I moved to Kefalonia because of the diversity and beauty of this island which attracted me like a magnet.
The beautiful island of Kefalonia, also known as Cephalonia or Kefallinia, is the largest of the Ionian Islands, the sixth largest in Greece and is located west of the mainland in the outlet of Patraikos Bay, between Zakynthos and Lefkas Islands.
It is easily accessed through its ferry ports and international airport. Ferries connect the island to mainland Greece, Italy, Zakynthos and Ithaka whilst the airport brings visitors from many European destinations.
The island is about 781 km2, with a coastline length of 250 km and a population of around 36.000 people. The capital city of Argostoli has one-third of the island’s inhabitants. Lixouri is the second major settlement, and the two town’s together account for almost two-thirds of the prefecture’s population. Important shipping ports include Argostoli, Lixouri, Poros and Sami.
The island has a rich biodiversity, with a substantial number of endemic and rare species. Some areas have been declared a protected site in the European Union’s Natura 2000 network. The Mountain Ainos (a National Park since 1962 supporting rich flora and fauna) looks impressive from far away and is even better to explore. Kefalonia is well known for its endangered loggerhead turtle population which nests on many beaches along the south coast of the island. A small population of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal, Monachus Monachus, also lives around the island’s coast, especially on parts of the coast which are inaccessible to humans due to the terrain. Dolphins are regularly spotted from the shoreline and from boats.
The landscape is wild; we have rare geological phenomena such as the intriguing Katavothres, some of the best beaches and waters in Greece, beautiful sunsets, Venetian castles, scenic walking trails, extreme sports, archaeological sites, local festivals and local delicacies. Kefalonia is a destination that combines everything that a visitor can dream of and it still keeps the serenity of an undiscovered island.
Tourism really took off during the 1980’s and the popularity of the movie Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) which was shot here in help boost visitor numbers. However the island retains its wildness, traditional charm and village atmosphere whilst offering visitors comfort and amenities necessary for a great holiday.
In order to make your discovery of the island easier we have divided it into 8 regions.
Discover the regions of Pylaros (north central), Sami (east), Paliki (west), Elios-Pronnoi (south east), Erissos (north), Argostoli region (central), Omala and Ainos (central), and Livathos (south) in our Travel Guides.
The huge variety of accommodation, attractions and activities means that there is something to suit all ages and budgets.
Looking for things to do while holidaying in Kefalonia? Kefalonia offers a huge variety of activities taking place all over the island! We have divided our activities into water-based, land-based, family and festivals and events, if you are looking for something in a specific region check out the regional travel guide sections.
The island of Kefalonia is, of course, surrounded by water! The coastline is varied and offers wild nature, cliff faces, beautiful pebbly coves and stunning sandy beaches. There are also magnificent lakes and rare geological phenomena to explore. An abundant amount of water based activities exist to suit all tastes and budgets, ranging from boat tours, fishing trips and private boat hire to diving, and fun and extreme water sports! Whatever your preferences - extreme or sedate, on the sea, under the sea, or in the pool - there is something for you... >>
The mountains, coastline, beaches, lakes and valleys of Kefalonia make for an exciting playground of land-based activities. Towns and villages, fantastic beaches, rural countryside and tourist resorts offer a massive array of things to do ranging from the sedate and relaxing to the extreme and adrenaline fuelled! Horse riding & donkey trekking, extreme sports, hiking, walking & cycling, wineries, and other tours >>
Kefalonia has always been an attractive destination for family holidays making the opportunity for combining quality family time with fun activities easy. It is ideal for travellers with children that are looking for some stress free time connecting with their family whilst exploring the island. Older family groups can also find plenty to do! Activities are wide ranging from exciting day or night time tours on land or sea to fun in the water and everything in between! >>
Experiencing the local culture through its flavours is an integral part of the romance of holiday and travelling, it's exciting and can be as adventurous as you please! From a simple local tomato, or a local wine to a full celebratory spit roast and everything in between! Tastes and opinions of food are very subjective so we have selected these special spots, no two are the same and each one is chosen for its own reason; authentic dishes, traditional atmosphere, personal service, great views and locations, and uniqueness of character… >>
Discover and participate in one of the many festivals or events taking place throughout the year in Kefalonia. Events range from religious and cultural festivals celebrating Saints Days, National and local holidays, wine and cheese production to workshops, art displays, road running races, classic car rallies, gymnastic and martial arts conventions and so much more! As festivals and events are announced we will add them to our site. >>
To complete your holiday you may want to explore the island yourself by land or sea, or have someone else drive or sail you, or you may want to add some extra treats. The majority of services are available island-wide so why not make the most of your holiday! Take a look at our extra services such as: car, scooter, bicycle, boat, yacht, taxi hire, private catering, concierge services, weddings and events, beauty & wellbeing, child minding >>
Kefalonian beaches are hard to surpass; they range from the secluded, wild and natural to the more organised and popular. In 2018 there were 13 Blue Flag beaches on Kefalonia (source http://www.blueflag.gr/).
