Kefalonia is the largest Ionian island and at the same time the most diverse: white beaches, turquoise waters, secluded bays, romantic fishing villages, a unique natural phenomenon and a cave lake. All this and much more can be experienced on Kefalonia.
Table of contents
Things to know about Kefalonia
– Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands and the sixth largest Greek island with 734.014 km2
– The island extends over a length of 48 kilometers and is a maximum of 30 kilometers wide
– Kefalonia has a population of about 40,000
– The most important place on the island is Argostoli, followed by Lixouri
– The highest elevation is Mount Enos at 1,628 meters above sea level
– The underground lake Melissani is one of the main attractions of the island
– Ferry connections to the islands of Ithaca, Zakynthos, Lefkada, Killini and Patras as well as to the Greek mainland
– In 1953 the island was hit by a major earthquake, which destroyed about 70 of the buildings
– The 1 km long, unspoilt white pebble beach of Myrtos Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece
– People live mainly from wine, olive growing, sheep farming, fishing and increasingly from (cruise) tourism
The sights of Kefalonia
Kefalonia can be easily explored by car in 2 to 3 days. The roads on Kefalonia are all very well developed and we found that there wasn’t really a lot of traffic. So we got through it all over the place. The island is not very large overall – nevertheless, one should not underestimate the routes from one place to another. Through the many mountains, serpentines and small villages along the route, a trip from the north of the island (Fiskardo) to the south (scale) takes about 2 hours, although that is only about 75 kilometers.
With our rental car from Hertz we were able to move independently and flexibly on the island and visited the following sights:
The island capital Argostoli
Argostoli has about 10,000 inhabitants and is the island capital of Kefalonia. The town is located on a promontory in the southwest of the island and is only about ten kilometers from Kefalonia airport. The city is quite compact and therefore easy to explore on your own. The cruise ships dock at the northern end of the city. When we were on Kefalonia, two ships were laid in one day: a Tui Mein Schiff 6 and an MSC. Cruise Ship Terminal is only about a 15-minute walk to the city centre.
We explored the city centre in the late afternoon hours, so there was very little going on here. Our starting point was the city park “Napier Gardens”, which is however quite manageable. From here we continued to Vallianou Square, past the town hall to the beginning of the Lithostroto promenade, a small pedestrian and shopping street with cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, small shops and the famous clock tower.
Der Myrtos Beach
The most beautiful beach of Kefalonia is definitely Myrtos Beach, which is located in a beautiful bay surrounded by cliffs. On the above street there is a viewpoint from which you have a breathtaking view of the white beach and the sparkling water in different shades of blue. You want to go swimming immediately 🙂
Via a serpentine-like road you reach down to the beach, where you quickly realize: The snow-white beach is unfortunately not a soft sandy beach, but full of white pebbles. Actually a pity, because with it the beach unfortunately also loses some of its magic. But the view from above remains phenomenal!
The picturesque village of Assos
Assos is a picturesque village in the northern part of the island. The small settlement is situated on a narrow strip of land that connects it to the peninsula, on which a 16th-century Venetian castle is perched. The picturesque scenery that the colourful houses on the sea side give away is simply dreamlike and results in a great photo motif. We really liked the small place for a visit.
The northern port city of Fiskardo
Fiskardo is a small port town in the north of Kefalonia. We parked here in a parking lot above the village and walked through beautiful alleys down into the village. Life in Fiskardo takes place at the harbour and the harbour promenade. Countless restaurants and cafés with colourful shutters can be found here, at least as many (sailing) boats anchor in the harbour. Definitely a nice place to stay.
If you walk along the harbour promenade to the end, you will reach the Lighthouse Trail. This is a very nice and not so long hiking trail, which leads first along the water and then through a small forest back to the harbour. Highlights along the way include a Venetian lighthouse and a 19th-century lighthouse, as well as the ruins of a Byzantine basilica.
The Melissani Cave
THE tourist highlight of Kefalonia is probably the Melissani cave, which is located in the east of the island. When we arrived here at noon, there was already a lot going on in the parking lot, because there had just arrived two coaches with cruise guests. So after the checkout (7 EUR entrance per person) we put ourselves in a slightly longer queue, which dissolved quite quickly. Already from a distance we could see something turquoise-blue glittering at the end of the rock tunnel in which we stood.
