From white pebbled beaches to majestic peaks dressed in vibrant flora, Kefalonia, the largest island in the Ionian Sea, is a slice of Greek paradise.
The fact that travellers favouring neighbouring Zakynthos often overlook Kefalonia is a big part of what makes it special.
Kefalonia has a laid-back authenticity that other, more touristed Greek islands sadly lack these days. A big reason Kefalonia ranks as a fantastic Greek island destination for couples.
While Kefalonia may not be as well-known as other Greek islands, It doesn’t mean it is lacking in any way. Kefalonia is rich with incredible natural attractions, charming villages, great food and plenty to see and do.
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Getting Around Kefalonia
The best way to get around Kefalonia is by car. It will give you the flexibility to explore the best beaches in Kefalonia and discover the island’s best towns and natural wonders. You can pick up a rental car from Kefalonia airport and various ports. Check rental car rates and availability here for Kefalonia.
Best Things to do in Kefalonia Greece
1. Unwind on the Famous Myrtos Beach
Tucked in a picturesque bay with towering white cliffs on all sides, Myrtos beach has often been touted in tourist magazines as one of the best beaches in the world. When you visit Myrtos beach, it is easy to see why it is one of the most photographed beaches in Greece.
Incredibly clear water that shimmers a unique shade of cyan on a sunny day lap across the white pebbly shore. At one end of the beach is a quaint cave which opens onto the ocean.
The beach is perfect for a visit for the day. There are sun lounges and umbrellas for rent and a bar behind the beach for drinks and snacks.
The water is perfect for swimming, but be aware it becomes suddenly very deep after only a metre or so. There is a lifeguard on duty. Like all beaches in Kefalonia, the beach is made up of pebbles, so water shoes are recommended, as the pebbles can be uncomfortable underfoot.
As well as enjoying a relaxing day at one of the best beaches in Kefalonia, a visit to Myrtos is not complete without a view from the top for the money shot. Stop off at the viewing platform on the side of the winding main road above the beach. It is from here, you’ll have stunning panoramic views of the beach, which are often found on postcards and across social media.
2. Explore Melissani Cave
Just outside the coastal town of Sami is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Kefalonia – the underground lake known as Melissani Lake and Cave.
A few thousand years ago, part of the cave collapsed in an earthquake, creating a stunning opening where sunlight filters down to light up the vibrant blue waters of the cave. The opening to the cave is fringed with forest, roots of trees and other foliage that hangs down towards the cave creating a spectacular and unique place.
The cave can only be explored via boat. At the entrance to the cave, you will find the ticketing office where you can purchase your tickets for a boat tour. The tour will take you through the caves, passing through dark sections where you will see stalactites, as well as the famous cave window where the water glows under the sunlight.
There is also a second cave worth visiting with impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations, the Drogarati Cave, about 3 km from Melissani Lake.
3. Sip on Local Wine in one of Kefalonia’s Vineyards
There are numerous vineyards on the island of Kefalonia, producing several varieties of wine, including the world-renowned Robalo variety, a white wine with notes of fruit and honey made exclusively on Kefalonia.
On a wine-tasting and vineyard tour, you can taste the local wine in several vineyards, including Orealios, Gentilini, Haritatos and Sclavos wineries.
Sclavos vineyard is unique as it produces natural, biodynamic wines with minimal intervention.
Visit Sclavos Vineyards to tour the facilities and see exactly how the wine is produced. The winemakers are incredibly friendly with a genuine love of sharing their passion. Sample a range of their wines while learning about the process and soaking up the ambience of the vineyard.
The vineyard is open seven days a week from 11 am to 6 pm. A tour will typically last one hour. It is recommended to book tastings a day in advance.
Biodynamic Wine Tasting Tour: Learn the process of organic wine-making on a winery tour. Taste four different wines from the vineyard paired with a cheese plate while enjoying stunning views. See here for bookings and details.
4. The Picturesque Village of Assos
Kefalonia is an island with no shortage of stunning villages and towns, each with its own personality. But one village that stands out is the colourful village of Assos, perched on a horse-shoe shaped peninsular.
The village is home to several restaurants, cafes, and a small strip of pebbly beach. Arguably one of the best things to do in Assos is walking around the forest-coated peninsular, which juts away from the village. On the peninsula, you will find the well-preserved ruins of a Venetian castle dating back to the 16th century.
