With bustling tourist spots, sleepy rural villages, mountain peaks and coastlines, the Greek island of Corfu offers a wealth of wonderful holiday options for visitors with a range of interests. Cyclists in particular can enjoy the countless opportunities that the island offers thanks to a fantastic minor road system and an exclusive network of paths. Although there are many companies offering cycling tours to various parts of the island, Corfu is easy to explore independently, appealing to cyclists of all skill levels, with each corner offering a unique and different experience.
Where to Cycle
Central Corfu is ideal for a gentle cycle trip that takes in the island’s capital, Corfu Town. The city offers its own cycling routes and city bikes can be hired by the hour using the town’s bike-sharing scheme, similar to the London Bike Hire Scheme (Boris Bikes). With a fascinating history influenced by many rich cultures, the most influential of whom strategically and architecturally were the Venetians, Corfu Town is home to delightful tavernas, a buzzing nightlife and a beautiful old town which includes the Campiéllo, the oldest district of Corfu’s Old Town, with its maze of atmospheric streets with tall shuttered houses.
Most of these narrow streets are traffic free, broken up by tiny churches and squares with ageing buildings in pastel colours set off by darker shutters, iron balconies and decorative door frames. While here, make sure to take in the two impressive forts, The Old Fort and The New Fort, St Spyridon Church, the Spianada (a vast green space where cricket is played) and the Liston, a charming 19th arcade boasting some lovely restaurants.
However, as one of the greenest islands in the Mediterranean, it is definitely worth leaving the city and exploring the varied Corfu countryside. Also in the central region, the low lands of the Ropa Valley offers lush pine forests, hidden lakes and agricultural meadows- an ideal rural retreat boasting incredible views. Here cyclists can enjoy exploring the “donkey tracks” that wind through the olive groves and elegant vineyards. Ermones, the beautiful bay where Odysseus is fabled to have washed ashore, is easily reached from this area and offers inviting waters and three tavernas that boast delicious sea food dishes and traditional Greek fare. There’s even a golf club in the area if you fancy practising your swing while enjoying your holiday or the Aqualand water park – a fun day out for families.
For a more challenging bike ride, you can explore the Pantokrator mountain range and forest tracks of the north-east. With a half decent mountain bike you will be able to make your way from Old Perithia to the peak of Pantokrator, which is the highest point on the island at more than 1,000 metres high, taking in the incredible views from the top. On a clear day you can see across the whole island, sometimes as far as Albania and Italy.
Beautiful Korission Lake is a saltwater lagoon in the south-west of the island and offers cycling opportunities for those of a moderate skill level. This area is home to many rare birds and beautiful vegetation and quiet Halikounas Beach is nearby for soaking up the sun or cooling off in the sea after a hard day of cycling. The south of the island generally offers flat plains, quiet beaches and rolling hills, and so is ideal for a relaxed cycling experience that isn’t too strenuous.
When to Go to Corfu
Corfu offers wonderful mild weather throughout the winter and sunny warm days in the summer, so it is a popular year-round cycling spot. The best time for cycling the region however is in the spring and early summer, around May and June, as these months offer pleasantly warm temperatures of around 18°C, with little rain.
You can fly direct to Corfu from most UK airports in around three to four hours. If you would prefer to travel with your own bikes, then you can drive from the UK to Corfu in around two days, taking in some spectacular sights and countries throughout Europe, such as Austria, Germany, Holland and Italy. Corfu can be reached by taking the ferry from either Bari, Brindisi or Venice.
Throughout the island you’ll find a wide range of accommodation to suit every budget and holiday. In the cities and towns there are many hotels and apartments, whilst some of the more rural areas boast wonderful villas and holiday homes. Villa Almyra is a lovely family villa that sleeps up to six guests with a private pool in the popular little resort of Kalami, home to The White House, where Gerald and Lawrence Durrell lived. Villa rental is from £1,895 per week, including car hire (for days off the saddle!), maid service and welcome provisions. From the villa, you can cycle or walk in minutes to Kalami, with its beach, shops and taverna, or cycle to Agni nearby with its three tavernas on the sea shore.