- Coastline Unspoilt Ionian twins
- Coast life Sails, snorkels and sunsets
Impossibly ultramarine waters, plunging volcanic mountains and hidden pebble beaches: the Ionian pairing of Kefalonia and Ithaca is a haven for seafaring romantics.
There’s blue and then there’s blue: the crystalline waters of the Ionian as it melts into the cove-riddled coasts of Kefalonia and Ithaca would turn Yves Klein green with envy. Kefalonia’s rocky coast is an ocean-lapped Gorgonzola of coves and caves, some of which run deep into the island’s heart. The pastel-painted port villages, such as Fiskardo, come alive in the summer months, as pleasure vessels jostle for harbour space and honeymooners swoon over seafood in lively, family-run tavernas. Ithaca, Kefalonia’s smaller, wilder and more windswept neighbour wears its mythological mystique on its cypress-lined sleeve – the island is the reputed home of Homeric hero Odysseus, and the supposed site of his palace is there to see in Stavros. Both islands are breath-thievingly beautiful, and despite the interested influx brought by Louis de Berniéres’ homage to Kefalonia, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, it’s still easy to find pristine pockets of seclusion.
Do go/Don’t go
May and June are ideal, as the weather’s warm and the hills are painter-perfect with flowers. July and August are hottest and busiest, so head over in September or October for late sun and a still-warm sea. The islands empty in winter, and getting there and away can become trickier.
- Planes Thomson Airlines (flights.thomson.co.uk) operates direct flights from London Gatwick to Kefalonia’s airport, nine miles from Argostoli. In summer, there are charters available from other airports in the UK. Otherwise, you’ll have to catch a 45-minute connecting flight at Athens (www.olympicair.com, www.aegeanair.com). Once you’ve landed, you can hop in a taxi to your destination. Getting to Ithaca is trickier: from the airport make the hour-long taxi trip to Fiskardo and catch the ferry to Frikes.
- Boats The islands are linked by regular car ferries between Fiskardo or Sami and Fikes or Vathi (less frequent in winter). The trip takes around an hour. For boat timetables all around the Ionians, check www.gtp.gr. If you’d rather follow your own timetable, hire a boat at www.fiscardo.com.
- Automobiles Public transport is patchy, so hire a car – or a moped – if you want to explore on your own. There are rental depots at Kefalonia and in Fikes, Ithaca’s port.
- Taxis Flaggable cabs aren’t a common sight on either island, so book ahead whenever possible. Taxi-sharing is common – but bear in mind all parties will be expected to pay the full fare.