Caution: Based on data and experiences of Summers 2004 and 2005!
(Traffic and Spots updated based on Summer 2012, thanks to Adam Crona for photos and information!).

Corfu's apron shot from the tower on a busy Monday noon.

 

Introduction

The international airport of Corfu is located just south of the island's capital.
The airport was built into a beautiful lagoon and a big part of the runway is actually surrounded by water. On the eastern side of the airport there is Kanoni hill which is running along the runway and which offers spectacular views down on the runway. This must be the main reason why Corfu is one of the post popular airports for plane-spotting, as you are very close to the action, have a wonderful overview and a sensational backdrop.

 

Traffic

Corfu's summer traffic is different on every day of the week, and every day seems to belong to a different region of origin. 
The most planes you will see are the ones of Thomson Airways (UK), Thomas Cook (UK), TUIfly (Germany), Air Berlin (Germany) and Aegean Airlines (Greece). Easyjet and (starting in the 2013 season) Ryanair are also pretty frequent visitors. Besides those, many of the common leisure carriers like Jet2, Novair, Transavia or Transaero show up a couple of times per week

Planning your stay: If you want to book a night at one of the runway-view accommodations, I recommend taking Friday night. Arrive early on Friday, spot the english wave on Friday, and after a good night's sleep you're ready for the german wave on Saturday.

 

DayRegions
Monday Busy day, lots of British charters
Tuesday Quite a lot from german speaking countries plus some Easyjets
Wednesday Very limited traffic, only 10-15 movements per day
Thursday About the same as Wednesday, some Ryanair flights
Friday Busiest day of the week: Lots of British charters plus some nordic airlines
Saturday Lots of german plus some nordic flights
Sunday Quite limited traffic; some french and greek airlines plus Ryanair

 

ATC Frequencies (as of 2005)

Incoming traffic is being handed off by Brindisi or Athens to APP who directs them near the airport. Then, about overhead, they change to the Tower frequency where they stay until shutdown.
Corfu is equipped with an ATIS-, APP- and TWR-frequency which are in use daily. Departing aircraft are handed off to APP ("Kerkyra Radar") who clears them about to FL200. Then they have to switch to a Radar station, Brindisi for westbound flights and Athens for eastbounds.

StationFrequency
Corfu ATIS 126.35
Corfu GND 121.7 (never in use)
Corfu TWR 120.85
Corfu APP 122.35
Brindisi Radar 132.075
Athens Radar 125.67

 

Procedures

As the wind is usually calm, both sides of the runway may be used as the controllers and pilots please. Rwy17 may be a little more popular: Planes reaching Corfu from the north (which most european charters are) can fly straight in, and upon departure, there's no need for a backtrack here. If Corfu is busy with arrivals, Rwy35 is preferred, because the aircraft are able to vacate the runway right after landing, without the need of a backtrack.

Still, even with runway 17 in use, you will be doing fine from the spots at the 35 (southern) end. Arriving planes usually taxi all the way to the end to perform their 180° turn. Departing aircraft are quite low here, and great action shots can be taken from the Kanoni hill.

 

Where to stay

There are several hotels at the Kanoni area around the Rwy35 threshold, but they don't offer runway views. The old spotter's favourite named Hotel Royal, whose rooms did, is closed now (12/2011).

However, Pension Anna Bouzi (pictured on the left) is located close to the runway, and offers formidable views (plus a kind hostess). Some photos taken from there:

 

 

Spotting Points

 

 

Spot 1: Kanoni Hill

The Kanoni hill is the hill running along the runway on the eastern side. The southern tip of the hill, just east of the Rwy 35 threshold, is one of the most famous sightseeing spots: It offers view of Mouse Island (Pontikonisi) and a cute little white monastery. However, it offers equaly good views of all airplane movements! 

The views from here are special because here you are actually standing above the threshold area, and so there are many possibilities for great shots with a sensational backdrop. From this point you have a superb overview and you can see the whole runway lying below. From this place you see the planes during the whole approach to Rwy35 until they finally pass you at the same level or some feet below you when they're on final. The point is equipped very well, there are small stores and two restaurants (and more within a five minute walk), so have a seat on the terrace, have a cold drink and watch the planes. That's the holidays you've always dreamed of, right?

