?
Despite the fact that it has been destroyed multiple times, Corfu Old Fortress is still an impressive monument with a great historical significance. Today, apart from the Navy premises, the fortress often hosts art and photography exhibitions, concerts and other kinds of cultural events.
Well, get ready for one of the most beautiful and colorful squares you’ve ever seen in your life!
Visiting Spianada square is one of the best things to do in Corfu and there are many good reasons for this.
To start with, being 42,000 square meters big, Spianada is supposedly the biggest square not only of Greece, but also of the Balkans!
Its name derives from the Italian word “spianare”, which means flatten. This is because of the fact that it was created for defensive purposes, after the demolition of the houses that used to cover the area. Moreover, a road crossing Spianada square, splits it in two parts: Down square and Upper square.
This square is undoubtedly very green and colorful! The biggest part of Spianada is covered with grass, while there are also many beautiful flowers and even a cricket (!) pitch. What’s more, in Spianada square there is a trademark picturesque kiosk, where many events take place, including the procession of the Resurrection on Holy Saturday.
Palace of St. Michael and St. George
A palace couldn’t be missing from a Corfu Old Town exploration!
The palace of St. Michael and St. George is located on the northern side of Spianada square. Built in 1814, it’s one of the most important buildings constructed during the English occupation of the island. It was designed by the English engineer, Sir George Whitmore and used to be the residence of English commissioners, but now houses the Museum of Asian Art.
The Palace of St. Michael and St. George is made of Maltese marble, transferred from Malta, along with specialized craftsmen. The palace has an elegant neoclassical style with a Doric colonnade and two impressive gates! The interior of the palace, covered with bronze and marble, is impressive, too.
Tip: There is a cafe operating at the garden of the palace, where you can relax after your exploration.
Museum of Asian Art
Visiting the Museum of Asian Art, which is housed in the Palace of St. Michael and St. George, is a good chance to see two great monuments at once.
The Museum of the Asian Art is the only museum in Greece exhibiting items exclusively from Far East and India. Founded in 1927, the museum operated until 1974, as a museum dedicated to Sino-Japanese art. Later, it obtained mid-Asian pieces of art and started operating as the Museum of Asian Art.
On the ground floor of the palace of St. Michael and St. George, there are three halls, hosting the museum’s impermanent exhibitions, while on the first floor, you’ll find the permanent exhibitions. The museum hosts 15,000 exhibits totally!
The museum’s permanent exhibitions are the “Chinese wing of Grigorios Manos”, the Japanese art collection and “the wing of Nikolaos Hajivasiliou and and Japanese wing”. Each and every part of them is unique!
At the first one, you’ll find a part of the Japanese collection. At the second one, about 6,200 items are displayed, including Samurai armament, wooden musical instruments, paintings of Japanese artists and many more. The last one includes pieces of Japanese art.
Info: The entrance fee for the Museum of Asian Art is 3 €.
Liston is not only a legendary paved road, but also a meeting point in the heart of Corfu Old Town.
Designed by the French engineer, Mathieu de Lasseps and based on the designs of rue de Rivoli in Paris, Liston’s construction started in 1807. It is located at the northern end of Spianada square and consists one of the most picturesque paved roads in Greece.
As for its name, many theories exist. According to some, the name Liston means “on the list”, according to others, it derives from the Venetian word “lista”, which means “a big straight paved road”.
Tip: In Liston paved road, there is a series of arches and beautiful buildings that host elegant cafes, luxurious restaurants and Corfu hotels. Make sure you visit them for a Corfu Old Town experience with a hint of glory from the past!
All in all, strolling around Corfu Old Town is one of the best things to do in Corfu!
Getting lost in its stone paved roads is the ideal way to discover the best spots of this historical town and immerse yourself into the magic of its past.
So, don’t lose any time!