Exploring the village
Sami is a pretty town with an active harbour and thriving taverna scene. The village sits on the site of an ancient town where excavations have unearthed two citadels and Cyclopean fortification walls – the ruins of which can still be seen nearby. The main local pastime is people-watching and there are plenty of bars and restaurants around to while away the hours. You can easily walk from your accommodation to the harbour, beach and restaurants – and back again.
The area is a site of particular geomorphic interest with a whopping 17 caves recorded nearby. Only two of them are open to the public, and you’ll find the Drogarati Cave on the road from Sami near the village of Haliotata. A steep walk or cycle out of the village takes you to the Monastery of Panagia Agrilion. Although you can’t usually get inside, it’s a peaceful spot to meditate and take in the views. If you’re planning cheap holidays to Kefalonia here, be sure to take advantage of all the free outdoor explorations available.
Sami is dominated by the harbour and ferry port with the nearest strip of sand being Antisamos beach, tucked in a bay to the east of Sami town. A long stretch of white pebbles and sand, the beach is easily walkable from the town and is suitable for swimming and sunbathing. Antisamos has something of a claim to fame too – it was used as a location in the 2001 film [i]Captain Corelli’s Mandolin[/i], starring Penelope Cruz and Nicolas Cage. That it was good enough for the film producers is testament to the beautiful, unspoilt hills that overlook the sea.
If Antisamos gets too busy in high season, try Karavomilos beach – less than five minutes away by car, around 15 minutes on foot – or the lovely resort of Aghia Efimia, a mere 10-minute drive from Sami. Many holidaymakers hire a car, and both beaches are accessible by road. Also nearby, the Dichalia lighthouse is a good place to spot dolphins – you just need to be patient.
Eating and drinking
Like all of the village and town resorts in Kefalonia, Sami has a great range of restaurants mainly serving authentic Greek cuisine – just what you want in Greece. The island is a large producer of Ionian honey, wine, olives and locally reared meat so be sure to sample these whenever you have the chance. Equally, honey and olive oil make great gifts to take home to family and friends. Fish and seafood also feature on the menu, particularly in the coastal restaurants and those found in the harbour.
Dolphins Restaurant is just one option for wholesome Greek meals such as moussaka and Kefalonian pie. Fine dining is available at Il Familia, while at the other end of the gastro spectrum you can pick up tasty gyros – a Greek wrap/kebab – at the open-air fast-food joint Taka Taka Mam.
Nightlife centres on the tavernas, try an evening in Fiasco – a new and trendy cafe-bar where you can enjoy a rare draught beer or speciality cocktail while listening to the indie-rock playlist.
Sami is a good base for exploring the rest of Kefalonia, as well as the mainland – you can get a ferry over to Greek Patras for a day of shopping. In fact, there are two ferry harbours as well as a cruise-boat jetty in Sami’s famous port, so it’s a good choice if you plan to get out on the water or want to explore further afield. And if you want to explore underground, Sami can help you out there too. The Drogarati Cave attracts visitors from all over Kefalonia. Discovered 300 years ago after a strong earthquake, it is 60 metres below ground and over 100 million years old.
You can hire a mountain bike or scooter to explore the nearby hills, or a car for the 15-minute drive to the capital, Argostoli – home of the island’s museums and major shopping streets. Skala, a village on the south coast, is worth stopping by for lunch and a snoop at the ancient Roman Villa and 7th-century temple.