Travel with us

Travel with us

KEFALONIA IN A NUTSHELL: A 4 HOURS TOUR IN THE CENTER OF THE ISLAND (MONASTERY OF SAINT GERASIMOS, LAKE OF MELISSANI, CAVES OF DROGARATI, AGIA EFIMIA, MYRTOS BEACH)

Donkeys trudging along steep cobblestone streets, blue and white houses, bougainvillea pergolas, elderly people with sun-baked skin playing tavli (backgammon) sitting outside a tavern ... in the collective imagination, the Greek islands are all the same. Kefalonia is the best place to realize how different this tourist representation is from reality. A few days will not be enough to visit this corner of paradise! Beaches washed by turquoise waters, pine forests and aromatic plants, picturesque fishing villages in pastel colours overlooking the sea… The largest of the Ionian islands offers a lot to those who want a holiday in contact with unspoiled nature but also to contemporary history enthusiasts.

What to see in Kefalonia? In this article we will recommend a travel itinerary which may be completed in just 4 hours in the center of the island! Ideal for a quick stop ashore during a cruise and for those who do not like to drive and want to add to their stay a carefree tour in the company of a local guide.

  • MONASTERY OF SAINT GERASIMOS, Valsamata: it is impossible to visit Kefalonia and not make at least a short stop at the Monastery of Saint Gerasimos in the Omala valley. Not only for the beauty of the place, unforgettable for its golden naves and the wonderful colours of the surrounding countryside, but above all for the importance that the patron saint of the island has for the locals, who venerate and celebrate him twice per year. It is no coincidence that the Gerasimos (or Makis) are so numerous here and that even in New York, migrants from Kefalonia have erected a church in honour of their protector! A monk on Mount Athos and then in the Holy Land, Saint Gerasimos spent a period in Crete and then in Zakynthos before reaching Kefalonia. He lived a few years in a cave near Lassi and then moved to the Omala Valley, where he built his monastery. In 1953 the earthquake destroyed the building, which was rebuilt larger. The underground crypt in which the saint lived (tradition says that only the pure in heart can cross the narrow opening leading to the cave, regardless of body size) and the miraculous plane trees that are said to have been planted by Saint Gerasimos are still there. Legend has it that each tree has 5 large branches protruding towards the sky, symbolizing the asceticism of the saint. It is said that the patron appeared on numerous occasions during post-seismic rescue operations to strengthen the islanders and that he still heals the sick, especially those with mental illnesses, who flock to the monastery to participate in the processions in his honour.
  • LAKE OF MELISSANI, Karavomylos: discovered in 1951, the underground lake of Melissani was revealed in all its beauty only in 1953, when the earthquake collapsed the vault above the cave allowing the light to enter and show the incredible colours of the water below. The water has a temperature of about 10 ° C and is up to 40 meters deep, the cave is about 36 meters high. The lake is the protagonist of an interesting geological phenomenon: both the fresh water of a local source and the sea water that crosses the whole island to get there (from the Kathavotres of Argostoli up to Karavomylos) flow into the basin, making the water brackish. It is believed that the cave was dedicated to the cult of the god Pan and that the name of the cave derives from a nymph, Melissani, who committed suicide in the lake precisely because she was rejected by the divinity.
  • CAVES OF DROGARATI, Sami: discovered about 300 years ago thanks to an earthquake that revealed their entrance, the caves of Drogarati have been open to the public since 1963. Known for their extraordinary acoustics, they have hosted numerous concerts including that of Maria Callas! The largest room, called the Apotheosis Room, measures about 900 meters and is decorated with stalactites and stalagmites of various colours. Scientists estimate the caves are over a hundred millions years old. The temperature inside is about 18 ° C in summer and the humidity is 90%. We recommend not touching the rocks so as not to change their colour and prevent their future growth.
  • AGIA EFIMIA: located on the east coast of Kefalonia, the village of Agia Efimia has in recent years become one of the most popular tourist resorts on the island. In addition to being the starting point for wonderful boat trips, the village has many small seaside cafes and small clear pebble bays surrounded by olive trees.
  • MYRTOS BEACH, Divarata: rightly included among the best beaches in Greece, Myrtos beach is spectacular for its large size and breathtaking colours. Turquoise waters, white pebbles and lush greenery make it truly unique. However, it is a beach to be experienced with caution and attention: the water degrades rapidly and the currents can be very strong. The presence of a cliff behind it also makes it particularly hot in summer. For its beauty, the beach was also chosen for some scenes of the film "Captain Corelli's Mandolin", which, although not faithfully representing the events of the Acqui Division, has the merit of having turned on an important spotlight on the island and its contemporary history.

Are you ready to conclude your tour with one last gastronomic stop? We suggest one of the excellent taverns in Divarata for a traditional lunch, or the Myrtillo Cafeteria for a refreshing honey yogurt and many other local products. A few steps away is also the workshop of a small craftsman with original coloured bells and decorated goat skulls.

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