Kefalonia Island holidays

Experience Kefalonia Island

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

Kefalonia is best visited for its beach resorts, with Argostoli, Lassi, Leibatho and Skala among the most popular. These towns offer much in the way of tourist amenities as well as nice stretches of sand and comfortable accommodation.

The small, picturesque town of Sami offers a couple of interesting places to visit. There is the Drogarati Cave that can be found when travelling from Argostoli to Sami. The cave was discovered around 300 years ago after an earthquake. Tourists can descend the steep stairs to about 60 metres underground and enter into an immense cavern full of stalactites and stalagmites. Many of these stalactites and stalagmites have been damaged over the years, but the cave is still worth a visit.

Just to the north of Sami is the majestic underground Melissani Lake. The waters of this lake originate from the west and travel underground across the island. The best time to visit the lake is in the early afternoon when the light from the sun reaches the water and forms fantastic hues of blue, green and turquoise.

There are other sites to experience on the island, such as St George Castle and the Rock of Lord Byron, but the true gem in visiting places like this is the quaint surroundings that accompany these landmarks. After taking in the breath-taking view from St George Castle, be sure to take in a coffee or a meal in one of the local restaurants and enjoy the lazy atmosphere of the island.

Fans of Greek legend will enjoy a trip to the sleepy village of Markopoulo in south Kefalonia. This village is known for its seemingly bizarre annual snake festival, which celebrates an apparent slither of snakes that come back to the former site of the village's Monastery of Lagouvarda each August. Translating as 'the lady of the snakes', this rebuilt church is home to a legend that states that 18th-century nuns of the monastery prayed to the Virgin to save them from invading pirates and, by miracle, the Virgin Mary turned them into snakes. When the pirates arrived, all they found was snakes crawling in the monastery.

One of the best ways to take in the natural beauty of the island is to head over to the Bavarian Horse Riding Stables. Riders are treated to guided tours of the mountains, with spectacular views on the way. A guide will point out flora and ruins along the way, making this a truly memorable experience.

Top Landmarks

The main attraction to Kefalonia is its beautiful, sunny beaches. However, if the beach becomes a monotonous routine, there are a few attractions available to shake things up a bit.

Assos Castle on the north-west coast is one of the top landmarks on the island and one of the biggest castles in Greece. You can spend an entire afternoon exploring this castle. It has now been added to the list of European Heritage Sites because of its significance.

Another interesting landmark is St George Castle, built during the 12th century and located to the south of Argostoli. It was an important fortress during Byzantine times because of all of the pirate invasions the island experienced.

The Acropolis of Sami in the port town of Sami dates back to almost 500 BC. It is worth a visit if for nothing else but the view of the Gulf of Sami. Reaching this landmark involves traversing a series of scenic trails which connect many Roman remains, olive groves and beaches.

Another historical site is the Roman Villa in Skala with its well- preserved mosaic floors. This is a place where numerous excavations have revealed Roman artefacts. Many of these relics are now displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli.

Rising out of the Paliki Peninsula is the Kounopetra: 'moving rock' or 'rocking rock'. This unusual geological phenomenon got its name because of its rhythmic motion. However, this motion came to a grinding halt after the earthquake of 1953, which stabilised the base of the rock. Today, the rock remains an important landmark even though it now stands motionless.

Entertainment

Kefalonia is not known for having a vibrant nightlife, but that does not mean that one does not exist. Party-eager travellers will be happy to find many bars and clubs scattered about the island, with plenty of opportunity to drink, dance and party until the sun comes up.

Most of the nightlife is concentrated in and around the main town of Argostoli. However, modern bars and big nightclubs have popped up in other areas such as Sami, Fiscardo, Skala, Lixouri and Poros. There are also various parties thrown on the most popular beaches throughout the summer.

Many of the bars are located right on the beach and offer an excellent opportunity for travellers to sip their favourite beverages while overlooking the sea. Some of the popular bars are known for their laid-back atmospheres while others are known for their loud music and raucous crowds. Choosing your entertainment option depends on your personal preference and what you are in the mood for.

