With so many islands on offer, deciding which Greek island to visit can be tricky. If you’re after a laidback and authentic Greek holiday with picturesque scenery and beaches, Kefalonia is ideal. Even the cats seem particularly relaxed here. It’s all about enjoying life at a slow pace here: exploring the quaint fishing villages, natural wonders and pristine beaches; before devouring the delicious fruits of the Ionian sea. 

The island isn’t short of history either: Kefalonia has survived Venetian, French, Ottoman and even British rule as well as devastating earthquakes whose effects remain all too evident to this day. 

Those sold on the idea will like to hear that it’s easy to reach here with the airport in the “capital” Argostoli serving destinations right across Europe. And while the main city is worth stopping over for a few hours, just about every part of the island has something worth visiting. For those sold on Kefalonia by now, read on for my recommendations of where to visit.

Kefalonia Itinerary

 

Assos

Assos Village, Kefalonia

 

The sleepy seaside village of Assos is beautifully nestled on a natural 300-degree harbour, with pebbled beach bays to both sides. Counting not many more than 100 residents and seemingly an army of cats, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cats outnumbered the residents. With its views, narrow cobbled streets stretching up a hill and a strong selection of seafood-focused restaurants, Assos makes for a perfect tranquil base to explore Kefalonia from. Wandering the streets of Assos, you’ll occasionally notice the scars of the destructive earthquake of 1953. Nevertheless, the village has very much kept its charm and I can only hope it will stay that way.

Towering on the peninsula hill above Assos are medieval Venetian castle ruins, offering excellent views of the village. The peninsula makes for some excellent walks with almost no one around and cliffside views in every direction. 

While Assos is more of a fishing village with no sandy beaches to call its own, it’s just a short 20-minute drive from Kefalonia’s majestic Myrtos Beach with its azure blue waters. Just about everything else is within an hour’s drive or less. Assos is around 45 minutes’ drive from Argostoli and the airport.

 

Myrtos Beach

 

Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia

The postcard picture of Kefalonia is surely its most famous beach – Myrtos. A long stretch of white sand surrounded by near-vertical cliffs, the greenish-blue colours of the water here are so vivid you’d assume it’s been photoshopped. Even on a cloudy day.

Myrtos is one of Greece’s most stunning beaches, and surely one of the most special across the Mediterranean too. Yet it’s length and location means it’s not crowded, leaving some sense of wilderness and tranquillity, if the month isn’t August. With the beach facing West, be sure to come here for sunset.

It’s a hairpin route to get there, and the road has been liable to damage from landslides during the rare extreme rains in the past. It’s a beautiful drive nevertheless, and just 25 minutes from the village of Assos.

 

Melissani Cave

 

Melissani Cave Beach, Kefalonia

One of the hidden gems of Greece, the stunning Melissani Cave was revealed to the world when a cave roof collapsed in 1950s. Since Greeks love their legends, legend has it that a certain nymph Melissani threw herself in the waters in suicidal frustration of irreciprocal love. Legend or not, the sunlight entering the cave lights up the underground Lake Melissani in vivid turquoise colours. While 20 metres above, the grotto is surrounded by lush greenery. 

Upon visiting you can enjoy a rowing boat tour which takes no longer than half an hour. At noon, the clear lit water can create an optical illusion that make the rowing boats appear like they’re floating in the air (so yes, visit at around noon on a sunny day). Entrance is circa €7.

Karavomilos, the village next to Melissani Cave, is worth a quick stopover if for it’s peculiar lake situated right next to the Ionian seafront.

 

Sami & Antisamos Beach

 

Antisamos Beach Bay Kefalonia

Only a few minutes’ drive from Melissani Cave is the coastal town of Sami and the beaches surrounding it.

Sami’s fame arrived after the filming of the Hollywood blockbuster Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The movie captured an Italian Nicolas Cage finding love in WW2 Greece, and the actor’s portraits can be found in various establishments around town.

Most life takes place on the seafront, with a multitude of cafes and restaurants offering those classic seaside marina views. Sami also has a passenger port which gets busy in summer, serving as the ferry gateway to Patras on the mainland, Puglia in Italy as well as the neighbouring island of Ithaki.

One of Sami’s highlights is Antisamos Beach, another prominent scene from the aforementioned movie. Very different to Myrtos on the opposite coast, it’s pebbled and surrounded by forested hills rather than dramatic cliffs. It’s protected by a deep bay and the waves here are hardly bigger than in a lake. To me Antisamos was one of the most pleasant pebbled beaches I’ve come across.

On your way there or back, stop over at the Acropolis of Ancient Sami, located above the town. It’s not much more than a few rocks and walls remaining of the once-prominent Acropolis, but it’s more about the panoramic views of Sami and Eastern Kefalonia 

 

Fiskardo

 

Fiskardo Greek Dance, Kefalonia

In the very North of the island lies the sleepy fishing village of Fiskardo. Everything here seems to move at a particularly laidback pace. Fiskardo is home to some of the island’s most interesting architecture, thanks to being the least affected area during the devastating earthquake of 1953. Testament to the centuries of Venetian rule on the island, Fiskardo has many examples of Venetian buildings. Once you’ve spent a couple hours in the village, head out for an easy 30-minute walk to a Venetian Lighthouse.

It’s also possible to take a ferry to another Ionian island of Lefkada to the North, if you’ve somehow had enough of Kefalonia.

 

Best time to visit Kefalonia

May, June and September are the prime months to visit Kefalonia. May seems close to the sweet spot – the seasonal restaurants usually open up start of the month, the weather’s already great and there are few tourists around. September may be the best month as the sea is also warmest. If you can, I’d avoid August for the usual influx you tend to get elsewhere. For off-season, weather is less predictable and many establishments tend to shut for winter.

 

Getting Around Kefalonia

Cars or mopeds are hands-down the easiest option if you want to really explore the island and have the flexibility. Roads are quiet, but often twist and turn as they will inevitably take you through the local mountains. If you don’t mind, they make for some rewarding views. Just watch out for the occasional Kefalonian mountain goats who sometimes blockade the road. In terms of car hire, Kefalonia is one of those places where local companies are recommended and I can personally vouch for Pefanis Car Hire

Kefalonia Mountain Goats Camouflage

Buses are surprisingly far-reaching across the island, however the local KTEL bus service is very restrictive in terms of planning your itinerary. And let’s face it, Greece is no Switzerland when it comes to reliability of public transport. Taxis can get pricey and don’t assume they’ll use taxi metres. 

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