ADD a little bit of Hollywood glamour to your Greek holiday this summer with a trip to Kefalonia.
The popularity of the romantic book and film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin boosted tourism to this tiny island to the stratosphere. It had always been popular – now it was on everyone’s Top 10 list.
It’s easy to see why it appealed so much – dramatic coastlines, beautiful beaches, clear blue seas and rugged white cliffs. It’s a definite A-lister of a holiday destination.
Kefalonia is blessed with fabulous beaches, the best being Myrtos, which was heavily used in the Captain Corelli movie. It is one of the most dramatic beaches in Greece with its mile-and-a-half long arc of dazzling white pebbles that cuts deep into a sheer cliff on the island’s northwest coast.
Petani beach is in a beautiful setting, too, a curved coastline with a mountain backdrop, with sparkling waters and ice-white sand, just like Myrtos. The beach is located near Lixouri, which is a boat ride across from island capital, Argostoli.
Despite these two being the best, the southern coastal beaches are the most popular with families and tourists, mainly because the cliffs and dramatic coastline of the Big Two isn’t as family-friendly as the more accessible ones in the south.
Around Argostoli and Lassi you’ll find Platys Gialos and Makris Gialos, while further south there’s a great beach near the seaside hamlet of Katelio.
To the east of the island, the pebbly beaches of Poros, Sami and Agia Efimia are all worth a day out.
The main place for a bit of retail therapy is Argostoli. Head for the market first – it’ll have you living like a local in no time. Stalls are full of locally-produced honey, olive oil and, of course, the island’s famous wine, Robola.
If it’s a more traditional afternoon’s shopping you’re after, head for the main square where you’ll find local art galleries, great jewellers, and a number of local fashion shops.
Away from Argostoli, you’ll find plenty of art and pottery in Skala, while bric-a-brac hunters should make a bee-line for Lassi. Fiskardo village has designer clothes shops and some high-end gift stores.
You can get the traditional Greek dishes on Kefalonia but the island has a cuisine all its own. Take the Kefalonian meat pie. You’ll find it everywhere you go – a pastry case crammed with lamb, beef, pork and rice.
Another popular dish is lamb ‘kleftiko’. Essentially a casserole, it’s a foil-wrapped parcel packed with tomatoes, onions, potatoes and herbs. Beef stifado is similar – a tangy stew with tomatoes, onions and garlic.
Octopus is a speciality here too, with swordfish and squid also plentiful.
Kefalonia’s most famous restaurant is Tassia’s in the village of Fiskardo, owned by Greece’s top celebrity chef, Tassia Dendrinou, but there are other great ones like Kiani Akti in Agostili and Il Destino in Skala which are also well worth a visit.
STAY IN STYLE AT THE MAGNOLIA RESORT
The Magnolia Resort is the perfect setting for your Kefalonia holiday. It sits in lush gardens only 700 metres from the beach of Katelios, a small fishing village between the busy resorts of Skala and Lourdas on the south east coast.
Newly built and family-owned, this four-star retreat is a great place for couples and families with a range of shops and restaurants nearby and attractive double rooms for up to three people. The Rosebud Bistro is staffed by a trained Chef and his staff and serves delicious meals.