The best time to visit the castle is at sunset for stunning views of the castle and Assos village against an orange sky.
5. Visit Fiskardo Fishing Village
In the north of Kefalonia is the quaint village of Fiskardo. Once a sleepy fishing village, Fiskardo is one of the more high end boutique style towns in Kefalonia. The village has a charming harbour where you can yacht watch from waterfront restaurants, boutiques and expanses of beach on either side.
Fiskardo is the perfect village to enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the harbour.
Along with Assos, Fiskardo is arguably one of the most beautiful villages in Kefalonia.
6. Visit one of Kefalonia’s Many Ghost Towns
In 1953 a devastating earthquake hit Kefalonia, causing catastrophic damage. Almost every building on the island was destroyed.
Many decades later, evidence of the tragic event remains. There are derelict buildings in every pocket of Kefalonia, but some of the most haunting are Kefalonia’s ghost towns. Entire villages lay in a dormant state of devastation.
There are many ghost towns you can visit, but two of the most intact are Old Farsa (behind the new town of Farsa) and Drakopoulata.
Access to either town is not currently restricted. You can explore the uneven stony trails, passing the ruins of many houses.
As there are no restrictions, use common sense regarding safety. The paths are not sound, and taking a peek inside the buildings is risky due to their poor state. The foliage is also overgrown in places, and many of the bushes are thorny.
If you are brave enough, visiting one of these towns is extremely worthwhile, if only to better understand the earthquake’s profound impact. It also allows you to see examples of Kefalonia’s traditional architecture, as so many of the island’s buildings were completely rebuilt after 1953.
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7. Enjoy the Local Cuisine
Numerous restaurants in Kefalonia specialise in local dishes. One of the most typical dishes of Kefalonia is the Kefalonian Meat Pie. While served in most restaurants, not all Kefalonian Meat Pies are created equal.
One of the best restaurants can be found on the more remote side of Kefalonia, perched on top of a hill with sea views. The family-owned restaurant is called Ladokolla Stin Plagia, where you’ll find a vibrant, upbeat atmosphere, an authentic Greek dining experience, and a truly magical setting for sunset. They serve incredible food and fantastic house wine at very reasonable prices.
As well as the Kefalonian Meat Pie, most restaurants will serve gorgeous local honey and feta.
8. Hike in Mount Ainos National Park
Mount Ainos National Park is the only national park in Kefalonia and home to the highest peak on the island at 1,628 metres.
Spanning 3,000 hectares, the national park is home to a vast range of flora and fauna, including semi-wild ponies.
Hiking Mount Ainos is one of the key attractions in the park. There are numerous routes you can take. Each route will take a couple of hours, some longer and more challenging than others. The views from the top are simply breathtaking, and on clear days, you can see as far as Zakynthos island.
9. Visit Sami Town
Sami is a picturesque town on the east coast of Kefalonia’s main peninsula. The charming town has many fantastic eateries, such as Stoa Bakery, hailed as having some of the best homemade apple pie in the world.
The lovely small beach of Antisamos, not far from Sami harbour, has been named one of the best beaches in Kefalonia thanks to stunning clear waters fringed with pine forests.
If you plan to visit Melissani Cave, Sami is a great addition to the day as they are close by.
10. Spend a Day Exploring Argostoli
Argostoli is the capital city of Kefalonia, with a good range of bars, restaurants and shops. It’s a modern town with no shortage of gorgeous views. From Argostoli, you can see across the ocean to the city of Lixouri, on the peninsula of Paliki.
As well as an interesting restaurant scene, Argostoli has numerous cultural monuments, museums and Cine Anny, the open-air cinema.
One of the main attractions of Argostoli is the Caretta-caretta turtles, often found feeding at the nearby Koutavos Lagoon. It’s also not unusual to spot them in the main harbour of Argostoli around the fishing boats.
These are just a few of the many incredible things that you can see and do in Kefalonia. This often-overlooked Greek island is bursting with natural beauty and unique cultural sights. Being the largest island in the Ionian Sea, there is something for everyone from nature lovers to city explorers and beachgoers.
About the Author
Ella is the founder of Ella McKendrick Travels, a blog dedicated to exploring the road less travelled and inspiring you to push yourself out of your comfort zone.