Where to Stay on Kefalonia: Ultimate Beach Resort Guide

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Myrtos beach

Heading to the beautiful Greek island of Kefalonia this year? Here’s a complete rundown on where to stay on Kefalonia (also spelt Cephalonia). This post will help you choose which part of the island to stay in, which town, resort or beach is for you, and the best hotels – whether you’re booking your own accommodation or looking for a package holiday.

This resort guide will cover:

  • which part of Kefalonia to stay in
  • Kefalonia’s main beach resorts and towns; the best places to stay for nightlife, beaches, packages and cheaper accommodation options
  • a rundown of the quieter resorts and villages; the best places to stay for independent travel, peace and nature

Taverna in Fiskardo

BEST HOTELS AT A GLANCE

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Fishing boats in Assos

WHICH PART OF KEFALONIA TO STAY IN?

Despite its starring role in Hollywood’s Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (the scenery was definitely more memorable than Nicholas Cage’s acting), Kefalonia still hasn’t given in to mass tourism. It’s a large and mountainous, one of the greenest and most beautiful Greek islands. And one of the best for beaches, food and nature.

That’s not to say there is no tourism on the island. It has an international airport which brings in devoted fans from around Europe who return year after year. Its mild climate, relaxing atmosphere, vineyards and jaw-dropping coastal scenery makes it a favourite with couples, posh sailors, Italians and mature travellers.

The seas are also ideal for watersports – with windsurfing, dinghy sailing and yacht flotillas popular throughout the summer.

It’s worth watching the film or reading the book before you go if just to give you an insight into the Italian and German occupations of WWII. Around 5000 Italian soldiers died when they were tricked by the Nazis into surrendering their arms and then massacred. The occupation along with the massive earthquake of 1953 have shaped modern-day Kefalonia. 

Before that, the island was occupied by the British, Venetians, Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, French, Russians, Normans and Romans. The island was ceded to Greece in 1864.

Inland, the region around Mount Ainos is a protected National Park with (shy) herds of wild horses, eagles and raptors. The island’s other natural attraction is the cave systems at Melissani and Drogarati. 

  • NORTH – dramatic cliffs and mountain scenery. Kefalonia is topped with Fiskardo, a popular and handsome village frequented by many yacht flotillas in the summer. Pretty village Assos is a highlight.
  • SOUTH – home to the sandier beaches, with Skala is the main resort.
  • EAST – Poros is the main port linking Kefalonia to the mainland and is a pleasant base for independent travel in the area. Nearby Agia Efimia is a more upmarket fishing village popular with package holidaymakers. The main attractions in the area are the caves and beach at Antisamos (the one in Captain Corelli).
  • WEST – Paliki Peninsula is quiet and has more of a Greek feel, base yourself in Lixouri or Xi for access to striking beaches, turtle hatching grounds, and windsurfing spots.

For public transport options check the KTEL website. Services are geared towards locals though, and the island is best explored by car. Pefanis and Greekstones come recommended for rentals. The drive around Assos is particularly pretty.

ARGOSTOLI – THE MAIN TOWN

Dusk at Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia

Kefalonia’s capital Argostoli was largely levelled during the earthquake of 1953, which took out much of the island’s lovely historic architecture. It’s an unpretentious working port town with a pleasant feel, airy modern streets and a few pockets of surviving original buildings. It has a palm-lined promenade with cafes and seafood restaurants facing Koutavos lagoon.

Argostoli juts out on a little peninsula that is connected to the other side by the island landmark Drapano bridge. Built during British rule in 1813, it’s the longest stone bridge in the world and a popular evening stroll.

It does have a tourist presence though. thanks to its nearby beaches (it’s walkable distance or a short taxi ride from the beach resort Lassi) and the presence of Caretta caretta turtles who come into the harbour to feast on the unwanted catch of the town’s fishermen. Morning is the best time to see them.

Whilst you’re in town you might want to check out the Focas Cosmetatos Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the open-air Anny Cinema, and the English bookstore The Bookmark.

