When I first visited Kefalonia I had no expectations. The trip began a bit uphill when there was a strike at the Kefalonia airport, so we had to fly to Preveza on the mainland and then go by bus to Lefkas and continue to Kefalonia by ferry from there. Once we were on Kefalonia, we had to go by another bus for about an hour before reaching Lassi which was our destination.
The realisation that Kefalonia and the Ionian islands are a piece of paradise started on that boat trip from Lefkas to Kefalonia. The nature, the ocean, the views and of course the dolphins made all the annoyance about not getting to fly directly to Kefalonia disappear.
But the real moment when I fell in love with the island, was when we were on that bus from Fiskardo down to Lassi. The road goes along the sea all the way, and the views are just breathtaking. I remember that I just sat there staring out the window amazed that none of my freinds had ever talked about or visisted this place. By the time we reached the breathtaking beach Myrtos, I knew that this was going to be a great vacation. And so it turned out to be. And I have come back many times after that.
The island of Kefalonia is blessed with incredible scenery and untouched beauty and rugged charm unmatched by the other Mediterranean islands. Kefelonia is also home to one of the highest mountains in Greece, Mount Enos. For nature lovers the Island also is host to rolling hills and lush forests and vegetation.
Kefalonia is a big island and there are certainly different characters of this island depending on were you are staying. But no matter were you are staying you should without doubt try to visit Myrtos mentioned above, lake Melissani and the villages Fiskardo and Assos.
So what is a good spot to stay on Kefalonia. Well it depends on what your preferences are. Read some more about Lassi, Skala, Sami, Lourdas and Fiskardo to learn more about them before you decide.
Top photo by Dimitris Smixiotis (Flickr)
Kefalonia offers countless opportunities for exploration and adventure with its diverse landscapes, picturesque villages, and stunning beaches,. To fully appreciate the beauty and charm of this Greek island, it's essential to find the best ways to get around and discover its hidden treasures.
Rent a Car or Scooter
Renting a car or scooter gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore Kefalonia at your own pace. With your own vehicle, you can easily access remote beaches, mountain villages, and historical sites. There are many rental agencies on the island that offer a variety of vehicles to suit your needs and budget.
Taking a guided tour is an excellent way to learn about Kefalonia's rich history, culture, and natural beauty. Various tour operators on the island offer a range of guided tours, including cultural and historical excursions, wine tasting tours, and even photography workshops. Some tours also provide transportation, making it easy to visit multiple attractions in one day.
Hiking and Trekking
Kefalonia boasts numerous hiking trails that traverse its diverse landscapes, from coastal paths to mountainous routes. Hiking allows you to immerse yourself in the island's natural beauty and explore its hidden gems at a leisurely pace. Popular hiking destinations include Mount Ainos National Park, the ancient Acropolis of Sami, and the scenic coastal trails near Fiskardo.
Cycling is a fantastic way to explore Kefalonia's picturesque countryside while getting some exercise. Rent a bicycle and follow the island's quiet roads and trails, passing through charming villages, olive groves, and vineyards. Some tour operators also offer guided cycling tours, catering to different skill levels and interests.
One of the best ways to discover Kefalonia's stunning coastline and secluded beaches is by taking a boat trip. Several operators offer boat tours around the island, with options such as visiting the mesmerizing Melissani Cave and Lake, exploring hidden coves, and even sailing to neighboring islands like Ithaca. You can also rent a boat or join a skippered sailing trip for a more personalized experience.
Kefalonia's public transportation system, comprising buses and taxis, is a budget-friendly option for exploring the island. The bus network connects major towns and tourist attractions, while taxis are readily available in most areas. However, public transportation may not be as convenient or flexible as renting your own vehicle.
For a unique way to explore Kefalonia, consider taking a guided horseback riding tour. Suitable for beginners and experienced riders alike, horseback riding allows you to traverse the island's beautiful landscapes while enjoying a leisurely and memorable experience. Some stables also offer riding lessons for those who wish to improve their skills.
Kefalonia is blessed with an abundance of beautiful beaches that cater to all tastes and preferences. From secluded coves to bustling beach resorts, Kefalonia's beaches offer something for everyone.
Arguably Kefalonia's most famous beach, Myrtos is a breathtaking sight to behold. Its white pebbles and turquoise waters contrast dramatically against the surrounding limestone cliffs. Myrtos Beach is the perfect spot for sunbathing, swimming, and taking in the stunning landscape.
Located near the port of Sami, Antisamos Beach boasts crystal-clear waters and a pebbly shoreline. The lush green hills that surround the beach create a stunning backdrop for a relaxing day by the sea. Water sports, sun loungers, and beach bars are also available.
