Kefalonia is one of the most amazing Ionian Sea islands, that has some of the top attractions of Greece including one of the best beaches in Greece, the most stunning cave you can imagine and the picture perfect village
Kefalonia is the biggest Ionian island from Greece. Known as the “Emerald isle” of Greece due to its green forests engulfing the Ionian sea coasts, it has inspired Homer to tell the story of the famous Ulysses on his legendary journey in the Iliad.
It’s also one of the less visited in the Ionian Islands in comparison with the nearby famous Zakynthos and the popular Corfu. Therefore my expectations were quite mixed but having had seen some references and also some articles I decided to see if these wonders were really that true. I wasn’t disappointed, I think that I was really in a special wonderland!
WHEN TO GO TO KEFALONIA
The best time to go to Kefalonia is to go from June to September, when the temperatures are hot and the sea is quite warm with over 26-27 degrees celsius. Like in most Greece, you should anyway avoid August as temperatures might be very hot by then, surpassing 35 degrees celsius.
A good shoulder period is between the 2nd half of September to October as the sea is still warm and temperatures still hold to mid 20 degrees celsius. May is also a pleasant month but the sea temperature will still be in its low 20’s.
HOW TO GET TO KEFALONIA AND GET AROUND
By air will best option to get from Kefalonia, if you are coming from abroad. Kefalonia airport is on Southwest of the island. The best way to get to the capital Argostoli is by taxi (20€) and if you want to venture out farther away the you would be paying 50-60€ to Sami area on the east coast for example. Therefore usually the best way to move around is by car or taking any travel agency excursions to get your transfers done.
You can also get to Kefalonia via ferry, either arriving at Fiskardo, if you are coming from Lefkada island (Nidri) or arriving at Pesada if you are doing the journey from Zakynthos (Agios Nikolaos).
To get ferry tickets from Kefalonia (Pessada) to Zakynthos (Agios Nikolaos) and vice-versa, there will be a local van signalised with the ferry company’s logo called “Ionion Pelagos”. You can also buy the tickets from an agency, but not online. During high season ferries will be operating twice a day, you can consult schedules here with costs being 32€ per car, 9€ per adult (50% for children from 4-10yo). For ferries from Lefkada (Nidri) to Kefalonia (Fiscardo) you can book them online with West Ferry here. If you are on a shoulder season you can still get them a booth, but on high season try to get them online beforehand as the ferries have limited space.
WHERE TO STAY IN KEFALONIA
Kefalonia’s best place to stay is ideally in Sami, a city very well located Northeast, with good access to several attractions nearby and yet not that far from the capital Argostoli (circa 30 minutes). Some of the nicest properties have pools and are quite close to the main beach, there are also some more luxury properties on the way to Antisamos. The road to get to Sami is also quite scenic, overall a great experience to be based here.
A good alternative is to stay at Lassi, very close to the capital Argostoli, even if the beach quality will be different versus Sami, compensated having a very convenient location on the West Coast with lovely sunsets and you can commute easily to the capital of Kefalonia for nice walks and great choice of restaurants.
TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN KEFALONIA
The list of the top 10 things to in Kefalonia could be longer, but I really wanted to highlight the best attractions in this island , that you won’t find elsewhere in Greece and even in the World. That’s why these are the for me the must see places in Kefalonia, they are all magnificent and very special to visit.
Myrtos beach is without doubt the most beautiful beach of Kefalonia and probably of Greece, ranking often also among the most scenic in Europe. Being located 29km north of Argostoli, means that you can arrive here in less the 45 minutes down a winding road. Then you have two options: the first is that you go to the viewpoint of Myrtos on the main road that leads to the North of Kefalonia or the second option is that you go directly to the beach itself in a narrow road full of turns but with the operfect reward at the end.
I would suggest that you go the viewpoint of Myrtos beach first. There is a parking place and you can then walk along the road to get the best perspectives. I thinks that i was never so stunned by seeing a beach like Myrtos in my many travels, I said 30 time wow, before I could finally starting taking some pictures. The water colors are the purest blue, the sand is perfectly white and the hills and forests just make this half moon sheer perfection. I was to Shipwreck beach in Zakynthos, that is the most photographed beach in Greece but after being to Myrtos, I have no doiubt this should be at least get as many attention. Both are beautiful, but the colors here in Myrtos are more intense.
This gets me to the second point. the beach of Myrtos itself. There is a sharp right on the city of Myrtos that leads you through a dirt road down to the beach. The views will be again stunning as you will have the perfect half moon shape in front of you. The parking place leaves you just a few minutes from the beach that has a fine white sand just like any paradise beach. The sea color is so blue that it will leave you hypnotized. The downside is that after the sand there are some pebbles to get into the water, so take the special reef shoes to get you inside the water. Other than that is great for a swim, there are a couple of sun lounge chairs and umbrellas plus cafés here so you can spend here a great 1/2 day here. Myrtos is the paradise beach of Greece, I am sure you will love it too!
