Adventure International

Kefalonia: Greek Island Paradise


Immerse yourself in Kefalonia, a green island that offers many pursuits, including Greek history and culture.

“Throw your guidebook away. Why do you so desperately need to know what to do?” 

Wise words, indeed.

Imagine, if you will, that you didn’t plot ahead everything that you must see on your first-ever visit to Greece. What if you let your senses guide you in making memories?

This is how I plotted my adventure in Kefalonia, Greece. Described as the “green island,” Kefalonia will make you question whether you are vacationing in a forest or at the beach.

Mountainous Beach

Lush cypress, pine, and olive trees grow tall on the mountainous range that hugs the land. Mt. Anios appears to touch the sky. Its peak is 5,341 feet tall.

“The mountain that prevails in Kefalonia is Ainos, whose peak reaches 1.628 meters, and is the only national park that can be found on a Greek Island.”

Visit Greece

As you gaze up at the hills, you can see the roads crisscrossing the terrain.

Color my world turquoise is the only way to describe the water. Kefalonia is the biggest island in the Ionian Sea, between Italy and Greece. It shimmers like a gem in the hot Greek climate.

Vineyards nestle at the foot of Mt. Ainos’ peak. Here, you will discover family-run vineyards that produce the island’s Robola wine variety. Schedule a tasting. 

Famous Film

Foreign travelers didn’t discover Kefalonia until the 2001 film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, and John Hurt starred in this film about “the enduring hope of love and the devastating brutality of war, set amid the Italian occupation of Greece during World War II.” It is based on the best-selling Louis de Bernieres novel.

Our guide told us that locals would drive for hours just for the opportunity to appear as an extra in the movie.

Rotten Tomatoes rated the film 28%, but the audience scored it 50%. Watch the film to get an idea of the spectacular island scenery.

Since I had a week to discover Kefalonia, I picked a variety of tours to highlight the island’s beaches, lakes, cities, and small towns. Below are a few memory-making pursuits.

Skala

I stayed in a resort near Skala, on the island’s southern tip. It is an hour’s drive from the Kefalonia Airport. 

Stay at a 4-star resort, rent an Airbnb or Vrbo villa, or book a room at a small hotel. If you choose to reside in the town, you will find multiple restaurants and taverns to eat fresh fish, moussaka, kebabs, and gyros. 

My favorite destination was Nikos Bakery, which I visited multiple times to purchase its homemade baklava. Honey is definitely the nectar of Greek gods and bees. One square of baklava costs approximately 4 euros. 

If you are interested in ancient Greek history, visit the remains of a Doric temple near Skala dating from the 5th century. It was dedicated to the worship of Apollo. 

Myrtos Beach

The locals told me that Myrtos Beach is ranked as the most beautiful beach in Greece and one of the Top 10 Beaches in the world. I will definitely add it to my Transcendent Beaches to Explore.

I was staggered when our van driver pulled over on the shoulder of the coast road to let us look down on this beach. Posing on the guard rail for a photo, I shuddered at the thought of falling backward and tumbling down the steep limestone cliffs. I was shocked at the idiot who flagrantly walked on the guardrail.

Myrtos Beach is nestled between the Agia Dynati and Kalon Oros mountain ranges. Its beach cove is rounded, and the sand looks like white sugar. The Ionian Sea is tie-dyed turquoise, emerald green, and navy blue.

Time at Beach 

I recommend Skala for all the nearby amenities—swimming, boating, snorkeling, and sunbathing.

My only complaint with Mediterranean beaches, in general, is the rocky ones. I am spoiled by the soft sandy beaches on the East Coast of the United States, such as the Outer Banks. If you want to sunbathe on the island, you should definitely rent a recliner or bring a blowup raft. 

Kefalonia has 39 beautiful beaches—sandy, pebble, and gravel. But I only saw pebble beaches.

Find Street Cats

Naturally, I search for cats whenever I travel because I am obsessed with felines. But Greece, as a Mediterranean country, would be an easy place to find cats. Probably due to the warm climates, cats can survive on the streets. I have written about the Cats of Croatia and the Cats of Portugal.

It took me less than 24 hours to find cats hanging out on the streets of Skala. Two tabby sisters followed me around as I window-shopped. 

I always despair that I didn’t remember to bring a Ziploc bag of kibble to feed them treats.

Eat Greek Food

There is no better way to immerse yourself in the culture than eating the native cuisine. You can’t eat a single meal in Greece without sampling Greek yogurt, feta cheese, honey, or olive oil. 

The fruits of the sea are plentiful on this island. Order grilled fish, octopus, or squid with a side of sea urchin pasta. Greek chefs typically marinate meats, fish, and vegetables in lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. Pita bread is also grilled and then dipped in yogurt sauce. A favorite lunch entree is Krestopia, which is a meat pie. The filling consists of beef, pork, and goat, simmered with onions, tomatoes, red wine, sapsicho (a local herb), and garlic. 

Take a Boat Trip

You cannot visit an island without taking a cruise in the water. It might be illegal! In Kefalonia, you can find numerous family-run businesses that make daily trips to nearby islands where you can swim off the side of the boat or paddle to shore.

My group booked the all-day catamaran tour to three small islands. 

Fiskado

Hands down, Fiskado is my favorite town on the island. The centuries-old Venetian architecture was not destroyed in the 1953 earthquake. 

Picture a road snaking past the waterfront. Yachts and boats line the harbor. Restaurants and shops line the walk. Since I arrived by boat, I could imagine myself approaching Venice.

Celebrities and politicians definitely favor Fiskado for its ambiance. Multiple U.S. presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Bush, have visited Fiskado.

