I’ll be honest here guys- the thing that really brought the Greek island of Corfu to my attention, was the fact that The Durrells is set here. You know, the TV series based on the true story of The Durrell family, who moved to the island in 1935. The programme paints a very nostalgic and beautiful picture of Corfu in the 30s, but let’s face it- life has moved on since those days.
Alas, my time here was not about to be spent gallivanting around in straw hats, vintage cars and rowing boats in a 1930s bohemian fashion. It was a real shame.
Tourism in Corfu is a booming business, especially with a cruise port in the centre of town, so I wanted to see if there were any quiet villages on Corfu away from the tourists. With at least a bit more of a Durrells-esque vibe, ya know? Enter: the village of Argyrades, a tiny village in the South of Corfu.
Related: Our Big Fat Greek Roadtrip
All I could find out about Argyrades was that there’s a bus running through it every few hours, it’s within walking distance to a beach, and it’s home to a really cute AirBnB which I was very much up for staying in. I had tried some googling, but unlike seemingly the entire rest of Corfu, there was nothing to be found about the mysterious village of Argyrades. And the fact that I arrived in the pitch darkness at 6am, meant that even when I woke up a few hours later I had absolutely no idea what the world outside me looked like. Well I’m telling you now, guys- this place is quite frankly wonderful. If you want to find a true hidden gem on Corfu, this little village is like a time-capsule, with no souvenir shops, no tourist restaurants, and no hotels.
Argyrades, the secret Corfiot village
From the one main road through Argyrades, you would have absolutely no idea of the treats lying in wait mere footsteps away.
A couple of cafes sit side by side, awnings pulled out to shelter the classic small gatherings of old men who always gather in cafes to smoke and drink coffee. And there is a grand total of two tiny grocery stores, plus a rusting old bus shelter. Although the village sees a fair bit of traffic- this is the main road from Corfu to Kavos- the only reason people have any reason to stop is to grab something from one of the grocery stores when they’re en route to somewhere seemingly more interesting.
Tiny lanes that lead off of the main road are highlighted with white paint in big oblongs on the floor, sometimes wide enough to get a car down (just about), and sometimes just narrow staircases which lead up and down and all around the houses. And the houses aren’t the classic white-wall-blue-roofed creations that you’ll see on the islands further South, these are a higgledy-piggledy hotch-potch collection of structures. Some ramshackle and all but collapsed, and others painted in an array of pastel colours, with several floors and all of varying heights. Sometimes the alleyways lead to a dead end, sometimes they loop back around to meet the main road again, and occasionally they lead off into the countryside or an olive grove or up to a church.
Because, in classic Grecian style, the village of Argyrades has plenty of churches to be found.
The Venetian influence on Corfu
Although Corfu’s history goes way back to the times of Ancient Greece (and beyond), this little island is pretty unique from the rest of modern-day Greece, because for about 400 years it was controlled by the Venetians. Back in the medieval times, the Venetians were basically a superpower round these parts, and the fact that they ruled the roost in Corfu can be pretty easily seen with just a short walk through the old town of the island’s main city. (Which is also called Corfu, or Kerkyra in Greek) What I didn’t realise was that this influence would be evident elsewhere on the island as well…especially in little old Argyrades.
The village was built during the days of Venetian rule, and some of the houses date all the way back to those times. Architecturally unique are the ‘passaezza,’ passageways which connected the houses of family members living across the street from each other. Not sure I could cope with a tunnel from my family’s living room to mine (no offence, fam), but this was clearly a close-knit community, and still is.
Agios Georgios, Argyrades’ beach
The first time I walked through the village was in the middle of the day, when the temperature had just peaked at an overwhelming 39°C. It was stiflingly humid, but I was determined to stroll onwards anyway- I mean, why wouldn’t you!? The tiny, dusty lanes, were completely deserted, and not a single sound could be heard from inside the houses. As pretty as it was in its faded, crumbling style, I presumed that nobody really lived in this part of Argyrades anymore. In fact the only other soul I saw was a skinny cat lazing in the shade of a building.
