Welcome to Kefalonia
Kefalonia, also known as Kefallinia and Caphalonia, is part of the Ionian archipelago and is the largest island of the group. It is located in the west of Greece only 2.5 hours flight from Amsterdam.
After my previous visit to the little sister Zakynthos, I looked out from the beach to the high mountain top of Kefalonia. From that moment on I knew: I have to go there too! Kefalonia is, if you compare it with Zakynthos, a lot less touristy and therefore in my opinion more beautiful. Nature looks rougher, the mountains are higher and you can visit beautiful places without being flattened by the busy tourism.
The place where I stayed was Lassi. This is a town on the southwest coast near the island's capital, Argostoli. Lassi is actually a long street with many hotels, shops and nice restaurants. Do you want to spend a bit more and eat out more luxuriously? Then Argostoli or the town of Lixouri on the adjacent peninsula offers enough possibilities.
The advantage of Lassi is that it is centrally located on the island and everything is within an hour's drive. Of course you can also choose to stay in multiple places on the island. Lassi has some beautiful beaches. The largest is Makris Gialos Beach and Platis Gialos. Here are also nice beach bars, beach bars and water sports facilities.
For transportation on the island, I recommend renting a car. I love to fill in my own day and discover the most beautiful places on the island myself. The advantage of renting a car is that you also come to places that are not in the brochures. For example, during a car ride I came across several beautiful vistas where you can stop for the beautiful view.
The infrastructure on the island is fine, but there are many gaps in the road. Therefore renting a scooter or quad is not recommended. If you like slaloms and bumpy rides, then nothing gets in the way of course. Bus connections are there, but these are not fantastic. Take into account a bus that suddenly no longer comes.
Entertainment in the capital Argostoli
Due to the ideal location of Lassi, I visited Argostoli several times in the evening for a pleasant evening. Here nightlife is better developed, but don't expect extensive pub crawl options on this island. Because I am not averse to a nice Mythos beer, the taxi is your best friend, for a few euros you can go from Lassi to Argostoli.
During the day, Argostoli is a very pleasant harbor with many nice shops, taverns and restaurants. There is a special attraction in the harbor; the Caretta Caretta turtle. This large water turtle is a welcome guest in the port of Argostoli, especially when the fishermen discharge the remains of the catch into the water in the morning.
Do you want to spot turtles? Be early in the morning (09:00) and make your way to one of the fishing boats. The Carretta Carretta turtles like to come to this place for a free leftover fish.
Also on the Drapanos Bridge itself you have a chance to spot the turtles. This bridge is already a spot in itself, the Drapanos Bridge 1813 built, is 900 meters long and extends all the way to the other side of the bay. From the bridge you have a nice view of the city itself, which is built on a slope.
Pearly white beaches
If you are going to search for Kefalonia, this beach will be one of the first pictures to grab your attention. This beach really has everything that Kefalonia stands for; azure crystal clear water, surrounded by green slopes and the strong waves have made Myrtos Beach one of the top 5 most beautiful beaches in Greece for years.
Steep roads and hairpin bends reward you with perseverance to visit this beach. It is a pebble beach so don't forget to bring your water shoes.
Tip: Myrtos Beach has a beautiful sunset.
But Myrtos beach is not the only beautiful beach of Kefalonia. On the peninsula of Paliki is Petani Beach. The peninsula can be reached by car, but it is more fun to take the ferry from Argostoli to Lixouri. From here it is a short 20 minute drive to Petani Beach. Immediately upon arrival you will notice this beautiful bay. This beach consists of sand and smaller pebbles.
Do you want red sand? Then go to Xi Beach. This beach is also located on the Paliki Peninsula, 8 kilometers from Lixouri. This beach is ideal for families with small children, because the water remains shallow for a long time and it is one of the most organized beaches on the island. This beach also has something special, namely clay! The sand from the nearby rocks has special minerals that seem to be good for your skin. People spread themselves en masse with this, you almost imagine yourself on the moon with the face of these real moon males.
Make sure to explore the rental car and you will discover the most breathtaking beaches for yourself. One view is even more beautiful than the other. This is how Antisamos beach got on my radar.
This beach is actually very well known. A movie has even been shot with Nicolas Cage and Penélope Cruz. I liked this beach best for snorkeling, because of the many fish and the fast sloping pebble beach. Keep in mind the many wasps! With just taking out your drinking bottle you are the spool.
Antisamos is a few kilometers from Sami, there is only one way to this beach from Sami, so it is not to be missed. Make sure to stop at the viewpoint along the way to look out over the bay.
The spectacle of Lake Melissani
The tourist attraction of the island, but definitely worth a visit, is Lake Melissani. This beautiful underground lake used to have partly collapsed, so that the sun plays in the afternoon with the crystal clear water in the cave. This ensures a spectacular blue / green color show in the almost 40 meters deep water.
For the best view, visit the Melissani lake between 12:00 - 15:00.
Near the lake of Melissani are also the Drogarati caves, which are also worth a visit, but due to lack of time this was unfortunately no longer possible.
Picturesque villages and good food
Kefalonia has numerous authentic villages, wonderful to stroll through and enjoy the Greek cuisine. Greek salads are top notch, of course there are also traditional Greek dishes such as Moussaka, souvlaki and gyros that should not be missing on your holiday. The wine is also very good, the Robola grape is grown on the island. The wine is very good to drink with fish dishes or pasta.
The image of a painting of a sunny Mediterranean fishing village is exactly how you should imagine Fiskardo. This picturesque fishing village is one of the few villages that has been spared by the severe earthquake in 1053, allowing you to admire the traditional Venetian houses.
The village has winding streets and colorful photogenic houses (Instagram couple seen that it took 30 minutes with 1 photo) and you can sit down in the small harbor to eat well. The village is also the base for the wealthy holidaymaker among us, one boat in the harbor is even more beautiful than the other.
One of the most beautiful villages worth visiting is Assos. You can see Assos from afar. There is a viewpoint where you have a beautiful view over much of the west side of the island. Assos is located between two bays on a small peninsula. It is not easy to achieve. As a true Formula 1 driver you imagine yourself through many hairpin bends to eventually end up in the village. In the cute harbor with pastel-colored houses, you can enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the clear blue water.
The village also has an old castle, situated on a hill. The 30 minute walk makes it more than worth it when you get to see the final view. Also take a look at the other side of the bay, it is a bit of a search, but via a path that looks wild, you look out on a beautiful rock wall in the sea.
On one of my last days, the highest point of Kefalonia was on the program, namely Mount Ainos. This mountain is also the highest part of the Ionian Islands. Mount Ainos is located in a national park, characterized by its special coniferous tree species, and is 1628 meters high. If you are lucky you will see wild horses (Pindou for the horse lovers among us).
The mountain top can be reached by car, bicycle or walking. There are beautiful hiking trails to the top of the mountain and the view is breathtakingly beautiful. Pay attention to the weather, clouds can occur in this way and then the view is suddenly hard to find. Then also bring a vest.
Did I convince you?
This delightful island is only a 2.5 hour flight away! In 8 to 9 days you can easily explore the entire island in peace. I definitely recommend the rental car as a means of transport to explore the many hidden treasures that the island has to offer.
But please don't tell the secret of Kefalonia too much to the general public, this gem will be spared by the mass tourist and will retain its charm.