Kefalonia travel guide

What to See

For the visitor, Kefalonia is a place full of wonders. It is not only the largest of the Ionian islands, it offers a variety of activities and features not found anywhere else in such frequency or quality. The island's natural features and its unique cultural character make it one of the best destinations in Greece.

Kefalonia is sprinkled with countless churches and monasteries. Many of them feature unique frescoes and legends. More notable among them are the Monastery of Ag. Gerasimos (about 15 km from Argostoli, near Valsamata) which is the destination of a pilgrimage that many Orthodox Greeks undertake on August 16 and October 20th. Another special place of worship for Greek Orthodox Christians is the temple of Our Lady at Markopoulo where swarms of harmless little snakes appear from August 6 through the 15th.

The Argostoli Archaeological Museum in the center of town is also of interest. It exhibits a multitude of artifacts ranging in date from neolithic times until the Hellenistic era. Well written text accompanies the exhibited artifacts which are mostly small and displayed behind glass in well lit vitrines. The museum can be negotiated in about half an hour of leisurely walk. Other museums include the Korgialenio Historic and Folklore museum that exhibits costumes and utilitarian and military objects that illustrate the islands long cultural history, and the Natural History museum in Daugata that offers an exhibit illustrating the flora and fauna of the island alongside numerous fossils.

The island is best known for its beautiful, and sometimes mysterious, natural features that have been the source of legends for centuries. Near Argostoli one can visit the Katavothres, a natural sinkhole where the sea water disappears before it re-appears on the other side of the island at Melissani cave and at Karavomilos some 17 Km away.

Kefalonia has numerous caves with the Melissani and Drongarati, and Agalaki caves being the most visited. Melissani cave ceased being a cave in ancient times when its roof collapsed leaving what looks like a lake at the bottom of a sink hole.

Kefalonia is host to the tallest island mountain in Greece, Mt. Enos which rises to 1627 meters and is crowned by a forest of black Kefalonia fir trees (Abies cephallonica) that covers about 28500 acres of protected national park. Mt. Enos is a popular hiking ground for visitors who are rewarded for the trip by unparallel views that stretch as far as the island of Zakynthos on a clear day. To the south of Mt. Enos, the coast is speckled with fine sand beaches which provide a favorite nesting ground for the endangeredLoggerhead turtle (caretta caretta) and the Green turtle (Chelonia mydas). The nesting season coincides with the human holiday cycle (May to August), and while the most important nesting grounds are in the nearby island of Zakynthos, the Loggerhead turtles do lay their eggs in the Kaminia and Skala beaches.

For the sun lovers, Kefalonia can boast that it offers some of the best beaches in Greece. Myrtos beach has been voted by visitors (at thalassa.gr )as the number one beach in Greece consistently for the past few years, and judging from my visit it is one of the best beaches I have visited. Other beaches that are worth a visit include Petani, Atheras, and Xi in the Lixouri peninsula west of Argostoli, as well as Kaminia, Lourda, and Makrys Gialos to the south of the capital. On the east coast Skala and Antisamos beaches are well worth a visit.

While Argostoli, is a worthwhile destination, the area south of the town from Lasi to Minia is overdeveloped and best to be avoided. This area includes the beaches of Makrys Gialos and Platys Gialos, both of which offer wonderful clear water and soft sand, but unless you enjoy large crowds, you will not be able to enjoy neither.

Where to Stay

Argostoli is a lively port and a good place to stay. It was rebuilt after the 1953 earthquake with modern two and three story homes on the west end of Argostoli gulf. It offers a variety of services and hotels mostly around the central square (Plateia Vallianou). Some hotels also line the picturesque waterfront, but the bulk of accommodations are built (or overbuilt) on the coast a little to the south of Argostoli. This area around Lasi and Makris Gialos offers a variety of hotels and apartments that are usually booked solid with packaged deals. A little to the east of Argostoli the area around Lourdata offers a more quiet surrounding, and further east on the coast the land is more sparsely populated until one reaches the east coast where the resorts of Skala and Poros accommodate large groups of tourists while still retaining some of their original character.

For a relaxing holiday the small towns of Sami, Agia Efimia, and Fiskardo are ideal. Sami is a typical small modern coastal town close to the nice beach of Antisamos and it provides ferry connections to Ithaki, Patra, and Kilini. Agia Efimia is the place my family an I chose to stay, and when we return to Kefalonia we would stay in Agia Efimia again. It is perfectly positioned to be a hub for driving excursions around the entire island. A half hour drive from Agia Efimia can bring you to either Assos, Antisamos and Myrtos beaches, or to the Drongarati and Melissani caves near Karavomilos. A little longer drive (45 minutes to one hour) can take one anywhere on the island including Argostoli, Poros, Skala, Fiskardo, and the Lixouri peninsula. Fiskardo is a very charming, quiet port on the north end of the island, and a popular yachting stop that offers ferry connection to Vasiliki in Lefkada (about 45 minute boat ride). Assos, a beautiful little town on a picturesque peninsula close to Myrtos beach and Fiskardo, is also a quiet place to stay, but its hotels fill early. Our family stayed in Hotel Boulevard Pillaros in Agia Efimia and we found it to be clean, with very accommodating staff.

What to Eat

Kefalonia offers some unique dishes that can be enjoyed at a sea-side taverna with the famous local wines. Kreatopita (meat pie), is a pie made with lamb and rice and aliada is a paste made with garlic and potatoes. Both are dishes associated with Kefalonia, and can be followed-up by the mandoles, a desert made with almonds and caramel.

Kefalonia island is also the producer of excellent cheeses like feta and kefalotiri, and of course the famous Robola wines made of grapes grown on the slopes of the island's mountains.

Things to Do

Renting a boat can offer a unique perspective of the landscape as one can approach the coast from a view not usually experienced from the road. One can find many rental places in almost every coastal Greek town that tourists frequent. We rented a boat in Agia Efimia and we had a great day visiting tiny isolated beaches and caves all along the coast. At € 70.00 per day we thought it was a good value. The boat we rented was well maintained and stocked, and we even got a half-hour long instruction before we ventured out of the port.

Scuba diving is also offered in many coastal towns around Kefalonia. Aquatic World offers scuba diving tours and lessons off the coast between Agia Efimia and Fiskardo.

Inexpensive acitivities such as hiking the slopes of Mt. Enos and swimming in one of Kefalonia's spectacular beaches should be in everyone's schedule. Myrtos beach is by far the best beach of the island. Driving around the coast, especially the east end, one can find a multitude of small beaches scattered around among rocks and trees, right under the main coastal road.

Getting To Kefalonia

By Air
Daily flights from Athens and charter flights from Europe arrive at the airport just t the south of Argostoli.
Olympic airways offers flights from Athens

By Sea
Ferry service from Patra, Kylini, and Ithaca offers daily connection to Argostoli, Sami, and Poros. Daily ferry service in the summer connects Fiskardo to Vasiliki in Lefkada.

Patra is the main port that connects Kefalonia via ferry.

Best way to find ferry schedules in Greece is to call the local Port Police office.
Port Police Telephone numbers:

Agrostoli: 2671 022 224
Poros: 2674 072 460
Sami: 2674 022 031
Fiskardo: 2674 041 440

During the summer there is ferry service from Igoumenitsa and Italy (Brintisi).

By Bus
Daily service by KTEL from Athens via Patra or Kyllini to Poros and Argostoli.

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