Kefalonia island is an ideal place for the summer holidays, no matter your preferred vacation style. Whether you’re after a calm, family-friendly trip, or a more lively one, full of clubbing and fun. Discover the beauty of Kefalonia island and explore the Greek beauty, the unique nature, the wonderful sandy beaches, and the hospitality of its inhabitants.
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The island of Kefalonia is the sixth largest island in Greece and the largest and most mountainous island in the Ionian Sea. According to tradition, its name comes from the island's first inhabitant, the mythical hero ‘Kefalos’. The island has the ability to enchant its visitors from the very first moment they step foot on it, with its beauty and cosmopolitan character. Argostoli, the capital, as well as Lixouri, the second-largest city on the island, are the most important tourist centers of Kefalonia, with many options regarding sights, food, and entertainment, for all tastes.
Reasons to visit incredible Kefalonia
To dive into the famous waters of Myrtos beach
Myrtos beach - credits: vivooo/Shutterstock.com
Probably the most popular beach of Kefalonia and one of the most famous in Greece, the beach of Myrtos is a sight to behold. No matter how many photos of it you’ve seen or how much you’ve heard about it, nothing can prepare you for the allure of the endless blue of its water, which changes color as the hours go by, depending on the angle of the sun. Nor for its spectacular sunset, which, rumor has it, is the best in the Ionian.
To try its delicious local cuisine
Dinner for two - credits: Aleksandar Mijatovic/Shutterstock.com
The island is famous not only for its natural beauties but also for its incredible traditional flavors. Pies, greens, and meats characterize the traditional cuisine of Kefalonia, with unique and delicious recipes. The favorite appetizer is ‘skordalia’, a potato and garlic paste, which accompanies perfectly the fried cod and the boiled zucchini.
Among the most famous pies, which honor the daily table, are the Kefalonian meat pie, the cod pie, the artichoke pie, cheese pie, and green pie with wild herbs or wild cabbage with spinach and leeks. The best meat dishes include rabbit with garlic, rosemary, and lemon), and the ‘sofigado’, which consists of beef braised with spices and spaghetti or potatoes. In the taverns by the sea, you will also enjoy a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood
In Kefalonia, you will have the opportunity to try the excellent local cheeses, such as feta, mizithra, manouromizithra, kefalotyri, gruyere, and pretza. There are 14 cheese dairies on the island. From the traditional sweets of Kefalonia, try the ‘mandoles’, which are essentially caramelized almonds. ‘Pastocydono’, which is a quince paste with almonds, is also well-known, while ‘mystopita’ is a pie with must, semolina, and almonds, and is considered one of the best sweet delicacies of the island.
To explore lake Melissani
Melissani lake - credits: Shutterstock.com
Melissani's unreal lagoon cave is located on the east coast of Kefalonia and floods social media every summer thanks to the incredible shades of its waters. It is a particularly spectacular sight around noon when sunbeams fall vertically into the water from the roof. If the roof of the cave had not collapsed, we would never have discovered its striking underground lake!
To walk in the alleys of Fiskardo
Fiskardo - credits: Balate Dorin/Shutterstock.com
Fiskardo is a small, well-known village in the north of the island, the only one that remained untouched by the earthquake of 1953, which leveled almost the entire island of Kefalonia. Somehow, its traditional architecture has remained intact: Venetian mansions, pastel colors, cobbled streets, and a beautiful waterfront, ideal for evening walks, compose its atmospheric landscape.
To visit the luscious area of Assos
Assos bay - credits: Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstuck.com
The green peninsula of Assos joins the rest of the island with a narrow strip of land and is crowned by a magnificent Venetian castle. White and pastel houses frame the waterfront, while the view from the castle is spectacular.
To climb mount Ainos
The highest peak of the Ionian happens to also be the smallest National Park of Greece. One thing is for sure: the forests of Ainos are a sight to behold and a climb among them is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hiking enthusiasts, note that you can learn all about Ainos’ trails, routes, and maps here. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see the wild horses that live up here.
