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I have always said that travelling with the family is an art, and each departure is a unique adventure. This time, I will be taking you to a destination that is both exotic and easy-going, and which does not require any special preparations. Get on board, for a trip to Corfu, a small paradisiacal island that, according to legend, derives its name from Corcyra, whom Poseidon, the God of the sea, fell in love with. Swept over by the Ionian Sea spray, Corfu is a cosmopolitan island with authentic charm. We loved it here! And this destination should be considered without restraint for travels with young children.
Corfu is a lovely and sunny destination, which I strongly recommend that you explore in the off-season when the temperatures are still mild, and the summer crowd departed.
The trip to Corfu is not an extremely long one, from Paris, though you will have to choose your flight wisely, because some have several transits that can be a little tedious for the children.
Upon arrival, Corfu will seduce the entire family with its beauty and cheerful disposition. The magic of this place will quickly enchant you and you will be able to explore with great pleasure, the richness of its multiple cultural influences and the splendour of its breathtaking landscapes.
If you wish for a luxurious stay with incredible views of the Ionian Sea, I advise that you opt for the MarBella Mar-Bella Collection *****. Its beautiful gardens and pretty private beach make it a real little piece of paradise. This luxury resort offers you the opportunity to relax, while children between 4 months to 17 years will be fully catered for in the various kids’ clubs.
The family rooms are beautifully decorated and spacious. They can accommodate a family of 2 adults and 2 children. As for the suites with private pools, they are ideal for large families. All restaurants of this beautiful complex offer « children’s menus » and all the necessary facilities for the little ones. Italian restaurants, international cuisine, Greek specialities or sea flavours, there will be something for everyone! Not to mention the M Bar and its delicious cocktails for Mom and Dad.
You will get to see for yourself that this place is wonderful and offers numerous activities for the entire family. The sea water pool is superb but like us, your heart will certainly yearn after the freshwater pool that has a beautiful cascade and a water play area.
The lovers of an All-Inclusive holiday stay shouldn’t eb hesitant in choosing the Ikos Dassia Corfu Hotel. This « turnkey » formula can be very effective for those who do not want to be concerned about the stewardship of meals for the entire family. This prestigious hotel expertly combines luxury and the ultra-convenient family stay formula.
In the heart of a huge garden that opens onto the sea and the resort’s private beach, this hotel has 4 heated pools, a large spa, a host of VIP services such as the hair salon and numerous sports activities for the entire family. A dream relaxing spot for both the young and old. Whether it is the large panoramic junior suites or the villas for large families, both formulas will be very appealing to everyone.
Finally, the little gourmets will delight themselves thanks to the wide range of gastronomic dispositions on offer by the hotel. Where I strongly recommend is Ergon Deli, wherein you will be able to share in complete relaxation, the best mezze of Corfu. And what’s more, Ikos Dassia Hotel has a great cruise ship whereon you can enjoy the sunsets together.
Let yourself be carried away by the various blue shades
In Corfu, there is no rival, the star of the show is undoubtedly the sea! The image that will stay encrusted in our minds is that of the endless beaches and water with a unique colour. Take the time to stroll along these magnificent beaches which decorate the island and explore its uniqueness. They are everywhere, each as paradisiacal as the other. Renting a small motorboat remains one of the best ways of familiarizing yourself with the coast in search of the cove that will enchant you.
My favourite spot is found in the North of the island and bears the sweet name, Canal d’Amour. It is a beautiful beach that is renowned for its lagoon which, according to legend, promises a life of eternal love to lovers who manage to swim across it. A dream romantic setting, which is especially ideal for families to settle down in the calmness of this world.
Consisting of a set of small white pebble coves bordered by transparent and turquoise water, the Nissaki Bay is also very pleasant site. However, you will have to prove your worth, in order to get to this little piece of paradise, since it is only accessible on foot via small paths. This walk is therefore not obligatorily recommendable when you have very young children, although it is worth taking into consideration.
I also recommend that you enjoy the sunset on the Agios Gordios Beach, a huge expanse located in the West of Corfu and dotted by beautiful little restaurants by the water.
