GETTING ROUND KEFALONIA
Before visiting Kefalonia, it is a good idea to get an overall impression of the island, what to see and where to go.
This is the link to Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/6r7dRe3fhT3qYKFC9
As you will see, The Walnut Tree is within easy reach of the Airport (Anna Pollatou), the capital Argostoli and the ferry port/towns of Sami, Poros and Fiskardo. Nine kms north along the coast is the harbour town of Aghia Efimia popular with sailors and tourists alike. The mainland of Greece can be reached from both Sami and Poros. Trips to the island of Ithaca are very popular and a ferry service from Sami leaves several times a day, taking about 40 minutes.
The beautiful port/town of Fiskardo (the Kefalonian town least damaged by the 1953 earthquake) is about forty five minutes drive away. If only for the drive a visit is well worth it. One way over the mountains there are breath-taking views of the mainland if you take the eastern route and views of Kefalonia and the Paliki peninsular if you are keeping to the west route. Why not take in the beautiful village/port of Assos with its stunning castle as well as the world famous Myrtos Beach – both are on your way.
The journey from the airport (clearly marked on Google Maps – https://goo.gl/maps/YfDiPbC3c6N1AnSLA) is all via main roads apart from the very last bit.
The Walnut Tree villa is a five minute drive to the Port of Sami and the journey to the capital/port of Argostoli and town/port of Poros are both about thirty minutes drive. You can also reach Ithaca from Fiskardo and in summer time, the island of Lefkada. Take the ferry from Pesada on the west coast to the island of Zankynthos. Both Sami (Patras) and Poros (Kilini) have ferry connections to the mainland of Greece. A popular day trip, taking the Poros/Kylini ferry, is a visit to Olympia.
SAMI – our local town
As well as ferries to the mainland all year round, Sami has ferry connections to Ithaca and Lefkada. There are small cruise ships for trips round Kefalonia and/or Ithaca and boats for private hire.
Sami comes into its own during the summer months – a popular tourist centre with restaurants, bars and shops. The nearby attractions of Sami Acropolis, Melissani Cave Lake, the Dinosaur Park, Drogarati Cave and the beautiful beach of Antisamos are all within an easy drive. There is a beautiful new Museum in Sami, displaying artifacts from both the local area and from Fiskardo. We have a marvellous Maritime Museum which opened a couple of years ago, with replicas of Greek shipping from ancient times.
Sami is also truly a town where Kefalonian families live today – and have lived for generations. There are well established businesses in the town run by three generations of families as well as the many new businesses set up in the last few years.
THE HISTORY OF SAMI
The history of the town goes back to Mycenaean times; some people think that Odysseus’s kingdom was Kefalonia and not Ithaca as is the popular belief. In 187 BC Sami held off a Roman siege for six weeks, Despite the efforts of the people of Sami, the town was over run. The Romans occupied Kefalonia for around four hundred years.
and these photos are of what ‘lies beneath’ at the top of our track!! This is just above our villa (below the yellow unfinished house), part of a Roman farm that was unearthed and excavated a few years ago. There are photos of the excavation in a blog on this website.
Sami’s ferry port has daily sailings to the island of Ithaca and the city of Patras on the mainland (onward for Athens and the Italian ports of Ancona, Venice, Bari and Brindisi) plus twice weekly sailings to the port of Vasiliki on Lefkada (onward for Corfu and central and northern Greece).
TOURING ROUND KEFALONIA
Getting around the island, both to the south and the north, you will find that the roads are well signed and generally in good condition. Not many journeys are more than around an hour away; we really are in a central position. Ease of access to the main residential and commercial areas round the capital of Argostoli is quick and easy for residents and tourists alike.
There are meat, fish and vegetable markets in the capital, Argostoli. There are also some very smart shops – some on the waterfront and some hidden up the many back streets of this intriguing small city. Argostoli is the capital in every sense of the word. It has the seat of the local Government, an opera house, port and custom houses, banks, a large police station, the main hospital, a waterfront lined with restaurants and cafes. Find a table down on the waterfront where you can drink your coffee and watch the turtles as they float by!
Attractions (and obviously this depends so much on age, taste and what sort of holiday you are looking for…) include world famous caves, a Dinosaur Park, a wide variety of restaurants, tavernas and bars, theatres, the Sea Mills, the Lighthouse and the Italian War Memorial and they are all worth visiting…. if the beach has temporarily lost its appeal.
NORTH TO AGHIA EFIMIA AND FISKARDO
Up the coast towards the harbour towns of Aghia Efimia and Fiskardo there are charming villages, unspoilt countryside, hidden coves and beautiful beaches to explore. Both Efimia and Fiskardo have marinas, welcoming yachts and their crews from all over the world. There is a very good Dive School in Aghia Efimia. It is possible to hire a variety of boats from Sami, Efimia and Fiskardo.
