Come to Kefalonia, Greece
THIS LUSH AND COLORFUL GREEK ISLAND IS CHOCK FULL OF CHARM
October is a perfect time to plunk yourself and your peeps on a beautiful Greek Island with views overlooking the big blue Ionian Sea. Long gone are the throngs and masses and traffic and trials and challenges of more crowded summer months. Come October, temps still tip the warm end of the scale and the water beckons crystal clear and most definitely swimmable. Pack your snorkel and mask. Some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece become nearly private escapes to explore with your tribe alone.
October is awesome in the Greek islands. Especially if you are coming from northern climates where fall has firmly set in and grey days deliver a much chillier and damper demeanor at this time of year. You’ll find enough traditional tavernas stay open to tempt with tastes of delicious Greek cuisine. Tomatoes and feta and kalamata olives every day for me please. And thank you. And yes I did. Fisherman keep fishing and offer their fresh catches daily straight from their boats. Kefalonia in October is a keeper in my book. Come see why.
Myrtos is regularly listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece. With good reason. At the bottom of winding switchbacked road sits a swath of perfect sand beach set against huge white cliffs and brilliant blue sea.
The unique reddish sand at Xi Beach is soft and fine, perfect for sand castle building or a run on the beach. This blue flag beach is brilliant for a swim, but don’t expect lifeguards or any amenities whatsoever come October. What is a bustling beach with tavernas and activities in summer is a huge open place you can have practically to yourself in Autumn. With average sea temperatures of 23°C/73°F it was serene place to paddle.
COLORFUL TOWNS AND VILLAGES
Kefalonia is chock full of charming little towns and villages. But don’t expect the white-washed domiciles and iconic windmills of the Cyclades Islands. Here on Kefalonia, a huge earthquake hit in 1953 devasted the bulk of this island. Much of it rebuilt in the cotton candy colors of the 50’s. I’m cool with that. Pinks and peaches and lemony yellows are adorable against the brilliant blue skies.
NOTE: Kefalonia is larger than it looks and you are often driving on narrow two-lane roads that are nothing if not twisty and often set square atop precipitous cliffs. Stunning views aside, take your time and watch out for sudden stoppages from goat and sheep traffic. Seriously. I joke not. The curvy roads don’t scare them and they’ll sit right in the middle or cross directly in front of your car.
CHECK OUT THESE PRETTY TOWNS & VILLAGES
Our ferry from the Greek mainland pulled into Poros, a pretty little port on the east side of the island. Without a car, many people never make it past Poros. With beaches and bistros and brilliant blue water, maybe there is no reason to! We found it a perfect place to lunch on the promenade before our return ferry home.
Find your way to the top of Kefalonia and the redonkulously cute little village of Fiskardo. If the rest of the island seems sleepy this time of year, things are still swinging in this northern outpost come October. Thanks in part to the foreign yachting community that makes this port popular. You may hear more British accents than Greek ones as you make your way around the waterfront for some dining al fresco. But don’t worry deck shoes are not required. It’s almost too cute up here. You could practically pluck this town up and set it down at Disney’s Epcot.
NOTE: You can rent a boat from Fiskardo even without a boating license. It won’t be tremendously fast or large, but it can get you across the channel to Ithaca. It’s true!
A bit more authentic and equally cute, tiny Asos is a must stop to see for yourself. Set on a little bend of a harbor, everything is colorful here. Originally we had targeted to stay in Asos, but weren’t able to find accommodation for our family of five. After visiting and sensing its solitude, we reckoned it was probably better that our exuberant family found a villa elsewhere. But if quiet is your quaint – Asos is your place.
As the capital of Kefalonia and the largest town on the island, what Argostoli lacks in charm it makes up for in amenities. Stroll down the pretty waterfront and look in the bay for the resident loggerhead turtles. Buy fish straight from the fishermen. Or step into a blue tiled fish shop. Beautiful fresh produce markets and all the souvenir stands you could stand. You can also catch the little ferry to Lixouri from here.
A quick thirty-minute ferry ride from Argostoli and you’re on the other side of the Island in Lixouri. From here it is a 10-minute drive to Xi Beach. (See above for reasons why you would want to!) After swimming and sandcastle building refuel at one of the many tavernas on the cozy open main square in Lixouri.
Spartia was our bitty, but pretty little home base village. The closest to our villa. If you aren’t staying on this side, not sure it’s worth an out of the way stop. But a traditional Greek coffee with the locals on Saturday morning enjoying these views of the colorful town church is worth it if you’re nearby.
HOW TO GET TO KEFALONIA
Seasonal charter flights and other international carriers fly from points around Europe directly to Kefalonia airport. Aegean Airlines has flights from Athens International Airport departing regularly.
We rented a car when we departed Athens and drove across the Peloponnesus to the port of Kyllini, where we caught the Kefalonian Lines ferry to Poros. Travel time was 1.5 hours for the crossing and drinks and snacks are available on board.
www.ferries.gr for schedules and bookings
WHERE TO STAY
VILLA PENELOPE | SPARTIA
With a growing family of five, we were looking for a bit of space and a place we could chill. We loved the serviced villa we found with views of the sea, a private pool and gigantic barbecue.
A three-minute walk to the rocky ‘beach” and snorkeling daily. Or a little cliff diving for your more daring? Villa Penelope had everything we could want, but it was a tad isolated. A small local market in the bitty village of Spartia was a 10-minute drive. Several full-scale modern grocery stores a bit further in Argostoli about 20-25 minutes away.
SO MANY REASONS TO SEE IT OFF-SEASON
So don’t rule out the Greek Islands after summer. September would be supreme. But we loved it in October. And unless you are really looking for solitude, I would not recommend November or dates over winter. Many shops, taverns, boat rentals and other tourist amenities were already closed for the season and many more shuttering as we sailed off at the end of fall break, or half-term.
Save it for later! Share it if you dare. Feeling pinny? Pin this piece peeps! Hej hej for now. Cheers from Copenhagen.