Kefalonia of the Greek Islands has to be one of the locations where you can truly escape from it all.
The Greek island of Kefalonia is a mystical, magical place to truly get away from it all and indulge in clear blue waters, fresh seafood, friendly locals and gorgeous local wines. One of the most picture-perfect locations, you will want to take photos everywhere you go.
Kefalonia was the setting for both the book and the movie of Louis de Bernières’ famous novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and with the breathtaking views, rugged mountains and jaw-dropping oceans, it’s no wonder.
The largest of the Ionian islands, Kefalonia is a 30 minute plane flight from Athens. The static population is just 40,000, and the name apparently comes rom the mythical creature who first inhabited the island, Kefalos. You definitely need a car to get around – and you need to book one in advance.
The island of Kefalonia is very Greek and laid back in feel, with Italian influences architecturally and in the cuisine. Goats roam freely, and traffic is light. The people are warm, the sun is up, and the place is welcoming wherever you go.
Purple and pink bouganvillias tumble around the buildings and stone houses. Days are warm and long nights are filled with live music laughter and song. Children are welcome here everywhere at all hours.
The seaside village of Fiskardo is the most upmarket location on the island, with elegant restaurants sitting on the edge of the ocean, five star accommodation if you want it, and a smattering of eclectic souvenir shops. The Princess of Morocco and her family were dining there the same day we were.
An earthquake in 1953 wiped out almost every building on the island, subsequently the dwellings are all relatively new, and sport a strong Italian influence.
Locations and where to stay:
The affluent villages of the Livatho Peninsula, south of the capital of Kefalonia, Argostoli have various villas for hire that sleep large groups, have ocean views, kitchens (but why would you cook?) and gorgeous, albeit simple accommodation. These cost around $1600 a week.
The Emelisse is the most luxurious place to stay on the island of Kefalonia and is located just outside Fiskardo. It is a gorgeous village-style property surrounded by mountainous green fields, with ocean views, huge swimming pools including one that’s adults only, as well as private villa pools with the more opulent rooms.
Hotel shuttles ferry guests to nearby Fiskardo, the most upmarket village on the island with some of the best Greek food in Greece. Tassias offers wholesome Greek taverna style food, and Emmalia is the showstopper amongst the seaside eateries. They even have Moet by the bottle.
There are many budget options on different parts of the island, many of which we stopped in at, and you can’t really go wrong. All look good, and everything is family friendly.
Myrtos Beach is one of the most photographed pieces of sand in the world, not just Kefalonia, due to it’s spectacular location and clear blue water. A morning here is as good as it gets, although in August it can get too hot, especially for the northern European visitors. Sun loungers are Euro 7.50 per pair.
Xi Beach on the south coast of Kefalonia has red sand, and is very family friendly with water sports on offer and a great taverna. Petani beach on the west coast is another striking location, with a village in walking distance.
Assos in the north of Kefalonia offers small beaches with views, and a gorgeous little town filled with tavernas full of people.
But there are many, many more.
The Italian influence on Kefalonia is evident on most menus, with lobster pasta, pasta vongole (with clams) and Italian meatballs some of the must-have dishes. Traditional Greek food including Greek Salad, local green vegetables, moussaka and so on is some of the healthiest and best in the world – you really cannot go wrong here. Eat well and eat lots.
When to go to Kefalonia:
May – October. August is the hottest month.