Kefalonia (aka Cephalonia) is the largest island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. The Ionian islands are characterized by lush green landscapes, dramatic limestone cliffsides, and rugged beaches. The Ionian islands are the most mountainous of all the Greek islands, so if you love nature, you will be in heaven.
Kefalonia is particularly famous for Melissani Cave and Myrtos Beach. Yet, the island has so much more to offer, including picturesque fishing villages, Ainos National Park (the only national park on a Greek island), 2 impressive castles/fortresses, gorgeous turquoise waters, and stunning beaches that can only be reached either by foot or a narrow windy road filled with several exciting hairpin turns.
How to Get Around Kefalonia
While I almost always recommend renting an ATV to explore the Greek islands, this island is a little different than the other Greek islands and is too big really to explore with an ATV. Furthermore, there are many high cliffs and windy roads with no rails that could be dangerous on an ATV.
With that being said, I would recommend renting an ATV for just one day to explore the beaches of Argostili and then switching to a small rental car to explore the rest of the island. Or you could walk to the beaches from town, but this will take you 20-40 minutes. I did this and wished I had rented an ATV for the day as walking in the heat is not my idea of a good time.
Pro Tip: Most companies in Greece now require an IDP (international driving permit) which you can get easily the same day at AAA offices in the USA. They last for one year and cost $20.
Things to do in Kefalonia: A 5-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Argostoli town and beaches
Day 2: Myrtos Beach, Assos Village, & Fiskardo
Day 3: Melissani Cave & Antisamos Beach
Day 4: Fteri beach & Petani Beach
Day 5: Ainos National Park, St. George Castle, & Gentilini Winery
**The best Kefalonia beaches: Myrtos, Fteri, and Antisamos**
Argostoli is the capital city of Kefalonia and also the perfect place to base yourself to explore this island. It is in the most ideal location to visit all the best places in Kefalonia. There are also many beautiful beaches around the city that you could walk to. You have the option of staying right in town or in Lassi, near all the beaches.
Argostoli Town-set on a harbor with many restaurants and shops. There is also a famous sea bridge called the De Bosset Bridge that was built over the bay. It is actually the largest stone bridge built over the sea in the world and is almost at 690 meters long. You can walk to the other side of the bay in about 20 ish minutes.
Lassi-the part of Argostoli near all the beaches. This is a more relaxed area if you’re looking to lounge in the sun all day. However, it’s farther from the center with all the restaurants and shops so it’s a trade off.
The 3 main Argostoli beaches I would recommend are Makris Gialos, Kalamia, and Gradakia.
Makris Gialos beach-this is most popular beach in Argostoli. It has many beach beds you can rent for €12, as well as water sports and facilities. Costa costa beach club has drinks and food. It’s a very busy beach with parking on an incline on an unpaved path (so best to come with an ATV as opposed to a car). This is the beach to visit if you want more action.
Kalamia beach-a 30 min walk from the center of Argostoli. It’s a small beach with a little beach bar. It has beautiful rock formations and little arches you can go under. The sunbed set is €7 to rent (2 chairs and an umbrella). It’s a rocky beach but the little part by the arches is sandy and relaxing. This was definitely my favorite beach in Argostoli.
Gradakia beach-a 15 Min walk from Kalamia, this sandy beach has a beach bar, sun beds, showers, changing rooms, and I even saw signs for a pharmacie. There are some really pretty coves along the way where you can swim. However, they aren’t as calm and have some waves.
Day 2: Myrtos Beach, Assos Village, and Fiskardo
Hands-down the prettiest beach on Kefalonia and a top contender for the prettiest beach in all of Greece. I honestly have never seen anything like it. The beach is unique as you view it from above, it has mesmerizing bright blue and aqua swirls that change shape and colors throughout the day.
The beach is surrounded by towering dramatic cliffs and lined with pristine white pebbles on the bottom, creating a stark contrast between the turquoise waters.
This is honestly one of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen in my life (only behind the view from Shipwreck beach in Zakynthos). When I drove to the viewpoint and saw it from above, I got goosebumps and I was literally in doubt that a place like this so beautiful exists. What is really unique about this beach is that the swirly patterns change throughout the day so it will look different at different times of the day!
Getting down to the beach will consist of a zigzag narrow road with several switchbacks all the way to the bottom. There are some blind spots, so make sure to go slow and honk around the corners. But the real highlight of this beach is from the panoramic viewpoint from above!
If you’re into lesser known Greek islands to visit, check out my guides on Amorgos, Milos and Rhodes, 2 of the best Greek islands to visit!
Assos is an adorable tiny and colorful fishing village connected by an isthmus to a green mountain range that boasts a magnificent Venetian Fortress that looks back at the village. Assos village is said to have only 100 residents.
