The Greek island of Cephalonia – a holiday paradise away from mass tourism
The Greek island of Cephalonia – a holiday paradise away from mass tourism
Thinking about Greece, we immediately imagine white, stonewalled houses contrasting with the azure-blue sea which gently casts its waves at the rising rocks. Dense olive groves to the left, colourful floral splendour to the right. Cobblestone streets lead to quiet little village and in the distance is the sea, striking the round pebbles on the beach with its waters. Wonderful nature and hospitality of the locals make Greece a popular holiday destination both in summer as well as in winter. But does it have to be just the tourist strongholds that attract us holidaymakers? Are the other islands not just as pretty and emit their individual, secluded charm? Such thoughts have been circling through my head for a while now and led to me showing you an island today which is filled with all the typically Greek landmarks but not yet overrun with tourism. Today I’d like to introduce the island of Cephalonia, an island that’s a true paradise on Earth thanks to its undisturbed nature and definitely worth a visit or two!
Even if Cephalonia does not enjoy the same amout of fame as its counterparts, it still has no reason to hide. Located at the end of the Gulf of Patras, Cephalonia belongs to the Ionian Isles, as well as being the largest island of the archipelago. Believe it or not, 22 beaches and warm, crystal clear seas await those planning a typical beach holiday. But the island also has some aces up its sleeve when it comes to sightseeing trips. Whether it’s exploring secluded bays, inspecting caves and grottoes or a perfect mix of relaxation and action – Cephalonia is and remains an absolute insiders’ tip. It doesn’t matter what you settle for, the weather is bound to suit your stay – a typical Mediterranean climate namely prevails in the area. Hence, you’re bound to catch most sun rays between the beginning of May and mid/end of July, as well as between the end of August/beginning of September and mid-October.
Places you should definitely pay a visit to
Argostoli – the capital
If you’re planning a holiday in Cephalonia, you should definitely pay a visit to its capital city of Argostoli. You’ll soon notice that it’s the hub of life on the island. It’s not just the most varied sights standing one next to another in a row along the street of Lothostroto, there’s also a bustling choice of cafés, taverns and souvenir shops. Especially the the market at the coastal road is a popular meeting point for tourists and locals. If you want to experience some culture, I can recommend both the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli as well as the Korgialeneios Museum located in the former Korgialenios Library. Just 2.5 km to the north of the city, you can wacth the sea mills which lead the water through an artificial channel, which then rushes through the gaps between the karst rocks into the depths to finally create the east coast. You can observe the outcome of the process in the Meslissani Cave for example, which I’ve already mentioned in my Travel Magazine.
Lixouri – a blend of tradition and modernity
Taking a trip to Lixouri, you’ll witness a blend of tradition and modernity with your own eyes. As the Philharmonic Orchestra plays a huge role in the harbour city, you’ll also find a polytechnic specialising in instrument making here. Lixouri, the second largest city on the island, has a so-called hotspot where the young and old meet. All you have to do is mention the main square with a rubber tree and everyone knows which square you mean. That’s because you won’t find the Mavroidis Patisserie, running since 1922 directly opposite various coffee houses, anywhere else.
Skala – Monasteries and grottoes as far as the eye can see
Similarly, the harbour of the small town of Skala is a popular trip destination. If you’re fascinated by old monasteries, St. John’s monastery is bound to bring you great joy. Although the inside of the building now houses a museum, where you’ll find a collection of various jewels, crowns and crucifixes, and the buildings themselves are still surrounded by their former fortifications and eight chapels. You can view the Cave of the Apocalypse just a few metres away. I’m sure you’ve already noticed that grottos and caves are the top sights in Greece. The curious thing about the Cave of the Apocalypse are the rocks on the inside – apparently they served the apostle as pillows. Skala is also a city perfect to linger in: take a nice stroll through the gorgeous town and finish the evening off in one of the quaint bars.
Fiskardo – preserved since 18th century
You’ll experience the typically Greek flair in Fiskardo, a traditional fishing village. What awaits you in this picturesque town are narrow streets which seem to be even narrower due to the numerous balconies decorated with flowers. Fiskardo is one of the few towns which remained intact after the huge earthquake of 1953, so the original 18th century architecture is still present today. The village is surrounded by dense forests which invite for long walks and hikes. Perhaps the town doesn’t need sights such as the lighthouse or ruins of a Norman church – it’s a real sight in itself.