At the end of the tunnel, a rowing boat was already waiting, which sent us and about 12 other guests over the small lake for 15 minutes. Since there is a large opening in the ceiling of the Melissani cave and we were on the lake at noon, the sun’s rays glittered wonderfully on the lake, the water was more turquoise than before and the rowing boats looked as if they were floating. Wow, just great!
The cave is 160 meters long, 45 meters wide and 36 meters deep. With our drone we would have liked to have flown over the cave, but this is unfortunately not allowed during the opening hours. It’s a pity, but also understandable.
The Potstone Cave Drogarati
Just six kilometres from Melissani Cave is the more than 150 million-year-old Drogarati Cave. It was only discovered about 300 years ago, when its ceiling partially collapsed in an earthquake, uncovering an entrance (doline).
The cave is located 120 meters above sea level and has been open to the public since 1963. A staircase leads through the tree-covered doline to the so-called “royal balcony”, a platform with which you can overlook the large hall of the cave. The Drogarati Cave is the largest cave on Kefalonia with a length of 65 metres, a width of 45 metres and a height of about 20 metres, and nature has created countless stalagtites and stalagmites here. Due to its special acoustics, it is sometimes even used for concerts. The large cave is bordered by a labyrinth of about 2 km, consisting of numerous corridors and chambers. However, these are not currently open to the public. Even if it can get extremely hot in the summer on Kefalonia, the cave has a pleasantly cool temperature of 18 °C all year round.
The stalactite cave is open from March to October from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (in July and August until 9 p.m.). In the winter months the cave is closed. The entrance fee for adults is 5 EUR.
The town of Lixouri
To the west of Kefalonia is the Paliki peninsula, where the second largest city on the island is located with almost 7,000 inhabitants: Lixouri. At first (and also second) look, we didn’t really like the city. Especially compared to the villages of Assos and Fiskardo, but also the capital Argostoli, Lixouri falls significantly. The city is not really attractive and also looks a bit inanimate.
In order not to have to go back to Argostoli by car all the way back, we decided to use the ferry to Argostoli. For our rental car and both of us we paid just 6.80 euros for the 20-minute journey. In addition, there was a light wind around the nose and beautiful views of the sea included.
The Ainos National Park
In Greece there are a total of 12 national parks, one of which is located on the island of Kefalonia: the Ainos National Park. Mount Ainos, also known as the Black Mountain, is the highest mountain on Kefalonia at an altitude of 1,628 metres. The mountain has been nicknamed ‘black mountain’ because of the dark Kefalonia firtrees that occur here. The unforested summit region was declared a national park in 1962.
Several roads lead to the summit, but only one is paved. With our rental car we drove up the winding road to a radar station, from which we wanted to hike a bit. By the way, there are no tourist facilities up here, the signposts are also very poor, so that at first you don’t know in which direction you are best to hike.
We quickly decided on a path from which we always had great views of the east and west coasts of Kefalonia. We were accompanied by a fresh breeze: pleasant 21 degrees compared to 33 degrees at the bottom of the sea. At a crossroads we decided for a steep path through a dense forest. And that was also the right decision, because that was the way to the summit 🙂
Many sweaty steps later we could see the summit in the distance. A few minutes later we stood upand and enjoyed the view on all sides. How impressive! Of course, an entry in the summit book could not be missing 🙂
A map with all the sights on Kefalonia
On the following Google Maps map we have mapped all the main sights on Kefalonia (Myrtos Beach, Melissani Cave, Drogarati Cave, Assos, Fiskardo, Ainos National Park and much more). The island is really great to explore with a rental car in two days.
All travelogues from Greece 2019After we were able to get to know the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Milos and Crete last year on a Cyclades cruise with Celestyal Cruises, this year we also wanted to explore the mainland of Greece. As a result, with Discover Greece we have put together a beautiful round trip that connects Athens, the island of Kefalonia and the monasteries of Meteora. Since Athens and the monasteries of Meteora have been on our bucket list for a long time, we were really looking forward to this trip.
Day 1: Our travel plans for Athens, Kefalonia & Meteora (Greece)
Day 2: The Acropolis – The landmark of Athens (Greece)
Day 3: Athens – Tourist Attractions, Things to do & Photo spots (Greece)
Day 4: Argostoli – The capital of the island of Kefalonia (Greece)
Day 4: Kefalonia – Tourist Attractions, Things to do & Photo spots (Greece)
Day 5: Meteora – How to get there, Hotel & Sunset Tour (Greece)
Day 6: The monasteries of Meteora – a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Greece)