Get swept away by quaint and quirky Kefalonia

There are some places that are so unique and so vibrant, you’d swear they have a life and soul of their own, a beating heart hidden in the landscape. Kefalonia (or Cephalonia) is one of these rare places – this beautiful island has so much personality, it infuses everything from its architecture to its art, its stunning beaches to its soaring mountains, its people and their one-of-a-kind humor. Beautiful and stubborn, quirky and quaint, tragic and light-hearted, modern and old-fashioned, friendly and feuding, Kefalonia comes to life with the complexities of a real-life human being.

This island’s unique history plays out through the winding streets and lush green gardens of its many towns and villages. Proud and stubborn, Kefallonia and its natives withstood Ottoman invasion, were graced with the peace needed to nurture an illustrious literary, scientific and musical heritage, only to fall to the Great Earthquake of 1953. Razing whole towns, the quake destroyed much of the island’s Venetian architectural roots. And yet some villages were spared, left intact in tribute to Kefalonia’s venerable history and as a way for visitors to get a taste of the centuries’ old Kefalonia. In true Kefallonian spirit, the natives rebuilt the island and stood proud once again from the rubble of destruction – and even though modern, most towns were constructed to conform to the ideals of the past and revive the vestiges of their history.

Once you arrive, you’ll be swept away by the beauty and uniqueness of this island. You’ll find a little version of Paris complete with a meandering river and bridges, a vibrating rock by the harbor that’s a singular geological phenomenon, a gorgeous forest of rare Kefallonian fir trees that can’t be found anywhere else in the world and a stunning cave that covers a lagoon you can only explore by boat. You’ll be able to swim at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, hike or mountainbike your way through a lush forest that’s home to wild horses and badgers as well as a species of tiny purple flower that’s unique to this island and this particular forest, and go jogging or birdwatching at a lagoon that’s vital for the survival of migratory birds and Caretta-Caretta sea turtles. Let Kefalonia draw you into this very special world, introduce you to the laid-back but sometimes eccentric routines of the locals, and whisper its secrets to you. You’ll make a friend for life.

Towns and villages of the past in the future

Modern-day Kefalonia shows nothing of the tragic earthquake that struck in 1953. In fact, the locals’ friendliness and humor will make you think that the quake never happened, so make sure to ask them for more details as you sight-see. Begin by exploring Lixouri, the second-biggest town in Kefalonia. Also called Piccolo Parisi, or Little Paris, its charm comes from a river that meanders through town. Lixouri, founded in 1534, is sandwiched between lush green mountains on one side and stunning beaches and dramatic cliffs on the other, offering you incredible vistas and backdrops as you wander through this beautiful town’s winding streets. Make it a point to visit the many historical homes and churches you’ll find along your walk.

Photo: kefaloniaisland.org

Pop into one of the dark but welcoming churches, adorned with beautiful gold- and silver-gilded icons that glow in the candlelight. Explore the 19th Century Iakovatos Mansion. Built by one of Kefalonia’s wealthiest families, it was donated to the public by the family and now houses a beautiful library that boasts a very unique ceiling. As you’re wandering through rows of tall bookshelves, look up. You’ll see an example of Fatnomata architecture – adorned recesses built into the ceiling that replicate the decorations found on the ceilings of many Ancient Greek temples.

Also visit the Iakovatos Museum within the mansion to admire rare Byzantine icons, illuminated manuscripts from the 10th and 15th Centuries as well as antique furniture. Your walks will certainly take you into the center of town where you’ll see the statue of Andrea Laskaratos, a native of Lixouri and one of Greece’s most famous poets.

Although this statue is a tribute to the poet, it also symbolizes one of Kefalonia’s quirks – a centuries’ old feud between Lixouri and Argostoli. You’ll notice that Laskaratos faces Lixouri and turns his back on the town of Argostoli which lies across the water, endorsing the Lixourians’ belief that Argostoli unfairly became Kefalonia’s capital in 1757. To this day there’s a friendly feud among the two towns, with Lixourians believing they’re friendlier and more artistic than their neighbors. Ask the locals about this feud and you’ll be entertained with a slew of funny tales over endless glasses of Robola wine.

