My partner and I decided to visit Kefalonia for a holiday last May as we were looking for somewhere quiet and peaceful to allow us to relax and also somewhere nice and hot. We were recommended Kefalonia by the travel agent as they had previously been there and really enjoyed it. We were not disappointed at all. We stayed in Lixouri which is at the south of the peninsula. The hotel that we stayed in was the Hotel Kefalonia Palace and was lovely - very friendly, helpful staff and a gorgeous setting.
Being on the peninsula did have its disadvantages, as getting to the mainland required either a long drive or a ferry trip. However the ferry goes across very regularly and is good value for money. There was quite a few shops and restaurants in Lixouri itself, however a trip to the capital of Argostoli for souvenir shopping is recommended!
I would also recommend having a car whilst there in order to visit the main attractions of the island which were not disappointing. A definite must for visiting is Myrtos beach (one of the settings for Captain Corellis Mandolin), the beach is absolutely stunning, with golden sands and deep blue water. A particular highlight for us was the small fishing village of Asos - full of whitewashed buildings and very picturesque. A trip to Mounda Beach is also recommended to see the famous Loggerhead turtles that inhabit the island.
Finally, Xi beach which was just a few minutes walk from our hotel is recommended - famous for its clay sand hich can be used for a cheap spa treatment!
Kefalonia (or Cephalonia) is the largest of the Ionian Islands. It is a popular destination for cruise ships which is how we reached the island.
We docked at Poros where there was a very pebbly beach with crystal clear water. The front was lined with brightly coloured eating places and the town set back from the road was bustling and pretty. To make the most of the short time we had on the island we took the bus tour around the island. We travelled in August so it was very hot and its essential to take plenty of water with you.
The countryside seemed quite barren in the southern part of the island. The island was quite mountainous and it was a hair-raising journey that took us to the other side of the mountain to our first destination.
Melissani Lakes- this is obviously a very busy tourist attraction. There were busloads arriving all the time which made for quite a hectic experience. You have to queue down a cave entrance which can be a little slippery so care is needed. At the end you are suddenly transfixed by the most amazing turquoise lake. The ceiling of a cave fell in and revealed this natural wonder to the world. You transfer to boats where an oarsman transports you across the lake and into a cave. The water is the most amazing colour and extremely deep. The cave is very narrow and the boats only just have room to pass each other. If you are lucky you will get a guide who will tell you all the stories about the area. Before you know it you are being transferred back to dry land. Although this is a beautiful place to see the experience is very short (about 10 minutes) and you do feel ushered through quickly without much chance just to stand and marvel at the beauty.
Caves of Drogarti- not far from the lakes are these caves. They are easily accessed down some steep steps which would not suit those with walking or breathing difficulties although there are seats to rest on. The caves obviously used to contain an impressive display of stalagmites and stalactites but unfortunately many of these have been damaged as they were used for target practice during the war. The caves are also used as a theatre and although you are not supposed to touch the rocks I think some have probably been damaged that way too. This is also quite a short experience but the walk back out does take more time.
Sami- this attractive fishing port is very attractive. Boats bob about in the harbour and the atmosphere is quiet and calm. This was used as the setting for the filming of Captain Corelli's Mandolin. There is no longer any evidence of the sets that were built although it seems the town was completely shut off whilst filming took place and many locals worked as extras as they couldn't carry on with their normal tourist work.
The coach tour then headed towards the north of the island where the scenery became much lusher and the views were amazing. The sea was brilliant blue and the wooded slopes dark green with rich tree growth, beaches and coves appeared around every corner. Views to the nearby island of Ithaca were nice too. The villages seemed very small and quiet which was certainly a contrast from the busy port.
This was a lovely taster of a delightful island that I would love to explore further as it certainly looked a beautiful spot for a longer holiday.
It seems hard to imagine that less than 48 hours ago I was standing on the top of a mountain top village, Markopoulo in Kefalonia, watching the procession of church goers following the priest into the picturesque church. Sitting under an olive tree and watching the colours of the landscape change, as the sun emerged from a wispy slate grey canopy casting an amber ray of light, like a giant fan illuminating the layers of terraced sun baked earth beneath. The sound of the Greek Orthodox service resonating over the hillside was a perfect end to what had been a week of discovery as the island of Kefalonia gradually unfolded its delights to us.
The largest island in the Ionian chain this picturesque place was virtually decimated by the earthquake which struck in 1953, leaving only the far north untouched, and so everything you see on the island is what has been reborn since then. Don't think Cycladian blue and white houses, but a sun caressed terracotta which has the Venetian influence. Sometimes it is hard to remember you are in Greece as the landscape is lush and green, with mature trees and is very pretty, despite being a tourist destination which is growing in popularity.
We stayed in the south of the island in a little sleepy village called Katelios, and our studios were situated away from the sea front at the edge of where the old town meets the new. A few minutes stroll and you were submerged in Greek life, amongst the orange groves, whilst towards the beach were the sleepy tavernas and the quiet waterfront.
We took a book with us from the local library called "Kefalonia" by Brian and Eileen Anderson, which is a simple but comprehensive guide to the island, and what it has to offer. It is a Landmark Visitors Guide and certainly a good place to start.
Hubby and I are a couple who seek solitude and peace on holiday, and a chance to immerse ourselves in the culture of the place, so for us it was a very good choice. I know from my coach transfer that many do not think too carefully about their holidays, but for us we see travel as an adventure, preferring not to seek out 5 star luxury, but to instead enjoy the flavour and the feel of an experience, which more closely reflects the life around the place, which is untouched, or at least not spoilt, by tourism. One lady on our coach explained that she stuck a pin in a brochure, and this revealed her destination, not for me I'm sure, but this time I think her pin landed somewhere she would have been delighted to visit.
One of the fundamental things to remember in Kefalonia is that trees and lush vegetation could never thrive without rainfall, and even in September you are taking a gamble if you are a sun worshipper, think very carefully. We had 4 beautiful days with 25 degrees and unbroken sunshine, followed by 24 hours of solid thunder and lightening, with torrential rainfall which was unbroken by not even the slightest hint of summer.
Walking along the beach between Katelios and Kamina which stretches for miles, the deserted sprinkling of sun beds told a tale, in fact I could have been in The Outer Hebrides with the wind lashing the rocks and the crashing waves, it made me feel as if I had come home!
So with an open mind and a sense of adventure this island is waiting to be discovered.
Only 3 hours from the United Kingdom it's a short hop to the airport at Kefalinia from Gatwick. Many regional airports also fly to the island too.
The island is dominated by the highest peak Mount Ainos which towers over the island to a height of 1268 metres. The roads are winding and the bus service patchy, so if you hire a car just be careful. The hairpin bends are treacherous and care is needed at these as oncoming traffic, especially coaches and trucks, will need to be over your side as they sweep round the bends. Having said this it is quiet off the main routes, and the views are breathtaking. Petrol is a little more expensive than the UK and very few garages accept credit cards, so if you are planning to do a lot of driving you will need Euros in cash at many service areas.
My overall impression of the island is one of admiration. Yes tourism is developing, but not at such a rate that the natural lives are being changed. You don't see the signs of development as you do in Cyprus, but it is in progress, and new builds are emerging all the time, but still the place keeps its Greek ambience, and its natural beauty. Flights are only direct to the UK between May and October, so the winter involves an arduous journey via Athens, so this keeps the island serene in the winter and gives it time to breathe.
