Kefallonia is the largest of the islands and is called the island of contrasts.
The Ionian Islands are a sprinkling of jewels in the Ionian Sea. They are a wonderful mix of steep, verdant hills, magnificent sandy beaches, coves, bays and inlets and picture-book villages, all surrounded by incredible azure and emerald water.
Kefallonia is the largest of the islands with beautiful villages highlighted by old mansions, humble farmhouses side-by-side with Roman, Venetian and Byzantine ruins and the 1628 metre Ainos Mountain. The north and west have a ragged and beautiful coastline while the south and east have large, sandy beaches. Beautiful, mild Mediterranean weather makes it perfect to visit most of the year.
It has endured a long and unstable history and has been inhabited since 50,000 BC, the Neolithic period, with evidence of that at the cave of Drakena, near the village of Poros. It has been dominated by Turks and Venetians, French and Russians and pirates and was seized by the English in the 19th century. The influence of these conquerors is evident in the beautiful Venetian castles of St George and Assos.
Mussolini’s troops invaded the island during WWII and its people were subjected to Nazi occupation.
Keffalonia’s capital is Argostoli with a population of 7500, and is where the sea rushes into subterranean tunnels which form a rare geological phenomenon. The water reappears at Lake Melissani, a semi-underground body of clear turquoise and indigo.
Close by is the Cave of Drongarati, which has beautiful stalagmites and stalactites. It has fantastic acoustics and caves are open to the public.
Another favourite spot to visit is Karavomylos where there are springs of sea water which has travelled underground from the area of Katavothres, near Argostoli, 35 kms away. Kefallonia is one of the few places where the rare turtle kareta-kareta lays its eggs.
Argostoli is very lively, particularly in summer, with plenty of action around its main square, but there is little in the way of nightlife. It is a modern town with entertainment and shopping, but has managed to maintain its charm. An early morning walk on the waterfront is the perfect way to begin the day.
Every town and village on the island were completely rebuilt after a devastating earthquake hit in 1953. The only area spared was the village of Fiskardo so it retains the old architecture.
Sue and Ian Thompson who write guide books, advise low and mid-season are the best times to visit. There are excellent opportunities for cheap accommodation and home-stays are particularly popular. Denis’s Place is pension accommodation at Fiskardo in northern Kefallonia and apart from offering beautiful landscape, is most comfortable. The port is old fashioned and quaint and has pretty pastel-coloured, Venetian-style houses to complete the postcard.
Scooters are the way to get around the island and they can be hired from several places.
Locals are friendly and easy-going and welcome visitors to their little part of paradise.
In Greece's Ionian islands.
Denis’s Apartments start at around $90 a double a night.
Qantas flies daily to London with British Airways connections to Athens starting at $2553 from Melbourne, $2563 from Brisbane, $2574 from Sydney, $2576 from Adelaide, $2577 from Perth and $2697 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Al surcharges and conditions apply.
Olympic Airways flies from Athens to Kefallonia starting at about $207 per person.
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