To enjoy a clay bath in Xi beach
Its red, crimson sand, which you have never seen anywhere, is due to the clay of the rocks at the back of the beach, with which you will do a free natural spa before each swim; everyone does it so there is no reason to be shy!
Green hills that stretch all the way up to deep blue waters, give the beach of Antistamo an eerie vibe. For that reason, Antisamo is a favorite destination for divers and lovers of the underwater world, especially thanks to the ravine created by the white pebbles at its bottom. For the cinephiles of the world, you should know that Antisamos beach is the one pictured in the film ‘Captain Corelli’.
How to get there
Cruise ship - credits: Anton Watman/Shutterstock.com
The ways in which you can travel from Athens to Kefalonia and vice versa are multiple. Of course, the fastest yet most expensive one by far is by air. This is the only way you can also access Kefalonia directly from a foreign city, such as London. If you choose to reach the island by airplane, you will land on the State Airport of Kefalonia ‘Anna Pollatou’, which was built in 1990 and is located in the southwestern part of Kefalonia between Lassi and Minia, about 8 km outside Argostoli.
Even during the winter months, the airports have daily flights from Kefalonia to Athens and from Athens to Kefalonia. They usually take place one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and the flight time is about 45 minutes. During the summer months, of course, the flights are significantly more frequent, with way more itineraries connecting Kefalonia to Athens and the rest of the world.
Of course, if you prefer to choose a more budget-friendly way, the public KTEL bus or your private car will also do the trick ideal. For the KTEL in the winter months, the itineraries from Athens to Argostoli are two, while in the summer months the itineraries are three. The ticket price for the KTEL is quite affordable and there is a reduction in the ticket price for special categories of people, such as children or students and various others. The route Athens - Argostoli is about 8 hours in total.
If you still choose to travel by car you must take into account the ferry routes. However, the route Athens - Argostoli by car is more or less also 8 hours, depending on the speed of the vehicle. The island is also connected with the city of Patra. The only routes from Sami to Patra and vice versa are two; one at 8:00 am. and one at 12:30 p.m. respectively. This journey takes about 3.5 hours. The ferries that depart from the port of Poros and reach the port of Kyllini are many more and at regular intervals during the day. This route is only 1.5 hours and that is one reason why there are more itineraries. For more information visit the websites: KTEL Argostoli, KTEL Attica.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is essentially no better or worse route and way of traveling to and from Kefalonia, but it depends solely on the person, the money, and the time available. Of course, if you can buy airline tickets it would be ideal as it is the most relaxing, fastest, and effortless way to reach your destination.
However, if you don’t feel like flying, either because it can get expensive or you’re simply afraid -no judgment here- the bus or your car are perfectly acceptable ways to reach the island as well. Especially if you have good company, time will pass very quickly. Last but not least, the ferry route to Kefalonia is wonderful and you should try to enjoy it, and capture as many pictures as you can of the seagulls flying above the sea!
The Best Towns and Villages to Explore
All towns and villages of Kefalonia hold a special place in the heart of locals and visitors alike, however below you will find our top favorites.
Fiskardo - credits: Aerial-motion/Shutterstock.com
The small fishing village in the north of the island is for many the jewel of Kefalonia. It was the only village that remained untouched by the earthquake of 1953, which leveled a large part of the island. As a result, it has kept intact its traditional architecture. Venetian mansions, pastel colors, cobbled streets, and a wonderful waterfront, ideal for evening walks, compose its atmospheric landscape.
Assos village - credits: Sadik Yalcin/Shutterstock.com
One of the most popular destinations on the island, the green peninsula of Assos, joins the rest of the island with a narrow strip of land and is crowned by a magnificent Venetian castle. White and pastel houses, many of them built before the famous earthquake and counting many years, frame the waterfront, while the view from the castle is spectacular.
