The largest of the Ionian islands, Kefalonia has cemented its position as one of the world’s most popular holiday hotspots. However, there’s more to this slice of Greek paradise than just powder-soft sands and clear, blue waters. Head inland and you’ll find a patchwork of flower-strewn meadows and lush vineyards. All this is dominated by pine-capped hills, on which goatherds tend their flocks. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to overlook some of the villages, but these are where you’ll find some of the best scenery and some outstanding places to eat and drink. Here’s our guide to the top five villages you must visit if you’re booking a break to this beautiful island.
If you want to fully immerse yourself in the laidback lifestyle that the Greeks have perfected over the years, be sure to book your holidays to Assos Kefalonia. Set on the sleepy west coast, it’s far away from the touristy parts of the island and offers authenticity by the bucketload. With pretty, pastel-coloured houses sitting between trees, flowers and shrubs, holidays here are the fastest way to slow down. It has a shingle beach on which you can top up your tan and watch the fishing boats coming and going from the small harbour. You’ll find some excellent and authentic restaurants and tavernas lining the waterfront; perfect for enjoying a leisurely mezze and watching the sun dip behind the horizon.
Set on the island’s northernmost tip, Fiskardo offers the best of both coast and countryside. Book your Fiskardo Kefalonia holidays during the summer months and you might just catch an A-list celebrity or two. Drawn to its idyllic Greek charm, it’s not uncommon to see a yacht mooring in the harbour and a familiar face or two from Hollywood walking down the gangplank. One of the few parts of the island to remain untouched by the 1953 earthquake, the town is supremely authentic and retains its traditional character. The beach, while small, is quiet and secluded and just a short walk from the town centre. Fiskardo Kefalonia holidays also put you in a prime spot to explore some of the nearby, unspoilt countryside. With some superb places to eat and drink, this is a must-see.
For upbeat breaks that combine the best of Greek hospitality with a constant carnival atmosphere, holidays to Argostoli Kefalonia are just what the doctor ordered. The capital of Kefalonia, this lively town manages to straddle the line between being an attraction in itself, and being home to working Greek families that have lived here for generations. Wander the labyrinth of twisting side-streets and alleys and you’ll find squares, quaint courtyards and pedestrianised areas brimming with restaurants.
During the summer months, you’ll find the background chatter muted by the sounds of mandolins and guitars, as musicians play traditional folk songs. It’s just as busy once the sun goes down, with the residents taking in the evening air, going for a quiet drink, or indulging in an animated game of chess or backgammon at a local café. The palm-fringed waterfront is lined with places in which to enjoy a meal, from which you can see the famous Drapanos Bridge, which connects the town to the Koutavos Lagoon. Take a stroll across to spot Caretta turtles; the perfect way to end your holidays to Argostoli Kefalonia.
Known as Kefalonia’s second capital, Lixouri is the next largest town on the island, with over 3,000 inhabitants. However, while it might offer similar facilities, holidays to Lixouri Kefalonia are just that little bit quieter. If you want to avoid the crowds entirely, book your holidays during the spring or autumn, as the town’s harbour and waterfront are something of a magnet for holidaymakers. You’ll see plenty of ferries from Argostoli coming and going during the summer, depositing and collecting the tourists who come to visit this spectacular town.
Despite being a little smaller than its capital cousin, Lixouri does have a few aces up its sleeve. The first is its beach: Lixouri’s beach is expansive, dusted with caramel-coloured sands, and lapped by sapphire seas. There are always plenty of water sports for those who want to add a little adrenaline to their break, while those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground can explore the town’s attractions.
Wander around the town and you’ll find it peppered with statues of famous people from Kefalonia’s history. For those who want to sample authentic Greek cuisine, there are some superb, family-run restaurants and some quiet tavernas in which to enjoy a local beer or wine.
For a touch of island highlife, book your holidays to Poros Kefalonia. Set on the island’s east coast, Poros is a quiet harbour town which is often overlooked by tourists in favour of the larger destinations, such as Lixouri and Argostoli. The beach is one of the smaller ones on the island, which can mean it’s a little crowded during the summer months. However, take your break during the spring or the autumn and you’ll find you almost have it entirely to yourself.
The town has an extensive selection of atmospheric restaurants, boutique shops and regular markets, meaning that you’re never short of things to see or do. Those who want to relax in the Great Outdoors will find that the town is surrounded by some stunning countryside, making it feel wonderfully secluded. You’ll find various trails, which will take you through pine-scented forests, tranquil olive groves, and fragrant herbs, before leading you some of the town’s lesser-known beaches; perfect for topping up your tan in peace and quiet.
If you feel like working up an appetite, there’s a walking trail that leads to the Monastery of the Virgin Mary. The island’s oldest monastery, it’s a hike up a 500m hill, but the views alone are reward enough.