Forking south beside mainland Greece, the vast island of Corfu bears a broad mix of party-mad resorts, sleepy fishing towns and upmarket villa enclaves. The bar scene is a similarly mixed bag: shots are downed in Kavos, cruise passengers pause for liqueurs in Corfu Town’s mansion bars, and older fans of the island watch the sunset from tranquil beach hangouts. Head to one of these quality venues for a well-mixed drink and some local character.
This harbourside bar – in the island’s most sociable food-and-drink hub – has dazzling views of the sea and, to the north, the city’s Old Fortress. Contemporary, cool and handy with a cocktail, its indoor space has teal velvet barstools and neon jellyfish art; outside, you can sip a martini with a backdrop of ancient city walls. Linger until 3am to meet the late-night locals.
Follow the pulse of reggaeton and house music to the doors of this hedonistic seafront spot in hotel-packed Dassia. A thatched pavilion shelters a stone-built bar with lots of jungly plants, where a youthful crowd sips vodka concoctions out of hollowed-out watermelons and raises tequila shots to the night sky. Start your night by shooting some pool, ending it on the dancefloor at 3am; the party spills out onto a pebble beach.
For a grown-up aperitif, head for this art-filled wine bar in the north of Corfu Town. Sit inside for a Parisian Left Bank vibe, or bag a spindly table on the idyllic Mediterranean patio outside, perfect for some Greek wine. Dip into wholesome meze, such as homemade hummus or a charcuterie board, and listen to locals chatter into the night. It’s a great spot for escaping the cruise ship tourist traps.
One of Corfu’s charms is its rugged, verdant landscape, especially along the picturesque west coast. Paleokastritsa is one of the most popular sandy coves, but not everyone knows about this curious waterside bar in the next one over. Drink a round of quality whiskey sours on cream-cushioned benches before diving in for a dip. Look out for the daring cliff-jumpers plunging in from the rocks on either side.
In the west coast’s popular, cliff-hugged Agios Gordios, this bohemian hangout is legendary. Set around a sultry patio painted in primary colours and pasted with record covers, every inch is lovingly crafted, all the way up to a wall of pebbles decorated by guests. Sink into the holiday vibe on your first night, sipping a mojito as rock and pop classics fill the night air – you’re sure to get tips from the Corfu fans who visit.
Corfu doesn’t have the beach club scene you’ll find on Mykonos, but this glam terrace under the city walls of Corfu Town is the next best thing. Right by the rocky shallows, its wooden deck is scattered with cushioned tables and swing seats, serving cold pints and zingy spritzers for long afternoons of socialising and swimming. If you get peckish while enjoying its views of the Old Fortress on the headland opposite, order spring rolls or club sandwiches.
The glass-edged terrace of this lofty bar juts towards the cinematic, plunging cliffs over Loggas Beach, a wild northwestern strand that can only be reached by a steep staircase. The outdoor bar kiosk is brightened by mosaic pillars and rope swings; couples driving round the island pause here to pull up stools and snap the view. Order one of the fresh juice-based cocktails topped with a sliver of watermelon, and settle in for an electric sunset.
Popular hotel area Ipsos has a handful of lovely bars outside of its resorts – and this tropical-feeling beachside haunt is worth seeking out for a drink. Trimmed with banana and bamboo plants and lit by tiki torches, it does a mean cocktail with fruity flourishes – head inside for a nightclubby interior, all palm-tassled lamps and moody lighting. A young crowd spills out onto the shingle beach, flirting over shisha smoke in the moonlight.