For round-the-clock partying with the younger set, or tranquil beach days alongside the more subdued, Greece’s verdant island of Corfu has villages that cater to all. Easily accessible through its international airport (with some direct flights, though most itineraries will include a pit stop in Athens), you’ll arrive toward the center of the eastern shore in Corfu Town, the island’s capital, and where you head from there depends on your style. The north holds more of the quiet resort towns while the party tends to heat up the further south you go. But don’t forget to explore Corfu Town itself; a handful of museums and old churches combined with the area’s surprisingly Venetian ambiance are well worth an afternoon of exploration through the narrow streets and charming archways.
Wherever you wind up, the island offers a wide array of water sports, plus inland adventures via quad or motorbike rentals. Don’t miss the Achilleion Palace in the village of Gastouri, toward the center of the island, not far from Corfu Town and the airport. Designed by Empress Elisabeth of Austria and dedicated to the Greek hero Achilles for his representation of beauty and courage, the storied mansion is ornate to the core, boasting one of the world’s unmissable staircases, roof-level gardens showcasing some wildly impressive sculpture, and unbeatable sea views—the empress purchased all the land between the mountaintop villa and the water so she could access it directly from the royal yacht (an area now known as Achilleion Forest).
A resort island with relatively few locals outside the hospitality industry, it proved nearly impossible to find a couchsurfing host in Corfu. Instead, I turned to the network’s forums for advice, and booked a short stay at the Pink Palace, a legendary party hostel with a 24-hour bar, daily group activities, group-setting meals, and a summer-camp-style staff that hangs with the guests and can offer island advice. If you’re looking for quiet solitude, it’s not the place for you, but if you’re into the couchsurfing ideals of making new friends, sharing cultures, and getting local advice at low cost, you won’t find better on the island.