There’s something magical about the largest of the Ionian islands, which still remains pure and protected from mass tourism. Read on for our Complete Guide to Kefalonia.
While visiting again last year, we realised what makes this place so special is the pride locals take in keeping their island clean, fresh, modern, yet warm and inviting- all while allowing its natural charm and authenticity to shine through.
Getting There & Getting Around
Visitors can fly from Athens to Argostoli in just under an hour. If you prefer a ferry, keep in mind there are no direct ferries from Athens to Kefalonia. Options are to either leave from Patras, which is around a 2.5-hour drive from Athens and then take a ferry from the port of Patras to Sami (around 3.5 hours), otherwise, drive to Kyllini, in the Peloponnese (roughly 3.5 hours) from Athens and then take the ferry from Kyllini to the port of Poros (approx. 1.5 hours).
The island is fairly large and the best way to see it is by driving around. There are regular buses that can transport you to the main beaches and major sites- but we highly recommend hiring a car.
Where to stay
Argostoli is the main town where you will find the majority of restaurants, bars, and shops, it’s the ideal base- especially for first-timers. Lassi is a great spot for families who want to be footsteps away from the beach. Lixouri in the Paliki Peninsula is a quiet and quaint fishing town- a good spot if you are after a chilled vibe and not-so-busy beaches. Assos is a pretty seaside village that will steal your heart, while Fiskardo is the glamorous and upmarket part of Kefalonia with trendy boutiques and bars.
Where to sleep
For a well-priced and modern hotel in the heart of Argostoli, Mouikis is ideal. Also in the centre of town is Kefalonia Grand, which offers a nice boutique experience. White Rocks Hotel in Lassi is perfect for a seaside stay, and for a more luxurious and holistic experience, Emelisee Nature Resort in Fiskardo is a stunning choice. If you prefer an adults-only retreat, check into F Zeen, which offers an upscale stay with an emphasis on health and wellbeing.
Where to eat
If you are after a quick bite check out Ladokolla, which serves freshly grilled meat slowly cooked over charcoal. For an authentic tavern experience in the heart of Argostoli, we recommend Tzivras, which has been a local favourite since 1933. Also in the centre of town, try Ampelaki, Captains Table, and Palia Plaka, which all serve Kefalonian dishes and delicacies. Nefeli Anait in Assos is perfect for a late lunch by the water, while the famous Alexandros Restaurant in Myrtos is where celebrities go for authentic Greek food. If you are making your way over to Lixouri, check out Zefki and S’Anamena Karvouna. For a great dessert experience, you can’t go passed Spathis Bakery, which is renowned for the best sweets in town, and for a quick coffee or waffle, Cinnamon Café in Argostoli is ideal.
What to eat
The Kefalonian kitchen is most famous for its pies including Bakaliaropita (salted cod pie), Ktadopita (Octopus pie), Tiropita (cheese pie using local Kefalonian cheese), and the most popular by far is the Kreatopita (meat and rice pie.) Cheese lovers rejoice as the Kefalonians make their own variety of Feta, Mizithra (ricotta style), and Kefalotiri (a hard full-fat cheese). This Ionian isle also produces good wines and is most famous for its Robola, a locally produced fruity variety. When it comes to desserts definitely opt for the Karidopita (syrup-soaked walnut cake) or Amygdalopita (almond cake) and take home some Mandoles (sugared almonds with a red coating) and Pastokidono (a quince with roasted almonds and honey).
Where to drink
To get a taste of local wines under one roof, head to Oinops Wine Bar in Argostoli. For a delicious cocktail in town try Platanos, Kafepoleion, K63, or Bee’s Knees. And if you visit Fiskardo check out Le Passage, Theodora’s Café, and The Fish Bar, which are all great spots to grab a drink.
Where to swim
You really are spoilt for choice here and Myrtos, the most famous beach in Kefalonia definitely deserves to be seen up close, however, keep in mind it gets very windy so it may not be ideal swimming conditions on the day. For the perfect swim, Antisamos and local favourite Petani (with the most amazing little tavern) is where to go. For families with young kids, we recommend Platis Gialos, Makris Gialos, and Lassi, which all boast clear and shallow waters. If you want to stay away from the crowds head to Gradakia and Xi Beach (with picture-perfect orange sand). And you can’t leave without having a dip in the most stunning emerald waters of Assos– this bay is pure bliss!
At the Archaeological Museum in Argostoli, you can find pieces from the Hellenistic and Roman period. Then head across the street to the Municipal Theatre, which is one of the oldest in Greece. In Lixouri, check out the Iakovatios Museum and Library, which has many rare books and manuscripts, and the Nautical Museum located in Fiskardo is also full of ancient treasures.
Must visit villages
Makriotika Village is close to Agia Efthimia and has beautiful gardens and views of the mountains and sea (here you will find a few family-run taverns serving authentic local flavours). Livathos also offers magical views and insights into local customs and traditions. Also add Kourkoumeleta, Keramies, Karavados, and Kaligata to your list- where you will find a bell tower of the 18th Century, that is dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary.)
Sacred Sites… Visit Agios Gerasimos Monastery where you can discover the caves where the Patron Saint of the island once lived.
The Monastery of Panagia Lagouvarda is a well-known holy site where harmless snakes appear with a black cross on their head and are believed to perform miracles. The Monastery of Agios Andreas, which has been turned into a museum housing Byzantine icons is also very much worth a visit.
Can’t leave until…
Feeding the Caretta caretta turtles in Argostoli, watching a film at the open-air Anny Cinema, checking out The Bookmark bookstore, taking a boat ride through Melissani Cave, and having lunch at En Kefalinia Organic Farm, where all dishes are made using seasonal produce from the family farm.
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