Kefalonia is the largest and most exquisite island in the Ionian Sea. Combining enchanting villages, breath-taking beaches, mysterious caves, and green-filled roads, this island offers everything a visitor wants. Chances are you’ve already heard of the island, seen it on photographs or in the “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, as Kefalonia has been the filming location of the movie.
Have I already persuaded you to visit the Greek island? If yes, fine! If not, here’s a list of 5 reasons why you should visit Kefalonia:
1. The variety of villages and towns to explore
Visiting a Greek island without going to villages, feels like you didn’t go there at all. In Kefalonia, there are lots of lovely villages to visit. You may have heard of Assos or Fiskardo, though you could check Argostoli, Sami, Skala, Poros and Lixouri as well.
- Argostoli is the biggest town and capital of the island. It is built around a hill and has a city-like feeling. There are shops, cafes, bars, and beaches around. In 1953, a major earthquake destroyed Argostoli and its magnificent Venetian buildings. The town has been rebuilt since then, though no efforts have been made to maintain the traditional architecture and the local colors.
- Sami is a beautiful coastal town and the second port of Kefalonia (the other one is in Poros). From Sami, you can travel to the town of Patra, the island of Ithaca and Italy (during the summer months).
- Skala and Poros are famous tourist resorts. Every summer they welcome numerous Greek and foreign visitors. Skala is remarkable for its natural beauty, clear waters, green landscapes and traditional tavernas.
- Assos village is picture-perfect. Dominated by the ruins of a 16th century Venetian castle, the charming village breathes Italian architecture with its colorful houses. Traditional taverns overlooking the bay are the ideal spot to enjoy a lunch after a swim in the wonderful waters. The visit to the castle requires a long walk amidst the olive tree forests. The journey is quite interesting but there is no shade. Avoid it during the hot months of summer around noon. It may be exhausting.
- Fiskardo is another lovely village on the island and an attractive destination for visitors. During the summer, there is a lot of action in the main coastal road as there are plenty of shops, taverns and cafes. Several private yachts and fishing boats create a cosmopolitan atmosphere, while most of the buildings still hold their Venetian style.
- Lixouri is the second largest village of Kefalonia, located close to Argostoli. Due to the earthquake of 1953, the city was destroyed, and lost its traditional charm. Though, Lixouri is quite popular with tourists. There, you will find restaurants, bars, and beaches to entertain yourself.
2. Beaches with crystal-clear waters
There is a plethora of choices throughout the island. Outstanding beaches and waters of greenish-blue colours will take your breath away. Among my favourite beaches are Antisamos, Makris Gialos, Platis Gialos and Myrtos. In case of visiting Assos, you can swim there too. The sea and the view of the mountains won’t disappoint you.
3. Interesting museums and things to see
Kefalonia has a variety of museums covering different topics and interests. While on the island, I visited Korgialenio Historic and Cultural Museum, and Kefalonia Museum of Ancient Greek Technology by Kotsanas.
The first one says it all by its name; it’s a folk-art museum, housed in the ground floor of the Korgialenio Library, in the capital of Kefalonia. There, you will see several traditional pieces (clothes, home stuff, jewels, paintings, furniture) from everyday life in Kefalonia before the earthquake of 1953, as well as a whole section dedicated to the destructive earthquake and what caused to the island.
The Kefalonia Museum of Ancient Greek Technology by Kotsanas was a pop-up museum in the island, though I got the idea that it will remain in the island the following years too. Featuring fascinating reconstructions of inventions from Ancient Greece, the museum was note-worthy. The exhibits are divided into sections such as games, theatre, entertainment, astronomy, geography, and time. Each item has a lengthy explanation in Greek and English and helps the visitors get familiar with the origins of modern technology. Among my favourite were the water alarm clock, the first human robot and the vending machine.
In the island, there are also the Natural History Museum in Kefalonia (which is permanently closed for renovation), the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli, and the Nautical and Environmental Museum of Fiscardo.
Caves are among the most touristic attractions of Kefalonia. There are two well-known caves attracting thousands of visitors every year, Melissani and Drogarati.
Melissani cave lake is in Karavomylos, an area close to the town of Sami. The roof of the cave has collapsed, so you can see the sky while being inside. During the day, the sunshine drops on the lake and makes the scenery magical. The whole experience is so fulfilling. Don’t miss it!
Drogarati Cave is an impressive cave in the area οf Chaliotata (3km away from Sami). The small cave features stalactites and stalagmites that have been forming for thousands of years. The landscape seems unrealistic and totally deserves a visit.
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4. The laid-back nightlife
There are several options throughout the island. Though, don’t expect to spend the whole night dancing. This is not an intense island. It’s more about lounge bars for relaxing night outs. You’ll find most bars in Argostoli, Fiscardo. If you’re interested in cool nights with refreshing cocktails, this island is ideal!
5. Delicious Mediterranean cuisine
During your holidays in Kefalonia, you’ll have the chance to taste Greek dishes made of local products as meat, fish, olive oil, vegetables, dairy products, and honey. Kefalonia is abundant with restaurants and traditional taverns. If you have a sweet tooth try the island’s traditional sweets, mandoles (almonds assorted with sugar and honey), pasteli (sesame-and-honey snaps), and pastokydono (a sweet made of quince puree).
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- There is an airport in the island. It’s a 15-minute drive from the town of Argostoli.
- If you spend a lot of days in Kefalonia, consider visiting Ithaca for a one-day trip.
- Get prepared for a lot of driving and spending time in the car.
- Ferryboat routes link Kefalonia with several neighbouring areas too. You can go to Ionian islands, Peloponnese (Patra or Killini) and even western Greece, Igoumenitsa.