Keep walking north along the promenade and you eventually reach the town’s beach Fanari, although the beaches of Lassi make for a better day out. The main square Platia Valianou is the centre of the town’s cafe and evening life, and Lithostroto is the main shopping street.

Note: there’s no public transport from the airport to the city, a journey of around 11km, meaning a taxi fare of around €20. Agree on a fare with the driver before setting off to avoid unpleasant surprises.

WHERE TO STAY IN ARGOSTOLI

The best boutique choice is the Kefalonia Grand on the waterfront. With harbour views, pristine whitewashed interiors and natural fibres, the Kefalonia Grand is definitely the chicest place to stay in town.

Not far behind is the Alley Boutique Hotel & Spa, tucked away in a quiet backstreet between the marina and the main square. Decor has a fun retro twist. 

Also up in the hills is the breezy and open-hearted little My Little Place on the Hill, a small and tranquil boutique with lush gardens and great views.

Waterfront rooms are also available at the aptly named Tourist Hotel, and at the Aggelos Hotel. Argostoli Marina Suites also have harbour view apartments. For good value check out Barbara’s in the centre of town and Mirabel on the main square.

If you’re interested in history and prepared to venture inland the Museum Hotel George Molfetas is not far from Argostoli at Faraklata.

LASSI

On the other side of the peninsula from Argostoli is Lassi, one of the island’s main beach resorts. 

Strung out along several sandy beaches – Blue Flag Platis Gialos (pictured above) and lively Makris Gialos  – Lassi makes an appealing base for its combination of beach and good access to the island’s infrastructure. It’s just a thirty(ish) minute walk into town and there are frequent buses too.

Development is modest and low-rise and has sprung up in the forested area behind the beaches. There’s no centre to speak of – just one strip along the main road – but the area does get extremely busy in high season. Think of it more as Argostoli’s city beach zone with plenty of tourist facilities. 

West-facing Lassi gets excellent sunsets, and there are a few beachfront bars and tavernas to take advantage of this. It’s the best resort on the island for sandy beaches and activities/facilities. Don’t miss the quieter beaches of Kalamia, Gradakia and Tourkopodaro tucked away around the coast.

Further on from Lassi you’ll find the rolling hills of the quieter Livatho peninsula, which feels like a wealthy suburb outpost of Argostoli with its mansions and villas.  Svoronata is near the airport and has some holiday homes and good value studios.

Airport transfer to Lassi is around €20.

WHERE TO STAY IN LASSI

Much of the accommodation is snapped up by the package tour operators, but there are some gems in the Lassi area. Be aware when looking at hotels that some involve a steep walk uphill – do check before booking if this is a dealbreaker for you.

White Rocks Hotel is a 5-star luxury resort hotel with a freshwater pool, beautiful views overlooking Platis Gialos beach and access to a quiet and secluded private beach. Sea view rooms and bungalows are available.

Thalassa Boutique Hotel overlooks Makris Gialos and has sumptuous sea view rooms.

For those on a budget, the rooms at Lorenzo’s have loyal fans.

Solitude seekers might be happier at sleepy Svoronata – don’t be put off by proximity to the airport, there are only a few flights per day and it benefits from being on the airport bus line. Accommodation, tavernas and beaches are spread out but it has a sleepy rural feel. Friendly Olive Grove has 24-hr check-in and a pool and beach bar, whilst Sunny Studios offer great value.

LIXOURI

Fishing boats in Lixouri harbour

On the other side of Argostoli is its mirror image town Lixouri. It’s located across the water on the opposite side of the bay, on a finger of land known as the Paliki Peninsula. Some scholars argue that Paliki was once an island and potentially the home of Odysseus (rather than the commonly-attributed Ithaca).

Lixouri is the second largest settlement on Kefalonia with a population of around 3000; it’s a working fishing town and a good base for the area’s quiet beaches. The main attraction in Paliki is the photogenic Xi beach with its orange sand, therapeutic muds and white cliffs. Megas Lakkos and Lepeda are also worth a visit. 

