Greek Guide

Kefalonia Island Greece Cephallonia Guide Kefalonia

Kefalonia Island Greece Cephallonia Greek Holiday Guide

Kefalonia is the largest of the Greek Ionian Islands located off the west coast of the Peloponnese. Novelist Louis de Bernieres put this idyllic island on the world stage when he made it the focus of his best selling saga of love and war, Captain Corelli's Mandolin. The world fell head over heels in love with Kefalonia and with a little help from Hollywood the island was suddenly transformed into one of the most desirable of all Greek holiday destinations.

De Bernieres became passionate about the place after booking a package holiday here and it's easy to understand why. Kefalonia offers an irresistible combination of magnificent mountain scenery, haunting subterranean caves and lakes and superb beaches.

The construction of a new airport terminal in the mid 1990s and the release of the blockbuster movie in 2001 saw a huge increase in the number of British tour groups descending on the island. But the package holiday hordes have failed to dent Kefalonia's immense charm and natural beauty. Wild horses roam on the slopes of towering Mount Enos, a national park forested with a unique species of fir tree, and loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs on the island's south coast beaches.

If you're travelling with a tour group you'll probably fly directly to the island's airport which is seven kilometres south of the capital Argostoli. Regular ferries connect the island's east coast port of Sami with Patras on the Greek mainland (journey time 2.5 hours). Many independent travellers make the journey by bus from Athens there are daily services and the ferry crossing is included in the ticket price.

Sami was the main location for the Corelli movie but if you've read the book or seen the film you'll know the town was razed to the ground in the 1953 earthquake so don't be disappointed to find it's not quite as lovely now as when Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz roamed its streets (they were actually the streets of a man made film set).

For a taste of what the island towns used to look like you'll need to visit the delightful village of Fiskardo in the north. The village's limestone foundations protected its lovely 18th century Venetian buildings from being toppled in the quake.

Kefalonia's top attractions include the Drogarati Cave, 3.5 kilometres south west of Sami. Some spectacular stalactites and stalagmites adorn the cavern where the acoustics are so good that concerts are occasionally staged inside the great opera diva Maria Callas once performed here. Don't miss the chance of a boat trip into the extraordinarily beautiful Melissani Cave, five kilometres west of Sami, where shafts of sunlight create a kaleidoscope of colour in the waters of two awe inspiring underground caverns.

The island's 250 kilometre coastline is peppered with many excellent sand and pebble beaches including magnificent Myrtos, on the north west coast, which is widely regarded as being one of the loveliest beaches in Europe.

Be sure to try the delicious Robola white wine for which Kefalonia is famous throughout Greece and beyond the island's hillsides are smothered with the vineyards which yield the Robola grape and you can enjoy a free tasting at the bodega where the wine is produced.