Top 5 things to see in Kefalonia

Among the most popular islands of Greece, Kefalonia is a fantastic destination for summer or spring vacations. Apart from wonderful beaches and nice seaside villages, Kefalonia island also offers many things to see. Its long and interesting history has left many monuments, spread all around the island. Here are the top 5 things to see in Kefalonia.

# Melissani Lake Cave

Top things to see in Kefalonia: Melissani Lake Cave

The lake cave of Melissani is probably the most impressive among all things to see in Kefalonia. Located just a couple of km from Sami town, on the eastern side of the island, this lake cave was actually discovered in 1951 when an earthquake made the roof to collapse. Many archaeological excavations followed and ancient statuettes were discovered. In fact, in the antiquity, this lake cave was known and people believed that it was the residence of nymph Melissani, which is how the cave took its name today.

The most interesting part of this lake cave is that the water comes from the region of Katavothres in Argostoli. Katavothres is a natural phenomenon close to Argostoli town, where sea water enters the underground, crosses Kefalonia for 30 km until the other side of the island, passes the Cave Lake of Melissani and reaches again the sea at the fishing port of Karavomylos, close to Melissani. This is why the water of the cave is actually sea water.

When visitors enter the cave, they walk few steps down until they reach the shore the lake and there are boats waiting to take them on a tour around the cave. This is a very interesting and impressive experience overall.

# Drogarati Cave

Top things to do in Kefalonia: Drogarati Cave

Another fantastic cave close to Sami town is Drogarati Cave. This large cave is a miracle of nature, with stalactites and stalagmites of impressive size and shape. Although it was discovered in the 18th century, it only opened to the public in 1963. Speleologists estimate that this is a 150 million years old cave, while the humidity reaches 90% inside. Due to its wonderful acoustics, concerts of classical music have taken place inside Drogarati Cave, which has the capacity of host 500 people.

# Lighthouse of Saint Theodore

Top things to see in Kefalonia: Lighthouse of Saint Theodore

The Lighthouse of Saint Theodore is located 2 km from Argostoli town, overlooking the bay between Argostoli and Lixouri. This lighthouse distinguishes for its architecture and is a popular wedding spot in Kefalonia, particularly in sunset time. This circular structure of 20 columns and an 8-meter tall tower was originally built in 1828, when Kefalonia and all the Ionian islands were under British rule.

The severe earthquake of 1953 caused large damages to the lighthouse but it was later reconstructed and works until today. Just few meters from the Lighthouse of Saint Theodore, visitors can see the Katavothres, the geological phenomenon where the sea water enters the underground of Kefalonia.

# Castle of Saint George

The Medieval Castle of Saint George is located 7 km from Argostoli, just above the village of Peratata. This castle was originally constructed by the Byzantines in the 12th century but got its present form during the Medieval era, when the Venetians ruled the island. Today the largest part of the Castle of Saint George is ruined, except for the remains of some buildings and the external walls that still survive.

In the Medieval times, this castle used to host the first capital of Kefalonia, an entire town with public buildings, storehouses, churches, private residences, mansions of noble families, hospitals, prisons and more. In 1757, this organized capital town was gradually moved to Argostoli to be closer to the port. The Castle of Saint George is open for visit in morning hours, until the early afternoon.

# Monastery of Kipoureon

The Monastery of Kipoureon is located on the western coasts of Kefalonia, in the peninsula of Paliki. At a distance of 15 km from Lixouri, this monastery is famous for its fantastic location that offers breathtaking view to the sea and the sunset. In fact, although this monastery is not among the most famous things to see in Kefalonia, watching the romantic sunset and the rocky cliffs reaching the sea from there is a wonderful experience. Today only one old monk lives there and you will probably see him sweeping the yard and lighting the candles during your visit.

Greek island tour to Western Cyclades

The group of Western Cyclades, geographically located between the central Cyclades islands and the coasts of Peloponnese, consists of islands with traditional architecture, calm environment and away from mass tourism. Here are some fantastic islands for summer holidays in Western Cyclades.

#Milos

Milos island in Western Cyclades

Although Milos has special beauty and wonderful spots, it is a fortunate thing that it has not opened to mass tourism. Hotels in Milos are family places with traditional style and the number of tourists is kept in normal scale, even in high season (July and August).

