Sightseeing in Kefalonia
As the largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece, Kefalonia packs plenty of variety into its miles of fine coastline. Perhaps the biggest draw for visitors is the beautiful natural landscape, which seems to become ever more alluring the further you explore.
First on your holiday hit list has to be Mytos Beach near Sami. It’s the most photographed shoreline of the Ionian Islands, largely thanks to its steep limestone cliffs that plunge dramatically to a white pebble coastline. The waters that surround Kefalonia are of the most radiant blue, something you’ll also discover at the nearby Antisamos Beach. It’s backed by a thick forest of pine and eucalyptus for added idyllic beauty.
To the north, layers of elegant cypress trees surround Foki Beach close to Fiskardo. Meanwhile, Petani Beach has a similar stunning quality to Myrtos, with thick slabs of peaked rocks and twinkling turquoise waters.
Alongside its gorgeous shores, Kefalonia is a verdant, vibrant island. There’s something about the strong sunlight and great swathes of unspoilt countryside that brings the brightest, most captivating colours before your eyes. Melisanni Lake is a case in point.
First, head down into the shady depths of the Melisanni Cave, known as the Cave of the Nymphs in Greek mythology. You’ll then be taken on a spellbinding boat ride over the sparkling waters of the lake, while sun streams in from the hole in the cave above.
Drogarati Cave is also a standout natural attraction. Lit up in golden lights, this cool, spacious cavern is thought to be over 150 million years old. It even hosts concerts for up to 500 people, thanks to its excellent acoustics!
Evidence of the ancients is still in Kefalonia, especially with all the amazing Mycenaean finds that were dug up and are now displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli, the island’s capital.
The ruins of age-old structures still stand here too, especially in the area of Skala. Here you’ll find the remnants of a 4th century Roman Villa, with some colourful mosaics still intact. It’s also the region of the 7th century BC Temple of Apollo, where it’s said inscriptions were found claiming the area as Odysseus’ homeland.
The trail to the Cyclopean Walls is also a fascinating visit. Up close, you’ll see the sheer size of the 7th century BC stone blocks, lined up perfectly on top of each other. Likewise, it’s well worth visiting the 14th century St. George’s Castle. Renovated by the Byzantines and Venetians, it offers spectacular views of Kefalonia inland.
Activities in Kefalonia
Kefalonia may be famed as a quiet, peaceful island, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have anything to do! Here’s just a small selection of the activities available:
Ramblers will love roving Kefalonia’s dramatic mountainsides. Compared to the more arid Greek Islands of the south, the Ionian area is positively lush. And that can begin with Kefalonia’s highest point – Mount Ainos.
Standing 1,628m tall, the journey to the peak is a great adventure, taking in forests of black pine and Greek fir. You’ll be surprised to find that local villagers actually live on the hillsides of the great mountain too. At the top, on a clear day you’ll be rewarded with views that stretch all the way to Zante, Ithaca and Lefkada.
Another favoured route is the coastal walk from Skala to Poros. Encompassing the dreamy beaches and authentic villages, the entire route reaches 8 miles and can take around 3 hours, so you’ll need strong legs to go the full distance! Reward yourself with a delicious treat at an authentic bakery in the port town of Poros.
Watersports are another way to make the most of Kefalonia’s natural beauty. Calm currents and crystalline waters create the perfect conditions for diving, and there is an array of colourful marine life under the water. With four dive centres and over 80 dive sites, there’s something for every age and ability.
If you’d prefer to stay on the water’s surface, sea kayaking is another popular pastime. There are expeditions available for both experienced kayakers and complete beginners. You’ll get to discover white sandy beaches and tiny sea caves only accessible by this unique way to travel.
Family fun in Kefalonia
If you’re flying to Kefalonia with your family, there are plenty of activities that make the most of the island’s stunning natural landscape. The Greek locals generally have a very family-focused ethos, so you can expect a warm welcome wherever you go too.
There are several Blue Flag beaches on Kefalonia – it’s the EU accolade for cleanliness and safety. Skala Beach is one such example. Its golden sand and shingle gently shelves to shallow, clear waters that are ideal for swimming and paddling for children. They’ll also enjoy building sandcastles on Ammes Beach while watching aeroplanes soaring low overhead. The beach is just minutes from the airport, so you can actually see aircraft landing and taking off!
Another fascinating way to spend a day by the beach is at Kaminia. It’s famed for being the island’s nesting beach of choice for the endangered loggerhead turtles. Adults and children alike can learn about the conservation efforts of a committed team of volunteers at the nearby environmental centre, converted from an old school.
Days on the sea
Beyond the beach, there are many great ideas for enjoying that beautiful blue waterfront. Makris Yialos Beach in Lassi offers paddleboats as a fun option for heading out into the sea. To venture even further, there’s also a brilliant boat tour that departs from Fiskardo every day. It even offers the chance to stop off, snorkel, and discover more about the vibrant array of marine life under the water.
Fun in motion
The Skala Mini Train is a great way to get around the resort if you’re staying in the south of Kefalonia. It takes you from the centre of town north towards Poros on a circular scenic route, and the kids are sure to find it fun too!
Romantic breaks in Kefalonia
Beautiful coastlines are the standout feature of Kefalonia. Coupled with the atmosphere at authentic local villages, the island is the perfect place for a relaxing romantic break.
There are plenty of places for you and your partner to explore in Kefalonia. Begin at the capital, Argostoli, which has a rich heritage and a beautiful waterfront promenade to stroll along hand in hand. You can also visit the local nature reserve, Koutavos Lagoon, a nesting ground for turtles and waterfowl. Farsa is also nearby, a tiny mountainside village that still displays the crumbling ruins of the old town that resided here.
The charming towns to explore continue in the northern tip of the island, at Fiskardo. It was the only town to survive the 1953 earthquake that devastated the entire island. As such, it still has some beautiful Venetian buildings that sit right by the waterfront close to the marina. It’s a wonderful place to wander and sample the local tavernas, whilst enjoying the sedate atmosphere.
Lixouri is the largest town on the peninsula of Paliki, on the western side of Kefalonia. It has a refined atmosphere with a smattering of tavernas, cocktail bars and small shops based around its main square. But what’s particularly romantic about the resort is its coastline. There’s a superb selection to choose from, including the amber sands at Lapeda Beach, the golden sand and shingle of Vatsa Bay and the dreamy white cliffs by Assos Petani.
Kefalonia is well connected to the surrounding Greek Islands, the Greek mainland and even Italy. The island has several port towns, making it easy to get out and explore from whichever resort you are staying in. Argostoli, Poros, Sami, Lixouri and Fiskardo all boast marinas with regular ferry services to Ithaca, Zante, Brindisi in Italy and the Greek mainland.
Kefalonia is an excellent place to sample classic Greek cuisine. Local towns and villages have many authentic tavernas serving a wide range of national specialities, such as layered moussaka, creamy feta and meat stifado (stew). Kefalonians travel from far and wide to visit Katelios, as this small village is considered to offer some of the best family-run tavernas on the entire island.