Kefalonia is a beautiful Greek Island in the Ionian Sea. A paradise of pristine waters, sandy coves, and rolling hills, the island is the perfect setting for the Greek vacation of dreams. As one of the largest Ionian islands, there’s a lot to discover – some of the best villages in Kefalonia are home to 16th-century Venetian castles, jaw-dropping views, and Hellenistic ruins.
The history of Kefalonia stretches back around 3.3 million years to the Palaeolithic age. The first inhabitants of Kefalonia were called ‘Leleges’, and used to worship the ancient Greek god of the sea, Poseidon. Remains from this ancient civilization can still be found around the island in the form of Mycenaean tombs and ancient castles. However, a heavily destructive earthquake in 1953 flattened much of the island, taking decades to build back.
Whether you’re keen to learn more about ancient Greek history, or would rather spend an afternoon in a seaside taverna, there’s something on Kefalonia for everyone. If you’re wondering which part of the island to visit, we have you covered. Read on for a review of the best villages in Kefalonia.
Sami is one of the true treasures of Kefalonia. This town on the east coast of the island houses Kefalonia’s second largest port, with a population of just 1,000 people. With a stunning, waterfront location surrounded by verdant forests and sandy coves, Sami is a gorgeous setting for your Greek vacation. There is a small beach at the edge of town just outside the harbor, with white stones and turquoise waters, but its most popular beach is Antisamos, famed as the setting of the film adaptation of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Antisamos is hailed as one of the finest beaches in all of Greece.
There’s a great deal of archeological heritage to discover in Sami. With signs of habitation from the Helladic period (3rd millennium BC) the archeological history of Sami is among the most important in Kefalonia. Today visitors can see the ruins of Sami from the Classical period in two acropoleis situated on the nearby hills of Paleocastro and Agioi Fanentes. It’s well worth visiting these historic sites to get a closer insight into the ancient civilizations that once inhabited Kefalonia.
Assos is another tiny and charming village in Kefalonia. This sleepy, waterfront village has a population of just 100 inhabitants. It has a quaint feel, with cobbled streets, pastel-hued houses, and the ruins of a Venetian castle. There are two white pebble beaches in Assos – a large one with umbrellas and loungers, and a smaller, quieter beach that feels relatively untouched. The clear, calm waters surrounding Assos make it a great spot for snorkeling.
As a highly picturesque location, Assos has become a popular day-trip destination. This means that prices in the village can be slightly inflated, but the beauty of the place more than makes it worth the price!
Argostoli is the capital of Kefalonia. With 14,000 inhabitants, Argostoli is more of a town than a village, but as one of the top destinations to visit on the island it had to be included in this list! This charismatic town stands on the far end of the natural bay, surrounded by mountains and green forests. The boat-lined harborfront features a long promenade, lined with benches where you can sit and watch the sunset over the surrounding mountains. Each morning, loggerhead sea turtles follow fishing boats into the harbor. Take a morning’ trip to the harborfront to get a great view of these surprisingly large creatures as they bob about in search of a morning snack!
Arguably the most modern and cosmopolitan part of the island, Argostoli is a thriving hub of shops, hotels, bars, and restaurants. The central square of the town – Plateia Valianou (Vallianos Square) – comes alive at night with the hustle and bustle of vacationers and locals enjoying drinks and dinner in the balmy evening weather. You’ll find a great range of places to eat in Argostoli, from your classic Greek tavernas to pizzerias, pan-Asian cuisine, and fine-dining affairs. There’s a thriving nightlife scene in Argostoli for a good spot of after-dinner dancing.
If you’re interested in the history of the island, the Archeological Museum of Kefalonia is a must. It houses archeological findings from the Mycenaean, Hellenistic, and Roman periods, including coins, swords, sculptures, and ceramics. Argostoli is also a great base for exploring the rest of the island – boat trips leave from the harbor every morning, while a couple of lovely coves are accessible on foot from the town. With so much to offer, Argostoli is one of the best villages in Kefalonia. It’s well worth visiting Argostoli during your trip to Kefalonia.
