Kefalonia (Cephalonia) was the 4th and final island in my 4-week Greek island hopping adventure in summer 2019.
Unlike the other 3, I didn’t even know this island existed before I started doing my research on the Greek islands. I just knew I wanted to visit islands from different island groups (rather than just stick to the Cyclades, as many tend to do).
A quick Google search brought my attention to the Ionian islands, and informed me that Kefalonia is the largest of these islands and has some seriously stunning beaches to write home about.
OBVIOUSLY the search ended there ;)
Though I was wiped out from two straight months of travel, the final week in Kefalonia was like the grand finale of the fireworks show that was my month in the Greek islands. OH MY GOODNESS THE BEACHES.
You guys, the beaches in Kefalonia are absolutely INCREDIBLE. I have never seen such clear water or such vibrant shades of blue anywhere else I’ve been in the world (yes, including my beloved Australia).
This is a place where you have forests AND tropical-looking beaches. HOW, my mind can’t quite compute. But I’m into it.
Not Kefalonia, but somewhere near it.
So with this post, I’m bringing you the Who’s Who of the best beaches in Kefalonia:
Myrtos Beach (The Show Stopper Beach)
If there was one image that was to represent the island of Kefalonia, it would most definitely be of Myrtos Beach.
I don’t think any explanation is needed, really:
Here’s how you do Myrtos: First, stop at the lookout on the eastern side of the beach (on the main road, way above the beach itself). Just look for the other tourists stopped there taking photos. From here you can really appreciate the beauty of this beach, with electric-blue water lining the impossibly white sand.
Then, drive back down to the beach, park your car along the road wherever you can find a space (good luck!), and plop yourself down in the sand.
You know how sometimes a beach can look incredible from above (or from drone shots), but then when you’re on ground level it looks a little less mind-blowing? NOT the case with Myrtos. The water looked just as clear and neon blue as it did from the lookout above. *swoon*
Antisamos Beach (The Beach Club Beach)
If you want beach club vibes, get yourself to Antisamos Beach. There’s a really nice-looking bar/restaurant by the beach entrance blasting club/lounge music, where most of the beach-goers will have set up camp on their beach loungers (I believe they’re free to use for paying customers).
If you’re a fellow introvert, fear not: you can easily escape the noise and crowds if you walk further down the beach. I walked all the way to the end and found a quiet little cove inhabited only by boats and snorkelers.
There’s also an outlet in the middle of the beach that rents out stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and inflatables.
Petani Beach (The Beach With The Best View From Above)
I actually visited Petani beach twice: once for sunset, and once during the day. It’s one of the best places to watch the sunset in Kefalonia just because the beach faces west, so definitely try to plan to be here for sunset if you can.
That said, a midday visit is also a must if you want to glimpse this beach at its prettiest. I lost my damn mind on the drive in when I caught sight of the beach looking like this:
Erasmos Tavern on the beach is a great spot to escape the sun and grab lunch or a drink.
Foki Beach (The Pine Tree Beach)
Foki Beach on the east coast is one of the more distinct Kefalonia beaches. I call it the pine tree beach for obvious reasons:
You can lounge in the shade of the olive trees on this beach, or opt to walk around the trail on the south side of the beach, where there’s a cave you can swim into as well as some smaller beaches.
Foki Beach is also a popular snorkeling spot. The water here is super calm, which makes it feel more like a lake than a beach.
Emplisi Beach (The Rock Shelf Beach)
Emplisi Beach is not too far from Foki Beach, situated on the other side of Fiskardo.
What I actually look like whenever I’m at the beach.
It’s not as stunning as some of the other beaches of Kefalonia, and yet I still found myself enjoying the hell out of it. Either side of the beach is lined with flat rock shelves, perfect for sunbathing away from the crowd on the sand. I lay here for hours, reading my kindle and gazing out toward Ithaca (a neighboring island), periodically jumping into the water to cool off or go for a snorkel.
Dafnoudi Beach (Beach With A Hike)
Dafnoudi Beach sits all the way in the northeast corner of the island, and is a 10 minute drive north from Fiskardo. Then from the main road, it’s about an 800m walk to the beach through a cypress forest.
