Islands don’t get any more beautiful than the emerald green gem situated off the northwest coast of Greece called Corfu. With verdant rugged mountains and enticing turquoise beaches, this Ionian island has been attracting tourists for decades – allured in by the gorgeous nature.
Corfu Town is the capital city and UNESCO World Heritage Center situated between the two main peaks of the island. The Old Town was governed under Venetian rule for over four centuries and this influence from Venice can still be seen in the fortresses, palaces and churches today. Corfu actually requested to be ruled by the Republic of San Marco in 1386 due to the instability of the Byzantine Empire and the ever-growing Turkish threat.
It wasn’t just the Venetians who were interested in this strategic island sitting at the mouth of the Adriatic. The ancient Greeks and Romans all vied for the territory over the years as well as the Goths, Normans, French and British. Each of these civilizations left their mark on Corfu Town but it was under the Venetians that the town really began to flourish. Venice brought many economic opportunities and its famous architectural flair.
Once the Venetian Empire collapsed in 1797, the French and British competed for control during the 18th and 19th centuries. Eventually the British won out. Corfu was under the control of London alongside six other Ionian islands in a new protectorate called the “United States of the Ionian Islands”. After 50 years of being a British protectorate, Corfu joined the Kingdom of Greece. The island then opened up its tourism industry.
As you can tell, the history of Corfu is endlessly fascinating and there are so many interesting facts to learn. Curious travelers have the chance to immerse in this history on one of the best guided tours in Corfu Town with a fantastic operator called Corfu Perspectives Guided Tours. Their tours take you to the hidden gems of the city that not many tourists know about.
Each tour provides insight into the historical dimensions of Corfu. For example, there are tours that focus on the Venetian era, some which transport you to the ancient past with myths and legends, others that inform you on WW2, and a couple that showcase food and wine. Whatever your preferences, Corfu Perspectives have a tour that you will love.
Best Guided Tours in Corfu Town
Through a fixed weekly schedule, Corfu Perspectives offers some epic walking experiences in the Old Town no matter which days of the week you stay for. If you wish to dive into the Venetian chapter make sure you hang around until Thursday. For the WW2 tour, pencil Friday into your calendar. There are options for all days of the week and tours which suit every preference under the sun. Here are the best guided tours in Corfu Town:
1. Casanova & Corfu Town Back to the Venetian Time
This two and a half hour tour takes you on an informative journey into the Venetian period of Corfu’s Old Town. Head down alleys where the spirit of Venice can still be felt. Marvel at the architecture and learn what life was like for residents under Venetian rule. Each inhabitant of the Old Town was put into a class – nobles, civilians or peasants. Of course, the nobles ruled.
Casanova was a prominent figure in Venice. He first visited Corfu at 16. Casanova fell in love with the island and had a few escapades around town. Not everything went smoothly for this young man as he got into a fight with a nobleman who claimed he was an impostor. The nobleman ordered the arrest of Casanova and so he stole a boat and fled town. You will learn all about Casanova’s mishaps and adventures on this tour.
2. Corfu Town: Historic Buildings & Great Personalities
Running every Saturday morning at 9am, the historic buildings and great personalities tour is a terrific introduction to the Old Town for those who have just arrived. Explore picturesque neighborhoods and stop by the most notable historic landmarks of Corfu Town. Every building has a story to tell and is usually connected to a larger than life personality from the past.
The tour guide will narrate tales and curiosities about these buildings and explain why each place is so important to the heritage of the city. Duck down cobblestone alleys, wander around lively plazas and look up at the marvelous architecture. History-buffs will find this tour super rewarding.
3. World War II in Corfu History Tour
WWII was a tough time for Corfu with the Old Town being bombarded by Germany. Close to a quarter of the town was destroyed during this dark period of history. Luckily, most of Campiello (the medieval quarter) survived and was later recognized by UNESCO for its universal value.
Get inside the details of WWII on this fascinating three hour tour where a guide will lead you to wartime monuments and provide in-depth commentary along the way. Much of this info can’t be found online or in travel guidebooks like Lonely Planet. Highlights of the tour include visiting the Jewish Quarter with history lessons on the Holocaust, stopping by war torn buildings, learning about the resistance movements and much more.
4. Evening Guided Tour with Wine
As the sun sets and the city is covered in a spectacular dusk light, head out on the evening guided tour to discover the historic center and all of its enchanting sites. Liston is the destination of choice for this experience with stunning architecture and arches which make it a photographer’s dream.
After this walk, guests will be offered a glass of wine in a cozy bar. Raise a glass together and stay in Liston afterwards to check out more bars and restaurants. This is a great place to enjoy a night out in Corfu Town if you would like to stay up until the wee morning hours enjoying a drink or two.
5. Corfu Old Town: Ghost Stories & Dark Legends
For something totally unique and different you can book the ghost stories and dark legends tour with Corfu Perspectives that runs every Friday and Sunday at 9pm. This tour offers so much more than just your typical history stops. Indeed, it’s centered around local legends and stories that reveal mysterious aspects about the city like ghost sightings and the dark arts.
Stroll down shady alleyways and hear eerie tales from both the ancient and recent past. Hold onto your partner’s hand as you learn about these chilling fables and decide for yourself whether they are fact or fiction. If you get a thrill from these types of experiences then you will find this tour a lot of fun.
6. Corfu Town: Fortresses Guided Tour
The old fortresses were built by the Venetians during the 16th century in order to protect the city from invading forces. These fortifications are packed with history and architectural skill. Walk around the two fortresses and learn how and why they were constructed on this four hour tour. An expert guide will provide you with some great information along the walk.
Originally there were four gates embedded in the fortresses but today only two are left. You can see both gates and other points of interest that were either destroyed by war or demolished due to erosion. The highlight of the tour is arriving at a panoramic view where you can take some beautiful photos and enjoy the vistas. This tour makes for a morning very well spent.
7. Small Group Corfu Walking City Tour
This small group tour of Corfu Town has ten people as the maximum number of participants, so it’s a fantastic option for solo travelers who would like to meet others and see the city at the same time in an intimate way. All of the main highlights of the Old Town will be covered such as historic landmarks, iconic buildings and the most scenic neighborhoods.
8. Corfu Tours Upon Request
In addition to these weekly scheduled tours there are a number of other experiences that you can book upon request. Some of these are private tours while others are group thematic tours. These range from wine and beer tastings to museum and garden trips. You can click the link below to see the range of options, one of which will surely whet your appetite.
Useful Tips for Visiting Corfu
- The best time to visit is early or late summer. May, June, September and October are ideal months because the weather is still nice and warm (well above 20°C) and there will be less tourists than July and August.
- Travelers can arrive in Corfu by a number of different methods. The Corfu International Airport “Ioannis Kapodistrias” is located near the Old Town and is the fastest way to get there. You can also travel to Corfu from Athens or jump on the ferry from Italy or a nearby Ionian island like Kefalonia.
- Make sure you stay in Corfu Town for a couple of nights to enjoy the tours mentioned above and get introduced to the island in a slow and steady way. You can also plan the rest of your trip from the capital city.
- Other incredible places to see in Corfu include: Porto Timoni beach, Canal d’Amour, Old Perithia village, the beaches around Erimitis, Angelokastro castle, the Holy Monastery of Blachernae, Kassiopi port and many other spots. Just rent a car or scooter and see what you can discover.
- Head to the local taverns to try authentic Greek cuisine. Some typical dishes that you should try are moussaka, pastitsada and bourdeto.