Sami – the place to be for tourists
The village of Sami is great for package holidaymakers since we can talk about a tourist town here. It’s not just the picturesque, gorgeous harbours that attract numerous guests here, but outstanding hotels too. Pools, wellness offers and playgrounds attract mostly families and provide entertainment for the young and the old. A mixture of culture, old structures and recreational activities such as excellent gastronomic and shopping locations as well as a diverse offer of water sports are difficult to surpass.
Best sightseeing opportunities
Cephalonia doesn’t just have a breathtaking nature to offer but also the most varied sights, above all the caves and grottos of the island. You should definitely pay a visit to the Melissani Cave just 2.5 km to the west of Sami. It’s one of the few positive outcomes of the 1953 earthquake. The cave was namely first discovered after a part of the ceiling was damaged by the commotion. Today the cave can be ventured into by boat and the lake shimmers inside in unbelievable colours inside the cave thanks to the sunshine intruding through the cave ceiling.
The Drongarati Cave is also regarded as one of the most popular sights on Cephalonia. According to speleologists the cave is as old as 150 million years! What’s still missing are the castles. And Greece really has the chance to show off now. Both the Agios Georgios Castle and the Assos Fortress are definitely something. While the Agios Georgios Castle is perched on a peak 300 metres tall, 600 metres long and protected with a 16,000m² defensive wall, the Assos Fortress is a part of the European World Heritage and at the same time one of the largest castles in Greece.
Relax on one of various beaches
We will primarily look at the largest and prettiest beaches in particular. The beach isn’t described as ‘a piece of heaven’ without reason, as the white sand nestled along the cliff walls and the crystal clear, azure blue sea paint a picture of a dream-like beach. So it’s no wonder that the Myrtos Beach has been chosen as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Such a pretty piece of nature has to be protected of course – construction is strictly forbidden here. But that’s not enough. The trademark of Cephalonia, Myrtos Beach was internationally recognised and chosen as one of the best beaches in the world. Such a distinction has to be celebrated. And so a huge music concert will take place on a full moon in August, which you’ll hopefully be able to witness live.
If you know a bit about Cephalonia, you’ve definitely heard about Xi Beach before. It’s bound to leave quite an impression in your mind thanks to its reddish sand. Together with the straw sunshades which will provide you with some shade, they form a perfect image of an extraordinary beach. And that’s not a secret to the visitors. It’s not just the unusual colour of the sand that attracts tourists here after all, but also the shallow waters and gentle waves. That way it’s best suited for families.
As is often the case in Greece, you’ll also have to spread your towel on pebbles on the Filiatro Beach. It seems not to bether some, as this beach is extremely popular (perhaps due to its proximity to the city of Vathy). As the water here is very warm, shallow and crystal clear, it’s perfect for swimming. Not too far away is yet another small bay, Sarakiniko, which is often overlooked due to the presence of Filiatro. The two beaches are just a kilometre away from each other. This makes the isolated bay even prettier than the tourist beach: free from buildings and beach bars of any kind, you can enjoy the undisturbed nature and, above all, limitless peace. Olive trees all around the beach complete the Greek feeling.
If you like the touristy atmosphere and don’t want to part with sunshades and sun loungers, boat tours, beach bars and gastronomy nearby, you should make your way to the Skala Beach. Don’t get me wrong: this beach is gorgeous! Surrounded by hills and rocks, this beach stretching for kilometres on end invites for long walks while the crystal clear water tempts to swim and snorkel for a while.
Off to Cephalonia With You!
You see, Cephalonia has a ton of things to offer. Undisturbed nature and diverse vegetation will make the hearts of nature lovers skip a beat! Because of the fact that the island has not yet fallen prey to mass tourism, you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxed holiday here, but by no means will you be bored. Depending on where you want to spend a couple of nice days or even weeks, don’t be surprised if you won’t be able to find a large hotel complex there. There are private holiday houses and even villas available for you to rent in the smaller towns. This way you’ll be able to completely immerse yourself in the Greek way of life.
In case you just can’t stop yourself: I’d be happy to help you start planning your holiday. Simply send me a request through my Deal Finder and I’m sure we can find the perfect offer just for you. Be sure to tell me whether you painted the island red on a buggy, motorcycle, helicopter or a sailboat after your trip – deal?