When it comes to a destination as charming and picturesque as the old town of Corfu, with such a wealthy cultural heritage, so many sights and interesting places to visit, it’s easy to loose track of time and find yourself wandering for hours among small or bigger squares, narrow alleys or seaside roads, museums and monuments. A short break, one or more relaxing pauses during the day, are certainly necessary for unwinding, enjoying a cup of coffee, and – why not – a special drink or a tasty dessert. Among a plethora of choices around Corfu ‘s historic old town, i have picked up 6 small, cosy and very special cafes, which will charm you with their unique features and the gorgeous settings where they are located.
On the busy commercial Nikiforos Theotokis street, that is adorned by beautiful vaulted arches, under which you’ll find various lovely shops, NOMI will certainly draw your attention, starting with the red iron cast tables that spread in line in front of this exquisite delicatessen store. An that is what NOMI essentially is: a magnificent and very well attended small deli shop, that opened in 2018 with the ambition to introduce the finest products being produced on the Greek land. Its selves are indeed loaded with top quality local deli products by specially selected Greek producers. It’s the ideal place to shop unique delicacies – from cold cuts and dairy products to pasta, herbs, chocolate, honey and extra virgin olive oil.
Since this summer, at the few tables laid in front of the window shop on the pedestrian street, you can enjoy a cup of specialty coffee, along with sugar-free desserts, made exclusively for NOMI. The chocolate cake or the one with lemon and blueberries – both very tasty and healthy, made only with natural stevia – and the delicious apple pie that you won’t believe is sugar free, along with Greek soft drinks or herbal infusions, are the best idea for a refreshing break from shopping.
But you should also visit NOMI in the evening for one of the delightful cocktails, inspired by the owners, combining flavours and based on combinations of exclusively Greek spirits. Some are interpretations of famous cocktails and others are their own original recipes, but they are all certain to enthusiast you. Try the unusual NOMI Spritz with sour cherry and grapefruit liqueurμε, Mavrodafni sweet red wine and bergamot spirit, or order an aromatic Ragazza with με Ouzo, Limoncello, mastic and lime, and enjoy the ambient lit arches with the hanging lanterns, a typical, gorgeous Corfiot image.
We’re staying on the same street in order to discover literature treasures and at the same time enjoy a cup of coffee at the loveliest bookshop in Corfu, which brings in mind the atmospheric bookstores of London’s Bloomsbury. This tiny bookshop is spread across three levels and has a strong sense of warmth and intimacy. It’s entirely covered in dark ebony, with its 110 years old shelves – originally furnishing a drugstore – loaded with interesting readings. Constantina and Dimosthenis, the two friendly owners, will let you travel through their book proposals and you may also choose one of the available books for browsing through and spend some time drinking coffee and reading.
There’s a cosy corner on the bookshop’s highest level, waiting for you to sit comfortably and let time pass by quietly, enjoying a hot cup of tea or the coffee of your choice. When covid restrictions don’t allow sitting in, you may also take a sit at the wooden bench in front of the window shop or at the small table outside the shop. As a special extra tip, i advise to not hesitate to order the homemade apple geranium liqueur.
The scenery changes as we move towards the Old Town-hall Square, one of the most imposing settings in the old town of Corfu, with significant references to the Venetian rule era, which are evident in the magnificent buildings that frame the square. This is the wonderful view you will enjoy along with a cup of coffee at Piccolo espresso bar, whether you sit on pillows made of colourful rags in the front side, or at the quieter adjacent yard. Sunny mornings are perfect for drinking here the first cup of coffee, preferably the specialty house blend they serve here.
It’s best accompanied with a freshly baked cake or a full breakfast with “tsoureki” sweet bread and two types of chocolate spread, or a healthier vegan choice, while enjoying the quietness of the square, before groups of tourists take it over. But in the evening too, when the Venetian buildings all around are impressively lit, Piccolo becomes the ideal venue for a unique cocktail. In the summer time try the exotic Ginie, containing gin, passion fruit and mint or the Mangolino with rum, mango purée and coconut purée, while at winter the Apple Crush that combines bourbon with green apple purée with cinnamon is a great warmer up. A toast to the lovely Corfiot nights comes just naturally.
Don’t leave the square before you make a stop at the pretty, tiny Puppet right next to the old Town Hall’s building. The owner of this lovely cafe-bar, Mr George Tsalavoutas used his significant experience in popular Athenian cafes, in order to create a gorgeous space, well attended and aesthetically pleasing in every detail. From the colourful mosaic on the floor, the beautiful bar with the comfortable stool chairs and the green lamps and the vinyls collection that fills the shelves, to the small, mosaic tables of the exterior space, everything welcomes you to make a stop here and be a part of the scenery.
At night, the ones who know Puppet’s great asset, gather here to have a drink from the unique cellar of 600 spirits of this wonderful bar. But in the morning too, you will feel welcome to join the occupants of the 4 neat rooms that are available for renting on the three floors above the cafe. Along with your coffee or juice, try the hearty yogurt bowl with fresh fruit, honey and nuts and you will be supplied with all the energy you need for a vigorous day of exploring the old town of Corfu.
The alley of Bizis is one of the most picturesque paved alleyways that connect the centre of the old town with the gorgeous neighbour of Campiello. And Gabao cafe-bistro is certainly one of the most tasteful places where you can indulge into a cup of coffee or a light, healthy meal, while shopping unique, handmade art objects. There, on the outskirts of the town’s most charming part, Gabriella, the Hungarian owner who is always present and settled in Corfu 3 years ago, is ready to welcome you with a big smile.
She will serve you great coffee – try her own recipe of espresso fredo with lime και tonic -, tasty omelettes, savoury tarts, broschette and tortillas. These delicious dishes are the ideal accompaniment for a glass of wine early in the evening and for the winter chills every chair has a small blanket available for extra warmth. Don’t forget to have a look in the interior with the bright mix and match furniture, many of which have been given a second life as they have been restored with taste and imagination. The whole place resembles of a mini art gallery and most of the objects of art on display are made by Enike, the sister’s owner who also lives in Corfu, and are excellent ideas for a present or a tasteful souvenir from your trip to the beautiful Ionian island.
Walking further inside Campiello’s charming labyrinth, you’ll come across the hospitable Favela no17 cafe, situated in one of the area’s tiny squares, one of the many to which the neighborhood owns its name. The bougainvillea that embraces the entrance, the minimal iron cast tables on the paved square, the surrounding houses one right next to the other with laundry ropes and washed clothes all around, they all create a sense of cosines and serenity,
It’s a relaxing atmosphere you truly enjoy while drinking your coffee, trying the big variety of tea flavours, or giving into the tempting pancakes and large waffles for which Favela is known for. They are all served in beautiful vintage style tableware, like the ones you would find in your grandmother’s cupboard. The most hungry clients enjoy the menu’s light dishes – vegan or not – along with a glass of wine or a Corfiot beer, but everybody seems to enjoy the authentic scenery that seems untouched by time. The atmosphere becomes more romantic as the night falls and the cafe is lit by candles and lanterns. Especially in the summer time, you shouldn’t miss the chance to have a casual drink in Favela, a completely different experience, away from the crowds that overrun the old town.