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Kassiopi, Corfu

Kassiopi is the largest village in the northeast of the island and is unique among Corfu’s resorts in having both a very picturesque setting and a fair amount of history.  Despite changes occurring each year, mainly due to tourism, the beautiful harbour area is totally unspoilt and is lined with many cafes and tavernas.   It provides a very relaxed setting, with many people spending several hours sitting on the front watching the comings and goings of the boats.

 

There are plenty of shops and other cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the village and along the road leading down into the harbour area, which allows the visitor a welcome break from the sun.

The ruins of an old fortress on the headland overlook the harbour and a small footpath leads you up to the castle, which is currently being restored. The headland is surrounded by shingle beaches and little coves.  The waters all around this area are very safe for swimming. 

 
  • Kassiopi, The Local Community and its Visitors.

The Locals:  The Greek population of Kassiopi numbers around 650.  The majority of the locals work in the tourism industry in some form or another.  Most of the businesses are family run and all members of the family usually work together to ensure its success.  In the past many people relied on olives as a means of income but unfortunately this is not as profitable as it once was.  Olive picking is often done nowadays purely so the family has its own oil to use.  Consequently, people have been forced to find work in other areas.  Tourism has allowed for this. 

As the tourist season only lasts for six months, from May till October, many people need to find winter work as well.  Some of the younger people may go off to the cities to find work but many stay on the island where work can often be found in the building industry, which usually grinds to a halt during the summer, partly due to the heat but also due to rules and regulations prohibiting noise.  Quite a lot of local people make money from fishing and others simply enjoy putting their feet up and relaxing after a hectic summer, bearing in mind that most people do not have a single day off during the summer.  Many people work from early morning till late at night throughout summer with no break apart from their afternoon siesta and occasional swim. 

During the winter especially, the way of life here is still quite traditional, with the men going off to work and the women staying at home to look after the house and the children.  Kassiopi has a nursery for the younger children, there is also a junior school and a high school, so most children grow up together and spend all their school years together. 

It is not common for families here to live too far from one another.  Apart from students going off to the cities or abroad to complete studies for a few years, and of course, National Service for the boys, generally the families all stay close by.  Sons and daughters still live with their families till they marry, and very rarely do they leave home after coming of age and go off to live in, or rent their own accommodation.

The Visitors:  This part of the island is particularly pretty and many people return year after year to relax and admire the stunning views and to enjoy the hospitality of the local population as well as the fantastic climate.  Many regular visitors to Kassiopi return more than once during the summer and many have even managed to visit during the winter to see what it is like. 

Over the years many people have even bought properties here, or have invested in old derelict houses and restored them for use as holiday homes and villas. Some of these people have these houses solely for their own use or they rent them to holiday companies and travel agents. The owners of these houses come out to Corfu regularly to check and maintain their properties and often spend many weeks of the summer here, sometimes even returning for Christmas.  Many even find it beneficial to bring their work with them from the UK.  Laptop computers and the Internet have enabled many people to work in this way.

There is also quite a large British ex-pat community now in Kassiopi and its surrounding areas. Living here permanently now are many British women who have settled here after marrying local Greek men. Some met their husbands elsewhere but the majority came on holiday as tourists or holiday reps and ended up staying.  Most of them also got married here in the local church and had traditional Greek weddings.  Consequently there are now a large number of bilingual children living locally, whose mothers are British. Most of the Greek children in Kassiopi have private English lessons after regular school and these days there are not many of them who do not have a good command of English from quite a young age.

  • The History of Kassiopi.

The Church:   One of the most notable buildings in Kassiopi is the church of the Panayia Kassopitra, which dates back to the 16th century.  Beneath the church lies the remains of a temple to Jupiter Cassius,  from whom Kassiopi gets its name.  The church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Kassopitra and inside there is an icon of the Virgin and at one time was credited with having miraculous powers. For this reason Kassiopi became a place of pilgrimage long before St. Spyridon became the island’s patron saint.

