Where to go
ASSOS – A pastel-pretty harbour clinging to the narrow isthmus leading to the large rocky outcrop crowned by the remains of a Venetian fortress, just a 25-min drive from Fiskardo. Wander through the small streets and gaze at the romantic ruins of bygone days; take a long lunch in one of the local tavernas; or walk up and explore the castle, marvelling at the magnificent views as you climb.
ARGOSTOLI – The small, bustling capital lies along a protected lagoon. Souvenir shops and smart boutiques line the pedestrianised shopping street, and upmarket coffee bars and smart restaurants surround the main square. Visit the couple of small but interesting museums, or wander around the botanical gardens. Walk along the water’s edge and purchase fresh fish from the fishing boats whilst keeping your eyes peeled for sightings of loggerhead turtles, or walk across the newly restored Drapano Bridge to get a different perspective on things.
SAMI – Set in a large, beautiful bay on the east coast, this small town with its shops and waterfront cafes and restaurants, is a ferry port linking the island to neighbouring Ithaka, Astakos on the mainland, and to Patras on the Peloponnese (summer only). Marvel at the views and explore the Mycenaean and St. Agrilas monastery ruins above the town; while away your days on the beautiful, popular, Antisamos beach, or visit the nearby Drogarati limestone caves and Melissani Lake in neighbouring Karavomylos.
AGIA EFIMIA – Tucked on the east coast bay north of Sami, this charming little harbour is very popular with sailors. A good selection of restaurants and tavernas line the harbourside, and a collection of shops are scattered throughout the town. Sun yourself and swim off the many flat rocks lining the turquoise sea, or scuba dive and explore the deeper depths.
MOUNT AINOS – At 1628m, this is tallest mountain of all the Ionian islands. Surrounded by a national park, it is home to the indigenous black pine, and vineyards of the local Robola grape variety – from which many of the island’s wines are made – on the lower slopes. Venture to the summit for an eagles-eye view of the island, and keep a look out for the elusive white Kefalonian pony.
What to do
KASTRO AGIOS GIORGOS – This, the second Venetian fortress on the island, is perched above a small village on a hill between Argostoli and Mount Ainos, and commands incredible panoramic views across the south of the island and all the way to Zakynthos. Explore the castle ruins which include the restored main gate, the massive castle walls, storerooms and religious buildings.
VALSAMATA – The village at the heart of the island, Valsamata, sits in the centre of the Omala plateau below Mount Ainos. It is home to the Agios Gerassimos monastery which houses the patron saint of the island, and is a place of pilgrimage to Kefalonians the world-over during his feast days on 16th August and 20th October. The neighbouring Robola Winery is located next door, and is open year round for visits and tastings.
DROGORATI CAVES – This underground limestone cave system near Sami filled with stalactites and stalagmites, boasts fantastic acoustics. Visit the beautifully illuminated caverns, or experience the acoustics for yourself during one of the occasional concerts held here..
MELISSANI LAKE – The crystal-clear, turquoise, freshwater of this open-roofed cave lake in the village of Karavomylos next to Sami, can be visited by row boat. Originally seawater, the passes underground at the tidemill at Katavothres near the lighthouse in Argostoli and is filtered through the rock as it traverses the island. The water then passes to a second, open-air freshwater lake adjacent to the sea in Karavomylos.
KATELIOS – With views to Zakynthos, this sandy beach in the south is where the endangered loggerhead sea turtles come to nest. The volunteer project based here for their conservation provides interesting information.
Where to swim
MYRTOS – The most famous beach on the island, and one of the top beaches in Europe. This spectacular white shingle bay with its stunning turquoise waters is a must-visit. Gaze at it in all its glory from the viewing platform on the mountainside road above, or drive down and spend the day on the beach, with it’s sunbeds and cantina.
ANTISAMOS – This majestic bay past the peninsula beyond the town of Sami has a popular beach with sunbeds, parasols and two beach bars/tavernas. Water sports and beach parties with guest DJs, are organised in high season, and some of the film, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed here.
MAKRIS & PLATIS GIALOS – These pretty, sandy beaches in the bustling resort of Lassi are trendy and popular with tourists and locals alike. Beach bars, hip music, sunbeds, parasols and water sports are available.
AVITHOS – This narrow sandy strip south of the airport boasts two tavernas set in a small, verdant valley, a smart wooden beach shack, and lovely views to Zeus’ islet with its tiny chapel, and the island of Zakynthos beyond.
XI – This is a popular red sand beach backed by clay cliffs south Lixouri, complete with a smart beach bar/restaurant, canopied daybeds, and watersports. Do like the locals and soften a handful of clay in the water, spread it over your skin, bake it dry in the sun, then wash it off in the sea and marvel at how soft your skin feels!
PETANI – This large, stunning bay on the west coast of the Paliki Peninsula rivals Myrtos. Relax on a sunbed, dine in one of the two tavernas, or sip a cocktail in the beach bar whilst you watch the sun setting on the horizon.