Archeologists discovered a Roman cemetery in Fiskardo in 1993. It dates back to the Christian Era (II-IV century AD).

St. George

Walking in the village of St. George (Agios Georgios) is like wandering down a road in the Cotswolds in England. Step back into time. I didn’t see any thatched-roof cottages, but I passed by old stone buildings lined the hilly path to St. George Castle.

This village is the oldest on the island. Situated south of Argostoli, the medieval town is stacked atop the hill. The Byzantines built the castle to defend their position. 

Today, you don’t see any pirates or foreign invaders attacking the castle. But you can tour the castle grounds and look down at the small villages at the bottom.

Climb the staircase from the main road up to the terrace, where you can see a lush garden. Walk around the historic church to examine the windows. Stop at the tavern at the castle entrance to buy a refreshing drink.

Assos

This Venetian stronghold features a castle as well as a decaying ancient city. Built in the 16th century, the fortified castle sat 170m on a rocky hill. The structure dominates the peninsula of Assos. The ruins include preserved ramparts, walls, and two gates.

If you want to sightsee the neighboring town, start at the top of the hill and then walk past a mix of occupied and decrepit houses. At the bottom, near the harbor, there are multiple bars, taverns, and restaurants. Shops abound. You can watch the sailors glide into the harbor. 

It is a lovely place to sip a glass of Greek wine and nibble on olives. You can also buy an ice cream cone and roam along the side streets. 

I met a colony of black kittens who provided ample entertainment. They played in a deserted yard, and these “baby jaguars” tumbled and chased each other.

I loved Kefalonia and will definitely return. You can direct flights from London.

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    galatia savva
    June 8, 2024 at 6:06 am

    u are writing about one of my most beloved Greek Islands! beautiful pics, makes me want to go again!

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 8, 2024 at 9:11 am

      Really? I feel like this is a gem off the tourist’s beaten trail. I’d love to stay a month and hike everyday! I love the Cats of Kefalonia!

  • Reply
    Jolayne
    June 8, 2024 at 6:46 am

    I think booking a villa for a month would be a dream.

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 8, 2024 at 9:11 am

      I think a month’s vacation in Kefalonia would be a dream. And you can visit other nearby islands, like Ithaca. I loved it.

  • Reply
    Marina
    June 8, 2024 at 7:47 am

    Kefalonia looks amazing! Dreaming of spending a Greek summer one day 😍

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 8, 2024 at 9:12 am

      It was a dream come true – my first visit to Greece. I will return!

  • Reply
    Sonia
    June 8, 2024 at 9:50 am

    Myrtos Beach looks stunning. I can’t imagine someone walking on the guard rail over that cliff. At least there was a guard rail in place.

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 10, 2024 at 5:07 am

      Shocking right? I just held my breath and hoped the idiot didn’t call off the rail.
      Myrtos Beach blew me away – one of the prettiest beaches that I ever saw.

  • Reply
    Linda (LD Holland)
    June 8, 2024 at 12:53 pm

    We have touring the Greek Islands on our list of trips to plan. But we still have not settled on what islands to visit. So it was great to read more about Kefalonia – an island we really know nothing about. The blue waters and long sandy beaches would always be a draw. And we do love Greek Food. The small towns look so charming to wander. A good one to consider for our trip planning.

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 10, 2024 at 5:06 am

      I highly recommend Kefalonia. Watch Captain Corelli’s Mandolin film.

  • Reply
    Laureen Lund
    June 8, 2024 at 1:01 pm

    Great post. We love Greece but have not visited this island. I hope to get there next year!

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 10, 2024 at 5:04 am

      I think you will enjoy exploring the Greek islands.

  • Reply
    Anja
    June 8, 2024 at 2:14 pm

    I loved my trip to the Ionian side of Greece, and would be very interested n Kefalonia. Love these rocky shorelines, and the water is usually to clean and clear. Thank you for sharing, these are some great pictures!

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 10, 2024 at 5:04 am

      Thank you! I loved photographing this green island. The sea was constantly shifting the shades of blue and green. It dazzled me.

  • Reply
    Mayi
    June 8, 2024 at 4:45 pm

    I would love to explore the Greek islands. I have never heard of Kefalonia before, but I love the sound of it.

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 10, 2024 at 5:03 am

      It always amazes me how many Greek islands there are to explore. This is a bigger one!

  • Reply
    Sharyn McCullum
    June 8, 2024 at 9:24 pm

    Having grown up at the beach in Australia I always enjoy spending time at beaches in different parts of the world. And the Greek islands has some amazing beaches. Throw in history and cats and I’m there!

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 10, 2024 at 5:02 am

      Lucky you! I wish I had grown up on the beach.

  • Reply
    Hannah
    June 9, 2024 at 1:14 pm

    Kefalonia looks like such a magical place to explore! I’d love to see the beaches and try the Greek food! And of course, track down the adorable street cats! I love meeting the local kitties on my travels! Thanks for the great guide!

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 10, 2024 at 5:02 am

      Cat lovers unite! 🐈‍⬛🐈You’ll definitely want to bring one of these adorable Greek kitties home in your backpack lol!

  • Reply
    Kelly
    June 9, 2024 at 11:34 pm

    We sailed there in 2019 but only stayed one day. I would love to go back and pend more time there.

    • Reply
      Terri
      June 10, 2024 at 5:00 am

      Cool! I hope you get to return.

  • Reply
    Patricia (Tish) Mikan
    June 10, 2024 at 10:47 pm

    I love the pics in Kefalonia! Looks so beautiful there
    Some day maybe take a trip there
    Thanks Terri

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