Kefalonia

Kefalonia (Κεφαλονιά), also Kefallonia (Κεφαλλονιά) and Kefallinia (Κεφαλλήνια), is an island in the Ionian Islands in Greece. It is also known by its Italian name, Cefalonia.

Regions

Cities

Kefalonia towns are clean, friendly and small enough to get around with no hassle. It's the breathtaking natural scenery you visit this gorgeous island for, and visitors will not be disappointed. Lush forests, breathtaking mountains, and dizzyingly high cliffs dropping down to glittering azure seas are what Kefalonia is all about. The towns are mere conveniences—except for Fiskardo, they were all leveled in the 1953 earthquake, so most of what you see is of functional concrete construction with no nod to aesthetics.

  Argostoli is the main town, which has serious shops and a rather underwhelming museum.

  Lixouri is the island's second city and faces the capital, Argostoli, across a kind of elongated bay (there is a ferry).

  Agia Efimia A sleepy fishing village north of Sami, becoming increasingly popular with tourists.

  Fiskardo, at the northern tip of the island, is popular with yachts and rather pricey and upmarket. It is the only part of the island which survived the earthquakes of the last century intact, but extensive refurbishment and repairs have given it a rather bijoux feel rather than one of authentic old Kefalonia.

  Poros, A yacht marina and a picturesque village on the eastern edge of the island, rather self-contained between the sea and mountains, and has a substantial ferry port slightly separated from the rest of the town.

  Sami The port town on the eastern part of the island facing Ithaka (the ferry from mainland, Patra, arrives here.)

  Skala, at the south-eastern tip of the island, is a popular and relaxed resort focused on beach holidays.

Other destinations

Understand

Sami's waterfront

Kefallinia, Kefalonia, Cephallonia—so good they named it thrice. You may also hear islanders pronounce it as "sefalonia". The region, incorporating the neighbouring island of Ithaki (Ithaca) is known as Kefallinia, hence the name of the airport. The island is best known as the setting for the 2001 film Captain Corelli's Mandolin, though the level of movie-related merchandising is not as great as you might expect, even in Sami, the old-fashioned port in the East of the island, the portside of which was turned into a kind of set for the film.

Talk

A sizeable percentage of the local summer population live abroad in the winter months - there is simply not enough work on the island out of season (Nov - April). Hence the large number of Greeks with American accents on the island. English is understood almost universally, with only senior citizens confined to their native language. Italian is widely recognised, due to the island's strong historical links with that nation. Venture a greeting in Greek anywhere on the island and you will get a warmly enthusiastic response.

Get in

By plane

The main airport is located near Argostoli and Lassi, and is a typical small island airport. In other words, if there are two or more planes on the ramp, it can get very crowded! The main travel days are Tuesday and Sunday, and it's bedlam on both days. Remember that chaos is a Greek word and just go with the flow—the staff are surprisingly cheerful and relaxed. There is a small cafe bar and gift shop both before and after security.

By boat

You can also arrive by frequent ferry from Italy, Patras on the Greek mainland, or other islands.

Get around

KTEL operate bus routes between the towns and villages, but routes are too infrequent to be of much use to tourists. Unless you have arrived on your own yacht, in which case you'll have no problem getting to most parts, you need a car or bike if you plan to get around. There are car ferries from the mainland, and many car hire places in town, though prices vary. Although all travel operators are against motorcycle hire, as long as you have some bike experience, renting a 100cc scooter for the duration of your stay can work out reasonably. Just make sure you check the bike out for previous damage before you hire it. Most of the hire places are in Argostoli and Lassi.

Taxis are fairly reasonable and individual arrangements can be made with drivers to pick you up at specified times from beaches, etc. They are usually helpful and friendly.

As of 2015 some roads are closed due to earthquake damage.

Distances from Argostoli are: Lassi 2 km, Sami 24 km, Skala 40 km, Fiskardo 50 km.

See

The island consists of four peninsulas, and includes some fairly serious mountains, which all goes to make for some outstanding scenery. A series of earthquakes, the last in the 1970s mean there are relatively few relics of antiquity in the island, but architecturally it doesn't look very different from most of Greece.

Towards the centre of the island there are two noteworthy caves:

Do

Beaches

Most beaches have sunbed hire, a cafe bar, and sometimes water sport activities at the livelier beaches.

Buy

Local honey - be sure to buy Kefalonian wild thyme honey (it really does taste special) and the local wine, Robola.

There are any number of tacky gifts to be had, though to be fair most of the tourist shops have remained reasonably tasteful and low-key. Souvenirs are aplenty as you'd expect. Some of the jewelry is of reasonable quality and price - you are unlikely to get ripped off in Kefalonia and the Greeks are generally keen to see you get what you pay for in any transaction.

Eat

One local speciality is Kefalonian meat pie, available in quite a few restaurants. It's a hearty farmhouse dish rather than haute cuisine. Getting a really good example is not easy, however - the Captain's Table in Argostoli is perhaps your best bet for this local dish. Food in most establishments is okay rather than spectacular, with traditional Greek dishes as well as menus catering to Italian and British tourists. It's worth tapping into local knowledge about where to eat.

If you're in Argostoli, visit the big bakery on the main street opposite the harbour and buy the little round cheese pies - they're fantastic.

There is a lovely cafe/restaurant at the entrance to the Venetian fortress in Kastro, shaded by trees, with very friendly owners - a Greek man married to an Englishwoman (Nicki). Their homemade cakes are delicious.

Visit the lovely Dionysos tavern in Poros, with a spectacular view to the island of Ithaca and the marina. There you may find one of the most mouth-watering meat pies (kreatopita) in the island, as it is prepared according to a traditional Kefallonian recipe (with up to three different types of meat). Additionally, slightly exotic scenes in Dionysos are the squids that slowly dry while hanging under the sun, waiting to be fried. Nonetheless, the specialty of the restaurant is mousakas, a small bite of which leaves a mouthful of flavours.

Argostoli/Lassi

Lourdata

Drink

Popular drinks are:


Lassi

Lassi has a number of bars along the main road, many of which have 'happy hour' promotions in the evening.

Sleep

There are relatively few hotels, most accommodation is in apartments, the majority of which are block booked by the tour operators. However it isn't too hard to find rooms to rent. Kefalonia isn't a night life island but Lassi in particular can be a bit noisy at night due to the open air bars. Most of Europe closes down during high summer and heads south. Consequently July/August tend to be very busy (especially with Italian camper vans!). September is a lot quieter, although this is also the time when the rains can start. See the city articles for accommodations in Fiskardo or Skala.

Connect

Free wifi is provided in many apartments and bars.

Stay safe

Kefalonia has very little crime, although be careful in busy areas as most petty crime is the cause of tourists. Traffic, as everywhere in Greece, can be a little mad in towns. Out in the hills, the roads wind precariously around the sides of mountains. Some are passable only with a good four-wheel drive vehicle, though the main routes are fine.

Watch uneven pavements in dimly lit streets.

The local police have a very low key presence and generally confine themselves to issuing speeding tickets and being suspicious of Albanians. You'll need a rep or interpreter if dealing with them for an insurance claim.

Mosquitoes are a minor issue in inland accommodation, less so by the beaches.

Go next

There are plenty of ferry connections to the mainland and the other Ionian islands (Corfu, Zante, etc.) and Italy, though Kefalonia isn't really on the traditional island hopping route. There are air services to Athens.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 06, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.