The sights not to miss are certainly a trip to Fiskardo in the north where the quayside is littered with the nautical tablecloths of tavernas, and where yachts dance on the water, illuminating the harbour with their bright sails which dazzle against an azure blue. Here it is time to sit and people watch, or maybe sample a delicious ice cream from the home made parlours. This picture postcard scene is an ideal spot to sit, and watch and on a sunny day it is certainly the place to be seen.
The island makes some delicious wine and although Greek wine has a less than famous reputation this is certainly worth trying. Robola is the main variety, and it is possible to visit the vineyard and to taste some of the main wines they produce.
There are some spectacular caves to visit including the one at Melissani where a boat takes you to explore the underground lake. These caves, though spectacular are not some of the best I have been to, and certainly though interesting, are to be admired but not necessarily to be recommended as "must see" spots on the island.
Myrtos Beach is a photo stop on the island for the many coach trips and this beach is the one so often seen in photographs. Nestling at the bottom of a very winding and steep approach road this is impressive, though mostly shingle, and has the compliment of beach loungers, so often seen on spots like these.
Assos is a delightful place to visit with its old castle and its shaded quayside tavernas. Lassi and Gialos have golden sandy beaches, and a day trip to the nearby island of Ithaka is possible.
The capital Argostoli is well worth a visit, if not just for the possibility of seeing turtles in the bay as the fishermen bring in their early morning catch.
No for me the real place is not at these spots, but just seen by walking through the many sleepy villages which are littered all over the island like confetti. Here life goes on as it always has done, with chickens seeking shade under the giant wings of olive trees, and the ripening lemons sitting proud on the citrus trees waiting for the autumn rains to turn the groves into a cascade of yellow and orange. Around every corner a cat sits in the sunshine, or a sheep or goat with a bell round its neck clanging and ringing as it wanders around a sleepy field nibbling on grass.
The turtles nest on the beaches and this area is famous for the Loggerhead, an endangered species. The females crawl onto the shore at night to bury their eggs which sit and incubate for 6 to 8 weeks. The constant war between humans and these creatures is so apparent. The need to fulfil the tourists requirements with loungers and umbrellas, versus the need to protect these beaches, not allowing them to be compacted with sand, but letting it sit like icing sugar so that the turtles can do what they have done for eternity- lay their eggs. The beaches have any nests identified with wooden tepi like structures over them, and it is really important not to block the channel between these and the beach by building sand castles and not destroying them afterwards, as otherwise the little turtles never reach the shoreline, but fall from the so carefully sculpted turrets into the moats below.
Many people associate the island with the film "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" and this was certainly very important to the island and its popularity, but you have to look beyond this image to appreciate all the many colours and shades which make up this island. It is friendly and welcoming, and it is only just in its infancy as regards development.
So yes only 48 hours ago I sat looking over the landscapes of Kefalonia from the vantage point high in the hills above Katelios, and thought to myself this was the perfect destination to have brought hubby to celebrate turning 50. It has just the right balance between nature and tourism, but I wonder for how much longer?
This review is also published on Ciao by myself under my username there of Violet1278.
My friends and I were after a (fairly) cheap week away somewhere hot, with a couple of interesting trips available. After much searching on the internet, Kefalonia came up trumps.
We visited in late September, avoiding the higher prices of the school holidays, as well as crowds, but still benefitting from the good weather. It obviously wasn't quite as hot as it would have been a few months previously, and it was clearly starting to cool down for winter, but we got five full days of glorious sunshine and only one really bad rainy day - and even that wasn't cold - just rainy!
We booked the holiday through icelolly.com and the whole thing came to £250 - this includes flights and self catering accommodation.
Upon arrival at the airport, we tried to hire a taxi to take us to our villas; however every single taxi driver refused to take us, saying that it was "too close". We had really heavy bags and were starting to get annoyed with this, but thought we'd wander out of the airport on foot and try a taxi outside the airport complex. As we exited the complex we saw the sign for our villas - no wonder they wouldn't take us - it was literally less than 200 metres up the road! We were a little bit nervous about bad airport noise all holiday but I can genuinely say that we barely noticed it!
For our first night we didn't venture far after showering and unpacking. The area we stayed in was called Svoronata and there was a taverna up the road which served amazing food, it was called The Olive Tree, and I would highly recommend the moussaka!
Our rep called us the next day to see if we'd like to book any trips. I am not the type of person who can go on holiday for a week and spend the entire time sunbathing, and luckily I go on holiday with friends with similar feelings! However, none of us felt entirely confident hiring a car, so we were reliant on coach trips.
TRIP 1: KEFALONIA ISLAND TOUR
This started off with a monastery/vineyard. Wine-tasting at 9 a.m.! A great way to start the day! It was a really interesting little place with lots of history, a Church to explore (as well as tombs below the Church, for the brave!) The wine was very nice; in fact, we bought a couple of bottles to take back as souvenirs or gifts.
Next on the list was the Drogorati caves. This cave was discovered 300 years ago after a massive earthquake opened the cave up. The cave is 60 metres underground and very damp - the temperature is 18 C and the humidity is approx 90%. There was no doubt that that this was a very impressive cave with lots of really impressive stalagmites and stalactites, but having somehow seen lots of underground stalagmite / stalactite caves, the memory of this place hasn't really stayed with me. Probably doesn't help that you can't take flash photos so I don't have any decent pictures! However, it was very pretty and I'd say it was worth a look, especially if you haven't been to underground cave type places before!
After this was Melissani Lake. Now this was something special. It probably helped that the day we took this trip was a glorious sunny day, but I still remember going out on the boat on Melissani Lake vividly. The lake is named after a nymph in Greek mythology, and is apparently a geological/geographical (sorry, science DEFINITELY not a speciality of mine) mystery as it is approx 500m from the sea, and the water level is a metre higher than sea level. The water is brackish (a mixture of salt and fresh water) and comes up from an approx 30m deep cave system on one side of the cave flowing to other end of the cave, down through narrow crevices, and into the sea. This was discovered by scientists using some kind of dye tracing experiments in the 1950s, I think. You are taken out by row boats the lake, which has a big opening in the roof of the cave, so you can see the sky. The water is totally transparent - you can see the stones at the bottom of the lake, metres below, it really is amazing. The colours are some of the bluest blues I had ever seen. It was really calm and peaceful.
Sami, the town where Captain Corelli's Mandolin was filmed, was also on the agenda. We didn't stay long but had a little wander. It was very pretty and picturesque! Another town we visited was Fiskardo, a small harbour town at the top of Kefalonia. Fiskardo had some amazing seafood restaurants and was absolutely gorgeous to look at. It is also a bit of a 'place to be seen' with lots of very 'moneyed' people hanging around their yachts!
TRIP 2: ITHAKA
Ithaka was, in general, less busy than Kefalonia - it isn't as much of a tourist destination. We got the ferry across, which was actually a highlight - and I don't mean that in a negative way! The waters between the islands were beautiful and it was lovely being able to see Kefalonia from the sea!
First stop was Ithaka's capital, Vathi. This was situated in a cove within a cove, so totally invisible from the sea! First, we were taken to a museum which had lots of old artefacts. I like learning stuff about where I am, but this museum was very 'dry' so it was a bit of a relief when they let us go out and have a wander! The town itself is really small and very pretty.
Next was a stop by a village Church, for a look around that, and also for us to try a local speciality dessert. I really can't remember the name, but it was very sweet and had pistachios in it - not unlike baklava. It was very nice though. The Church was also impressive, very lavishly decorated for such a small church. There was also an opportunity to learn a little more about the legend of Odysseus and his journey home after the Trojan War to his home of Ithaka.
