“Look at the colour of the water, these beaches are amazing!” Nick and I were grinning ear to ear on the drive from the ferry terminal to our hotel. Passing by numerous little sandy coves, we were in awe of the pristine coastline. Our friend and driver, Jerry, responded with “Really? That’s nothing. Wait until you see Myrtos”.
We were about to be spoiled for choice when it came to the beaches of Kefalonia.
The biggest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is as diverse as it is vast. From the farmland and vineyards of the Paliki Peninsula, to the sheer cliffs and rocky shoreline of the north, this island is filled with surprises. With just 4 nights to get under the skin of Kefalonia, we consulted our map and came up with a game plan to tackle the island.
Don’t miss the traveller tips & advice at the bottom of each section, and our travel video at the end of this post!
Lassi & Argostoli
As with our travels on Zakynthos Island, our first stop was to pick up a rental car. Kefalonia is extremely mountainous and many of the natural sites and quaint towns are spread out. In my opinion, having a car here (and in most of Greece) is a must in order to see all of the wonderful places on offer.
Pulling up at White Rocks Hotel in Lassi, we couldn’t believe this would be our accommodation for the next 4 nights. An extremely friendly porter greeted us and took our backpacks up to the room. Opening the door, we were blown away by the views from our private balcony, which overlooked the gorgeous, blue flag Platis Gialos beach.
The room was modern and tastefully decorated, with an ensuite bathroom complete with a bathtub. The bedroom was perfect, but we were mesmerized by the view.
The entire property was set on a cliff above the sea. Not only was the blue flag beach right below our room, but the private Tourkopodaro Beach was just steps away. Tables and chairs lined the cement walkway on the cliffside, making it the perfect spot for breakfast, or a romantic dinner.
We found it difficult to peel ourselves away from these two beaches and our beautiful room, but there was much more of the area to discover. First up, the capital!
The capital city of Argostoli has some lovely plazas, numerous cafes & restaurants, walking streets and a waterfront promenade which is a great place for a stroll. There’s a footbridge (The De Bosset Bridge / Drapano Bridge), which connects Argostoli with the opposite side of the bay. This bridge is actually the largest stone bridge over a sea in the world and is a great place for a walk in the late afternoon. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot some loggerhead turtles in the water, as well as many sea birds.
Lassi turned out to be an excellent place to base ourselves for the 4 nights on Kefalonia. Not only was the capital city just 2 kilometers away, but Lassi itself had gorgeous beaches, many shops and an excellent tavern, Sto Psito, which we checked out on our first night on the island.
We entered through a flowery archway and made our way to the tables with a view of the sea. The open air patio was the ultimate dining spot, with a light breeze and unobscured views of the sunset. The owner, Christo, greeted us with a bottle of wine from the Sklavos Winery (more about that winery below!), followed by his recommendations for typical Kefalonian food.
We sampled strapatsada (scrambled eggs with tomato and feta), traditional stewed goat with potatoes and a Mediterranean chicken with basil, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. The ingredients were all locally sourced, freshly made and absolutely delicious! If you’re looking for a restaurant in Lassi / Argostoli, don’t miss this place.
The Paliki Peninsula
Kefalonia is a uniquely shaped, puzzle-piece-looking island with a mass of land dangling off of the western side called the Paliki Peninsula. In order to get over to the Peninsula, you must either take a ferry-boat across the channel from the capital of Argostoli, or you can drive (like we did) and make a day out of it.
Driving gave us the opportunity to witness the countryside morph from towering rocky coastline into flat farmland, marshy grasslands, vineyards and clay cliffs!
On the northern end of the peninsula, there are still some very dramatic cliffs. Most notably is Petani Beach with its aquamarine water and beachside taverns. It was a stormy afternoon when we visited, but this was still a stunning lunch spot – and a great place to sample the local seafood.
Will full bellies, we continued on to the southeastern end of the peninsula to the village of Lixouri, which is the second largest on Kefalonia. This place is normally fairly busy and bustling, but when we visited, it was like a ghost town! 3,000 people inhabit Lixouri, yet there as no one around. It was Sunday, it was the shoulder season and it was also the time of day when the residents would be resting.
Feeling as though we had the place to ourselves, we strolled around the streets and enjoyed the peace and quiet. The main square of Plateia Petritsi is surrounded by cute cafes with views over the water. Further back from the plaza you’ll find narrow alleyways with churches, while just 15 kilometers away you can find the isolated Monastery of Kipoureon.
Continuing further south for 7 kilometers, we arrived at the rust-coloured beach of Xi, which was backed by white clay cliffs and had the calmest water we’d seen so far. This 4 kilometer beach is a sort-of DIY spa. Rub the mud from the cliffs all over your body and let it dry in the sun. Once it’s hardened, go for a swim to remove the clay and enjoy your soft skin!
Xi Beach was another unique stretch of sand that we added to our list of favourites on Kefalonia.
After eating and lazing on the beach, we were feeling a bit thirsty and decided to visit a nearby winery and vineyard.
Over the past few years, we’ve become interested in wine and wine production. Having visited numerous wineries and vineyards in the nearby countries of Malta, Italy and Bulgaria, it was time to check out what Greece had to offer!
So far, we had been very impressed by the table wines in the country, and could only imagine what an oaked, aged bottle would taste like.
