Tips and itinerary from someone local
Kefalonia Island is the largest one of the Ionian Islands, renowned for its dazzling beaches. It has been a famous holiday spot for years, yet managed to keep its authenticity. Whether you are into beautiful golden sandy beaches or the white pebble ones, you can find them here.
For me, there is extra pressure while unraveling to you all of this island’s beauty, because my boyfriend’s origin is from Kefalonia Island. Lucky you that you get a travel guide from a local and unlucky me who gets to write everything with someone looking over my shoulder.
Travel period: 18-22/8/2021
Travelers: my parents & I, and our dog
Expenses: one of the pros when traveling with parents or my parents is that they pay for everything, even if you are almost in your 30s. I’ll try to sum everything up for you though… This trip costs around 300euro/person without adding the car gas.
4 full days is the minimum time to dedicate to this large island. Believe me, the distances are considerably long. Moreover, you absolutely have to check some beaches on your bucket list that may require a 1-hour drive from the capital town of Argostoli.
With that being said it’s almost mandatory to have or rent a vehicle. Fortunately there are many car rental companies with reasonable prices. Kefalonia island is much quieter than its neighbor Zakynthos http://travelpaedics.com/4-days-in-zakynthos-island-itinerary/ and often overlooked but this gives you the benefit of better quality services, lower prices and a more authentic experience overall.
Plan of trip
1st Day: Poros port, Skala beach, Argostoli town
2nd Day: Sami, Melissani Lake, Antisamos beach, Agia Efimia
3rd Day: Mirtos beach, Assos village, Emplisi beach, Fiskardo
4th Day: Lixouri, Xi beach, Petani beach
With this itinerary you get to cover pretty much the entire island. So let’s take it day by day and there will be some extra tips if you still have more time to spend on this beautiful island.
Kefalonia Island can be reached by plane or by ferry from the ports of Patra and Kyllini. The ferry from Kyllini arrives at Poros port and the on from Patra at Sami port. The tickets have almost the same price (slightly cheaper Kyllini- Poros itinerary) and you should check the schedules to see what suits you at www.levanteferries.com.
We chose the ferry departing from the port of Kyllini (3 hours from Athens) early in the morning of Wednesday 18th of August. For your peace of mind book the tickets online from the company’s application and have them saved on your phone.
The ferry trip lasts about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Regarding Covid, you should show off your certificate of vaccination or a negative PCR Covid test no longer than 72hours or a negative rapid test up to 48hours or your certificate of illness. You also need to fill out a declaration form that you have no symptoms at present.
These papers may take some time to be checked at the port, so arriving within 30 minutes before disembarkation would ease the situation. Certainly arriving 1,5hour earlier as we did is an exaggeration and you will have to wait for the ferry to approach the port in the first place.
The tickets for this trip as of August 2021 were 42euro for the car and 10,50 euros for each passenger. Pretty affordable if you compare them with the ferry tickets to the Aegean Islands.
Arriving around 12.30 pm at Kefalonia’s port, you have the whole day ahead to explore one or two beaches, depending on your energy and mood. Choose to explore the southern part of the island on your 1st day. Have a stroll at Poros or sit down for refreshment at Remetzo Café to freshen up and then head to Skala beach.
20 minutes from Poros lays this kilometer-long beach with crystal clear waters. Although we visited the island in the mid of August, the busiest time of the year, this beach is so huge, that you can always find a secluded spot for some quiet moments.
On the main street right above the beach, there are numerous cafes and restaurants, which provide also sunbeds and umbrellas on the beach for a standard price of 8euro /set.
Tip: After 4 pm most beach bars reduce this price to 5euro for 2 sunbeds and 1 umbrella.
The beach of Skala is blue flag awarded and there is a lifeguard every 500meters. The waters here are crystal clear and surprisingly warm. Free parking also won’t be a problem with such a huge beach.
After having your dive here, move on to your lunch spot. Unless you are in the mood for safari beach, then you can check out Katelios beach or the secret Pessada beach, which I highly recommend.
Lunchtime at Avithos Preview Taverna, after passing by the pastel-colored villages and the imposing mountain of Enos. Enos is characterized by the black pine and that’s way is best known as Black Mountain. If you are into hiking, there are some easy trails in this national park and you may even encounter some wild ponies.
In general, I wasn’t blown away by Kefalonia’s food and I dare to say this besides my boyfriend’s tips to where to go and eat like a local. For a foreign tourist there are some decent choices to taste the traditional Greek food but the Greek tourist won’t find the next foodie destination here.