Sandy beaches are generally found on the southern coast of Kefalonia, and also the Paliki peninsula, and are usually shallow and warmer. Avithos, Saint Thomas, Ai Helis, Poros, Xi, Lepeda, Atheras, Vouti, Skala, Katelios, Koroni, Ammes and Makris and Platis Gialos.
More rugged, wild and dramatic beaches are usually less populated with the exception of the world famous Myrtos, Antisamos and the beautiful Petani. Manias, Kousoupia, Fteri & Ammidi, Platia Ammos, and Dafnoudi are difficult to reach unless by walking, hiking or by boat trip.
Pebbly beaches are great for snorkeling and reflect the turquoise water beautifully but you may need beach shoes to walk comfortably. Assos, Horgota, Alaties, Foki, Agia Eleni, Emblissi, Lagadakia, are all stunning but some are more organized with sunbeds, umbrellas and refreshments than others so check before leaving.
Historical & Cultural Sites & Museums:
Drapano Bridge is a world record holder
Mycenaean tombs can be found at Tzanata and Mazarakata whilst Roman villa mosaics can be found at Agia Efimia and Skala and a Roman cemetery at Fiskardo. Ancient Sami and the Archaic Temple of Apolo are two more important sites.
There are many significant old and new religious buildings all over the island housing icons, paintings and manuscripts, including the Monastery of Agrillion, Agios Fanetes, Kipouria Monastery, Old Sissia Monastery, the little church of St John Chrysostom, the church of Panagia Lagouvarda , the church of Gravaliotissa, the Monastery of Mother of God-“Themata”, Monastery of Zoodohos Pigi, Panagia of Atros (the oldest monastery on the island), and the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos. You can also visit Saint Gerasimos Cave.
Important monuments are scattered over the island ; a Venetian castle at Assos, Saint George’s castle at Peratata (first capital of the island), the Venetian Lighthouse and Byzantine Basilica at Fiskardo, the Drapano Bridge and The Lighthouse (Fanari) of Agioi (Saint) Theodoron at Argostoli and Gero Gobos Lighthouse.
Casa-House Museum is a fine example of what an old Kefalonian Bourgeoisie house contained, and Corgialenios Museum of Folklore and Cultural History lets you explore all facets of historical urban and rural life. The Focas Cosmetatos Foundation has personal collections and publications as well as a great collection of photos from before the earthquake of 1953. There is a small Folklore Museum housed in the old primary school in Ratzakli, near to Skala.
In the Nautical Museum of Sami, located just outside of the village on the road to Argostoli, you will find 22 hand-made wooden shipping vessels spanning a history of 3,500yrs. At the Kotsanas Museum in Argostoli you can find working models and fine examples of Ancient Greek Technology.
Towns & Villages:
The two largest towns on the island are the capital Argostoli (the largest) and Lixouri. There are many traditional villages; Fiskardo is undoubtedly one of the prettiest villages on the island. Assos has an unusual landscape and its charming atmosphere. Around the south there are colourful villages where rich shipping families lived. Agia Efimia, Poros and Sami are bustling harbour villages, Katelios is a quiet sea-side fishing village, whilst Skala and Lassi are more touristic.
