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Corfu, the wooded isle of the Phaeacians, Odysseeus' last stop on his long journey home to Ithaki, is the best known and most visited of the Ionian islands.

It owes its sophistication and charm to the meshing of the different civilisations (Corinthian, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, French and British) that have occupied the island, and to the natural beauty with which it is so abundantly endowed. Many poets, from Homer to Shakespeare, and writers like the Durrell brothers have mentioned Corfu.

On this cosmopolitan island, you'll be able to combine relaxation with good times and a full nightlife, for Corfu is an international tourist centre which can satisfy the demands of the most difficult visitor.

The capital of the island is also called Corfu (Kerkira). It lies on the east coast and has two ports, the old and the new port, north and west of the old part of the town respectively. It is built on a promontory that projects into the sea and is separated into a northern and a southern section. East of the northern part lies the Old Fortress, cut off from the town by a moat.

The town of Corfu is made up of completely dissimilar elements, left over from different civilisations. It presents an enchanting picture with its broad streets and spacious squares, the popular Spianada - the town "green" - contrasting with its narrow back alleys paved with blocks of stone (known as "Kantounia"), a cricket ground -the only one in Greece- legacy from the British, houses with a strong Italian influence, the famous Liston, a French arcade, traditional Georgian mansions, a Byzantine church, Venetian monuments, balconies with wrought-iron railings and window grilles.

Things to see in the town are the Archaelogical museum that includes the Archaic sculpture of Medusa, The palace that houses the museum of Asiatic Art, the Byzantine museum with remarkable collections of Byzantine art, and the Old and New Fortresses. However, nothing can be compared with endless wanderings around the town, during which you will discover that the town is a sight in itself and you will feel the magical atmosphere.

You can enjoy your meal and taste the local specialities pastitsada and sofrito in one of the numerous tavernas or restaurants, and have coffee or refreshments at one of the bars or cafes. If you are in the mood for drinking and dancing, the place for you is only 2 kms away from the new port, where you will the discos and clubs will give you a hard time deciding which one to choose.

Around Corfu town, there are plenty of things to see and do. If you take the road down south,you will come to Achilion Palace, the summer palace of Elizabeth, Empress of Austria in the 19th century. It now houses the Corfu Casino where you can gamble in style,otherwise you can take a romantic walk in the beautiful gardens. 26 kilometres west of Corfu town, you will find Paleokastritsa, a miniature earthly paradise with crystal clear waters, enchanting coves and lush greenery growing right up to the sea.

Angelokastro, near Paleokastritsa, is a Byzantine fortress dating from the 13th century.

Pelekas, 13 kilometres west of the town, is a lovely village set on a rocky hill, the summit of which - according to the Corfiots- is the best place to watch the sun go down. Not far from Pelekas in the Ropa Valley is situated Corfu's excellent golf course, the largest in Europe.

Kanoni, 4 kilometres south of town is the most popular spot on the island. Here a narrow causeway leads across the water to the Monastery of Vlacherna and from there one can take a caique to visit delightful Pondikonlssi (Mouse island) and its 13th century church.

On the west side there is Lake Korisslon (Limni Korission), the only lake on the island. Near the lake there is a wonderful sandy beach that extends for thousands of meters, where the wind has formed magnificent sand dunes.

In the northern part of the Island are the resorts of Sidari, once a wonderful landscape with sandy beach and the famous Canal d' Amour with the peculiar rocks, but now spoilt by excessive tourism. Furthmore, from Sidari you can sail your boat to the three picturesque offshore islands of Erikoussa, Mathraki and Othoni. Their sheltered anchorages are ideal for swimming and sunbathing.

Other nice beaches on the island are Glyfada, Agios Georgios and Agios Gordios.

But Corfu also has another side: a vital traditional facet to its personality still very much alive in the costumes of its village women and in its local festivals. Fine examples of folk art and crafts are displayed in shops all over the island: handwoven textiles and embroideries with intricate designs, objects of all kinds carved out of olive wood, silver utensils and lovely jewelry.

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