“As you set out for Ithaca, hope the voyage is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery,” wrote the great Greek poet Constantinos Cavafy. Can one journey provide myth and immortality? It can, if the final destination is Ithaca. Odysseus’ adventurous and tumultuous voyage towards his homeland made this Ionian island
mythical. It turned it into a symbol for spiritual journeys, inspiration, refuge.
Your own trip to this unique landscape will also be the stuff of legend: gorgeous coves, beautiful beaches and a wooded landscape adored by yachters and sailors, the locals with their wry sense of humour, traditional hamlets, enticing Kioni Bay, mediaeval Anogi and Exogi with its ‘pyramids’. It is an island for lovers of reflection and tranquility, for travellers excited by discovery, and most of all… for those in search of their own private Ithaca.
What to do in Ithaca
The island of Odysseus
The capital of Odysseus’ kingdom, Ithaca was first inhabited in the Neolithic Age. Despite the research, Homer’s Ithaca has still not been revealed. However, excavations have brought to light more than 30 archaeological sites. And we all want to believe that one day, not too far away, Odysseus’ palace will be unearthed.
Homer’s Ithaca inspired Cavafy to write one of the most powerful poems of all time, in 1910, that bear’s the island’s name.
Kioni: a bay in the valley
It is impossible not to fall in love with Kioni – especially when you arrive by sailboat at the enclosed bay, with its traditional, picturesque, listed fishing village. Stone homes with patios brimming with flowers, little coffee shops and restaurants with tables on the water, stylish bars. As soon as you step onto the waterfront, Kioni will take you on a charming journey into a history that started in the 16th century.
A touch of luxury
Art hotels, sophisticated boutique hotels, luxury villas with private pools… your stay in Ithaca is bound to be unforgettable. The Villa at Schinos beach has become a destination in and of itself. In addition to being a favourite haunt of Onassis and Jackie O, other celebs that have stayed here include Madonna, The Beach Boys and the cast of Mamma Mia.
Vathi and Lazareto: the lady of the island
Built within this deep-water, fjord-like bay, the capital of the island maintains its charm and its traditional Ionian architecture. Museums, cafes, shops, all-day bars, restaurants, stylish hotels, make up the main part of town. Just a stone’s throw away is the historic islet of the saviour, Lazareto, with its small 17th century church.
Katharon Monastery: a religious mecca
A religious beacon, the monastery of Panagia tis Kathariotissas, patron of Ithaca, has been standing in Homer’s Niritos, the most beautiful point of the island and a significant attraction, since 1696. Don’t miss its feast day every September 7.
Images of Ithaca
Hidden gems of Ithaca
A natural playground: Anogi’s menhirs
In the mediaeval village of Anogi, you’ll find impressive prehistoric monolithic monuments, the menhirs. No, they weren’t built by Obelix. They’re nature’s creations. The most impressive is called Araklis.
In Ithaca, deep under water, you’ll find Poseidon’s beautiful valleys, caves and reefs, perfect for scuba diving. If you’re lucky you may come face to face with one of the Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) that take refuge on the island’s rocky shores.
Located outside Stavro, it is named after the man who became rich from selling gold coins he found in the cave to antiquities looters. The cave was a centre of worship from the Early Helladic Period to the first century AD, as attested to by statues of deities such as Artemis, Athena, Hera and others found there.