Kefalonia or Cephalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece. Steeped in history, it was home to Odysseus, the legendary king hailed in Homer’s The Odyssey. Unlike many other Greek holiday destinations Kefalonia has managed to escape mass tourism, so it has an authentic Greek feel.
It is sunny all year round with a pleasant autumn and spring, scorching summers reaching average highs of 29°C, and mild but wet winters which keep the island lush and green.
There is a range of accommodation around the island, from budget apartments exuding Greek charm to luxury hotel complexes with views of the Ionian sea. Popular resorts include Lassi, conveniently located near the island’s capital Argostoli and the airport; the port resort of Sami, home to the famous Drogarati Cave and Melissani Lake; and the lively Lixouri with a vibrant music scene and a great selection of restaurants.
For somewhere family friendly, head to the peaceful village of Svoronata or Skala with a beach that gently slopes into the sea. If you’re after a scenic location, stay in Agia Efimia, a beautiful village spread across a mountain, or Katelios, an undeveloped seaside village and nesting area for Loggerhead turtles.
There’s plenty of cheap places to stay on the island.
In the centre of Sami there’s Melissani Hotel, an affordable family-run hotel which has 14 simple rooms with sea views. Watch the sun set over from your balcony with a beer or a wine then take a 2 minute walk to the harbour restaurants.
Also in Sami there’s the Pericles Hotel which is basic but functional and boasts two pools, including one for children, a tennis court and an outdoor snack bar.
If you want somewhere in picturesque surroundings, stay at Terre Mare Hotel in the small village of Agios Dimitrios in Lixouri. It offers traditional Greek bungalows and hotel rooms, each with two private verandas, one with a sea view and one with a garden view. In the evening why not go along to one of their Greek nights with live music?
Or there’s Baha Ammes Apartments in Svoronata with well-equipped apartments surrounded by tropical gardens. This family friendly accommodation has a playground and on its doorstep is the postcard-worthy Ammes beach with shallow, crystalline waters are great for snorkelling and safe for children. Why not grab some Greek food from the nearby Fois restaurant?
For a hotel with a view, head to The Seasons of Nickolas in Agia Efimia. Located in the charming, sheltered bay of St Euphemia, just 120 meters from the sea, it has 8 studios decorated according to a different season. Have breakfast on the spacious balcony and you can enjoy the spectacular view across the valley.
Or you could try Metaxatos Apartments just outside of Lassi on a hillside overlooking the crystal blue waters and the coastline on the other side of the gulf.
If you don’t like be confined to hotel meal times, try one of these self-catering options.
A cheap option is Mouikis Sun Village in the pretty village of Lakithra near Lassi. You’ll have a decent sized self-catering apartment with panoramic views over the village and sea. Outside there’s a pool, children’s play area and several good beaches nearby.
Or there’s Marina-Anna Studios in lush surroundings at the base of Mount Ainos in Trapezaki. Great for families or a group of friends, there’s an outdoor pool, barbeque area, pool table and a play area for the kids.
Over in Svoronata you’ll find Pythos Apartments offering studios, apartments and maisonettes surrounded by attractive gardens and olive trees. Ammes beach is just a 15 minute walk away, while a tavern and mini-market are 10 minutes away.
In the same peaceful area there’s Helena Studios Kefalonia overlooking Enos Forest. Your fully-equipped self-catering apartment is set on its own private garden. Step outside and you’ll find yourself in a gorgeous landscape, rolling hills and olive groves, while a five minute walk will take you to the beach.
A bit more expensive, but great for families is Felix Residence in Trapezaki. This beautifully designed, Italian-style hotel is set within gardens filled with olive trees, flowers and wooden pergolas. Take a dip in the pool and snack on kebabs in the barbeque area. Kids will love the swing set facing the sea and they get their own pool. Make some dinner in your self-catered studio or apartment or if you’d prefer to head out there are restaurants and tavernas in the village.
If you’re after an all inclusive hotel, the one and only option is Utopia Resort and Spa in Katelios. This luxury hotel offers 60 rooms with balconies, indoor and outdoor pools, a buffet restaurant and gourmet Mediterranean restaurant, a lobby bar, as well as a swim-up pool bar. If you’re feeling active there’s a tennis court, or if you’d prefer to relax there’s a spa with a sauna, steam room, whirlpool and a range of treatments. Kids have their own pool and play area, while the hotel is only a few steps from a white sandy beach.
If you want to stay somewhere that caters to your family’s needs, there are a range of hotels to suit.
For those on a budget there’s Anassa Hotel in Skala, winner of TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2013 for Best Service. This well-located hotel complex has great facilities and a mix of accommodation options. Catch the sunrise from your balcony or gaze out at the turquoise sea as you enjoy a cocktail at the pool bar.
Also reasonably priced is Hotel Summery set among beautiful grounds in Lixouri. This family-run hotel offers a swimming pool, children’s playground and babysitting services. Tuck in to breakfast on the sun terrace among the palm trees and bougainvilleas before relaxing by the pool.