Lixouri is most easily reached by the small car ferries from Argostoli that run regularly throughout the day. Otherwise, it’s a long drive around the peninsula.

Kipouria Monastery with its amazing sunset views, and Petani Beach – less well-known than Myrtos but similarly spectacular – are also nearby.

Airport transfer to Lixouri is around €60.

WHERE TO STAY IN LIXOURI

In Lixouri town, Aura Hotel is decent value for rooms, and there are plenty of budget options dotted throughout the backstreets. Ask around or look on Airbnb.

Lixouri Bay Beach Club is an all-inclusive watersports resort from Trek Adventures. Perfect for families with teens as all watersports tuition and hire is included. It’s 4km north of Lixouri town.

But the best hotels in the Lixouri area are near Xi beach, at the southern tip of the peninsula.  Cephalonia Palace is a good pick for families looking for an all-inclusive with beach access, day beds and facilities for kids, as is newly-built Apollonion Asterias Resort & Spa

ASSOS

swimmers in the bay at Assos

The north of Kefalonia is home to its scene stealers. Photogenic Assos (or Asos, as it’s sometimes spelt) is included on every island tour – and every postcard – and is well worth including on your itinerary if you renting a car.

The village is wedged onto a narrow isthmus with a beach on either side and a 16th-century Venetian castle on the rock at the end. It’s undeniably the most beautiful village on the island (if not in the whole of Greece) – wind your way down hairpin roads to its colourful Italianate houses and flower-filled villas dotted around a cluster of small pebble beaches and a tiny harbour.

After the village was damaged in the earthquake, the French helped with the restoration and it’s now one of the best examples of the island’s original Ionian architecture. Assos exudes an air of timeless romance and is a perfect pitstop for a lunch with a view.

Not far to the south is the dazzling Myrtos beach with its sheer cliffs and bright white pebbles. One of the best beaches in the Ionians – it’s a must-see, stay for sunset if you can.

Airport transfer to Assos is around €70.

WHERE TO STAY IN ASSOS

Due to its diminutive size, finding accommodation in Assos is not the easiest – and is priced accordingly. Additionally, many of the rooms are sequestered away by the tour operators (try Olympic House and The Architect’s House available through TUI if you’re looking for a package).

For a splurge, Thalassa House is a 3-bedroom property with exquisite views right on the waterfront, as does Villa Petrino. For more privacy and space, elegant Villa Aria is between Assos and Fiskardo and also has a private pool. Oliver’s Travels also have some gorgeous villas available such as Assos Waterfront with its private infinity pool – perfect for honeymooners.

Budget doesn’t stretch that far? Niriides has simple studios with a view, though expect an uphill walk.

The nearest place to stay for Myrtos is uphill at Divarata. Try Minas Studios for traditional Greek hospitality and spotless rooms.

FISKARDO

Aerial view of Fiskardo

The glam hotspot of Kefalonia is pretty harbour village Fiskardo (or Fiscardo), just around the northern tip of the island from Assos.

Fiskardo survived the worst of the earthquake and so still retains some of its Venetian buildings and old-world charm. The handsome pastel-hued mansions and natural horseshoe-shaped harbour attract the rich and famous on their yachts, as well as legions of flotillas who stop in during the summer on their sails around the Ionians. It attracts upmarket holidaymakers and the backstreets are lined with boutiques and some of Kefalonia’s priciest restaurants. The boat trade brings a buzz to the bars in summer.

It’s a small resort though, and lacking a beach – you’ll have to go around the corner to Fokis (to the north) and Emplisi (to the south) for delightful swimming and seafood taverna lunches. 

There are three excellent day hikes around Fiskardo which have been signposted thanks to the local club Asteris.

Airport transfer to Fiskardo is around €85. Fiskardo is also a passenger port with ferry connections to Ithaka and Lefkada.