Situated on the western side of Kefalonia, Petani Beach features turquoise waters, white pebbles, and striking cliffs. The beach is an ideal location for swimming and sunbathing and offers a selection of tavernas where you can enjoy local cuisine.
Skala Beach, located in the southeastern part of Kefalonia, is a long, sandy beach with clear blue waters. It's a popular destination for families, offering sun loungers, umbrellas, water sports, and nearby restaurants and bars.
Famous for its reddish-brown sand and shallow waters, Xi Beach is ideal for families with young children. The beach is well-organized with sun loungers, umbrellas, and water sports facilities, as well as a selection of cafes and bars.
Nestled at the foot of Mount Ainos, Lourdas Beach features a mix of sand and pebbles with crystal-clear waters. Surrounded by lush vegetation and offering stunning views, this beach is perfect for those seeking tranquility and relaxation.
Makris Gialos Beach
Located close to Argostoli, the island's capital, Makris Gialos Beach is a favorite among both tourists and locals. The golden sands, azure waters, and vibrant atmosphere make it a perfect spot for a day of sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
Situated on the southwestern coast of Kefalonia, Avithos Beach features golden sands and shallow waters. Surrounded by verdant hills and agricultural fields, the beach is a serene spot to unwind and take in the beautiful scenery.
Foki Beach, located near the picturesque village of Fiskardo, is a small, pebbly cove with crystal-clear waters and a backdrop of lush greenery. The beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and its calm atmosphere makes it a great choice for a peaceful day by the sea.
Platys Gialos Beach
Close to the island's capital, Platys Gialos Beach offers a wide stretch of golden sands and shallow waters, making it ideal for families. The beach is well-equipped with sun loungers, umbrellas, and water sports facilities, ensuring a fun and comfortable day at the seaside.
Kefalonia offers a plethora of dining options that cater to a variety of tastes. From traditional taverns to modern cafés, you'll find numerous eateries serving delicious and authentic Greek dishes.
Identifying Quality Taverns and Restaurants
While Kefalonia boasts numerous eateries, it's essential to choose wisely to ensure a satisfying dining experience. Avoid establishments with large signs featuring pictures of meals, a bouncer outside, and few guests. Instead, look for taverns frequented by locals, as these are often hidden gems offering delicious and authentic food.
Village Dining Recommendations
Each village on Kefalonia has its own unique charm and dining options. Be sure to explore the local taverns and cafés in the different villages for a true taste of the island. Check out the village pages for specific dining recommendations.
Self-Catering on Kefalonia
If your accommodation has a kitchen, consider cooking some meals yourself for a fun and immersive experience. Argostoli, the island's capital, has a fish market, a fruit and vegetable market, and well-stocked supermarkets with reasonable prices.
Must-Try Kefalonian Dishes
Souvlaki: These skewers, made from pork, chicken, or lamb, are seasoned with thyme and lemon and are perfect for a light and flavorful meal.
Lamb Kleftiko: This slow-cooked dish features tender, melt-in-your-mouth lamb, seasoned with herbs and spices.
Gyros: A popular fast food option in Greece, gyros consist of seasoned meat, typically pork or chicken, served in pita bread with tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce.
Moussaka: A classic Greek dish, moussaka layers eggplant, minced meat, and béchamel sauce, creating a rich and satisfying meal.
Greek Salad: A refreshing mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, and feta cheese, Greek salad is a staple in Kefalonian cuisine. The salad is often served with a bread called "Horiatiko Psomi," which translates to "country bread" or "village bread."
Grilled Fresh Fish: Take advantage of Kefalonia's coastal location and indulge in freshly caught fish, grilled to perfection and seasoned with local herbs.
Meze: Enjoy a variety of small dishes, such as fried cheese, tzatziki, and stuffed vine leaves, to savor the diverse flavors of Kefalonian cuisine.
Wine and beer
Kefalonia is home to several indigenous grape varieties, the most famous of which is Robola. Robola wines are typically crisp, refreshing, and characterized by citrus and floral notes, making them an excellent accompaniment to seafood dishes and light Mediterranean fare. Additionally, the island produces wines from other grape varieties, such as Mavrodaphne, which is used to create rich, sweet, and fortified dessert wines. Kefalonian wineries and vineyards welcome visitors for tastings and tours, providing an opportunity to learn more about the island's winemaking heritage.
While Kefalonia may not be as famous for its beer as it is for its wine, the island does have a local brewery, the Kefalonian and Ithacan Brewery, which produces a variety of craft beers. Their flagship beer, Cephalonia, is a refreshing pilsner with a balanced hop profile and crisp finish, perfect for sipping on a hot day. The brewery also produces other beer styles, including ales and lagers, showcasing the creativity and quality of Kefalonian brewing. Visitors can tour the brewery and sample the beers on offer, making for a delightful excursion for beer enthusiasts.
