The largest of the Ionian islands, Kefalonia became a must-visit destination for many after the blockbuster movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was released. Since then, the natural beauty of this Greek island has captured the hearts of many with its wild and rugged scenery, impressive Mt. Enos with black Kefalonia fir trees, numerous caves, picturesque beaches which are some of the best in Greece and of course the classic Greek island culture with rural villages, quaint historic churches and friendly locals. Thanks to the small size of the island it’s easy to see all of Kefalonia’s top attractions and towns/villages on a 2 week holiday when renting a car but visitors who don’t drive should be aware that the bus network is not as developed as on other Greek islands which makes choosing where to stay more important.
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Where to stay in Kefalonia – The best places to stay
This bustling South coast resort village is popular with first time visitors to the island, mostly catering to those on package holidays with numerous hotels and self-catering apartments to choose from plus a mile long stretch of tavernas, cafes, bars, souvenir shops, mini markets, and car rental and excursion offices.
Located just 6km from the airport and 3km from the capital city of Argostoli (aka Argostolion), all excursions pickup up from Lassi which makes it a great place to stay if you enjoy organized tours and don’t plan to hire a car.
There are 2 beautiful sandy beaches at Lassi with the popular Makris Gialos and Platis Gialos also close by, each beach well-equipped with amenities including beach bars and water sports but quieter beaches are also just a short distance away.
Lassi is a good place to stay for students, young families and younger couples who seek a typical beach resort holiday with plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants to choose from with the capital city within easy reach when a change of scene is required whether you want a day of sightseeing and cultural activities or seek some lively local city nightlife.
Where to stay in Lassi, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Thalassa Boutique Hotel – Located 250 metres from the beach on the headland of Lassi, the rooms at Thalassa have stunning sea views and are individually decorated in a stylish contemporary design. This stunning hotel has a garden pool with sun terrace, fitness room, and bar with shops and more bars a 5-10 minute walk away.
Mediterranee – This 4-star hotel is located on the beach with the spacious rooms with really comfortable beds having a sea view or mountain view. The pool has a separate shallow section for kids and there’s table tennis and a tennis court on site along with mini market, bars, and restaurant.
The most popular holiday resort on the island, the lively yet lovely South coast village of Skala provides couples and families with a typical beach resort holiday whilst still retaining some of its original Greek charm.
A well-organized beach is backed by a pine forest and is covered in sandy shingle with lots of rock formations. Beach bars pumping out Summer tunes and a variety of water sports can all be enjoyed as you sink your toes into the beach and soak up the sun but picturesque and isolated coves can be found when you leave the sunbeds and music behind and take a walk further along the beach. Take a walk along the beach late at night and you might be lucky enough to see newly-hatched Loggerhead turtles making their way across the sand to the sea as this is a nesting ground in the Summer.
There are plenty of boat and coach excursions departing Skala daily during the season, visit the port village of Poros for the day or stay within Skala and see the archaeological site with the cave of Sakkos, the temple of Apollo, the chapel of Agios Georgios, and the old town ruins.
Although there are plenty of tavernas and bars to choose from in Skala, nightlife isn’t as lively as in Lassi or Argostoli so is better for families and couples rather than youngsters looking to dance until dawn. One thing to note with Skala is the steep hill going from the beach back up to the accommodation – Not recommended for those with mobility issues and a sweat-inducing struggle for families with kids in buggies who need to lug all of the beach paraphernalia back at the end of the day!
Where to stay in Skala, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Porto Skala Hotel Village – Enjoying sea views and spacious surroundings, peaceful Porto Skala is designed like a Greek village with bright modern décor. There are 2 beaches to choose from at the hotel and free shuttles to Skala beach and Skala town which is 1.2km away.
Captain’s House – Located in the centre of Skala with plenty of shops, tavernas, and bars to try out just around the corner, the Captain’s House is a small family-run hotel / guest house with bar just 50 metres from the beach.