Getting there Bus Nr. 7 from downtown Corfu, about a 10min ride. Or take a taxi to Kanoni Hill
Facilities Two restaurants with runway view terraces, souvenir shops, several hotels
Focal Length Side-ons: 60mm for a B767, 120mm for A320/B737. Up to 400mm for action shots of Rwy 17 takeoffs
Views Landings/Backtracks Rwy 35, Rollouts/Takeoffs Rwy 17
Best Time First half of the day

Approach Rwy 35

90° during Final Rwy 35

Touchdown Rwy 35

Climbout Rwy 17

Backtrack Rwy 35

Rollouts Rwy 17

 

Spot 2: The Dam and surroundings

Just in front of the treshold of Rwy35 there is a dam running across the lagoon, connecting the Kanoni Hill with the other side. Depending on your position on the dam there are many different kinds of shots possible and there is a big variety you can try out! From this dam, which is built for pedestrians, bikes and motocycles only, you have a good view on planes approaching Rwy35 (quite low over your head) as well as on planes backtracking Rwy35. If the aircraft are taking off from Rwy17 they are too high for good shots, but you can try ;)

Getting there From Spot 1, walk down the stairs (5 minutes)
Facilities None; buy drinks at Spot 1 and take'em with you!
Focal Length 25-75mm for landings Rwy 35, 150mm+ for planes on the runway
Views Landings Rwy 35, Backtracks Rwy 35, (Takeoffs Rwy 17)
Best Time All day

Backtrack Rwy 35

Near the dam

Deccelerating on Rwy 17

Takeoff Rwy 17

Sunset shots

On the dam

 

Spot 3: The Beach

On the western side of the treshold of Rwy 35 just at the end of the dam there is a small, sandy beach. There you can rent sunbeds and umbrellas for 2 Euros per day. So you can lie in your sunbed and watch the planes go by - not bad, eh? To take shots of runway movements, you need to climb back up onto the dam. But hey, it's just 10 meters away. That's doable, even on holidays, right?

Getting there From spot 1, go down the stairs and accross the dam (10 minutes).
Facilities No snacks, no toilets. Bring them from spot 1. Sunbeds and umbrellas can be rented at the beach.
Focal Length 75mm for landings Rwy 35, 250mm for runway movements
Views Landings Rwy 35, Backtracks Rwy 35, (Takeoffs Rwy 17)
Best Time Second half of the day

The Beach!

Backtrack Rwy 35

Departure Rwy 17

Final Rwy 35

Very short final Rwy 35

That's Corfu!

 

Spot 4: Nisos Taverna (overlooking the approach Rwy 35)

West of the final approach area, a taverna named "Nisos" has opened some years ago. It is overlooking the lagoon and the threshold of Rwy 35, and thanks to its open air terrace, it provides perfect views of Rwy 35 movements. In case you don't wanna spend your afternoons lying on the beach (Spot 3), and rather sit in the shade and have a cold one while watching planes, this is your place! See their website for menu, opening times and pictures!

Getting there Cross the dam behind the runway, continue straight up to the main road (2-3mins), and the taverna will be on your left hand side. 15 minutes from Kanoni. 
Facilities Come on, it's a taverna! :)
Focal Length 100mm for landings, 400mm for runway views
Views Landings Rwy 35, Line-ups Rwy 35; departures and roll-outs on Rwy 17 possible
Best Time Second half of the day

The taverna seen from Kanoni Hill

View from the Taverna

Landing Rwy 35

Backtrack Rwy 35
 

 

Spot 5: Line-up Rwy 17

This spot lets you get extremely close to the action. Planes landing on Rwy17 fly very low here - and for take offs, traffic on the road close behind the runway is stopped by a red light because of the jet blast. Yep, you're that close! There are spots on both sides of the runway axis, so this can be used as an all-day spot. In addition, you have a great view onto the general aviation apron, in case you're noting regs. On the western side, you're next to the apron of the firefighting planes and may be able to get close-up views of them taxiing in and out.

Getting there Leave the terminal to the north (left when exiting the building), and follow the road along the fence - 10 minute walk.
Facilities Nothing at the spot, but the terminal's not far away. Some small supermarkets in the vicinity.
Focal Length 50mm for side-ons on the runway, up to 200mm for more creative shots.
Views Landings Rwy 17, line-ups/takeoffs Rwy 17, taxiing/apron shots (heat haze is an issue here)
Best Time All day (afternoon side offers better photo angles though)

Taxiing from the apron

Holding short of Rwy 17

Lining up Rwy 17

Firefighter returning home to western apron
 

 

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