We also visited the town of Kioni, which was very similar to Fiskardo, I thought.
So - those were our two trips, both of which we really enjoyed. We also made a couple of visits to Agostoli, the capital of Kefalonia. Agostoli was a great town, really friendly, with lots of lovely restaurants, bars, cafes, and even an outdoor cinema, which was really lovely. We tried a lot of the beaches and they were all fabulous. The water was gloriously clear and refreshing after being baked!
All in all I thought Kefalonia was a wonderful place for a break and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone. It wasn't exactly action-packed but I felt we achieved a nice mix of relaxing and getting to see some very beautiful places, and most importantly, eat some gorgeous food!
J have visited Kefalonia three times now and I must confess my first visit was as a result of the captain Corellis mandelin hype. I loved the book and was curious to visit the island that had been so magically described in the novel.
I stayed in a villa in the fishing village of Fiskardo which is at the northern most part of the island, although still only an hour from the airport. The drive up the coastal road was beautiful, stunning views out over an impossibly blue sea with shear drops at the side of the road and goats clutching the side of the mountains, the stuff of poetry. The weather was hot, extremely so even though it was only early June. In August I would imagine it could be unbearable. The villa was stunning. It felt like we were millionaires, a huge infinity pool and yet we had booked last minute with James Villas and the whole holiday price was only £500 each including a hire car.
Fiskardo overlooks the neighbouring island of Ithaka which is steeped in myth and legend and well worth a visit over on a small boat that you can hire from the habour.
Fiskardo is probably the most upmarket place in Kefalonia but it still has a quaintness that is hard to find in todays mediteranean resorts. It tends to be busy in the summer with lots of yachts and boats mooring there. The harbourside restaurants are pricy, you are paying for their situation but the food is of a high standard and typically greek.
A short drive back down the coast road leads you to assos which you reach by driving down a long, steep and winding road. Across a small causeway is another road that takes you high up a mountain where at the top you find a monestary which is both peaceful and has stunning views out over the sea towards Ithaka. There are a number of lovely uncommercialised tavernas offering fresh fish and greek dishes the quality of which is excellent.
Kefalonia is a beautiful place to visit not least because it is still relatively uncommercialised and apart from a couple of resorts which have the usual trappings of a commercial holiday resort, the rest of the island is traditional, quiet, unspoilt and very very pretty.
Kefalonia is a place to chill out and unwind. Its beaches and sea in my opinion rival any caribbean resort yet it is only a three and a half hour flight from the midlands.
I would definately recommend this island for a holiday. I have visited many greek islands and it is head and shoulders above the others. It gets under your skin and I am already planning my next trip there. Give it a try...but not if you are after nightlife and man made attractions
When we saw Kefalonia rising out of the sea mist as we rounded the northern tip of the adjacent island, Zakynthos (Zante), a few of months back, little did we think that we would be spending some time on the island so soon. But, we both needed another break (well, my wife did and I was happy to tag along!) and we had both wanted to visit Kefalonia for some time.
Kefalonia is the biggest island of the Ionian group and is undoubtedly best known for being the location for Louis de Berniere's world-wide best seller, "Captian Corelli's Mandolin" and the film of the book that featured the mesmerizing Penelope Cruz, and a tour de force performance by Nicholas Cage. But Kefalonia is very much more than this. One of the most beautiful islands in the Med, it has a lot to offer the visitor.
We spent a fortnight on the island with Thomson Holidays. We were based in Lassi, just south of the capital, Argostoli, and stayed at the Lorenzo Hotel in this resort. I will write separate reviews of Lassi and the hotel, if I can get Dooyoo to add them.
We flew in to the island's only airport, located just south of Lassi. It has the benefit of being only 15 minutes by coach from Lassi but the downside is that planes can be seen taking off and landing although aircraft noise isn't too bad. I have reviewed the airport separately as it bears more than a passing mention.
Kefalonia has a large number of hire car and scooter outlets. All of them seemed to be being used by visitors so I suppose that the competition most keep them "honest" and offer competitive deals. Certainly, in most cases, the vehicles all seemed to be in pristine condition and kept sparklingly clean. Personally, I would not choose a scooter. The roads are very winding and the surfaces not especially good. On a scooter I feel you are just too exposed.
We allowed the tour rep to earn a bit of cash for herself by getting her to organise the car for us with their recommended operator, PCFanis. I expect we might have been able to get a better deal if we had done all the work ourselves but, life's too short! In the end we ended up with a little open-top Fiat Seiciento which, whilst having seen better days, it must be admitted, proved reliable and economical. We paid 105 Euros for three days hire, with an extra day thrown in free of charge.
We spent about 30 Euros on petrol for our excursions. Petrol is about the same price we pay here but, beware, few petrol stations accept credit cards and none are self-service. You drive up and ask the attendant for an amount of petrol in Euros, then hand over the money and drive away. We didn't tip.
There are buses but, as with most Greek islands, the services are limited. On this occasion we didn't use them at all as, other than when we had the car, the only other time we went anywhere was into Argostoli, and that was just a half hour walk from Lassi.
The roads over the entire island cannot be described as good and many are merely unsurfaced tracks. You are required to guarantee when you hire a vehicle, even a 4x4, that you will not take it off-road. The only bit of dual carriageway is a section just being built south of Argostoli, as I write this. Mostly the roads you will be likely to use wind their way around the coastline or cross the mountains from one side of the island to the other. You will be unlikely to use anything higher than fourth gear very much, even downhill!
Kefalonia is, as I said, the largest island in this group. To the south is Zakynthos and just off of it's north-east coast is the little island of Ithaki, until recently thought to be the place where Odysseus was born. Also close by are other small islands including the privately owned island of Skorpios of the Onassis dynasty.
The island is oddly shaped, consisting of a large main landmass to the east and a smaller one to the west, joined by a narrow isthmus. The smaller part of the island is called Paliki and and is where will be found the old capital, Lixouri, before the current capital was established in Argosoli. Recent geological explorations have now suggested that it is actually Paliki that was the true home of Odysseus.
The geological evidence suggests that Paliki was once an island in its own right and that it is the geological upheavals that continually affect the area (the coming together of the African and European tectonic plates that also resulted in the Alps) that caused the islands to rise and the isthmus to be formed to join the two together as they are today. Certainly Homer's descriptions better fit Paliki than they do Ithaki.
The island suffered a catastrophic earthquake in the 50s and most of the island's existing buildings post-date that, as a consequence. The architecture is expedient and so less than inspiring! The exception is the far north, which sits on a different rock foundation (most of the island is limestone) and suffered far less. Fiskardo, especially, still has examples of much older buildings.
It is dominated by two high mountain ranges to the east and west of the main landmass, with what appears to be a very fertile and attractive valley between the two. Here will mainly be found the small-holdings that supply much of the island's food plus its extensive wine industry. Paliki is also formed largely of a central mountain spine, also running north-south. The consequence is that coastal areas with enough flat land to locate large towns are rare. The good side of this is, though, that you can find absolute gems hidden away on rocky coves, and stunning beaches and bays accessed by almost vertical zig-zag roads.
Photo opportunities are virtually endless.
The capital sits on a hilly tongue of land that is surrounded on three sides by water. The main occupied area is on the east of the tongue, facing the main island mass. This does mean that as a protected harbour, you don't get much better. Lixouri is far more open to the seas.
