Kayaking in Kefalonia

Top outdoor activities in Kefalonia

As long as it takes to drink a glass of ouzo

On an island famous for its striking beaches, picturesque villages and Robola wine, it’s easy to forget that Kefalonia is also a paradise for outdoor activities. Mount Ainos is the tallest mountain in the Ionian Islands and has been a national park since 1962, while the Melissani and Drogarati caves are natural wonders. Much of Kefalonia is covered by forest and hills that are perfect for hiking and mountain biking and the coastline is lined with cliffs and coves that are made for exploring on a sea kayak or stand-up paddleboard or for scuba diving. You’ll find all of this and more in our top outdoor activities in Kefalonia

Water activities in Kefalonia

Sea Kayaking 

On an island with such a wonderful coastline, it’s only natural that the first of our outdoor activities in Kefalonia is in the sea. Sea kayaking is an ideal way to appreciate the beauty and diversity of both the Ionian Sea and Kefalonia itself, which seems to switch effortlessly between cliffs, beaches, sea caves and forest. It is an activity that is suitable for all ages and abilities and is a hit with anyone who loves to travel slowly and responsibly. You can hire a kayak and explore the coastline under your own steam but – as with all outdoor activities in Kefalonia – nothing beats being part of an organised tour. There are options for all ages and abilities pretty much wherever you are on the island. 

"Greece is so much more than Santorini! Instead, go to Kefalonia.”   @thebucketlistvagabond

Sea Kayaking in Kefalonia

In southern Kefalonia, there are sea kayaking tours that go from the island’s capital, Argostoli, to the beaches at Minies (10km, 5-6hrs including swim time) and from Agia Pelagia to Trapezaki beach (12km, 6hrs). Likewise, the 7 nautical mile route (also around 6hrs) around Fiskardo in the north (including Emplisi beach and the islet of Daskalio) is a favourite. In eastern Kefalonia, you can set out from picturesque Agia Efimia and explore the area’s many small bays and beaches. And over on the west coast, there are organised routes from Agia Kiriaki to Fteri beach and around Petani, known for the limestone cliffs and crystal-clear waters. 

Stand-Up Paddleboard

Another magical way to explore the Kefalonia coastline and feel connected to the sea is on a Stand-up Paddleboard. Again, you can hire a SUP and set off at your own pace. But there are also guided excursions where you’ll be taken to spots you’d probably never have found otherwise and learn all about the island. SUP tours set out from Antisamos beach and there are excursions from Agia Varvara beach to Kaminia beach in the south. Alternatively, you can hire a SUP at Antipata in the north and Xi beach in the south, as well as at popular Makris Gialos and Skala beach.

And if you’re the kind of person who likes to take things to the next level, how about SUP Yoga? If you think you’ve got the balance for it, you can swap your floor mat for a SUP in the bay between Argostoli and Lassi and close to Limanaki beach.

Scuba diving 

Whether you’re a "bubble-blowing” starter, a certified open-water diver or a technical diver capable of going extra deep, Kefalonia has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best scuba diving islands in Greece. The rugged coastline and good visibility create excellent diving conditions, with dive sites featuring fascinating drop-offs and caves and even World War II wrecks.  

At Skala, there are dive sites with amphorae scattered from a Roman-era shipwreck and at Agia Efimia there is a dive centre that will take you to a choice of diving spots near Myrtos beach and to a hole connected to Melissani cave (part of Kefalonia’s fascinating cave system). 

The Blue Canyon is a popular dive spot near Lassi and there are diving centres in Fiskardo and Lixouri, where you can get your PADI or SSI qualifications and learn about the all-important Posidonia seagrass and other marine life of the Ionian Sea. Who knows, perhaps one day you’ll have the skills to make the dive to the HMS Perseus, the World War II shipwreck lying at a depth of 52m between Kefalonia and Zakynthos.   

"Here are some reasons you might prefer this destination over the more popular islands: Variety of Activities: Kefalonia offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, snorkeling, and exploring caves, which may appeal to adventure enthusiasts"  @thebucketlistvagabond

Exploring Kefalonia’s legendary caves

Kefalonia is one of Greece’s most geologically fascinating islands, with an underground cave system known to transport water from one side of the island to the other. Of the caves you can visit, there’s a standout champion – at least in terms of Instagrammability. Half cave, half lake, Melissani is the kind of natural attraction that (especially when the midday light bounces off the water) makes you gasp in wonder. 


A boat trip at Melissani Cave involves being rowed around the lake by a boatman who will tell you all about the geological history of the cave. There is a large open-air chamber (the roof collapsed centuries ago) and an enclosed section with 20,000-year-old stalagmites and stalactites and a site where ancient human artefacts have been found. 

Near Melissani are other caves that form part of Kefalonia’s cave system. There are thought to be more than 15 caves in the area alone, including the Drogarati Cave which (from the size of the stalagmites and stalactites) is estimated to be around 140 million years old. Its main chamber is some 37m below ground (65m x 45m in area and 20m tall) and becomes even more impressive when you learn that it has staged public concerts. Advanced cavers can go as deep as 120 metres with the help of technical equipment and experienced guides.

Elsewhere, near the village of Poulata there is the Angalaki Cave, which can be reached by following a path from the Monastery of Themata to Karavomilos. You can either view it from the hole in the roof, or explore it on an organised tour by descending with the help of ropes and technical equipment.

Hiking on magical Mount Ainos and beyond

Hiking is among the most popular outdoor activities in Kefalonia. There are trails all over the island but nothing beats hiking on Mount Ainos. Covered in Kefalonia fir tree and black pine, most of the mountain is a Natura 2000-protected reserve. Wildlife includes birds of prey and, if you're really lucky, semi-wild horses.

