Kefalonia holidays blend a chilled-out feel with tried-and-tested coastal resorts and plenty of eye-catching scenery.
Taking the top spot as the biggest Ionian Island, Kefalonia doesn’t hold back when it comes to coastlines. And it certainly left a good impression on Hollywood, because the island was a featured player in the Nicholas Cage movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Myrtos Beach, in the north, takes the cake. It’s shaped like a crescent moon, and the sand’s so white it looks like snow from a distance.
You’ll find this charming little town near the island’s southern tip. It was destroyed by a 1953 earthquake. But today it’s flourished into one of the go-to spots on Kefalonia. There’s a platter of ancient Roman ruins close by, and the surrounding countryside’s loaded with hiking trails that wind around farms and vineyards.
Kefalonia’s landscape’s dominated by this mountain, which stands out as the tallest on the island. The area around it’s a protected national park, so pristine pine forests have been left alone to blanket the surrounding hills. And it’s easy to get to, as well. There’s a road that carves its way all the way up to just a few hundred metres shy of the summit. On a clear day, the view from the top puts mainland Greece on full display.
Things to See and Do in Kefalonia
The beaches in Kefalonia are seriously photogenic, ticking off everything from golden sands and smooth white pebbles to backdrops of bottle-green pines. Beaches near resorts tend to come with all the trimmings, but hop in a hire car and head out on your own and it won’t be long until you uncover a near-deserted cove.
The big beach
Just outside the town of Lixouri you’ll find Xi Beach. This swathe of reddish-orange sand is a popular pick with locals and holidaymakers, thanks to its calm, shallow waters and long list of watersports.
The secret beach
Most holidaymakers make a beeline for Xi and Lepeda beaches, but for fewer crowds and a cracking lunch, locals head to Vatsa Beach. This sand-and-shingle stretch is often pin-drop peaceful, and features a thatched-roof taverna with a menu of fresh seafood and Kefalonian home-cooking favourites.
Lixouri has a handful of shops hawking souvenirs and beach buys, but for more authentic gifts, head for Skala. The hole-in-the-wall shops around the village square have shelves stacked with locally made pottery, lace and ceramics, as well as foodie treats like honey and spicy soutzoukakia sausages.
For high-street buys, Argostoli’s your best bet. On Lithostrato Street, you’ll find clothes, make-up and a handful of Greek department stores. There are a few recognisable names, too, like The Body Shop.
Fiskardo, on the north-west coast, is a bit of a magnet for the jet-set crowd – the boutiques here sell everything from designer sunnies to flashy jewellery, and include big-name brands like Gucci and D&G.
For a low-key evening, make for Lixouri’s main square. It’s where you’ll find a cluster of traditional tavernas and bars playing bouzouki music. There are a few more options along the prom, too.
For a full-on night out, make a beeline for Argostoli. Branching out from the main square – Platia Vallianou – you’ll find tons of late-night bars, plus a couple of clubs that pull in celebrity DJs in the summer months. Locals in Lixouri, meanwhile, tend to head to one of two discos just outside of town.
Kefalonia meat pie
Meat pies are a Kefalonian staple. They’re pretty similar to the pies we get back in Britain. Thick-crust pastry cases are packed full of meat – usually pork, lamb or beef – and veg, but instead of gravy, they top them up with rice. It means they’re ridiculously filling, so unless you’re a Man vs Food type, you won’t be needing a side dish to go with it.
Kefalonia’s wine of choice is Robola – its grapes are grown all over the island. It’s a dry white with a slightly lemony flavour, so it’s an ideal pairing with a plate of net-fresh seafood.
This egg and tomato scramble makes a quick and easy snack or light lunch. The tomatoes are chopped or pureed, then thickened with olive oil in a frying pan. The beaten eggs are tipped in, and the whole thing is cooked through. Toppings come in the form of crumbled feta and sprinklings of thyme and oregano.
The Greek version of bruschetta is a great starter or afternoon snack. The bread is rubbed with garlic and drizzled with a few glugs of olive oil, then spread with chopped tomatoes and a pinch of oregano. Depending where you go, you might get a few extra bits, like black olives or chunks of salty feta cheese.
This thick, filling soup is a real winter warmer, made with locally grown beans, corn and grain. In restaurants, it’s usually served with doorstep slices of bread for dunking.
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