Imagine a Greek island village with a sophisticated edge. Fiskardo Kefalonia has pastel-hued houses overlooking a harbour where fishing boats bob beside luxury yachts. Bougainvillea blossoms, a little pathway leads through pine trees to the water’s edge. Here’s one of the best places to stay in Kefalonia, plus a luxury Fiskardo villa.
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What makes Fiskardo Kefalonia special?
Kefalonia is the largest of the seven Ionian islands which lie to the west of the Greek mainland. It’s famous for its ancient olive trees, wooded mountains, sandy beaches and glittering azure sea. And on the northern tip of the island lies Fiskardo, or Fiscardo, a fishing village with a cosmopolitan fan base.
The Ionian islands are one of the most popular sailing destinations in Greece and Fiskardo is one of their most popular ports. Its safe anchorage and pretty pastel painted village appeals to all kinds of sailors from flotilla groups to mega yachts. But the true joy of Fiskardo Kefalonia is the fact it has managed to retain its traditional fishing harbour vibe.
It helps that, unlike the majority of Kefalonia, the village was spared the effects of the 1953 earthquake in the Ionian islands. Fiskardo’s traditional Venetian architecture escaped the tremors that demolished much of the island to the south.
And the village also still has a small fishing fleet. Walking around the quay you’ll see the colourful little wooden boats tied up alongside glamorous motor cruisers.
The area around the harbour is traditional and low built, with cobbled alleys and cats in doorways and no big hotel complexes to spoil the views. The majority of visitors stay in villas or on their boats.
And Greek law protects Fiskardo Kefalonia as an area of natural beauty, including the densely forested hillsides that surround the bay.
Despite the busy summer seasons and all those luxury yachts, Fiskardo still manages to feel laidback. You won’t find much in the way of nightclubs here, or sophisticated beach bars or designer stores. Instead you can enjoy the harbour comings and goings, the busy quayside seafood restaurants, the Ionian blue sea and lots of friendly Greek hospitality. And we think that’s why this is one of the best places to stay in Kefalonia.
How to get to Fiskardo Kefalonia
During the summer season Kefalonia’s international airport receives direct flights from several UK airports as well as 15 other European countries. A friend and I flew out to the island from London Gatwick in the first week of October. Our flight from London took 3 hours 30 minutes.
Kefalonia airport is at Argostoli, the island’s capital, on the west coast. We picked up a car here then followed the main coast road north to Fiskardo.
The journey by car from Argostoli to Fiskardo takes between an hour and 1hr 30mins. With the occasional break to take in the spectacular view of the Kefalonia coastline from the clifftop road of course!
You can also travel to Fiskardo by ferry from Nidri or Vasiliki on Lefkada.
Once we’d settled into our villa on a hillside above the village, we dashed to the harbour to see some friends. They were sailing in the Ionian islands and had make a detour to Kefalonia so that we could all meet up that evening.
In the high season boats tie up bumper to bumper along the harbourside whilst their crews gather in the bars and restaurants at the water’s edge. But in October the village is winding down after a busy summer.
We hitched a ride on the Villa buggy (more of that later) and joined the crew in the Fishbone bar then quickly moved to a taverna. Ten of us squeezed around a table for a lovely evening of anecdotes and catching up. Spit roast pork, souvlakia, huge Greek salads and lots of local white and rose were the perfect introduction to a week in Greece.
You can’t stay in Fiscardo without spending some time sitting on the waterfront, watching the boat’y world go by. At night you pick a restaurant. By day you choose your cafe. Will it be Melina’s Patisserie that serves pots of tea beside the billowing bougainvillea? Or perhaps you’d rather sit at a table on the quayside for coffee and a very Greek hunk of baklava, dripping in honey?
Colourful houses nestle around the water’s edge in Fiscardo harbour. The Venetian style buildings are a reminder of the centuries when the powerful Republic of Venice controlled the Ionian islands.
The lively combinations of colours: terracotta and blue, ochre and green, echo the brightly painted fishing boats that bob at their moorings between luxury yachts and cruisers. It’s a picturesque sight and you can’t help but linger for another photo or coffee.
