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Kefalonia or Cephalonia is a must-see destination in Greece located in the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea. Although it is the largest of the Ionian Islands, tourism is spread out over the island, so the laid back lifestyle is preserved even in high season. From incredible beaches to visiting picturesque villages, Kefalonia has it all. Here are some things to do in Kefalonia that you’ll definitely want to see.
A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Kefalonia.
Where is Kefalonia (Cephalonia)
The beautiful island of Kefalonia is the largest in the Ionian group and lies west of the Greek mainland. It has a rugged landscape, large sandy beaches and numerous small sandy coves that can only be reached on foot or by boat. Kefalonia became popular after it was portrayed in the blockbuster movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
The best time to visit Kefalonia
The island has a Mediterranean climate, so enjoys hot dry summers and mild winters. The driest month is April and it is a lovely time to visit, although the sea isn’t really warm enough for swimming until May (19ºC), the days are long, with 14 hours of sunshine until October. The hottest months of the year are June- August when temperatures average 30ºC and the sea temperature are a lovely 25ºC. The north-easterly winds keep humidity levels down perfectly.
How to get to Kefalonia, Greece
Getting to Kefalonia By Plane:
Kefalonia has an international airport with direct flights from Athens (35 mins) and Thessaloniki and direct flights from many European cities during the summer.
Getting to Kefalonia By Ferry:
Ferries to Kefalonia run daily from Killini, a port town in Western Peloponnese. The journey takes 1h and 2o minutes and the ferry arrives in Poros, the main town of Kefalonia (prices are around 10€ one-way). Alternatively, you can take the ferry to Sami in Kefalonia from Patras another town in Western Peloponnese.
Kefalonia is also connected with other islands like Zante, Ithaca, and Lefkada.
How to get around Kefalonia
The KTEL bus service on the island is amazing as it even visits fairly remote beaches and villages! The company also regularly organises sightseeing tours. Information and buses can be found at the bus station at the end of Harbour Road in Argostoli. There are plenty of car hire companies – large and small – in the town and mopeds can be hired too. Taxis are another option, especially if there are several passengers to split the fare.
What to do in Kefalonia: 15 things not to miss
1. Discover the Stunning Beaches
Kefalonia is covered in some of the most incredible beaches in the world. With many surrounded by tall, lush green hills leading down to the bright electric blue waters they are a sight to be seen. Here are five of the top beaches in Kefalonia for getting that perfect tan and satisfying your urge for adventure:
Myrtos; located on the northwestern coast of Kefalonia, Myrtos is considered one of the top 30 best beaches in the world. The colour of the sea is vibrant and sunset is a time not to be missed as it turns the sea from an incredible orange into a bright rose colour.
Antisamos; this beach is only a few kilometres from the bustling port of Sami. The green hills seem to grow almost into the clear sea, making it clear why it was chosen to film some scenes for the movie “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”. Along the beach, there are sundecks to relax on under the shade of umbrellas or if you are feeling adventurous a watersports centre can satisfy your needs.
Petani; found about 20km west of Argostoli on the peninsula of Paliki. The huge cliffs come right up to the sandy beach. The water deepens quickly near the shore, creating much larger waves then found on the other beaches in Kefalonia.
Xi; named from the X-shape of the cove, is one of the most famous beaches on the island. A bar right on the beach can quench your thirst as you lay on the sunbeds under the straw umbrellas. The gentle waves and shallow water make it a perfect place for families with children.
Skala; this long sandy beach runs along the bright, clear blue sea on one side, and dense green hills on the other. It is a perfect location for snorkelling or jumping onto an excursion boat that will take you to nearby isolated coves.
Check out the best Kefalonia beaches here.
2. Visit Fiskardo
A visit to Fiskardo will transport you back in time. While many villages were destroyed in the 1953 earthquake, this beautiful fishing village is one of the few that survived and many buildings still have their traditional local colours. Whether you want to walk along the main coastal road to shop and visit the many taverns or visit the ruins of a Palaeolithic settlement and Byzantine churches, Fiskardo is not to be missed.