This beautiful church and its pretty surroundings are tucked away just off the main street on the right hand side heading down towards the harbour.  The visitor often misses the entrance but in springtime it is quite a sight as the pathway leading down is overhung by beautiful mauve wisteria.  The church is named after its most venerated icon and it’s certainly a worthwhile place to visit.  Anyone can go into the church but they do need to be dressed respectfully.

Many festivals occur throughout the year, the main one of course being Easter, during which there are many church services throughout the week and big family celebrations on Easter Sunday.  On many of these occasions in Kassiopi there are festivals held outdoors, called Paniyiri, when there will be music, dancing and lambs roasted on spits.  The best known one that occurs in Kassiopi is on 15th August (Assumption of the Virgin Mary), which is an important day all over Greece and anyone called Maria or Marios celebrates their Name day on this day.

Another important festival in Kassiopi is on the 8th May and celebrates the miraculous healing of a blind boy, called Stefanos, who had unjustly lost his sight for a crime he did not commit.   After spending the night in the church his sight was restored and this miracle is celebrated in Kassiopi each year.  During the morning there is a church ceremony, followed by a street procession often accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra and in the evening a Paniyiri is held in the harbour area.  Many of the local children are taught traditional folk dances, and perform wearing traditional costumes.

The Castle:  In centuries gone by the Angevins were the recognized rulers of Corfu and Kassiopi’s long historic past is still evident in the shape of the 13th century fortress situated on the headland overlooking Kassiopi from all sides and across the stretch of sea towards Albania.  Many visitors venture up to take a look but little remains of the original structure.  The main gate is still evident and sections of the walls that encircle the entire area. Restorations are currently taking place.

The Venetians finally took control of the island from the Angevins, who held out for many months before they made their last stand in Kassiopi before they surrendered in 1386.  The Venetians consequently helped to maintain control over Corfu for around 4 centuries.  History maintains that during the Roman period Kassiopi was an important stop along the road towards Greece and well-known Romans such as Cicero, Ptolemy and Emperor Nero passed by.

  • Useful Information.

Dining Out and Shopping:  The village itself offers much to the visitor.  Everyhing is very central, including shops, bars and restaurants of which there are numerous offering many different types of cuisine from Greek and Italian to Mexican.  Many of the bars also offer snacks and tourists really are spoilt for choice.  During evenings it is possible to find a nightclub and many lively bars but it is also possible to find much quieter bars to relax in. Most restaurants are open all day and start their days by offering breakfasts and snacks, then on to lunch and of course dinner in the evening.

During the summer season, all the restaurants stay open till very late and often till the last diner leaves.  The mood in Kassiopi is very relaxed and no one will ever rush you. Good news for families is that children are welcome everywhere.  There is never the feeling, often felt back home, that children should not be in the bar or restaurant. This is one of the reasons Kassiopi has become such a good family resort because the visitor and all the family can truly relax and enjoy themselves.

Apart from eating out, a break from the beach often means a visit to the shops, of which there is no shortage. A wide range of products are available and you will find almost anything you need, even if it is just cheap holiday mementoes or quality clothing and other goods, such as jewellery, accessories, leather, lace and wood products.

Supermarkets:  In the village there are several supermarkets catering for all of your daily needs and that of your family.  They do not have everything you would expect to find at home but everyday essentials such as milk and dairy produce, baby products i.e. nappies, toiletries etc should not be a problem to find.  All the supermarkets have a selection of soft drinks, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages as well as essential, bottled water.  If you are self-catering and want to cook in your apartment you will find things such as pasta, rice, fruit, vegetables, frozen products and tinned things such as tomatoes and tuna, amongst many other things.

The main supermarket has a butchers section which brings a daily supply of fresh meat and poultry.  Meat is not pre-cut, minced and wrapped as you will find at home, you simply tell the butcher what you need and he will prepare it in front of you.  In Kassiopi, as in most places around Corfu, you will find that most shop assistants speak English

Bakeries:  Kassiopi is lucky enough to have two bakeries. One is tucked away on the left hand side on the road just before the main square, and the other one is on the right hand side, almost opposite.  Bread of all descriptions is baked daily and the fabulous selection of cakes and pastries will leave you spoilt for choice.  During the summer there is a wide choice of ice-creams and ice-cream cakes.  If you are celebrating something special you can order cakes for any occasion, the staff in the bakeries will happily arrange this for you.

