You may well have heard of Kefalonia, the Greek Island which is the setting for the film Captain Corelli. It is the lesser visited Island in the Ionian Chain, located South of Corfu and North of Zante.
Kefalonia receives gorgeous weather throughout the summer, whilst receiving a good amount of rainfall in the winter. Its because of this that the Islands scenery is so stunning, green and lush.
The Island was hit by a major earthquake in 1953, with much of the Island being destroyed, many families left, only a few remained. Over the years many of those that departed have been returning to this stunning Island. Today you can still see the ruins of old homes that were just left after the dramatic events.
Thankfully I have been lucky enough to spend a number of great years living and working on this small piece of paradise. Now, much to the dismay of some, I have decided to share some of its ‘must visit’ locations, off the main tourist trail, allowing you to get the most out of a trip to this Greek Treasure.
Access to Kefalonia is easy throughout the summer, with main tour operators including TUI, Thomas Cook, Olympic and Jet2 offering packages. There are also flights available from the likes of EasyJet and British Airways. The number of operators is growing year on year as is the number of flights arriving at the island.
Following the recent sell off of Greek Airports by the government, private operators are looking to increase revenue and have enlarged the landing space at the airport and are now building a bigger terminal building.
One of the main pulls of Kefalonia, is that it is not over-run and whilst the Island is large (The Largest of the Ionian Islands), I wouldn’t want it to get TOO busy.
Resorts vary and the main bulk of tourists now find themselves heading to Skala. A busy resort located along a beach road, with a large pebble beach. Skala suits family’s due to easy access, beach and hotels with various board basis catering for those that want to budget. Couples looking for some luxury can also find gorgeous retreats here, including the stunning adult only Tesoro Blu Hotel a TUI Sensimar Hotel.
Those looking for some of the nicest beaches however may want to stay elsewhere or travel around the Island. If you are happy to stay self catering there are some great deals close to the airport, in the smaller resort of Lassi.
Located only 5 mins drive from Kefalonia Airport, Lassi is another purpose built resort, with a couple of hotels plus a large number of smaller, family run Self Catering apartments. We have stayed a number of times at Irilena Studios which come highly recommended. Like many apartments in Lassi, it is up a short but steep hill. As Lassi, unlike Skala is all hills, its not really suitable for those with walking difficulties. That said it does have many things that make up for this.
Firstly the beaches here are beautiful, sandy and with crystal clear waters. The largest being Makris Gialos.
Most of this beach is taken up by a large beach bar/cafe named Costa Costa, it gets busy, but because its so large, its not like your overly crowded. It’s also really nice to have food and drink served to you on your sun lounger, as well as having toilet and shower facilities at hand. If here is too busy, there are other much smaller beaches around this area too.
Another major benefit to being in Lassi and the main reason we love it, is that you can get to the capital Argostoli in about 15 mins by foot. (And on the way there its all down hill – you may just want a taxi back though).
Argostoli, unlike Lassi is very traditional, with many locals living, dining and socialising in the capital.
It’s a quaint place, with a main square which really comes alive at night. You will find Greek Families, with children playing until the early hours, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures of the night. Tavernas and Cafe’s line the Square serving up some Greek delights, including lots of Gyros.
Just off the square, the roads lead to Kefalonia Harbour. The island is popular with the rich and famous, especially those with boats. And while many of the larger yachts moor up in the millionaires playground of Fiskardo, some also like to stay in Argostoli Harbour itself.
By day you can get a boat trip out, or maybe watch the protected turtles seeking out the scraps left by fisherman, whilst in the evening, restaurants and cocktail bars are great for sitting and people watching. One of our favourites in this area is Captains Table, right on the harbour front.
Further down, and more used by locals, you also have a traditional taverna where you go and choose your dinner from whatever has been cooked that day. Usually you will find such dishes as Greek Pastitsio or Chicken from the Oven with lemon Potatoes. This is Greek home cooked food at its most authentic, and less then half the price as you’d find in more tourist centric restaurants.
Although the Island doesn’t have a huge amount of tourism compared to many Greek Islands, it is large and needs to be explored. This is best done by car, we tend to use a family run business called Pefanis – they have a ZERO excess policy and so you can drive around without worrying about picking up small bits of damage. You can book cars before you arrive here
One must travelled route is the coastal road from Argostoli to Fiskardo. This road will take you winding around the Island with some stunning scenery, including the famous Myrtos Beach.
Further along the road you can then turn off to Assos, a little sheltered bay which is great for swimming and grabbing some food or drink.
For most people, these will already be paradise, however we have explored further over the years.
Even further north you reach the village of Manganos, just past the small store on the main road is a turn off, which takes you straight down to Agia Ierousalim.
A small secluded beach, with pebbles. You can grab a sun lounger and enjoy this pretty peaceful delight. There is also a Taverna opposite which you can wonder across to, serving up traditional Greek fare. Close to Agia Ierousalim is a second beach, even more secluded and again with a great taverna
Alaties beach really is tiny, with white sand and clear water, you may find your one of only a handful of people here. The Acqua Alaties Beach Restaurant also serves up some amazing food.
We spend a week in Kefalonia each year, and their are many places that we havent visted in years, like Fiskardo, which also has some beautiful walks or Antisamos Beach, which has a hip bar with music, set on a white pebble beach great for snorkelling.
There are so many great places to seek out whilst on the Island, you will soon discover that one ,visit is just not enough.