And because it’s essential (and highly entertaining) to hear both sides of this feud, head across the water to Argostoli, Kefalonia’s capital. This town was inhabited since Antiquity, razed by the earthquake and then rebuilt in a style that replicates 18th C Kefalonian architecture. Get lost in the meandering alleys and be sure to visit one of the many traditional Kefalonian bakeries. Taste some mouth-watering Kefalonian mandoles, the island’s trademark sweet that was introduced by the Venetians and is made of dyed red almonds and sugar. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to snack on this rich dessert while listening to an impromptu performance by Argostoli’s wandering Troubadours. Music is part of Kefalonia’s rich cultural history and a point of pride for Argostolians, who developed “kantades” or ballads that are sung by groups of men. There’s a unique musical trope in Kefalonia, called an Arietta, which consists of a tenor singing a solo, followed by the chorus sung by a choir. Originally developed in Lixouri, the Arietta has been adopted throughout the island by troubadours who regularly dazzle visitors with their beautiful ballads.

Photo: kefaloniaisland.org

Although Argostoli is the island’s commercial center, nature is never far in this lush green island. Argostoli overlooks Koutavos Lagoon, which was named after an Ancient Sicilian game called “Kotavos” that used to be played at Symposia. After dinner, men poured the remaining wine into a shallow vat and then threw in a piece of gold jewelry. The sound the piece of jewelry made as it hit the wine gave men clues as to whether the woman they were in love with returned their affections. Argostoli’s lagoon is shaped exactly like an Ancient Sicilian vat and is only 5-6 meters deep, which led the history-mad locals to adopt this unique name. As you can tell, Argostoli is proud of its historical and cultural heritage, which is why going to a play staged in the Municipal Kefalos Theater is a must for all visitors. Continue your cultural tour of Argostoli with a visit to the Korgialenio Institute which doubles as a museum. Photographs and artifacts provide a record of Kefalonian life before the earthquake, from Venetian times up to 1953. You’ll get a taste of the architecture, domestic and agricultural life, as well as being able to admire 12th Century manuscripts. Then wander through the cobblestone streets to Napier’s Garden, a unique raised park thick with trees and full of paths that lead you on a leisurely stroll. As you leave Argostoli, make it a point to explore the Castle of St. George, only 7 km away. Remains of the castle date back to the 16th C, while the castle itself was built in 1262 and was the island’s medieval capital.

If you’re a film buff, it is imperative that you visit Sami village, which is where Spielberg’s Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed. Ask the locals, who doubled as extras in the film or musical consultants for the festival scenes, to tell you all about the impressive sets and the stars, as well as the town’s history during the war. This quaint but busy fishing village boasts a number of excellent tavernas and isolated coves for your daily swim and is one of four Kefalonian towns that played important roles in antiquity. Sami’s ancient residents participated in the Trojan War, while Homer describes this beautiful town in his writings. Remains of Sami’s acropolis are still visible, as are the remains of the 2ndC monastery devoted to Agioi Fanentes. The local legend associated with Saints Fanentes tells of how three Roman soldiers left the army so as not to give up their Christian faith. When all three died at the same time, in the same cave, a local leper called Michael dreamt of the Saints who promised they’d cure him if he retrieved their bodies. Michael found the soldiers’ bodies, founded this monastery in their honor and was cured. The relics of the soldier-Saints are found in Sami’s cathedral.