I carried on walking, down the hill through olive trees and cypress trees and past a thousand tunnel-like spiders webs like blankets on all the bushes, to the tourist village of Agios Georgios, which although a half-hour walk away, is technically Argyrades’ beach.
In complete contrast to the old village up the hill, Agios Georgios is made for families of holidaymakers, although it’s still got a sleepy vibe about it. Tiny hotels line its main road, with blocky supermarkets and quiet bars and souvenir shops selling inflatable flamingos and postcards that have faded in the sun, starting to roll inwards at the corners. Leathery-skinned sun-worshippers strode wearily between tavernas and the beach, or back from the office offering coach trips to Corfu town. I’m not gonna lie though- it still had a bit of charm about it.
But this was nothing like Argyrades, even though technically the two villages are one and the same thing.
The people of Argyrades…they don’t love the sun
The next day I ventured into the old Venetian village as the sun was beginning to set. Well this was a whole different story. The village hasn’t been deserted after all!
It’s just that understandably, nobody wants to venture outside in the baking hot sun- duh!
Almost every house had several chairs lined up by the front door, on which was perched a collection of old men or women chatting to each other. I’m not gonna lie, the older women tended to cease all conversation to watch me walk past in silence, which at first was mildly unnerving. But to be fair I clearly wasn’t from round there. And I got used to it after a while. In hindsight, they had probably seen me strolling about in hot sweaty mess mode in the middle of the day.
I wouldn’t have blamed them for being in shock at the fact that this deluded English girl seriously thought she could handle the heat.
Ludicrous behaviour on my part.
We’re going on a church-hunt
Right at the centre of the village is a little bright yellow church (don’t get me wrong, there are plenty more churches to be found), but this one is the hub of all activity. I ended up venturing out every day around sunset just to see what might be going on. Candles were lit outside, the congregation was singing inside (and also outside, when they couldn’t all fit in), and regardless of whether there was a service going on, this was the place to be come sunset, clearly.
From high on the hills overlooking the village, (hills that are home to many more churches), you can get a perfect view of the rooftops from above. As well as down to the vivid blue sea on either side of the island.
Related: Saved by a Stranger in Corfu, Greece
At sunset in particular, any of these hills are the perfect place to sit and appreciate the beauty of this place. Extending outwards from Argyrades are tiny dusty pathways, often signposted to other villages or churches hidden amongst the olive trees- it’s basically the perfect spot for people who appreciate a good rambling stroll.
Staying in the village of Argyrades
On top of all the amazing-ness of the village itself, I stayed in one of the best Airbnbs I’ve ever stayed in- the converted kitchen of the owner’s grandmother. My Airbnb host waited for me to arrive at 5am, and had fully stocked the kitchen with fruit, eggs, honey, coffee and pastries, and gave me a gift when I left. I mean, what an introduction to this beaut little community! The closest hotels to Argyrades are actually back down the hill in Agios Georgios, so if you want a taste of real Corfiot village life, your best bet is searching on Airbnb.
Argyrades is one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever stayed in, surrounded with beautiful hilly scenery and hidden pathways through the countryside. It’s not the place to visit if you’re up for being on the go all the time, or have a need to be consistently entertained- this village is all about soaking up the atmosphere and exploring on your own two feet. I felt incredibly lucky to have stumbled across it, and fingers crossed its sleepy, peaceful way of life continues for many many years to come.
I. Love. This. Place.
- The bus through Argyrades is the B1 going between Kerkyra (ie Corfu Town) and Kavos. There’s a timetable on the Green Buses website, however bear in mind that they rarely run on time; half an hour late is still considered pretty respectable.
- If I actually had a driving license, I would have considered hiring a car in Corfu, however I only spent four days in the village and wanted to make the most of the peace and quiet of the area, so the lack of a car wasn’t a problem for me.
- Kerkyra to Argyrades costs €3, which you pay once you’ve physically sat down on the bus.
- If you fancy checking out the Airbnb I stayed in, here it is!