On our late season holiday to Corfu we hired a little car and set about exploring this beautiful island. For one of our days out we planned to head up to the summit of Mount Pantokrator, which is the highest mountain in Corfu.
Our journey up the mountain was quite adventurous. We had only hired a very small car and at times it had difficulty gripping the road and getting up the hills, where the road was a bit damp from the overnight rain. But that all added to the adventure. We drive through some extremely remote villages with beautiful Corfiot buildings and saw a lot of cats. The Corfiots love cats and we were amazed how many we saw on our days out round the island.
The views as we were climbing the mountain were breath-taking. I kept stopping the car and hopping out to take photos. We were looking down from the high points and up from the lower road, as we were amazed how the mountain disappeared into the low laying cloud. It was truly awesome.
When we arrived at the top of the mountain, it was very cloudy. The overnight rain clouds hadn't burnt off yet and so the visibility was quite poor, it was very damp and quite windy.
We decided to explore what was on top of the mountain. The first place we came past was a little café, we decided not to stop for a cup of tea, but this would have been lovely if it had been a clearer day. We then walked into the grounds of the monastery.
The Pantokrator monastery is on the same site as the older Angevin monastery, which was built in the 1300s and completely destroyed in the early 16th century. The new monastery has been rebuild via donations from the people of the surrounding villages. It's really quite a stunning building and not what you would expect to find on the top of a mountain. The ground of the monastery is strangely full of lots of cats. I wondered to myself, how did the cats get there? The nearest village is probably a couple of hours walk away. Who feeds them? The cats are clearly used to visitors and were enjoying the attention. Many posing for photos.
Also at the top of the Mountain you can enjoy beautiful views across most of the island, the neighbouring island of Paxos and also nearby Albania. On a clear day, it is said that you can see Italy too. As I mentioned it was quite cloudy when we first arrived and there was low laying cloud in most of our photos. It burned off whilst we were up there, which transformed our time at the top of the mountain from a cold, damp affair to one where we were getting quite hot and a little sun-kissed from the sun.
There's also a little gift shop selling a variety of Corfiot souvenirs and also a number of church-related items. There's also a telecommunication station opposite the monastery, which you can walk right through and enjoy the views from that side of the mountain.
I would highly recommend a visit to Mount Pantokrator if you are visiting Corfu. As I mentioned, we hired a car and drove up the mountain. From what I can see, you could drive to Old Perithia and then enjoy a two hour hike up the mountain, although I have read that some of the routes aren't very well maintained. If you started from the bottom, some people suggest it is a seven hour hike up. Whatever you decide, best come prepared, as the roads are challenging and there can be a long distance between one town and the next.