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Information about Paleokastritsa - Corfu


Located on the west coast of Corfu island, Paleokastritsa is part beach resort and part monastic community which makes for an intriguing combination. There are a number of tavernas and shops and a few small hotels and rooms to let but luckily tourism hasn’t spoiled the area. This is due, in part, to the Panagia Theotokos Monastery that is perched on a hill overlooking the beach. The walk uphill to the monastery is along a paved road that doesn’t see too many cars but can be crowded with tour buses in the morning and then quiet again in the afternoon. The monastery was originally founded in 1225 but the current buildings date to the early 1700s. There is a small museum, mostly filled with religious articles and books as well as a supposed skeleton of a sea monster that, interestingly enough, resembled driftwood to me. The museum also has a small retail area where post cards and religious icons are for sale.

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The chapel is dark and refreshingly cool on a hot day and is filled with silver chalices, religious icons, and painted wall and ceiling frescoes. In the basement of the monastery is an old olive oil press and the monks will sometimes give demonstrations on how olive oil is made. Inside the main courtyard is a wishing well filled with coins and a wooden board and mallet that is used to call the monks to prayer. The monastery is a very peaceful and relaxing place, overflowing with flowers, grape vines, bougainvillea, etc. and offers sweeping views of the coastline. It is open from 7am to 1pm and 3pm to 8pm daily. There is no admission fee although donations are gratefully accepted.
Paleokastritsa’s other heavenly attraction is its clean sandy beach with incredibly clear, warm water ideal for swimming. The main beach is below the monastery and is separated from the road into town by a low cement wall. The beach is narrow but that doesn’t detract for its popularity, especially with families because the calm, shallow water is great for kids.

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At each end of the beach are boats offering excursions to the nearby caves and grottos. There were also signs for glass bottom boat trips but none were running - probably too early in the season. Across the road signs lead to the less crowded Ampilaki Beach, a combination of sand and rocks with a dive center and paddle boat rental nearby. Paleokastritsa is easy to get to. I took a bus from the New Port station in Corfu and the cost was 1.60 euros each way for the 45-minute ride. The road follows the coast north of Corfu town for a little way and then heads across the island through lush green countryside. There were only four buses per day to Paleokastritsa but I think that number would increase during the summer.