Fiscardo has a cosmopolitan clientele during the summer and when we went shopping we found little boutiques with stylish Greek and Italian brands. We also discovered several with end of season sales. We explored the village thoroughly during our stay and spent a happy hour or two browsing summer dresses and doing a spot of present shopping.
Walk to Fiskardo’s lighthouses
On our first morning I walked down the hill from our villa to wave off the yacht crew. They were heading to their next port of call on nearby Ithaca. From the quayside I followed a little path through the woods to the headland. It’s a lovely walk for a hot day, sheltered by fragrant pine trees and with lots of glimpses of the Ionian blue sea. And it’s a walk with a purpose because two old lighthouses keep watch over the entrance to Fiskardo’s harbour.
The ‘modern’ one was built in 1892, the smaller is a Venetian lighthouse that dates back to the 16th century. As you reach the lighthouses you can see the island of Ithaca that lies alongside Kefalonia.
Follow the path a little further, it’s well signposted, and you’ll find the ruins of an early Byzantine basilica. It is just ruins, but the walk is lovely. The path is quite rugged so you’ll need proper shoes, flip flops won’t do!
The local beaches in Fiskardo are mainly shingle or pebbles with lovely clear water that’s great for swimming and snorkelling. Only one is an organised beach so it’s a good idea to take beach mats, umbrellas and snacks.
- Zavalata beach in Fiskardo is just a three minute walk from the harbourside. It’s small and pebbly but has a big tree for shade.
- Emblisi or Emplisi beach is a 25 minute walk from Fiskardo town, or 5 minute drive. This sheltered cove is flanked by unusual slanting rocks on either side which are handy for sunbathing. Fine white pebbles slope straight into warm deep crystal clear water, perfect for a swim. Lush vegetation clothes the hillsides and olive trees fringe the edge of the sand. The view inland is slightly marred by a pylon in the background which no one mentions in reviews(!) but we felt the cheerful Cariba beach bar made up for this, serving toasties, beers and cocktails. It’s all very low-key but one of my favourite Fiskardo beaches.
- Kimilia beach is small and nicely off the beaten track. To reach it, go through a gateway at the back of Emplisi beach and follow a little wooded pathway around the peninsula. You can approach from the road too then park and walk for 10 or so minutes to find it.
- Dafoudi beach is a little further around the peninsula. You can park and then it’s about a 20 minute walk to the very shingly beach. No facilities. I haven’t been, but reviews are mixed and suggest it’s best approached by boat.
- Foki beach in Fiskardo is on the opposite side of town to Emblisi and again is walkable in about 20 minutes or is a 5 minute drive. It’s a small shingly beach with olive trees for shade and a good taverna by the car parking.
- Jerusalem beach is a bit further away, a 20 minute drive from Fiskardo. But it’s worth knowing about as part of it is a managed beach with sunbeds and parasols. It has a restaurant behind the beach too. Plus an ancient little stone church which the beach is named after.
Fiskardo offers plenty of choice of restaurants from very trad taverna to excellent an up market seafood restaurants and international menus. You could easily eat somewhere different every night. Our favourites were:
Vasso’s at the waterside which supplied a huge portion of freshly cooked Kefalonian meat pie one lunchtime, with an equally enormous Greek salad. This is an island speciality that’s worth tasting. It has great views of the harbour from the tables too.
Roula’s Grill was our favourite Fiskardo restaurant. It was so good we ate there twice. Roula’s gets amazing reviews too so it wasn’t a fluke. You’ll need to book during the season and the waterfront views are excellent from the outside tables. Try the aubergine saganaki and also the stuffed tomatoes. Kefalonians use a fragrant herb combination including spearmint which we eventually tracked down in an island supermarket to take back to our own kitchens.
Day trips from Fiscardo
You could happily spend several days in Fiskardo Kefalonia without going anywhere. But it would be a shame to miss out on the rest of the island.
Assos You can drive to the romantic waterside village of Assos in just over 30 minutes from Fiscardo. It’s small but very pretty with a couple of tavernas and shops and a ruined castle on a hillside.