A cafe by day, Bass Club is transformed into a fully-fledged club after midnight. Located in Argostoli, this is one of the most popular entertainment venues on the island. The club offers a variety of music, from mainstream dance and Greek to international hits. Also popular in Argostoli is Cinema, which is located at the end of Lithostroto Street, a famous stretch of shops and cafes.

When visiting Fiscardo, Kastro Club is the place to be for a night out on the town. This club is known for its distinct stone architecture, which gives it a special feel that party-goers seem to truly enjoy.

Dining Out

One of the most popular dishes on Kefalonia is meat pie. These pies usually have thick crusts and are stuffed with meat, rice and vegetables, or even seafood.

Kefalonian food is characterised by its rich flavours from the Mediterranean. Diners can expect their palates to be invaded by local ingredients found on the island, such as olives, lemons, vegetables and tomatoes. Cheese is also an important staple in Kefalonian cuisine. As expected, diners will find feta cheese in salads, meat dishes, on bread and wrapped in grape leaves.

When visiting one of the traditional tavernas, do not be surprised if a menu is not provided. In many of these establishments, diners are led into the kitchen to see first-hand what is cooking for the day. Many family-run tavernas specialise in home-cooked meals. These are some of the best venues to get that local feel.

Eating out in Kefalonia is a social experience and a typical Greek outing will often include a meal involving friends and family and a seemingly endless stream of dishes, talking and laughter. The dishes are normally served in family-sized servings and everyone samples a little bit of everything.

Beach

Kefalonia boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. One of the most popular beaches in the Mediterranean is Myrtos, located about 15kms north of Argostoli. This beach is known for its large stretch of white sand, spectacular turquoise water and surrounding steep cliffs. Other popular beaches include Antisamos, Makris Gialos and Skala. However, it really is difficult to go wrong when choosing a beach on this beautiful island.

Romance

The entire island of Kefalonia screams romance at the top of its lungs. Couples visiting the island are surrounded by quaint towns and villages, spectacular beaches, mountains providing romantic views and a number of other natural wonders that can be experienced in such ways as a leisurely horse-back ride. A definite romantic option is to hire a boat. This gives couples access to secluded beaches and uninhabited islets.

Family

There are many leisurely activities that the entire family can enjoy. The majestic scenery of the island is one that people of all ages can enjoy. The beaches offer a wide array of water sports that the entire family can enjoy. For a nice, inexpensive family outing, take the ferry from Argostoli to Lixouri. The ride only takes about 30 minutes, but offers a scenic view of the island's coastline. Disembark the ferry and the family has another town to casually explore.

Adventure

There are a plethora of adventurous activities on Kefalonia for every taste. For those who wish to experience as much water as possible, there are numerous water sports to choose from such as jet-skiing, windsurfing and sea kayaking. Also available are plenty of opportunities to snorkel, dive and fish. Those wishing to satisfy their adventurous palates on land have a choice of jeep safaris, mountain trekking, cycling, horse-back riding and hunting. In other words, there is a little bit of everything for everyone.

Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

The official language of Greece is Greek, and this extends to Kefalonia. Most tourists to Kefalonia are English, Italian, German or Greek themselves, and English is widely spoken by many Greeks. It has essentially become a second language due to the tourism demand, especially in the resort areas. The island has close ties with Italy, and as a result, many people in Kefalonia also speak Italian, too. However, any effort by foreigners visiting this island to speak Greek will go a long way with the locals - especially among older Greeks. Basic Greek terminology is easy to pick up and will come in useful when thanking service staff or greeting locals.

Currency

Greece uses the euro as its currency. ATMs are available in most cities and towns of Kefalonia. There is a transaction fee, however. There may be additional fees when using an ATM internationally depending on your bank. As is the case whenever travelling abroad, you should notify your bank of your travel plans, especially if you plan on using an ATM. Cash can be exchanged at banks and some hotels.