If you have a taste for luxury, you’ll probably want to head to Fiskardo. Situated at the northern tip of Kefalonia, Fiskardo has a high-end, cosmopolitan feel. It is one of the only parts of the island that escaped the damages of the 1953 earthquake, meaning that it retains much of its original Venetian architecture. This makes it stand out from other villages in Kefalonia, which tend to feature more modern, and less striking architecture.
With a winding waterfront lined with luxury boats, Fiskardo is something of a millionaire’s playground. The village offers a great view across the bay to the nearby island of Ithaca. It is home to some of the priciest real estate in all of Greece, with luxury hotels, cocktail bars, and upmarket seafood restaurants to boot. Nearby, you can find Paleolithic findings of a settlement and many old Byzantine Churches. There are also a number of pebbled beaches and coves near the village which are perfect for a cooling dip in Kefalonia’s crystal clear waters.
Poros is a stunning village on Kefalonia’s southeast coast. It is surrounded by the forested mountains of Atros and Pahni. As one of the first places to welcome tourists in the early 80s, Poros was once a central hub for tourism on the island. However, these days more modern, nearby resorts such as Skala have attracted much of the tourism away from the village, leaving it with a more authentic Greek feel. You’ll find plenty of brilliant Greek tavernas, lively bars, and cozy places to stay in Poros.
As a working port that connects Kefalonia to mainland Greece and the neighboring islands, Poros is well-situated for island hopping. The islands of Ithaca and Zakynthos are only a short distance away, with ferries regularly leaving the port. The beaches of Poros are covered with sand and small colorful pebbles. With just a few basic sun loungers and umbrellas, they have a more quiet, low-key feel than some of Kefalonia’s more buzzing beach resorts.
There are also a number of secluded coves surrounding the village that are accessible only by boat, making it a great place for marine adventures. A truly beautiful place to be, Poros should be top of your list of villages in Kefalonia.
Lixouri is the second largest village in Kefalonia. Built on the site of the ancient city of Pali, Lixouri is a historically significant part of Kefalonia. Unfortunately, it was almost entirely destroyed during the earthquake of 1953, but the village was rebuilt with respect for traditional architecture and it remains a beautiful place to visit. As one of the largest settlements on Kefalonia, Lixouri offers a good range of places to stay, with a great choice of bars, restaurants, and shops to visit. However, it has a quieter feel than Argostoli, making it a good destination for those who’d rather skip out on the hustle and bustle of the capital.
There are plenty of brilliant beaches a short distance from Lixouri. With aquamarine waters, white shingles, and a quiet, unspoiled feel, the beaches of Petanoi and Platia Ammos are a must-visit when staying in Lixouri. Xi beach is another brilliant beach, with clay-rich sand that has restorative benefits when rubbed on the skin.
Other beaches in the area include Atheras beach, Agia Eleni, Lagadakia, the bay of Vatsa, Vrahinari beach and Megas Lakos. For those keen to sample a bit of local culture, the library housed within the Typaldoi-Iakovatoi mansion is home to over 25,000 books of cultural importance to the island. The mansion’s courtyard hosts a great variety of cultural events during the summer months.
Last but not least on our list of villages in Kefalonia is Katelios. This quiet fishing village on the southeast of the island is a peaceful setting for a laid-back vacation. As recently as the early 2000s, the village comprised just a few houses and fishermen’s huts. However, the natural beauty of the area has attracted more tourists in recent years, leading to significant development. These days, the village is separated into two main areas: Ano Katelios where the permanent residents have their properties, and Kato Katelios, where there is most tourist accommodation.
Surrounded by thick, green forests, the natural beauty of Katelios attracts nature lovers from around the world. There are plenty of great hikes to the neighboring villages of Hionata, Mavrata, Markopoulo, and Ratzakli. With a quieter, less commercialized feel than some of the island’s more popular beaches, Agia Varvara is a perfect spot to spend sun-soaked days.
The famous ‘turtle beach’ of Ratzikli is also accessible by foot from Katelios. Loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs on the shore of these beaches during nesting season. Visitors can see baby turtles making their way to the sea. As an endangered species, protecting the eggs of these turtles is a top priority for local people, and an organization called “The Katelios Group” works to protect the loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs on these beaches. As one of the best villages in Kefalonia, Lixouri is truly worth a visit.
If you need further convincing to visit the stunning part of Greece, check out our list of reasons to visit Kefalonia!