There’s something magical about Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian islands, which still remains pure and protected from mass tourism.
While visiting again last year, I 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 encouraging its natural charm and authentic beauty to shine through.
Getting There & Getting Around
Fly from Athens to Argostoli in just under an hour. There are no direct ferries from Athens to Kefalonia, so you can either go to 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, you can 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 take you to the main beaches and major sites but I highly recommend hiring a car.
Where to stay
Argostoli is the main town where you will find the majority of restaurants, bars, and shops and I think it’s the ideal base, especially if it’s your first time here. Lassi is a great spot for families who want to be footsteps away from a child-friendly beach. Lixouri in the Paliki Peninsula is a quiet and quaint fishing town and 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 bars and boutiques.
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 real boutique experience. White Rocks Hotel in Lassi is right by the water, and for a more luxurious and holistic stay, Emelisee Nature Resort in Fiskardo is stunning. For 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 meat that has been freshly grilled on charcoal. For an authentic tavern experience in the heart of Argostoli, I recommend Tzivras, which has been serving locals since 1933. Also in the centre of town, you can try Ampelaki, Captains Table, and Palia Plaka which all serve local dishes and offer plenty of meat, seafood, and vegetarian options. Nefeli Anait in Assos is perfect for a late lunch by the water. Famous Alexandros Restaurant in Myrtos is where celebrities go for authentic Greek food and if you are in Lixouri check out Zefki and S’Anamena Karvouna. Now for a great dessert experience try Spathis Bakery, which is renowned for the best sweets in town, and if you are looking for a spot to grab a coffee or waffle, Cinnamon Café in Argostoli is great.
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 pie with rice pie.) Cheese lovers will be in paradise as the Kefalonians make their own variety of Feta, Mizithra (ricotta style), and Kefalotiri (a hard full fat cheese). This Ionian isle also produces great wines and you must try the Robola, a locally produced fruity variety. When it comes to desserts definitely pick the Karidopita (syrup-soaked walnut cake) or Amygdalopita (almond cake) if it’s on the menu 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, head to Oinops Wine Bar in Argostoli. If you prefer a lush cocktail try Platanos, Kafepoleion, or K63 and for a cool vibe head to the Bee’s Knees. If you are in Fiskardo check out Le Passage, Theodora’s Café, and The Fish Bar, which are all chic and stylish spots to sip on a glass or two.
Where to swim
You really are spoilt for choice and the most famous beach of Kefalonia is Myrtos, which you definitely have to see at least once in your life however depending on where the wind is blowing it may not be perfect for swimming. To ensure you have an all-day swim head to Antisamos and local favourite Petani (with the most amazing little tavern). For families, we recommend Platis Gialos, Makris Gialos, and Lassi. If you want to stay away from the crowds’ head to Gradakia and Xi beach with orange sand. And you can’t leave without having a dip in the most stunning emerald waters of Assos– this is pure bliss.
At the Archaeological Museum in Argostoli, you can find pieces from the Hellenistic and Roman period and also head across the street to the Municipal Theatre, it is one of the oldest in Greece. While in Lixouri, check out the Iakovatios Museum and Library, which has many rare books and manuscripts, and the Nautical Museum is located in Fiskardo.
Must visit villages
Makriotika Village is close by to Agia Efthimia and has beautiful gardens and views of the mountains and sea, here you will find a few family-run taverns with authentic local flavours. Livathos also offers magical views, and a real sense of local customs and traditions. Check out Kourkoumeleta, Keramies, Karavados, and Kaligata 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 the 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 freshly picked produce from the family farm.
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