Enalion Suites in Lassi is a complex of 28 suites, all with a view of the breathtaking Paleostafida Bay. Take a dip in the lagoon-style swimming pool with six hydro massage points and enjoy direct access to a sandy beach. For the little ones there’s a children’s pool and playground.
A bit more expensive is the four-star Avithos Resort in Svoronata, winner of TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2013 for Top Hotels. Spread across seventeen buildings, it has a neighbourhood feel, and is surrounded by an orchard of olive groves and cypress trees. Avithos Resort boasts spacious rooms, an Olympic size pool, children’s pool, and it’s on the doorstep of the Blue Flag Avithos beach.
On the beach
If you want a typical beach holiday, seek out these hotels on the coastline.
The affordable three-star Sami Beach Hotel in is in a peaceful location on Sami beach. The 49 air-conditioned rooms have all the usual amenities as well as a balcony with either sea or mountain views. Sami Beach Hotel boasts a pool, Jacuzzi, pool bar, tennis court, table tennis and children’s play area.
If you want to stay near Skala Beach, one of the most beautiful on the island, there’s Aeolos Beach Hotel set in a stunning location with pretty gardens and a cliff-side swimming pool. Why not head to Aeolos bar for breathtaking views over the sea as you sip on an exotic cocktail?
Or there’s 9 Muses Hotel Skala Beach a small village-style complex boasting two pools with sun decks, a jacuzzi and a children’s pool. Head to the Vesta Bar for cocktails, fresh juice and ice cream, and dine at Avra Restaurant right on the beach.
Dionysos Village Resort in Lassi is built on a private hill spanning 30 acres, located right next to Makris Giolas and Platis Gialos beaches. Marvel at the panoramic sea view from your room, swim in the largest pool in Kefalonia, or simply relax in the Jacuzzi. You can accept a weekly BBQ night with Greek music and traditional dancers.
If you can splash out, go for White Rocks Hotel & Bungalows in Platis Gialos, the ultimate beach front luxury hotel. Situated on an idyllic peninsula the hotel complex features 162 rooms with contemporary furniture and bespoke art. Relax on the private beach, grab a drink at the beach bar or enjoy an al fresco kefalonian lunch at the Pines Restaurant.
There are plenty of romantic boutique hotels, but they tend to be at the higher end of the price range.
In the capital there’s Museum Hotel George Molfetas, a three-star boutique hotel in a building dating back to the 1900s. It consists of six spacious rooms, each with their own character and authentic antique furniture such as Persian rugs and Murano chandeliers. At the Possada Restaurant, not only can you feast on organic home-cooked food, you can also learn how to cook these local specialties.
If you want to escape all the noisy children, head to the adults-only Trapezaki Bay Hotel. Winner of TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2013 for Top Hotels this boutique hotel in Trapezaki is positioned high on a hill top, offering sweeping views of the Ionian Sea. Swim in the freshwater pool, enjoy a cocktail at the pool bar or take a peaceful stroll to Trapezaki Beach or St. Thomas Beach.
For those seeking a hotel with a view there’s Petani Bay Hotel, a four-star luxury hotel located in a prime position in Lixouri at the head of a dramatic gorge. Unwind in the infinity pool with a breathtaking view over the bay or wander through the gardens and follow the fairy trail through the olive trees with wooden stepping stones.
There are a few top end hotels on the island, but these are the very best.
There’s Thalassa Hotel, a four-star luxury boutique hotel located in a privileged spot in Lassi. The complex of two neoclassical buildings is home to a library, dining area and wine bar. You’ll enjoy spectacular views over Antonio’s beach and across the gulf towards Lixouri, while a ten minute walk will take you to the famous Makris Gialos beach.
If you want to get active, there’s Emelisse Art Hotel a four-star hotel in Fiskardo boasting three pools, a tennis court, a gym and free bicycles so you can explore the area. Come back to your elegant room with teak wood furniture, Italian linen and Spanish cotton bath robes, or simply hit the spa. In the evening you can choose from two bars and two restaurants before watching a film at the outdoor cinema.
The best of the best can be found in Skala at the Regina Dell Acqua Resort. This fabulous five-star hotel fit for royalty offers 38 luxurious rooms decorated with warm colours and exclusive works of art. Spend your days relaxing by the pool or in the Jacuzzi and enjoy cocktails, wine, champagne and cigars at the pool bar. Why not visit the hair salon or get pampered at the beauty salon with a massage? In evening you can feast on Mediterranean cuisine and local delicacies in the restaurant overlooking the sea.
With a spa
Most hotels offer Jacuzzis and massages but there are only a couple with dedicated spas, and they tend to be pricey.
Mareblue Apostolata Resort & Spa is a four-star in Skala, set on a hillside with wonderful views. The fully-equipped spa offers a sauna, Jacuzzi, Hammam, a wellness centre and a range of massages and treatments. As well as this there’s a gym, a seawater pool, two tennis courts, a pool bar and a Mediterranean restaurant.
Or there’s the five-star Apollonion Resort & Spa, winner of TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice for Luxury. Set in the countryside outside of Lixouri it boasts well-kept gardens, a banquet hall, a 46 meter pool, tennis courts, an outdoor cinema and of course a well-equipped spa with treatments from facials to manicures to full body massages.
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