I can't honestly say that I found Argostoli attractive. It is a functional capital and is where the local fishing fleets are based. The most attractive parts of the town are the marina area where very expensive yachts are regularly moored and the pedestrianised Konstantinou Street. Also worth a visit is Vallianou Square, around which are located many cafes and restaurants, which overspill onto the square itself.
The southern end of the harbour area, once you have passed by the relatively unappealing market stalls and outlets, ends at a pedestrian causeway, across which you can get to the main part of the island without having to travel to the far end of the bay. Here you will also find some much more attractive restaurants, including an excellent one at which we ate - Kalafitis - who describe themselves as the "oldest restaurant in Kefalonia" and who have an open-sided marquee on the edge of the harbour where you can eat and feed the fishes with your unwanted bread.
We ate there and enjoyed a very pleasant lunch consisting of a whole bunch of starters, Tapas style, which together with a very nice bottle of the local Robola White wine, came to 38 Euros (£31) for the two of us; a very nice way to spend and hour or two.
Also being fed in the harbour are a large number of loggerhead turtles, who turn up around midday each day to feast on the scraps that the fishermen throw overboard whilst cleaning their nets from the night's catch. This a sight well worth taking in. These beautiful creatures are huge.
We also ate at the Portside Restaurant, right opposite the harbour offices, more because of a need to get out of a heavy thunderstorm than because it looked particularly appealing. However, it proved to be a good choice. The food was excellent and the service good, even if the potentially stunning views of the main island across the water were spoilt by the unattractive harbour buildings across the road.
Be aware that, as with all of the island, shops close for the day at 2.00pm. Only restaurants and cafes stay open for the tourist, although we did notice a few shops were starting to buck the tradition.
My copy of the "Rough Guide to the Greek Islands" unkindly describes the only reason for wanting to visit Sami to be to take a ferry to Ithaki! I think this is grossly unfair. Sami, at least the area around the harbour, is quite attractive though, I admit, there are even more attractive places.
Sami is on the east side of the island, at the south end of Samis Bay. At the north end of the bay is Agia Efimia and from both you can take ferries to Ithaki if you want. To reach Sami from Argostoli will take about three quarters of an hour by car and you will cross two quite high mountain ranges on the way.
We visited Sami twice, once by coach to take a day cruise to sail around and visit Ithaki and once whilst visiting the local tourist attractions of the Melisanni Lake and the Drogarati Caves. Sami is where much of the filming of Captain Corelli took place and the fact is advertised everywhere.
Primarily we went there to have lunch. We ate on the harbour at Adonis. The length of the harbour edge, on either side of the main square, is lined with marquees associated with the restaurants behind them. We chose Adonis simply because they advertised fresh mussels. In the end we had a seafood platter as it turned out they had no prawns! Nevertheless, the meal was quite acceptable and the water-edge environment very pleasant. With a bottle of Tsantilis White the bill came to 21 Euros (£16).
The feature of the lake is that it is deep in a hollow in the ground. It seems that over thousands of years water had seeped through the limestone, eating out a vast cavern. At some time the roof of the cavern got so close to the surface above that the roof fell into the lake. There is a second cavern alongside the first which has undergone the same erosion but where the roof has not yet quite broken through to the surface.
You get to the lake level down a sloping tunnel and then board one of the row-boats that will take you around the two caverns. The visit lasts about 25 minutes. The views are interesting but I have to say that if we hadn't bothered to visit it wouldn't have caused me any grief. Worth it if you like that sort of thing.
The caves have been formed by the same process but here, instead of a lake being formed, the feature is the stalagmites and stalactites that are everywhere. Sadly the caves have suffered much erosion and damage due to the thousands of visitors. There are much better examples elsewhere in the World. However, the caves are very cool so for relief from the heat of the day they are a welcome break.
Across the road from the caves a cafe has enterprisingly built a pool and offers free use of it and the sun-loungers to customers buying food and drink from them. After visiting the caves we spent a very pleasant hour there with a couple of beers, before moving on.
All over Kefalonia you will find beaches located in stunning bays that can only be reached by precipitous zig-zag roads. The most famous of these is undoubtedly Myrtos Bay. If you've seen Captain Corelli then this is the one. The views are outstanding and, when we were there in September, the beach was very far from crowded. This may be because realistically the only way to get there is by car.
As with virtually all beaches on Kefalonia, you get fine limestone grit rather than true sand. The texture ranges from very fine to quite pebbly. It's definitely not as comfortable as sand and on some beaches you would be recommended to buy a pair of the very light rubber soled shoes, that look very similar to rock-climbing slippers. You can buy these for a few Euros and they definitely help. You can swim in them as well.
The water is quite warm here and as clear as can be. You swim surrounded by tine fishes, which seem to have go used to the intrusion. Swim or just lie in the sun, it makes a very nice way to spend a day. Sun-loungers and umbrellas are available for a small fee and there is a beach-side cafe for lunch if you wish. We didn't because we were on our way to Fiskardo for the day and this was just a couple of hours break.
Assos is just a bit further up the coast and is signposted for its castle. We didn't visit that but we did visit the village built around the harbour. We were very glad we did. This little village is utterly delightful, quite the most attractive of all that we visited during our stay. Very secluded and with several restaurants, this would be a very nice place to spend the day were it not for the small stony beach.
The castle is right on the end of the peninsula and is a steep climb from the village. It was way too hot for us but we did get some good photos from across the harbour.
Visit, walk around, have lunch, move on. We didn't have lunch because we were still on our way to...
...is right at the northern end of the island and then around the corner to the east a touch. Fiskardo is the second most attractive village that we visited and is noted for its original architecture, still standing after the earthquake due to the rock foundations found here. What you see is probably what most of Kefalonia looked like back in the 19th century.
Fiskardo has a large harbour and is the starting point for many of the day cruises to the neighbouring islands. Consequently the harbour is filled with some fairly large boats. Their comings and goings aren't too distracting though.
It's a great place to wander around and explore it tiny squares and alleyways. Everywhere you go there are small restaurants, bars and cafes, as this is a very popular tourist destination. Fiskardo will always be busy, even out of season but there will always be somewhere very pleasant to eat. We did so at Irida's in the harbour edge, where once again we lunched on a selection of starters and fed the fish with our excess bread. Washed down with a half litre (I was driving) of the house white wine, we spent a very nice hour and a half for the princely sum of 34 Euros (£28).
...is the lump that hangs off of the western side of Kefalonia. You can reach it by ferry in about 25 minutes from Argosoli or you can drive north towards Myrtos Bay and then hang a left at the signpost for Lixouri. We drove, as we wanted to see a bit more of the countryside.
There are a number of resorts on Paliki, mostly at the southern end. We didn't visit any of them but heard good reports.
Rather than head straight for Lixouri we took a detour to try to find Petani Bay. Driving in Kefalonia, especially on Paliki, is helped by making an effort to learn the Greek alphabet. Many signs are only in Greek and so finding your way about does require some effort if you want to avoid getting lost.
...is on the western side of Paliki and so can only be reached over the top of the mountain ridge that runs the length of this peninsula. In doing so you travel through quiet, sleepy villages where houses perch on steep slopes and offer the most staggeringly beautiful views. The entire trip was littered with "I wouldn't mind living there"s. The roads are very narrow, twisting and turning but eventually you reach the bay through the now familiar steep zig-zag road.