Avythos Preview Taverna
I would recommend this restaurant for its exceptional location just on Avythos beach and its reasonable prices. We had roasted sardines with garlic and herb crust, baked ladotiri (local cheese), pasta with shrimps and haddock with garlic spread. The only cacophony was the salad Avythos, which was not freshly made or the veggies were out of season. But overall for the above plates, water and 0,5lt of house wine we paid 55euro and they brought us free dessert at the end of the course. Such a welcoming and thoughtful closure.
Argostoli is your next stop, 20 minutes from the tavern, passing by the area of Lassi, the most touristic one in Kefalonia. Lassi is a short drive from the airport just 2km from Argostoli town and has 2 incredible beaches Makris Gialos and Platis Gialos. Although for me Kalamia beach is the hidden gem and within walking distance from the lighthouse, which you will visit. Keep that in mind if you are looking for a beach near Argostoli.
Lassi may not be a particularly authentic Greek resort but it has everything you need, such as café, restaurants, car rentals, supermarkets, souvenir shops. Thankfully its nightlife has nothing to do with its similar neighbor Laganas in Zakynthos Island. http://travelpaedics.com/4-days-in-zakynthos-island-itinerary/
Although Lassi is indeed a good choice to stay with the bulk of hotels situated there, we preferred the capital town of Argostoli. After a long day exploring the island, I find it more convenient to stroll in the town and hot having to worry about the parking or the driving back to the hotel.
We rented an apartment through booking.com for 100 euro/night, which had a big garden ideal for the dog and our breakfast and 2 separate bedrooms, ideal for snoring parents. It was just minutes away from the central square Plateia Valianou.
Nightlife in Argostoli
For your first night take the hard way and walk all the way to the pedestrian Lifostroto Street, which is filled with cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Admire the clock tower at Campana Square and the church of Saint Spyridon.
Grab your ice cream from Gelato fresco Italiano (4, 2 euro for 2 scoops) and walk the stone bridge of 650meters called Drapano Bridge and the paved coastal promenade.
Bars in Argostoli
If you wish to have a drink or two in Argostoli, you have a plethora of options. Baroque le Bistrot and Via Vallianou for the younger who prefer louder pop music and a bit of a squash. Rempelio has often live performances and a more relaxed vibe with several choices for food. Also Oenops wine bar has an excellent wine list and some of the best although expensive food on the island, better make a reservation.
Restaurants in Argostoli
Do you feel hungry and you find yourself wandering in Argostoli?
Grab some fried seafood from the street fish bar Opsarion. If you want a homemade full-of-love meal, go to tavern Tzivras. In the mood for Greek cuisine and music, choose Koutouki tavern. And if you are so eternally in love with Italian pizza, you have here in Argostoli the excellent choice of Pizza Al Forno. Just be patient because there is always a queue.
Breakfast at home or buy traditional pies and pastries from Manentis Bakery or Spathis Bakery at the coastal promenade.
Head to Melissani Lake, 40 minutes from Argostoli. You can make a stop at Saint Gerasimos Holy Convent. Saint Gerasimos is considered the patron saint of the island and there is a huge festival on the 17th of August to celebrate him. If you are on the island on that date, you should absolutely attend it. Another great festival is Robola fair at Fragata village on the 18th and 19th of August. In 2020 and 2021 no gatherings were allowed due to Covid-19.
Cave of Melissani: Must-go
Lake Melissani is one of the most extraordinary places to visit in Greece. Melissani lake is covered by a cave, whose roof has fallen and a magnificent site was created. The best time to visit the lake is between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun rays strike the water and it seems like the small boats glide on the water. In the summer of 2021, the lake is open from 10 am to 7 pm every day. The ticket is 6euro/ person and 4 euros/child. Dogs are allowed. Be prepared to stand in line for half an hour, depending on the crowd. Wear sunscreen cream and a hat as there is no shade.
To park avoid what is labeled as Melissani parking on Google maps because it’s almost always full and continue further down to the small church of Saint Paraskevi. Check the screenshot from Google maps below.
Next Stop Antisamos beach
This beach is one of my all-time favorites (this earned me a big grin from my boyfriend). Its emerald waters are out of this world. Unfortunately this was also the most crowded one. There are 3 or 4 beach bars, which rent 2 sunbeds and 1 umbrella for 8 euro. It appears on the entire island this is the standard price. You can park at the grant parking areas that each beach bar has, even if you don’t wish to purchase their sunbeds.
On your way stop for a quick break at Sami village and Agia Efimia village, which is picturesque and often neglected.
Tip: There are some tiny and magical bays from Sami to Agia Efimia. You can check them while driving, park your car at the side of the road and enjoy some privacy at your own personal beach.
