The Ionian Islands or the ‘Eptanese’ as they have been nicknamed due to their number -see, ‘Eptanese’ in Greek translates to ‘seven islands’- consist of Corfu, Zakynthos, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Lefkada, Paxoi and Kythira; beautiful islands with wonderful natural landscapes drowned in lush vegetation.
The enchanting beaches with the crystal clear waters, the huge imposing buildings, the Venetian castles, and the traditional stone paths, all compose a fairytale-like, romantic setting that transports travelers to the glory of the olden days.
Corfu with its traditional villages surrounded by dense vegetation that reaches the sea will take you to another era. Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus, with its hospitable and friendly inhabitants, is an ideal island for quiet and relaxing holidays. Zakynthos will allow you to visit remarkable monasteries but also enjoy its endless sandy beaches. Kefalonia with its picturesque ponds, golden beaches, and natural caves will enchant you. Kythira, also known as the island of Aphrodite, is a quiet place for a quiet vacation. The beautiful Lefkada promises unforgettable moments to its visitors while Paxos with its wonderful beaches and sea caves welcome you in an atmosphere away from the stress of the city. Last but not least, Zakynthos, or the ‘Fioro tou Levante’ ‘as it is known, is a beautiful island known for its vibrant nightlife and postcard-like landscapes.
Let’s explore each and every one of the Greek islands that belong to the Ionian Sea.
Paleokastritsa, Corfu - credits: Balate Dorin/Shutterstock.com
For more than a century the island of Corfu has been received with much love by Europeans. After all, the excellent tourist infrastructure of the island provides the best conditions for holidays all year round.
Corfu is a beautiful island with unique natural landscapes and enchanting beaches scattered across its entirety. The city of Corfu - or ‘Chora’- has maintained the Venetian ambiance and charm so that visitors can tour the narrow, picturesque alleys, the famous ‘Cantounia’, and admire the magnificent Venetian buildings.
If you make the wise decision of choosing Corfu for your summer holidays, do not forget to visit the Old Palace with its beautiful columns and the main square of the city ‘Spiniada’.
Corfu’s Chora is dominated by the old castle which is built on a triangular peninsula that separates it from the city with a small canal. Another very popular attraction to visit is the church of Agios Spyridon, built in the 16th century and dedicated to the rich saint of the city.
Just 10 km from the city center you will find ‘Achillion Palace’, built in a lush garden. Its construction dates back to 1890 AD. and it used to serve as a resting place for the Empress of Austria Elizabeth, also known as ‘ Princess Sissy’ -yes, the Disney princess. Today Achillion houses the island's single casino, where locals and visitors alike gather to try their luck.
Whichever route you follow on Corfu, the landscape is idyllic and enchanting. Walking north of Chora will take you to the picturesque villages of Gouvia, Kassiopi, Rida, and Sidarieno. To the west of the city, you will find the areas of Pelekas, Glyfada, and the famous Paleokastritsa. If you are looking for golden beaches with crystal clear, turquoise waters, the beaches of Benitses and Lefkimi are waiting for you in the southern part of the city.
Due to its popularity, Corfu has an airport for domestic and international flights. Corfu’s natural beauty and traditional atmosphere inspire the visitor and make their vacation unique and unforgettable!
Frikes, Ithaca - credits: WitR/Shutterstock.com
Ithaca, the famous island of Odysseus. The destination for which he traveled through the seas for years and years. His ultimate trophy.
Although archeological excavations have not discovered anything that confirms this historical view, the scenery of the island with its beautiful beaches and picturesque villages attracts many wanderers that can be described as ‘modern-day Odysseus’ today.
Ithaca is located north of Kefalonia and is an ideal destination for nature lovers. The island has beautiful, with Filiatro beach being the primmest example, ideal for those who love relaxation, diving, and spearfishing.
The capital of Ithaca is Vathi which is also the main port of the island. Other cities worth visiting are Kioni and Frikes, one of the most natural and traditional locations of the island. What’s more, there are many interesting sights of historical importance, such as the cave of the Nymphs, also known as the Marble Cave. According to mythology, this cave was used by Odysseus to hide there the treasure given to him by the King of the Phaeacians.
As soon as you step foot on the island, you cannot miss the friendly atmosphere the welcoming locals create. The warm hospitality in combination with the magical landscape will make your vacations in Ithaca one for the books!
Assos, Kefalonia - credits: Adisa/Shutterstock.com
Kefalonia is a beautiful mountainous island with rich vegetation and impressive landscapes. It is the largest island in the Ionian Sea, and its shores consist of sandy and rocky beaches, ideal for a nature’s lover ultimate vacation.