Petani Bay, though less well-known that Myrtos Bay, is every bit as beautiful and, due to its relative remoteness, even quieter. The beach is similar and the water also crystal clear. Here are a couple of cafes offering terraces overlooking the beach. We had lunch in the blue one (don't know it's name) and enjoyed quite the best selection of starters we had in our entire visit. Included was a plate of whitebait of quite staggering size (the plate and the whitebait) and mouthwatering taste. Washed down with a couple of beers (still driving) it came to just 22 Euros (£16).
...is the old capital. Not as attractive as Argostoli and by no means as big, it's probably worth a visit for a day. There are certainly a lot of the usual harbour-side restaurants although the actual harbour edge is here a lot farther away than at most other locations.
There is a small pedestrianised shopping area but this doesn't offer the same range of interests as Argostoli. There is also a large central square where most people seemed to hang out. We didn't spend much time in Lixouri ourselves as we had arrived fairly late in the day and all the shops were already shut. We just wandered around about a bit whilst we waited for the ferry to take us back to Argostoli.
Our final outing in the rented car was along the southern coast to Katelios Bay. We had been told that the beaches at this end of the island were the best so we were keen to find out if it was true. To be honest We didn't find the claims to be justified. The beach consists mainly of coarse sand but, like many beaches on Kefalonia, the sand is full of large rocks. Many are small enough to pull out and indeed the back of the beach seems to be mainly built out of rocks pulled out of the sand and thrown back there, out of the way. There is still a lot more work to be done.
The sea here also suffers from a problem not found elsewhere on the island; seaweed. As with the south coast of Zakynthos, the sea is abundant with ribbon seaweed, the sort that looks like ticker-tape and wraps itself around your legs as you wade into the water.
We were unimpressed and spent only an hour or so here. I'm sure it's a nice place and there does seem to be a booming community emerging if the amount of new building is anything to go by.
On our way back a large castle loomed into view, set on a hill overlooking the coast. Consulting the local guide we discovered that this castle was the place from which the Venetians ruled the island back when Venice was the dominant power in The Med.
The drive up the hill brought us to a small, pretty village, through which a narrow road lead almost to the gateway to the castle. However, it is pretty well impossible to park here so a quick return to the village centre to park allowed us to explore at leisure.
The castle is in a quite decayed state but it is still possible to determine its layout and principal features. Most of all, however, the views from the ramparts are simply outstanding. You can see for miles, which is probably why the Venetians built it here in the first place. It was eventually abandoned when geological activity resulted in it ending up further and further from the coast.
There is no information on the site so you really just have to wander around and use your imagination, and your camera. Best of all, however, is that entry to the site is free but be sure that you get there before 3.00pm, otherwise the gates will be closed. My recommendation is to visit in the morning, before the full heat of the day and finish your visit around lunchtime so that you can be absolutely sure to visit...
The Castle Cafe Bar
I've mentioned a few recommended restaurants in this review. Those you can visit if you choose; this one is mandatory!!!!
The restaurant is owned by a British woman. You realise this when you see amongst the list of desserts, Carrot Cake! The service is the friendliest you could possibly find. The seating is on a series of terraces looking out over the same views that you get from the castle.
We had a Tuna Salad for my wife and a Chef's Salad for me, which proved to be huge and more than enough for a lunch. We enjoyed them with a couple of beers and, best of all, unlimited quantities of cold water, free of charge. This was the only place on Kefalonia where we were not charged for water.
For dessert my wife could not resist the Carrot Cake and pronounced it amongst the best she had ever tasted. I had our host's special version of the traditional Greek yoghurt and honey, with sultanas. It was Nectar of the Gods! The cost came to around 30 Euros.
Kefalonia is a big island and in just the four days that we had the hire car we most certainly didn't see it all. Most of our time was spent in and around our hotel base in Lassi. I will write a separate review of this destination.
Most of all, I can highly recommend Kefalonia for a holiday, whether you go for one week or more. Especially, hire a car for a few days and get out and about.
Oh, and if you were wondering about the title, that's all about the cats of Kefalonia. Wild cats are everywhere, especially around the tourist resorts. These are not your usual moth-eaten moggies, oh no. These are the most beautiful and clearly healthy animals you are likely to see. Their pedigree shows an obvious link to the Egyptian cat, with its long legs and muzzle.
These animals are tolerated and fed by the locals and tourists alike and they obviously know how to work the crowd to get the best tit-bits and where best to curl up out of the sun for a rest. They are wild even so. They wander around the tables in the restaurants but do not try to venture into the hotels. You will often see them on the beaches playing in the sand like small kids.
If you are allergic to cats, Kefalonia may not be the best place for you.
Husband and I had a "cheapie" break to Kefalonia, and found ourselves staying in lourdata. Basic apartment at the top of the hill, so it involved a very long walk up and down a very steep hill to get to the beach. Not a lot of fun, at the end of the day. If you llike long sandy beaches, you'll love it, but didn't do much for me.
Interestingly, kept getting bitten by tiny bream, didnt hurt, but again irrating. I found it all a bit touristy for me. nice restaurant- platonus. Did the best meatballs in tomatoe, I have had in Greece, and I have to say the local wine Rombola is really good.
Hired a car, and started off round the south of the island, which we found very disappointing. Particulary scala, which could have been a resort anywhere.
However, Kefalonia does have some great bits, but all in the north.
We really loved Argostoli, it actually felt like a "real greek capital" rather than just a tourist creation. Sited next to a huge inlet, with a funny little bridge that crosses it.
There is a market most mornings on the front, selling fruit and fish, and the locals spend many hours just sitting by th inlet fishing. Its really well worth having a good nose around argostoli.It is also a really good place to go food shopping, with the market and 2 good sized supermarkets.
Head North and you are in for a very impressive drive, visit Myrtos beach, the scene of many a greek photo opportunity, and very picturesque. Cliffs rising up, turquoise sea and perfect sand, but beware. Swimmming there not for the weak swimmer, there is quite a tow.
Carry on North to the star of Kefalonia for me, Assos, a sweet little village built around anothe islet/inlet. A little harbour thats great to fish off, and a little beach facing on to the islet. We rented a room here for 3 nights, overlooking the harbour, and once the day trippers had gone, it really was a sleepy little place.
Assos was severely damaged after the 1953 earthquake, but has been tastefully restored, apparently with some funding from paris, France.
While sitting out on our balcony the sky was so clear we saw the MIlky Way- that was amazing.
Its a really great place to base yourself in Kefalonia.
Do take a trip up to the yacht have of fiskardo. A really up market spot, but great to sit and have a meal on the harbour side and watch the boats come in and out.
I would cerainly recommend a trip to Kefalonia, it has enough to amuse most people, whether its the beach, the stunning scenery, interesting towns and villages, and some really nice food
Have just returned from a 2 week stay in Fiskado.
There is a great play on the fact that this village survived the 1953 earthquake, leaving us with a wealth of "Venitian" buildings. Bearing in mind that the Venitians left the island in the late 1700's, it is unlikely that any of the buildings now standing were there at that time. Many buildings have been built in recent times in a "Venitian" style, but they are pure 21st century.
Yes - it is a pretty village [in the Summer] locals tellme that it totally closes down in Winter.
What does the village today - the views oof the harbour and the island of Ithica beyond, a great number of restaurants and bars (the majority of which are overpriced, with varying standards of service and food) - but then the yachting crowd do not appear to mind. Many of the staff are from Eastern European countries and appear to have very little training, but they do smile a lot.