On Kefalonia, coffee culture thrives, reflecting the broader Greek tradition of enjoying leisurely coffee breaks while socializing with friends and family. The island's cafés and coffee shops serve a variety of coffee styles to suit different tastes, from classic Greek coffee to modern espresso-based drinks.
Greek coffee, also known as Ellinikos Kafes, is a traditional and popular choice on the island. It is made by boiling finely ground coffee with water and sugar (if desired) in a small, long-handled pot called a briki. The resulting coffee is strong, aromatic, and often served in a small cup with the fine grounds settled at the bottom. It is typically enjoyed slowly, accompanied by conversation or a sweet treat.
In addition to Greek coffee, Kefalonia's cafés also offer modern coffee options such as espressos, cappuccinos, and iced coffee drinks like the popular Greek Frappé—a frothy, cold coffee beverage made with instant coffee, water, sugar, and milk or cream.
Whether you prefer traditional or contemporary coffee styles, Kefalonia's vibrant coffee scene provides ample opportunities to savor a delicious cup of coffee while soaking in the island's relaxed atmosphere and beautiful surroundings.
Although Kefalonia is renowned for its stunning beaches and picturesque villages, there is so much more to this enchanting island than meets the eye. Here are some of Kefalonia's hidden gems and lesser-known attractions that will captivate your imagination.
Melissani Cave and Lake
Take a magical boat tour on the turquoise waters of the Melissani Lake, situated inside a mesmerizing cave. This geological wonder is adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, while the sunlight filtering through the cave's opening creates a dazzling display of colors.
Approximately 3 kilometers from the village of Sami, you'll find the Drogarati Cave, estimated to be over 100 million years old. This stunning cave boasts impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations, as well as an underground concert hall with remarkable acoustics.
Mount Ainos National Park
Stretch your legs and breathe in the fresh mountain air as you explore Mount Ainos National Park. The park is home to the unique Kefalonian fir tree and offers spectacular views of the island and the Ionian Sea. Hiking trails of varying difficulty cater to all fitness levels.
Ancient Acropolis of Sami
Dive into Kefalonia's rich history by visiting the ancient Acropolis of Sami. This archaeological site includes the ruins of a temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis, as well as a Byzantine-era monastery.
Located on the western side of Kefalonia, the Kipoureon Monastery offers a serene atmosphere and magnificent views of the Ionian Sea. Make sure to visit during sunset for a truly unforgettable experience.
Castle of St. George
Take a step back in time by exploring the Castle of St. George, a 12th-century Venetian fortress that served as Kefalonia's capital until the 16th century. The castle offers a fascinating insight into the island's history, along with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
De Bosset Bridge and Obelisk
Visit the De Bosset Bridge in Argostoli, the island's capital, and stroll across the longest stone bridge in Europe. The bridge is also home to an impressive obelisk monument that commemorates the British rule of the Ionian Islands.
The Drapano Bridge and Lighthouse
Another remarkable bridge on the island is the Drapano Bridge, located near Argostoli. This stone bridge, built in the 19th century, leads to the charming St. Theodore Lighthouse, which is still operational and offers picturesque views of the surrounding area.
Wine Tasting at Local Wineries
Indulge in the flavors of Kefalonia by visiting local wineries and sampling their delicious wines, such as the famous Robola. Many wineries offer tours and tastings, providing a perfect opportunity to learn about the island's wine-making traditions.
Korgialenio Historic and Folklore Museum
Located in Argostoli, the Korgialenio Historic and Folklore Museum offers an insight into Kefalonia's rich cultural heritage. The museum showcases a collection of artifacts, traditional costumes, and photographs that tell the story of the island's history and customs.
Explore the scenes from Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a film released in 2001, starring Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, and John Hurt. The movie is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Louis de Bernières and is set on Kefalonia during the Italian and German occupation in World War II. A significant aspect of the movie is its breathtaking locations. Most of the shootings were filmed in Argostoli, Sami, Antisamos Beach, and the surrounding hills of Cephalonia.
Even if Kefalonia is a truly magical place, there are other places in the world that can compete with this greek island. For instance, the island of Madeira with its breathtaking nature. Much like Kefalonias west coast. Bur Madeira lacks the beaches that Kefalonia has. Madeira have lots of great hiking if you’re in to that. Other differences are the fact that Madeira is bigger and boosts a "real" city in its capital Funchal.
Other places to visit that in Europe if you like Kefalonia is Alicante. Everything around Alicante is bigger and busier, but still beautiful.
The hugely popular island of Mallorca is another place worth checking out if you’re a fan of Kefalonia. Mallorca is a big island and not all parts are as cosy as Kefalonia, so be aware and choose wisely. Look at places such as Puerto Dé Soller or Puerto Pollensa. They are both villages that are small and very picturesque.