Pharmacies:  The local pharmacy, situated on the right hand side of the road just after the main Kassiopi square, stocks most things you may need should any minor illnesses occur during your stay.  The staff are very helpful and English-speaking and will give you any advice you may need.  Check the sign on the door as the pharmacy usually shuts during the siesta hours but is always open in the mornings and evenings.  It may be worth checking Sunday opening hours as occasionally they may stay shut.  However, during the summer season they generally open daily.

Doctors:  There is a doctor's surgery located on the main road outside Kassiopi, heading towards Corfu Town, situated on the left hand side, opposite Lekkas Taverna.

Public Toilets:   There are no public toilets in the village but you are always welcome to pop into any of the bars and use their facilities.  Rarely do the bar owners mind you doing this but if you feel a little uncomfortable, maybe you can stop for a quick refreshment as well.

Siesta:   Something of a tradition, siesta time is roughly between the hours of 2pm and 5pm.  In Kassiopi, things quieten down, the childrens' playground remains shut and the afternoon becomes a peaceful, relaxing time of the day.  A lot of regular visitors adopt the Greek way of life whilst on holiday and also have a little nap.  During the heat of the summer it’s a good chance to get out of the sun for a couple of hours.

  • Useful Services.

Foreign Currency Exchange:  Changing cash and travellers’ cheques is very easy in Kassiopi.  Just pop along to our office at the main square and you can change any currency at the latest bank rates.  Usually, there is a small commission charge of 2%.

Safe Deposit Boxes:  For peace of mind, you can store your travellers’ cheques and passports etc, in safe deposit boxes at the office.  These are free of charge.

ATM Machines:  Alpha Bank have a  machine conveniently located outside our office in Kassiopi.  If you experience any problems with this machine you will need to contact Alpha Bank on 0030 26630 63300.

Excursions by Boat and Coach:  It is often very tempting to laze by the pool or on the beach every day, but there are so many beautiful places to see on Corfu that you really should make a few days to see them either by taking some excursions or by car.  Children are easily bored and there are some excursions available which would fill many hours of fun for the little ones.  We offer many trips by boat and coach and if you pop into the office you can buy a ticket for any one of them.  Children aged 4yrs – 12yrs go half price and infants go free.

Car Hire:  For safe, reliable car hire we can arrange a suitable vehicle for you through our sister company 'Excel Cars', ensuring up to date cars with high safety standards.  This is a perfect way to see the island at your leisure.  We highly recommend you think carefully what sort of car to hire as roads in many areas of Corfu and particularly the northeastern area where Kassiopi is situated are very windy and steep.

We provide fully comprehensive insurance, no excess.  Child seats on request, free of charge.  Bookings can be made online on this website and, if requested, cars can be delivered to the airport or port.  In this case, instructions will be issued to you regarding location and pickup etc.  Alternatively, we can arrange for cars to be delivered to your accommodation.

Please go to our car hire section for more details of insurance and types of cars available. 

Holiday Extras:  Please refer to our section on 'Holiday Extras', for any extra ideas on making your holiday complete.

  • The Beaches in Kassiopi.

There are numerous beaches around Kassiopi.  Apart from the main beaches listed below you will find plenty of other tiny inlets around the headland that you can get to fairly easily.  Little access areas have been made over the years by people looking for quiet little spots on and between the rocks.  The sea in this area is very safe for swimming and all the beaches situated within walking distance are pebbly or shingle and are located around the headland beneath the castle ruins:

Kalamionas:  This is the closest and easiest one to get to as it is just off the main road to Corfu Town.  Overlooked by various apartments and cafes, there are several pathways running between the buildings for easy access from certain properties.  This beach is served by a couple of cafes and a taverna all serving refreshments, snacks and meals all day.  Sunbeds, umbrellas, pedaloes and canoes call all be hired here.   