There’s a cave on the right side of the beach with a little beach inside, and plenty of natural shade if you come here from mid to late afternoon.
Xi Beach (The Red Sand & Clay Beach)
I actually decided to base myself within walking distance of Xi Beach after seeing some gorgeous photos of its bright orange sand.
In real life, the sand is more of an orange-brown color (i.e. slightly underwhelming), and the water is very shallow and still, which makes it popular amongst families with young kids.
The clay is meant to exfoliate and soothe dry skin, but I didn’t notice a difference on my dry, flaky, overly sun-exposed arms and legs.
The best thing about Xi Beach, though, is that the cliffs lining it are made of white clay – so the thing to do here is wet the clay and then rub it onto your body, let it dry out, and then wash yourself off in the sea. Free spa treatment anyone?
Lagadokia Beach (The Local Beach)
If, like me, you’re staying on the peninsula part of Kefalonia and can’t be bothered driving an hour to the other side of the island to hit up the more higher profile beaches mentioned above, Lagadokia Beach is a solid option.
Less a beach and more two small neighboring coves with a little bit of sand by each, Lagadokia is very much a local spot. Aint no frills or tourists around this beach! And parking is an absolute breeze compared to all of the other Kefalonia beaches.
Platia Ammos Beach (The Hard-To-Access Paradisiacal Beach)
I devoted a whole blog post to Platia Ammos, one of my favorite beaches in Kefalonia… so read that if you want all of the details.
In short, this is a beach that’s said to be inaccessible to pedestrians due to an earthquake taking out the bottom half of the stairway leading down to it… but you actually CAN hike down to it if you’re fit and careful. I risked it and was rewarded with one of the most stunning beaches I’ve ever seen… and had it ALL TO MYSELF:
Seriously, this one of the best beaches in Kefalonia and few people bother to make the effort to get there. It’s all the way on the southwest coast, on the peninsula, so definitely out of the way if you’re staying on the main part of the island. Plus, you know, the whole perilous hike down from the parking lot.
BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT. Promise!
Other Things To Do In Kefalonia
Fiskardo (The Cosmopolitan Village)
Fiskardo (Fiscardo) is one of the few old fishing villages of Kefalonia that wasn’t devastated by the 1953 earthquake, which has resulted in it being the most popular village in Kefalonia (aka it’s v. touristy).
I can’t say I blame people for flocking here: Fiskardo is colorful and full of pretty traditional buildings, and its waterfront is lined with restaurants and yachts. It feels a bit fancy, and perhaps more like a place for couples and families to linger over drinks and a nice seafood meal. I felt a bit out of place as a solo female traveler, but enjoyed a quick frolic here all the same.
Assos (The Down-to-Earth Village)
By contrast, my afternoon in Assos was honestly the highlight of my entire week in Kefalonia.
Assos (Asos) is another colorful fishing village on Kefalonia, nestled between two hills. You might gasp a little as you turn off the main road and drive down into the village – Assos is quite a stunner! Parking, however, is a b*tch, and streets are narrow as you get closer to the center of town, so I’d advise parking on the side of the road without driving too far down.
Once you’ve made it to the waterfront, you can relax at the beach in front of the prettiest pastel-colored buildings.
If you’re up for a little adventure, walk along the beach towards the Molos Tavern and look for the stairs just to the right, which will lead up to a trail that winds around to the other side of the little peninsula. I found the best little cliff jumping spot over here, and also spotted some cool little beaches nearby that are only accessible by boat.
Lastly and most importantly, be sure to walk up to Assos Castle. It’s about a 30 minute walk up a paved road, and the views of the town and harbor from the top are incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I couldn’t be bothered exploring the actual castle and instead just spent the whole time staring down at the beautiful town.
……………………………….^ that point is where I walked to for the cliff jumping.
Argostoli (The Capital City)
I took the ferry over to Argostoli a couple of times during my week in Kefalonia and can assuredly say that you don’t want to visit the island capital during the afternoon. I made that mistake and had to wait til around 6pm for all the shops and restaurants to start opening up. Whoops!
