Exclusive Achilleion Palace, Paleokastritsa and Corfu Town
Where most cruise line tours offer two of the three must-see sights on Corfu, this tour offers all three, and in groups never larger than 30 guests per guide. You'll enjoy an exclusive excursion to the beautiful Achilleion Palace and Gardens, the monastery of Paleokastritsa, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Corfu Town.
After meeting your professionally trained guide on the pier, you will depart Corfu town and drive through the beautiful countryside to the famous Monastery of the Virgin. The monastery is located high on a hill overlooking the gorgeous Paleokastritsa Bay, known as the "Capri" of Greece. This Byzantine monastery is still inhabited by a self-reliant community of monks; its long history is evident from the collections of Byzantine icons and other religious relics featured in the chapel and its museum.
Following your guided tour of the monastery, you will drive over the mountain ridge, passing through some of the most picturesque traditional villages on the northern side of the island with views of the countryside, island life and glimpses of the coast in the distance.
Approximately 30 minutes later, you reach the old traditional village of Gastouri, where you will visit the Achilleion Palace, built by the Empress Elisabeth "Sissy" of Austria in 1891, and later owned by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. In addition to visiting the interior rooms that are open to the public, you will also see some of the beautiful gardens full of exotic trees and flowers, which the Empress brought with her from her trips around the world. The gardens also feature several classical statues, as she was very fond of Greek ancient history and mythology. The main Terrace of the Muses is decorated with statues of the Nine Greek Muses and the imposing figures of Achilles Victorious and Achilles Dying. From several places in the garden you will also have spectacular views over the Ionian Sea.
Once in the Old Quarter of Corfu Town, you will drive to the front of the Old Venetian Fortress (14th-century UNESCO World Heritage site), opposite the central Esplanade Square. From here, your guide will lead you on a beautiful walking tour of the historic center of the Old Town. Walking through the maze of winding narrow cobbled streets known as kandounia, you will visit some of the most elegant quarters of this Venetian-built town, which competes with Napoli, Florence and Venice in terms of beauty, style, character and charm.
Walking along the old cricket grounds, a tradition left over by the British, you see the Royal Palace of St. George and St. Michael, an imposing building built entirely of yellow Maltese stone by the first British Commissioner of the island. You will also see the spectacular arcades of the Liston Piazza, a down-sized replica of the Rue de Rivoli of Paris, built by the French in the 19th century. You will then walk to the heart of the Old Town, where you will visit the 300-year-old Church of Saint Spiridon, with its priceless collection of icons and gifts offered to the Patron Saint of the Island. You will also explore the old flea market, pass by the old Town Hall and then find yourself in the busy shopping district, where you will have some free time for shopping. At the appointed time, you will meet your driver for the return transfer back to your ship.
Reviewer: Carolane Gaudet
Nice excursion and organization. The guide was nice and knew a lot of things. Not much time at each place but the cedule was short for the three place we have to see.
Reviewer: Clifford Shepard
Absolutely gorgeous. Everywhere (except for a lack of garbage collection in Greece). The Palace is different. From its history, pretty much unused. Not enough time to explore and enjoy.
Reviewer: John Chandler
Corfu is a pretty big island and this tour hits all the corners! Bit rushed - we only had about 45 minutes in Corfu Town, at the end of the tour and nearest the ship. That's where all the souvenir shops are. Guide did a great job with giving background. Achilleion Palace tour was short too. Paleokastritsa was okay. Greek monastery. Again limited time due to transit.
It was nice. Tour guide was very informative. Waiting for the tour start was very long.
Tour Guide showed us quite a bit in a short amount of time. Loved the palace which was a highlight. Church, scenic views and shopping made it a worthwhile excursion.