The majestic island of the Ionian Sea


The island of Kefalonia is home to some of the most beautiful pebbled and sandy beaches in the whole of Greece. Among the most popular are Myrtos, Antisamos, Emblisi, Lourdas, Skala, Xi, and Petanoi, while those which have remained unscathed from mass exploitation and available for sea getaways are Platia Ammos, Fteri, and Amidi.

Myrtos beach, an internationally acclaimed site in the worldwide tourism industry, is a stunning splendid beach surrounded by high cliffs and crystal waters, and an ideal place for swimming, sunbathing, and sea sports. Its attractiveness is rivalled by the lush vegetation, turquoise waters, and bright white pebbles of Antisamos beach. The small but highly distinctive Emblisi beach is located at the north side of the island, near the village of Fiscardo. Lourdas beach, in contrast, is large, sandy, organized, and with an impressive view that blends the blue of the sea with the green of the notable orchards and wild beauty of the mountain on its opposite side. Skala beach, yet another popular destination, has facilities for sea sports, such as jet skiing, along with paragliding and kayaking. Xi beach, located in Paliki, which is notable for its shallow waters and distinctive red sand and loamy composition, which is said to have healing qualities because it contains marly limestone (or “askylakas” in Greek), is high up in the preference of tourists. At the other side of Paliki, Petanoi beach, which was formed after the devastating earthquake in 1953, is an excellent combination of white pebbles, lush green landscape, and emerald waters.


The network of caves in the island of Kefalonia is a truly unique landmark. The most famous is Melissani cave, located at the heart of the island, which can be explored by boat, offering visitors the opportunity to admire the incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Drogarati cave, near the town of Sami, is a site that is equally popular. This cave, which is more than 150 million years old, is a natural work of art, full of orange and yellow stalactites that hang like curtains from the roof of the cave, complemented by glassy stalagmites inside a dreamlike naturally beautiful environment that turns its exploration into a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Outdoor activities

For those seeking adventures, Kefalonia offers many outdoor activities for all interests and levels of skill. Visitors can hike and climb the lush green hills and explore the pristine countryside. The island has many well-marked trails leading to hidden beaches, traditional villages and spots where hikers can enjoy a splendid view.

Other outdoor activities for action lovers include windsurfing, kiteboarding, and sailing. The crystal waters of Kefalonia are ideal for sea sports, and visitors can take classes or rent equipment from local businesses. Kefalonia is truly a paradise for sea lovers, because here they can enjoy activities that will thrill them: they can participate in boat tours and explore the coasts and hidden coves of the island or rent a yacht and sail on the enchanting Ionian Sea. Two of Kefalonia’s most popular hidden beaches are Fteri and Amidi, which captivate visitors because of their surroundings and turquoise waters. In addition, diving and snorkeling are two activities that will allow you to discover the sea life and underwater environment of the island.

You can ride a kayak and explore the coastline of Kefalonia from a different perspective. Kayak tours are available throughout the island, and they constitute an additional alternative option for exploring the island’s hidden coves and secluded beaches.

In addition, visitors can enjoy hiking, cycling, and horse riding on the scenic trails and roads of Kefalonia. The island’s unique landscape is largely formed by Mount Ainos, the highest mountain in all Ionian Islands, and the place where the black Kefalonian Fir grows. The Kefalonian Fir is one of the rarest species in the whole of Europe, and its presence in this area is so dense that the Venetians used to call Ainos “Monte Nero” (black mountain).

Another natural – and recently trademarked – gem of the region is the Kefalonia-Ithaca Geopark, which forms part of the global network of UNESCO Global Geoparks, and possessing special geological, morphological, and environmental characteristics which are of interest to the international geological tourism industry. Here, visitors can appreciate a wealth of natural wonders, such as the Ammonitico Rosso formations.

Necessary stops

Regardless of where you are staying in Kefalonia, its cities and villages are what establishes the island’s special character, making it a truly unforgettable destination for vacations.

Argostoli: The attractive capital city of Kefalonia has many spectacular spots, such as the Bridge of De Bosset or “Pontes” (it is also the greatest stone bridge in Europe), and Kabana square with its historical bell tower, where you can take a pleasant break and learn more about the history of the building and the island. 