Peratata is a small traditional village nestled on one of the green slopes of Ainos. It overlooks the beautiful Castle of Ai Giorgis and it is an ideal base for mountain lovers looking for a quiet place to stay. The detached houses with the red-tiled roofs and the idyllic nature that surrounds them are pieces of its charm.
Argostoli - credits: Andrew Mayovskyy/Shutterstock.com
Yes, the beautiful capital of Kefalonia rightfully deserves a place on the list of the best places on the island. This place has been established for its beautiful streets, wide sidewalks, such as the famous Lithostroto, and shady, picturesque squares, as well as for the multitude of attractions that are enough to guarantee a fun and dull-free time. These include the Archaeological Museum, the Korgialenio Historical & Folklore Museum, and the Botanical Garden at the Fokas-Kosmetatos Foundation. In Argostoli, you will also find some of the best options for your nighttime entertainment, with bars and clubs of different styles flooding the streets and becoming a meeting place for both young and older crowds.
The best beaches in Kefalonia
Much like the rest of the Ionian complex of islands, Kefalonia is famous for its astounding beaches. Here are some of its best ones.
Myrtos beach - credits: Roman Safonov/Shutterstock.com
We may have already mentioned this beach before, however, no words are enough to describe its beauty. Myrtos beach has a leasing role in most beach photos in the world. The stunning turquoise of its waters, in combination with the even more striking blue as they deepen and the soft, almost white sand, compose a dreamy landscape. Almost as dreamy as its sunset, with the sun dipping into the sea, for which it is worth staying here until late, especially, if you’re a couple in love!
Petani beach - credits: Adisa/Shutterstock.com
With its large white pebbles and unmatched waters, Petani is another place that reminds the visitors of the island of the excellence of the Ionian sea. Please be aware that if you’re more into quiet and deserted beaches, this one may not be for you, as there is a beach bar in the middle of the beach that plays music quite loudly. However, if you move away from the middle to the edges of Petami you can find peace and quiet, in addition to a nice shade to lay your towel.
Speaking of surreal landscapes, Xi cannot help but come to mind. It is one of the few places in the world where you can admire dark brown-red sand, combined with turquoise waters and reddish clay formations in the rocks at the back of the beach. Of course, Xi is more than meets the eye as it will not only offer you an amazing swimming experience, but also a natural spa experience. Follow the instructions of the locals and smear the clay found on the rocks all over your body before getting into the sea. The therapeutic properties are many, while it is a fun activity that also serves as an Instagram opportunity.
We have already mentioned this beach, but Famous to cinephiles as the beach of Captain Corelli, the magnificent Antisamos is adorned with large, round pebbles, and is surrounded by lush hills that end in its magnificent clear waters. Bring a mask and a snorkel to enjoy its spectacular seabed. At some point, the white pebbles create a steep ravine, beneath which extends the absolute, endless blue.
‘Avithos’ in Greek means ‘with no bottom’ and it is a somewhat synonym of ‘abyss’. Its name suggests that it is not exactly the ideal beach to splash in its shallow waters, or the place where children can learn how to swim. Regardless, its crystal clear, deep blue waters, and deep brown sand, deserve to give Avithos the title of one of Kefalonia’s most beautiful beaches. It is located very close to Argostoli and is also known for its amazing tavern, called ‘Avithos Preview’.
A breath away from Fiskardo is Foki beach. The name of the beach is due to the Mediterranean monk seals who visit it often, as ‘Foki’ in English means ‘Seal’. This small creek with shallow waters, which can be reached even on foot, is full of olive and cypress trees, which protect it from winds and waves. The right part of the beach has rocks, and it is suitable for those who want to indulge in a few dives.
One of the most organized beaches in Kefalonia, which also happens to be the favorite beach of the younger crowds of the island, is Makris Gialos. It is a dream come true for those who want to party and dance to loud music. Sunbeds, umbrellas, a beach bar, a variety of water sports, and large tourist crowds guarantee that in Makris Gialos you will do anything but relax. Of course, the landscape is not devoid of beauty: soft, light sand, crystal clear blue waters, and a tufted pine forest make Makris Gialos a feast for the eyes.
