The island’s capital city of Argostoli offers many attractions and activities to the visitor. Its relatively compact nature, neat street layout and gentle undulations mean it’s a great city for walking around. The city is easy to navigate, it’s interesting and full of life: from the bustling harbour and market, local craft and souvenir shops, traditional cafes and tavernas, to high-end shopping, trendy bars, coffee shops and restaurants.
The city is also the administrative centre of the island so the major government bodies, the court house and major banks are also located here. There are many important collections held in museums throughout the city. Argostoli is surrounded by water – a harbour for fishing boats, yachts and day tour boats, a larger port for passenger ferries and cruise ships, several small beaches and a beautiful lagoon. We propose three walking tours to cover all the ‘must-see’ things to do in our beautiful capital city!
First of all how to get getting there:
From the northern regions of the island (Erissos, Pylaros & Sami) there are three different ways to drive to Argostoli.
1. Take the mountain road from Sami (a shorter route for those in that region) called Argostoliou-Samis, that passes the junctions for Ainos Mountain, Saint Gerasimos Monastery and the wineries.
2. This route begins at the main 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 are staying in the Pylaros region).
3. The coast road that runs from Erissos all the way down into Argostoli is a longer route. You can stop at the viewing point at Myrtos and over Agia Kyriaki bay for amazing views and nice photos. The road is winding but offers some good scenery.
From the Paliki region you can drive around the gulf and join the coast road south.
From the eastern regions of Livathos and Elios-Pronnoi you can drive along the southern coastal road.
By public transport
The Greek bus service KTEL run bus routes covering the major villages and towns of the island to the bus station in central Argostoli. Check their website for detailed timetables.
From the Paliki region you can take the car/passenger ferry across the gulf from Lixouri town straight into Argostoli.
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: approximately 1.5 hours*
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 centre, 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 educational Environmental Center of Mount Ainos where you can learn about local environmental issues (contact them for opening times). 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). Look out for the statue of Nikos Kavadias, a famous Greek poet, who can be found gazing out to see at the harbour in Argostoli, which is quite apt as he was known as “The Poet of the Sea”. 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. 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 Acqui Divison. Continuing along 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. The road of the palm trees has a big selection of restaurants and bars 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. At the Kotsanas Museum you can find working models and fine examples of Ancient Greek Technology, located at Maistratos Port. On the way you will see the ruins of Thalassomilos that was cleaned and painted this year and holded many festivals and events, make sure to visit the water wheel and the strange geological phenomenon of Katavothres, and then head off to Saint Theodore lighthouse / 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