Kefalonia Attractions Guide

Kefalonia : Next 24-Hour Weather

Tomorrow - 20th July 2024

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Tomorrow - 21st July 2024

Sunrise 06:30

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Updated at 20:00 GMT

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.

If you like to visit lots of cultural sights and monuments, then Kefalonia is not the place for you. Part of its charm is the fact that you can do nothing but relax on the beach and enjoy the magnificent scenery such as its caves and mountains.

That's not to say there isn't anything to do, there is a range of ways to explore the island such as hiking, cycling, horse riding and boat trips, as well as more unique tours such as canyoning, caving, jeep safari and quad biking. Water sports and diving are also very popular, while history buffs will love the monasteries, museums and St George's Castle.

Walking and hiking

Kefalonia is a beautiful place to walk, with routes suitable for everything from a gentle, picturesque amble to a more challenging hike.

Many tour operators will also offer guided walks as excursions but if you want a full-on walking holiday, go with Island Trek. They offer 7-day walking tours where you visit explore landmarks and monuments in Lixouri, Fiskardo, Katelios, Sami and Assos. Enjoy stunning coastal views, relax on beaches, visit Mount Ainos and discover Melissani Lake.

Cycling and mountain biking

Kefalonia's terrain poses quite a challenge for cyclists with rocky crags and dust tracks, but it's still a fun way to see the island. Agia Efimia is better for less experienced riders as the road along the coast is almost flat and there are plenty of beaches on the way for a break.

For bicycle rentals there's Rentabike Kefalonia based in Argostoli. They offer trekking bikes and electric bikes suitable for daily rental from 7, and a brief tour is included free of charge. Or for longer rides there's Panbike offering a range of bicycles built to cope with long and difficult journeys, from 6 mountain bikes to more expensive trekking and racing bikes. These will be delivered to your hotel, and most come with a free helmet, backpack and bike lock. You can also rent bicycle seats for children and trailers for extra luggage.

If you're a keen cyclist after a cycling holiday in Kefalonia, S-Cape Travel offer an 8-day tour of the island. Visit the locations from Captain Corelli's Mandolin, explore Melissani Lake, Drogarati Cave and Mount Ainos, as well as sample local Robola wine and visit the island of Ithaka.

Horse riding

Horse riding is a great way to explore the ruggedness and beauty that Kefalonia has to offer.

Bavarian Horse Riding Stables based in Sami offer a variety of tours catering for beginners and experienced riders young and old. Ride their well-trained Haflinger and Bavarian horses through forests, up mountains, visit famous sites and head down to the sea to swim with your horse! You can also have lessons in dressage, jumping and vaulting back at the stables.

Or there's Kefalos Riding Club who offer pony and donkey rides for beginners, kids or teenagers; one hour beginners' hacks through the fields and hills, or on the beach; two hours novice hacks and hacks of three hours or longer.

Canyoning, caving and jeep safari

If you want an outdoor adventure as you explore Kefalonia, try one of these activities.

Kefalonia Elements offer plenty of unique ways explore this beautiful island. Outdoor activities include Canyoning Tours where you'll hike, scramble, climb, jump, abseil and swim through Kefalonia's canyons. They also offer Caving Tours in which you'll discover an intriguing underground world as you visit caves such as Melissani, Drogarati and Agalaki.

On the Jeep Safari Tour you can choose from three different full day SUV tours in 4x4 Land Rovers. On the National Park Tour you'll drive through the National Park and its forests to the top of Mount Ainos where you'll enjoy panoramic views of Kefalonia and nearby islands. On the Sunset Tour you can either see the Paliki sunset from Platia Amos beach on the west coast, or travel south to see the Skala sunset from Koroni Bay. Finally, on the WWII Tour you'll discover Kefalonia's history through archaeological sites, old villages, as well as locations from Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

Quad bikes and scooters

If you'd rather try out quad biking or whiz around on a scooter, head to RoadRunners based in Agia Efimia harbour front. To ride a scooter you must be 21, while for quads you need to be 23. Once you've paid your deposit (150 for scooters and 200 for quads) and donned your helmet, you can go off and explore Kefalonia via road.

Boat trips

Cruising and yachting are what the Ionian Sea was made for, and there are plenty of ways to get seaborne in Kefalonia.

No trip to Kefalonia is complete without a cruise to Ithaca, named after Poseidon's son Ithacos. With Sami Star Daily Cruises you can head to this island and discover hidden beaches and crystalline waters, anchor in bays inaccessible to cars and taste traditional Greek cuisine.