There are a couple of small bays around the village, all pebbles, no sand and very little shade. If you are going to base yourself in the village a car is almost essential if you want to see any of the island.
Would I return to Fiscado - only on a boat if someone else was paying the bill.
5 things to do in……….Kefalonia 1. The Argostoli- Lixouri ferry. This inexpensive ferry takes tourists and locals alike across the stretch of water separating the former and new capitals of the island. The journey takes about 30 minutes in total but the distance is just enough and the ferry just about big enough for it to feel like an adventure. Lixouri is a sleepy sort of place and there isn’t really a lot to see and do, so I would suggest simply enjoying a relaxing coffee or lunch in one of the tavernas on the town square and then catching the boat back home. 2. Fiskardo- This charming venetian village on the north tip of the island is definitely the prettiest settlement on the island. Colourful and full of character tavernas line the harbour sprinkled with tourists enjoying their lunch whilst watching the yachts come in and listening to the gentle waves lap against the shore. Although Fiskado doesn’t have a beach of the Myrtos standard there are places to swim and the sea is a gorgeous blue. 3. Dinner at the Taverna Sirtaki, Lassi. Usually when I think of a Greek night I break into a cold sweat at the thought of some club rep forcing to dance Zorba the Greek with a load of lobster coloured middle aged tourists who’ve had one to many Ouzos. However at the Taverna Sirtaki you get a completely different kind of Greek experience, one that is altogether more relaxing and doesn’t involve a hint of audience participation! One night a week a group of charming local old men armed with sirtakis play,sing and dance their way through a selection of classic Greek hits seemingly totally oblivious to those around them. All in all this makes for a most enjoyable atmosphere and the food is quite good too! 4. The Melissani lake- About 5 minutes drive from Sami lies this mysterious underground salt water lake which glistens with an array of blues and violets as the sun pours down through a the chasms roof. For a small fe
e you can take a guided boat across it, and its well worth it as the experience is quite unique! 5. Myrtos beach- This is the beach that you’ve seen in all the holiday brochures, a spectacular bay of white sand and clear blue sea. Although a day at Myrtos is well worth it, simply because of the bays breathtaking beauty visitors should note the lack of shade so it might well be an idea to bring an umbrella.
I've recently got back from an amazing week in Skala, Kefalonia. There isn't a section on here for Skala, so although I?ll be talking about Kefalonia I'll be concentrating on Skala. We got a good last minute deal for a brilliant price, which is always nice! I've watched Captain Corilleus mandolin and read the book and Kefalonia is as beautiful as the book and film suggest. Kefalonia is one of the Ionian islands and is quite near to Italy. It's population is only 32,000. We were a bit worried about what the weather would be like, with it being late September when went. But we got lucky with the weather it was glorious for 95% of the week with temperatures hovering around the mid to late 20s mark. We also got really lucky with our apartment which had a lovely sea view from the balcony. We did have a tremendous storm one evening though! Skala is a laid back, picturesque resort in the south of the island. There are quite a few tourist apartments, but it retains character and charm. It really is a lovely place and we were bowled over by the beauty of it. At it's centre there is a small white church and a square with a fountain and swings. The church clock chimes for each hour passed, so you always know what the time is. The houses are all small and pretty and the lanes windy and scenic. There is a main street which was a 5 minute walk from our apartment. This has plenty of tavernas and restaurants, so you're never be short of somewhere to eat. Also there are a number of supermarkets, gift shops and places where you can hire a car or book an excursion. The beach isn't entirely sandy it's more a sand/shingle mixture. Although it's not the large stones you'd find on an English beach, more large sand grains. It really is a lovely beach. The sea is the clearest sea I've ever seen and we were amazed to be able to see small fishes swimming around under the water really close to the sho
reline, whilst out swimming. A word of warning we went walking along the beach looking for a really sandy beach our tour rep had mentioned and found the nudist area. Nude bathing is illegal in Skala, but a blind eye is turned as it isn't in the main public area. The nude area starts after two huge rocks past where all the sun loungers end. We got a bit of a shock, in my opinion there are some things that shouldn't be exposed to the sun. If you're feeling energetic you can walk up to Old Skala. This is where the village of Skala used to be before the earthquake of 1953, which destroyed the village and forced the village to relocated down from the hills to by the sea. The earthquake fo 1953 destroyed about 85% of the buildings on the island, because of some warning tremors before it happened people were persuaded to sleep outside and large scale loss of life was avoided. Old Skala is about an hour and a half walk, all you do is follow the main high street upwards away from the sea and keep going up the path. The walk up is stunning, but a bit tiring. Once there you get a great view of the hills, Skala and the sea. The rubble of Old Skala hasn't been bulldozed and it's unsafe to build up there. It's eerie to look at the ruins of what was probably once quite a vibrant village and see half standing houses. So what about the rest of the island? We didn't hire a car, because we wanted a relaxing holiday. It is easy to hire a car and if you stay in Skala and want to see a lot of the island it?s the only way to do it. We went on an organised tour of the island. We went to Drogarati cave, Melissani cave, Myrtos bay and Fiskardo. Drogarti cave is an underground cave it supposed to be about 150 million years old. The 1953 earthquake widened the mouth to the earthquake making it possible to be a tourist attraction. It's full of stalactites and stalagmites which are rock like formations formed by millions
of years of dripping water. This has formed a range of bizarrely shaped stalagmites that hang in huge tear shaped from the ceiling. It's very interesting to see and costs 3 euros to get in. Melissani cave is near to the Drogarati cave (they're both somewhere around Sami which is in the northwest of the island. Melissani is an underground lake in a cave, there is a hole in the roof of the cave caused by an earthquake. It?s a really gorgeous journey on a small boat rowed by a guide, it takes about ten minutes to be rowed round the lake. It costs 4.50 euros. We only stopped at Myrtos bay for one of those photo opportunity five minute stops you sometimes get on coach trips. We only saw it from the cliff tops. It's an absolutely stunning beach, golden sand with turquoise waters surrounded by cliffs. It's not near any hotels and is only accessible by car. Fiskardo is an extremely picturesque village on the north coast. It has a natural harbour, lots of boats moored, plenty of bayside eating places and beautifully colourful houses. It really is a beautiful place. It?s the only village in Kefalonia which was unscathed by the 1953 earthquake, so you can see some pre 1953 building there. Price wise we found eating out to be reasonably priced and no more expensive then you?d pay in England. Although we did pay quite a lot for a drink in a beachside café, which is only to be expected. The only down point was that it went far too quickly and now I'm back and it feels as if autumn has truly started!
