WHY IONIAN ISLAND HOLIDAYS?
AWARD WINNING HOLIDAYSIONIAN & AEGEAN HOLIDAYS ARE PROUD TO HAVE BEEN VOTED BEST TOUR OPERATOR TO HELLENIC EUROPE AT THE BRITISH TRAVEL AWARDS 2011 AND 2012.
EXPERT ADVICEOur team of experienced and knowledgeable advisers are here to make your holiday to the Greek islands memorable - and for the right reasons!
There were settlements here in 50,000BC long before the modern Mediterranean had taken shape. Wood from the prized Kefalonian fir trees, named Abies Cephalonica after its native island, has even been found in the Minoan Palace at Knossos in Crete.
By the 7th century BC the island had already established democratic rule, when it was split into four kingdoms, city states with government by consensus. Perhaps this explains why Kefalonians, who have had so many different nations wanting to possess and rule their lovely island over the centuries, have such a healthy disregard for unnecessary bureaucracy.
Individuality, genuine friendliness and a marvellous sense of humour characterise the island people. Kefalonia has some of the most dramatic scenery in the region, such as the national park of Mount Ainos, the Ionian Islands’ highest peak, with its famous fir forests and elusive wild ponies left behind by the Crusaders.
The spectacular caves of Melissani and Drogarati near Sami, the magnificent sea cliffs of the northwest coast near Assos and picturesque villages such as Fiskardo, it is easy to understand why so many visitors return year after year.
The island has seen some commercial tourist development in areas around Lassi near Argostoli and Skala, further south. Here one can find some of the best beaches with the cleanest water in the Mediterranean, however they may be crowded in high and peak season.
Although all of our properties are situated in much quieter areas of the island, a visit to the beaches Makris Gialos and Platis Gialos near Lassi or the fine sandy beach at Skala can be great fun, especially if there are children in the party. Greeks in general and the Kefalonians in particular still believe in the principle of the extended family. This is the perfect island for a family holiday. Friendships quickly develop, especially when the common language is laughter.
On the other hand Kefalonia has so much to offer those wishing for a quieter holiday away from it all. Some of the best walking in Greece can be found here, especially in the undeveloped Erissos peninsula in the north.
Take a leisurely coastal stroll through forests of oak and strawberry trees to an empty cove, often with its own tiny chapel set amongst the olive groves. Venture through the old wheat fields and vineyards of Vari, now reclaimed by carpets of wild flowers in spring and autumn, or join a guided expedition from coast to coast with a knowledgeable local guide. Walking in parts of Kefalonia is as far removed from the crowded ‘footways’ of other parts of Europe as one could imagine.
Kefalonia is an island for all seasons. The surrounding sea has long been a mecca for yachtsmen, but nowadays the land-based visitor also has the opportunity to explore Kefalonia by water. It’s said that you can’t have your cake and eat it. Possibly not, but surely the next best thing must be to stay in a comfortable waterside villa or apartment with the use of a motor boat to reach any one of a dozen or more little coves only accessible by sea; return in the evening to a friendly taverna serving an island speciality such as Kefalonian meat pie!
The island’s romantic associations go back long before a certain Italian soldier plucked his mandolin, won the heart of a local girl and invited Hollywood over for a visit.
Poros in the south and Agios Spiridion in the Lixouri peninsula both have strong claims to be the site of Odysseus’ palace. Here the ever faithful Penelope waited ten years for the return of her husband.
Much later Lord Byron, perhaps the most romantic poet of a very romantic age, stayed on the island at Metaxata near Argostoli. Here he is commemorated by a statue in the small plateia where his house once stood. It was from Kefalonia that he set sail on his last voyage to the mainland in support of the struggle for Greek independence. The Kefalonian people took him into their hearts and even today ‘O Vyronos’ as he was called, is spoken of with great affection.
A week in a restored cottage surrounded by orange trees, wild rosemary on terrace walls with the moon rising above Ithaka might not be romantic enough, but a fortnight certainly would.
Kefalonia is the home of Ionian Island Holidays, so although we may have to plead guilty to a slight bias, we would love to share our home island with you.
