This year we paid our 5th visit to Arillas and we decided to go in early September instead of May/June as we’ve done previously. We booked Makris Apartments via Facebook; it was our third stay there and Lena, who runs the family business, arranged a local taxi to pick us up at Corfu airport at a cost of 55 euros (one way) and organised the return journey. The apartments are simple but clean; ours was on the 1st floor of a 2 storey block of 8, and there are only 3 or 4 others. Lena lives on site with her family and speaks good English; her mother and grandmother do the housekeeping for the apartments. The grandmother brings her donkey down to the apartments with her and it is left grazing near the drive while she works. There are cooking facilities in the kitchen but we only use the kettle and toaster as we go out for most lunches and every evening meal. My husband gets up early for a walk and on the way back pops into the local baker for a freshly baked loaf that we then eat with unsalted butter and apricot jam for breakfast. Our favourite restaurants are Brouklis Taverna (I’ll do a separate review), Vavilas fish restaurant where the fish has been caught by the owner, Thomas, and you can go into the kitchen to choose the fish you want cooked for you (absolutely delicious) and Graziella Taverna which overlooks the beach and is where we have lunch if we’ve spent the morning swimming in the sea: two of the waiters there always recognise us and the first time we ate there one of them chased after us on his motorbike with my husband’s wallet that he’d left on the table. I can also recommend Akrotiri Lounge Cafe which is on the cape between Arillas and San Stefano for its wonderful views of the Diapontia Islands and the superb salads.
The view from our apartment balcony across the swimming pool and bar area is largely green – groves of new olive trees, fields, small-holdings with goats or chickens or for growing vegetables, but there’s also a builders yard, small solar farm and d.i.y warehouse; behind the apartments the hillsides are covered in more olive groves. Arillas is a living village, which means that when all the tourists have gone home in the winter there’s still a population of 400 or more. On the other side of the village we can see Analipsi Church on top of the hill and groups of columnar cypress trees. Corfu is a green island and even though most of the streams have dried up by September there’s still enough underground water to keep the trees looking green. To the left we can see the sea, about a 15 minute walk down our quiet road. A busier road into the village leads to the main street and the seafront and we can occasionally see vans, lorries and the local Green bus passing along it. The bus route is from Corfu Town (Kerkyra) to Sidari, then Arillas and ends up in Agios Georgios and then returns to Corfu Town; it’s really for locals to get to Corfu Town for shopping but obviously tourists can use it. There aren’t many hotels in Arillas, most people stay in apartments or villas, but there are a couple near the beach and those with mobility problems might find these suitable for them, although I don’t know about lifts or facilities. This year I saw a few people driving electric mobility buggies so it’s possible someone is hiring them out. There also seemed to be a large number of hired quad bikes which made the roads busier than we’ve seen them before. Arillas beach is sandy and quite narrow for most of its length although there is a wider stretch at the northern end, but this is also the beach used by naturists. Sun beds are available for hire at 2 euros a day and a sunshade is also 2 euros a day, but worth it as the beach is kept very clean and free from seaweed. The seafront has many tavernas and a couple of supermarket/tourist shops and these continue into the main street, where there is also a cash machine, car hire and coach trip firm, clothes shops and a couple of music/tv bars, which is about as lively as Arillas gets, apart from special Greek music and dance evenings at the hotels. Arillas is definitely not for young people; they would soon get bored. Tourists staying in Arillas are mostly British or German. There is a 24 hour medical centre, with a lovely doctor (I know because he once treated me for heatstroke), a new recycling centre that is run by volunteers, one of whom is a British ex-pat. Arillas is a very community spirited village and holds free entry festivals at which tourists are welcome: this time we were lucky to be there for the wine festival which was a good evening of traditional dancing. A local band played non-stop for over 5 hours, and there was spit-roast lamb, souvlaki and wine to buy. Everyone gets involved – Lena’s mother from Makris wore her national costume for treading the grapes. An annual beer festival is also held on the last weekend in September as Arillas has a brewery.
To sum up, Arillas is a laid back, friendly and safe place to stay. Early September is probably ok for those who just want to sunbathe and swim but it was too hot for us to do much walking and there wasn’t much wildlife in evidence, also we needed the air conditioning to cool our room down in the evening. On the positive side, the water was warm for swimming and it was lovely sitting outside in the evening to eat. However, next time I think we’ll go in May/June again.
Package holidays to Arillas are available but the coach transfer takes longer than the flight from Gatwick which is why we now book independently.
“See the Arillas website for pictures, accommodation and restaurant guide”:http://www.arillas.com