As with most of the awesome places in Kefalonia, access to the village is by a narrow road with hairpin turns lined by cypress trees. There are a few breathtaking views from the drive down that you will want to stop and snap pictures of, so take your time.
Assos is such a relaxing little place to spend the afternoon. There are little coves to swim with crystal clear calm waters. You can also sit at one of the tavernas on the water and admire the views of the bay and the Fortress across the way. And if you have the time, make sure to go up to the Assos Fortress.
The Assos Fortress was built by the Venetians in the 16th century to protect the city from pirate raids and the Turks. The fortress measures 44,000 square feet, one of the largest in all of Greece.
The walkway up to the fortress is lined with Cyprus and pine trees and has great views as you climb to the top. It will take about 30-40 minutes to get the top. Unfortunately when I got to the top, the fortress was closed. I forgot to check the opening times (still kicking myself). But regardless, the walk was very peaceful and the surrounding panoramic views from the top were stunning and well worth the stroll.
Fiskardo is another picturesque fishing located at the northernmost tip of Kefalonia. It’s a pretty port town with colorful storefronts with blooming flowers cascading from them. And as you may have assumed, there are also many fish tavernas lining the port filled with customers people watching.
You’ll also see a bunch of fancy yachts parked in the harbor and it feels a bit more upscale than other parts of the island, although very “chill” at the same time. Overall, I loved this town and wish I had more time to spend here.
Tip: Go to Theodora’s Cafe top floor for drinks and awesome views (pictured below).
Day 3: Melissani Cave & Antisamos Beach
Near the town of Sami you will find one of the best Kefalonia Beaches called Antisamos. There is a beautiful drive down to this beach by (you guessed it) hairpin turns. The shallow waters have a bright aqua color and then it starkly changes to deep blu as it gets deeper.
Antisamos beach offers free sun beds and some water sports. It is a pebbled beach with a few beach bars.
Antisamos is absolutely gorgeous and you could spend a whole afternoon here. Below are a few drone shots I took on my visit.
Melissani Cave is one of the main reasons why people come to this island, along with Myrtos beach. This unique cave formation was was said to be formed from an earthquake causing the ceiling to cave in and form an opening to the sky.
There are 2 parts to the Melissani Cave. The first one is this lake with the circular opening to the sky and the other part is a dark cave with a low ceiling consisting of stalagmites. It does get quite cold in there so make sure to bring something long sleeved.
The water inside the cave is a mix of freshwater and sea water and is about 20-30 meters in depth. Melissani Cave was not discovered until 1951.
Tip: Go during midday so the sun is high in the sky and shines over it. This will highlight the vibrant blue/green waters. The entrance fee is €7.
Note: It was actually really hard to get a good photo (being solo) in the cave because there are lots of other boats and they take you in and out so fast. There were too many people in the boat to take a good selfie and the guy rowing the boat was not the best photographer. If you are not alone, it’s probably much easier to get good shots, just be prepared to take them of each other quickly.
Day 4: Fteri Beach & Petania Beach
Wow, I can’t say enough about Fteri Beach on Kefalonia island. I had never heard of it or seen any pictures of it before I came to the island and I was shocked at how this place isn’t more popular. Maybe because it’s a little tricky to get to.
How to Get to Fteri Beach
I put Fteri beach into google maps but it wasn’t that clear. It basically takes you to the gravel road where you begin the hike. But NOTE that when you have about 4 minutes left on your google map directions, you will see the sign for Fteri beach on the left with a tiny place to park about 4-5 cars. If you keep following the google maps you will miss the entrance to the hike. You should see the sign when you’re about 3 minutes into the gravel road.
Getting to Fteri beach takes a one hour hike down through the wooded forest and down some rocks. Proper shoes are required for this hike so don’t try to do it in flip flops. I would also recommend pants because I got all scratched up from the bushes.
I’m not going to lie, the path is not that clear and it will take some time to find the way, but don’t let that scare you away. It was definitely an adventure!
Tip: Make sure to looks for the GREEN spray paint on the rocks because about 10 minutes into the hike it gets confusing.
Fteri beach was the second prettiest beach in Kefalonia and from the bottom had the prettiest water. Cascading shades of turquoise, deep blues, and crystal clear waters will blow your mind. Here are some more dramatic drone shots below.
The beach is surrounded by green nature and the limestone cliffs. There are not many people there, although you can get there by boat also so you may see some of the people coming from boats. This beach is a MUST in Kefalonia.
It was quite cloudy most the day when I visited, but when the clouds dispersed and the sun peaked through, it highlighted the waters so vibrantly, it was magical.
A gorgeous beach located on the Paliki Peninsula surrounded by huge limestone cliffs. There are 2 taverns on the bottom, as well as some sun beds. Petani beach has white sand and gravel adding layers to the shoreline. The waves can get kinda rough during inclement weather so take caution. The views going down to this beach are spectacular along the windy road.