Visas

British nationals, as well as nationals of Schengen and EU countries, are permitted to visit Kefalonia without a visa for stays of any length. Some non-EU nationals including Americans and Australians are also permitted visa-free entry for stays of up to 90 days. Visitors who are not sure if they require a visa should contact their nearest Greek embassy before travel.

Climate

The tourist season in Kefalonia typically begins in May when the temperatures have an average high of 26°C. Tourists visiting the island in the spring will find quieter beaches and water that is too cool for swimming. However, they will also find cheaper accommodation before the summer holiday influx of tourists. July and August are typically the warmest months when temperatures often reach 32°C in the daytime, with average night-time lows of 20°C. Winters on the island are typically mild, but the season comes with its share of rainy spells, with December normally experiencing the most amount of rainfall.

Main Airports

Kefalonia's main airport is Kefalonia International Airport. Most visitors arriving from the UK arrive via seasonal charter flights. Others take a commercial flight to Athens and then a domestic flight to Kefalonia. Commercial flights operate all year round while charter flights normally operate from May until October.

Flight Options

From April until October, budget airlines usually offer direct flights from London-Gatwick to Kefalonia. Those who choose to visit Kefalonia via Athens can take a daily flight to the island.

Travel Advice

While charter flights tend to be the most convenient method of reaching Kefalonia, these flights become popular during the high season, though last-minute flight bargains can sometimes be found. Tuesdays and Sundays tend to be the heaviest travel days into the island so expect there to be crowds of travellers and long queues at the island's airport on these days.

Other Transport Options

The bus and ferry route from Athens to Kefalonia takes approximately 6 hours and 30 minutes (3 hours and 30 minutes by bus, and then a 3-hour ferry ride from Patras). Kefalonia is an ideal spot for cruises and Mediterranean stop-off holidays as there are a choice of ferry options nearby. Connections are available from neighbouring islands including Lefkas, Corfu and Zante, as well as ports in Italy and mainland Greece.

Getting Around

The best way to get around Kefalonia is to hire a car. Taxi service is available in all of the tourist areas, most notably from the airport. It is a good idea, however, to check the price before beginning your trip. Taxi prices are generally fixed; however, there may be additional fees for luggage.

Bus

Local buses that go around the island are operated by Ktel, but due to the infrequency of routes, this means of affordable transportation is not very useful for most tourists.

Train

While it is possible to travel to the island via a train and ferry combination from the mainland, there is no train service on the island of Kefalonia. Those travelling by train will have to disembark at Patras and take a ferry.

Air

There is daily air service from the Greek mainland. However, with Kefalonia being such a small island, there is little need to fly around the island itself, with visitors relying on car hire, buses and taxis.

MAP

KEFALONIA ISLAND`S WEATHER TODAY

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MONTHS

AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece. Due to its size and the 1953 earthquake, it still remains relatively uncrowded, even since its increase in popularity amongst tourists within recent years.
  2. Bouncing back from its troubled history, the Kefalonian community has what the Greeks call 'KEFFY', meaning a joy for life which helps them to embrace the present and get through hard times.
  3. Many people will recognise Kefalonia as the setting of Louis de Bernieres' 1994 novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin. This wartime love story was later turned into a Hollywood movie, which cost 57 million dollars to produce and was largely filmed in Sami.

FACTS

  1. Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece. Due to its size and the 1953 earthquake, it still remains relatively uncrowded, even since its increase in popularity amongst tourists within recent years.
  2. Bouncing back from its troubled history, the Kefalonian community has what the Greeks call 'KEFFY', meaning a joy for life which helps them to embrace the present and get through hard times.
  3. Many people will recognise Kefalonia as the setting of Louis de Bernieres' 1994 novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin. This wartime love story was later turned into a Hollywood movie, which cost 57 million dollars to produce and was largely filmed in Sami.

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