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εναέρια λήψη από την παραλία Γιδάκι στην Ιθάκη

Holidays in Ithaca. The island of Odysseus

Ithaca is a green island, with crystal clear waters, beautiful villages and breathtaking landscapes. It is the ideal destination for both lovers seeking tranquility and families. Our experience on Ithaca was one of the most beautiful we have had on the Greek islands, as it had a lot to offer us. The hospitable locals, the traditional food, the sea, the nature, the landscapes, the picturesque fishing villages and many more reasons made us love Ithaca and want to visit it again in the future.

General Information

  • Ithaca belongs to the region of the Ionian Islands and is the second smallest of the Ionian Islands.
  • The capital of the island is located in the southern part and is called Vathi.
  • Ithaca was first inhabited in the Neolithic Age when the Homeric era had not yet been discovered. Although several excavations have found many archaeological sites such as Pilikata, the palace of Odysseus has not yet been discovered.
  • The Greek poet Constantine Cavafy was inspired by Homer’s Ithaca and wrote one of his best poems in 1910.
  • According to tradition, in Ithaca and more specifically in Kioni, lived before the revolution in 21′, George Karaiskakis. Today only the outer walls and the openings in the windows and doors survive.

How to get there

Ferry boat: the main port of Ithaca is Pisaetos, in the middle of the island, and is connected to the ports of Astakos in Aitoloakarnania, Kyllini in Ilia, and Sami and Poros in Kefalonia. 

Initially, Astakos in Aitoloakarnania is connected daily with Ithaca, even during the winter months.  The duration of the trip is 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on whether the boat stops at the port of Sami in Kefalonia, or travels directly to the port of Pisaetos in Ithaca. The cost of the ticket is about 10€/person (30€ for the car) and depending on the season the sailing times change.

From Kyllini in Ilia, the journey takes about 3 hours and the ticket price is about 15€/person. As with the routes from Astakos, from Kyllini, the timetables change depending on the season and the duration of the trip varies depending on whether it stops in Kefalonia.

See all available ferry routes here.

By airplane: Ithaca does not have its own airport, but is served by Kefalonia airport. However, in the area of Anogi, there is a heliport for private or chartered helicopters.

Transportation

Car: The island is relatively small and the distances are short, with the longest being less than 30 kilometres. You will encounter many narrow bends on Ithaca’s roads that will not allow you to speed up.

Bus: The Ithaca bus service runs 2 routes daily, from Vathi to the villages in the northern part of the island and back. The times vary depending on the season.

Taxi: For more comfort in your travels, taxis at the taxi stand in the central square in Vathi will serve you. Initially, upon arrival at the port of Piso Aetos, the taxi is the only means of transport, as there is no municipal or other public transport.

Boats: Ideal for those who want to visit the beautiful beaches of the island that are not accessible by road. The island’s boats run daily. For the tour of Ithaca or even for daily excursions to the nearby islands, the boats depart from Vathi, where you will be informed about the timetables and destinations.

Boat rental: To be able to have more autonomy in your travels, we recommend renting a boat or a small boat. Find out the prices from their owners in Vathi, who will show you how to drive them yourself, but will also suggest the most beautiful routes.

Best beaches in Ithaca

Filiatro

The most crowded and cosmopolitan beach of Ithaca. Filiatro is located in the south of the island, 15 minutes drive from Vathi. The road to Filiatro is narrow with sharp bends and the parking is, usually not big enough to fit many cars.

Half the length of the beach is covered with sunbeds and umbrellas, on the right hand side, and there is the stylish café – beach bar Kirki, where you can get your coffee/refreshment/snack. Here the pebbles are large, but as you walk towards the left part of the beach, the pebbles get smaller and smaller, until they become sand at the end. Filiatro is a narrow bay with crystal clear turquoise waters and lush greenery all around. Behind the beach there is a small olive grove that offers shade to visitors and many even choose to camp there (although free camping is illegal ).

