With several cruise lines sending their ships to include Corfu this summer, I thought I’d update this article for those who simply want to know the best things to do in Corfu on your own.
Our last Viking Ocean cruise aboard the Viking Star included a day in Corfu. That would be my first time setting foot in Greece. Though a Greek island and not the mainland of Greece, it didn’t matter: I was going to Greece! I just didn’t know what things to do in Corfu.
Rather than travel by bus around the island on a cruise excursion, I wanted to explore Corfu on my own. From looking at the map, a shore excursion in tiny Corfu didn’t seem necessary to me.
Sometimes, I forego ship-led shore excursions…even when they’re included. For me, especially on first-time visits, I like to simply wander the downtown or city center area on my own at my own pace. Part of the travel experience for me is to mix among locals. And always include a stop for lunch.
I love to peek into tiny shops where trays of olives and hanging hams reign supreme, casting their salty, savory aroma from glass cases and wooden rafters out to the street. If I’m really lucky, I find an out of the way café or restaurant that dishes up food that locals adore.
Here’s how I spent my cruise day in Corfu on my own. Plus, a little background information of the island.
Explore Corfu Old Town On Your Own
The second largest Ionian Greek Island, Corfu is as beautiful and serene a Greek Island as you can imagine. With mountains as a backdrop, a panoramic drive around the island lends breath-taking views to each turn. Castles are as common as the ancient monasteries that dot the roads and mountainside. A day in Corfu can be as relaxing or as driven as you’d like.
Most cruise ships anchor offshore or dock near the Cruise Terminal in Kerkira (Corfu). From where you exit the ship or leave the tender, you can either walk or take a shuttle bus to the Cruise Terminal, where shore excursions depart.
At the terminal, your cruise ship will most likely offer another shuttle that makes day-long runs back and forth from the terminal to near the entrance of the Old Fortress in town. It’s about a 3 1/2 mile walk if you prefer.
Instead of a shore excursion, here is what you can do to spend an entire afternoon just soaking up the brilliant Grecian sunshine. Walk along the millennia-old paths of this small Greek island. Try new foods and drinks. Buy a bag of pistachio nuts.
If You Really Want a Ship Shore Excursion of Corfu
If a short tour of Corfu on a ship shore excursion would be helpful to get your bearings, take the morning island shore excursion. Then spend the afternoon in town on your own. But know your schedule. Sometimes cruise ships are only here for a half-day visit.
Shore excursions generally head out into the countryside or you may have the opportunity to rent 4×4 vehicles or pedal around on mountain bikes.
Be sure to allow time to wander across the drawbridge to the Old Fortress. Dating from about the 6th century, a visit to this huge Venetian fortress on a promontory high above the Ionian Sea is the perfect way to end your a day in Corfu.
Wander back into downtown and take a lunch break. I looked for someplace with shaded outdoor seating.
From downtown, you’re just a stone’s throw from the Fortress. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. There’s a lot of ground to cover.
And then there’s these balls of fluff…
Read More : Viking Star stateroom review and photos
The Church of St. George was designed to resemble an ancient Doric Temple. It’s open only once a year for Easter.
Corfu Dining and Shopping
Hundreds of small shops line the narrow streets in the Old Town. Enticing aromas from numerous bakeries and coffee shops fill the air, drawing visitors inside for a taste and sip.
Pistachio nuts are sold in every size bag you can imagine while souvenir containers of Greek coffee line the shelves. Ceramics, leather and jewelry are also popular among tourists.
Lovely indoor/outdoor tavernas throughout the Old Town offer excellent Greek cuisine in a non-hurried atmosphere. Olive oil is king and both the oil and olive wood carvings can be purchased just about everywhere. If guided shore excursions are on your agenda, try to return early enough to allow two-three hours to explore the quaint, ancient and colorful Old City of Corfu.
We were lucky that our ship spent a very long day in Corfu; from 7am until 6pm. By 4:00pm, most tourists had left the Taverna at the Old Fortress and I was able to just sit back in my chair under the trees and take in the scenery and experience.
Our last Viking Cruises bus from the Old Fortress entrance to the Cruise Terminal was at 5:00pm which gave me the perfect amount of time to sip a cappuccino, have an Italian dessert and crack open a dozen pistachios.
I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath… stop for a meal and a glass of wine along the way.