Photo: abergavennynow.com

Continue by exploring the beautiful towns of Fiskardo and Asso. Asso will captivate you with its stunning views of the bay and quaint homes. Designed to almost hug the bay, the town boasts a number of gorgeous Neoclassical homes that survived the quake, so make it a point to wander through the tiny streets of Asso’s Riakia neighborhood. Once you’ve admired these fine homes, go to Fiskardo, which miraculously survived the quake unscathed. The beautiful village’s Venetian architecture, brightly colored walls, shutters and doors, and stunning gardens echo the quaint majesty of Venice and Murano in Italy. Be sure to visit Fiskardo’s 17th Century Church of the Virgin Mary of Platyteras, as well as the 6th Century Byzantine chapel that sits close to Fournia lighthouse. If you’re an architecture buff and love to see a record of living history, go to the ghost towns of Farsa, Valsamata, and Vlahata. Although in good shape despite the earthquake, these towns were abandoned. You’ll love the eerie feeling of deserted squares, dark churches and homes where fig and olive trees grow from kitchen and bedroom floors and touch ceilings. For another unique excursion, go to Kourkoumelata village which was rebuilt in a Swiss architectural style after the quake.

Forests, lakes and caves for sports junkies and eco-lovers

Hikers, kayakers, mountainbikers and eco-lovers will fall for Kefallonia’s beautiful and unique landscapes and eco-systems. Begin by standing on the strangest geological formation in the Ionian – a shaking rock found in Akrotiri in Paliki. This huge boulder sticks out of the shore into the Ionian Sea, where its base is formed in such a way that wind and waves cause the rock to shake. Although this shaking sensation lessened after the quake caused the rock to settle, it’s still evident. If you love odd geological attractions, be sure to wonder at the workings of the Katavothres in Argostoli harbor. Seawater enters through these underground rock formations, traverses the whole island below the mountains, and resurfaces in Melissani cave.

If you’re an avid hiker and mountainbiker, be sure to explore Ainos Mountain and its extraordinary fir forest. Standing at 1600 meters, Ainos is the tallest mountain in the islands of the Ionian and constitutes the smallest National Forest in Greece. The thick forest of Kefalonian firs is a one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon and supports a vital eco-system. These Kefalonian firs are non-hybridized and can only be found in Kefalonia, while the forest floor supports the fragile growth of Viola Kefalonica, a rare purple flower that’s carefully protected in the forest, so be sure to look out for them as you hike. The fir forest of Ainos Mountain offers the perfect habitat for wild horses, badgers, eagles, rabbits and foxes.

Another ideal location for walkers, cyclists and joggers who want to combine a sports-high with an eco-activity is Koutavos Lagoon. You’ll fall in love with the eucalyptus forest and brightly colored wildflowers that hug the lagoon itself, while birdwatchers will enjoy watching the ducks, geese, and swans that make the lagoon their home. Koutavos Lagoon also plays an important role in the reproductive and breeding habits of Caretta-Caretta sea turtles, while many rare fish also support this important eco-system. Another important spot for birdwatchers and hikers alike is Karavomilou Lake near Sami, where there are many ducks and the edge of the lake gives the illusion of merging with the sea. This lake also boasts another unique feature – sweetwater flows into it and is replenished by underground rivers that begin across the island.

Spelunkers, you’ve chosen the perfect island for your passion and hobby. Kefalonia’s geology and rock formations created interesting caves throughout the island, especially around Sami village. The island’s two most stunning caves are Melissani and Drogarati Caves. Melissani is a stand-out cave, as it can only be visited by rowboat. The cave domes a beautiful lagoon, and you’ll be able to visit two chambers of the cave by boat. Located close to Sami village, you’ll have to follow a narrow tunnel to get to the cave and then row in.

The first chamber is the largest and is an open-air cave as the ceiling caved in over 5000 years ago, which now allows the sun to shine in every day, giving the illusion that diamonds and sparkles float or rain on the surface of the turquoise lagoon. Of interest is the fact that the lagoon water originates across the island from Argostoli’s Katavothres, and is replenished every 14 days. The second chamber is closed and features an islet of archeological importance.