Bonus Tip: Swim along the shoreline to the right of the beach and you will discover a very beautiful little ‘private’ beach. There you will find complete tranquility, far from the cosmopolitan Filiatro.

filiatro beach at Ithaca
Skinos

In the homonymous bay and just 3 km from Vathi, is the beach of Skinos. Here the waters are crystal clear and sheltered, while the dense vegetation of pine and cypress trees will offer you shade and coolness. The mountain Niritos opposite “shelters” the beach, keeping the waters calm, and offering a wonderful landscape. The beach is narrow with pebbles and there is no parking, only a space that can accommodate 3-4 cars. So we suggest that those who will be travelling by car, arrive early to the beach to avoid the hassle of parking. To the right of the beach, the path leading to Gidaki beach starts.

skinos beach
Gidaki

It is ranked among the best beaches in Greece and is undoubtedly the most beautiful of Ithaca. Its waters are turquoise and apart from the rich vegetation, it is surrounded by steep white rocks, which create imposing formations. This exotic landscape combined with the crystal clear waters will leave you speechless. The beach is pebbled and there is a canteen on the left side, offering coffee, refreshments, cocktails and delicious snacks.

Gidaki is not accessible by road, but there are 2 alternative ways to reach the beach. The first way (and the easiest for many) is by boat, which departs daily from Vathi at 11am and returns at 5pm.  Our second and favorite way to get to Gidaki is by the path that starts from Skinos. The route takes 30 to 40 minutes, is relaxing and passes through the pine forest.  We suggest that you wear your sportswear and choose the second way of accessing Gidaki, as the view of the beach from the top of the path will be unforgettable.

gidaki beach at Ithaca
Mnimata

Just before the beach of Skinos, among the pine trees you will find the beach of Mnimata. It is very close to Vathi, about 10 minutes by car, and for this reason it attracts a lot of people. Like in Skinos, the road is narrow but paved and you can park on the sides of the road.

Mnimata beach is completely unorganized and we recommend that you stock up with the right equipment to enjoy it. The waters are clear and shallow with white pebbles, ideal for families with young children. The trees and vegetation around the beach are so dense that in many places they reach the sea, offering shade and coolness until midday when the sun returns. The waters are sheltered and turquoise as they mirror the verdant hillside. About The name of the beach comes from the abbreviation of the word messages. It is said that in earlier times it was the location used to send and receive messages. The location of the beach was favourable for this purpose, as it is the closest beach to Vathi that ‘faces’ the sea.

Sarakiniko

Next to the busy Filiatro, you will find the double beach of Sarakiniko. Both beaches are pebbly and the first one is used by fishermen to anchor their boats. From the first beach you follow a short path and reach the second and larger one. Here the pebbles are white, the water is clear and the vegetation of olive and holly trees reaches all the way to the sea. On the second beach we also saw many campers, although free camping is prohibited.

Both beaches are unorganized, with relatively little parking space so we recommend stocking up on the essentials. However, just before the beach you will find the very nice beach bar Leas, where you can have your coffee and refreshment and enjoy their snacks.

sarakiniko
Kourvoulia

On the road from Frikes to Kioni you will find the 3 small beaches, Kourvoulia. All 3 beaches are pebbly, with crystal clear, turquoise waters and with dense vegetation that reaches the sea. The first one is the smallest and is not easily visible from the road. After Frikes immediately after the first turn you will see the built steps and from there you will descend to the white pebbles of the beach. The second Kourvoulia is the most famous beach, as it attracts a lot of youth and families staying in the surrounding accommodation. Here too, you will descend down the built steps that will lead you to the beach. Finally, the third Kourvoulia is the longest beach in both width and length. There is a small plateau on the side of the road where you can park your car.

Platia Ammos

In the northern part of the island is Platia Ammos beach, which many consider to be the best exotic beach in Ithaca. As its name suggests, the beach is wide with fine white sand and its waters are crystal clear and clear. Access is only by sea with a boat from Vathi. It is completely unorganized and in summer, especially in August, it is filled with boats, sailing boats and yachts.

What to do in Ithaca

Vathi

Built amphitheatrically on the deep bay, Vathi is the capital of Ithaca and retains a charm that will impress you. The architecture of the houses is influenced by the Venetian domination, they are colourful, two-storey, with tiled roofs, narrow balconies and create a picturesque and traditional landscape. This landscape is completed with the imposing mansions, stone paths and elegant shops, which create the right atmosphere for your holiday.

The special feature of Vathi is the small island of Lazaretto, located in the middle of the harbour. In the past it was used as a purgatory and as a prison, while today it is overgrown with pine trees and only the chapel of Sotiras has been preserved.

Kioni

One of the most beautiful villages of Ithaca and perhaps the whole Ionian Sea. Kioni is built amphitheatrically, starting from high up from Rachi and reaching the sea at the closed and picturesque harbour. Colourful houses with tiled roofs, dense nature among them with olive and cypress trees, courtyards full of flowers and narrow paved roads complete the picturesque landscape. In the port you will find many beautiful shops, cafes, ouzeri and taverns and it is worth seeing the 3 traditional windmills at the entrance of the port.