WHERE TO STAY IN FISKARDO

Smart and sumptuous Emelisse Nature Resort is Fiskardo’s luxury hotel offering, which bills itself as a ‘relaxation hotel’ and has an emphasis on enjoying the natural surroundings of pine, cedar and lavender. There is an Elemis spa onsite, a fitness centre and plenty of outdoor activities. 

Fiskardo has a veritable feast of excellent villas with pools and sea views. Some of the best include Lemoni Cottage and Fiskardo View.

Fiskardo Bay Hotel is a short walk into town and has friendly staff, a pool, and spotless rooms. Agnantia B&B in Tselentata, 3km from Fiskardo, combines an idyllic spot with sea view rooms and the best of Greek hospitality. 

AGIA EFIMIA

Yachts at Agia Efimia harbour

Agia Efimia (various spellings) is a former fishing village turned low-key resort, now popular with British holidaymakers and yachties for its picturesque setting and renovated waterfront.

It has great tavernas and cafes for people watching. There’s a small marina but it doesn’t get anywhere near as busy as Fiskardo. Its location in the centre of Kefalonia makes it an ideal base for exploring the island by car. In fact, it has everything except great beaches – which is what keeps the masses away.

Keep walking to the north and you’ll reach a few small pebble beaches and rocky platforms where locals and tourists take a dip in the late afternoon.

I can highly recommend local tour agency Avgerinos Travel who organise various tours around the island – all very friendly and high quality. 

WHERE TO STAY IN AGIA EFIMIA

Try Airbnb for good value rooms in the backstreets of the Agia Efimia. Waterfront rooms can be found at Olive Bay HotelWaterside Apartments and Santefemia.

If you have a car then head up in the hills for Villa Irida or the 4 star Kefalonia Bay Palace which has villas with private pools as well as rooms.

SAMI

Boats at Sami harbour

Sami is a port town and former capital of the island. Unless you’re here for a ferry to Ithaca or mainland Greece, then you’re more likely to be in Sami for its surrounding attractions than the town itself. It has a pleasant seaside promenade but little else of note – but its fans enjoy Sami for its unpretentious workaday vibe.

The town was used as a filming location for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – not that you’d be able to tell, save for the odd themed bar. Instead, if you’re looking for filming locations, get yourself to the beautiful Antisamos beach which featured heavily in the film. 2km from Sami, in high summer it feels crowded and commercial but in shoulder season it’s a delight.

Also close to Sami are the cave systems of Drogarati and Melissani, together making up one of the most popular attractions on the island. Sami is the main ferry port for reaching Ithaca and its proximity makes it possible to do as a day trip – you’ll find day trips departing from here and Poros.

Just west around the bay is the quiet village Karavomylos where you’ll find a lake, a few resort hotels and a water mill. There are some good walks in the area.

Airport transfer to Sami is around €50.

Antisamos Beach
Antisamos Beach

WHERE TO STAY IN SAMI

Muses Studios in Sami town are bright, airy and simple. Sami Beach Hotel has the advantage of being right on the beach in Karavomylos and is a traditional family-run vacation hotel on the beach, with a pool and some sea view rooms.

Also on the waterfront is the Endless Blue House, a spacious 1-bed villa, and Camping Karavomilos Beach – the best campsite on the island with shady pitches in a great location.

POROS

Poros from the ferry

Halfway down the coast on the way to Skala is Poros, a somewhat-sleepy working port and fishing town set around five bays.

At first glimpse, Poros appears a tad scruffy. But it’s a good choice of location if you want to avoid the package holidaymakers and stay in a town with a ‘real’ feel rather than a resort – usually return visitors to the island rather than first-timers. The town beach pebbly but swimming is excellent and wilder Ragia beach is not too far.

Poros is the main entry point for the island’s ferries, with boats connecting with Patras, Zakynthos and Athens via Kyllini on the mainland throughout the year. In summer there’s an occasional water taxi service that runs between Poros, Skala and Katelia.

Airport transfer to Poros is around €60.

sunloungers on Poros beach

STAY THERE

Traditional resort hotels and rooms abound. Check out Riviera Hotel right on the beach, or the simple rooms with breakfast in the flower-filled patio at Kristi.