This Islet of Pan is where the Ancient Greek god was worshipped, and is also where the Statue of Pan and the Nymph Platter were found. In fact, the mythological origins of the cave are equally intriguing. The cave was named after the nymph Melissanthi, who was in love with Pan. He, however, did not return her feelings, and she killed herself in the cave. From Melissani Cave, head to Drogarati Cave which is located nearby. This 2,000,000 year old cave boasts stunning floor to ceiling stalactites and stalagmites which grow about one centimeter every hundred years because of the perpetually dripping water. At a constant 18˚C with 90% humidity, the cave is an eco-system of its own as it provides the perfect habitat for moles, bats and a species of tarantula that’s only found in this cave and at a few locations in Crete. Make it a point to ask if there will be a concert or play performed in the cave’s big chamber – Drogarati’s perfect acoustics beg for the use of the biggest chamber for recitals. This, however, is a rare event in order to protect the cave’s structure and eco-system.

Beaches, wines and kayaking in Kefalonia

You’ll be stunned by the sheer number and variety of beaches in Kefalonia – and they are all beautiful. Begin by taking a swim at Myrtos beach, one of the most magnificent in the world. You’ll have to follow the path from St. Efimia to get there, but the white sand beach coupled with sparkling blue waters will no doubt reward you. Atheras beach is the place for you if you’re looking for a quiet swim, and you’ll also be able to visit St. Spyridon Church. Platia Ammos beach is a real gem that native Kefalonians like to keep secret, while Lagadakia beach boasts sparkling white pebbles and deep waters and is little-known to visitors. If you’re a sea kayaker, Kefalonia is the perfect place for you. Whether you love day-trips or week-long kayaking trips, you’ll be able to explore the island and all its hidden coves.

If you’re a wine enthusiast, Kefalonia’s famous Robola wine and the many wineries and vineyards around St. Gerasimos Monastery will definitely impress you. Make sure you taste Kefallonia’s Robola wine with dinner at a quaint tavern by the sea, and visit some of the vineyards for a first-hand look at the cultivation and aging process.

Kefalonia is multi-faceted, quirky, quaint, beautiful and stubborn. This island has personality, and like any interesting person, Kefalonia is wonderfully complicated. As you visit towns and beaches, forests and caves, you’ll get a peek into the heart of the island as it comes to life before you. And Kefalonia will live on in your heart like a good friend after your holiday is over.

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Location - Kefalonia

Atheras Beach (Athera village)

If your ideal swimming spot consists of a beautiful white-sand beach and aqua-marine water, Atheras is a must-see. It’s kept a secret by the locals, and as such you’ll feel like you’re the only person there. Visit St. Spyridon Church nearby.

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Kimilia Beach (near Emblisi and Fiskardo village)

You’ll feel like you stumbled off Kefalonia and onto a deserted island when you find this beach. Take a short walk from Emblisi to find it. Isolated but beautiful, quiet but enchanting, make it a point to dive into the crystal-clear blue waters as you enjoy the uniqueness of this beach.

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Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli town

Birdwatchers will enjoy exploring Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli, as a number of birds seek shelter here. Ducks, geese, swans, warblers, flycatchers and herons are some of the species you’ll be able to spot. This is an important ecosystem for Caretta-Caretta sea turtles as well, and you can combine your birdwatching with a relaxing stroll through the eucalyptus forest on the banks of the lagoon. Although close to the island’s capital, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a quiet slice of countryside.

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Myrtos Beach (near Anomeria village)

This spectacular beach is famous all over the world for its sparkling white pebbles and turquoise water against a dramatic backdrop of sheer white cliffs. You’ll have to drive down a steep winding road to get there, but the effort is well worth the reward.

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Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli town

Birdwatchers will enjoy exploring Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli, as a number of birds seek shelter here. Ducks, geese, swans, warblers, flycatchers and herons are some of the species you’ll be able to spot. This is an important ecosystem for Caretta-Caretta sea turtles as well, and you can combine your birdwatching with a relaxing stroll through the eucalyptus forest on the banks of the lagoon. Although close to the island’s capital, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a quiet slice of countryside.