Lixouri: The second largest city of Kefalonia, built by the sea opposite to Argostoli to the southwest, is the perfect destination for strolling through picturesque alleyways. Here you can admire buildings such as the old manor of Iakovatoi, which has been renovated and functions as Public Library and Town Museum. In addition, at the edge of the namesake cape lies the Lighthouse of Gerogombos, which, despite its difficult access, is one of the most appropriate spots for enjoying the sunset.

Fiscardo: The hometown of poet Nikos Kavvadias has been designated as traditional settlement – and, as if by miracle, the great earthquake of 1953 did not damage its charming houses, and wandering through its alleyways, such as the walk to the lighthouse at the cape of Fiscardo, seem like a journey into yesterday, with a few sublime notes of evolution.

Assos: Fairly considered as being one of the prettiest villages in Europe, the first impression of Assos is that of a place that jumped right out of a storybook. Its hilltop is dominated by the Venetian Castle – and the view it offers, despite the difficult ascent, will definitely reward you.

Food and drink

No visit in Kefalonia can be complete without tasting its local cuisine. The island is notable for its fresh seafood, olive oil, and delicious wines. Visitors can try out local dishes, such as the famous Kefalonian meat pie, or the tsigaridia (a mix of wild and cultivated vegetables, a perfect dish for any person fasting, as well as for vegans), the exquisite kokkinistos patsas (braised tripe inspired by the Italian dish of Tripa All Fiorentina), and – the most exquisite of all – the  Kefalonian aliada (garlic spread).

Wine lovers can visit the island’s wineries and try out some of the finest Greek wines. The island is famous for its Robola Wine (PDO), which is white dry wine made from the namesake grape variety that is grown exclusively in Kefalonia.

Culture and history

Kefalonia has a rich cultural heritage and visitors can explore the history of the island through its museums and archaeological sites. There are plenty of museums that display the cultural and historical significance of Kefalonia, such as the Archeological Museum of Argostoli and the Folklore Museum of Kefalonia. Visitors can also survey monuments such as the ancient acropolis of Sami, the Roman Villa at Skala, and the vaulted tombs at Tzanata.

The island’s rich religious history is reflected in its churches and monasteries. A religious site of major significance is the Monastery of Agios Gerasimos, located at the heart of the island and dedicated to the patron saint of Kefalonia, which houses its holy relic. Visitors are welcome to attend mass or explore the museum and library of the monastery.

This is not to say that the living landscape of Kefalonia is at odds with modern culture: Kefalonia is modern enough to attract a growing number of foreign visitors. After 2001, when the movie adaptation of Louis de Bernières’s novel “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” was filmed on the island, the island’s locations became internationally famous. The most popular destinations are still the town of Sami, the beaches of Antisamos and Chorgota, and the abandoned village of Palia Vlachata. The latter comes to life each summer through the Saristra Music & Arts Festival, in which rising musicians, artists, and DJs use the ruins of the traditional village as stage, attracting art loves from Greece and the world.

Photos and videos

Events calendar

13 Σεπτέμβριου 2023
KEFALONIA 20/08/2023

Robola Festival in the villages of Fragata and Valsamata

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20 August - 21 August 2023

KEFALONIA 28/07/2023

Saristra Festival in Old Vlahata

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28 July - 30 July 2023

KEFALONIA 21/06/2023

33rd International Gym Festival - Festival "Gymnastics for All", in Argostoli and Lixouri

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21 June - 01 July 2023

Thematic tourism

Sea Tourism

The largest Ionian Island is noteworthy for its enchanting landscapes and clear blue waters. Kefalonia hosts a variety of sandy and pebbled beaches, the most prominent of which are Myrtos, Antisamos, Skala, Makris Gialos, Petani, and Xi

The multiple award-winning Myrtos Beach is a magnificent pebbled beach surrounded by tall cliffs and crystal waters, and an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, and sea sports. Antisamos beach, which became famous as the location of the movie “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, is a long and wide beach with waters that reflect its exotic beauty. Opposite to Antisamos is the beach of Skala, which, although lacking the verdant environment of the former, nevertheless stands out as a top destination for those who enjoy sea sports such as jet skiing, paragliding, and kayaking. Makris Gialos beach is a favorite destination for diving, beach games, sunbathing, and entertainment for all ages, on account of both its great length and the fact that its main extension is Platys Gialos beach. Petani and Xi, situated at Paliki, are also exceptional: the former for its striking landscape and unique shade of blue of its waters, and the latter for its distinctive red sand, which is said to have medicinal qualities.