SKALA

Skala beach through the pine trees

Kefalonia’s other main beach resort after Lassi, Skala is a popular vacation hotspot thanks to its wonderful sandy beaches. Development sprung up around the original village and still retains some of its character despite expansion. It has a 3km shady long shingle-sand beach, plus some nearby ruins of a Roman villa. 

It’s still a quiet and relaxed resort though, with the wind and sea the prominent sounds. Skala’s east coast position is not so handy for exploring the island but you’ll find plenty of excursions and boat trips available.

The town is compact and flat and there’s a good selection of restaurants (a mix of Greek and international), cafes, bars and shops. 

Nearby Potomaki, Kaminia and Mounda beaches are some of the best (and longest) sandy beaches on the island. They are also loved by the Caretta caretta turtles who nest there during the summer nights. There are some good hikes in the area – it’s possible to walk the 12km to Poros.

Airport transfer to Skala is around €55.

WHERE TO STAY IN SKALA

Good value options abound in Skala, where you’ll find the majority of Kefalonia’s budget aparthotels and traditional resort hotels. If you’re looking for a package then family-run Hotel Tara Beach has a great location and is available through TUI.

Natalie’s Aparthotel and Captain’s House are two popular options in town.

For a resort hotel with a fitness suite and pools look at Apostolata Island Resort & Spa which is 2.5km out of town but runs a complimentary bus service.

Blue Jasmine Hotel is now a Simpson hotel and the most stylish option in town.

KATELIOS

Clockwise around the bay from Skala is quieter Katelios, which is gradually becoming more built up. There’s a small seafront with a handful of cafes and tavernas; it attracts vacationers looking for somewhere quiet, traditional and relaxing. Kaminia beach is a turtle nesting zone.

Katelios is a 10-minute drive from Skala.

WHERE TO STAY IN KATELIOS

There are some smart boutique suites with lush surroundings in the area – check out Casa Montzo and Olivemare.

Packages to a number of properties in Katelios are available with TUI.

LOURDAS

Another tiny resort slowly making a name for itself is Lourdas. There’s 1km of organised sand and shingle beach and translucent waters which get deep quickly. The small village is narrow and backed by dense greenery. It has a charming and peaceful feel, but with a decent variety of places to eat in the evening.

It’s an uphill walk to Lourdata village and the main Argostoli-Skala road which is behind the village. Airport transfer to Lourdas is around €35.

Don’t miss the boulder-strewn cove at Pessada Beach which is further around the coast to Argostoli.

WHERE TO STAY IN LOURDAS

Luxury boutique hotel F Zeen is the star of the show in Lourdas. A sleek and chic adults-only hotel, there’s an emphasis on zen and wellbeing. There are 3 pools, a spa, free yoga sessions, and paddleboard/bike hire on request.

For something more traditional try Rosa’s Beach Studios for a view or Barefoot Contessa set amongst banana trees near the beach. TUI has good value packages to a few properties in Lourdas.

Further around the bay in the direction of Argostoli is the exotic boulder-strewn cove of Pessada. Modern rooms around a pool are available at Pessada Bay Studios.

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pink taverna in Fiskardo with text overlay 'where to stay on Kefalonia'

Image credits: Myrtos Beach , Pink taverna in Fiskardo © Miniloc / Adobe Stock, Assos © © The Mediterranean Traveller, map of Kefalonia © dramaj / Adobe Stock, Argostoli © napa74 / Adobe Stock, Lassi © The Mediterranean Traveller, Lixouri © pkazmierczak / Adobe Stock, Aerial view of Assos © Noradoa / Adobe Stock, Fiskardo © Calin Stan / Adobe Stock, Agia Efimia © pkazmierczak / Adobe Stock, Sami © steevy84 / Adobe Stock, Antisamos Beach© miladavidovic / Adobe Stock, Poros © © The Mediterranean Traveller, Poros beach © The Mediterranean Traveller, Skala © The Mediterranean Traveller

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