kefalonia | greece

kefalonia on a budget

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You’ve heard of Crete, Corfu, Kos and Santorini, but have you heard of Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands and the setting for the famous Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. This gorgeous island, just off the Greek mainland, has much to offer for a traveller on a budget looking for sun, sand and culture.

Flights

Flights are fairly regular now as Kefalonia increases in popularity, with a number of airlines servicing Kefalonia directly from the UK. If you book early enough, you can find summer flights for under £200 return, and perhaps even less if you can be more flexible on dates. The airport is in the South-West of the island with the short runway hugging the coastline always taking a few by surprise.

Where to stay

If you are on a budget, I can recommend no better place to stay that the Irinna Hotel. Located just 5 minutes drive from the airport, there’s no need for long and expensive taxi journeys or car hire, and you can be stepping off the plane to sitting by the pool in half an hour flat! Rooms start at around €50 per night in the summer, and the hotel is within walking distance of plenty of beaches, bars and restaurants to keep travel costs to a minimum.

The hotel is fairly basic and in need of a lick of paint, but it has a well-stocked bar and balcony, great outside area with a pool, lunch bistro and bar, and games area, and everything is run by fantastic, friendly staff. Each room has a balcony and great air conditioning, and there is also a restaurant offering breakfast and dinner. I have been travelling to the Irinna Hotel since being just a few months old, and whilst it’s certainly not a luxury hotel, it is a place where memories have been made with my family, and no matter what happens, it is somewhere where we always return to.

One thing to note, the proximity to the airport means the planes fly fairly close above the pool, which gives most new people a fright the first time they see it!

Irinna Hotel
Agia Pelaga, Kefalonia 281 00, Greece
More info.

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What To Do

Argostoli

Argostoli is the capital of Kefalonia, with a great harbour, a number of shops, extensive food and drink, and a fantastic main square to rival any major European city. Along the harbour you can enjoy the friendly turtles who feed off the bivalves along the harbour wall, and who follow the fishing boats on their way back in. Spend some time in the main square in the evening sun in one of the friendly bars and restaurants before looking through the shops once the sun has gone down. You can also get the 30-minute ferry across to Lixouri where there are plenty of other restaurants and shops to take advantage of.

Melissani Cave

Melissani Cave is one of the most picturesque and popular attractions of Kefalonia, just a couple of kilometres outside of Sami. Discovered in 1951, the cave is named after the nymph Melissanthi, who in Greek mythology drowned herself in the lake after being rejected by the God Pan. During the 1962 excavations, many plates, lamps and figures were found depicting Pan and several of the nymphs. Nowadays you can access the cave by an underground tunnel and can take a guided boat tour around the two main halls. The signature piece of the attraction in the huge circular hole in the roof allowing the sun to shine through the crystal clear waters.  

Melissani Cave
Sami 280 80, Greece
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Drogorati Cave

Drogarati caves are located 3km from the popular Sami on the East of the island, offering it easy transport links. Thought to be 150 million years old, the caves were discovered around 300 years ago after a strong earthquake revealed the entrance, and they have been open since the early 1960s. The magnificent space, full of stalagmites and stalactites, leads into a grand 900m2 hall which, due to its unnaturally perfect acoustics, has stages several concerts played to just a few hundred people at a time.

Drogorati Cave
Sami 280 80, Greece
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Sacred Monastery of Agios Gerasimos

The Sacred Monastery of Agios Gerasimos near Valsamata in the centre of the island containing the tomb and relics of the patron saint of Kefalonia. Ordained as a monk at Mount Athos in the 16th Century, Gerasimus cultivated the area around Valsamata and established a monastery that cared for the poor, and is renowned for his healing of the sick and ill to this day, with many reported sightings of him after the earthquake which devastated the majority of the island in the 1950s. The reconstructed monastery and newly built church are now a popular attraction for tourists and remain a sacred pilgrimage for the Kefalonians. If visiting remember to be respectful and dress appropriately.

