Things to Do in Ionian Islands
A regular on lists of the world’s best beaches, Myrtos Beach (Paralía Mirtos) is a 0.5-mile (700-meter) expanse of gleaming white sand curving between two high promontories on Cephalonia’s north coast. While the stunning color comes from rounded pebbles and coarse sand, not fine powder, the view from the blue Ionian Sea is spectacular.
With white sand and marble cliffs, Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach)makes a striking setting for swimming and sunbathing. Set on sun-soaked Zakynthos island off the coast of Greece, Navagio Beach is a popular day trip destination. The beach’s centerpiece is a long-abandoned freighter—the remains of a smuggler’s shipwreck—that still languishes on the sands.
According to legend, the Greek village of Paleokastritsa (Palaiokastritsa) is where Odysseus was shipwrecked and met Nausicaa in Homer’s epic tale theOdyssey. It’s a suitable setting for mythical romance, with a string of beaches, olive groves, and cypress forests set against the glittering Mediterranean Sea.
Once the capital and heart of the Greek island of Corfu, today Kanoni is a quarter of Corfu town, the island’s modern-day capital. Kanoni has just two beaches but there is plenty else worth seeing, including the 17th-century church of Panagia Vlacherna, Mon Repos Palace, and the Byzantine Church of St. Jason and St. Sosipatros.
This 14th-century Venetian fortress is a striking sight in Corfu, sitting atop the promontory between the Gulf of Kerkyra and Garitsa Bay and separated from the mainland by the Contrafossa moat. Today, the Old Fortress (Palaio Frourio) is home to a Byzantine art collection, Church of St. George, and panoramic lighthouse.
Built as a summer residence by Empress Elisabeth of Austria in 1890, Achilleion Palace in the village of Gastouri is among the top attractions on the island of Corfu. Visit the palace designed by Italian architect Raffaello Caritto in a Pompeian style to see paintings and sculptures of mythical gods, including art dedicated to Achilles.
The bright turquoise waters of the Greek Islands have inspired many a postcard, but perhaps no spot is more idyllic than Blue Caves of Zakynthos. Visit these sea grottoes, carved by thousands of years of erosion, to bask in the glow of the cobalt-blue water that creates a magical reflection on the caves' pale stone walls.
Aqualand Corfu Water Park is the island’s largest and most popular water park, with themed areas catering to fun-seeking visitors of all ages. Stretching over an area of almost three acres (1.2 hectares, this family-friendly paradise is home to water rides and slides, lazy rivers, and swimming pools for an action-packed day in the sun.
The capital of the Greek island of Corfu, Corfu Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Twin fortresses, known as the Old Fortress and the New Fortress, stand atop two hills overlooking the old town, where you’ll find cobbled lanes strung with clotheslines, squares, museums, and an astonishing number of churches for a city of its size.
One of Greece’s largest water parks, Zante Water Village in Zakynthos promises a fun family outing. The park offers nine main water attractions—some incorporating several slides and adventures—alongside food outlets, shops, and family-friendly land activities such as go-karts.
More Things to Do in Ionian Islands
Also known as the Esplanade, Corfu’s Spianada is the largest town square in Greece. Located in front of the Old Fortress and home to a mix of Venetian, French, British, and Greek buildings, the square’s construction dates back to the 19th-century French occupation and it is both a popular tourist attraction and the liveliest part of town.
Located on the western coast of Corfu, the resort town of Agios Gordios is a paradise of pastel-colored buildings surrounded by rugged mountains, olive groves, and cypress trees. Known for its sandy beaches, Agios Gordios is also a convenient jumping-off point for exploring nearby villages on foot, by bike, or by car.
The main port on the sun-soaked Greek island of the same name, Corfu Cruise Port serves as a gateway to pristine beaches, verdant mountainous interiors, and Corfu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A popular stop on Adriatic Sea itineraries, Corfu Cruise Port is also the departure point for ferries bound for other Ionian Islands.
Looming almost 3,000 feet (900 meters above Corfu, Mt. Pantokrator is the tallest peak on the island and offers endless views over the Ionian Islands–as far as Albania on a clear day. Drive or hike to the top to admire the panorama and visit the Moni Pantokrator monastery and Old Perithia, the most historic mountain village on Corfu.
Set around a boat-filled harbor facing across the sapphire channel to Albania, this once sleepy fishing village is now a lively tourist getaway. As well as ample tavernas and bars, Kassiopi also has beautiful beaches, tranquil headland trails, and a ruined Byzantine castle perched on a hillside overlooking the village.
The 16th-century St. Spyridon Church (Agios Spyridon is among the most impressive sights in Corfu town and houses the remains of its patron saint, Spyridon, said to have repeatedly saved the island from Ottoman attacks. In addition to the saint’s ornate silver casket, the church is known for its lavish frescoes and soaring bell tower.
A family-friendly park on the northeast coast of the Ionian island of Zakynthos, Tsilivi has splash-filled rides, wading and wave pools, a lazy river, and fun activities to keep kids happy all day. Whether you spend your time shooting down the adrenaline-pumping water slides or relaxing under a sun umbrella, the park is an ideal family break.
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