Kefalonia -the largest of the Ionian islands– is one of continuous discovery. The more you explore, the more it reveals its hidden treasures. Rent a car with Simplybook and set off to enjoy the incredible beaches with clear turquoise waters and the charmingly alluring coves. Explore the lush slopes of Mount Ainos with forests of black fir and the small picturesque villages. In addition to the island’s natural beauty, the people are especially friendly, warm and uniquely “crazy”! However, it’s a harmless and beautiful kind of “crazy”. In reality, the Kefalenes are particularly satirical but their shocking sense of humour can easily grow on you and make you love the island even more.
Rebuilding the island
An important chapter of the island’s recent history is linked to devastating earthquakes. Kefalonia -as Zakynthos and the other Ionian islands- stands on the east of the tectonic fault line where the European and Aegean plates meet. In 1953 an earthquake destroyed most of the island’s villages. However, the locals put a lot of effort into rebuilding them, keeping the original Venetian architectural style alive.
How to get there
The two main ports of the island are Sami (connecting Kefalonia to the ports of Patra and the nearby island of Ithaca) and Poros at the southeast coast, with connection to the port of Killini in Peloponnesos. The second way is faster and preferred by most visitors. The international airport is located at the south coast of the island, at 8 km from Argostoli or 52 km from Lixouri.
The best way to discover Kefalonia is by car. You have to cover long distances and public transport will only get you to the most touristic areas. Besides, driving in Kefalonia is an excellent way to discover and admire its beauties and unforgettable views! Here you’ll find our suggestions for places you shouldn’t miss in Kefalonia.
Argostoli, at the southeastern side of the Kefalonia, 8 km from the airport
At the southeastern part of the island is Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia. Unfortunately, 1953’s earthquake destroyed many of the city’s Venetian buildings. You can still enjoy a nice walk on the Lithostroto, the paved promenade and at Valianou Square which gets busy in the evening. If you are interested in the local flora, it is worth visiting the Botanical Garden to see a variety of Ionian native plants, in a natural setting with a stream running through the centre.
Lixouri, the second largest town of Kefalonia, 30 km northwest of Argostoli
30 km northwest of Argostoli -at the other side of the bay- is Lixouri, the second largest town of the island. Lixouri was rebuilt after the earthquake according to the traditional architecture, with streets full of trees and big squares. Built around a large stream, the two banks of the town are connected by small bridges. It is a beautiful place to stay with easy access to the rest of Paliki peninsula, an area worth exploring. While in Lixouri take a look at the bronze statue of the satirical poet Laskaratos, purposely placed with its back towards Argostoli. The position of the statue shows the old grudge between the two villages, dating back to 1757 when the Venetians moved the capital from Lixouri to Argostoli.
Assos, 36 km north of Argostoli
36 km north of Argostoli, built on a small peninsula among cypresses and pine trees, is Assos. This picturesque village offers magnificent views from the ruins of the 16th-century Venetian castle. Spend some time to the small, pebbled beach and enjoy your swim in the great waters of the Ionian Sea. Assos is an ideal place for relaxing vacations. There is a variety of choice for accommodation and plenty of restaurants and cafes to try the local dishes while you enjoy the beautiful setting.
Myrtos beach, 30 km north of Argostoli
Surrounded by verdant cliffs and white rocks, Myrtos is a beach of indisputable beauty. The white shiny cobblestones and the turquoise waters will make you want to come back. The beach’s facilities can provide you with everything you need to spend the whole day there. Still, be careful when it’s windy as the waves can get very big.
Fiskardo, 50 km northeast of Argostoli
50 km northeast of Argostoli is Fiskardo, a picturesque village of Venetian architecture built around a small harbour. Dense forests that reach a coastline full of small coves and crystal waters, surround Fiskardo. The village managed to survive the earthquake of 1953 and has kept its original character with the pastel-coloured houses in most of its part. The seafront has adjusted to the needs of the visitors that come to Fiskardo by yachts. To enjoy the waters visit the nearby Emblisi beach with the white pebbles. Although its natural beauty attracts many visitors, there are no touristic facilities on the beach.
Sami, 26 km northeast of Argostoli
The beautiful port town of Sami is mostly famous as a setting for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin movie. Built after the earthquake of 1953, instead of having a traditional air to it, Sami has a more modern style. However, each owner has given to the otherwise similar buildings something of their character. As in most port villages, the waterfront is closed for cars during the evening, allowing pedestrians to enjoy their promenade and dinner by the sea. The village is surrounded by luscious green cliffs, small coves and beaches. Once in Sami, drive 3 km east to the white stone beach of Antisamos for a swim in the clear waters.
Kourkoumelata, 9 km south of Argostoli
If you ask the locals for suggestions on villages you should visit, they are going to mention Kourkoumelata. Although the 1953 earthquake destroyed the village, it is rebuilt in an impressive neoclassical architectural style with well designed public buildings and open spaces. Park your car and walk towards the central square of the village where locals meet.
Cave of Melissani, 10 km northwest of Argostoli
Do not leave Kefalonia without visiting the cave of Melissani. 10 km northwest of Argostoli, the cave hides an underground lake in which you can take a boat tour. We recommend that you visit the cave around noon when the sun is right above it. The effects of the light coming through the rock holes are magnificent, complementing beautifully the bluest of waters you could ever imagine!
Need more information about the beautiful island of Kefalonia? Check Nick’s and Dariece’s 5-day travel guide.