Highlight villages of Kefalonia
One of the most picturesque of Kefalonia’s villages, Assos is located in the northern part of the island. Its pastel-coloured houses cascade down the hillside and within a dainty cove is a pebbly beach that looks out onto the signature blue and green of the Ionian Sea. The hill above the village is sprinkled with houses and tavernas line the shore, providing food with views al-fresco. Be sure to explore the town square and the Venetian castle above the village. It’s a 20-minute uphill walk to get there but the views are captivating, especially at sunset.
Also in the north and enclosed within a small bay, Fiskardo is another of Kefalonia’s best-known villages, and not for nothing as the multicoloured houses stand just as majestically in the harbour as they did when they were built by the Venetians in the 18th century. Fishing boats bob gently in the water and tavernas and shops line the shore, beckoning you to give them the attention they deserve. You’ll find several beaches nearby (Emplisi, Dafnoudi and Foki), with greenery that reaches the shore and the Ionian Sea’s turquoise waters doing their thing. Note that boat trips from Lefkada visit Fiskardo (as well as a selection of Kefalonian beaches).
As pretty as it is cosmopolitan, this seaside settlement in northern Kefalonia is also one of the island’s most important ports, receiving ferries from Patra (in the Peloponnese) and Astakos (in Central Greece). There is plenty of history in Sami, with the ancient citadel above the village (offering splendid views) dating to the 3rd century BC and the Archaeological Collection of Sami being a must for anyone wanting to learn more about Kefalonia’s past. You’ll love just walking along the promenade, picking your taverna and admiring the views of Mt Ainos on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other. Meanwhile, visits to beaches like Antisamos and the caves of Melissani or Drogarati tie in beautifully with a visit to Sami.
If you like authentic and postcard-pretty, the seaside village of Agia Efimia (9km from Sami) delivers every time. The marina is well equipped to handle more than 70 boats, and beaches like Myrtos and Agia Paraskevi are close by. Find yourself a waterfront taverna for a seafood lunch or sit down for coffee and people-watch. It’s that kind of place. As a bonus, the annual summer festival on July 11 celebrates the village’s namesake saint.
If you want some mountain air, head for Valsamata. Within the Omalos mountain range in the heart of Kefalonia, it’s part of a larger village community that merged with neighbouring Fragata. Around 20 minutes from Argostoli, it’s famous for its church dedicated to Kefalonia’s patron saint, Gerasimos, and being surrounded by the island’s biggest concentration of Robola grape production. With the vineyards in the surrounding area and the Agricultural Wine Cooperative of Kefalonia located here, there is plenty of choice for wine tours – as well as an annual wine festival in late August, with plenty of food and music as well as wine. Just outside the village is a choice of tavernas (don’t miss out on Kefalonia’s sumptuous meat pie). And you can walk off any unwanted calories by exploring nearby Palia Valsamata.
Bonus: Palia Vlachata
There is an eerie beauty to Palia Vlachata, one of Kefalonia’s villages levelled by the 1953 earthquake and since reclaimed by nature. Its abandoned houses appear to have stood still in time. However, there is more to Palia Vlachata than meets the eye. Every summer, the Saristra Festival gets underway, with events ranging from music and arts to kids’ activities, screenings and exhibitions, breathing life into the debris of this ghost village. It’s one of the most loved summer festivals and more than worth your time if you have the chance of attending.