I’m being a bit naughty and skipping this month’s What’s in my Trolley due to the fact I’ve been so busy and away from home over the course of June. Instead, I’m bringing you a little travel advice for your summer holiday…
I know what you’re thinking – I’m not 18 anymore, what am I doing going to a party destination like Corfu?! The fact is, there is much more to Corfu than Kavos, as my family discovered nearly two decades ago when we first chose north east Corfu as our summer holiday destination. This quiet and friendly area of the island captured our hearts, and we return to the same spot every year because it feels like coming home.
So don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a post about me raving and staying out till 4am in Kavos, this is about a stretch of land on the north-east coast of Corfu that is picturesque, tranquil, and ideal for a week of chilling the hell out, because sometimes that’s what we really need. Each year I look forward to a blissful week in a familiar place, where I leave all the stress of home behind and indulge in the relaxed and carefree attitude of the Greeks. Read on for insight on what to do, where to stay, and most importantly, what to eat!
WHERE TO STAY
The village that we always flock back to is Agios Stefanos located, as mentioned, on the north-east coast of the island, close to Kassiopi. Most of the accommodation is made up of villas let by travel companies like CV and Villa Plus. The villas come in all sizes and prices, most of them with private pools.
This year we stayed in a stunning CV villa called Helidoni, located east of Agios Stefanos and headed towards the next bay, Kerasia. One thing to note: if you rent a villa, prepare for some long walks home at night, as all the villas are set among the hills above the bay, but the walk is worth it for the stunning views out to sea looking across to Albania.
If you don’t want to splurge on a villa, Damianos Apartments are located at one end of Agios Stefanos and are a great value option, especially if you go off-peak. In this part of Corfu, the busy period is late June to August. We always tend to go early June when the villages are quieter and the prices are lower. Similarly, there are a selection of apartments at the opposite end of the village, next to Kochili Taverna, starting at £56 a night, with perfect access to the village, the boat rental, shops, and bars.
WHAT TO DO
This holiday, as mentioned, is about chilling the hell out, so it’s hard to give a set list of activities, but there are some things that are worth doing while you’re away. Firstly, go to one of the many boat rental companies in Agios Stefanos and rent a motor boat for a couple of days and use it rather than a car to get around. There are a number of bays really worth visiting that flow down the east coast and are super accessible by boat. Take your boat out to Kouloura for some delicious seafood, or to the next bay round, Kalami, where you’ll find the famous Durrell White House taverna, as well as a range of water sports.
You must also, if you can, head round to Taverna Nikolas at Agni Bay for their Greek night, which is on every Thursday evening. For 25 euros, you get a three-course meal full of traditional Greek food, UNLIMITED house wine, and of course all the Greek dancing and music you could possibly want. It’s a cheap and incredibly fun evening, some of the best Greek food you’ll have all week, and you can feel how much passion and love the owner of the taverna, Pericles, has for these evenings when he gets to show his guests some of his Greek culture and heritage.
Otherwise, spend at least one afternoon or evening in Corfu Town, wandering the alleyways or visiting the incredible markets, and of course, take some time to relax in the sun and read a good book (or in my case, 5!) Oh, and make sure you grab a drink at Damianos – the cocktail list is extensive and the staff are so friendly, once they get to know you, they’ll probably offer you a drink on the house.
In Agios Stefanos alone there are five different tavernas, all offering the same style of Greek food, all with their own incredible staff who always welcome you with a huge smile and a kiss on the cheek. My favourites in the village are Galini Taverna and Kaparelli Taverna – the two that sit next to each other in the middle of the bay. There are also Kochili and Eucalyptus, which occupy each end of the bay, and certainly have the best locations on the street, but I prefer the food in those central spots.
At Gallini’s, order the Moussaka, one of my all-time favourite Greek dishes, layered with potato, aubergine, minced meat, all in a rich tomato sauce and topped with béchamel. Think lasagne, but Greek. At Kaparelli next door, order the Cheese Saganaki as a starter and make sure you squeeze the lemon all over it. This deep-fried cheese dish is death on a plate, but it is so delicious! It’s made using a Greek semi-hard cheese, the equivalent of a mild UK cheddar, then bread crumbed and fried. Fried courgettes are worth a try, and you won’t find better tzatziki anywhere else! Oh, and of course, make sure you try some Baklava! The traditional Greek dessert consists of layers of thin filo pastry, chopped nuts and lots of syrup or honey – served with a scoop of ice cream it is seriously divine!
If you take time to go into Corfu Town, I highly recommend Salto’s Wine Bar & Bistro. Overlooking the port, this restaurant takes the traditional Greek food you’ll find in every other Greek taverna and adds a modern twist. We had one of the best meals of our holiday here, and it was incredible value for money, with three courses each and two bottles of wine coming to 89 euros!
What I love about this little corner of Corfu is that, after coming here so many years, I can name the owner of every restaurant and bar in the bay, not to mention a couple in Agni and Kerasia. When you walk through the village at night, they are all, however sincerely, pleased to see you and greet you with warmth and kindness. This little village has so much to offer, whether you’re a family with young children, a family with teenagers (who will undoubtedly stay out drinking and dancing in Damianos till the wee small hours, as I did growing up), or a couple looking to relax and unwind, don’t overlook this quiet bit of land, it’s really quite magical.