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Sea canoeing is a popular sport in Kefalonia, with a number of shops renting out all the equipment found along the more popular beaches of the island. Stick to the resort areas if you also need instruction along with the canoe. If you’re looking for a relaxing way to explore nearby bays, sea canoeing is ideal.

Photo: outdoorkefalonia.com

Kefalonia is the perfect island to explore by sea-kayak. The coastline hides a number of gems that are easily accessible if you’re a sea-kayaker. Hidden bays, tiny coves, interesting cliffs that shine bright white in the sun against a backdrop of lush green forests are just a few locales that beg to be discovered. Sea-kayaking is suitable for all ages and is a sport that’s easily undertaken regardless of athletic ability. A number of local sea-kayakers run day-long sea kayaking tours. If you’re an avid sea-kayaker, fanatic Kefallonian kayakers organize longer kayaking vacations that give you a unique tour of this beautiful island.

If you’re a die-hard canyoner, make sure to explore Kefalonia’s Fteri canyon. There are a number of guided trips, which will help you admire all the beautiful locations tucked away in Fteri. As you’ll need to propel yourself down the sides of the canyon to reach the lake and beach below, this route is recommended for experienced adrenalin-junkies. In the winter, you’ll have to traverse Fteri’s flooded areas, so if getting wet isn’t what you consider ideal, wait until summer.

Photo: outdoorkefalonia.com

Although parts of the island consist of hills and mountains and will require more effort, there are some ideal spots for cyclists. As always, be aware that roads are narrow, often wind, and have poor visibility around bends, and can be dangerous for cyclists.

Photo: www.twofargone.com

Palliki “route”
You won’t find a designated bike route, but if you’re willing to explore on your own you’ll love the area around Krokidata. This mostly rustic area is criss-crossed with quiet country roads that will take you through wetlands, olive groves and patches of soaring cypress trees. Again, please be careful as you cycle and take all necessary precautions.

Livathos “route”
Livathos near Lassi is one area that’s quiet enough for careful cyclists. Without many steep inclines, you’ll be able to explore beautiful villages and quaint olive groves as you cycle through quiet country roads. Make it a point to punctuate your cycling tour with a few dips in isolated coves you’ll discover on your way.

Ainos Mountain for avid mountain-bikers
If you’re an experienced mountain-biker, make it a point to explore this rare forest of unhybridized Kefallonian firs by mountain bike. Follow the routes most hikers take, that traverse the mountain ridge. Although not clearly marked, the route begins in Agrapidies and winds its way into the heart of the forest. You can also follow the “route” that begins in Arginia village. Many experienced mountain-bikers start by the sea and cycle right up the mountain, off-road.

Kefalonia takes pride in the quality of dishes served at its tavernas. Restaurant owners source fish, meat and vegetables locally – and you’ll fall in love with Kefalonia’s products.

Mouthwatering vegetarian dishes in Kefalonia

Make it a point to try dolmades, which are stuffed vine leaves sourced from Kefalonia’s many vineyards. Other vegetarian dishes of note include mouth-watering pies, called hortopites, made of locally gathered leafy greens – this is a highlight of Kefalonian cuisine, so don’t hesitate to order this wonderful dish. Another type of pie which is a perennial favorite of locals and visitors alike is zucchini pie which has a spicy zucchini filling and crisp pastry shell. If you’re a lover of hotter dishes, try strapatsada. It’s a mixture of eggs, peppers and tomatoes that turns into a very unique omelette.

