Reasons Why You Should Visit Kefalonia, Greece

Fiscardo is a popular village on the Greek island Kefalonia
Fiscardo is a popular village on the Greek island Kefalonia | © enetimage / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Anna Kambourakis
24 August 2021

In a region of island stunners, the largest in the Ionian Sea shines beacon-bright. How could it not, with its plump green landscapes, untrodden beaches and wonderfully friendly residents. There are many natural wonders on Kefalonia, among them caves, cliffs and the only fir forest in Greece. Animal lovers can spot sea turtles and wild horses, too. Delicious fresh food and quality wine only add more incentive to come. Here are the main reasons you must visit Kefalonia.

Eat a slap-up fish dinner in Fiscardo

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
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Fiskardo on the Island of Kefalonia in Greece
Fiskardo on the Island of Kefalonia in Greece | © Gordon Bell / Alamy Stock Photo
The jauntily painted settlement of Fiscardo huddles in the north, delivering incredible views across the bay to the island of Ithaca – the mythical home of Homer’s hero, Odysseus. It’s a small fishing village that is surprisingly popular, pulling in thousands of visitors a year. Fiscardo is famous for its taverns, which lay on the freshest fish available – as you might imagine, given all the boats at anchor at the harbour. Fancy catching your own supper? Angling tours are laid on.

Wander Argostoli

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
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Sunset falls on Argostoli in Kefalonia, Greek Island, tropical view over the harbour, ships, boats & plam trees. Image shot 06/2009. Exact date unknown.
© Tommy (Louth) / Alamy Stock Photo

The capital of Kefalonia is the heartbeat of the island, even though it was devastated by the earthquake of 1953. Painstakingly, the people have built their city back. The streets are lined with cafes, restaurants and quaint shops – for the best shopping, take a wander along Lithostroto street, where storefronts spill over with unique handmade souvenirs. All in all, this is an easy city to explore, but you might rather do as the islanders do and people-watch in Kabana Square.

Stretch out on Antisamos Beach

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The famous beach Antisamos in Kefalonia island, Greece
© Constantinos Iliopoulos / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the best-loved beaches on Kefalonia is in the west, at Antisamos. It is fully set up for tourists, with sunbeds, changing rooms, cafes, bars and restaurants. The water is transparent, and the shore is covered in smooth pebbles (water shoes recommended). Flickering with silvery shoals, it is a particularly great spot for snorkelling, while scuba divers love it for the Roman shipwreck offshore. If you’re a movie buff, you might recognise it from the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001).

Hang out in its super-pretty villages

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
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Yacht boat on sea and view of Agia Efimia village on Kefalonia Island, Greece
© Pawel Kazmierczak / Alamy Stock Photo

For a real sense of what life is like on Kefalonia, head out to visit the beautiful villages that pepper the island. Most are by the sea – notably Agia Efimia and Sami, both Instagram-worthy, with their brightly painted buildings and neoclassical architecture. Others – Peratata and Kourkoumelata – are laden with impressive fortresses, mansions and churches. You’ll want to rent a car and explore the whole island, stopping to chat with locals for more sightseeing tips.

Try wine-tasting

Winery
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The winemaking tradition on Kefalonia dates back to Neolithic times and is very healthy today, thanks in no small part to the Greek grape variety, robola, which grows here. It makes a light, citrusy white that pairs perfectly with the wide range of fish and seafood dishes served locally. The wineries are concentrated in the central and southern parts of the island, and those that are family-owned are open to visitors for tours, tastings and idyllic strolls through the vineyards.

See loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs

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Mounda Beach is the best place to catch a glimpse of loggerhead sea turtles. Tucked down in the southeast corner of the island, the beach is an ideal place for the young to hatch and make it to the sea, even though development in the area has threatened their existence. Great efforts are now taken to protect this precious species, ensuring a safe place for the turtles to lay their eggs. If you don’t make it here, you can spot adult sea turtles in the port of Argostoli or on boating tours.

Have a swim in Myrtos Beach

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Myrtos beach, Kefalonia
© Adisa / Shutterstock

Long considered one of the greatest in the world, Myrtos Beach is up there among the unmissable sights on Kefalonia. You arrive to witness waters of unfathomable blue and smooth white rocks beneath your feet (have suitable footwear, as there is no sand). The view from the summit, as you wind downwards towards that eagerly awaited dip, is breathtaking. Stop along the way for the perfect shot. There are umbrellas and sunbeds available to rent as well as a snack bar.

Catch a concert at Drogarati Cave

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For a truly unforgettable experience, attend a concert or event among the stalagmites and stalactites of Drogarati Cave. The acoustics of this curious landmark create perfect amplification for the music of the orchestra – which is a good thing, as the “venue” can host crowds of up to 500 people. If no events are scheduled while you’re visiting, come anyway to admire a unique Greek natural wonder that is estimated to have formed 100 million years ago.

Marvel at the unique fir forest of Mount Ainos

Forest, Natural Feature, Park
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Green Kefalonia island landscape in the mountains at Ayios Nikolaos, Pirgi district, with Mount Ainos in distance
© David Kilpatrick / Alamy Stock Photo

The highest point on the Ionian Islands is Mount Ainos, notable for its thick coat of fir trees. So concentrated – and imposing – are these that the landmark was christened Monte Nero (Black Mountain) by the Venetians. There are trails through the deep green for nature lovers and hikers of all levels, and Ainos is covered with hundreds of flowers and plants. If you’re really lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the semi-wild horses that inhabit this place.

Explore Melissani Cave

Natural Feature
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Kefalonia, Greece. Aerial view of Melissani Cave, Sami village.
Aerial view of Melissani Cave, Sami village. | © Sorin Colac / Alamy Stock Photo

Photographers and nature lovers need to join a boat trip to Melissani Cave – ideally to arrive at midday, floating in via a small tunnel, when the sun is right above and the whole spectacle is illuminated. How, you ask, if this is a cave? Like sinkholes in Mexico, it is open to the sky and thick with vegetation along the rim above you. Sunlight pouring in creates the illusion that the boats are floating in mid-air. This is a magic place, and, in mythology, it is called the Cave of the Nymphs.

These recommendations were updated on August 24, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Anna Kambourakis

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