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Things to Do in Ionian Islands

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Paleokastritsa
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19 Tours and Activities

On the northwest coast of the island of Corfu, Paleokastritsa is often considered one of the most beautiful villages in all of Greece. Surrounded by olive groves and cypress trees, it is set around three bays and boasts more than a dozen beaches. According to legend, Paleokastritsa is where Odysseus was shipwrecked and met Nausicaa. The village’s beaches offer great opportunities for swimming, diving and other water sports, and the Alipo port has speed boats and sailboats for hire. There are also caves around the bays that are worth exploring.

On the northern end of Paleokastritsa is the 12th-century monastery of Theotokos. The monastery is notable for its ceiling carving of the Tree of Life, as well as its museum showcasing the monastery’s holy relics. The nearby villages of Lakones and Krini provide nice day trip options; Lakones has several charming homes dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, while not far from Krini is the Angelokastro, a castle set on a steep hill.

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Achilleion Palace
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Located in the village of Gastouri on the island of Corfu, Achillion Palace was built by Empress Elisabeth of Austria in 1890. Designed by Italian architect Raffaello Caritto, the palace was built in a Pompeian architectural style and features paintings and sculptures of Achilles throughout. Among the sculptures is the famous Dying Achilles in the center of the palace gardens, sculpted by the Greek Ernst Herter.

After Empress Elisabeth was killed, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II bought the palace and used it as a summer residence. During World War I, it was used as a military hospital and during World War II, it was used by the axis powers as a military headquarters. Eventually, it was turned over to the control of the Hellenic Tourist Organization and today it is a museum with certain rooms and the gardens open to the public.

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Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach)
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26 Tours and Activities

Tucked into an isolated cove on the northern coast of Zakynthos (also called Zante) in the Ionian Islands, Navagio Beach is one of the biggest visitor attractions on the island. Already beautiful and shaded by dramatic marble-white cliffs, it acquired its notoriety in October 1980, when a freighter that was being chased by the Greek Navy ran aground there and was abandoned. Today the Panagiotis still languishes in the soft sandy bay, slowly sinking, rusting and gathering a coat of graffiti under the steep white limestone cliffs that protect the beach.

Thanks to its popularity and despite the fact that it can only be reached from the sea, Navagio Beach gets packed with day-trippers and tourist boats in high season; to escape the crowds try to visit early in the morning or in late afternoon. There are no facilities whatsoever at the beach, so at the height of summer take umbrellas for shade, water and sun cream as well as picnic supplies.

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More Things to Do in Ionian Islands

Mount Pantokrator

Mount Pantokrator

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Agios Gordios

Agios Gordios

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Agios Gordios is a small village on the west coast of the island of Corfu and can be a great base from which to explore the island by either bicycle or car. Surrounded by mountains, olive groves and cypress trees, the village also features sandy beaches, charming pastel colored homes and a variety of restaurants, bars and shops. At the beach, you will find canoes and boats for hire, as well as a diving center and other water sports. Sunbeds are also available.

From Agios Gordios, you can reach three nearby villages on foot, each within two kilometers. Kato Garouna is a traditional village more than 400 years old, sitting just below Panteleimonas Mountain, which provides great views of the surrounding area. Pentati sits high up on a hill above the famous Ortholithi rock, also providing spectacular views. Sinarades is another traditional village which features a historic folklore museum displaying items from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Kassiopi

Kassiopi

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Kassiopi is a village and resort sitting on a small peninsula on the northeast side of the island of Corfu. Historically a small fishing village, it is less than 40 kilometers from Corfu town and is a very popular tourist destination in the summer. Allegedly founded in the 3rd century B.C., it sits in the shadows of Mount Pantokrator. Though small, Kassiopi boasts a lively nightlife with a good mix of bars, restaurants and dance clubs around the harbor and town square.

One sight to see in Kassiopi is the former Temple of Kassios Zeus, which was converted to a church in the 5th century. Burned to the ground by the Turks and restored in late 16th century, the new church has altars to accommodate both Christian and Orthodox religions and inscriptions date from 1590, 1670 and 1832. Kassiopi Castle sits up above the village and was one of three Byzantine era castles that defended the island before the Venetian era.

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Corfu Cruise Port

Corfu Cruise Port

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Situated at the edge of Corfu town, the new port takes on ferries from the Greek mainland, as well as from places like Venice and Ancona in Italy. A popular destination for cruise liners, the port acts as the gateway to the phenomenal beaches, resorts, traditional historic architecture and olive tree-laden landscape of the west coast island of Corfu.

Getting to this Greek island town is only a hop and skip away for most international travelers flying in from Europe, with the island's convenient international airport and flights going between continental Europe and other major Greek destinations. Also, the more exciting way in - and more obvious - is through the port, with numerous comfortable and modern ferry services.

Corfu has a number of exciting ways to spend the day. Among the most popular ways are on the beach, or to head in to the resorts for a proper pampering, but there is a lot more to do in this great town.

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