The modern cosmopolitan capital city (more like a large town) is a lively place with good nightlife that combines tourism and local life with plenty to offer culture vultures who like seeing and doing rather than laying out on the beach all day doing nothing.
On the picturesque waterfront that is lined with cafes and restaurants, visitors can enjoy a walk along the palm-lined promenade to take in the fishing boats and the Loggerhead Turtles that feed in the Koutavos lagoon, perhaps walking to the pine shaded beach to the North of the city when a refreshing dip in the sea is needed, or in the opposite direction to see the historical Drapano Bridge that separates the lagoon from the harbour.
The lagoon is a sanctuary for birds, ideal for any twitchers on vacation here whilst the archaeological museum and the social and cultural museum (The Focas Kosmetatos Foundation), will keep the historians happy. There is also a botanical garden, a clock tower, and the church of Saint Spyridon to see plus plenty of shopping and people watching to be enjoyed along the pedestrianised shopping street of Lithosroto. When you’ve explored the city itself, head out along the coastal path towards Lassi to see the Lighthouse of Saint Theodore, take the ferry to Lixouri, Kefalonia’s second city, or hop on the local bus and head out to one of the picturesque villages.
Where to stay in Argostoli, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Mirabel Hotel – Located on Argostoli’s main square with everything, including the port, within walking distance the Mirabel Hotel provides guests with a comfortable space in elegant and spacious surroundings without hurting the bank balance too much.
Kefalonia Grand – This hotel lives up to its name with its stylish minimalist design and looks out across the picturesque waterfront where you’ll be able to watch the turtles as well as the boats. It’s just a short walk from the centre of Argostoli’s main shopping streets, with the beach also easily accessible.
This former fishing village on the North end of Kefalonia has become an upmarket holiday resort and is a true gem of a place. Its backstreets contain old pastel-painted Venetian buildings that survived the devastating 1953 earthquake, a selection of modern cafes, bars, and boutique shops can be found in the new section, and the harbour is packed full of yachts as well as traditional fishing boats. Tavernas line the water’s edge waiting to serve you up some deliciously fresh seafood for a quaint-essential Greek island dining experience and for visitors wishing to dance until dawn, there’s a nightclub open every night of the Summer.
There are walks to take in the surrounding forested hills, boat excursions with a ferry connection to Lefkada, and beaches to relax on, many small hidden coves within driving or hiking distance when you want to get away from the busier organized beaches.
Fiskardo is perfect for couples young and old who seek a relaxing and romantic retreat with nature on the doorstep yet still want a place to have some life about it with a cosmopolitan edge rather than that sleepy Greek village feel.
Where to stay in Fiskardo, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Fiscardo Bay Hotel – Surrounded by trees with the waterfront visible across the terracotta tiled rooftops, Fiskardo Bay Hotel enjoys a quiet location with tavernas, shops and bars a short walk away. It has a pool with wooden sun deck and stylish spacious rooms.
Emelisse Nature Resort – Thanks to its cliff top location, Emelisse Nature Resort enjoys stunning views of the sea but also of nature since it’s surrounded by trees with the mountains behind. The rooms are light and airy and feature extra touches of sophistication such as Nespresso machines.
This tiny secluded village with its colourful houses nestled on the craggy hillside of a picturesque peninsula is surrounded by pine and cypress trees and is ideal for couples who seek downtime to rest, relax, and recuperate on a romantic getaway, purposefully seeking a place without any nightlife.
A mini market has all the essentials, a few shops sell handicrafts, and there are a handful of tavernas serving up food and drink to the sound of Greek music but that’s about it in terms of amenities, it’s advisable to rent a car so that you can get out and explore the surrounding area.
Assos is one of the most beautiful places on the island of Kefalonia, one of those places with delightfully picturesque alleys where it feels like time stood still. The 16th century Venetian castle ruins can be visited by taking a walk through the olive groves that buzz with cicadas and the beloved and beautiful Myrtos beach is a short distance away, well worth stopping at for some photo opportunities with the turquoise sea contrasting beautifully with the white pebble beach and limestone cliffs.