There are five marked walks on Mount Ainos, including a circular path from the Environmental Centre through the forest to the Hionistra viewpoint, from where you can see Argostoli and the port of Sami as well as the islands of Ithaca and Lefkada. A little more challenging is the walk from Digaleto to the 1,628m peak, Megas Soros. If you thought the views from the Hionistra were special, these stretch all the way to the Peloponnese coast. 

"We took part in the Mt Ainos Marathon, 10km in the woods of Mt Ainos! Finished! #StayActiveKefalonia #AinosMountainMarathon"  @giovannitosca

Beyond Mt Ainos, you’ll find organised hiking paths wherever you are based on Kefalonia. Highlights include the marked trail up to Assos (a traditional village overlooked by a Venetian fortress) and a number of paths from Sami, including the one to Antisamos beach and (for well-conditioned hikers) a 17km guided hike from the main square of Sami through a forest of holly and oak trees up to Paleokastro castle, believed to be one of Kefalonia’s four ancient city-states. 

Hiking in Kefalonia

In western Kefalonia, there is a marked hiking path from Atheras to Ammidi beach and, right at the northern tip, close to Fiskardo, a short trail to Dafnoudi beach, which is otherwise inaccessible by land. And for the really adventurous, there are organised trails from Sami to Koutsoupia beach and from Palea Vlahata village to Themata Monastery, founded at the end of the 11th century and where an icon of the Virgin Mary is said to have healing properties.

Horse riding in the hills and by the coast

Horse riding in Kefalonia is made extra-special by all the greenery. There are a number of options but please make sure to go for one where the horses are clearly well cared for and choose an appropriate time of day for your ride. You wouldn’t want to be out in the midday summer heat any more than a horse would!

There are rides that start in Skala and take you past pristine beaches (eg Mounda beach) or up into the hills to Old Skala (the original Skala settlement, abandoned after the 1953 earthquake that caused so much destruction on Kefalonia). Other excursions have views of Mt Ainos and the Koulourata Valley. And riding around the Castle of Agii Fanentes, you pass scenery from the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in the early 2000s, including views of the bay of Sami and neighbouring Ithaca and Lefkada. 

You can choose from short excursions (ideal for small children) to all-day hacks that include swimming stops as well as rides through olive groves next to a riverbed and even multi-day expeditions that allow you to build your holidays in Kefalonia around your favourite outdoor activity.

The adrenaline-rush of coasteering

Next an activity that may be new to you. Coasteering involves climbing, hiking, cliff diving and abseiling. If this isn't for you, move on to the next activity. But if you're just a little bit curious, Kefalonia is perfect for the sport. The high cliffs and rugged coastline are ideal for coasteering and there are guides in Kefalonia with all the technical know-how and equipment to make it safe and fun.

You walk for a bit, climb for a bit and get the thrill of jumping into the sea. It mixes bravery, adrenaline and teamwork and is a great way to learn basic rock climbing and scrambling techniques and how to jump safely from a height into the sea. 

Tandem paragliding for lifetime views

Your adrenaline rush reaches a new height next (literally) with tandem paragliding. This is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness Myrtos - one of the star beaches in Kefalonia – from the ultimate vantage point. 

Tandem Paragliding at Myrtos beach
Tandem Paragliding at Myrtos beach

With the security of an experienced pilot (and no previous experience necessary), you can sit back and enjoy one of the most extraordinary settings in Kefalonia and the blue of the Ionian Sea. The instructor will manage every part of the flight for you while you soak up the magic.

Cycling & mountain biking tours in Kefalonia

The last of your outdoor activities in Kefalonia is cycling or mountain biking. It’s another experience that’s perfectly suited to the green and hilly landscape and the mazy coastline. There are bike rentals in all the major settlements of Kefalonia (Argostoli, Fiskardo, Agia Efimia, Sami, Lixouri, Lourdata, Skala…) and organised day and even multiday cycling excursions in many parts of the island. Some take you up into the hills or to villages and others include stops for a swim at less frequented beaches and even vineyard visits, where you'll learn about Kefalonia's Robola wine tradition

There are popular routes for mountain biking on Mount Ainos, with the advantage that you can cover more distance than on foot and enjoy views of the whole of Kefalonia. And there are organised cycling tours that set out from Sami, passing Haliotata and Poulata and including Karavomilos and Melissani caves or the caves at Zervati and Drogarati.

Other popular cycling routes in Kefalonia are from Agia Efimia to Komitata (stopping at a viewpoint overlooking Ithaca) before continuing to Assos and ending at Myrtos beach. Alternatively, from Agia Efimia there are organised bike tours that take you through the Omalon valley (the wine region of Kefalonia) and include the Monastery of Agios Gerasimos before continuing to Argostoli. 


A final bonus for outdoor activity enthusiasts is the annual Stay Active in Kefalonia event, which takes place in late summer and is for participants of all ages and abilities. Organised hiking, trail running, sea kayaking and cycling tours take place around the island with guides who also share their knowledge about the history and culture of Kefalonia. The highlight is a full 42km marathon, but there are also activities and events for the whole family at a time when nature on the island is at its best. 

“First day at #StayActiveKefalonia. Exploring @kefalonia_island_greece with the azure shores and mountain peaks, where tranquility and outdoor activities blend in harmony”  @capra311

Top outdoor activities in Kefalonia

From hiking and mountain biking on Mount Ainos to scuba diving, horse riding and exploring 140 million-year-old caves, the outdoor activities of Kefalonia will be among the highlights of your holidays on the largest island in the Ionian Sea. 

Discover the top things to do in Kefalonia 

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Kefalonia: Excursion to Melissani - Myrtos Beach

Kefalonia: Excursion to Melissani - Myrtos Beach

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