Among the most popular activities offered by Kefalonia is the visit to the Melissani lake cave, which is notable for its crystal waters and outstanding geomorphological features. A unique geological phenomenon linked with this lake cave are the Katavothres (sinkholes) of Argostoli, where the water mysteriously returns to Melissani through currents and underground routes. Moreover, Drogarati cave is yet another equally noteworthy park of stalagmites and stalactites, which, due to its outstanding acoustics, has also served as venue for significant music concerts. 

Sport Tourism

Sports tourism has become more and more popular over the past few years, and a growing number of tourists seek to combine their love for sports with their passion for travelling. The Ionian Islands are a popular destination for this particular type of tourism – and below you will find out why.

Mount Ainos, the highest mountain of Kefalonia, is also a popular hiking destination. Mount Ainos features several well-marked trails leading through dense forests and offering a stunning view of the countryside. In addition, the mountain also the venue for Ainos Marathon, a ten-kilometer-long marathon trail race for entertainment and competition purposes, whose aim is to promote and upgrade the mountain areas of the region. This activity is part of the wider effort to further develop and promote the island’s cultural and natural environment and local identity and attract lovers of alternative tourism, hiking, and sports tourism. Kefalonia also hosts the annual Kefalonia Gym Festival “Anna Pollatou”, held under the auspices of the Hellenic Gymnastics Federation. This festival, which is both the oldest and the only of its kind in Greece, is regarded as a tradition of Kefalonia and recognized as one of the most important mass-sporting events in Greece and Europe, due to hosting participants that include both Greek and foreign sports teams. This event helps promote sports in Kefalonia, showcase the Ionian Sea region, and attract new guests to the islands. For example, there are approximately 1,500 athletes and athlete chaperones who participate in the event on a yearly basis. Kefalonia also offers the opportunity to engage in shooting sports, which is a new activity aiming at promoting and advancing new sports activities in the island, in a manner that is fertile and integral and in conditions of safety and good sportsmanship, attracting participants from all over Greece and advertising the region at the same time. 

Visitors may also explore the village of Palia Vlachata, which was abandoned after the devastating earthquake of 1953.

Equestrian tourism is for those who enjoy riding through nature on trained horses. Equestrian centers are staffed with people who will teach everything there is to know about horses and the noble sport of horseback riding. Kefalonia already hosts special “farms” for this particular activity and there is a clear potential for further development of this type of tourism.

Family Vacations

Are you thinking about which destination to choose for your next family vacations? Gift your loved ones with valuable and unique moments and memories in the Ionian Islands, a small “family” of Greek islands, and explore the wide range of experiences and thrills they can offer.

Kefalonia, the largest island in the Ionian Sea, is prominent for its astonishing beaches and impressive mountains. Its top landmarks include the Melissani Cave, which is a stunning underground lake, the Drogarati Cave, which is an impressive limestone cave with astonishing acoustics, the village of Assos, a picturesque fishing village with a medieval castle, the traditional town of Fiscardo, and the Mount Ainos National Park with its rich native rare vegetation.

Gastronomic tourism and Wine tourism

The Ionian Islands offer a rich and diverse cuisine, a blend of traditional Greek gastronomy and influences from other cultures. By emphasizing locally produced ingredients and the power of taste, it is made evident that the Ionian Islands are a special destination for all food lovers.

The Ionian Islands are famous for their “trademark” tasteful qualities, combining traditional Greek dishes with influences from the Italian, Turkish, and Venetian cuisine. The islands offer a wealth of fresh local ingredients such as fish, seafood, olive oil, vegetables, herbs, and wines. Their gastronomy constitutes a unique experience that is bound to thrill and delight all connoisseurs of fine food. 

Each Ionian Island features a variety of traditional recipes and dishes which are unique to the region.

Kefalonian meat pie – The legendary pie of Kefalonia, combining three different types of meat (pork, goat, and veal)

Bakaliaropita – The second famous codfish pie of Kefalonia, served in various versions, the most popular of which features a stuffing that combines leek and pumpkin.