Due to its volcanic background, the geology and coastline of Milos island in Western Cyclades have special shapes and forms. This volcanic composition of the ground is responsible for the many caves and underwater caves of Milos as well as for the obsidian mines that support the local economy from the ancient times until today. These characteristics have made Milos island popular among geologists and volcanologists. In fact, in order to get to know better this special side of the island, the Mineralogical Museum of Milos has created a project of hiking walks called Miloterranean Geo Walks.

The most impressive places to visit in Milos are the fantastic beaches and the fishing villages with the characteristic local architecture. Such villages are, for example, Klima, Fourkovouni, Firopotamos and Areti. Built along small fishing ports, these villages have white houses with colourful window shutters and boat garages at the ground floor. These boat garages are called syrmata and protect the boats from bad weather and strong winds. They are actually carved against the rocks and show the excellent skills of the locals in rock-carving. This skill is evident in the Christian Catacombs of Milos, created as early as the 1st century AD.

The most fantastic beach of Milos is Sarakiniko, a large white rock created millions of years ago when the volcano of Milos exploded and poured hot lava that was later solidified. The moon-like beach of Sarakiniko is the most photographed place on the island. All around the coastline of Milos, there are such beaches with special characteristics, such as Firiplaka, Papafragas and Agia Kyriaki, while the most impressive place to swim is the sea region of Kleftiko with the many sea caves and underwater passages, on the southern side of the island.

#Sifnos

Sifnos island in Western Cyclades

A small island of Western Cyclades, Sifnos is the perfect Greek destination for fantastic beaches plus traditional Cycladic architecture. The seaside villages of the island are lined up with Sifnos beach hotels, delicious taverns and cafeterias. Many beaches of Sifnos are sandy and organized, such as Kamares, Platis Gialos, Vathy and Faros, which are also the most popular places to stay on the island. However, a hike around will bring you to fantastic, secluded bays to enjoy private moments. In Sifnos, do not miss the picturesque village of Kastro, a Medieval settlement that used to be the old capital of the island.

#Serifos

Serifos island in Western Cyclades

Away from the popular tourist routes, Serifos is a lovely island of Western Cyclades and ideal for total relaxation. There is not much to do in Serifos than swimming and hiking. In the day time, people are spread in fantastic beaches with crystal waters. The frequented beaches of Serifos, such as Livadakia and Avlomonas, are lined up with many Serifos beach hotels and studios. Other beaches of Serifos, such as Psili Ammos and Agios Sostis, are peaceful and non-organized.

On the western side of Serifos, just above the beach of Megalo Livadi, is an important historical landmark of the island: the Old Mines, where a large strike broke out in 1916, resulting in the death of three mining workers. In the evening, head to Chora, the picturesque capital of the island, where it is a pleasure to walk through the Medieval paths and have dinner in the many taverns.

#Kythnos

Kythnos island in Western Cyclades

Apart from the traditional Cycladic architecture and the relaxing atmosphere, Kythnos is also famous for its thermal springs. In the seaside village of Loutra, on the northern side of the island, there are thermal springs that pour from the antiquity until present. These springs cure various diseases, such as spinal disorders, rheumatic pains, arthritis, neuroses and more. For treatments, there is a Hydrotherapy Center in Loutra that works from May to October. Two open thermal springs are also found on the side of Loutra Beach, with hot water all day and night.

Apart from Loutra, which is a tourist place with many Kythnos hotels, taverns and car/bike rental agencies, another tourist village in Kythnos is Merihas, the port of the island. Kythnos also hosts one of the most beautiful beaches in Western Cyclades, the beach of Kolona. Chora and Driopida are the most traditional villages in Kythnos, with Medieval architecture and relaxing atmosphere. An important sight is also the Church of Panagia Kanala, the protector of the island, that attracts many pilgrims every year on its celebration day, on August 15th.

Amazing Cyclades islands off the beaten track

The Cyclades is the most popular group of islands in Greece. Due to its special architecture, where the blue and white colours dominate, its close distance to Athens and the small size of the islands, the Cyclades are a favorite holiday destination for millions of tourists every year.