Where to stay in Assos, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Pension Gerania – With stunning views overlooking the picturesque harbour and just 100 metres from the beach and shops, Pension Gerania provides guests with a very welcoming and comfortable stay in peaceful garden surroundings.
Vassilis Retreat – Located in the heart of Assos village, this small family-run hotel has stunning views of the coastline and Venetian Castle thanks to its elevated position. It’s located just a 5 minute walk from the beach and tavernas.
This large and lively modern coastal town is what you might call a ‘real Greek town’ enabling tourists to have a pleasant stay and locals to go about daily life. Modern as well as traditional cafes, bars, and tavernas can be found on the harbour where the fishermen still unload their catch of the day and there are a jewellery shops and other souvenir shops to browse in with many cultural events taking place through the Summer.
Culture vultures will enjoy all the history that’s found here with Ancient Sami, one of the most important archaeological sites on the island, plus Roman baths and Agrilia Monastery. Also within driving distance are Karavomilos Lake, The 7 Watermills Trail, Drogarati Cave, Melissani Lake, and the famous Myrtos Beach. Sami beach is quite small but 4km away you can enjoy Antisamos beach, this being where Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed.
Sami is an ideal spot for people who love seeing the natural and historic sights, this area being well known in Greece for its caves and lakes. Being centrally located, it’s also a good base from which to explore the island when renting a car and since it’s the second largest port in Kefalonia, ferries departing daily to Ithaki, Patra, and Kilini, it’s a good base for backpackers enjoying some island hopping time.
Where to stay in Sami, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Nikos Studios and Apartments – Enjoy self-catering accommodation in a semi-rural location a 15 minute walk from the centre of Sami. The garden setting with fruit trees (you can pick oranges and pomegranates in season!) pool, bbq area, and playground for the kids ensure an enjoyable stay for the whole family.
Remezzo Apartments – Feel at home in this bright self-catering accommodation with views out to the mountains. Set back away from the noise of the main street, but still within walking distance of the bakery, beach, and bars, the rooms have a kitchenette and dining area plus bedroom and bathroom.
This traditional village in the South West has managed to combine its old world charm with tourism. Despite being close to the airport, it has not become an overly developed resort and allows visitors to enjoy a peaceful holiday in picturesque surroundings.
Original architecture that withstood the 1953 earthquake can be seen by wandering the narrow streets, camera in hand, as you discover local life as it must have been hundreds of years ago thanks to the few remaining blacksmiths. The village church is the largest on the island and has beautiful frescoes on the walls and in the next village, Ntomata, you’ll be able to visit the golden temple at the small chapel before heading out to see Lord Byron’s rock at Lakithra.
Svoronata has very few shops and no nightlife aside from a handful of bars/tavernas making it ideal for couples who want to relax but also families whose kids who will be more than content spending their days between the sandy beach and the hotel pool.
Where to stay in Svoronata, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Leivatho Hotel – This stylish eco-friendly 4-star hotels has a beach front location and 2 pools to choose from plus a sauna and gym. Its award-winning design features stylish minimalist rooms with the enthusiasm on the view.
Baha-Ammes Apartments – Set within beautiful mature grounds, the spacious Baha-Ammes apartments with kitchenette are a short 400 metre walk from the beach and shops with plenty of tavernas also within walking distance. There are bbq facilities on site as well as a kids playground.
Located in the South East, this quiet and hospitable fishing bay is split into 2 parts with the village properties higher up at Ano Kerelios and most of the tourist accommodation, restaurants, and souvenir shops located in Kato Katelios on the waterfront.
The long beach has both sand and pebbles with a few sunbeds but isn’t overly commercialised and is actually the nesting ground of turtles during the Summer. However, beach lovers should be forewarned of the seaweed, especially if visiting at the start or end of the season.
It’s easy to get to the lively resort village of Skala and to the capital city of Argostoli when you seek a night on the town or a day of sightseeing or water sports, a hire car giving travellers ample opportunity to explore but a bus service also running a couple of times a day and there even being boat excursions to Zakynthos for the day.