Photo: www.inkefalonia.gr

Kefalonia’s local delicacies

As you wander through the winding streets of Kefalonia’s beautiful towns and villages, taste a few local delicacies. Pop into a bakery for mandola and mandolato. The origins of this dessert can be found in Venice, and when the Venetians integrated Kefalonia in their empire, the locals adopted some Italian recipes. Almonds are dyed red and mixed with sugar, resulting in a crisp red-almond bar. If you like this, you’ll love pastokidono, which is a very sweet quince paste. Cheese-lovers, you’ll relish browsing the shelves of local delicatessens, where you’ll find a number of excellent local cheeses, including Kefalonian feta and myzithra. Don’t forget to combine these wonderful cheeses with local honey from the Paliki area. Try the thimarisio (thyme) and anthomelo (rose) honey.

Photo: www.asproylas.gr

Wines and wine trails

Kefalonia is famous for its Robola wine, and you’ll no doubt understand why with the first sip you take. There are a number of wineries and vineyards you can visit and you’ll be able to appreciate the complexity and difficulty of the cultivation and ageing process and all the effort that goes into making this stellar wine. Vineyards are centered around St. Gerasimos’ Monastery, including villages such as Minies, Omalon, and Pessada. There are vineyards around Lixouri as well, which are well worth a tour.

 

The footpaths of Erissos (Northern Kefalonia - Fiscardo)
The 'footpaths of Erissos' is a small network of three beautiful trails around Fiscardo. The trails are all circular, and they offer access to remote beaches, archaeological treasures, beautiful villages and magical cypress forests.

Photo: www.kefaloniabyanna.com

Trail 1: The Lighthouse Trail

This short trail is the best option for a nice morning or afternoon’s walk near the picturesque city of Fiscardo. It moves along the Fournias Cap, which is an important prehistorical site. The trail passes by the beautiful Venetian Lighthouse, the British Lighthouse still in use, and the ruins of a Basilica that represented the largest Byzantine building of the Ionian Sea.

Trail 2: The Cypress Trail

The Cypress Trail runs mainly across a large cypress forest, as its name indicates. Easy to walk in summer too, it offers interesting insight on the way villages used to be connected before the roads where built. From many places the views to the channel between Kefalonia and Ithaki, along with the dark green color of the forest, are spectacular.

Trail 3: The Battery Trail

This is the longest trail of the network. Easy to walk, it offers a fascinating journey into the nature and history of the area. Passing by old, ruined castles, traditional villages, and ancient Venetian trails, it reaches the Battery, a German military base of WWII. From there, the trail moves close to the coast, meandering by crystalline water beaches and under a dense strawberry tree forest, before finally returning to Fiscardo.

Hike your way through beautiful Ainos Mountain

Photo: www.kefaloniabyanna.com

Hikers will love the various trails that lead through Ainos Mountain. Explore Ainos Mountain and its extraordinary fir forest. Standing at 1600 meters, Ainos is the tallest mountain in the islands of the Ionian and constitutes the smallest National Forest in Greece. The thick forest of Kefalonian firs is a one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon and supports a vital eco-system. These Kefalonian firs are non-hybridized and can only be found in Kefalonia, while the forest floor supports the fragile growth of Viola Kefalonica, a rare purple flower that’s carefully protected in the forest, so be sure to look out for them as you hike. The fir forest of Ainos Mountain offers the perfect habitat for wild horses, badgers, eagles, rabbits and foxes.

Trails through Ainos Mountain

Follow the routes that traverse the mountain ridge. Although not clearly marked, one route begins in Agrapidies and winds its way into the heart of the forest. You can also follow the route that begins in Arginia village. Another favorite route begins at Agios Eleftherios pass and leads through the most beautiful thickets of the fir forest, and finally takes you to the peak of Ainos Mountain, called Mega Soros. Before you head back down, admire the view and explore the remains of a temple dedicated to Zeus. As you make your way back down the mountain, choose to follow the hiking trail towards Arginia village. You’ll be able to walk through the stunning habitat that wild horses call home. There aren’t many horses in this herd, so keep looking for them. They’re smaller in size than average horses and are the descendants of domestic horses that were let loose in Kefalonia from the mainland. Many experienced hikers start by the sea and trek right up the mountain, off-road.

