Small yet dramatic, Ithaca packs a scenic punch. Legend says it was the home of King Odysseus, offering exciting archeological finds.
The island's locals live life at a leisurely pace and the traditional village atmosphere makes for warm and welcoming holidays. Ithaca holidays are relatively simple because picturesque and traditional resort remains unspoilt and is scattered with tiny fishing villages, ancient monasteries and deserted beaches. There are small sandy and shingle beaches to enjoy and many tavernas, with a small selection of bars.
Vathy is the largest village of Ithaca as well as the capital and main harbour of the island (since the 16th century). It is a picturesque village, built amphitheatrically around a deep and sheltered bay with a narrow entrance. Holidays to Ithaca are ideal for those seeking an island full of natural beauty, unspoilt by mass tourism. Enjoy a holiday in a natural setting with large areas of olive groves, vineyards, orange, lemon, pear and fig trees. The beautiful scenery makes Ithaca a haven for those who enjoy hiking too.
A holiday to Ithaca will take you to probably one of the most legendary Greek islands as it is the home of Odysseus and Homer's Odyssey. It lies just a few miles from Kefalonia and can only be reached by boat.
The best beaches in Ithaca
Agios Ioannis - Sand beach. Just below the main road on the west coast of Ithaca is this small beach with beautiful sand.
Dexa - This bay has a Sand/Pebble beach and is located in the Gulf of Skinos on the east coast of the island. There is decent swimming and it is not far from the Cave of Nymphs.
Bay of Polis - Pebble beach Southwest of Stavros is a bay with the ancient name of Polis that has a beautiful beach. A cave on the north side of the bay is thought to have been a centre of worship for the early Greek civilisation.
Things To Do
Paleochora - A walk through the ruins of the old medieval capital of Ithaca will bring back the memory of the past, when the city was full of life, before its inhabitants abandoned it to move towards the coasts of the island.
The vestiges of old houses fortified against the pirate raids can be admired, as well as some ruined Byzantine churches which still have some very beautiful frescoes.
Aretousa Spring -5 kilometres south of Vathy, Ithaca's capital, on the most south-east corner of the island is the Spring of Aretousa, which is supposed to be the spring described by Homer in the Odyssey, where Eumaeus, Odysseus¿ swineherd, brought his pigs to drink and where Odysseus met him on his return, following the directions of the goddess Athena. The path leading to the spring is shade less and surrounded by ravines in some spots, so one has to be careful and not afraid of the highs.
Water sports - Hiking through the rugged and beautiful hills is recommended. There is a decent hike to the Spring of Aretousa, where Odysseus met his swineherd in the Odyssey. One kilometre from Vathy is the Cave of the Nymphs.
Horse riding - In August, there is a cultural festival with artists and orchestras from all over the world.
Things To See
Kathara Monastery - situated on Mount Neritos. It is the highest mountain on Ithaca with a summit of over 900 metres with spectacular views.
Satanic Settlement - a German settlement situated near to the capital Vathy. Germans bought an area of land in 1972 and it became a self sufficient community.
Dexia Bay - Odysseus landed on this bay after all of his travels.
Caves of the Nymphs - situated just above Dexia Bay - a cave, where Odysseus reportedly hid all of his treasures on his return journey from Troy.
Stavros Museum - Located in Stavros village, the museum holds a collection of the various finds from Northern Ithaca, dating back to the times of Odysseus. The museum was built in 1933. Open everyday from 8.30am to 15.00 pm (close on Monday). Free entry.
The church of Agios Georgios - the cathedral and the church of Taxiarchis with the icon of Christ, which are believed to be painted by El Greco.
How to get there:
Ithaca doesn't have an airport, but you can fly from a number of UK airports to Kefalonia, and then take a boat transfer. The journey by boat takes 1 hour.
How to get around:
By Bus: There is one bus connecting Vathy and Frikes and runs twice daily, once very early in the morning and once in the afternoon.
By taxi: Taxis charge one euro per kilometre. As on most of the Ionian Islands, car hire is recommended.
By boat:The tiny port of Piso Aetos, on Ithaca's western coast, has a twice-daily service to Sami on Kefalonia. Vathi, by far the largest town on Ithaca, is also the main port and has twice daily connections to Sami on Kefalonia.