Myrtos Beach Another 25 minutes south from Assos, or 45 mins direct from Fiskardo, will bring you to Myrtos beach. This is the one that always appears on Best Beach in Greece lists. And you’ll understand why when you first catch a glimpse of it from the coast road. Sheer white cliffs frame a slick of silvery pebble and sand that contrasts sharply with the aquamarine and cobalt sea.
This is an organised beach with sunbeds, parasols and a snack bar.
The Melissani lake and Drogarati cave on the east side of the island are a fun place to visit on Kefalonia. Take a little boat ride into an underground lake where the water is a magical shade of blue, illuminated by sunlight through the roof of the cave. Mid-afternoon is the best time to see this.
Antisamos beach is just 10 mins away from the cave and a must-do for fans of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Parts of the film were shot here.
Guided Tours to Fiscardo
If you’re staying to the south of the island, you can easily find a guided day trip to show you the best parts of northern Kefalonia.
This tour concentrates on the west coast highlights and Fiskardo. It starts from Argostoli and takes the coast road to Assos and then Fiskardo. You’ve time to explore and have lunch in Fiskardo before returning via Myrtos beach for a 2 hr swim stop.
This private tour allows you to customise your day with a knowledgeable driver who will show you around the island.
Check here for reviews, availability and to book: From Argostoli – Private Kefalonia Highlights Tour
Weather in Fiscardo Kefalonia in October
You can check average weather in Kefalonia, month by month here.
Travelling out of peak season always carries a slight risk of not-perfect weather. But you weigh that against fewer crowds, peace and quiet, sun that isn’t over hot and the occasional luxury of having a 5 star Greek beach to yourself.
We were a bit unlucky in Fiskardo in October and were treated to a short series of magnificent thunderstorms that temporarily outed the electricity and then the water supplies. Getting away from ‘it all’ on a small island can sometimes include utilities too. But things righted themselves soon enough and we had sunshine again and plenty of opportunities to spend time on the beaches and explore.
Stay in a luxury Fiscardo villa
Our home on a hillside, with a fabulous bird’s eye view of Fiskardo village and harbour, was Milos, one of the Fiscardo Bay Villas.
If you’re looking for a luxury villa in Fiskardo Kefalonia, I’ve lots of good things to say about the Fiscardo Bay Villas. The three stand separately and privately in aromatic landscaped gardens. But their vantage point on the hill gives beautiful views of the village whilst the water’s edge is only 100 or so metres away.
Fiskardo villa with view of the bay
A great view is right up there on my list of top villa priorities, along with a decent terrace or balcony to enjoy it, so that’s a big box ticked for me.
Even better, you can watch the comings and goings in the harbour all day and enjoy the twinkling lights at night, but you’re far enough away to not hear it. At least that was our experience in October, but I’d imagine the villas are pretty quiet all year round.
Obviously we had a cup of tea on the balcony when we arrived. It was a great excuse to gaze out at the turquoise Ionian sea. And it would have been silly not to try the freshly homemade cake that was waiting for us too.
Inside the Fiscardo Bay Villas
It’s not just about location. These villas offer a quietly luxurious version of island living. The decoration is stylish but with little touches in the colour palette and artwork to remind you that you’re in Greece. The living area and kitchen are compact but open-plan with a lofty pitched ceiling that gives an airy feel. Two sets of doors open onto the balcony which spans the width of the villa. Out there two seating areas give grandstand views of the harbour.
The kitchen is easy on the eye with dark olive cupboards and a swathe of marble on the wall. It’s as well-appointed as you’d expect, including a selection of coffee makers. Beyond scrambled eggs we didn’t do any cooking. But we could have done easily in that kitchen, or booked a cook to cater a dinner or two. Off the kitchen is a guest loo and a laundry room with washing machine.
The sitting area has the sort of capacious sofa that you’d quite like to have at home. Whilst, hurrah!, the wi-fi as well as the air conditioning worked effortlessly on both levels of the house.
We slept soundly (despite an unscheduled storm or two) in the two boutique hotel-style bedrooms. The king-size beds were blissfully comfortable with excellent pillows – another of my personal priorities.