In northern Kefalonia, Emblisi beach looks like a swimming pool! The beach consists of stark white pebbles, while the bottom of the sea is sandy. The clear blue waters complete its enchanting landscape. Although Emblisi is not an organized beach, nature provided for it. Its white wide plates are ideal to spread your towel and enjoy the sun and the sea.
Lepeda beach is located 2 km from Lixouri. Its trademark is the large rock that enters the sea. The golden-red sand and the deep blue shallow waters make it especially beloved by both young and older crowds.
Getting around the island
Private transfers - credits: Corepics VOF/Shutterstock.com
As Kefalonia is a large island, in order to get around you will absolutely need a vehicle. You can rent a car, rely on public transport or even book private transfers to travel from one place to the other with ease and comfort. Some of the island’s beaches can also be accessed by boat which is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Argostoli, which is the capital and reference point of the island, is 2 km away from Lassi, 8 km from Lixouri, 24 km from Sami, 36 km from Agia Efimia, 40 km from Skala, 43 km from Poros, and 50 km from Fiskardo.
The public bus or ‘KTEL’ of the Prefecture of Kefallinia is housed in a new, elegant building, and fully serves the needs of the island with multiple itineraries in all directions, both within Kefalonia and to Patras and Athens. However, due to the ongoing changes in the bus routes, we suggest that you be informed by the KTEL itself about the routes and departure times.
Things to do in Kefalonia
There are a ton of thighs to do on the island, some of which have already been mentioned in the ‘reasons to visit Kefalonia’. Below you will find our top recommendations.
Enjoy the view from the castle of Agios Georgios
Climb up the castle of Agios Georgios to enjoy the rare view. The castle or fortress of Agios Georgios is located 7 km away from Argostoli and protected the first capital of the island. Built on a hill, it offers a nice walk and a romantic adventure with an impressive view.
Visit the monastery of Agios Gerasimos.
Pay a visit to the monastery of Agios Gerasimos in Fragata. In Fragata, on the road to Sami, you will find both the church and the monastery of the patron saint of the island, Agios Gerasimos. If you are lucky and believe in miracles, you may succeed in making a pilgrimage to the relics of the Saint. Even if you do not believe in God, it is worth visiting, as it will give you insight into the culture and traditions of the locals.
Take a walk around the Napier Garden
Don’t hesitate to go for a walk in nature in the Napier Garden. It is an elevated park with many species of plants and trees, in the heart of Argostoli. It remains open and lit 24 hours a day, while it will provide you everything you need for a romantic walk. Depending on when you visit, you may even stumble upon one of the concerts and live performances that are often held there.
Sip on a cocktail in Argostoli
If you’re in the mood for a delicious cocktail, Argostoli, and especially its enigmatic sinks, is the place to go. The sinkholes had been a local geological mystery for years, in regard to where their waters ended up. The mystery was finally solved, as the waters turned out to end up in the lake of Melissani, on the other side of the island. Have a drink overlooking this strange phenomenon for a night to remember.
Visit the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli
The Archaeological Museum of Argostoli will reveal to you the history of the island since antiquity. In the museum’s first room, you will see tools of the Paleolithic times and representative pottery of the Middle Helladic period. The second room is dedicated to the incredibly significant Mycenaean period for Kefalonia, while in the third you will see antiquities related to the Kefalonian period, but also findings of the Roman times.
Admire the bridge of Drapanos or Devosetos
The bridge of Drapanos or Devosetos is one of the most famous landmarks of Argostoli. The stone arched bridge was built by the British in 1813 and connects Argostoli with the other side of the lagoon of Koutavos.
Visit the Korgialenio Historical and Folklore Museum
The Korgialenio Historical and Folklore Museum is housed in the building of the Korgialenio Library and showcases the folklore tradition, as well as the culture of the urban and rural life of the island, from the Venetian occupation to the earthquakes of 1953. Its exhibits include historical documents, collections of personal items, household utensils, photographs, and ecclesiastical works of art, among others.