Pipitos Beach:  If you carry on round the headland of Kassiopi from Kalamionas Beach, the next main beach you will come to is Pipitos, situated below the restaurant 'Trilogia'.  You will see from the road above how crystal clear the waters are in this area.  On this beach you can hire sunbeds, umbrellas and pedaloes.  

Kanoni and Bataria Beaches:  Lying alongside each other these are two of the prettiest beaches in the area.  The turquoise waters which lap up the shore are surrounded by sloping flat rocks which make up Bataria Beach and a sprawling white pebbly beach, which is Kanoni.  Again, you can hire sunbeds and umbrellas here and there are also some watersports.  A perfect spot to laze away the day and just a two minute walk up the hill behind to the cafe and restaurant 'Trilogia'.  This area offers many photo opportunities.

Past Bataria and Kanoni, in an easterly direction, there are more little spots below the road where you can climb down and find peace and quiet amongst the rocks.  You will soon come to Kassiopi's beautiful harbour. 

All of these beaches are within walking distance of the centre of Kassiopi from whichever direction you choose to start.  However, during high season the walk can be very hot and it is wise to take hats, t-shirts and plenty of water and sun protection products.  If you choose to go by car, a one-way system is operated round the headland starting from the harbour direction.

If you head to the right hand side of Kassiopi Harbour and follow the pathway up past Aleka's Lace House you will shortly come to a tiny little beach.  There are no facilities here but it is a very quiet and peaceful spot.  It is not possible to drive here. 

Other Beaches in the Area:  The beaches listed below are close to Kassiopi and it is recommended you hire a car to get to them, although you can walk to them easily if you like to make this a part of your holiday.

Imerolia Beach:  To the west, just outside Kassiopi and easily within walking distance of about 10-15 minutes.  A long pebbly beach, clean waters and the delightful 'Imerolia Taverna' situated on the beach for refreshments, snacks and meals.  Sunbeds and umbrellas can be hired for your comfort.

Soukia Bay:  A tiny, secluded bay made up of flat rocks and pebbles.  A perfect area for snorkelling and exploring between the rocks which make up the shallow area near the shore.   This beach is only about 10-15 minutes walk from the centre of Kassiopi, you can take the little roads and pathways leading off the main road into Kassiopi or you can head out of the village towards Corfu Town and follow the road leading down to Avlaki and turn left after about 250 metres.  Off the beaten track, this bay is hidden behind several pretty villas and you may need some extra local guidance along the way to find it.  

Coyevinas Beach:  If you head out of Kassiopi village and turn left towards Avlaki (follow the signpost), you will find the turn off for Coyevinas approximately 300 metres down on the left.  Again, you may need to ask someone along the way for guidance as these more secluded beaches are not signposted.  This is one of the area's little secrets as it is a perfect spot, with its white pebbly beach, for total relaxation.   Several properties are dotted along the beach but there are no tavernas or cafes, just a few sunbeds and umbrellas for hire.  Any noises to be heard will probably just be gentle waves lapping the shoreline, people windsurfing and speedboats or motorboats going by.  This beach also offers fabulous views of the Albanian mountains in the distance.  A casual stroll from Kassiopi centre will take you around 20-25 minutes.    

Avlaki Beach:  A walk to this beach will take you approximately 35-45 minutes from the centre of Kassiopi.  During the hottest months you will definitely need protection (hats etc), as there is not much shade along the way.  Unless you go by car, this beach is well worth the walk.  A long, pebbly beach, very clean and with perfect conditions for swimming and sunbathing, it has long been a favourite with the local population and can get quite busy, especially at weekends, during July and August.  Two excellent tavernas are situated on the beach for snacks and meals and general refreshment throughout the day and into the evening.  This beach has the added bonus of windsurfing and sailing facilities as well as having pedaloes and canoes for hire.