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Kefalonia, Greek Island: a wonderful holiday destination
The island of Kefalonia is situated in the Ionian Sea, to the west of mainland Greece, and is a popular tourist destination for both Greeks and other Europeans. The pretty fishing harbours, beautiful beaches and forested mountainous regions make it a diverse and interesting place to visit. It is fairly green as Greek islands go, with a good covering of pine trees in the mountains, and sweet scented wild herbs, olive groves and brightly coloured flowers wherever you look.
The best time to visit is probably late spring into early summer, April until early June, while the spring flowers are still at their best, and before it starts getting too hot. July and August are the hottest months, and also the busiest. September is also very pleasant, with the sea at its warmest.
Great food and drink are also a wonderful part of the holiday experience in Kefalonia, with a fantastic range of delicious Greek food on offer throughout the island.
Facts about Kefalonia
- Kefalonia is the largest of the seven Ionian islands, with an area of 266 square miles, and a population of around 32,000.
- Mount Ainos is the highest mountain on the island reaching up to 5,335 ft. above sea level.
- Much of the island was destroyed by a huge earthquake in 1953, so many of the buildings there now are new. Some of the older buildings were preserved at the northern end of the island, and deserted, damaged buildings can still be seen dotted around the island.
- The island shot to fame in 2001 when the film Captain Corelli's Mandolin, starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz, was shot on location there. It is a historic and romantic drama, set on the island during its WWII occupation, and based on the classic book of the same name by Louis de Bernieres.
At the northern tip of the island is one of the prettiest villages on the island. Fiskardo has a lovely harbour which is used by many of the visiting yachts that sail around the islands. The harbourside is lined with pretty shops and restaurants, and the old village still contains many older pre-earthquake buildings, as this corner of the island was slightly less affected.
Skala is a well appointed town at the southern end of the island, best known for its long stretch of sandy beaches, and good restaurants, shops and facilities. It is an ideal base for a family or group holiday. The beach is perfect for sunbathing and swimming, offers water sports, boat trips, and there are also umbrella chairs for hire. It is an extensive beach, and so rarely feels overcrowded. The town has a lot of good restaurants, bars and small shops, plenty of accommodation ranging from apartments, hotels and private villas, and, although very geared up for tourists, there is still a nice peaceful, laid-back feel about the place.
Myrtos bay (pictured at the top) is the classic picture postcard beach, and must be the most photographed view on the island, with its white beach and beautiful turquoise water. As can be seen in the photo, there is a very long and winding road leading down the cliffside to the beach, with hair-raising hairpin bends - but the journey is worth the effort. The top of the beach is sandy, turning to white pebbles as you get near the water. It is advisable to wear reef shoes if planning to swim there as it is very stony underfoot, it shelves steeply and the waves can be quite fierce, making it difficult to get in and out of the water. There are some basic facilities on the beach, including a beach-bar and umbrella chairs for hire. The beach was used for some scenes in the film of Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
Argostoli is the main city on the island, and if you fly into Kefalonia, will be the first place that you see, as this is where the island's airport is situated. It is a busy town, and worth at least a day trip, even if you have come for a quiet getaway. Here you can find a bustling harbour, museums, good shops, restaurants and great outdoor markets selling fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. Local fishermen bring their catch into the harbour in the mornings, and sell freshly caught fish directly from their boats. Look out for the huge loggerhead turtles that follow the boats into the harbour in search of scraps. There are seven regular visitors that are about 30 years old, and are a great hit with the tourists. One of the nearby beaches is a breeding ground for this rare turtle.