SOUTH TO THE MONASTERY OF ST GERASIMOS, POROS AND KEFALONIA’S NATIONAL PARKS
Exploring the high wilderness of the Kefalonian National Parks of Aenos and Roudi is a magical experience. The views, the flora and fauna, the peace and quiet – a visit to Kefalonia should really include a taste of these mountainous areas; it will not be enough. You will want to return!
ITHACA – take the car/foot ferry for a day trip to this beautiful island. You will NOT be disappointed!
WHAT TO DO?
GO TO THE BEACH!
….AND MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT MISS THE MANY TRADITIONAL AND RELIGIOUS EVENTS AS WELL AS CELEBRATIONS OF FOOD AND WINE
WHERE TO SHOP
Food shopping is a particular pleasure in Kefalonia and of course in Sami. The quality of the local produce is impressive. The quality and variety of the fresh ingredients in Greece would exceed many food outlets in the UK – just saying!
- meat (chicken, pork, goat and lamb – wonderful sausages)
- fish, eggs (free-range!)
- cheese (the local Feta cheese is very well regarded, Mizithra – a ricotta-like cheese and Kefalotiri – a hard full-fat cheese)
- milk, yoghurt, butter (please look for our local Kefalonian dairy products – and you can visit the dairy at Dilinata)
- vegetables, fruit and herbs (visit the waterside market stalls in Argostoli for fresh local vegetables)
- honey (Kefalonia is famous for its honey)
- olive oil
- WINE (Kefalonian wine is an increasingly important industry on the island, with at least five wineries producing a wide choice of red, white and rose wines. Robola is the most well-known of the grape varieties grown. At the high end of these wines made on the island, we think you will be as impressed as we are by the quality and range that suit all tastes.
- All these fabulous ingredients make buying, cooking and eating in Kefalonia a real pleasure.
- Supermarkets: Sami Supermarket, Spar and Bazaar are all in Sami. All different – if you cannot find something in one – it’s sure to be in one of the others! We think Bazaar is comparable to Lidl on price.
- Chemist: on the waterfront left of square looking out to sea – VERY HELPFUL!
- Butchers: there are three in Sami and two in Aghia Efimia
- Greengrocer: behind the church, opposite the museum.
- Newspaper Shop
- Jewellers, Sweets, Clothes Boutiques – the list grows year by year.
Also available in Sami:
- 24 hr MEDICAL CENTRE
- on the Sami/Argostoli road on the edge of the town
- Several ATMs
- POST OFFICE
- TOURIST OFFICE
- Ferry Offices, Car and Bike Hire, Travel Agents, Computer Specialists, Dry Cleaners, Dentist
WHERE TO EAT
The cuisine of Kefalonia is largely Greek with some Italian influence from the years of Venetian occupation. Each restaurant and taverna has its own version of the traditional dishes of the island, Kefalonian Meat Pie perhaps being one of the most famous. Of course fish is always on the menu!
- Gorgonas (The Mermaid) Restaurant family owned: Effie, George, Toula, – always a friendly welcome from this family restaurant. Will deliver food to the villa by arrangement.
- Melissani Taverna, (first on right as you come into the town) Elias – we love this place! (Greek traditional, grills, vegetarian)
- Dolphins Restaurant, owners Demetrius and Kiki – open all year. Good food. live music is part of the deal.
- Il Famillia – a less traditional restaurant with a modern slant on Greek food
- Soulatso Grill House (Maria’s family are in our hearts – she helped us buy The Walnut Tree … and their hearts are in their cookig and service!) – simple menu: meat, salad, bread, potatoes and always a treat! Home delivery available – order by telephone
- Contessina Restaurant – good cooking – great fried courgettes and squid. Nice to sit here and while away an afternoon looking at the boats, yacht and ferries manoevring round the harbour.
- Zervati Fish Restaurant (Maikis, Sophia and Georgie – owned and run by our agent, Spyros’s family in law. This restaurant is like visiting family) Fish caught by Maikis every day – such a treat!
- Karavomolis Taverna If it is atmosphere you want this is the one for you – right on the beach just beyond the lake
- Robilis Taverna A very Greek experience for MEAT LOVERS and sooooooooo delicious. Not to be missed! Meat, potatoes, cheese, salad to be savoured and gently washed down by wine and beer – water available! Home delivery available – order by phone or by arrangement.
…. and a short drive from The Walnut Tree villa
- To Perasma Sea Front, Aghia Efimia Tel: 26740 61990 (Angelo and Barbis)
- Pergola Taverna Aghia Efimia Tel: 26740 61424 (Ilias & Stella)
- Paradise Taverna Aghia Efimia – out of the town above a little beach
GRILL / TAVERNA
Maklithari Taverna Makriotika (first left in Aghia Efimia and continue for about 6 kms) Worth it!
To Kastro St Georges Castle Tel: 26710 66367 (Spyros and Nicki) – Best daytime cafe on the island with views!
Look for our Visitor’s Book. It is a great place to find recommendations from past guests. We hope you find it useful and if so, please add your own names, comments and ‘good finds’ to The Walnut Tree Visitor’s Book.