The capital of Kefalonia is Argostoli, a beautiful modern city that however maintains a traditional character despite being rebuilt after the catastrophic earthquake of 1953 which leveled it. Of great interest is the Castle that has existed since medieval times and the church of Agios Gerasimos, the patron saint of the island. This location is also known as ‘Katavothres’, a really unusual geological during which the seawater rises up to the land and then disappears into the land.
Apart from Argostoli, in Kefalonia, there are many interesting cities to visit. One of them is Lixouri, the second-largest city on the island, which is built on the opposite shore of the bay. In Lixouri, you will find enchanting crystal clear beaches, the busiest of which is the beach "Xi" known for its crimson sand. A very popular beach is also the beach of Lassi which is located a short distance from Argostoli and is famous for its vibrant nightlife.
On the way to the city of Sami, the second main port of Kefalonia, you will find the cave ‘Drogarati’ inside which you can admire the wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. There is another cave further north, the magical cave of ‘Melissani’ with its unique lake, whose waters create a magnificent image when the rays of the sun entering from them enter from the entrance of the cave.
If you head to Fiskardo which, in addition to a picturesque fishing village, is also the favorite destination of boaters, you will meet perhaps the most beautiful beach of the island, the beach of Myrtos. The scenery of the beach is unique for this and it gathers a lot of people during the summer months. However, it is infamous for its wild, strong waves, so if you plan on visiting Kefalonia with children be extra cautious!
Close to Myrtos beach lies the beautiful village of Assos with its Venetian castle. In the south of the island is the national park of Kefalonia which hosts the highest mountain of the Ionian Islands, Ainos with an altitude of 1,628 meters.
Kefalonia is a beautiful island with very interesting locations, enchanting beaches, and wonderful natural landscapes, which is why it is at the top of the tourist destinations people from all around the world!
Kythira - credits: Heracles Kritikos/Shutterstock.com
Although it belongs to the Ionian Islands, the island of Kythira is not found along with the other islands, as one would expect. In fact, Kythira is located exactly at a distance of 10 nautical miles from the southern part of the Peloponnese in the embrace of the Aegean and the Ionian Plain.
Kythira is a beautiful island known since ancient times as the island of goddess Aphrodite. The capital of Kythira is the town located in the south of the island on the top of a rock, enchanting every visitor with the unique color that the combination of Cycladic charm and Ionian natural beauty gives it. Travelers can tour the narrow alleys of the city admiring the many Byzantine churches that exist there as well as the famous Venetian castle.
The view from Chora is magnificent as you can gaze at the picturesque bay of Kapsali which is the most cosmopolitan tourist resort on the island. Do not forget to visit the traditional fishing village of Avlemonas where you will be enchanted by the colorful scenery of nature that prevails. Following a road through the village, you will reach the most beautiful beaches on the island.
Antikythira is another beautiful island located between Kythira and the island of Crete and is an ideal destination for those who prefer a quiet and relaxing holiday. This is due to the warm and hospitable behavior of the residents in combination with the natural scenery that takes every visitor’s breath away, giving the atmosphere a feeling of calm and relaxation.
The capital of the island is Potamos. Antikythera is also famous for the many shipwrecks that exist around the island and which occurred in antiquity. One of them is now housed in the Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Both Kythira and Antikythira have an excellent tourist infrastructure with all kinds of accommodation for your stay and promise to give you the opportunity for ultimate relaxation!
Porto Ktasiki Beach, Lefkada - credits: Calin Stan/Shutterstock.com
Lefkada is another beautiful Ionian island located in the west of Central Greece near the region of Etoloakarnania, while the island is connected to the mainland through a passage.
Lefkada with its natural beauties and inspiring landscapes is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Greeks and foreigners. It is also known as the home of two famous Greek writers, the writer Angelos Sikelianos and the poet Aristotle Valaoritis.
Every August the island is flooded with people, mainly from the field of art, who arrive to attend the events of ‘Art and Literature’ which is an international folklore event that was first established in Lefkada in 1960.
The capital of the island is called -surprise, surprise- Chora with the imposing castle of Agia Mavra dominating the landscape between the small canal that connects the island with the mainland.
Chora is a very picturesque city that has managed to preserve the traditions and characteristics of the past. In its premises, you can find narrow alleys ideal for leisurely walks, as well as many modern buildings which were built in recent years giving the city a more modern touch.
Among the alleys, you will find the museum of Lefkada where you can admire remarkable collections of works of art among other fascinating exhibits. You can also visit the church of Agios Minas, which is located in one of the most picturesque squares that is also the commercial center of the city. About 3 km outside the city you will find the picturesque monastery of ‘Faneromeni’ which is built in a beautiful location. The area is considered an important religious center but also a very popular place for walks by the locals.