Abondoned villages can give us a real glimpse into the past and help us recreate in our minds what village life was like many years ago. Old Vlachata, Traces of old Agia Efimia, Old Farsa and Old Valsamata are worth exploring.
Nature & Geological Phenomena:
Rare geological phenomena appear on the island. At Katavothres you can discover the story behind how the water travels from the sink holes and re-appears in Karavomylos Lake. Melissani Lake is one of the most impressive open caves in the world at its ethereal beauty is magical. Drogarati Cave is an impressive cave with remarkable formations of stalactites and stalagmites. There is a huge system of caves in the Sami area. Kounopetra is another unique quirk of Kefalonia.
Koutavos Lagoon provides a habitat for migrating birds as does the Livardi Marshes and Tzanata Resevoir – all fabulous places for bird watching. The Botanical Gardens in Argostoli provide an oasis and interesting information about the flora and fauna of the island.
Mount Ainos, located 30 km from Argostoli, was known as Monte Nero (Black Mountain) during the Venetian period due to thick forestation of the dark Kefalonian Fir tree (Abies Cephalonica). From its summit (1628m) on a clear day it offers awe inspiring views of the southern coastline, Paliki Pennisula, the inland valleys and mountains, NW Peloponnese as well as the islands of Zakynthos, Lefkada, and Ithaca. A road which passes over the mountain range connecting traffic from southwestern to the eastern part of the island, is one of the few roads going into the mountain range and there are numerous mountain trails. The Management Body of Mt. Ainos National Park is responsible for the protection and conservation of the National Park. The offices of the management body are located in the Koutavos Environmental Centre in Argostoli. The forest flora includes many varieties of wild flowers, and other wonders hide there, like a large variety of orchids, of which are endemic, just like the violet of Kefalonia. You will also find mushrooms, and its fauna consists of various species of reptiles, bird’s such as the woodpecker, blackbird and hawk, as well as mammals. If you are lucky you may see the wild horses on the lower slopes. In summer the summit can offer great respite from the heat and in winter is often snow-capped.
Let food be the medicine and medicine be the food.
A lot of guests have said that fruit and vegetables never taste the same at home as they do here. An old friend sent me a photo of him eating watermelon on the beach on a previous holiday saying "I can't wait to come back to taste it again!".
Well, it is true that locally produced food tastes better because of its seasonality, and the attention to detail and care of it's production. But not only that, when you buy from a local artisan you are not just buying food, but you are supporting a life experience.
Find a local artisan and you could be surprised which what you could learn; they can help you discover their products, realise the different varieties and colours, the textures and aromas, and how each region and climate affects their taste.
You can find a list of products and the shops where you could find them here >>
If you are ready to take a gastronomic journey there are two options on the island. If you want to be pampered, relax and enjoy traditional Greek or Mediteranian food without leaving your accommodation, a private chef can cook at your place. >>
There's nothing like old fashioned recipes to warm the soul and trigger the senses!
I am currently searching for local cooking enthusiasts, who have vintage recipes (even secret ones!) passed down through the generations and prepared with traditional procedures, in order to create an archive of video recordings to share with you.
I have an avid interest in local ingredients, herbs, procedures, old utensils, special cooking techniques and local tips. I will be sharing with you family meals, traditional sweets, kolatsio (snack and street food), mezedes (selection of small dishes served to accompany alcoholic drinks-mainly ouzo), holiday and special occasion (religious) meals, salads and greens, soups. Have a look at the recipes and maybe try some at home >>
When you buy something from an artisan you are buying a hundred hours of experiments and failure, months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are not buying an object, you are buying a passion, a moment of life of a person.
Going around the island you might observe that many corners, gardens, boats, and houses are really artistic; Kefalonian people were and are in fact truly creative.
Nowadays the handicrafts made on the Island are mainly: paintings, olive tree wood-crafted works of art, recycled copper wire sculptures, dolls, embroideries, lace and needlework, vintage creations of clothing and furnishings and the design and manufacture of jewellery. Check the crafts page for more detailed information >>