Before 6pm, Argostoli’s a ghost town. Which is just as well, because wouldn’t you rather be at the beach during the day anyway? (FYI it was my one day off from the beach… I was trying to give my skin a break!)
I wouldn’t go out of the way to visit, but I can highly recommend two establishments in Argostoli worth stopping for:
- Romi – A women’s boutique with lots of cute, affordable dresses that caught my eye. I bought a romper and a sundress that the owner offered to have altered for me, which was ready for me in two days.
- Palia Plaka – The owner of Romi recommended this restaurant to me and it did not disappoint. Palia Plaka may in fact have the best food on the island. The free cake that gave me for dessert was the cherry on top.
Lixouri (The Other Town)
Lixouri is the main town on the peninsula side of Kefalonia. I drove through it every single day but only ever stopped to get groceries and to pick up baklava from Mavrοeidis Cafe (highly recommend).
But one other thing I wanted to mention is that there’s actually a ferry that runs from Lixouri to Argostoli, and you can take your car on it as well which can cut the drive down significantly, depending on where you’re headed. The drive between the two cities is about 45 minutes while the ferry ride is 20 minutes.
Melissani Cave (Electric Blue Water Cave)
Filed under Really Cool Sh*t You Didn’t Know Existed on a Greek Island: Melissani Cave.
Oh but this is not your average cave, my friends. This is actually a lake inside of a cave, which glows an electric blue color around midday (aka the best time to visit).
When I arrived to find a long line winding around the gift shop, through hallways, and down staircases, I very nearly turned on my heels and fled from this assembly line vibe… but the line thankfully moves fast, and they seem to run the attraction like a well-oiled machine.
At the start of the line, they load 8 people or so into a rowboat for a 15-minute cruise around the cave (there are a few boats out at a time, but they stagger them).
It was definitely worth the wait. What a cool spot!
How to get to Kefalonia
Wondering how to get to Kefalonia? You can either fly from Athens, or drive from Athens and take the ferry to Kefalonia:
- Fly from Athens to Kefalonia (<1 hour)
- Drive from Athens to Kyllini (3.5 hours) + ferry from Kyllini to Poros (1.5 hours) = 5 hours
- Drive from Athens to Patras (2.5 hours) + ferry from Patras to Sami (3.5 hours) = 6 hours
I chose to fly because I wouldn’t have saved much money driving by myself, at least not compared to the time I saved by flying! But if you’re traveling with a group or family, the drive + ferry option will probably be more economical for you.
Accommodation in Kefalonia
Before you book any accommodation in Kefalonia, I urge you to research what you’d most like to do and see where everything is located. Then you can book a hotel or room closer to those attractions.
If I were to do it again, I’d book a guesthouse or Airbnb on the northern half of the main part of the island, possibly around Sami or even Assos – this would cut down on your daily drives to most of the beaches. I stayed at Romanos Xi near Xi Beach and it took me at least an hour to get anywhere that wasn’t on that little peninsula.
Use the maps below to search for a guesthouse or Airbnb in Kefalonia!
Car Hire in Kefalonia
If you want to hire a car in Kefalonia (or anywhere in Europe, for that matter), I HIGHLY recommend you learn how to drive a manual car beforehand so that you don’t have to rent an automatic. Automatic cars are not super common in Europe, so you can imagine how rare they are on each of the Greek islands (and thus, how expensive they are).
That said, I did not heed my own advice (learning how to drive a manual car is on my 2020 goals list!). Instead, I thought I would just reserve my automatic car several months in advance of my trip to Kefalonia and hope for a better deal.
The most affordable automatic car hire in Kefalonia that I found was with Dirent a Car, via Vehicle Rent. I paid €268 (US$295) for a 7 day rental, including insurance. Ouch.
You’ll likely want to pick up and drop off your rental car at the airport, as that’s where most of the rental car companies are located. If you think you might want to take your rental car over to Ithaca for a day trip, be sure to ask permission from the rental company beforehand as some don’t allow it.