Last year my friend and I thought the time was nigh to book ourselves a nice relaxing holiday after years of hard study at college (erm....any excuse!) At that time we hadn't landed our dream jobs, and we didn't want to spend too much money so we went into Thomas Cook with £350 to burn. I'll also point out that this wasn't exactly a late deal either, we booked it in March and went there late July. My friend, Emily had been to Kefalonia before, to the same resort and we almost stayed in the same place that she had! We finally settled on the Alexandria Apartments in the Scala resort of Kefalonia. Even though we thought we were early booking it, we ended up having to share a double bed because there were no twins left. We flew out pretty early, around 6am from Gatwick airport and if my memory serves me well, I think the flight was about 3 hours long. After landing we boarded the transfer coach. The reps were very friendly and helpful and whilst we were travelling they explained several things the one thing that totally stuck was the fact that you don't flush loo paper in Greece, you have to put it in a bin, which I didn't know before I arrived, I was a bit freaked out by the idea, just because I didn't know what to expect, but in our apartment the bins were emptied frequently....just thought I'd better mention that....ergh! Anyway, the transfer time was about 1 1/2 hr, it was nice in some ways as you got to see lots of beautiful scenery (Kefalonia is very rocky and mountainous) and check out the other resorts on the way (we were the last stop off) but on the other hand, it was very hot and stuffy on the coach, so I would suggest taking one of those little handheld fans if you don't travel well. The ride was a little rough due to tiny little hilly roads and the mad Italian drivers who holiday there July-August! For that reason alone I would suggest that you don't bother hiring a car over there,
and be extra careful when you cross the roads! THE APARTMENT:- The coach dropped us right outside and we were welcomed by the friendly owner who helped us to our room. It was only a small set of appartments, but they were very clean and tidy. There wasn't any air conditioning (which would have been lovely as it was so hot at night) but one large double bed, two sets of drawers, a desk and chair, and a wardrobe. All very basic but we didn't really need anymore. As for cooking facilities, we had a small fridge and a two-ringed hob. It took ages to boil water in the tiny saucepans provided, so i would recommend taking a travel kettle with you. We bought bottled water to drink as we weren't sure how clean it was. As for washing facilities, we had a separate bathroom with a toilet, bin (!), wash basin and a shower. What we didn't realise was that the tiny window next to the shower, was right next to one of the other apartments balconies...so it's possible that they could see us in the buff! eek! Anyway it has to be said, that we didn't really spend much time there! WHAT IS THERE TO DO NEARBY? Well, for one thing, the bus services are pretty unreliable, we were told, and taxis were very few and far between, so we decided to be vaguely cultural on our "beach" holiday and go on two trips organised for us by our local rep. One was a trip all around the island and the other, a trip to mainland Greece to go to Olympia, the birthplace of the olympic games.. I have to say, the Olympia trip was quite expensive (£30) and wasn't worth it. We had a coach trip to the ferry, then a long ferry trip, then on the coach once again. It took us over 2 1/2 hours to get there in all. Then we only had an hour if that at the archeological site of the original games, which we felt we were rushed around! It was so interesting too! Oh well, we learnt from that experience! Plus we were so tired the next day! <
br> The other trip, was worthwhile though. I think it was cheaper, about £20. We visited the St Gerasimos Monastry where the mummified corpse of the island's patron saint lies. It is meant to have healing properties so people are allowed to kiss his feet. We went on the anniversary of his death (I think). Usually, once a year on this day, his body is paraded through the street, and people lie in its path to be healed (which you may have seen in Captain Correlli's Mandolin which was filmed on the island). However, this particular year it clashed with another national day so they had to postpone it for a day..which meant we missed it! I can't say I was too upset! I did go into the church and saw it there instead. I have to say it was a little awkward as we were herded into this tiny church with no information, and inside people were holding mass, which we kind of interrupted (unknowingly) So beware! There isn't much to see ..although there are a few evil looking ostriches! We also went on to a vineyard, although it seemed more of a wine factory...as I don't remember seeing any vines! We got to taste lots of lovely plonk..although a little too much! Then it was onwards to the Drogarati cave, with lots of fascinating stalagtites and stalagmites! After that we went to the beautiful Melissani Lake, which were originally part of an underground cave which was flooded. The roof of the cave either fell in or was blasted out, and there is this amazing, bright turquoise, crystal clear lake which you glide over in a rowing boat. I have some amazing photographs from that site! After that we travelled to Fiskardo where Captain Correlli was filmed. It is the only part of the island to have any original houses that weren't detroyed in the earthquake of the 1950s. It was very pretty, although there wasn't much to do there apart from eat and drink! On the way back we stopped on a hill overlooking Myrtos Beach, so, so beaut
iful, which is why they use it in holiday brochures and say it's Jamaica! It looks like it has beautiful white sand, but it's actually all rocks! There wasn't one person there, as it's so hard to access, but celebs on their yachts didn't have much trouble docking in the bay. Phew some coach trip huh! Needless to say, we were exhausted again and crawled back to our favourite spot on the beach (about 100m from the brilliant Milos beach bar!). If you are in the same area, you must try some of Milos' cocktails and their continental breakfast. We ate breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner there!All was reasonable priced, and the staff were very friendly! The beach was very clean and gorgeous! The sea clear as ice, you could see the fish swimming with you...and your shadow on the bottom! It did get quite steep quickly though, so be careful if you let your kids loose on it! We hired a sunlounger every day we were on the beach, you just sit on it and finally this guy comes around and gets the payment off of you, I think it worked out at about £2 or £3 each for the whole day! The village was very nice, with plenty of restaurants to choose from. We judged the restaurant by how busy it was, busy meant it must be good! If you're vegetarian there's not much to choose from I'm afraid. But I had a great time sampling the pizzas and calamari, as well as the wonderful greek salads! Some of the waiters were a little over friendly in an uncomfortable way, but pretty harmless nevertheless. There were also plenty of grocery and souvenir shops so if you wanted to cook your own meals you could. Although Emily and I didn't go to any clubs, there were a few around, and I literally mean two, and they weren't bustling. so if you're after a nice peaceful holiday with quiet surroundings this was the place to be! Temperature wise, it was in the 40s, but there was a breeze so it doesn't feel overly ho
t. This however could be a bad thing, so make sure you use plenty of sun cream. and take plenty of insect repellent (avon sell suncream which contains it) as we got the worst bites. They were incredibly itchy and sore, and humungous! I didn't want to leave after this holiday, it was my first beach holiday and has inspired me to check out the other greek islands. This year I'm off to Rhodes, so expect an op to follow shortly! If you have any questions there are plenty of websites on Kefalonia, so try a search under Yahoo.co.uk Well I hope that my opinion has been of great use to you, I'm sorry I couldn't remember the names of any restaurants in particular, but if you follow my advice of going for the ones that are busy, you should be fine! Thanks for reading, and please leave any comments for me, I love to read them! P* ps...I took £200 spending money and it was enough for a week!
