You don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket on Ionian Islands holidays – you’ve got cloud-tickling mountains, blockbuster beaches and Italian-inspired towns to explore.
The Ionian Islands trickle down Greece’s west coast in a chain. Starting in the north, you’ve got Corfu, Zante’s in the south, and Kefalonia’s sandwiched in the middle. Those are the big dogs, anyway. And they’ve got lots of green in their DNA, so the hiking’s just as good as the sunbathing.
These Ionian Sea islands challenge the stereotypical white-and-blue colour scheme with their forest-carpeted countryside. Kefalonia brings the mammoth mountains and Corfu’s great for nature walks – it’s even got a 220-kilometre-long route for hardcore hikers. And Zante’s interior’s just as wild as its nightlife. Itsy-bitsy villages and valleys are dusted with self-catering apartments and luxury villas.
Corfu Town’s the main contender for history buffs in the Ionian Islands arena. Corfu’s capital has been given the thumbs-up from the culture vultures at UNESCO for its Venetian forts and palace. Meanwhile, Zante Town’s a real trooper. It was hit by an earthquake and a fire in the Fifties, but it’s been rebuilt to resemble a mini-Venice, with pretty squares and churches.
Kefalonia’s the Greek island with an A-list stretch of sand. The milk-white Myrtos Beach took on a starring role in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. And it’s no wonder when mountain-backed beaches are its speciality. Zante gives it a run for its money, though, with postcard-favourite Navagio Beach – also dubbed Smugglers Cove due to the shipwreck flumped on its sands.
Places To Stay In Ionian Islands View all places to stay »
Corfu’s a bit of a Jack-of-all-trades on the holiday front. It’s no slouch in the beach department, with plenty of sand and pebble sweeps cosied up to the Ionian Sea. Pretty olive groves and cypress trees take over as you follow your feet inland, and you’re never far from an historic dot on the radar. Corfu Town and Kavos, meanwhile, take on the mantle when it comes to lively nights.
For an island that’s just 40 by 18 kilometres – about the size of the Isle of Wight – Zante manages to cover a lot of bases. Inland, you’re looking at vineyards, mountains and hamlets to explore. On the coast, meanwhile, it’s just one great beach after another.
Kefalonia’s claim to fame came back in 2000, when it played a starring role alongside Nicholas Cage in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. It’s not hard to see why the island won Hollywood over – the scenery here ticks off pine-coated hills, stripy vineyards and straight-off-a-postcard beaches.
Things To Do View all »