Hello, travel addicts! Today I'm gonna write my 10 reasons why to visit the mesmerising island of Kefalonia, Greece. So if you're looking for a wild paradise where to make your next summer holiday then you are in the right place.
I've travelled to many different places in Greece in the past 10 years while I was working there in the tourism domain. Sometimes I think that I've seen more in Greece than in my own country, Romania. I've been to Crete and Rhodes twice each, Santorini, Aegina, Athens, Thesaloniki, Meteora, Ioanina and many other places, but my heart is in Kefalonia. In 2013 I arrived there for a first 4 months season and I kept on going back for 4 summers.
Here are my 10 reasons why you should visit Kefalonia.
1. The beaches and the scenery
The most amazing thing about Kefalonia is that you have a wide range of beaches, from sandy ones to the ones covered with white pebbles, shallow water, deep water, green to blue, busy to secluded, surounded by rocks or green forests - take your pick.
Petani and Antisamos are my favourite ones, amazing clear blue water and breath taking panoramas. I also enjoy Makri Gialos , it is a more lively beach with a bar, water sports, plenty of sunbeds and youngsters. I adore the less known beaches such as Emplisi or Avithos and also the secluded ones which you can reach only by boat such as Platia Ammos or White Rocks. I also have to mention the most advertised beach which is Myrtos; looking forward to do paragliding next summer.
Makri Gialos beach
2. Ainos Mountain
Ainos Mountain is the tallest mountain in Kefalonia, with an elevation of 1,628m. Most of the mountain range is designated as a National Park area and is covered with Greek fir and black pine. Semi wild ponies inhabit its forest. On clear days, the view includes the NW Peloponnese and Aetolia along with the islands of Zakynthos, Lefkada, and Ithaca. There are couple of hiking paths for the ones interested in that, also couple of little caves and plenty of protected species of flowers. The view is absolutely fantastic. In the winter the mountain is mostly covered in snow. It is a must see while on the island.
Myself on Ainos Mt.
3. Churches and monasteries
Greeks are christian ortodox and they are very traditional when it comes to religion. Churches and monasteries are to be found in every town, village, even in the smallest one. The protector of the island is Saint Gerasimos, the church of Saint Gerasimos is a well visited place, situated between Argostoli and Sami. Other beautiful churches you can find in the capital, Argostoli. Personally I prefer the secluded and private ones such as Kipoureon on Paliki peninsula or the small blue one on the left side of Atheras bay, which I was lucky enough to get a private tour 2 years ago.
Inside Kipoureon Monastery
Church on the way to Skala
4. Picturesque villages and harbours
You can find the most colourful and wonderful villages on Kefalonia. Enjoy the hundreds of boats, a great meal and beautiful scenery in the amazing Fiskardo. Choose Assos for an italian atmosphere next to the ruins of the citadel. Have a tasty greek coffee in the morning in Lixouri at one of the many coffee shops in the main square. Get lost exploring even smaller villages and stop at the local fish tavernas for a fresh meal. Walk the streets to really feel the authentic life of the kefalonian people.
My favourite villages must be Assos and Fiskardo with their colourful rooftops, windows and doors, flowers everywhere and the blue water surrounding them.
Fiskardo - the harbour
5. Caves and natural phenomenons
The most well known caves are Drogarati with its stalagmites and stalactites, a great place where sometimes are taking place small opera concerts. Maria Callas is known to sing there; Melissani is close to Drogarati and is well known for the cold blue water inside of it and the fallen ceiling. Have a short boat ride and refresh yourselves on the hot days of summer in the cave of the Pan's nymphes. An interesting phenomenon is Katavothres, a place close to Argostoli where the water enters under the surface just to get out two weeks later close to Sami. There are watermills in these two places, in the first one even a great restaurant/bar and a lighthouse, and near the other one a lake and a church.
St Theodore Lighthouse
6. Castles and citadels history
For the history lovers there are couple of places to visit such as the ruins of the Castle of St. George which was the old capital of the island before Argostoli, the view is beautiful having Aenos Mt. on one side, Lassi area, Argostoli and the Ionian Sea on the other. If you are into hiking I recommend you to go all the way up to the ruins of the citadel of Assos, the panorama is worthed. In Fiskardo you can find some ruins, such as the roman cemetery or in Skala, the remains of a roman villa.
Argostoli - seen from the Castle of St. George
Assos - seen from the citadel
7. Food and drinks
Greek people love a great meal, especially dinner. The food is all the time fresh and tasty. Every summer I enjoy having calamari and octopus, greek salad or mousaka on Vatsa and Remezzo beach at the southern part of Paliki peninsula, because they are the closest to the hotel I'm working in, but overall I had amazing lunches and dinners everywhere on the island. Let me not forget about the tasty pyta gyros or souvlaki in Lixouri, late at night, greek style :)
The greek frappe is part of the locals' daily routine and it's the first thing to start the day with or to refresh yourselves during siesta.
I personally like their hospitality and let us not forget about a cold Mythos beer or some Ouzo after an incredible dessert such as greek yogurt with honey and nuts or baklava. Of course you can find some other specific restaurants on the island, especially in the bigger villages and Argostoli. Also I would like to mention that there are couple of wineries where you can buy local products. I recommend you Robola and Foivos for great souvenirs.
Sea food lunch on a taverna near Argostoli
Mythos beer on Vrahinari beach
8. Ways to spend your free time
If you are not the type to lie all day on the beach or to hike, well, there are plenty of other ways to spend your holiday on Kefalonia. There are plenty of water sports on Xi beach, Antisamos or Skala, a water park in Kounopetra, plenty of clubs and pubs in Argostoli, You could even go climbing on the mountain or riding a donkey on wild paths trying to spot the wild horses from the National Ainos Park or simply enjoying the scenery. Tavernas, coffee shops, souvenir shops are everywhere your eyes can see. Personally next year I gotta try paragliding over Myrtos beach and parasailing on Xi.
Water Park - Kounopetra
9. Boat rides
If you feel like changing the car with a boat you could either rent a boat from different spots on the island such as Vatsa, Skala or Agia Efimia and take a short tour discovering virgin beaches. If you are the type of person who prefers group tours I reccomend you a trip to Ithaca, the island of Ulysses, or Vardiani for a romantic sunset. Of course you can enjoy a one day trip to Lefkada or Zakynthos.
White Rocks Hotel in Lassi
Secluded "White Rocks" beach in Lassi
10. The people
Last but not least, most certainly I love kefalonians. This is the island where I've never been afraid to hitchhike, the place where I've met the most warm hearted people who invited me in their homes and at their tables. I feel at home, safe and sound, everytime I'm on Kefalonia and every tourist feels the same on their holiday. The island is not very touristic and there are no traffic jams or too much noise. Everyone is here to relax, have a great time and forget for couple of days their busy big city life routine.
Sunset close to Assos
These being said I hope I'll see you next summer on Kefalonia, my second home. This summer I had the amazing surprise to have two romanian couples staying in the hotel I was working in and they told me they came to visit Kefalonia because of my posts on this blog. That was absolutely wow. I wasn't expecting that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Sunset from Petani Bay Hotel
Sunset on Myrtos beach
So, what are you waiting for? Book your holiday to Kefalonia and see you on the beach for a Mythos beer.