We met up with Mr. Sklavos, who is quite possibly the most laid-back person we’ve ever come across. We greeted him and within one minute, he had picked up a worm that was on the driveway, washed it off with water and gently placed it next to a vine.
This was our introduction to the winery, the owner, and the biodynamic practices taking place here.
Worms are used to naturally aerate the soil and rather than using chemicals, the worms also aid in the removal of harmful minerals from the soil. They take in the minerals, process them, and “poop” them out as a healthy mixture of clay and humus.
The methods used here were fascinating! Not only the use of worms, but the fact that planting and harvesting is done based on The Maria Thun astronomical calendar.
Mr. Sklavos has just moved in here and will have tours ready within a month or so, but we were able to get an insider look into the production, the vineyards and of course, the wine itself. We sampled the local varieties of Mavrodaphne and Vostilidi, wandered around the pristine vineyard and enjoyed chatting with the owner about his life and use of biodynamic techniques.
The North: Myrtos, Assos & Fiskardo
We were absolutely blown away by Myrtos Beach and the seaside towns of Assos and Fiskardo. These truly are some of the most amazing spots in Greece.
Rounding the final bend on our drive to Myrtos Beach, Nick slammed on the breaks and brought the car to a screeching halt.
Below us was the beach that we had heard so much about. The water was so incredibly bright and neon, that it seemed as though there was a spotlight below it, illuminating the sea! There was hardly any sand, but the rocks were blindingly white, and the sheer cliffs backing the beach only added to its beauty.
We floated in ecstasy in the powder blue water before heading off. With no umbrellas or trees here, by midday the sun was at its most intense and we needed to seek out some shade, and some lunch.
Moving further north along the scenic coastline, we arrived at Assos. This colourful, quaint village is one of the most picturesque spots we’ve seen. With just 100 inhabitants, the Venetian-styled village is a great place to spend a lazy afternoon – which is exactly what we did.
Vines and flowers cling to pastel-coloured homes, low-rise buildings line the waterfront promenade and quiet little lanes provide a shady stroll. There is one small bay here with crystal-clear water and a couple of restaurants. This is the perfect spot for cooling off after hiking to the remains of the nearby 16th century Venetian Fortress.
Apart from the main bay, there are numerous little hidden coves around the area, just take your pick!
Finally, after lazing on two gorgeous beaches, we made our way to the very northern part of the island to the more upscale sailing village of Fiskardo, which was lucky to escape damage from the 1953 earthquake (the rest of Kefalonia didn’t fare so well).
Well-known by sailors and yachties, this beautiful village is becoming more popular with tourists as well. The construction of hotels and a shopping center uncovered numerous, well-preserved remains from the Roman era – including graves, a bathhouse, a theatre and homes.
As soon as we arrived, we made a wardrobe change from our beach sarong and board shorts into something more appropriate for dinner in this area.
Thankfully, the food wasn’t pretentious or overly priced and the people we encountered were just as friendly as everywhere else on the island.
We settled in for a romantic dinner on the water at Vasso’s Restaurant, a recommendation from our friend Jerry. A bubbly waiter arrived with suggestions of the chef. Because we know Greek portions are massive, we had been mentally preparing ourselves for the upcoming feast!
To start with, we had a fresh Greek salad, a platter of local dips made with cheese and spices, yogurt and dill, and whipped potato with garlic. We moved on to fried local cheese, zucchini balls, tomato courgettes, and pastry stuffed with cheese. From there, a platter of deep-fried anchovies and squid arrived, followed by traditional meatballs and pasta.
It was pure gluttony and we didn’t care. The food at Vasso’s was amazing!
Even though we were in a food coma, we had to drive 1.5 hours back to White Rocks Hotel where we promptly passed out after a memorable day.
Melissani Cave & Sami
The diversity of Kefalonia kept on coming! When we heard that there was an underground river and cave located in the center of the island (like a cenote in Mexico), we had to check it out. Together with other tourists, we hopped on a little wooden boat and were paddled around by a guide.
An earthquake 5,000 years ago had an effect on this cave. Looking up, there was a massive opening in the ceiling, allowing beams of sunlight to penetrate the otherwise dark cavity. The illuminated, brackish water was so clear that we could spot eels down below.
The water in the cave travels for 19 kilometers over the course of 2 weeks from near the city of Argostoli, before passing through this cave and emptying out into the sea. Although the boat tour was short, about 15 minutes in total, the guide was informative and the site was beautiful.
From here, the small harbour town of Sami is just a 2 kilometer drive away. This is where the 2001 movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed. For us, this was just a little pit stop on our way back to our hotel, and even though it was a pretty place, we much preferred Assos and Fiskardo in terms of aesthetics.
Give Yourself Some Time
Kefalonia is large, mountainous and very diverse. There are numerous towns, beaches and sites to explore. To really get a feel for the magic of this Ionian Island, make sure to give yourself some time, at least a week. Our trip was much to short (due to ferry strikes, we lost a couple of days) and as we headed to the airport for our Aegean Airlines flight to Corfu Island, we were sad to say goodbye to this beautiful place, but are certain that we’ll be back to discover more of the hidden gems on offer.
Check Out Our Travel Video from Kefalonia:
A huge thank-you to Discover Greece for assisting with our transportation, accommodation, tours and (some) food during our stay on Kefalonia Island.For more useful advice and information on travelling to Greece, check out the wonderful Discover Greece travel portal. All opinions and thoughts remain our own, despite any complimentary services received.
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