Day 5: Mt Ainos National Park, St. George Castle, and Gentilini Winery
Ainos National Park is the only national park on a Greek island. I was so excited to hear this and it made me want to visit Kefalonia even more since I love hiking.
Hike the Mt Ainos Summit
This is basically my ideal type of hike because you can drive almost all the way up and then it’s only a 20-30 minute hike to the summit. I read a bunch of reviews that said the road conditions were treacherous going up here, but they are outdated so don’t let that scare you. Although the road was windy and there are some blind hairpin turns, the road conditions were pretty good all the way to the top with nicely paved, smooth roads.
Tip: park at the bottom of the towers and there is a little gravel road to the left. Walk down that path for about 10-15 minutes until you see a plaque with info on the left. Right after that you will see a little path on the right going up a hill. Take that and walk in the woods for about 10-15 minutes on makeshift steps.
The top is more of a rock scramble so make sure you have sneakers or closed toed shoes for this hike. If it’s foggy, wait a bit and you will get a full 360 degree view of the island. If it’s a clear day, you can even see Zakynthos and Ithaca nearby as well!
St George Castle
The Venetian Castle of St. Gorge is more like ruins than a castle, but definitely still worth the visit. It is located at the top of the hill with 360 views over the island. It’s free entrance and has some great photo opportunities. However, it is closed on Tuesdays.
Eat lunch at Il Borgo at the base of the castle with amazing views and good food. Get the octopus in vinegar, it’s amazing!
Gentilini Winery and Vineyards
If you’re a wine lover, you must come here! It’s just a few minutes from the airport and about 6-7 minutes from Argostoli so its super convenient. You could really go here any day because it’s so close to town. Another option is to go on your way to the airport on your way out of Kefalonia.
The wine tastings offer 3 wines for €5, 5 wines for €7, or 7 wines for €10. How cheap is that? You could never find prices like this in the U.S.!
You can also add a tour for €5. They give you a board with cheese, bread, olive oil, and tomato doused with herbs. They also have gluten free bread, so I was in heaven because that almost never happens!!
If you have more time on Kefalonia, head to the Paliki Peninsula
If you have more time in Kefalonia, I would recommend spending time on the Paliki Peninsula, where they have several beautiful beaches and some wineries. Xi beach is specifically known for brown sand and clay cliffs. The mud from the cliffs is supposed to make a therapeutic mud mask for your skin. I just drove by here and wasn’t able to get out and stay due to time, but it was a unique place to explore.
How to get to the Paliki pensula: You can drive the long way or you can take a ferry Ferry from Argostoli to Lixouri . The cost is €4 (cash only) for a car and yourself. The journey takes 20 mins and goes every 30 minutes.
Platia Ammos Beach-I tried to go to this beach as it was listed as one of the best Kefalonia beaches, but I couldn’t get to it and later read that the stairs going down to this beach were damaged from an earthquake and it has been closed to the public. I also read that it may be possible to reach this beach by a private boat, but I’m not entirely sure.
How to get to Kefalonia
Due to its location in the Ionian Sea, you’re most likely going to be flying in an out of Kefalonia, as opposed to taking a ferry. There aren’t many direct international flights into Kefalonia, so you’re most likely going to have to fly into Athens, and then take another flight to Kefalonia.
I actually got lucky and got a direct flight from Edinburgh to Kefalonia Airport (airport code EFL) that took 4 hours and costed about $150. As I was continuing onto other Greek islands in the Cyclades islands, I had to fly back to Athens, and then fly to Paros from there. Fly from Athens with Olympic Air or Aegean Airlines.
During high season, make sure to get your flight months in advance to snag some cheaper flights. I use Skyscanner for about 95% of all my flights I book. They almost always have the cheapest flights compared to other search engines in my experience.
I would NOT recommend taking a ferry to Kefalonia because honestly there aren’t many good options. You possibly could fly into Patras, and then take a ferry from Killini. But you would have to figure out how to get from Patras to Killini, which is about a 1.5 hour drive.
You could also fly into Zakynthos and then take a ferry from there, which is not a bad option if the flight into Zakynthos is cheap. I WOULD recommend you to do this option and stay in Zakynthos for 4-5 days as it is spectacular! One of my favorite Greek islands.
Travel Insurance for Greek Islands
I would never travel without travel insurance anymore. I learned my lesson. Too many bad things can happen (and they have unfortunately). Travel insurance is especially important when traveling to islands, as you may need to be air-lifted to the mainland in the worst case scenario. Do you know how much air-lifting costs? Think at least 5 digits (I.e. Expensive AF!).
My favorite travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 4 claims so far and have been fully reimbursed for all 4 without any hassle. I highly recommend them. They also have some of the best medical coverage out of ANY travel insurance. Period.
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