A villa in Nissaki is an excellent base for exploring the island, with or without a car. Local buses are good and reliable. You can go up the North East Coast to explore the harbour resort of Kassiopi or visit Kalami or Agios Stephanos. In the other direction it takes about an hour by bus to get to Corfu Town, with its narrow cobbled streets, historic churches, 10th-century fortress, pavement cafes and hidden leafy squares. The buses run roughly every hour in the summer until about 8pm. If you are going to be cooking at your villa, there are mini markets and a bakery in the village to cover the basics, as well as some gift shops. However, when you discover the inexpensive and delightful village tavernas, you may have second thoughts about self-catering.
Nissaki is a good place to shop for local handicrafts such as gold and silver jewellery, things made from the local olive wood and very good soap made from olive oil. Down by the beach inside a four hundred year old house is an excellent gift shop called The Loom where you might find locally made ceramics, lace and embroidered linen as well as leather belts, wallets and bags.
Corfu is a holiday paradise for walkers and the 138 mile long Corfu Trail is a must for hikers from all over the world. This walking route runs the whole length of the island taking in everything from coastal scenery to rugged gorges and greeny-grey olive groves. You’ll find some premium hiking trails behind Nissaki in the foothills of Mount Pantokrator joining the Corfu Trail, with amazing views across the narrow straits to the gaunt, mysterious mountains of Albania. Criss-crossing the hills are excellent walking paths that have recently been cleared. The route is clearly marked with yellow signs, so you won’t get lost unless you want to!
In Nissaki you are always aware of Mount Pantokrator looming behind you, the highest mountain on the island at 906 metres (2,972 feet). There is a good, fairly new twisty road that takes you to the summit, but our more hardy visitors have been known to hike to the top! However you get there, it is worth the effort for the views alone. You can see the whole of Corfu spread out below you. If you are very lucky and have a clear bright day you might even see the southern tip of Italy which is over eighty miles away. Looking south, you can see the islands of Paxos and Antipaxos and looking north, you can see the islands of Mathraki, Erracusa and Othondi. When you have enthused long enough over the views, you can have a rest and refreshments at the cafe. There is also a monastery up there and rather less romantically, an impressively large radio antenna that is part of a telecommunications station. The first monastery on the site was built with the help of villagers from Old Perithia using local wood and limestone. It was destroyed around 1537 and the one that is there now dates from around 1689, with a 19th century facade.
In the foothills of Mount Pantokrator there is a very special, ancient and atmospheric village, 400 metres above sea level, the only original inhabited mountain village of its kind on the island. Many of its 130 houses were abandoned and are now in ruins, although the village has more recently been recognised as an important part of the island’s heritage. Some of the buildings are being restored and there are four tavernas trading there as well as a successful B&B. (There is also a village known as New Perithia set along the main coastal road from Kassiopi to Sidari, so don’t get confused!) Old Perithia is in an outstandingly beautiful setting, surrounded by vines and oak trees, looking out to sea on one side and to the mountain on the other, with rolling valleys in between. It is a lovely place for a day out.