Captain Vangeli's Special Cruises based in Skala beach offers full-day cruises to Kefalonia's sister islands as well as along Kefalonia's coastline. On the Ithaca Cruise you'll enjoy a fully day cruise to this peaceful island where you'll visit the charming capital town of Vathi, the picturesque town of Kioni and swim at secluded beaches along the way. The Zante Cruise allows you to take in the island's vibrant coastline including the stunning 'Shipwreck beach' and the Blue Caves where sea turtles and monk seals live.

Alternatively there's Ionian Discoveries based in the fishing village of Fiskardo, offering excursions to enlighten you on the natural history and marine life of the area. Try out snorkelling or simple relax aboard the beautiful wooden Kaiki and take in the scenery.

You can privately charter boats in many places on the island for sailing or fishing day trips, join organised excursions offered by tour operators or if you're really keen, you can devote your time to a specialist sailing holiday in the area, such as those offered by Sea Trek Adventures.

Natural attractions

Kefalonia has a landscape of unparallel beauty, so why not discover is natural wonders from the highest peak to the deepest cave?

Mount Ainos is well worth the trek to the top for the stunning 360 degree views. At 1627m it is even higher than Ben Nevis. As you make your way through the National Park to the peak you'll travel through lush forest and come across rare black firs. The track gets worse the higher you go, so an off-road vehicle may be advisable if you want to get all the way up.

A great way to get out of the scorching hot sun is with a visit to the Drogarati Caves in Sami. This stunning underground palace of stalactites and stalagmites is often host to concerts in the summer months due to the excellent acoustics.

There's also Melissani Lake where you can take an atmospheric boat ride over the supposedly bottomless waters, and marvel at the bizarre notion that it is fed by seawater which disappears into the ground at Katavothres on the other side of Kefalonia.

Historical sites

History buffs will love the range of monasteries, museums and of course Saint George's Castle.

Argostoli isn't the sort of cultural centre of Kefalonia that one might hope for, but if churches are your thing, then there are countless gems, all dripping with golden decoration and orthodox pomp.

Over in the secluded Omala valley near Mount Aenos stands Ayios Gerassimos, a small monastery named after the island's patron saint. If you are around on August 16 or October 20 the preserved body of the saint himself (some 400 years old) is paraded down the roads with a brass band and great fanfare. Or there's Kipoureon Monastery, an incredibly scenic monastery hanging off a cliff on the western side of the Palliki peninsula.

If castles are more your thing, head to Saint George's Castle, aka Kastro, in Peratata. This ruined castle is all that remains of what was the medieval venetian capital of Kefalonia, which was destroyed by an earthquake in the 17th century. It's worth a visit for the views from the ramparts. Why not have some lunch or a light meal at the nearby Kastro Cafe?

To find out more about the island's history, head to the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli which houses artefacts from the prehistoric to the Roman periods, as well as a collection of Mycenaean exhibits.

Wineries

Wine lovers should visit one of these wineries producing the famous Robola wine native to Kefalonia.

Head to Kefalonian Robola Wine Corporation in Omala Valley to have a look around Kefalonia's premier wine producers and do a little wine tasting. Or at Gentilini Winery and Vineyards near Argostoli you can choose from four different wine tasting tours where you'll sample their unique wines and learn how they are produced.

Water sports

There are plenty of ways to have some water-based fun around the island.

If you want to explore Kefalonia's mesmerising blue waters and coastal scenery by kayak, go with Sea Kayaking Kefalonia. Choose from a range day trips, multi-day tours and courses and you'll be treated to amazing kayaking adventure, from visiting secluded beaches to dolphin spotting.

Kefalonia Elements also offer sea kayaking day trips and expeditions including a sunset tour. As well as this they offer stand-up paddle boarding lessons and SUP tours around the coast, both from £35.

In terms of windsurfing there's Windtherapy based at the Terra Mare Hotel in the bay of Lixouri. This sheltered bay is ideal for beginners and children, and the thermal wind at noon means conditions are perfect for windsurfing in the afternoon and SUP in the morning. Both activities share common principles and during the first lessons you will be taught the correct body position, how to handle your gear, as well as the basic turns.

Scuba Diving

The rich archaeology of the seas surrounding the island means that diving is permitted only in certain areas and with a recognised diving school. Kefalonia's crystal-clear waters allow visibility exceeded 40 meters, making it an ideal place to learn to scuba dive.

On the north coast in Fiskardo there's Fiskardo Divers, an eco-dive school. Here you can learn to scuba dive, or take the kids snorkelling. They also offer a range of PADI courses on which you'll visit a range of diving sites from shipwrecks to catacombs.

Alternatively, in Agia Efimia there's Aquatic Scuba Diving Club, a PADI dive resort welcoming divers of every level. There's a one and a half hour introductory course for complete beginners, while certified divers can enjoy the amazing scenery with drop-offs, caverns, wrecks and swim-throughs covered in stunning flora and fauna.