Kefalonian aliada (Garlic spread) – This is an Ionian version of the traditional Greek skordalia, prepared exclusively with garlic and potatoes, and no bread, nor any nuts. Best served with a side of tsigaridia (see below).

Tsigaridia – A mix of wild and cultivated vegetables which are blanched and sauteed with short-grain rice, onion, garlic, and herbs (a perfect dish for any person fasting, as well as for vegans).

Astakomakaronada (Lobster pasta) – The ultimate luxury summer dish, which Kefalonians traditionally regarded as the “fisherman’s dish”. Nonetheless, it first became known from Fiscardo and eventually rose to prominence as a gourmet trend all over Greece.

Kokkinistos patsas (braised tripe) – A dish that highlights the island’s Italian influence, inspired by the recipe of Tripa Alla Fiorentina.

Religious tourism

The Ionian Islands have been a hub of religious activities for hundreds of years, hosting a vast number of churches, monasteries, and Byzantine monuments, many of which are open for religious tourists during the months of summer and spring, whether for pilgrimages or just out of desire to explore the rich history of the region through its religious tradition.

Church of Panagia Lagouvarda in Kefalonia: Built in the 16th century in the town of Markopoulos, it is decorated with excellent frescos and has a bell tower with a panoramic view. On the celebration of August 15, the namesake people-friendly snakes with the characteristic cross on their foreheads, whose history is linked with Greek religious tradition, come crawling towards the church.

Kipouria (Kipouraion) Monastery: Built on a standing rock on the sea and located at a distance of 15 km. from Lixouri, its name is derived from the multitude of gardens tended by the monks to ensure their living. In this monastery, devotees can pray to the miraculous icon of the Annunciation of the Theotokos and to the sanctified skulls of the saints Chrysanthos, Konstantinos, and Efrosynos, who were the owners of the monastery, and other holy relics.

Atros Monastery: The only monastery still in operation whose beginnings go all the way back to the Byzantine Period. There are many details about this monastery recorded in the land registry of monasteries of Kefalonia, which is known as the “Praktikon of 1264”.

Monastery of Agios Gerasimos, Patron Saint of Kefalonia: Located at the foothills of Ainos and built atop an old monastery dating back to 1200 A.D. (the era of the Crusades), near the village of Fragata. The monastery is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary and was named “New Jerusalem” by the villagers of Valsamata. Saint Gerasimos, who lived “in the caves and holes of the earth”, passed away on the August 15, 1579. The monastery houses the holy relic of Saint Gerasimos, as well as his hermitage, which is open for visitors.

Cultural Tourism

Cultural tourism is becoming more and more popular, and the Ionian Islands are among the best destinations for this type of tourism. By virtue of their exceptional natural beauty and rich history, the Ionian Islands offer a wide variety of cultural landmarks and activities.

In Kefalonia, the De Bosset Bridge at Argostoli and the pyramid (obelisk) have been declared historical protected monuments. The Lighthouse of Saints Theodore, also known as “Fanari”, was built in 1829 during the island’s British Rule, and was designed by the British governor Charles James Napier. At the region of Erisos, the two local towns of Assos and Fiscardo weren’t as badly affected as other towns by the earthquake in 1953, and include many buildings which are representative examples of the architectural style of the Ionian Islands. At Tzanata, in the area of Boutzi, the archaeologist Lazaros Kolonas recently unearthed a large vaulted tomb from the Mycenean period, thus proving that there existed a major Mycenean center, which can very well be the actual Homeric Ithaca.

The island of Kefalonia is home to the Roman Villa of Skala, which is another majestic ancient monument found in the Ionian Island. The Villa was built in the 2nd century A.D. and is one of the largest and best-preserved Roman Villas all over Greece. Visitors can wander its many rooms, where they can admire the impressive mosaics and frescoes depicting scenes from the Greek mythology.

Saint George’s Castle, built in the 16th century by the Venetians, is also one of Kefalonia’s monuments of major importance, and sits on a hilltop with an amazing view to Argostoli, the capital city of Kefalonia, and the surrounding countryside. Visitors are given the opportunity to explore and learn about its fascinating history, considering it has been periodically used as fortress and as prison.