The Ionian Island of Kefalonia, also known as Cephalonia, is strikingly beautiful, with jagged limestone cliffs and terraced slopes dotted with olive groves. The highest point on the island is Mount Ainos, rising to 5,914 feet (1774 meters). Large areas are covered by luxuriant subtropical vegetation, and all around the island, the scenery offers magnificent views of the mountains and the sea.
Many sites on Kefalonia reflect its tumultuous history of ever-changing kings and rulers. The Norman Kings of Sicily ruled the island during medieval times, followed by Italian overlords who ruled for three centuries under the principality of the Morea. In 1478, the Turks conquered the island only to be defeated 20 years later by the Vegetians. And, for a short time the British ruled here as well. Finally in 1864, Kefalonia was returned to Greece. In 1823 Lord Byron spent several months on the island, captivated by the enduring spirit of the people, the natural beauty of the land and its rich history.
Visitors to Kefalonia look to spend time in such places as the serene fishing village of Assos and the scenic town of Argostoli. Other highlights on the island include a Venetian Fortress, a 13th century castle and spectacular caves.
The biggest town of the island and the lively capital of the island is Argostoli, a town built amphitheatrically, with intense city life and active, full of various types of entertainments: shops for every taste, coffee to relax, bars and beaches nearby. Although Argostoli was totally ruined by an earthquake in 1953 there are still sites that depict the old Venetian architecture. You can see the old town Krani with the Cyclopean Walls, you can walk on the pedestrian street, where if you have the opportunity you may encounter the local philharmonic orchestra playing traditional Ionian songs; you can complete your promenade strolling through the dock.
Argostoli’s attractions are mostly within walking distance of the port. Though some are reconstructions of older buildings, for the most part, the capital has been reconstructed over the last 60 years. The meeting point in the city is Vallianos Square surrounded by shops, tavernas and other businesses. A couple blocks south of the square is the main shopping street, Lithostroto. which is a pedestrian-only cobblestone shopping mall. There are two nice small museums in the city. The Archaeological Museum has artifacts from Mycenean to Roman times. The Korgialeneio History and Folk Art Museum includes many displays showing the island prior to the earthquake. The picturesque De Bosset Bridge was built of wood in the early 19th century, but replaced a few years later with stone. It is one of the city’s most popular photo spots along with the Doric-style lighthouse rebuilt after the earthquake.
Don’t leave Argostoli without trying a few of their local specialties. Try a hearty Kefalonian meat pie for lunch, and wash it down with a glass of Robola, the local wine produced on the island. Drop by the bakery on Argostoli’s main thoroughfare for a round cheese pie, and pick up some bread to drizzle local thyme honey on.