Starting from Chora, visitors can explore the island continuing south to reach the popular tourist resort of Nydri and from there to the traditional village of Karya, one of the most important in Lefkada. This is a site of enchanting beauty and remarkable architecture which is famous for the unique embroidery ‘Karsanika’, which are handmade in this area of Lefkada.
Continuing the tour, visitors can visit two of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, ‘Kathisma’ - also knowns as ‘Agios Nikitas’- and Porto Katsiki, a real wonder of nature, which leaves all of its visitors speechless. During the summer months, these beaches are flooded with hundreds of bathers who arrive to enjoy the crystal clear seas.
Lakka Village, Paxoi - credits: leoks/Shutterstock.com
The small but beautiful island of Paxoi is located a few nautical miles south of neighboring Corfu and is one of the most magical regions of Greece. It is a small earthly paradise that is an ideal destination for a quiet vacation and a source of inspiration for those seeking meditation, relaxation, and peace of mind.
Visitors who arrive at the small traditional port ‘Gaios’’, immediately see the beauty and feel magic of the luscious nature that dominates the scenery. The village of Gaios, which is also the port of the island, was named after a student of Apostle Paul who came to Paxoi to teach Christianity.
On the island, there are many picturesque beaches with crystal clear waters for swimming. The ‘Tafi’ - which translates to ‘tombs’, is a complex of natural caves that extend along the coast of the island allowing visitors to enjoy the sparkling turquoise waters of the June Sea.
Just southeast of Paxoi is an even smaller neighboring island, Antipaxoi, frequented by about 100 inhabitants. The island has beautiful beaches ideal for the hot summer months, however, it does not have a tourist infrastructure, so accommodation in Antipaxos can be a problem. Regardless, there are boats which, in the summer, depart from Paxos and transport tourists to Antipaxos for day trips, so you can get your dose of this enchanting island without spending your night there.
The unique scenery of both Paxoi and Antipaxoi combined with the warm hospitality of the locals and the delicious traditional cuisine will make your vacation unforgettable; trust us, it is worth it!
Navagio, Zante - credits: gorillaimages/Shutterstock.com
Zakynthos, the beautiful and world-famous Ionian island, is known by two additional names: ‘Zante’ and ‘Fioro tou Levante’ which means ‘Beauty of the East’. Once you arrive in Zakynthos, you can see, at first glance, why it was nicknamed as such, as its prominent natural beauty will sweep you off of your feet.
The enchanting scenery of the island, in combination with the developed artistic trends of the area, such as poetry, painting, and music, makes Zakynthos an ideal destination for unique, cultured holidays.
Zakynthos is the birthplace of many prominent men, such as the great Greek poet Dionysios Solomos who wrote the National Greek Anthem and Andreas Kalvos who holds an important place in Greek literature.
The current city of Zakynthos has been built on the spot where the old city once existed, which was completely destroyed by the strong earthquake of 1953. The reconstruction of the new city was done very carefully and holds a strong resemblance to the old one. On the island, you will find beautiful Venetian-style mansions and large covered squares where the locals gather wherever you turn your head to.
Walking in the alleys of the city one will come across many picturesque squares with remarkable historical buildings, such as ‘Solomou Square’, the square that hosts the municipal cultural center, and the museum of Zakynthos. Do not miss visiting the famous church of Agios Dionysios who is said to be the patron saint of the island.
The beach of Laganas in Zakynthos is one of the most remarkable to visit because it has been designated an ecological park and is the breeding site of the well-known species of sea turtle Caretta-Caretta. During the summer months, those who go swimming in Laganas have the opportunity to watch the turtles lay their eggs on the beach.
But Laganas is not all there is to it. Zakynthos is full of beautiful sandy beaches with crystal clear waters which every summer receive countless swimmers. During the summer months, daily boat trips are organized where you can visit the famous ‘’Navagio’ - meaning ‘Shipwreck’; a name that was given by obvious reasons one understands once checking out the bottom of the sea, where an actually shipwreck lies- and dive into the ‘Blue Caves’ in the area of Schinari.
Combining natural beauty, beaches with turquoise seas, and history, Zakynthos, the perfect place to catch the sunset in Greece, always has something unique to offer its visitors. Those who arrive on Zakynthos for the first time always return, enchanted by the island that is rightly one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Despite the Aegean Sea getting the most hype from worldwide media, the Ionian Sea and the Greek islands that belong to it, are a sight to behold. Rich vegetation, sparkling waters, and a laid-back vibe that makes relaxation a given make up a summer holiday you won’t experience anywhere else in the whole wide world.
Book your tickets to one -or multiple- of the Ionian Islands and we promise you, you’ll bever look back!