The beautiful green wooded mountainsides covered in olive, cypress and hollyoak trees; crystal-clear turquoise-blue seas; spectacular scenery; history dating back thousands of years... Whether it's peace and quiet you're looking for, or plenty of activities, Kefalonia is the ideal destination to holiday. Despite being the largest of the 7 Ionian islands, it is underpopulated and remains largely unspoilt. Unwind with a good book or two; enjoy good, fresh food and award-wining local wines; lounge in the pool, snorkel in the crystal-clear waters from the white pebble beaches in the north, or sink your toes in the sand of the beaches in the south; explore limestone caves, visit ancient archeological sites, discover pockets of Venetian architecture and history; scan the souvenir shops, or peruse the boutiques; hike, ride or bike over the mountains; potter about in a boat, set sail on the seas and visit the surrounding islands, or explore the depths during a dive... The choices are endless.
Fiskardo & surrounding area
A 5 mins drive from the villas will bring you into the beautiful, traditional, Venetian harbour of Fiskardo. This vibrant port is bustling in the summer with its many quayside tavernas, cafes and local bars where you can sit, sip and sup, watching the fishing boats and visiting yachts sail in. Amble through the cobbled streets, potter around the odd souvenir shop and plenty of upmarket boutiques and, if you're lucky enough, catch the odd live music act in the evening.
'Lime House' and 'Fig Cottage' (originally named 'Romer' and 'Les Kai' cottages) are amongst the oldest buildings remaining in North West Kefalonia. They could have been built by the first resident brothers, Markos and Andonis, all the way back in 1600 – who gave their name to the little hamlet where they're located: “Markandonata”. Markandonata is joined to the village of Antipata, in whose centre – a short 2 min drive, or 10 min walk – you can find a traditional taverna, a cafe doing varied and copious breakfasts and lunches, a small mini-market, and a souvenir shop.
A 3 mins drive in the other direction brings you to Maganos where you will find another two tavernas, as well as two, well-stocked mini-markets. Follow the winding road at right turn at the junction in the centre, which will lead you down to two beautiful beaches: Alaties – above which you'll find the chilled and popular Beach Bar cum Italian restaurant, “Aqua”; and Agios Jerusalem – behind which, nestled in a sheltered, grassy spot, you'll find the wonderful, family-run taverna, “Odysseus”, where you can lounge under the vines and indulge in a 3-hour long lunch.
A 5 mins drive beyond Maganos, left past the only petrol station on the north of the island (the EKO garage), takes you to the main municipal village, Vassilikades, where you'll find a traditional Greek restaurant, “Makis”, open all year.
The nearest to the property, this beautiful beach is worth the 10 mins trek down the rocky path from the dead end road off which it is located. A mere 2 mins drive, or just a 20 mins walk from the property itself along an old footpath through the fields and local woodland, this small, white pebbled cove with the translucent turquoise water typical of the Greek islands, faces due north with lovely views to the island of Lefkada.
Just out of the village of Fiskardo, this wide, white pebbled bay is the largest in the area with stunning views around all the surrounding islands: from Lefkada to the north and Meganissi – above which you can see the mountains of the mainland – to the mythical island of Ithaka.
A lovely 10 mins walk south along the east coast road out of the village of Fiskardo, brings you to the deep inlet with calm waters and steep, pine-covered hillsides, known as Foki Bay – named after the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seals who often harbour there in the winter (“Foki” means 'seal' in Greek). This small but deep beach benefits from a number of olive trees providing natural shade from the hot summer sun.
This tiny, semi-sandy cove to the west of the north of Kefalonia, is surrounded by a dramatic rocky outcrop peppered with rock pools and salt pans, and benefits from stunning, ever-changing sunset views. Enjoy a a fresh, tasty lunch at the beach bar/Italian restaurant, Aqua, above, or sip cocktails as you watch the sun go down, then tuck into a chef's special from the daily changing menu.
Just along the road from Alaties, this lovely, wide, gently-sloping beach with views to the surrounding bays, is ideal for families, and is the only one in the area to benefit from sunbeds and parasols for hire in high season. Head up to the family-run taverna behind for a tasty, traditional Greek lunch, or just pop up for a refreshing drink or ice-cream.
This stunning, tranquil little Venetian village perched on the narrow isthmus linking a rocky outcrop with an impressive Venetian fortress on top to the rest of the island, only a 25 min drive from Fiskardo, is a definite must-see. Amble along the small, winding streets, gazing at the romantic ruins of yesteryear; enjoy lunch on the square or in one of the waterside tavernas, and in the cool of the morning, or before the sun sets in the evening, wander up the long paved path and explore the castle grounds above, taking in the magnificent, changing views on the way up.
Only a 30 minute drive away, Myrtos Beach is one of the most famous and photographed beaches in Europe. Stop at one of the two viewing platforms on either side of the high coastal road above to see why, then descend to the beach below to experience its dramatic limestone cliffs, fine pebbles, sand, and unbelievable turquoise-blue waters.
A 40 mins drive to the east coast leads you to a large bay with the little harbour of Agia Efimia with its harbourside coffee bars & tavernas popular with the yachting brigade.
A 10 mins drive south around the bay from Agia Efimia brings you to the larger town of Sami with more facilities, some good restaurants, and a port with ferries to neighbouring Ithaka, Astakos on the mainland, and Patras on the Peloponnese (the latter during the summer only). Wander around the ancient ruins above Sami, or continue around the headland to the beautiful and popular Antisamos beach with its two beach bars/tavernas and plethora of comfortable sunbeds and shady parasols. If the heat's getting too much for you, cool off in the stunning, stalactite- and stalagmite-filled limestone Drogarati caves close by and try out their famed acoustics, or hop in a little boat and be rowed across the icy cold open-topped cave lake, Melissani in neighbouring Karavomylos.
The capital of the island, Argostoli is about an hour's drive from the properties. This small, bustling town climbs wooded hillsides above a sheltered lagoon. Cross the lagoon on the pretty Drapano bridge, or take a leisurely walk along the waterside to peek at and perhaps purchase the wares of the fishing boats moored along the quay whilst keeping an eye on the water below to catch a glimpse of a loggerhead turtle or two. Visit one of the small but interesting local museums or the Botanical Gardens. Wander along its main pedestrianised street – the Lithostroto – and peruse its souvenir shops and upmarket boutiques, visit a local restaurant, or follow the example of the locals and sit gossiping or discussing politics on the terrace of one of the many popular cafes on the main square.
The most revered place on the whole island, the monastery of Agios Gerasimos on the outskirts of the village of Valsamata, sits on the Omala plateau halfway up Mount Ainos – the tallest mountain on the island and on whose flanks the Robola grape (designated area of origin) is cultivated. Housing the remains of the patron saint of the island, the grounds of the monastery and the small church in which his casket can be seen, are open to the public at certain times of the day. Great festivities are held during his twice-yearly saint's days: 16th August and 20th October, when his casket is paraded along the avenue leading to the village, passing over those pilgrims wishing to be cured of whatever illness ails them.
Fishing boats in Fiskardo harbour