Imagine a Greek island village with a sophisticated edge. Fiscardo, Kefalonia has brightly painted houses overlooking a harbour where fishing boats bob beside luxury yachts. Delicious scents waft from the restaurants on the quayside, bougainvillea blossoms, a little pathway leads through pine trees to the water’s edge. We think we’ve found one of the best places to stay on Kefalonia, read on to find out the location of our luxury Fiscardo villa.
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If you’ve read about our family trip to the Greek island of Paxos, you’ll know that I booked with Ionian Villas. So when David the owner emailed to say “How about Kefalonia?” I jumped at the chance and phoned a friend.
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Fiona and I have been friends since we were fresh out of uni. Our families have spent lots of holidays together but this was an opportunity for us to have a mum-only break. A week off on one of the beautiful Ionian islands of Greece, with no agenda other than to potter, explore and have some catch-up time.
We flew out from Gatwick in the first week of October. You can read more about our trip to Kefalonia in October here. As you’ll find out the weather was a little unpredictable but it didn’t stop us enjoying our stay.
After landing in Argostoli and collecting our hire car we followed the main road north to our first stop, Fiscardo. Otherwise known as Fiskardo it’s the most northerly village on the island. 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 and breathtaking views; all of which we saw on our journey, click here for the views! The directions on the Vamoos app supplied by Ionian Villas, worked well and we pulled up alongside the harbour in Fiscardo in the late afternoon, at just the time it said we would. The drive took us about an hour and a half.
Fiona jumped out to check up a steep little hill for a signpost to our villa. Moments later she whizzed back down again aboard the Fiscardo Bay Villas’ golf buggy with Antonis one of the Villas team.
Is this the best place to stay in Kefalonia?
Although it’s a popular destination for holidaymakers and sailors Fiscardo has kept its authentic village vibe. The area around the harbour is traditional and low built, without any big hotel complexes to spoil the views. The majority of visitors stay in villas or on their boats. You won’t find much in the way of nightclubs here, or sophisticated beach bars, but instead you can enjoy the harbour comings and goings, that wonderful 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.
Fiskardo villas to remember
The hill was exactly where we needed to go. We popped the Panda into its parking bay and went to investigate our new home, one of the Fiscardo Bay Villas. Thanks to this hillside vantage point they have a fabulous bird’s eye view of Fiscardo village and harbour.
Obviously the first thing we did was make a cup of tea. But not just because we’re British – it was a great excuse to sit on the balcony and 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 under a glass dome.
After lingering on the balcony we just had time to unpack and admire more of the view – and the bathrooms – when the yachties arrived. Or rather they texted from their boat to tell us to hurry up because they were hungry.
My friend Alex and her husband were sailing in the Ionian islands. Alex had managed to persuade the rest of the crew to make a detour to Kefalonia so that we could all meet up. It probably helped that Fiscardo village is a magnet for sailors.
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. So perfect really.
It’s only a few minutes walk into the village but to make up time we hitched another ride on the buggy. And joined the crew in the Fishbone bar. There are plenty of Fiscardo restaurants to choose from but we were all hungry so we quickly moved next door to Lagoudera taverna. All 10 of us squeezed around a table, and we had 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. Not surprisingly our group was the last to leave. As the crew boarded a dinghy to head to their berth the wonderful Andreas and the taxi buggy arrived to collect us. So we didn’t even have to walk back up hill to the villa.
Stay in a luxury Fiscardo villa
If you’re looking for a luxury villa in Kefalonia, I’ve lots of good things to say about the Fiscardo Bay Villas. Newly built, the three stand separately and privately in aromatic landscaped gardens. Their perch on the hillside overlooks Fiscardo village and harbour and the water’s edge is only 100 or so metres away. Since a good view is right up there on my list of villa priorities, along with comfy chairs to enjoy it, that’s a big box ticked for me. Even better, although you can watch the comings and goings in the harbour all day you’re far enough away to not hear it. At least that was our experience in October, but I’d imagine the villas are quiet all year round.
But it’s not just about location. The villas offer a quietly luxurious version of island living. The decoration is stylish and modern with little touches in the colours 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 with a selection of coffee makers. (You’re right, beyond scrambled eggs we didn’t use the kitchen. But we could have easily cooked for ourselves 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.
Despite the storms we slept soundly in the two boutique hotel-style bedrooms with blissfully comfortable king-size beds and excellent pillows (another personal priority). Each bedroom has a marble ensuite bathroom that doesn’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 are 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 for the first cloudburst. And the buggy service whisked us 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. The fridge and cupboards were well 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 bread, bacon, feta, 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 mozzie plug-ins to keep the insects at bay. Just the sort of useful detail that shouldn’t go unmarked.
Once we’d scattered our flip flops and beach bags about the place we felt immediately at home.
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 bathrooms 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 after all that rain – so no running. But importantly the terrace is well stocked with loungers, umbrellas, a dining table and a gas barbecue. I can imagine long warm evenings with toes in the pool and supper on the grill, watching the village lights twinkling across the water.