If you are looking for a holiday were all you can do by day is laze by the pool or on the (pebbly) beach and by night dine out and watch the people go by then Kefalonia is the place for you. If you are looking for something with a little more nightlife i.e a place with nightclubs then Kefalonia is not the place for you. Not that I am saying that the island isn’t nice because for a relaxing holiday, lazing about getting a tan then Kefalonia is a great place to go. The island itself has long beaches around its coastline and huge great mountains in the middle. To get from one side of the island to the other you will drive through the mountains and the view is stunning both looking out to sea and into the island and the villages. An earthquake unfortuantely destroyed a lot of buildings so there is no old architecture to look at. For the Captain Corellis’ film they had to put painted false fronts on the shops to make the building look like they would have done during that period. The two most popular tourist attractions appear to be Drogarati Caves and Melasani Underground Lakes, which are located quite close to one another. The caves are a bit like Wookey Hole in Somerset but are impressive all the same, it is just one big cave which you can walk round. Melasani Underground Lakes was completely covered until the earthquake created a huge hole in its ceiling, and no one part of it has the sun shining down on it, this then shows of the surface mist which is quite amazing. You are rowed around the lake and into the part which is still underground, but unfortunately the man who rowed our boat didn’t speak english so he pointed at things and we looked at them but we are not sure why ! One of the boat men actually sings opera as you go round and it sounds amazing. Off the top of my head I cannot remember how much they cost for I do not remember they being as too expensive, a good couple of euros at least. A word of caution
though, and someone else told me this, the coach trips to these places arrive at about midday so if you want to avoid the midday rush try to get there for about 10/11 ish. Argostoli is the capital, and has plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from, and there are a few cafes on the main shopping street which are open late and you can order iced coffees and people watch quite happily from. The restaurants on the main square are expensive for what they offer and were not the traditional type of greek restaurant, but the food was nice all the same. The beaches on Kefalonia were abit disappointing as they were mostly pebbly and not sandy like I hoped. But the sea on the North east side of the island was lovely and warm to swim in. As the island is hilly getting to the beaches involved a rather long walk, and an even longer one uphill to get home again. I stayed in the Alfrato Village Apartments in Lourdata, the apartments themselves were brand new and were extremely comfortable but with one major problem….no air conditioning !! ( The owner is planning to install it in time for 2003). The lack of air conditioning was a major problem as for the week that we stayed there was no breeze at all which meant it was impossible to sleep at night because it was too hot and sticky. They were self catering apartments with twin beds, cooker, fridge, shower, all the usual stuff basically, and a balcony with table and chairs on it. All apartments had a sea view which meant we had breakfast every morning looking out to sea. The apartments had its own swimming pool which was quite frankly lush, as you could spend you day lying on a sun lounger and then cooling off in the pool. But the best was there was no children !! Not that I have nothing against kids but it was nice to be able to relax with no kids shouting around you. One thing to seriously consider if you are planning to go to Kefalonia is hiring a car, the island is extremely
hilly and to get any where you really need a car. Hiring a car via our holiday reps appeared to be very expensive, £100 ish for3-4 days, we organised one via Hertz before we went and paid only £110 for the whole week, picking up and dropping off at the airport. To be truthful we would have been lost without it. As the resorts are sometimes no more then small villages to stop getting bored you will need to get out and about and the best way is by car. Also it is so much nicer taking yourself of on little adventures every day rather then getting herding about on a coach. Also our Alfrato Village was hidden down a dirt track which was a 20 min walk from the beach and any shops, so without the car we would have been lost. Overall I did enjoy my holiday on Kefalonia, I had never heard of the place before and it was the only holiday that we could book at short notice, but I was not disappointed. The island is never going to be famous for its nightlife, but for glorious sunshine and not a cloud in sight it cannot be beaten.
Being the third member of Ionian Islands (a.k.a. "Eptanisa"-Seven Islands) Cephalonia was one of the most underrated Greek islands, staying in the shadow of Corfu, which also belongs to teh set. However, thanks to Captain Corelli it is now one of the best known destinations in Europe. Whether this will spoil the island is yet to be seen, let's hope not though because Kefallonia is an ideal place to go in order to get away from it all. I went there middle of September 1999 and I enjoyed myself a lot walking and touring around the island. However, If you go out of season, make sure that you hire yourself a car. There is a lot to see and unless you have nerves of steel and a constitution to match, you will probably prefer making your own way along twisty cliffside roads than being tucked into a tour bus. The road along the east coast is particularly scenic as you rise higher and higher through small villages, running parallel to the sea and the neighbouring island of Ithaca - legendary home of Odysseus. My personal opinion is that there are three highlights - which do not necessarily agree with the guidebook. In the north of the country is a magical area of pine forests and secluded coves as you get towards Fiskado. The place is both peaceful and idyllic - and will make you wish that you owned a yacht to see the area more fully. Fiskado itself is a lovely village - but the locals know this and the restaurant prices reflect the passing custom from boat owners. Second on the list is the peninsula as you return from Fiskado on the western side. Looking down upon it you would think that it was an island, but in fact a narrow strip of land still ties it to the mainland. You will need your camera for the view from the cliffside road, but it is also worth visiting the ruins of the fortress that used to be on the top of the peninsula - but take lots of water because this part is by foot only. Third is to get over
to the western parts of Keffalonia itself. There isn't much to see, but that is entirely the point. The area is phenomenal as local residents eek out a simple living on the earthquake scarred landscape. I don't know if there are many other parts of Greece which could still claim to be this authentic - and peaceful. On top of this, don't forget the standard tourist spots of the Half Moon beach, Blue Lagooned caves and the other cave site. We stayed in Scala (which appears to be a good place to stay) and in particular the Nine Muses hotel, which was the hotel of our choice. Be aware that this is not the Sheraton - it is a simple, very clean and peaceful hotel which looks more like a floral bedecked traditional pastel village. More three star than five star, but a very nice spot within walking distance of plenty of restaurants. However, you will spoilt for choice: There are many hotels and b&bs, so don't mind if you haven't booked anything beforehand. You will certainly find something there...
A very last minute deal costing £209 took me to the beautiful island of Cephalonia in June 2001. It's one of the least commercialised places I've visited and has a breathtaking beauty. It's a fantastically peaceful haven for those wanting a relaxing break, kids may be hard pressed to find things to do and if you're a clubber - forget it! The Captain Corelli bit may have worn a bit thin by now (the film hasn't actually been released on the island yet) but the harbour at Sami is beautiful, the locals are extremely friendly and the food is delicious. Everything is so cheap, especially the excellent wines from the local vineyards, that it may be difficult to liberate all those traveller's cheques. Hiring transport or going on the organised trips is a must, if you go to Cephalonia you must see as much of the island as possible, it really is spectacular. The capital Arogstoli has a bustling main square with loads of cafe-bars, good shops and a busy market at the harbour on Fridays. (Watch out for Tom Hank's yacht at the dockside). Poros and Skala are little more commercialised (?) ie. they have a few more tavernas and fantastic beaches. The downside is that you may get accomodation situated at the end on the airport runway (like we did) with no pool and a two mile, up-hill hike to the nearest mini market, where the owner charges what he likes just because he can. Cepahlonian mosquitos are of the most persistant variety and no amount of Autan, citronella candles or plug-in's seems to deter them. Don't think you'll catch a bus at any time, from what we were told one runs in the morning and one in the afternoon, you'll stand more chance of finding a Macdonald's! All said and done, it's impossible not to love Cephalonia, leave the mobile phone at home and chill out to your heart's content.
Last year me and my partner went to sami in cephalonia and it was fantastic we went whilst they were filming captain correllis mandolin. The under ground lakes are amazing and the restaurants on the harbour are lovely food is great and cheap. The best hotel is sami beach hotel family run and great service. If you go you should take the day trip cruise around ithaca for 10 pounds you stop to swim in secluded bays and eat at lovely harbours and towns. The beach at anti samos is great blue sea goldern sand and whilst we were there the had the concentration camp in the film all built so it all felt a bit surreal. Myrtos beach is unbelievable best beach in the world and huge turtles come onto beach to bask in the sun sami is a must for those wanting peace.
"Kefalonia, also known as Cephallenia, Cephallonia, Kefallinia, or Kefallonia (Ancient Greek: Κεφαλληνία; Modern Greek: Κεφαλλονιά or Κεφαλονιά), is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece with an area of 350 sq. miles. Location: 20°30' E, and between 38°12' and 38°18' N. Kephalonia has one airport, Kephallinia Airport, with a runway of around 2.4 km. in length. The airport is about 10 km south of Argostoli. Almost every scheduled flight is an Olympic plane. The planes mainly fly to Athens, however there is an Ionian Island Hopper service 3 times a week calling at Kephalonia, Zante and Lefkas. In summer the airport handles many charter flights from all over Europe."