Indigo, cobalt, royal, sapphire, turquoise or crystalline, the water showcases its attractiveness in Corfu.
The beautiful Corfu
The center of the old town of Corfu with watercolours has the enormous advantage of being pedestrianized, a real pleasure when you walk in them with your family.
Here, you will experience the fresh airs from southern Italy with laundry that’s being dried on the windows, the laughter of children and the joyous atmosphere that reigns on the numerous terraces.
Corfu is a true open-air museum. The magnificent Georgian-style buildings coexist seamlessly with the Italian facades, the Doric columns and the Byzantine churches. The Mediterranean architecture which you will get to observe during the walks is a real enchantment.
You will not be able to miss out on taking a walk on the city’s most beautiful esplanade, Liston, whose arcades are inspired from those of the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. This promenade was built during the Napoleonic period by Mathieu de Lesseps, the father of Ferdinand, who designed the Suez Canal. It was initially exclusively reserved for the nobles.
I also strongly recommend another quick and lively visit for the children, the Casa Parlante. This typical old house shows the interior and customs of a 19th-century bourgeois family. Children can easily imagine themselves as being part of the daily lives of another family. Our children loved to delve into the traditions of the yesteryears and to identify the differences with that of our times.
When it comes to old stones, you can quickly head for the citadel that is linked to the city center via an iron bridge. Being of Venetian origin, the remains of this fortress overlooks the sea, offering the visitors a breathtaking view of the surroundings.
You should also note that Corfu retains the Venetian domination that lasted 4 centuries, a long-established carnival tradition (Ta Kanarvakia) during which large puppets paraded happily through the streets. This usually takes place at the beginning of March. The little should take special note of the period.
Although Corfu boasts of a rich cultural heritage that will suffice in delighting both the young and old, be sure to compliment your stay with fun or gourmet breaks, which will be much appreciated by the little ones. For example, do not miss the delights of local cuisine such as Pastitsada, large macaroni with veal and tomato that is loved by children. Or Sofrito, thin slices of beef with a garlic sauce. Without, of course, forgetting to savour the delicious desserts made from honey and almonds such as Baklavas.
Dreaming of being a princess at the Sissi Castle
Whenever you walk through Corfu with children (especially if they are girls), it is impossible to go by, without visiting the Achilleion, the castle of Elisabeth of Austria that was called Sissi. This beautiful neo-classical white marble mansion surrounded by cypress-dotted hills is a haven of peace and an enchantment for the eyes. It is located outside the city but can be easily reached by car or by bus because the roads are good.
And why not take time out to watch this ultra-romantic cult movie with your family before you depart? Children are always fond of beautiful costumes and princesses that make them dream.
Explore a Ghost village
The village of Old Perithia was once one of the richest on the island. It even served as a hiding place during pirate attacks. Being decommissioned today, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage to ensure its sustainability. This site has about a hundred beautiful Venetian-style houses that were built by hand. Still in restoration, it is now a true open-air museum that children generally appreciate a lot. The surrounding nature is beautiful and the cave of Loutses with its stalagmites is worth visiting.
The heart of the island of Corfu has managed to preserve its wild beauty. Here, you will be able to find beautiful preserved villages that are surrounded by abundant flora. And you will be able to wander for hours through the paths that embellish the sarsaparilla and bougainvillea, in search of the magnificent high perch Byzantine monasteries that make up the Island’s reputation.
You can also climb the Kalypso Star, a glass-bottom boat that departs from the harbour, in order to admire the fauna and flora of even closer.
For an even more incredible experience, I urge you to head to the wild and unspoiled island of Vidos, having no dwellings at all. You will thus be able to free observe the fauna, if you’re lucky, you can come across some wild animals or get to meet some rabbits and peacocks.
Being both inspiring and romantic Corfu will entice you into relaxing. The Greek people are very loving and will certainly joyfully lead the entire family into a frenzied Syrtos (Ionian dance) to the rhythm of Bouzoukis (a kind of mandolin of Turkish origin). So, seize the opportunity and enjoy the Greek hospitality and these dream landscapes!
Have a pleasant stay!
Catherine, married, mother of Justine, from Paris
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