Frikes

Frikes is a picturesque fishing village with about 50 permanent residents. The port attracts a large number of boats as it is an ideal starting point for trips to the surrounding beaches by boat. Next to the sea you have many options for coffee, traditional food and drinks.

Read our article about Kefalonia here.

Cave of the Nymphs

The Cave of Nymphs (or Marmarospilia) is located at an altitude of 190 m above the bay of Dexa. According to the location and shape of the cave, it is identified with the Homeric cave where the Phaeacians left Odysseus asleep and where Odysseus later left the gifts of the Phaeacian king Alkinoos. It has two entrances, one at the foot of the hill, which is not accessible, and the second from the asphalt road, from where you enter the cave via a staircase and a 10-meter descent. Inside you will see many stalactite formations, while the findings of the archaeological research are in the Archaeological Museum of Ithaca in Vathi.

Anogi

Anogi is the mountain village of Ithaca, built on the Niritos mountain at an altitude of 550 meters. In the central square of the village is the church of Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which dates back to the 12th century. Inside the church you will see many holy paintings of saints by Byzantine artists and you will be impressed by the imposing Venetian bell tower. Going up towards Anogi, the view of Ithaca is amazing and there are many places on the road where you can leave your car and admire it.

Food and beverage

Cantounis: This is a traditional tavern in Vathi, next to the sea. This lovely place with friendly staff will offer you delicious food, with affordable prices and large portions.

Rementzo: It is located in Frikes, by the sea and for us it was the best choice for dining. Apart from its location in the picturesque fishing village, overlooking the sea and the boats, the staff are helpful and the food is delicious. Among others, we singled out the onion pie and linguini with prosciutto, and the banoffee for dessert. All their dishes are carefully prepared with special flavours and the prices are commensurate with the quality. We recommend booking a table before you arrive at the restaurant because it fills up quickly.

Piccolo: The location is ideal as it overlooks the picturesque harbour of the village next to the sea. Their coffee is very good and there are many breakfast options such as pancakes , waffles , fruit salads , smoothies and snacks. In the evening the shop becomes more romantic with the village lights shining on the sea and creating a different atmosphere. There is a wide variety of cocktails and we were satisfied both times we visited.

Accommodation

For our accommodation we chose Captain Yiannis Hotel in Vathi. From the first moment we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by Mr. Stefanos, a helpful man and willing to help us with our luggage.  He gave us all the information we needed to enjoy this beautiful island and showed us how hospitable the people of Ithaca are. The rooms are renovated, with thoughtful furnishings and soft colours, and all the amenities you will need. Next to the hotel’s pool we enjoyed our breakfast in the dining room, as well as our coffee and snacks throughout the day.

Captain Yiannis‘ location is on the east side of the bay and his rooms have a spectacular view of the whole bay, the picturesque houses in Vathi and the mountains behind Vathi. We enjoyed this view from the spacious balcony of our room. The hotel is located 700 meters from the main square in Vathi, an ideal location close to the shops and the port but at the same time away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle.

Useful Sites & apps

Booking.com

With a plethora of choices, traveller grades, and a lot of offers for those who have booked many destinations, promo codes for you and your friends, discounts and many other benefits. Start booking to discover all the available options and offers. Check available rooms and prices here.

Air Bnb 

With over one million properties all around the world, and always increasing, ideal for a low budget stay even in expensive areas. Furthermore, because you stay in people’s villas, houses or flats you are made to feel more at home by the host of each destination and the homely surroundings.

Ferryscanner

For ferry tickets to all of Greece as well as destinations like Italy and Turkey. Immediate service and cooperation with the largest services in Greece.

Skyscanner

The first website that every traveller always checks. Instant and fast price comparison from airlines around the world. We love the “To any destination” filter, which shows us, all available flights sorted by price (low – high), for the dates we have selected. The best solution for a last minute trip. Available flights and prices can be found here.

Discover Cars 

For car rentals at the lowest prices, servicing in over 150 countries and with the best deals and support in over 12 different languages for your own leisure.

NanoWhat

Find a city’s hidden gems & cool places directly from the people who know it best. Keep local travel ideas in your pocket. Simply choose your list of cool places & click ‘download’ on the confirmation screen after checking out. The link will open in Google Maps. Hit ‘follow’ and save it for later. Download your Local Travel Guide here.

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