However, next to popular Greek islands in Cyclades, there are still small amazing Cyclades islands off the beaten track, where you can enjoy wonderful moments of total relaxation and privacy. Here are our suggestions if you are looking for such secluded islands to go during your Greek holidays.

#Serifos

Cyclades islands off the beaten track: Serifos

Although Serifos island is found only 2 hours by ferry from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, it has still remained away from mass tourism and has kept its authentic character. The main village of Serifos is Chora, a wonderful place of pure Cycladic architecture, with picturesque corners, small churches and paved paths. The other villages of Serifos are mostly tourist settlements that come alive in summer. The port village is Livadi, the main tourist place with many fish taverns, lovely Serifos hotels and two sandy beaches, Avlomonas and Livadakia. Nice beaches are found all around Serifos island, some organized and others totally secluded.

During your holidays in Serifos, do not miss a visit to the Old Mines, on the western side of the island, where a historical strike took place in 1916 and resulted in the death of three mining workers. Due to frequent ferry connection, your trip to Serifos can be combined with other Cyclades islands, such as Kythnos, Sifnos and Milos.

#Kythnos

Cyclades islands off the beaten track: Kythnos

One of the most authentic Cyclades islands off the beaten track, Kythnos amazes visitors with the sandy beaches and the traditional villages. The most beautiful beach in Kythnos is Kolona, a wonderful place to swim with soft sand and crystal waters. A drive around the island will bring you to many other beautiful beaches.

The most tourist villages in Kythnos are Merihas, which is actually the port village, and Loutra, a lovely village on the northern side of the island that has become famous due to its thermal springs. In fact, many visitors come to Kythnos for therapy at the Hydrotherapy Center in Loutra. Chora is the capital town of Kythnos, while Driopida is a very traditional village totally away from tourism.

A very busy period for Kythnos is on August 15th, the celebration day of the Monastery of Panagia Kanala, the protector of the island. This is when many pilgrims come to Kythnos and many religious festivals (panigiria) are organized with traditional dancing and music in village squares.

#Anafi

Cyclades islands off the beaten track: Anafi island

Although Anafi is geographically located next to Santorini, the most popular Greek island and among the top holiday destinations in the world, surprisingly it has remained among the most secluded Greek islands. There are no tourist shops in Anafi, no large crowds every time a ferry arrives or departs, no umbrellas on the beaches. If you are looking for a totally and absolutely secluded island in Greece, then this is Anafi!

The volcanic background of Anafi has created many impressive spots on the island, such as the rock of Kalamos, the second largest natural rock in the Mediterranean Sea right after the Gibraltar. The only village of Anafi is Chora, a picturesque place with pure Cycladic style, built on the slopes of a hill. Most frequented beaches of Anafi are found on the southern side, such as Roukounas, Klissidi and Agios Nikolaos.

Although there is a small bus that runs from Chora to the port and the monastery of Zoodohos Pighi, on the far eastern side of the island, most transport in Anafi is done by foot. There are only few taverns and hotels in Anafi, which makes it a fantastic place for total privacy. For absolute relaxation, you’d better choose a beach hotel in Anafi, preferable close to a tavern, in order to avoid long walking distances.

#Sikinos

Sikinos in Cyclades islands off the beaten track

One of the most picturesque Cyclades islands off the beaten track is Sikinos. Located on the southern side of the Aegean Sea, Sikinos is geographically found between Ios and Folegandros. Many visitors actually share their holidays between these three islands as the ferry ride is short from one island to the other. The most tourist place in Sikinos is Alopronia, which is actually the port village, lined up with few Sikinos hotels and studios, restaurants and with an organized beach. Some other beaches are found around the island, accessible by bus or boat.

The capital town of Sikinos is Chora, a beautiful settlement with Cycladic architecture. Walk along the paved paths of Chora and see the beautiful view to the Aegean Sea, particularly at sunset time. This will be a nice memory from your holidays in Sikinos. A important sight to visit on the island is the Ancient Site of Episkopi, an old Byzantine Monastery constructed on the spot of a Roman mausoleum. Like in other Cyclades islands off the beaten track, hiking is a popular way to move around Sikinos, too.

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