Explore Ainos National Park
The smallest of the country's forests is located between Argostoli, Sami, and Skala. This is the main route for hikers that starts from the base of Agios Eleftherios and ends at the highest peak, Megas Soros, crossing the endemic fir forest that stretches across 10 km. At the top, you will see the relics of the sanctuary of Aeneas Zeus. In the forest, on the way from Megas Soros to Arginia and the area of the Monastery of Zoodochou Pigi, there is a habitat of wild horses that seems taken straight from a fairytale.
Where to eat and drink
Traditional Greek food - credits: T photography/Shutterstock.com
The local cuisine of Kefalonia is excellent and visitors of the island should look to grab every opportunity they have to try it. To begin with, it is worth mentioning for the second time the spectacular tavern that lies on the beach of Avithos. It serves excellent local cuisine, and fresh fish and seafood. To elevate your experience, combine the delectable dishes with fine Kefalonian wines and a wonderful view of the endless blue of the Ionian Sea.
Next on the menu, is one of the most famous eateries in Kefalonia. Its name is known both around Greece and the whole world, even to those who have never visited the island. The tavern of Tasia in Fiskardo holds the scepter of Kefalonian cuisine, serving excellent local specialties, and unrivaled pasta with seafood.
Also in Fiskardo, you will find Anemoessa. Anemoessa places its tables by the sea and serves fresh, excellently cooked fish. Do not miss the chance to try one of the most traditional, homemade offerings, such as the wine rooster and the reddened beef dishes, accompanied by Robola wine.
In the area of Assos, you will find another popular tavern, Platanos. Being one of the favorite eating establishments on the island, it has gained a loyal following that swears by its fresh, local ingredients, and its excellent recipes. In Platanos, you will be served fish and seafood that have come directly from the sea. Its grilled dishes are also one of its strong suits, while there are many excellent vegetarian options, such as the vegetarian moussaka.
Without a doubt, one of the best places to try the local cuisine is Archontiko in Argostoli. It serves many traditional specialties, such as the Kefalonian meat pie and the famous dish of ‘exohiko’, which consists of pork with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and feta.
In Argostoli, you will also find Casa Grec, one of the most romantic restaurants on the island - if not the entire Ionian. Casa Grec serves creative modern cuisine, with Greek and Mediterranean influences, in a lovely courtyard lit by candles at night. Keep in mind to make room for their divine desserts, and you won’t regret it.
Last but not least, a personal favorite is Paradise Beach, located in the seaside village of Agia Efimia. There, you will get to enjoy panoramic views of the deep blue bay of Sami, and taste fresh fish and seafood, as well as homemade specialties including delicious ‘dolmadakia’, which are vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, rabbit stew, and Kefalonian meat pies. The chocolate souffle at the end is a must.
Our trips to Kefalonia
Woman enjoying Kefalonia - credits: Sven Hansche/Shutterstock.com
Getting to know a foreign place, and especially an island as large as Kefalonia is no easy task. It takes a lot of finessing in order to learn how to detect and avoid the tourist traps and how to get around the island in the most efficient and authentic way possible, and a google search can take you so far.
If you want to ensure your time on the island is enjoyed to the fullest and you want to combine a visit to Kefalonia with a more thorough exploration of the Ionian complex and an island-hopping adventure, then all you have to do is book our Ionian Escape: 12-day Athens, Zakynthos & Kefalonia Trip. Let your trip to Greece in the hands of experienced experts and make the most out of your Greek island vacations in luxury and
Kefalonia is one of the few islands that no matter how many times you visit them, no matter how many days you stay there you will not be able to see all its beauties because every time it has something new to reveal to you.
Its picturesque villages, sandy beaches, lively cities, surreal caves, all contribute to the creation of the ideal setting for your vacation and in a magical way make you promise yourself that you will return again.