3. Be in Awe of the Melissani Cave
This impressive cave was discovered in 1951 and opened to the public in 1963. The cave lake is one of the most incredible sights on the island and is located about 2km from the town of Sami. Try to visit the cave in the middle of a bright sunny day in order to view the rays of sun shining down through the collapsed roof onto the blue waters of the lake.
4. See the Sea Turtles in Argostoli
Argostoli is the biggest town and bustling capital of the island, it is also home to a permanent population of endangered loggerhead sea turtles. They live in the Argostoli harbour and can be seen in high concentrations in the morning while waiting around the fishing boats for the fisherman to clean out their nets.
5. Explore the Picturesque Villages
Kefalonia has many must-see villages around the island that each boast their own uniqueness. Here are three beautiful villages that you won’t want to miss:
Agia Efimia; this coastal fishing village is found off the east coast of the island. It is the perfect place to visit adorable churches, remains of old fortresses, and Venetian buildings.
Assos; is a small town with only 100 inhabitants in this charming village. On the left side of the village Assos is connected with a castle built in 1500 to protect against pirates.
Sami; this town is the second largest port after Argostoli. The town has a perfect waterfront with unique Venetian buildings, shops, and cafes that look out over the blue-green waters. If you’re craving some history the Acropolis of Sami can be found up in the Lapitha Mountain behind the town. This was once a densely populated and strongly fortified town that was an autonomous and independent state in the Paleolithic Times, the ruins of which can still be visited today.
6. Catch a Boat to Ithaca or Zante
Cephalonia is the perfect place to jump onto a boat tour to explore the islands of Ithaca of Zante. Ithaca has an impressive coastline with secluded beaches and incredible waters.
You might like: Things to do in Ithaca, Greece
Zante is the perfect place to not only see the famous shipwreck, a magical view on the beach in front of the steep, white cliffs but is also one of the last reproductive grounds for the Caretta-Caretta sea turtles.
Check out: Things to do in Zante.
7. Satisfy Your Urge for Adventure
Horseback riding; the town of Sami offers riding tours and lessons that cater to everyone from beginners to experienced riders. The horses are well-trained with sweet temperaments and they offer a variety of riding styles.
Diving; the crystal, clear waters of Kefalonia make it an incredible diving location with wonderful visibility that can sometimes exceed 40 meters!
Sea Kayaking; kayaking along the scenic coastline and calm waters is the perfect way to spend a day in Kefalonia.
Hiking in Mt. Ainos National Park; the only national park on a Greek island, it is perfect for nature lovers. There are multiple trails ranging in difficulty levels that allow you to explore the incredible forests and possible let you encounter some of the small semi-wild horses that roam the southeastern side of the mountain.
8. Visit the Kefalonian Brewery
Located in the town of Sami, this brewery offers tours and tastings of their delicious brew. For more information: http://kefalonianbeer.com/en/
9. Explore the Castle of Agios Georgios
Situated approximately 5km from the town of Argostoli, this beautiful Venetian castle was once the capital of Kefalonia until 1757. It was probably built around the 12th century by the Byzantine emperors and the outside walls are still well preserved. Although the castle has been damaged by earthquakes, there are still some walls and arches that can be viewed.
10. Drogarati Cave
Drogarati Cave in Kefalonia is a magical attraction that is a must for travellers who love to explore the natural world. Filled with stalactites and stalagmites, Drogarati Cave is thought to be around 150 million years old, despite only having been discovered by humans around 300 years ago!
The part of the cave that is open to the public features mysterious caverns, long tunnels and a small lake, and includes sections known as the Royal Balcony and the Chamber of Exaltation, two particularly impressive parts of the cave complex.
Drogarati Cave is located on the edge of Sami village on the eastern coast of Kefalonia and can be reached by car, by bus or as part of a tour.
11. Agios Gerasimos Monastery
The Monastery of Agios Gerasimos is one of the most beautiful buildings on the island, named after the monk Saint Gerasimos who was the protector of Kefalonia in the 1500s. While Saint Gerasimos lived in a cave while he was on the island, the structure today is a large, modern building that celebrates the life and work of this Saint in style.
