Check out our ultimate Corfu itinerary 5 days, a plan for seeing the best of Greece’s best-loved Ionian island.
Welcome to our ultimate Corfu itinerary, 5 days of touring what many people claim to be the absolute gem of the Ionian islands of western Greece. There’s no denying it’s a stunning rock, doglegging from north to south in a show of pine-studded peaks, gurgling waterfalls, pastel-painted Venetian towns, and hidden harbors that bob with fishing skiffs.
Our plan aims to check off a series of the island’s must-see spots. After the wonders of the great capital town, it beelines northwards to the rugged northeast coast, a land of bijou marina towns with fantastic seafood, all the way to ultra-charming Kassiopi. That’s the perfect launchpad for taking in the wild and lush northern and eastern regions, all the way down to the celebrated white-sand bays of Palaiokastritsa.
Our ultimate Corfu itinerary 5 days is capped off with a pitstop at the party mecca of Kavos. That’s a great finale for 18-35s travelers looking for a taste of Greece’s more hedonistic side. If that’s not your scene, then it should be easy to swap it out for something more relaxed, such as the salt-washed beach town of Glyfada on the eastern shore, or Mesongi in the west.
Day 1 – Corfu Town
There’s simply no missing out on the UNESCO-tagged heart of Corfu Town. A patchwork of cobbled alleys that dart this way and that past crooked tavernas and ruins, it’s one of the undisputed gems of the region. It also happens to be the place where most travelers begin their adventures on this island, since it’s home to the main airport in Corfu.
(You can either pick up your car rental right at the airport and drive to Corfu Town. Or you can catch one of the regular public buses to the town and return the next morning to collect the car hire. The bus only takes 10 minutes, so it’s hardly a huge chore.)
Begin on the western side of the center with a climb up to the so-called New Fortress. Despite the name, it’s actually nearly 500 years old! The massive bulwarks seen atop the hill today are a remnant of British rule in the 1800s, but the foundations of the citadel go back to the 1500s and the era of the Venetians. Look out for the historic naval artillery batteries and finish your visit with a trip to the highest bastion, which has sweeping views of the city below.
For lunch, return to ground level and head west towards the other side of town. On the way, be sure to drop by the bustling Corfu Central Market, where stacks of glowing red tomatoes sit next to the tastiest olive oil you’ve ever encountered. About two blocks further on from that, taverna Elia spills onto the streets. Settle there for lunch; for platters of grilled octopus, souvlaki, and Greek pies.
As evening approaches, make for the Old Fortress of Corfu. This is the second – and, as the name implies – older castle in the city. Within, there’s a fantastic collection of Byzantine art plus some relics from the age of British rule on the island. You’ll also find fantastic sunset viewing points up there.
Day 2 – Kassiopi
The morning begins with a drive up the northeast coast of the island. Take it slow. There’s oodles to see along the way, as you’ll be navigating a 21-mile dash of shoreline that’s among the most beautiful in the region. The road wiggles like a tagliatelle underneath rugged limestone peaks. The Ionian Sea sloshes against the rocks to the right of the asphalt. There are even views of the mainland mountains over in Albania.
Stop for breakfast in the bijou fishing port of Agios Stefanos. It’s shrouded by big headlands and is a picture of an old-style Corfiot marina town, with a smattering of sleepy tavernas that serve up feta pies and strong coffee in the early hours. If you’re keen for a wake-up dip, a short hike from there can bring you to Kaminakia Beach, a spot known for its sky-blue waters and pebbly sand.
Pick up a picnic before leaving town because the idea is to enjoy another of the island’s northern beaches throughout the afternoon. You’ve got a few choices en route to Kassiopi town (you’re home for the night). They include:
- Avlaki Beach – One of the most famous in northern Corfu, this beach is washed by super-clear waters at the south end of the Adriatic Sea.
- Vrachli Beach – There are only two ways to reach Vrachli: Hiking through the pine forests or sailing around on your own yacht. We’ll assume you don’t have a yacht, so prep for an enjoyable coast walk and look forward to a cove that’s hardly ever busy, even in the peak of summer.
- Arias Beach – A smaller, more accessible cove on the eastern shore, good for families and views of Albania in the distance.
