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There's no denying the popularity of Corfu as a holiday destination – and with clear seas lapping on golden beaches under the Mediterranean sun, it's not hard to fathom the island's appeal. But there's much more to Corfu than its beaches, bars and water parks; beneath the obligatory attractions, you'll find an island with a deep pride in its food, wine, and long-standing traditions as old as its architecture.
Corfu is famed for its beautiful beaches, as inviting as they are plentiful. But beyond the sands of Kassiopi, Barbati and Pelekas, the island also offers its visitors a wealth of history and culture – from age-old structures that chart the island's development to breathtakingly beautiful vineyards and olive groves, producing oil and wine as exceptional as the countryside that surrounds it.
Originally a Byzantine tower overlooking the sea, this site atop the peninsula was later turned into a fortification by the Venetians and today stands as one of the most popular landmarks in Corfu. Climbing the lighthouse offers incredible views of the old town and the harbour, and a tour of the fortress complex will reveal information about the development of the island itself – as well as a maze of tunnels and passages cut deep into the rock beneath.
Enjoy a true taste of the Mediterranean with a visit to the Theotoky Estate in the picture-perfect Ropa Valley. Once you arrive at the estate, and providing you can take your eyes off the surrounding scenery, you'll be able to find out how the presses turn out some of the island's most renowned wine and olive oil. Later you may find yourself sitting out in the sun, tucking into fresh bread with olives and olive oil, and cheese right from the surrounding farms – the definitive Mediterranean dining experience.
Achillion Palace and St Spyridon's Church
Visitors to Corfu will find a great range of shore excursions to choose from, and many tours can give you the chance to see the remarkable Achillion Palace. The palace and its grounds are a neo-classical ode to Greek antiquity; built for Empress Elisabeth of Austria and home to paintings, frescoes and statues devoted to ancient mythology. Later, you may find yourself heading into Corfu's spellbinding Old Town towards the Church of St Spyridon, the patron saint of the island whose silver coffin can be found inside.
Corfu's great popularity as a holiday destination has led to a vast number of shops, and you won't struggle to find boutiques and galleries during your time here. If you're looking for a more traditional souvenir to take home with you, the island boasts a rich tradition of producing pottery, gold jewellery and carvings in olive wood.
Many of the traditional restaurants in Corfu receive great visitor reviews for the quality of their food – and some have been known to change their menus often to make the most of whatever local produce is available. For fine dining with a relaxed and rural feel, venture out of Corfu's centre and up into the surrounding hills. Here you'll find villa-style eateries serving meat and seafood with herbs and vegetables grown right on their doorsteps, and outstanding wines from the surrounding vineyards.
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