Corfu Town is an ideal destination for children, as well as the adults that travel with them!
Corfu is well known as one of Greece’s most beautiful islands, with sandy beaches, turquoise seas and a unique and a special, unique culture – the legacy of its Venetian past. It has long been popular with families who choose one of the island’s many resorts and spend their summer holidays the traditional way, enjoying the comforts and facilities of the hotel itself. This is reasonable. After all, nowhere in Greece is a shorter flight from the UK, and with plenty of airlines offering direct flights there are usually good deals to be had. It makes perfect sense to pick Corfu and with so many operators offering package holidays involving specific hotels, it is a convenient option to take this route.
However, there is a better way! Instead of heading from the island’s newly renovated airport to a hotel along the island’s coast-line, why not choose your own accommodation in or around Corfu Town, less than 10 minutes’ drive away! Corfu Town has it all; outdoor spaces to play, beaches and clean seas for swimming, the pick of the island’s restaurants and cafes, museums, galleries and shops. And best of all, it’s all on your door-step.
Garitsa is for families
While the beauty and atmosphere of the ‘old town’ of Corfu is unmatchable, it is not be the most practical place to stay with younger children. Garitsa however, a tranquil sea-side suburb, is perfect. Here, you do not need to push your pram into the road to get around trees sprouting from the pavement, nor do you need off-road suspension to navigate the ditches, cobbles and potholes that seemed so manageable until you tried to push your pram through them! Whether you pick the recently renovated sea-side promenade or the smooth stone pathway winding through ‘Garitsa Grove’, the shady park that separates the coast road from the Venetian style houses behind it, you will be in the old town in 15 minutes walking or, if you prefer, less than 5 minutes by taxi from Garitsa’s convenient taxi-rank. In addition to the promenade and Garitsa Grove, another way to walk into the centre of Corfu town is via Leoforos Alexandras, the wide avenue that leads to San Rocco Square, from where you can take the bus to multiple destinations on the island. This is a nice wide street, worth considering for its range of local and high-street shops as well as beautiful and colourful Venetian architecture.
Garitsa is more than just somewhere to stay however. Garitsa Grove is a great place for children to play, whether on the open basketball court, in the playground or simply on the grass, and it also offers a range of cafes and restaurants for the whole family to enjoy any meal, or perhaps just a few scoops of local Corfiot ice-cream! And last but not least, at the far end of the Grove in the shadow of Mon Repos, the former summer house of the Greek royal family, you will also find the Royal Baths Mon Repos… perfect for a refreshing swim on a summer’s day. As there are small pebbles in the shallows I recommend water shoes for young children, but older ones can avoid them by simply jumping into the sea off the end of the jetty!
Where to stay? The renovated Corfu manor-house
I love Carpofoli, a collection of four luxury suites, of which two are on the ground floor and two on the first. Recently renovated, the suites are tucked away in the peace and quiet of Garitsa, easy walking distance from the town. Alea and Athina, the first floor suites, have large east and west facing terraces, while Nespola and Daphne, on the ground floor, offer access to a private garden and pool. Sit in the garden, under the nespola tree (an orange coloured fruit, also known as a loquat) or enjoy an evening dip in the pool whilst your little one sleeps…
Swimming in Corfu Town
Locals swim in the sea all along Garitsa Bay, from the Royal Baths Mon Repos all the way up to the southern shade of the Old Fortress in front of Corfu Town. When it comes to swimming along this stretch, I recommend sticking to the Royal Baths if you are with children. If you go into town, however, another good option is on the northern side of the Old Fortress, in the area known as Faliraki, where you can eat, drink, sunbathe and swim in the comfort of the facilities offered by Imabari Seaside Lounge, a beach-bar popular with families, couples and groups of friends alike.
More outdoor play!
Though Garitsa is leafier and quieter, the options for outdoor play do not stop once you get to the town. The Liston is a pedestrianised avenue lined by cafes on one side and bordered by a large expanse of grass (Greece’s very first cricket pitch, though rarely used as such) on the other, where you will frequently find children running around or playing ball games. There is also what must be a candidate for the world’s most scenic children’s playground, with its simultaneous views of the sea, the Old Fortress and the beautiful architecture of Corfu Town. Another option is the Spianada, the largest town-square in the Balkans, where the locals gather, coffees in hand, while their children ride their scooters and bicycles in joyous shapes in the sunshine.
So if you are in the process of planning your family holiday, why not take my advice and experience the joy of Corfu Town, an ideal family destination.