Kefalonia is blessed with a number of well-equipped and ideal harbors and marinas that will meet all expectations. Argostoli, Lixouri, Sami, Agia Efimia and Poros are all favorites among avid mariners. This island is ideally situated for sailing holidays, as you’ll not only be able to tour Kefalonia’s beautiful shoreline, but also venture out to Zakynthos and Ithaki. If you’re a beginner looking to learn more about the sport, there are a number of certified instructors and schools throughout the island qualified to make your Kefalonian vacation even more memorable as you begin learning the sport.

Photo: www.kefaloniasailing.gr

Agios Nikolaos Beach (near Argostoli Town)

If you love sandy beaches and exotic seas, this beach is a must for you. It’s quiet and offers you beautiful views of pine and olive groves. If you like to explore while swimming, there are underwater rocks that make for interesting dives.

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Antisamos Beach (near Dihalia village)

Locals and visitors alike are always stunned by the beauty of this beach. Clear blue waves lap up against a white pebble shore that’s framed by lush green forests and countryside. If you love water sports, this is the place to go.

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Atheras Beach (Athera village)

If your ideal swimming spot consists of a beautiful white-sand beach and aqua-marine water, Atheras is a must-see. It’s kept a secret by the locals, and as such you’ll feel like you’re the only person there. Visit St. Spyridon Church nearby.

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Foki Beach (near Fiskardo Town)

You’ll feel like you’re swimming right to the edge of a lush green forest when you take a dip in Foki. Beautiful aquamarine waves lap up to sparkling white pebbles that in turn are covered by the shade of many trees. You’ll have to perch on rocks when ashore as it’s a small beach, but the view is amazing. Take a walk down the beach and visit the twin caves.

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Halkes Beach (near Livadi village)

This isolated and rugged beach is perfect for adventurers. You’ll have to hike down a difficult path from Halkes Springs in order to reach this beautiful white-pebbled beach. But the cool sparkling waters that hide a very interesting seascape will make it more than worthwhile.

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Kimilia Beach (near Emblisi and Fiskardo village)

You’ll feel like you stumbled off Kefalonia and onto a deserted island when you find this beach. Take a short walk from Emblisi to find it. Isolated but beautiful, quiet but enchanting, make it a point to dive into the crystal-clear blue waters as you enjoy the uniqueness of this beach.

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Langadakia Beach (near Xi beach)

You’ll be able to walk from Xi beach to Langadakia beach, and the contrast is enormous. Langadakia beach is isolated, quiet, pebbled with crystal clear blue waters that are deeper than they look, so if you’re an adrenalin junkie, dive underwater and explore the seascape.

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Myrtos Beach (near Anomeria village)

This spectacular beach is famous all over the world for its sparkling white pebbles and turquoise water against a dramatic backdrop of sheer white cliffs. You’ll have to drive down a steep winding road to get there, but the effort is well worth the reward.

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Platia Ammos Beach (in Paliki, near Kipouraion Monastery in Havdata village)

You’ll be stunned the views and beauty of this beach. Although it’s not easily accessible – you’ll have to walk and then descend 330 steps that have been chiseled into the side of the cliff – the bright white shore coupled with crystal-clear azure water will make the trek worthwhile.

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Atheras Beach (Athera village)

If your ideal swimming spot consists of a beautiful white-sand beach and aqua-marine water, Atheras is a must-see. It’s kept a secret by the locals, and as such you’ll feel like you’re the only person there. Visit St. Spyridon Church nearby.

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Kimilia Beach (near Emblisi and Fiskardo village)

You’ll feel like you stumbled off Kefalonia and onto a deserted island when you find this beach. Take a short walk from Emblisi to find it. Isolated but beautiful, quiet but enchanting, make it a point to dive into the crystal-clear blue waters as you enjoy the uniqueness of this beach.

