Corfu, Greece

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Cruising to Corfu, Greece

Greece's most sophisticated island

The Ionian Islands, which sit off the north-west coast of Greece in the Adriatic Sea, have been attracting foreign visitors since long before modern tourism took hold in the area. Indeed, several empires and civilisations have been drawn to the region, with many choosing Corfu as their operational base, thanks to the island's irresistible landscape, which evolves from the mountainous north to the flat, green south.

Because of this, Corfu has always been a hotbed of culture and sophistication, even during the Middle Ages when much of Greece languished in poverty, struggling to live up to its ancient glory. The Venetians, for example, left their mark on the island in the form of the Old Fortress, which was constructed in the 16th century on the site of an old Byzantine castle, while Napoleon later contributed the Liston Promenade, which bears more than a passing resemblance to the classy avenues of Paris.

When the British took control of Corfu, the Palace of St Michael and St George was used as the residence for a succession of high commissioners, although since 1929 the site has instead been used to house the Museum of Asian Art, which contains some 10,000 objects that encapsulate the culture of the Orient.

Of course, with more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Corfu is also a great place for sun worshippers, and you'll find a host of fantastic beaches along the island's shoreline. Depending on how much time you have to explore, you could discover the likes of Sidari Beach on the north coast, Glyfada Beach on the west coast and a range of others, although if you're just passing through as part of a Greek Island cruise then you'll also find some great sandy stretches to relax on close to the harbour itself.

Greek food, meanwhile, is something that needs no introduction, although as Corfu is an island the local cuisine tends to offer more in the way of seafood than you might expect to find elsewhere in the country. Dishes like bianco - which consists of various types of fish cooked with white wine, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar - and the bourdetto fish soup are both well worth trying.

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