Framed by rugged mountains, dotted with cypress trees and surrounded by the glittering Ionian Sea, the lush island of Corfu – also known as Kerkyra – provides an array of exciting options for health and wellness seekers.
The Ionian island across the water from Albania has plenty of fabulous beaches for lounging and swimming, along with yoga festivals and detox retreats. Add lots of lovely spas where you can receive organic treatments, and a tangle of hiking paths ideal for fresh air fanatics, it’s easy to understand why Corfu is a prized wellness destination.
Corfiot cuisine is packed with organic local products, seasonal fruits and local herbs. Must-try specialities include organic tsitsibira (ginger beer) and the home-grown wine and beer. Evdemon is one of island’s best organic restaurants, with spectacular views to the Diapontia islands and where chefs Evangelia and Yiannis create unique dishes using local produce. The Brouklis Grill Taverna in the pretty village of Arillas is another spot to fill up on mouth-watering home cooked food. The menu changes daily here and vegetables come from the restaurant’s cottage garden. “We only give you what we would eat ourselves,” says owner Dimitris.
Blessed with a mild climate for most of the year, Corfu is the perfect destination if you want to get back to nature and connect with your inner earth goddess. At Dancing Tree Farm you’ll find a range of programmes and workshops, ranging from observing nature and learning about healing plants, to chanting and dancing. “I believe that we have the capacity to evolve beyond what we have become accustomed to accept as our human limits. I believe this after watching people, young and old, change what they should be into what they wish it to be,” says owner Zoe Valerie.
Yoga’s healing qualities are perfectly matched by Corfu’s serene scenery and there’s plenty of options to choose from on the island: from a range of yoga festivals in northern Corfu during the summer months, to rejuvenating yoga centres dotted around the place. Pick of the crop is Matangi yoga centre which is run by certified teachers Matangi and Benni who offer yoga classes on the beach with the sunrise, as well as meditation classes and relaxing massages. Need more time to work on your asanas? Check out one of Just Relax Yoga Holidays’ week-long yoga retreats, which include healthy organic meals and sunset yoga sessions in the olive groves.
Pack up a picnic of feta cheese tiropita (cheese pie) and fresh fruit and get away from the crowds as you explore Corfu’s traditional villages. Lefkimmi, a traditional port town with a riverside beach and a string of traditional tavernas, oozes charm, whilst pretty Pelekas is filled with cafés and ancient churches.
Once you’ve wandered the narrow, flower-studded streets of this tiny mountain village perched on a hill, climb to the spectacular viewing platform, known as the Kaiser’s Throne, and enjoy the best sunset views in Corfu.
Corfu’s countless Blue Flag beaches and secret, pebble-strewn coves are ideal for spending lazy, sun-drenched days. Roda’s sandy beach is one of the island’s most popular, while the beach at Kavos is great if you want to party.
Sheltered by breathtaking sandstone formations, Sidari Beach is perfect for peaceful chilling, but if you’re seeking a soul partner make sure you swim the Canal D’Amour: legend says that if you swim through this narrow sea channel surrounded by rugged cliffs, you’re guaranteed to find the love of your life.
If staying in a ghost village is your idea of healing heaven, check out The Merchant’s House, a B&B in a renovated 13th-century Venetian building in the centre of the near-deserted village of Peritheia.
Tucked beneath Corfu’s tallest mountain and just a short hike from the white pebbles and clear waters of Barbati Beach, the guesthouse has spacious rooms with chunky stone walls, high wooden rafters and breathtaking views over to neighbouring Albania. Owner Mark Hendriksen bakes his own sourdough bread served with homemade jams or honey produced by the local beekeeper.
Created in 2001, the 220km Corfu Trail, which meanders the entire length of the island from south of Kavos to lovely Saint Spyridon Beach, is an ideal hike if you want to test your endurance.
If you prefer something less strenuous, do the easy three-hour hike from Agios Mattheos through blissful shady forest to the Pantokratoras monastery; or spot soaring buzzards, quiet-footed foxes and other local wildlife as you stride along the circular trail between Chlomos and Lake Korission.
If you prefer to combine your detox with meditation, check out Bioporos Organic Farm’s range of retreats. Surrounded by olive groves near Korission Lake, Bioporos also has a restaurant serving organic goodies. “The mission here is to get a little closer to the nature in a way that suits you…while filling your body and mind with energy that will stick with you during the upcoming winter,” say owners Criton, Geneos and Iro.
For guaranteed serenity and spectacular seascapes, hop on one of the boats that visit Corfu’s remote Diapontia islands of Erikoussa, Othoni and Mathraki, where you can wander wild, tree-lined trails or laze on deserted beaches.
Alternatively take an exhilarating boat ride to visit the tiny Sivota islands. The site of an important military battle between the Corfiots and the Corinthians in the 5th century BCE, the islands are renowned for their mirror-clear waters, stunning sea caves, and typical cafes lining the streets of main town Sivota’s picturesque traditional fishing port.
Named for the Greek word for ‘sea’, thalassotherapy is said to revitalise the body and provide a tonic for tired skin. Soak up some of that mineral-rich brine at swanky beachside resort Grecotel Daphnila Bay, where treatments – including seaweed body wraps and slimming treatments with alluvial mud – are inspired by ancient Greek wellness regimes.
If you prefer to kick back in a day spa, make a beeline for Oxygen Plus, where expertly delivered facials, anti-ageing collagen therapies and anti-stress treatments are guaranteed to leave you relaxed.