Corfu & Islands by Gulet
The seven islands of the Ionian Sea are Greece’s ‘other’ archipelago. As deeply embedded in the Hellenic past as the better known Cyclades the Ionian Islands have a history and mythology that encompasses Homeric legend, the homeland of Odysseus, ancient Greek history, Roman grandeur, and Venetian majesty. Corfu was the only Grecian land that never fell to the Turks and was a wellspring of ideas for a national renaissance. From Craggy fortresses, to the deserted metropolis of the ancient world the beautiful blue Ionian hides a host of secret places. What better way to enjoy the Greek islands than by gulet? Join us on a marvellous trip along the northern coast of Greece exploring the archaeology of the Ionian islands.
We arrive in Corfu Town, and take an afternoon stroll around the cobbled streets of the Old Town before boarding our floating accommodation: a traditional Mediterranean gulet.
We spend a full day exploring Corfu Town, capital of the Ionian Islands. Originally a Corinthian Greek colony, Corfu Town is one of the most attractive towns in Greece, an extraordinary fusion of Ionian Greek, Venetian and British styles, with elegant boulevards and buildings lining its winding, labyrinthine streets. The town is characterised by vestiges of great Venetian architecture - splendid remnants of Corfu's strategic history. We visit the archaeological museum, and take a look at the two mighty fortresses, Old and New, which sit on the hills that gave Corfu its "twin peaks" name.
Today we explore the vast ruins of the once mighty city of Nikopolis. This huge Roman ‘new town’ project was founded in honour of Emperor Augustus’ victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium, and is one of Greece's largest and best-preserved archaeological treasures. Many of the city's Roman walls and Christian basilicas still stand, while the impressive aqueduct, theatre, gymnasium and odeon are very much in evidence. We also take in Octavian's victory monument - a sanctuary to Apollo, Neptune and Mars, built where his command tent had stood in battle.
Following this, we cruise to Ithaca where our gulet berths overnight.
We wake in the idyllic mythical island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus, the symbolic end-point for Homer's great hero, and the location of the poet's famous ‘school’. Though much of this island received significant earthquake damage in the 1950s, many of its celebrated relics remain.
We visit a 9th century BC shrine at Aetos, part of the isthmus excavated for evidence of Odysseus' real life exploits. We also stop at the gorgeous Arethusa spring where Homer's Odysseus was famously directed to meet Eumaios, his loyal swineherd, by Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war.
Once we're finished following in the footsteps of the heros, we sail on to Poros in Kefalonia.
The beautiful town of Poros is the perfect starting-off point for our local explorations today. We discover the nearby Mycenaean tholos tomb, the largest known bee-hive-shaped tomb (i.e. "tholos") of its kind on these islands; a source of ancient royal riches, and considered by some to be Odysseus' final resting place.
We also spend time inside the Roman Villa of Skala, within which lie colourful mosaics of particular interest, depicting a god about to be eaten, bulls sacrificed, and various animals domestic and exotic. Last but not least is the ancient Acropolis of Sami, remains of a once powerful fortified clifftop town that still boasts spectacular views across the azure sea.
Our gulet carries us over the waves to Argostoli in preparation for Day 6...
This morning we get to know Argostoli, the relaxed cosmopolitan town that has been Kefalonia's capital since the 18th century. Our main focus here is the collection of the Stavros Museum, which contains archaeological finds from all over Kefalonia. Highlights include an inscribed clay mask dating from the 1st or 2nd century BC, and fragments of bronze tripods - examples of the sort thought to have been brought home by Homer's Odysseus.
In the afternoon we set sail for Paxos, one of the Ionian's smallest island groups. Its luminous turquoise seas beckon, and we have a lovely opportunity to swim in them on arrival.
A relaxed morning sees us travelling back to Corfu Town. We soak up the sun beneath the sails and watch the crystal waters pass us by. On arrival back to the harbour, we have the afternoon to visit the craggy Byzantine fortress of Angelokastro. This formidable castle has played a vital role in defending the island for centuries, sheltering peasants, and fending off sieging Ottomans.
Our final stop is the famous Monastery of Paleokastritsa, a large complex of chapels, cells and rare Byzantine relics, accessible via a forest of olive trees. Following our visit we return to the comfortable accommodation of our gulet for an evening farewell dinner and drinks.
Today we return home.
- Return flights - London to Corfu
- Guide Lecturer
- Tour Manager
- Local Travel - Private a/c coach
- All meals included (wine with dinner)
- Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme & tips
- Hotels - On this particular trip, our hotel is a gulet.
- Field Notes