A guide to things to do in Kefalonia
Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian islands, and hence is home to plenty of natural attractions. The island’s mountainous interior is characterised by lush green vegetation that ardent walkers will love to explore, and history fans can explore ancient architecture and visit a handful of idyllic little towns. While the 39 beaches which fringe the shoreline are recognised as some of the best in the world and are a draw for all. And when it comes to food and drink, Ionian cuisine is a culinary tradition all of its own. Rest assured, you won’t be hungry, thirsty or bored during your Greek Island holiday.
Soak up the sun and go for a swim
With award-winning beaches at Myrthos, Xi, Petani, Skala and many more, there’s no shortage of sand for you to lay your head on or pristine waters for you to dunk yourself in during Kefalonia holidays. There are a number of different watersports to enjoy, including surfing, jet skiing and yachting, and you can even visit the location where Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed – Antisamos beach.
Snorkelling opportunities are excellent in many different locations. And, if you time it right, you can see the loggerhead turtles who lay their eggs on Kaminia beach at night between May and August.
Experience the natural beauty of Kefalonia
Aside from the rugged cliffs, turquoise waters and immaculate sands that make the island such a picturesque location, Kefalonia has a number of other natural wonders. Melissani Lake, an underground body of water discovered in the 1950s, is a particular highlight. Take a gondola ride through the strikingly blue waters and gaze up through the hole in the cavernous ceiling to really appreciate the immensity of the place.
Elsewhere, the Drogarati Caves are a 40 minutes’ drive from the capital, Argostoli, and allow you to step back in time. Formed 150 million years ago, the subterranean grottos are home to countless stalactites and stalagmites which have formed over the millennia.
The acoustics inside are so good, the Drogarati Cave is sometimes the site of events whose atmosphere is added to with this natural wonder’s eeriness.
Witness architecture through the ages
Various civilisations have called Kefalonia home over the years, leaving it with a rich history. At Assos, you can see the mark left by the Venetians at the ruins of a crumbling castle. More recently, the 16th century Monastery of Saint Andreas holds some of the most impressive religious works of art from all over the island. The 1953 earthquake threatened to destroy the building, but actually enriched it by shaking loose chunks of plaster and revealing long-forgotten frescoes beneath.
Meanwhile, the northern village of Fiskardo is one of the few places on Kefalonia to have escaped the 1953 quake unscathed. As such, it’s a brilliant time capsule of Venetian splendour, something that has been picked up on by the rich and famous of today, hence its nicknamed the St. Tropez of Greece.
Eat, drink and be merry
Ionian cuisine marks a large departure from that found on the mainland. While seafood does play a big part in Kefalonia’s culinary tradition, its most famous delicacy is kreatopita, a pie containing a variety of different meats.
Of course, dining during holidays to Greece wouldn’t be complete without an alcoholic accompaniment. Ouzo is always a safe bet, but Greek wine enjoys a growing reputation right now. Travel right to the source at Robola Winery, near Lassi, to sample a glass and learn more about how it’s made – and then sample it some more.
Hike through Mount Ainos National Park
Mount Ainos National Park is a forest-cloaked expanse reachable from Lourdas, a resort that sits at the foot of Mount Ainos, the tallest peak on Kefalonia.
Hikes through the park’s trails afford views of neighbouring islands, shady afternoons in groves of pine and fir trees, and maybe even glimpses of the semi-wild ponies known for roaming these parts.
Sea kayaking around the island
One of the best ways to discover Kefalonia is by seeing it from afar, and the only way to do that is by heading out to sea. Sea kayaking is incredibly popular on the island, as there are so many stop-off points along the coast.
There are exclusive little pockets of beaches, natural caves and rock formations that are much better reached by boat, and with the help of a tour guide you can find some of the best hidden spots carved into Kefalonia’s coastline.
Head below the water’s surface with scuba diving
Scuba diving is a hugely popular activity on Kefalonia, and as such, you’ll find diving schools in just about every major resort. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to diving or an old hand – there are courses that’ll get you underwater and checking out the local scenery in no time.
The coastline of Kefalonia is privy to drop-offs, caves and reefs sporting the occasional sea turtle. There are even wrecks scattered across the sea floor like the immaculately preserved Perseus Submarine, which sunk in World War II off the coast of Poros, a resort that sits about equidistant from Sami and Skala.
Test your limits with canyoning
If you’re not familiar with canyoning, it’s a combination of rappelling down rock faces, waterfalls and streams. As you can imagine, it can be a high adrenaline sport that offers a totally new way of taking in a landscape.
Canyoning in Kefalonia will take you into caves, through gorges and down the sides of steep cliffs, made doable with the help of experienced guides.
Depending on what time of the year you visit will dictate whether your canyoning experience is wet or dry – come in the spring and early summer and you’ll likely canyon through water, but come in late summer and after and you’ll have a drier trek.