Kefalonia Travel Guide
Lesser known in tourist circles but no less impressive than other isles, Kefalonia is an incredible place to travel. Yes, it has beaches (and stunners at that).
But, it also features monasteries with compelling backstories, a national park, and a sad war memorial.
Plan to have something to do every day during your time on this unique island.
Come check out our Kelafonia travel guide as we cover the best things to do on Kelafonia, Greece.
Planning a day away from the beach? Start your Kefalonia culture tour by visiting the Monastery of Agios Gerasimos. The creators of this holy place named it after St. Gerasimos, the patron saint of Kefalonia.
St. Gerasimos earned his sainthood by ministering to poor and sick people his entire life. To this day, locals often name their children after him as a tribute. Within the monastery that bears his name, you’ll see the man himself. His devotees encased his body in a glass coffin, which shows no signs of decomposition 400 years on.
Aside from the main event, this monastery also boasts attractive frescoes and brilliant chandeliers. For these reasons and others, make sure you take time to see this place while you’re in Kefalonia.
Those looking for a lower-key church in Kefalonia will want to check out the Monastery of Panagia Agrilion. Sat high above the waters of the Bay of Sami, the views alone are reason enough to visit. However, the monastery will impress with its attractive exterior. Clad in the traditional Greek whitewash with red trim, it is a very photogenic building.
Two shepherds founded this monastery in the 18th century. While they were out tending to their flock, they found an icon of the Virgin Mary. After witnessing it perform miracles, they built the monastery on the spot where they found it.
They crafted the icon they found into one they called Agriliotissa. Unfortunately, it is not open consistently enough to guarantee entrance to its inner sanctum. Additionally, it is still a functioning monastery. Respect the monks on-site. If you can’t go in, the view of the exterior and the sea still make a visit worthwhile.
Today, Kefalonia is a peaceful place enjoyed by sun-seekers from around the globe. But, during the Second World War, it was witness to a horrific massacre. Pay your respects to 3,000 Italian service personnel at the Memorial of the Acqui Division.
In 1943, Mussolini saw the writing on the wall. In that year, he negotiated the surrender of Italy to the Allies. There was just one problem – Italian and German forces were together in Kefalonia on a joint operation. When the Nazis heard of this “betrayal”, they opted to disarm the Acqui Division.
This decision did not sit well with the Italians. They refused to comply. The result was sadly predictable – it was a bloodbath, with 1,300 soldiers dying in short order. Five thousand more were executed in the ensuing months, while 3,000 more died when their transport ship sank. A war memorial sits on the site where they were gunned down to honour their memory.
Want to enjoy the nature of Kefalonia without lying on a beach? Spend a day walking the trails of Mount Ainos National Park. This protected area is the only one in the Greek Islands. It protects a species of pine found only on Kefalonia, between 600 and 1,600 metres above sea level.
Several paths, ranging between 2.5 and 8 kilometres in length, will allow you connect with this fragrant pine forest. Keep your eyes open for wild horses!
During your time in Kefalonia, you’ll be spending more than your share of time at the beach. Ensure you dedicate at least one day to Myrtos Beach. This white pebble beach is a stunner, as it skirts the edge of a massive sea cliff.
It has won dozens of awards from publications over the years as Greece’s best beach. That’s no small feat, considering the competition it’s up against. Despite its location, access is easier than it appears – a bus runs routes down the winding, steep access road.
Skala Beach is another place that is worth your time. This beach gets busier, but it is a sandy one. It has won the coveted Blue Flag designation, meaning you’ll have no worries about cleanliness.
Finally, Petani Beach is a good spot for those looking to get away from it all. Unlike Myrtos Beach, no public transit runs here – you’ll need to find your own way. As a result, it is a quieter spot. If you plan on going swimming, beware – a severe drop-off means that undertows are a problem here.
Are you looking for an otherworldly experience? Go on a day trip to Melissani Cave. In ancient times, locals referred to this place as the Cave of the Nymphs. It is a karst cave filled with crystal clear water. In Mexico, geologists know this cave type as a cenote. When taking a boat through, the clarity of the water can make it appear to “float” in pictures.