It’s a short drive of less than 10 minutes from all of the above (or, at least, the parking spots for the above) to the town of Kassiopi. This is one of the top spots on the northern coast. It’s chilled but happening, with tavernas lining a wide marina (Tavernaki is probably our fav).
Day 3 – Nymfes
Day 3 of our Corfu itinerary 5 days is all about getting a sense for the rugged and bucolic inland of this stunning Ionian island. So, leave Kassiopi as soon as you’ve had a wake-up swim at lovely Paralia Mpataria on the north side of town. From there, drive south and west through the narrow country roads heading towards Old Perithia.
Now it’s time for the walking boots to do their thing. A route leaves from the south side of Old Perithia to zigzag up the backbone of a great mountain. Walkers who join it will pass through a montage of goat-dotted fields, pine woods, and then meadows of wild highland thyme and oleander.
At the top, the goal is the Monastery of Pantokrator, a 14th-century abbey that boasts some of the best views of the Ionian Sea and the Balkan mainland going. In all, the hike up and down takes about 2.5 hours.
That should match up perfectly for a big reward in the form of a colossal Greek mezze lunch at one of the locally owned tavernas back in Old Perithia. Then, get straight back in the car and plot a course west to Nymfes village. That’s where you’ll be staying for the night, but before you settle at the hotel, drop into the Nymfes Waterfall. It’s accessed on a winding track and then along a wooded hiking path, eventually revealing crystal-clear plunge pools in the forests.
Day 4 – Palaiokastritsa
Don’t worry – you’re never too far away from the coastline in Corfu. Day 4 begins with a 40-minute drive straight westwards to the glittering, gorgeous, rock-ribbed western coast of the island (the side that most people agree is the best of all!). Don’t rush, though. The trip itself is full of surprises, such as the hidden Kyprianades Waterfall and the MELISITO Pastry café, a top breakfast pitstop with wonderful countryside views.
Anyway, the aim is the celebrated headland of Porto Timoni. It certainly has its fans – plenty of folks say this is the single most stunning beach in the whole of Greece! To get to it, you’ll need to hike a zig-zag path from the village of Afionas. That’s a charmer in itself, coming hemmed in by olive groves and water on three sides.
Do try to hit Porto Timoni Beach as early as you can. It’s but a narrow isthmus bay with about 50 meters of pebbly sand in all, so things get busy fast. Bring the snorkeling gear, too, as there are pockets of rock reef that attract zebra fish, sardine schools, and even the occasional sea turtle in the summer months.
After sunning yourself and meeting the local marine creatures, head back to the car and drive south. The route is very winding as it crosses the passes and peaks of western Corfu. Eventually, though, you’ll drop into the big bay of Palaiokastritsa. Welcome to the romance capital of the island. Split into five glittering beaches of pure alabaster pebbles and sand, it’s packed with big hotels and deluxe resorts; the perfect spot to catch some hard-earned R&R at the end of the day.
Day 5 – Kavos
The finale of our Corfu itinerary 5 days gets rolling with the longest drive of the whole bunch. It traverses 30 miles of the island from Palaiokastritsa all the way to the southern resort town of Kavos. The way we see it, you can choose how you want to go about the journey. Either whiz down the road in good time to fill the rest of the trip with sunbathing, snorkeling, and cold beers on the beach. Or take a whole day over it – there’s plenty to see along the way.
We’d totally recommend the latter. The reason? Just check out the various hotspots that lie en route…
- Glyfada Beach – Wide, spacious Glyfada Beach always has plenty of room and a blessing of regular western breezes, not to mention dramatic mountain vistas to its back. It’s definitely one of the best on the island.
- Sinarades – It’s impossible not to be enchanted by this village. Straddling a spur in the mountains midway along the drive, it unfolds in tight-knit roads, cobbled plazas, and Orthodox church spires.
- The Byzantine Fortress of Gardiki – An impressive ring of high walls marks out this striking Byzantine era fort from the 1200s. It’s one of the few remaining of its kind on the south side of the island.
When you do finally arrive at Kavos, you can look forward to one of the most rambunctious party towns in the land. It’s (in)famous for The Strip, a run of heady discos and shot bars like JC’s and Flames that basically don’t close in the summer. If that’s not your scene, consider stopping at Mesongi or Bentises further north. They are classic family beach towns with good proximity to the airport for when it’s time to return home.