- Explore secluded coves around Fiskardo in your own motor boat
- 3 island cruise: Skorpios, Lefkada & Meganisi
- Visit Melissani’s underground lake
- See the stalactites and stalagmites of Drogarati Cave
- Tour the Robola winery
- Enjoy Kefalonia’s 11 Blue Flag beaches including Myrtos Beach near Assos
- Horse riding in the Sami area
- Visit the peak of Mount Ainos (1627m) the highest mountain in the Ionian
- Visit St. Gerassimos monastery
- Snorkeling tour with the Marine Adventure
- Natural history, dolphin spotting and mythical Ithaka tour from Fiskardo
- Visit the ancient Venetian remains at St. George’s Castle and Assos
- Visit the Archaeological and Folk Art museum in Argostoli
- Celebrate St. Gerassimos feast days: 16th August & 20th October
- Visit FNEC’s nautical and environmental museum in Fiskardo.
A Norman adventurer by the name of Roberto Guiscard sailed into this enchanting natural harbour on the northern tip of Kefalonia. His stay was not altogether successful, he soon succumbed to the plague. Happily, later visitors, most notably the Venetians, left a more lasting legacy in the graceful buildings that line the waterfront.
Owing to a quirk of geology, these buildings survived the great earthquake of 1953 that devastated much of the Ionian. Modern Fiskardo, thanks to strict planning regulations, combines all the aesthetic beauty of Venetian architecture, with a thriving community, that has become a popular port of call to yachtsmen and visitors from all over the world.
For the armchair sailor, boat watching from the comfort of a shaded table beside the water, cold drink to hand, can become addictive but for the more energetic, Fiskardo has all the facilities of a well run small village.
Despite the evident bustle of life around the harbour, Fiskardo has none of the brashness of many Mediterranean holiday centres. Narrow alleys and steps lead away from the harbour past old houses, their balconies festooned with jasmine and bougainvillea, towards the cypress forest and olive groves that surround the village.
Within a few minutes one can be wandering along ancient tracks to deserted hamlets. Discovering paths which wind through unspoilt and protected woodland to narrow coves, where the contrast between the shining white pebbles of the beach, and the clear blue of the water invites one to stop and stay for a while.
History is here too. From the Venetian light tower on the headland, in the ruin of the Norman church, behind the Roman remains, to the mysterious origins of Cleopatra’s Chair.
Natural beauty, history, shops, villas and tavernas, Fiskardo has them all. But perhaps, the town’s greatest attraction, and the one that brings visitors back time again, is not so immediately obvious. It is the local people.
Virtually every business, from a restaurant providing internationally acclaimed cuisine to a traditional bakery hidden up a side street, is family owned and operated. These are people whose natural hospitality is a way of life. Behind the Venetian façade of Fiskardo lies a spirit of people whose individuality and friendliness has survived invasion, revolution, and earthquake.
Be warned, a holiday here can easily become a way of life!
The north of Kefalonia is blessed with crystal clear waters and blissfully quiet shingle beaches. Those near Fiskardo stretch around the headland with the more secluded beaches reachable only by sea.
- Fiskardo has its own shingle beach, Zavalata, just seconds from the main harbour sheltered by olive trees
- Two shingle beaches, Foki Bay and Emblisi Beach, 10 minutes walk from Fiskardo, excellent swimming and snorkeling in the translucent waters
- Dafnoudi Beach has an enticing cave to cool off in away from the heat of the summer. Alternatively, one can explore a sunken wreck just off Doliha Bay
- The coves at Alaties Beach and Agia Jerusalim are only 10 minutes drive away and well worth a visit if not only for their excellent waterside tavernas.
Markandonata: In the 17th century two brothers acquired all the land around the present day hamlet of Markandonata and built themselves a house. Their names were Markos and Adonis, hence the name. The present patchwork of fields, olive groves and vineyards date back to that time. There are many fabulous walks in this area on the old bridleways through the woods and down to the coast.
Antipata: A footpath from Markandonata leads to the nearby village of Antipata with its plateia. There are three traditional tavernas and a mini market.
Manganos: The village of Manganos, with a well-stocked corner shop, greengrocer and a taverna with magnificent sunsets, is within easy reach of all our properties.
Matsukata: A drive from Fiskardo along the eastern coastline through the olive groves brings you to the charming old village of Matsukata. The village is a world away from the bustle of Fiskardo, such is the wonderful atmosphere and peace of your surroundings. This village is full of secret trails, dry stone walls and walks that do not disappoint as they bring you to exquisite views of Doliha Bay and across the channel to Ithaka.
The island of Kefalonia is renowned for the variety of its natural landscapes. For sheer awesome beauty, the stretch of coastline that runs from the northern tip of the Lixouri peninsula in a great sweep to Cape Dafnoudi in Erissos, is unmatched in the Ionian.
