Argostoli, our beautiful capital!
If you’re staying in the northern regions of the island there are two ways to drive to Argostoli. One is the road from Sami (a shorter route for those living in that region), that passes the junctions for Ainos Mountain, Saint Gerasimos Monastery and the wineries. The other route begins at the junction at Divarata (the village above Myrtos) it is a wider, more recently constructed road taking you to Argostoli through the Falari mountains (a shorter route if you live in the Pylaros region).
From the Paliki region you can take the car/passenger ferry across the gulf, or drive around it and join the coast road south. From the east you can drive along the southern coastal road.
This tour is divided into 3 parts, you can choose to do part of it or all of it according to your schedule and interests:
Koutavos Lagoon (south side)
estimated walk time: approx 1.5h*
Arriving at the entrance of the city, take in the view of Koutavos Lagoon, spanned by the De Bosset (Drapano) bridge, with the low-lying city beautifully spread out in front of you. Once you have driven around the lagoon you can usually find a parking space just after the sports center, or closer to the bridge, to start your walking tour.
Once an impassable swamp, Koutavos Lagoon and the newly renovated De Bosset bridge today is a magical sight and a wonderful walk for locals as well as holiday makers. You can walk, or cycle, along the coastal path and enjoy the peaceful environment, a feeding ground for the turtles Caretta caretta (loggerhead turtles), wild ducks, black headed hens, swans, and a variety of fish. The lagoon is also an important stop off for many migrating birds. Rent a boat, hydro bike or pedal boat from Argostoli Lagoon Activities and explore this unique environment from a different perspective.
On this side of the town you can find the wonderful Botanical Gardens where you can familiarise yourself with the local flora fauna, and the educational Environmental Center of Mount Ainos where you can learn about local environmental issues. Then cross the beautiful De Bosset (Drapano) bridge to get a wide angle view of the city and the port. Almost halfway along the bridge stands a stone column (obelisk) built by the British to commemorate their stay.
Argostoli Town Center
estimated walk time approx 2h*
Walk along the coastal road towards the center of the city and pass the fish and fruit market to reach the black and white, palm lined, cobbled coastal road, and take a seat at one of the benches and watch the local residents going about their daily business. Here the fishermen moor their boats to sell fresh fish. Very often you will get the chance to see the loggerhead turtles coming to eat fish from the boats.
The road passes the Nautical School and the small quay where the ferry boats connect to the town of Lixouri (this is an alternative way to get to Lixouri avoiding the round driving tour, the ferries leave around every 30 mins). When you reach the cruise ship moorings I suggest you turn left up one of the vertical streets to get to the city center. The main attractions and shopping areas are limited on the first two parallel streets up from the coastal road and the small vertical streets crossing them. The first street called Siteboron Str has various shops but continue to the main shopping street called Lithostroto (paved street) where you can find a selection of souvenir, jewellery and clothing shops.
On the south side of this wide pedestrianised street sits Kabana (Bell) Square with it’s historic Clock Tower. The tower was re-constructed after the devastating earthquake of 1953. When the French came to Kefalonia they burned the Libro D’oro (the Golden Book of Noblemen) and planted the tree of freedom signing the end of the Venetian occupation and the birth of the radical movement. In the square call into Down the Rabbit Hole to buy handmade jewellery. On the other side of Lithostroto towards the main squares, you can find the Catholic church on the left, and next to it a small exhibition for the Aqui Mirarchi. Just off the main street at 14, Korgialenios Str is the Museum of Radio and Telecommunication. Back on the Lithostroto you will find Saint Spyridon Church with a variety of coffee shops to enjoy while the kids play around, make sure to keep a look out for local and traditional products, especially sweets. At the end there is a square with the Court Building and Kefalos Municipal theatre which holds performances, screenings and exhibitions throughout the year. If you take the street from the side of the left theatre you will find Korgalenios Library and Museum of Folklore History , where you can explore all facets of urban and rural life (i.e. dress code, costumes, household furnishings and fittings, family and social life, entertainment, folk and popular art, etc), as well as ecclesiastic art and the worship rituals of Kefalonians. Just next to the Museum you can see a traditional building that has not been destroyed by the earthquake.
Back on the main road again – at the extension of the Lithostroto towards the main square, you will pass the Archeological Museum (temporarily closed after structural damage), the Municipality building on your right and then Focas Cosmetatos Foundation with personal collections and publications as well as a great collection of photos from before the earthquake of 1953.
Now you have reached the main square of Argostoli. Vallianos Square is named after one of the greater benefactors of Kefalonia, you can see his statue here. Some of the main events of the year take place in the square, such as the Carnival, concerts, and Christmas village. The square has a number of open air cafes where one can relax while the kids can play around, CrepaLand is good for a stop. The road with the palm trees has a big selection of restaurants and bars – try Draught Grill & Beer House or Mercato Spirits & Kitchen -and ends up at the Municipal Swimming pool and on your right you will find the Tourist Information Center.
Katavothres & Fanari (north side)
estimated walk time to Katavothres is approx 15min, to Fanari extra 15min*
From the Tourist Information Center you can begin another tour by taking the beautiful Fanari coastal road, either on foot, bicycle or by car. On the way you will see the ruins of Thalassomilos, make sure to visit the water wheel and the strange geological phenomenon of Katavothres, and then head off to Saint Theodore lighthouse or Fanari. Following the road you can stop to see the Memorial of Acqui Division, in this area there are three little beaches that you can cool down for a while and then explore the area, these are the suburbs of Argostoli.
*times are approx and are calculated without any stops