The Designer's Guide to North East Corfu


by Camilla Ridley

With it's beautiful beaches, discreet luxury villas, refined restaurants, sublime unspoilt landscape and strong Venetian influence, it's no wonder the North East of this much loved island has become the latest chic holiday destination. We visited to find out more.


Corfu has been a popular destination for British travellers for more than 200 years, and the chances are you may have even visited yourself. But while much of the island is a well known tourist destination, those in the know head to the North East, where stylish villas look down on idyllic bays and days are spent puttering by boat between pristine beaches and charming tavernas. So when I was offered the opportunity to stay in a newly renovated villa in the North of the Island, I jumped at the chance. And having been so impressed by Kefalonia and Hydra, I was intrigued to discover what the North East of Corfu had to offer.

The second largest of the Ionian Islands to the west of Greece and a three hour direct flight from London, Corfu is well known, thanks recently to the popularity of the ITV series the Durrells. Which if you haven’t seen, I highly recommend. It’s completely charming, and really captures the lush natural verdancy of this beautiful place. The scenery here really is delightful, especially in spring when the island is carpeted in colourful wildflowers to add to the cocktail of scented pines, eucalyptus, tamarisk and olive trees flanking gently winding paths leading down to pretty pebbly coves and crystal clear water. not to mention, perfect swimming temperatures. It’s this unspoilt rural feel that makes the North East of Corfu so special, which like Hydra, is largely thanks to limited road access and encourages exploring the coastline by boat.


The other thing that makes Corfu unique is its colourful history and various colonial influences which have created a vibrant cosmopolitan culture. This can be seen in everything from the beautiful classical Venetian architecture and traditional local dishes, to neatly the planted olive groves spanning much of the island. known as the Gateway to Venice, for over 400 years Corfu was a place of real strategic significance, and a major trading centre for the Venetian Republic. It was then conquered by Napoleon and finally by the British, who introduced cricket, which is still played in the town’s main square, and of course the Durrells. But at its heart, Corfu (and in particular its North East) is still very much a Greek island, with all the charm, unspoilt simplicity and atmosphere you would expect.


Where to stay:

We stayed as guests of Yialiskari House, which sits just above a lovely swimming bay on the beautiful North East coast of the island. This is without doubt one of the prettiest and most unspoilt parts of Corfu with amazing views across the Ionian Sea. From a practical point of view the location couldn’t be much better. Where as many of the Villas are situated up in the hills requiring constant driving, Yialiskari House is only a short walk from three beaches, six excellent restaurants and two charming villages - Agni, a culinary hotspot, and Kalami where the Durrell's White House is located. The interior designer Elke Edis has created a beautiful and relaxing home from home, with all the mod cons and comfort you would expect from a luxury villa and a charming boutique Corfiot feel. From exquisite china and beautiful bed linen, to first edition Durrell novels and local artwork, every detail has been thoroughly thought through to create an authentic experience for the discerning traveller. And the views from the terraces and infinity pool are simply spectacular. Yialiskari House can be booked via its website but book fast to avoid disappointment, there is a limited supply of accommodation in the North East which gets booked up fast in peak summer months.


Cocktail Time:

Damianos Bar is a great place for a sundowner to get your evening started in style or an after dinner night cap.  The atmosphere is buzzing, with a live DJ and a cool, contemporary setting. Great cocktails and a young trendy crowd make this a must visit favourite - think Blue Marlin Ibiza transported to Corfu. The characterful Puppet cafe in Corfu Town is a great place for an impromptu pit-stop and a spot of people watching. Situated on a side street in Corfu Old Town, Puppet’s eclectic interior, relaxed atmosphere, charming service and outstanding cocktails have helped build a bit of a reputation. We absolutely loved it. One of the favourite evening drinks we discovered while staying on Corfu is the Venetian Influenced Limoncello Spritz. It's such an easy and refreshing summer drink, and we have included a recipe for you here.


Eating Out:

The White House in Kalami is where Lawrence Durrell stayed and and wrote “Prospero’s Cell”. The house is now a chic restaurant with a fabulous garden, wonderful panoramic views and award winning Michelin style food. There’s an intense focus on local and seasonal produce, which is transformed into spectacular plates by a changing cast of celebrated Greek chefs. The service is seamless, the Greek wine list is impressive and the experience is special and romantic. Well worth a dinner booking. Thomas’s Place also in Kalami is well worth a visit. This is a much more classical style of Taverna, with a beautiful beachside setting, charming service, Excellent Greek food and a friendly, laidback atmosphere. It’s impossible not to enjoy a meal here. Taverna Glyfa is a charming beachfront Taverna with delicious, locally caught seafood and stunning views. The great location, friendly service, simplicity and relaxed atmosphere make this a popular lunch choice for the trendy crowd. Eucalyptus is a stylish straw roofed Taverna located right on the beach at Agios Stefanos, and is a really great lunch spot. The food is fabulous, with lots of fresh fish and presented beautifully. The Lobster Spagetti was particularly good. A few minutes walk up the coast at Agni is Toula’s. And while the understated exterior may appear slightly rustic, the ambiance, modern Greek cuisine and celebrity clientele is anything but. This is definitely one of the more upmarket, gastronomic destinations on Corfu, where you can expect to be wowed with award winning innovative flavours, perfect presentation and an upmarket wine list. If you’re eating out in Corfu Town, don’t miss En Plo. Located right on the harbour in the old town this is a charming restaurant with a fabulous awning covered sun terrace. While the classic Greek food and service is excellent, the panoramic views of Corfu Old Town and the old Venetian Fort are what everyone really comes here for.


Where to shop:

Mezzo Mezzo is a chic boutique in the centre of Corfu Old Town, selling everything from traditional Greek style sandals, Ilias Lalaounis jewellery, and a great selection of high end summer and beach wear. Domus is a fabulous independent shop right in the centre of town, packed with a huge selection of stylish home wares. I absolutely loved visiting the Patounis Soap Factory which still produces and sells authentic olive oil based products here on Corfu, which would make the most fabulous little gift.


Must See:

The beautiful Venetian inspired architecture of Corfu Town, a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site. Corfu was once part of the Venetian Republic and walking around the streets you can see the influences everywhere. Wander down the Liston, whose arcades were built by the French and famously inspired by the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. Then peel off into the charming side streets. The Church of St Spyridon, patron Saint of Corfu, is definitely worth a visit as is spending some time in the Town square enjoying a drink and catching a cricket match. Old Perithia is Corfu’s oldest village and very romantic and beautiful. In the past it had 8 churches and beautiful Venetian architecture but has since been abandoned. Many of the buildings are undergoing extensive renovation. In spring the meadows are full of wild flowers and a local family produces delicious honey. The amazing biodiversity here has attracted a number of well known botanists including Lee Durrell (Gerald Durrell’s widow) and more recently Monte Don. And if like me you’re a fan of nature and gardens then you must watch his excellent episode on Corfu and Greece which is a wonderful visual snapshot of the North East of Island and will definitely get you in the mood.

Ridley London's new holiday collection of summer dresses, skirts, tops, jackets and knitwear is available to purchase online and in Ridley's Barnes store. Celebrate your individuality this season with a unique piece that's  individually crafted to flatter from your choice of any of our stunning new printed floral or solid silks or cottons. Or call us to arrange a virtual fitting: 

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