The beautiful Ionian island of Kefalonia is becoming very popular as a Greek Island destination for everyone and it’s easy to see why. It’s a big island and there is a lot to see and do, so ideally you will have a few weeks to really explore it properly. However, even if you only have a few days you won’t regret it. Great beaches, amazing food, caves, wineries, and warm friendly people – it really has it all! But where to stay in Kefalonia can be bamboozling!
This is our guide to the more popular towns and villages and our recommended villas and hotels on Kefalonia.
Argostoli is the capital of Kefalonia and the largest town, with a population of just over 10,000 people. It was devastated in the earthquake of 1953 so largely rebuilt and sadly lacking many buildings from before that time. Because of the rebuild, however, it is set out in a grid pattern and easy to get around.
Kefalonia airport is just south of Argostoli and will be the first port of entry for many visitors. There are international flights from other parts of Europe several times a day in summer and many domestic connections with Athens year round.
Things to do in Argostoli
recommended hotels in Argostoli
Panorama Fanari Studios and Apartments is an excellent mid-range hotel with well appointed self-contained apartments that are great for groups and families.
Lixouri is the second largest town in Kefalonia and is home to around 3000 people. It is situated on the western Paliki Peninsula which is covered in farmland, vineyards and fruit and olive groves.
It is only 30 minutes by car from Argostoli ( a very scenic route) or by ferry, which usually runs every 30 minutes or so in summer.
Things to do in Lixouri
It can be very busy in summer as there is quite a lot to see and do in the area including visiting famous Xi Beach and various statues, museums, and monuments.
recommended hotels in Lixouri
Recommended Budget hotel : Villa Forestata
Recommended mid-range hotel : Aura Boutique Hotel
Recommended Luxury hotel: Kymata Bohemian Beach Resort
Recommended Villa for groups : Villa Mitis
Situated on the East side of the island about half way along the coastline, Sami is a busy port town which has regular connections to neighbouring Ithaca and mainland Greece in Patras. There are even overnight ferries to Italy.
It was hard hit in the 1953 earthquake so the buildings mostly have a 60s/70s style to them but the town is north facing and surrounded by pine-covered mountains making it quite pretty.
Things to do in Sami
It is also close to beautiful Antisami beach, one of the most photographed on the island. It is also very close to both Drogarati Cave and the famous Melissani cave which is one of the most Instagrammed places in Greece. It was also the setting for the making of the Hollywood movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
There are a handful of decent places to stay and some excellent tavernas along the waterfront which make it a popular stopover port for sailors and people on sailing holidays.
recommended hotels in Sami
For a luxury option in this area check out Ionian Emerald Resort
We recently chose Agia Effimia as our base when staying on Kefalonia with a group of friends.
We wanted an authentic greek village which has all the necessary amenities like tavernas, supermarkets and a laundromat without too many tourists, and we wanted somewhere that was central to many of the other sites and attractions on the island.
Agia Effimia certainly ticked all of those boxes and was the perfect choice.
On our last trip to Greece we met up with several friends in Kefalonia, including my parents on their first visit.
We had visited Fiscardo before and were keen to see more. We ended up renting a lovely waterfront home in Agia Effimia which has 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms over 3 levels, and a short stroll into town. It was perfect for the 9 of us!
Only a 10-minute drive north of Sami Agia Effimia is much prettier and less noisy, with no ferries coming and going. There are a number of excellent small beaches up and down the coastline in and around the village and the tavernas are some of the best we have ever eaten at.
In fact, we ate lunch at Paradise Taverna on our first day and I think we went back 5 more times in the course of a week! There are a number of places you can hire small boats from in the harbour and a daily boat trip over to Ithaca as well. It’s also only a 15-minute drive to Myrtos Beach, one of the most famous in all of Europe!
recommended villas and hotels in Agia Effimia
Odyssey Hotelis a great luxury hotel at the end of the main street overlooking the beaches and coves and right next to one of the best Tavernas in Kefalonia – Paradise Taverna.
If you are after something for a large group we stayed at Sunrise Villa (pictured below) which is right across from the waterfront and sleeps up to 12 people in 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. The views are wonderful and it is very well equipped. Highly recommend!
The beautiful village of Assos ( or Asos) is one of the most photographed villages in Kefalonia if not all of Greece. Its small tranquil bay ringed by colorful Venetian style houses and calm clear beaches creates a truly tempting landscape and setting for your Kefalonia holiday.
Walk up to the 15th century Venetian castle fringed by pine and cyprus trees, watch the super yachts meander in for the day or just lie back and enjoy the charm and tranquility of this small village of only 100 inhabitants. It really is a very beautiful spot.
recommended villas and hotels in Assos
For a truly unforgettable stay, Villa Happiness oozes Luxe and tranquillity with an incredible infinity pool looking over the entrance to the bay and a beautifully appointed design.
For a cheap and cheerful room this loft has amazing views and reviews and is tremendous value while the Blue Note House is perfect for groups with 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. You could sit on its lovely terrace and gaze at the views for years!
Fiscardo is situated on the northern tip of Kefalonia and is probably the most upmarket and vibrant village on the island.
The harbour gets very full in summer with boats full of day-trippers from Southern Kefalonia as well as Lefkada, and even some small cruise ships from time to time.
The harbourside is lined with many excellent tavernas and cafes as well as lovely boutiques, galleries, and shops. There are some lovely beaches nearby including the very calm and family-friendly Zavalata beach, just a short stroll around the southern bend.
The night time vibe is bustling and lively as everyone returns from the beaches for a late dinner and perhaps a bit of live music.
Things to do in Fiscardo
People who stay in Fiscardo tend to mostly explore the northern part of Kefalonia due to its size. There is quite a lot to do in the north so its certainly not a problem. Hire a kayak or boat and explore the many beaches and coves, hike to neighbouring villages, cruise the channel between Kefalonia and Ithaca or snorkel with sea turtles!
recommended villas and hotels in Fiscardo
There are lots of lovely places to stay in Fiscardo and it really lends itself to a long, lazy vacation.
Odysseas Waterfront Apartments are in a fantastic location and are very comfortable with lovely views.
Emelisse Nature Resort is stunning and considered one of the best on Kefalonia. It is surrounded by Cyprus trees and the sea and has two restaurants and excellent facilities.
For families and groups, Palazzo 1890 ( the yellow house pictured below) is a beautifully converted mansion right on the harbourfront and can sleep up to 10 people. Its really is a very beautiful and elegant place to rent with great views over the marina.