At the very heart of these magnificent and wild cliffs is the world famous Myrtos Beach, with its crescent of dazzling white sands and azure water, broken only by the incessant surf, said to be one of the seven finest beaches in the whole of the Mediterranean.
North of Myrtos the scenery becomes even more dramatic with vast crags overhanging a restless sea, and steep mountainsides of rocky outcrops, where only falcons hover, the last place where one would expect to find a haven of peace and tranquility.
The first view of the craggy headland of Assos that juts uncompromisingly out from the mainland, complete with the remains of a massive Venetian stronghold, only reinforces the feeling that this is an awesome place, magnificent certainly but a haven, never!
A closer look from the safety of a lay-by on the high main road to Fiskardo, will reveal a cluster of whitewashed houses, with striking red roofs, perched on a narrow isthmus connecting the headland to the shore. A side road sweeps down in a series of winding bends through old vine terraces on the hillside, and suddenly a small land-locked harbour appears, sheltered by the slender ridge and the steep slopes of the headland. There’s a peaceful, tree-lined plateia behind a small beach, three or four tavernas and a cluster of picturesque houses clinging to the hillside; the village of Assos, a true sanctuary.
When viewed from the small stone quay, with fishing boats moored alongside and a few yachts at anchor in the bay, the headland appears much more benign with a scattering of green pines breaking up the bare hillside. The afternoon sun turns the castle walls to a warm orange and the sound of children playing in the shallow water drifts across the harbour. The Assos of war and invasion is transformed into a peaceful paradise.
All our properties in Assos share virtually the same fantastic location on the isthmus above the village and harbour. Here, the Nine Muses of Greek Myth sat and guarded the passage to the heights of the headland. It is a short stroll either down the narrow road or a stepped lane to the village centre, Paris plateia, named in honour of the French city that raised funds for the rebuilding of the village after the earthquake of 1953.
A single, narrow street leads away from the sea, overlooked by traditional cottages and houses. It soon branches and the left hand continuation zigzags steeply uphill to join the original Venetian road which can be followed all the way up to the main road, a wonderful walk. The castle, currently being restored, is well worth a visit. A spectacular cliff path to the fortress has also been repaired and joins up with the original road to make a wonderful expedition.
Despite its relative isolation, Assos is only half an hours drive from Fiskardo to the north and the unspoilt villages of the high central plateau, which can be linked in a circular drive or one can continue down the east coast to Agia Efimia, Karavomilos, with its famous Melissani flooded cave, and Sami, returning in time for the sunset from Myrtos Beach.
- Alexanna Apartments
- Aloni Cottages
- Anna's House
- Cavos Inn
- Costa's House
- Emelisse Art Hotel
- Erissos Pavilion
- George's House
- Kalograta Villa
- Kalokeri Apartments
- Karteri Apartments
- Peristera's House
- Rowena's Villa
- Sea Path Apartments
- Talenti's House
- Villa Aquarius
- Villa Arozza
- Villa Astra
- Villa Chloe
- Villa Christina
- Villa Eleni
- Villa Ellie
- Villa Gerassimos
- Villa Kamini
- Villa Louisa
- Villa Nikeli
- Villa Spiros
- Waterfront Apartments
- Villa Helios
- Villa Pelagos
- Dafnoudi Beach
- Kimilia Beach
- Emblisi Beach
- Fiskardo Town Beach
- Foki Beach
- Dolicha Bay
- Pefko Taverna
- Picnic Coffee Bar
- Mini Market
- The Old Stone House Tavern
- Panorama Taverna
- Pama Travel / Ionian Office
- Ionian Taverna
- Maganos Tavern
- Mini Market
Direct flights from London Gatwick and Manchester
You will be transferred to resort by coach. Where applicable hire cars will be waiting for you close to the accommodation. Approx transfer time: 45 mins to 1 hour 15 mins
PRE-BOOKING YOUR AIRCRAFT SEAT
To pre book your seat please contact the airline directly quoting Ionian Island Holidays as your tour operator, your booking reference number, flight number, date of departure and specific flight request. Payments for these seats are direct with the airline.
AIRLINE CONTACT DETAILS
Fly Monarch: 01582 556331
20kg for checked baggage, 5kg hand baggage.
Security restrictions may apply, please contact the airline, the airport or ourselves before departure.
We are able to offer a limited number of flights direct to Kefalonia, Preveza and Corfu. Contact out UK office for further details on 020 8459 0777.
Please also fully inform us of any disability or walking difficulty you may have, so we can provide assistance at the airport. This must be made at least 7 days before departure.