Bicycling Corfu Island


Bicycling Corfu Island

Corfu is the most visited island of the Ionian chain. It has long been a desirable vacation spot, especially for the British traveler. In bicycling Corfu, we experienced two completely different cultures: south and north.

We took the ferry to the southern end and bicycled from Kavos to Corfu Town.

Bicycling Corfu-The-major Ionian-Islands
Bicycling-Corfu-Island-Map-

The ferry landed at the port for Lefkimmi. It was not too much of a port. More like a dock. We rode the short 2.8 miles south into Kavos.

Bicycling Corfu-Kavos
Bicycling Corfu-Ferry landing in southern Corfu

The south part of the island is a strange mix of old, traditional Greek villages and a resort town for the British teenager and young adult. Kavos, in the south, has become a play town. You may not have seen pictures like these since you last played!

Rea and Amie are 24 and 25 young ladies from Brighton, England. They got summer jobs in Kavos, dancing! Charming, practical and vivacious, they are living their dream.

Bicycling Corfu-KavosBicycling Corfu-Kavos
Bicycling Corfu-Kavos
Bicycling Corfu-Kavos
Bicycling Corfu-Kavos

Another view of Kavos is through the owners of the businesses. Kavos used to be a resort for adults.

These locals wrestle with the fact that British Travel industry is booking their hotels at a deep discount…and taking most of the profit. Meanwhile, they must maintain their buildings and infrastructure with a three month long season.

In the wintertime, the Ionian Sea gets a little bit rougher and brings in tons of seaweed and lays it up on the beaches. Sometimes the waves are very destructive. Now, in May, before the rush of tourists, property owners are out cleaning and painting. It’s a big job. Most of the beach front properties are a mess of debris.

Bicycling Corfu-Kavos
Bicycling Corfu-Kavos
Bicycling Corfu-Kavos
Bicycling Corfu-Kavos

We stayed at SeafrontApartments on the edge of town. A family run business, we were welcomed as family. Perhaps it helped that we were quiet adults!

Bicycling Corfu_Kavos_Seafront Apartments_Spiros, Naha
Bicycling Corfu-Kavos-Seafront Apartments

Bicycling Corfu Island

Day One- Kavos to Benitses

Distance: 33.6 km  (20.9 mi)/Ascent: 370 m  (1215 ft)/Descent: 353.5 m  (1160 ft)/Highest Elevation: 111 m (364 ft)

 

We started out from Kavos and went through the town of Lefkimmi. Lefkimmi is the oldest town on Corfu Island. It’s a long narrow town: the streets are just a little more than one car wide. The old buildings sit on both sides of the streets. They are hundreds of years old. Some of them are in total decay; others have their old rock interiors exposed.

Bicycling Corfu_Kavos to Benitses-LefkimmiBicycling Corfu_Kavos to Benitses-Lefkimmi
Bicycling Corfu_Kavos to Benitses-Lefkimmi
Bicycling Corfu_Kavos to Benitses-LefkimmiBicycling Corfu_Kavos to Benitses-Lefkimmi

After we left Lefkimmi, we were on the highway towards Corfu. It started out with a very good shoulder but soom became intermittent to non-existent. Traffic is quite heavy on Corfu compared to where we’ve been on the other islands. And they do drive faster. The scenery improved as we got further along the route. The route was hilly up and down all day, but nothing serious for climbing or descending. It was a very pleasant day of bicycling for us because we actually felt like we were cycling for the first time instead of just climbing steep hills.

 

We stopped in the town of Benitses which is just 5 km short of Corfu because we wanted to get a place to stay that was not as expensive as a hotel in Corfu. We lucked out by stopping at a travel agency in the center of town and we met Nick the Greek, who spent many years in New Zealand and speaks perfect English with a New Zealand accent. He took us around the corner to Hotel Le Mirage where we met Lawrence who was also a Greek from this village who went to England and speaks perfect British English. The hotel is just off the highway; it’s very quiet; there is a swimming pool in the back and a nice view of the mountains. The hospitality is astounding.

Bicycling Corfu_Kavos to Benitses-Benitses
Bicycling Corfu_Kavos to Benitses-Benitses
Bicycling Corfu_Kavos to Benitses-Benitses

Bicycling Corfu Island

Day Two- Benitses to Corfu Town

Distance: 13.8 km  (8.6 mi)/Ascent: 123 m  (404 ft)/Descent: 115 m  (377 ft)/Highest Elevation: 30.5 m (100 ft)

This section of highway from Benitses to Corfu Town is the most dangerous section that we have ridden on our trip so far. The road is very narrow, and there is no shoulder. There are buses, trucks and many cars and motorcycles traveling this route. They drive too fast for the winding turns in the road. It was only about 6 miles on this highway but it was white knuckles all the way.

The key to getting off this busy highway was to find the pedestrian bridge that went across the bay and avoided the last of the highway into Corfu Town.

It was not easy to find. There were no signs and trees blocked the view of the bay. We actually passed the unmarked turnoff and had to bicycle back to it. It was just a wide sidewalk heading steeply off the cliff edge towards the bay.

Bicycling Corfu-Benitses to Corfu TownPedestrian bridge to Corfu Town
Bicycling Corfu-Benitses to Corfu Town

The pedestrian bridge was actually a dam. It was just wide enough for Anne’s trike. Once we reached the other side, we had a big hill to climb back up.

Bicycling Corfu-Benitses to Corfu Town
Bicycling Corfu-Benitses to Corfu Town
Bicycling Corfu-Benitses to Corfu Town

After the bridge, we were on busy city streets. Without a good map of the town, we were lucky to guess correctly and end up on the main street that curved along the waterfront.

Bicycling Corfu- Corfu Town

We spent the remainder of the day wandering the streets of Corfu Town.

What a change from the other Ionian Islands we cycled! Tourists flooded the streets, coffee shops and restaurants. Prices skyrocketed. The old town is fascinating, but don’t go in July of August! We were there the end of May and thought it was too commercial even then.

Bicycling Corfu- Corfu Town-Hotel Europa

Corfu Town was expensive compared to the rest of the island towns we stayed in. Budget hotels charged 100 Euro a night. Rooms were absolutely basic. After much time searching, we found Hotel Europa for 35 Euro a night. The room was just big enough to walk around the bed.

Bicycling Corfu- Corfu Town-Hotel Europa

The walls around the New Fortress were built in 1588 after 12 years of construction. It is free to walk around the entire complex.

We spent exactly 30 days in Greece. It was time to move on. A ferry went from Corfu town to Sarande, Albania. Thus, we would continue our journey northward into Croatia following the idea of EuroVelo 8 while creating our own route.

EuroVelo_Route_8-By European Cyclists’ Federation via Wikimedia Commons.svg

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