Katelios is a good place for walkers and nature lovers to base themselves as the hills behind the village can be explored, there being a well-signposted walk between Katelios and Pastra. The Ano Katelios church ruins can also be walked to and the Roman ruins. In the nearby village of Mavrate there is a Mycenaean tomb and at Markopoulos village, the Church of Panagia Lagouvarda, the best place to see and photo the view of Katelios bay but if you’re afraid of snakes don’t visit in August as lots of small snakes (harmless ones) fill the temple – A phenomenon that cannot be explained.
Where to stay in Katelios, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Albouro Seafront Apartments – A few steps away from the sand, the relaxing and clean and quiet self-catering apartments of Albouro have a kitchenette with dining area. There’s a restaurant on site, on the beach, for breakfasts and snacks when you don’t want to cook with the town a short walk away.
Olivemare – So called because of the olive trees in the garden, Olivemare offers boutique accommodation 5 minutes from the beach. Enjoy the pool, hot tub, sun terrace, and a la carte restaurant as you soak up the views.
Kefalonia’s second largest city feels a bit more upmarket than Argostoli and is very picturesque with its tree-lined streets and small bridges that allow the stream that splits the city in two to be crossed.
Lixouri makes a good base for culture vultures as well as families, providing a little something for everyone whether staying in a hotel, a small studio apartment, or larger holiday villa. It’s more laid back than Argostoli yet lively enough that you won’t be bored, especially with the wealth of cultural events and festivals that take place.
Families with kids will want to visit the nearby water park and take a ride on the ferry to Argostoli whilst couples can visit the archaeological museum and the Monastery of Kipoureon that’s built on the edge of a cliff high above the sea. The peninsula provides breathtaking scenery all around with a wide red sand beach at Lepedha (a perfect place for snorkelling) and a natural spa at the famous Xi beach – Rub the reddish clay sand into your skin for a free beauty treatment but also make use of the water sports facilities!
Lixouri doesn’t have as lively a nightlife scene as in Argostoli but there are plenty of restaurants and modern bars to choose from along the waterfront, or you can make your way to the main square and sip a coffee at one of the more traditional cafes and watch the world pass by.
Where to stay in Lixouri, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Aura Boutique Hotel – With its quiet seafront location and tastefully decorated rooms featuring coco-mat comfort, Aura Boutique hotel is the place for couples to relax and unwind as they feel the sand between their toes!
Alkestis Studios – Benefiting from a central location yet still within quiet surroundings, these spotlessly clean spacious and fully-equipped studios are within walking distance of the harbour and central square.
Picturesque Poros is a working port divided into 3 bays with an old harbour and new harbour, ferries carrying passengers to neighbouring Zakynthos and Ithaca as well as to the mainland.
Located on the south east of the island, it is surrounded by green forests and nestled between Mount Atros and Mount Pahni. This village was one of the first places on the island to welcome organized tourism in the 1980’s but, although still popular, it never became overdeveloped.
The small village beaches have sunbeds and umbrellas and there’s a larger blue-flag beach nearby at Aragia aka Ragia that is more peaceful with plenty of sea caves to be explored along the stunning coast. Walkers will enjoy the Gorge of Vohyna, there’s also the Atros Monastery nearby and the breathtaking Drakena Cave that shouldn’t be missed.
Poros is good for independent travellers whether backpackers on a budget or older couples who enjoy nature and walking. It’s the place to be when you want to enjoy a genuine Greek welcome and to delight in the secluded beaches that are only accessible by boat.
Where to stay in Poros, Kefalonia – Suggested hotels
Hotel Anastazia – Newly built and enjoying stunning sea views, Hotel Anastazia provides its guests with elegantly decorated rooms and suites located off of the main tourist trail. The hotel pool looks out to the sea and the beach, shops, and tavernas are a short stroll away.
Mari-Christi Apartments – Stylish self-catering accommodation with sea views to take your breath away located on private beachfront. The rooms are huge and fully-equipped with large comfortable terraces to relax on when you don’t want to lay on the beach.