Corfu

Home Page Agios Georgios / SGS Driving to Corfu

Each summer we always spent several weeks on the Greek island of Corfu (where we first met in the late 70's). Over the years several villages have been tried, often for many enjoyable return trips, before the "English" disease takes over - viz. the "English" pubs / restaurants open and the local Greek atmosphere disappears. The last few years we have been to Agios Georgios, where small taverna's still serve excellent Greek food and there are two long sandy beaches for the lazy days. Agios Georgios is a small resort in the south of island, some fifty minutes taxi ride from the airport. 

In 2007, we decided to investigate the possibility of buying a plot of land or a house to serve as a holiday home for our frequent visits. Towards the end of that year we completed the purchase of a plot with a "shell" - the basics of a house but no doors / windows, etc., which had been started some 10+ years earlier and then abandoned.  During the following nine months this was turned in to a house with all the normal mod-cons, etc.  We now use this as our base whenever holidaying on the island.

There are many good guide books and web pages listing the sites and delights of Corfu - therefore we will only highlight a couple of favourites in this section.

Arrival

Arrival is normally by plane at the islands airport to the south of Corfu Town. The runway is 2,373m long, with water at one end, water on the left, water on the right and a main road at the other end - not as exciting as the old Hong Kong airport, but still bad enough for some people!.  That said, there have been no reported accidents with take-offs / landings.

One of the general problems with the airport though is that it relies on a visual approach - if the pilot cannot see the runway he will not land the plane (viz. there is no automated approach mechanism available).  This can lead to diversions, and often an overnight stay if the flight is later in the day or the crew are running out of hours, before an attempt is made to land the next day.

Leaving the island is slightly better, with traffic lights normally stopping traffic when planes are taking off!.

Driving

Driving in Corfu is not for the faint hearted. Although much improved over the last few years, the quality of road surface and the quality of driving throw up many surprises!. Based on our experiences over the years, we would say / warn:

The price of petrol varies quite considerably between petrol stations with, in August 2019, prices for Unleaded in the EUR 1.64 - EUR1.70 per litre bracket.

Driving is often the only way to reach some of the countryside and the isolated beaches - you just have to be very careful. 

Buses

These fall into two main categories - local (Blue) and "long" distance (Green). The former used to have a few (wooden) seats and limited (or no) air conditioning but these have largely been replaced by new buses which are far more comfortable, including the notorious "bendy" bus. Both types of service though are often very crowded - the "Green" bus from Ágios Geórgios to Corfu Town (there were four a day during the height of summer in 2019) is often "standing room only" before it leaves the resort.

They are though, very reasonably priced. By way of comparison, the bus from Ágios Geórgios to Corfu Town costs around EUR 3.20 (August 2019), while a taxi can be in the region of EUR 65 (2018).   It is important to check the bus times as they do change.

Corfu Town

Corfu Town has been the subject of occupation by a number of different nationalities, including the British in 1815. Evidence of the latter is found in the main Esplanade where a cricket "square" can be found and the sound of leather on willow is often heard (too energetic for my liking!) - Wednesdays and weekends being the most popular times for matches.  At the end of April 2011 there was even an Aussie Rules match played. There is also a British Cemetery near the town centre - this apparently has a fantastic display of orchids.

Alongside the Esplanade lies the old Fort on one side, and on the other, the famous Liston which fronts the Esplanade on the old town side. This graceful arcaded façade was inspired by the Rue de Rivoli in Paris (the French were also past occupiers of Corfu). As well as cafes (which are more expensive than those in the side streets), this can provide welcome shade from the searing heat.

A fascinating maze of narrow streets, arched alleys and steep stairways lies between the Esplanade and the Old Port. These are a relic of Venetian rule, when they became homesick and built replicas of "home" (but without the canals and gondolas!).

Driving in Corfu Town is not to be recommended.  Streets are often narrow with much parking on the road side - there are only a few car parks and the central ones are often full by 09:30, although there are some (e.g. down by the harbour) that normally have spaces throughout the day and are within easy walking distance of the town centre - these mostly cost EUR 3 for the whole day.   In June 2010, the local authorities started installing a series of cycle lanes in the town centre - this reduced car parking spaces quite dramatically, as well as making the already narrow roads even narrower. Having said that, the bollards marking the edge of the cycle lanes had been largely broken off by early 2011, and car parking along the roadside restarted!. There have been several attempts to reinstate the cycle lanes since then.

From the road alongside the main harbour is a view of the mountains of Albania - little more than two kilometres away.