If there is more idyllic place in Greece and Greek islands, the beautiful postcard village of Assos. It has even featured in Captain Corelli’s film with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, something that launched it even to more popularity. To start with the location in a peninsula stretching into the Ionian sea is already. The colorful houses add an Italian charm to the village, added by a beautiful forest path heading to the castle ruins and then a lovely beach right in the middle of the Assos village. You should stop on one of the parking spots and then explore it on foot. Make sure you go to the right of Assos for the most beautiful view of the bay. From the path to the castle you have a couple of good viewpoints too, although not as good as these on the right side of the village. The hike to the castle takes around 1 1/2 hours return but it can be really hot in Summertime. Have lunch in the village if possible, the terraces here are really beautiful, I recommend you the traditional Greek restaurant of Platanos right at the bay.
Antisamos is one of the most beautiful bays and beaches of Kefalonia, perfectly encircled by the surrounding green forest hills, giving it a picture perfect setting. It was also one of the main filming locations for Captain Corelli’s film. Antisamos is a wonderful 15 minutes drive away from Sami town, the biggest in the area, accessible via a tarmac and then gravel road. The beach itself has beautiful sea colors due to its white pebbles, so do take reef shoes or good sandals. Has a plenty of sun umbrellas and chairs served by cafés so that you can have a quick meal and beverages. Antisamos is really one of the top things to do in Kefalonia, don’t miss it!
HOLY MONASTERY OF AGRILIA
The monastery of Agrilia is for me one of the best hidden gems, almost a secret spot in Kefalonia, just on the road from Sami to Antisamos beach. The chapel is beautiful but what really impresses are the views from the surrounding bays, mountains and beaches, simply stunning and worth a detour. For me one of the key highlights of Kefalonia.
Drogarati cave can easily feature as one of the top things to do just because of its great chamber, with excellent acoustics and beautifully iluminated. The 60 meters deep cave is accessible via a a steep descent, where you will be seeing some lovely stalactites and stalagmites, before the view of the Great Chamber will amaze you. The cave is 150 million years old and was discovered only when a earthquake made the entrance visible some 300 years ago. If you are lucky, you might even be able to see some cultural events as it can host up to 500 people. With a temperature of 18 degrees all year around, its actually pleasant to walk around despite the 90% humidity There is a free parking place nearby and the entry costs only 5€, its just 10 minutes drive from Sami waterfront.
ACROPOLIS OF ANCIENT SAMI
The Acropolis of ancient Sami is as the name says close to Sami and features as the only ancient ruins still testimony to a great fortified town since Paleolithic times. Its location was so incredible and its inhabitants so brave, that it features in Homer’s poems , Sami also was part of the famous Trojan War. Despite being conquered by the Romans in 188 BC, it still flourished and was one of the key trade centers of the region, so the ruins you will see and the castle are mainly from Roman times. Even if you won’t explore all the ruins, do enjoy the magnificent island views from the top of the hill.
Fuscardo village might not have the beauty of Assos but remains as one of the most picturesque towns in Kefalonia and one of the top things to do. Fiscardo village is located 50 km north of Argostoli, accessible via car in a little more than 1 hour. The village has a lovely waterfront with many private yachts and small fishing boats plus beautifull villas. It also offers nice views to the neighbour island of Ithaca. Its worth for a stroll around and to enjoy a few hours and as a base to visit nearby island of Ithaca.
Petani Beach is one of the top things to do in Kefalonia and could be almost considered the twin sister of Myrtos Beach. Its only 35km west of Argostoli and its water colours will stun you from afar as you approach the beach. its actually longer than Myrtos but not so wide, being a mix of fine sand and pebbles. The main downside is that is usually having some bigger waves and it does get very deep once you step in the water, but still a great swimming spot and a good reason to discover this part of Kefalonia.
Argostoli town is one of the top things to do in Kefalonia as the biggest and the capital cirty of the island. It has been fully rebuilt after the devastating 1953 earthquake that destroyed it more than other island capitals. Therefore, it does look more modern and cosmopolitan. Nevertheless its beautiful waterfront, the long 650 meters pedestrian stone bridge (called Drapano Bridge) with a small pyramid dedicated to the British Empire and its still colorful housing makes it well worth a visit. Argostoli also has great options to dine and enjoy some nightlife, so worth a visit when coming to Kefalonia.
Melissani cave is probably the number one top thing to do in Kefalonia, there is no ,more wonderful cave in whole Greece (and there over 8,000 caves in Greece). What makes it particular wonderful is the fact that it has an open hole almost in the middle of the cave, allowing the sun to iluminate its crystal clear lake. Its a view that even the Caribbean would be jealous of and was for me the biggest highlight of my Kefalonia trip. If you ask me, Melissani was the most beautiful cave I have ever seen in my lifetime (and I have seen some!)
Depending on how much time you have and your interests there are some other interesting attractions in the island such as the isolated Monastery of Saint Gerasimios, byzantine castle of Agios Giorgios or the lovely beach of Lassi. For those willing to go beyond Kefalonia, you can take a ferry to the neighbouring islands, with a special trip being Ithaka, still quite unexploited by tourism and best seen by boat.
So hopefully you can draw some good inspiration on the top things to do in Kefalonia. If you want some more personalized itinerary based on the duration of your trip, please drop me a comment or send me a message.
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My name is Renato Azambujo. I live currently in Hamburg, but was born and raised in sunny capital of Portugal, Lisbon. I also lived in Switzerland for some years, before settling in Germany for the last years.
I am huge passionate about travel, photographer and a global explorer, always looking to the next destination.
I have so far visited over 70 countries across the 5 continents, because I really love knowing about new places, interact with different cultures and get to know myself better after each journey.