The Fiscardo Bay Villas each have two bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and sleep 4 with an additional sofa bed in the living area. They offer free bicycles to speed you to the local beaches. But of course the nicest way to get around is by boat. You’ll find plenty to rent in Fiscardo village and you can moor at the waterfront just below your villa. 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.
Things to do in Fiskardo Kefalonia
Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend a lot of time on the pool terrace. Our friends in the yacht were memorably drenched on their crossing to Ithaca. And in Fiscardo we were treated to the first of a series of magnificent thunderstorms that temporarily outed the electricity and then the water supplies in the village. This is when you have to remind yourself that getting away from ‘it all’ on a small island can sometimes include guaranteed utilities too.
Weather in Kefalonia in October can be unpredictable. You can check average weather in Kefalonia, month by month here. We were unlucky but we did have sunshine too and plenty of opportunities to explore. So these are our top recommendations for things to do in Fiscardo.
Visit Fiscardo’s lighthouses
On that first morning I nipped down the hill from our villa to wave off the yacht crew. Despite the beautiful sunshine they’d seen the weather warnings and decided to head to their next port of call as quickly as possible. 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. Not one but two old lighthouses keep watch over the entrance to Fiscardo’s harbour.
The ‘modern’ one was built in 1892, the smaller lighthouse dates back to Venetian times. From here you can see the island of Ithaca that lies alongside Kefalonia.
Enjoy the harbour views
You can’t stay in Fiscardo without spending some time sitting on the waterfront, watching the boat’y world go by. First you have to pick your cafe. Will it be Melina’s patisserie that serves tea beside the billowing bougainvillea? Or perhaps you’d rather sit at a table on the quayside for a very Greek hunk of baklava, dripping in honey?
Colourful houses nestle around the water’s edge in Fiscardo harbour. These historic buildings survived the disastrous earthquake of 1953, you can read about it here. Many now house restaurants and boutiques. 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.
Head to a Fiscardo beach
Fiscardo has a choice of beaches. We visited the little town beach and drove round to Emblisi. 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 water, perfect for a swim. The view inland is slightly marred by a pylon in the background but we felt the cheerful Cariba shack made up for this. Stationed at the back of the beach it serves toasties, beers and cocktails. In the other direction, Foki beach is walkable from the village.
If we’d hiked along a little wooded pathway from Emblisi around the peninsula we’d have found Kimilia beach, nicely off the beaten track. You can approach from the road too then park and walk for 10 or so minutes to find it.
Go shopping in Fiscardo village
The storms brought one unexpected bonus for us. Despite a lack of electric lighting the shops stayed open and we were welcomed joyfully. Fiscardo has a cosmopolitan clientele during the summer and we found stylish Greek and Italian brands. We also discovered that several boutiques had end of season sales. So we forgot our disappointment about the rain and spent a happy hour or two trying on dresses, comparing leather handbags and doing a spot of early Christmas shopping.
Try all the Fiscardo restaurants
Once a watery sunshine broke out we explored the village thoroughly, passing many cats in doorways and checking out restaurant menus. We arrived back at the waterside just in time for a late lunch at Vassos. Here we shared a huge portion of freshly cooked Kefalonian meat pie with an equally enormous Greek salad. This is an island speciality that’s worth tasting.
Fiscardo restaurants offer plenty of choice from very trad taverna to international menus. You could easily eat somewhere different every night. We like Greek food and we ate supper at Roula’s twice because the first night was so good. We picked a harbourside table with a cushioned settle and the precaution of an awning – given the antics of the weather gods. If you go there try the aubergine saganaki and also the stuffed tomatoes. Kefalonians use a fragrant herb combination including spearmint which we tracked down in an island supermarket for our own kitchens.
Take a day trip from Fiscardo
You could happily spend several days in Fiscardo Kefalonia without going anywhere. But it would be a shame to miss out on the rest of the island. The main north/south road is an easy drive and you can reach both Assos and Myrtos beach in under an hour from Fiscardo. Click the link to read more about them. We didn’t have time to go to Petani on the Paliki peninsula which is about 1 hr 20 mins away. It comes well recommended though.
Heading to the east side of the island you can reach the Melissani caves in an hour. And fans of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin will want to travel about 10 minutes further to visit Antisamos beach where some of the film was shot.
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luxury villas Kefalonia
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 and Karen Remountos on Kefalonia even came to our rescue when we got lost! Discover the range of properties they offer on the island, from hideaways for two to big luxury Greek villas, here. You can read more about our visit and the three villas we stayed in on Kefalonia, 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
If you’d like to know more about Kefalonia, Greece read about our supper at a catered villa on a private olive estate here plus the secrets of a modern-day moussaka recipe.
Get an overview of things to do on Kefalonia island here.
Or discover the magic of Paxos, another Ionian island just a short boat trip from Corfu.
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.
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