Saint Gerasimos Monastery
Moni Agiou Gerasimou 281 00, Greece
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Makris Gialos Beach (Lassi)

Lassi is a lovely and popular part of Kefalonia, situated on the West coast just before Argostoli. An easy €1 bus journey from Svoronata gets you to Lassi in around 20 minutes, and there are plenty of bars, restaurants and shops to enjoy. Lassi Beach is great fun, perfect for the family, with everything from relaxed sun-bathing through to a range of extensive water-sports available with Albatross Water Sports Centre.

Makris Gialos Beach (Lassi)
Lassi, Arlgostoli 281 00
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North and South

At the extreme North and South of the island, you will find Fiskardo and Skala respectively. Fiskardo is an ex-fishing village, and one of the least affected areas of the earthquake. Even though it is now fairly busy and more modern, you can still get a feel of the quiet life of the port town for the old Kefalonians. In the South, Skala is another very popular destination, where you can also find the remains of a 3rd Century Roman villa and mosaics.

Fiskardo
Fiskardo 280 84, Greece
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Skala
Skala 280 86, Greece
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Fiskardo
Fiskardo 280 84, Greece
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Skala
Skala 280 86, Greece
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Where To Eat

Fois

Fois is absolutely my favourite place to eat when in Kefalonia. Run by the amazing Nicky and her Greek husband, the restaurant is a little off the beaten track, but without a doubt worth finding. You absolutely must try the traditional Greek Saganaki starter and Chicken Souvlaki main!

Fois
Livathou 281 00, Greece
More info.

O Milos (The Windmill), Svoronata

Milos, or fondly known as The Windmill, is the best place for dinner whilst the sun is going down. Wonderful food is accompanied by the most incredible of sunsets across the Ionian Sea. The service is always perfect, and there’s usually a small Ouzo on the house at the end of your meal.

O Milos
Ammes, Svoronata 281 00, Greece
More info.

Premier Restaurant, Argostoli

Premier Restuarant in Argostoli is a busy and bustling restaurant in the centre of Argostoli, right on the main square. Well-known for its pizza and pasta, Premier restaurant is a must-visit to soak in the culture of Kefalonia’s capital.

Premier Restaurant, Argostoli
Argostoli, 281 00, Greece
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Kastro Café

Kastro Café is the ultimate lunch spot, based just by the Castle of Agios Georgios (Saint George). The ruined Venetian castle, built around the 13C, is a popular attraction, and the cafe at its base is the perfect place to stop for some food. The club sandwiches and the Tzatziki are without a doubt the best around, and the views from the top are sensational.

Kastro Café
Kastro 281 00, Greece
More info

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Comments

9 Comments

  1. Ernie Holland

    Beautifully compiled, very informative, a true picture painted for all areas mentioned. Follow advice freely given and a fantastic holiday guaranteed!! ??

    Reply
    • A Single Step

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

      Reply
  2. Lee Beddoes

    Your information is quite accurate and well written. it gives a good ‘snapshot’ of the Island – which still holds a few more surprises.We first visited in the 80’s generally twice yearly, and retired there in 2003. Happy days.

    Reply
    • A Single Step

      Thank you Lee, much appreciated. You are very lucky to live on this beautiful Island!

      Reply
  3. Pauline

    Beautifully written and great photos. Really enjoyed it. Maybe include Assos but only my opinion! Well done!

    Reply
    • A Single Step

      Thank you so much Pauline! You are right, Assos is very popular. It may be somewhere I have to visit on my next trip 🙂

      Reply
  4. Janine West

    A great read, that brought vividly to life many happy memories of family holidays on this beautiful island. I look forward to reading about your future adventures in other places. ??

    Reply
    • A Single Step

      Thanks so much Janine. There has certainly been a lot of memories made in Kefalonia!

      Reply
  5. Angela Seager

    I am absolutely captivated by the island and your images are truly beautiful. I will definitely give Kefalonia a visit.

    Reply

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