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Kefalonia – my daydream island

Travel journalists are not going far at the moment but that hasn’t stopped them sharing their stories, and love of Greece, with Olympic Holidays. From a return to Crete and the ‘poetry’ of Corfu to the foodie heaven of Kefalonia and Zante’s magical beaches we hope you enjoy the expert observations of our favourite islands to inspire your next journeys.

I’d happily holiday on any Greek island, but the one that lingers most in my memory – in fact, the only place that comes to mind when I regularly daydream about beaches … sunshine … food… is Kefalonia.

Kefalonia is an island that demands to be explored. Start in Fiskardo, a quaint Venetian-style harbour town in the north. Unlike the rest of Kefalonia and the other Ionian islands, it largely escaped the damage of the 1953 earthquake, leaving beautiful ornate buildings and little flower-dotted lanes to wander through.

Fiskardo Harbor, Kefalonia
Charming street and Venetian harbour at Fiskardo

Here, you’ll spend your time mingling in cafes with boho, floaty-linen-draped travellers and the odd Hollywood celeb. Superyachts bob on the sea in the distance, but you won’t need a blockbuster budget to revel in the region’s beauty.

A brilliantly fun way to zip over to the neighbouring island of Ithaca, and discover dozens of northern Kefalonia’s empty bays, is to hire your own little speedboat. They’re inexpensive to rent, easy to manoeuvre and make for amazing day trips – pack a picnic, drop anchor wherever you fancy and dive in for a swim in the cool, clear water.

Back on land, book in for dinner at Tassia’s: the smiley celebrity chef has a cute restaurant right on the water’s edge. Try the meat pie, the island’s signature dish, with its light flaky pastry and rich filling. And leave room for dessert – huge dollops of the local yoghurt, topped with homemade compotes. Plum, fig, grape – I adored them all.

Ithaca still has preserved that traditional charm of a Greek island

It’s just one of the dozens of unforgettable meals you’ll have on Kefalonia. In Argostoli, the laid-back capital, you can watch elderly gentlemen reclining on chairs on the bridge, happily catching the last of the rays, fishing rod in one hand, chilled Mythos beer in another. For the best view, settle into a seat on the terrace of Aristofanis. Go for the seafood platters: huge portions of grilled, smoke-tinged octopus, rich prawn saganaki, mussels and mackerel are laid out on huge trays, alongside salads topped with giant slabs of feta.

You could happily spend your days restaurant hopping, but there’s so much more to see. Take a jeep safari up Mount Ainos, which is nicknamed Black Mountain, thanks to the dark pine trees that blanket the slopes. Wild ponies, hundreds of happy goats and more than 400 varieties of plant make this mountain their home. If you’re looking for an escape from people and noise, this is it.

Argostoli - the laid back capital of Kefalonia

Back at sea level you can explore the coastline and its caves by sea kayak, or simply hop in your hire car and tour the many, many beaches. In Assos village, a tranquil little curve of pebbly sandy lapped by calm water and overlooked by a 16th-century castle is one of the most peaceful spots to spend the day.

And then there’s Myrtos: with its electric-blue water and dazzling white cliffs plunging into large, creamy pebbles; it’s the island’s pin-up beach and rightly so. It may be the most famous, but on Kefalonia, you’ll be happy at any beach you stumble across. You’ll see.

Hannah Summers is a freelance writer for the Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph and National Geographic Traveller.

Find Hannah on Twitter and at hannahlouisesummers.com.

Breathtaking view of the famous Myrtos beach

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