Today it will be a carnivorous feast at Robolis Tavern at Poulata village. Don’t expect fancy dinner here. The owner is a stock-breeder and you will eat one of the best lamb chops. We had 1,5kg of lamb chops, sausage, spicy cheese spread, greek salad, fries, white house wine and a bottle of water for 46euro.
Two equally good choices for perfectly grilled meat are in the mainland Taverna Hersonas and Mpotsolos Restaurant.
Even if you haven’t heard about it, I am pretty sure you have at least once seen it under the tag of the most beautiful beaches. Located 40 km from Argostoli, the first thing that will strike you is the milky blue waters. The beach is mostly pebble and large enough to accommodate everyone. Unfortunately the parking is not large enough so better come early to secure your spot. There is a beach bar providing sunbeds and as with most beaches on Kefalonia island, there is a lifeguard.
Tip: Check the weather forecast before going. The strong winds affect it.
Leaving behind the stunning beach of Mirtos, go north and visit the village of Assos. This tiny place holds so much beauty with its colorful houses, the taverns overlooking the bay and the castle on top of the hill.
Emplisi Beach, another 30 minutes from Assos village, was a surprise. This white pebbled beach with the deep blue waters and the steep rocks scattered on either side reminded me of the beaches hippies used to hang out. People were sunbathing on the rocks and diving from them. There were no sunbeds. It was all so free and authentic. Of course I wasn’t the only one who really loved this beach and as a result parking here is quite challenging.
For this day we chose to dine at Alexandros tavern near Mirtos beach but the actual result regarding taste isn’t something special to recommend. It’s affordable though, paid for chorta- boiled wild greens, Greek salad, lamb in citrus sauce, meat pie (a traditional dish which you should try) and eggplants stuffed with minced meat 38 euro.
My suggestion would be to go to Fiskardo village. We had already visited it in the past and that’s why we skipped it. It’s 60 km from Argostoli, near Emplisi Beach. The picturesque and cosmopolitan harbor is one of the few places that were left unharmed after the great earthquake of 1953. Here you can see the original architecture, which nowadays is also protected by law as a region of great natural beauty. The most famous restaurants in Fiskardo are that of Tassia and Vaso. Expect to pay more for the seafood you eat while overlooking the bay.
Lixouri is the second largest village of Kefalonia, located 35 km from Argostoli. Better take the coastal road in the morning and then in the evening return by ferry. The coastal road between Argostoli and Lixouri provides one of the best viewpoints in Kefalonia.
Gossip Tip: There is a rivalry between Lixouri and Argostoli about which one of them is the most beautiful. Probably dating back to when Argostoli, and not Lixouri, was entitled as the capital of the island.
Lixouri gathers also a great number of tourists and there are plenty of restaurants at the busy seafront. In the main square Plateia Petritsi there is Mavroeidis Café which is famous for its pastries but after trying 3 different, I dare to say that it has lost its charm and taste.
What I do recommend though in Lixouri is Avli restaurant for Greek cuisine with a twist. Try fava, pasta with sea bass and sea bream with onion puree.
But it’s still early in the morning.
Head first to Xi beach, where the pale green sea meats fine red sand. The white rocks that surround the beach are all made up of clay, which you can rub on your body and have a beauty spa. This beach is ideal for children thanks to its warm and shallow waters. There are free parts and parts fully organized with umbrellas and sunbeds.
Petani is a magnificent beach that manages to stay still below the touristic radar. It looks a lot like Mirtos, without the crowds. Due to its orientation, it’s also affected by strong winds. The water here deepens right away. Close to the beach there are two restaurants, Erasmia and Oxouras, both good choices for lunch. We picked Oxouras and had a Greek salad, grilled vegetables, shrimps saganaki with a bit of curry, grilles sardines and seafood pasta for 50euro. Although the portions were on the smaller side, the taste was worth it.
If you would like to eat with a glass of wine and admire the view and a magical sunset, your place is the restaurant Ladokolla stin plagia. It’s in the small village of Damoulianata and I always trust villages off the beaten track for the quality and warmth.
Ferry Lixouri- Argostoli
There are regular ferries and I have posted the schedule for 2021 below. The tickets are bought on board, 5,30 euro for the car (including driver) and 2, 6 euro for each passenger. The journey lasts half an hour in comparison to the 1-hour drive from Lixouri to Argostoli.
Close this beautiful trip with a romantic evening with a magical view on your sight. Go to Fanari Lighthouse in Argostoli and let the sunset and the sea breeze dazzle you.
Back to Argostoli for a last drink then?
Stay Tuned for the next Post regarding Kefalonia Island about what you will love and what will you hate on this island. Pros and Cons of traveling here.