Find Out More

Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli town

Birdwatchers will enjoy exploring Koutavos Lagoon in Argostoli, as a number of birds seek shelter here. Ducks, geese, swans, warblers, flycatchers and herons are some of the species you’ll be able to spot. This is an important ecosystem for Caretta-Caretta sea turtles as well, and you can combine your birdwatching with a relaxing stroll through the eucalyptus forest on the banks of the lagoon. Although close to the island’s capital, you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of a quiet slice of countryside.

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Myrtos Beach (near Anomeria village)

This spectacular beach is famous all over the world for its sparkling white pebbles and turquoise water against a dramatic backdrop of sheer white cliffs. You’ll have to drive down a steep winding road to get there, but the effort is well worth the reward.

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Kefalonia’s archaeological sites and excavations highlight the island’s importance in Ancient Greece. A number of important graves and locations were found, which prove that Kefalonia was a vital location in the Mycenaean period, from 1500-1100 BC.

Photo: kefaloniaisland.org

This island also played an important role during the Roman period, and recent findings suggest that Kefalonia was the most important island in the Ionian during this period. Tombs, jewelry and a theater are all important archaeological artifacts that place Kefalonia at the center of archaeological history. Some Kefalonians insist that Odysseus hailed from this island and that the mythological Ithaca in Homer’s Odyssey can be traced back to Kefalonia.

If you’re an avid spelunker, Kefalonia is the ideal vacation spot for you. The island’s breathtaking caves along with the sheer variety and uniqueness of their formations will stun you – there’s a reason why Kefalonia is a hub for spelunkers.

Photo: Matt Sims

Kefalonia is a beautiful island precisely because of its lush green landscape and varied ecosystems. From lagoons to forests, mountains to cliffs and a number of rare species of flora, there is much for nature-lovers to admire and learn about on this island.

Photo: www.kefaloniabyanna.com

Ainos Mountain

Ionian Islands / Kefalonia
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Kefallonia is an island that will astound you with its many natural wonders. Unique habitats support varied ecosystems that consist of rare species only found on the island. Ainos Mountain and its extraordinary fir forest is one such ecosystem. Standing at 1600 meters, Ainos is the tallest mountain in the islands of the Ionian and constitutes the smallest National Forest in Greece. The thick forest of non-hybridized Kefallonian firs is a one-of-a-kind natural phenomenon and supports a vital ecosystem for wild horses, badgers, eagles, rabbits and foxes.

Photo: www.kefaloniabyanna.com

Koutavos Lagoon is a must-see for nature lovers. You’ll fall in love with the eucalyptus forest and brightly colored wildflowers that hug the lagoon itself, while birdwatchers will enjoy watching the ducks, geese, and swans that make the lagoon their home. Koutavos Lagoon also plays an important role in the reproductive and breeding habits of Caretta-Caretta sea turtles, while many rare fish also support this important eco-system.

Photo: www.kefaloniabyanna.com

Also explore Drogarati Cave which is 2,000,000 years old and boasts stunning floor to ceiling stalactites and stalagmites which grow about one centimeter every hundred years because of the perpetually dripping water. At a constant 18˚C with 90% humidity, the cave is an ecosystem of its own as it provides the perfect habitat for moles, bats and a species of tarantula that’s only found in this cave and at a few locations in Crete.

If you’re a wine connoisseur, Kefalonia’s Robola wine will win you over. Locals carefully grow and mature this variety in a way that has made them famous for the quality wines produced. The Omala Valley of Kefalonia is the island’s primary wine-region, and most vineyards and wineries are clustered around St. Gerasimos Monastery. Most are open to the public so you’ll be able to take an informative tour and learn more about this interesting process. Minies, Omalon and Pessada villages are known for their mouth-watering Robola varieties, as are wineries around Lixouri.

Photo: Jean Housen

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Kythera Ionian Islands
Lefkada Ionian Islands
Zakynthos (Zante) Ionian Islands