Each bedroom has a marble ensuite bathroom that didn’t feel Greek island at all. Apart, of course, from the up scale Apivita bath products that are based on Greek plant extracts. The towels were as white and fluffy as you’d hope for and matching big bathrobes are another luxurious touch.
I liked the layout, the sense of Greek heritage, and that lovely Greek view, but I also appreciated the sort of creature comforts that make you feel pampered on holiday. For starters the entire villa was spotless. And it stayed that way thanks to a very discreet but efficient daily maid service.
Despite the wide range of Greek weather on display during our stay it was the attention to detail by the charming villa team that kept us dry and happy. Members of the team are on site 24/7 so smartly liveried umbrellas were ready in the hallway at the first cloudburst. And the villa has a buggy service that will whisk you up and down the hill to the village – so we didn’t get our feet wet.
Milos had other little touches that made us feel properly welcome. As well as the homemade cake, the fridge and cupboards were ready stocked, so we didn’t need to rush to the supermarket. Instead at breakfast time we could feast on a cosmopolitan range of granolas and yoghurts, a rack of fresh eggs, a bowl of fruit along with bacon, feta, bread, honey, orange juice and so on.
Beers were chilling in the fridge and a bottle of red was at hand too. And we appreciated the drawerful of mosquito plug-ins to keep the insects at bay. It’s the sort of useful detail that shouldn’t go unmarked.
The bedrooms in Milos are on the ground floor and open onto a terrace with a big plunge pool, sunloungers and that view again. This upside down living arrangement works very well. The best views are on the upper floor from the living room, kitchen and balcony. Whilst it’s handy to have pool and showers together on the lower level.
In keeping with the grown-up vibe of the villa I’d say it’s a pool for chilling rather than boisterous games or swimming lengths. The tiles were a bit slippery – so no running. But importantly the terrace is well stocked with loungers, umbrellas, a dining table and a gas barbecue. Perfect for long warm evenings with toes in the pool and supper on the grill, watching the village lights twinkling across the water.
Visitors can borrow bicycles to speed around the local beaches. But of course the nicest way to get around is by boat. You’ll find plenty to rent in Fiskardo village and you can moor at the waterfront just below the villa.
How to book the Fiscardo Bay Villas
The Fiscardo Bay Villas each have two bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and sleep 4 with an additional sofa bed in the living area.
Guests can choose a standard or bespoke package for their stay – ours was the bespoke. Read more about Fiscardo Bay Villas here and then chat to David or Alex at Ionian Villas about which would suit you best.
Yes, you can take the ferry from Sami or from Fiscardo. If you have a hire car take it with you so that you can see more of the island.
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Disclosure: My visit to Kefalonia was hosted by Ionian Villas. They’re a family company with a carefully curated selection of villas and apartments on the Ionian group of islands in Greece. Father and son, David and Alex Watrous have been travelling there for years and know the islands inside out. Their island managers are similarly clued up and helpful . Discover the range of properties they offer on the island, from hideaways for two to big luxury Greek villas, here.
Ionian Villas hosted my stay on the understanding that I would write an honest and unbiased account of my trip. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
What to read next: guide to the Ionian islands of Greece
I’ve visited several of the lovely Ionian islands and they all have a slightly different feel.
Get an overview of things to do on Kefalonia island.
For a villa in southern Kefalonia, Greece read about this catered villa on a private olive estate
Just a short boat trip from Corfu is magical little Paxos.
Check out our villa on Paxos island with a 5 star view.
And don’t miss a day trip to Anti Paxos island.
Lying north of Kefalonia is Lefkada. We stayed at Vasiliki Lefkada, to explore the island
Here’s a guide to our favourite beaches on Lefkada.
And discover Meganisi, one of the best kept secrets in the Ionian islands
Please note that all visitor information here is for guidance only. Please check the relevant websites for the most up to date information eg. accommodation details, tickets, entrance requirements, opening times etc.
About the author Nancy Roberts is a former women’s magazine editor and writer. She lives in London and is mum to two 20-something boys. In Map&Family she shares info and inspiration for curious travellers: singles and couples as well as families travelling with teens and young adults.
All photos are all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce these photos without prior written permission