The original cave is located beneath the church and can be visited by the public. Inside the monastery are murals, relics and even the tomb of Saint Gerasimos which is now a site of pilgrimage for many Greek Orthodox believers.
12. De Bosset Bridge and Obelisk
The De Bosset Bridge in Kefalonia is a huge stone bridge that crosses the sea linking up the town of Argostoli with the rest of mainland Kefalonia. This bridge was designed by Swiss engineer Charles Philippe De Bosset to speed up travel around the island, and was built in just two weeks!
One of the iconic landmarks of this area is the four-sided obelisk (known as the Kolona) that protrudes out of the sea and was erected to thank the British Empire. The inscription on the obelisk “To the glory of the British Empire” has since been removed, but the monument is an attraction nonetheless.
13. Argostoli Archaeology Museum
If you’re interested in Greek history then you’ll have to check out the Argostoli Archaeology Museum located in the island’s capital. The museum features a collection of antiquities dating as far back as pre-historic times.
This includes exhibits of Mycenaean items and Roman artefacts as well as gold coins, swords and even tools of the Paleolithic man of Kefalonia. The Argostoli Archaeology Museum is currently closed for renovations after it was severely damaged by an earthquake, so please check the status of opening hours before your visit.
The site of Katavothres is an intriguing one as it is a geological formation thought to be a sinkhole. Water from the sea rushes onto the shore through the rocks and then seems to disappear into the sinkhole underground. It is now known that the water then makes it way to the Melissani Lake (around 15km from Katavothres) before flowing back into the sea. This movement of water at Katavothres was used by mills as a free form of energy to spin the wheels, and an old wheel can still be seen here today.
15. Robola Wine Tasting
Wine-making in Kefalonia is thought to go back as far as Neolithic times, so it’s no wonder the island is famed for making some delicious tipples. Kefalonia is known for producing Robola wine, a white wine inspired by the Friuli wine grape brought to the island by the Venetians.
Visitors can try this fruity, honey wine at any of the vineyards in the Robola Zone and is best served alongside garlicky Greek dishes and seafood. Some of the best vineyards on the island of Kefalonia include Orealios, Gentilini and the Melissinos Winery.
Where to stay in Kefalonia, Greece
Avithos Resort is located is Svoronata Kefalonia. It offers traditional accommodation, a swimming pool, a bar, and a restaurant. Rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, a fridge, a kitchenette, and free Wi-Fi. Check out the latest prices and more details here.
Aggelos Hotel is located in Argostoli, a 4 minute walk away from the beach. It offers clean rooms with free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, a fridge, and a balcony. Other hotel amenities include a snack bar for drinks and light meals. – Check out the latest prices and more details here.
Panas Hotel is located in Spartia in front of the beach. The spacious rooms offer free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, toiletries, and a balcony. Other hotel amenities include a swimming pool and a sun terrace. Renting a car is recommended if you want to explore the island- – Check out the latest prices and more details here.
F Zeen is located in Lourdata. It is an adults-only beachfront resort with two swimming pools, a hammam, and a gym. There is also an on-site bar and restaurant but more dining options can be found nearby. It offers spacious rooms with garden or sea views, free Wi-Fi, and all the luxury amenities you would expect from a 5-star hotel. Check out the latest prices and more details here.
Zest@xi beach is just 400 m away from the famous Xi beach. It offers self-catering, independent apartments with private balcony, air-conditions and free wi-fi. Other amenities include a swimming pool, a garden with BBQ and a playground. – Check out the latest prices and more details here.
Fiscardo Studios is located a 1 min walk away from the beach in picturesque Fiskardo. It offers self-catering accommodation with free Wi-Fi and great sea views. A mini-market, restaurants, and cafes can be found nearby. Check out the latest prices and more details here.
Check out my detailed post on where to stay in Kefalonia.
Kefalonia is the perfect Greek travel destination. The cultural and historical sites show its rich heritage while its gorgeous beaches and delicious restaurants turn it into a relaxing environment. The views of the island are spectacular everywhere you look with the green of the island spilling into the vibrant blue of the Ionian Sea. Because of the large size of the island, the crowds stay at a minimum so you can enjoy the full experience of what the island has to offer. Renting a car is highly recommended.
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