A pretty jumble of ice-cream coloured houses arranged around a picture-postcard bay, Aghia Efimia on the blissful island Kefalonia is the ideal destination for a relaxed holiday by the sea. It’s located just a 15-minute drive from the elegant little harbour town of Sami, which you might recognise from the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, along with gorgeous Myrtos Beach (also only 15 minutes away by car). The crystal-clear waters are ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving, and you can take boat trips to other magical coves and beaches. Inland, the lush hills invite exploration, and are dotted with traditional villages, vineyards and olive groves.
Dreamy little Aghia Efimia is arranged around a pretty boat-filled harbour, and boasts small coves and a main beach. Life is slow and tranquil: you can soak up the sun on the beach, have a dip in the azure sea, perhaps take a boat trip around the coast, and linger over a fresh seafood dinner at one of the harbour-front tavernas. You could make a day trip to nearby Sami, an exquisite town crowned by a ruined acropolis, which featured in the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, or head to the island capital of Argostoli, for some shopping and nightlife. There are lots of water sports on offer, particularly snorkelling and scuba diving, and you can also head to the hills for some excellent walking.
Most of the restaurants in Aghia Efimia are clustered around the harbour, and serve a range of delicious Greek and Mediterranean dishes. Seafood, unsurprisingly, is the highlight of most menus, freshly caught and lovingly prepared. If you’re not in the mood for fish, you could try a succulent lamb stew, classic souvlakia – grilled meat skewers, or the kreatopita pastry, filled with different meats, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and herbs. The Greek salads – juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumber and plump olives topped with fresh local cheese – are ideal in the summer heat. Finish up with some bougatsa, a cream-filled pastry dusted with sugar and cinnamon.
The family-friendly beach in the centre of Aghia Efimia is the focal point for most holidays in this pretty, seaside town. Your kids will be happy splashing about in the shallow waters, perhaps having a snorkel around the rocks. You could even rent a boat and explore the neighbouring coves. Kids always enjoy a boat trip to neighbouring Ithaca, which usually includes a couple of swimming stops. There are no theme parks or water parks, but if you’ve got older kids in tow, you could sign them up for a diving course. You don’t need to worry about child-friendly places to eat - the Greeks adore children, and yours will be treated like royalty in all the local restaurants.
Action & Adventure
If you like scuba diving and snorkelling, the crystal-clear waters around Aghia Efimia are a must. There is a diving school where you can rent equipment, join diving trips, or even take a course. If you prefer to go it alone, you can rent a boat from the harbour and explore the gorgeously unspoilt coastline. Inland, you’ll find some fantastic hikes, including an easy hike to the top of Mount Ainos which rewards you with spectacular views. There are plenty of more challenging hikes, including a breathtaking coastal walk from Antisamos beach to Poros via the blissful little cove of Koutsoupia.
The main beach in Aghia Efimia is a pretty stretch of white pebbles, and slopes gently into turquoise waters. Ideal for young children, it has plenty of facilities including sunbeds and parasol rental. There are several smaller coves around the coast, most with a tavern. You can rent a boat to find several smaller (mainly pebbly) coves, each lovelier than the last, which dot the coast around the town. One of the island’s most famous beaches, Myrtos, immortalised in the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, is located a 15-minute drive away. Stunningly set between pine-fringed cliffs, this beautiful beach regularly tops the polls for one of the most beautiful in the world.
If your idea of the perfect night out is a long, lazy supper with the twinkling harbour lights as a backdrop, followed by a drink on a relaxed terrace shaded by bougainvillea, then Aghia Efimia is for you. It doesn’t have much in the way of lively bars or clubs, but you could hop in a taxi to Sami, which has a bigger nightlife scene, or even cross the island to Argostoli, the capital, where most of the discos and clubs are concentrated. However, most visitors are content simply to watch the sun go down, drink in hand, at one of the charming seafront bars in Aghia Efimia, and soak up the relaxed island vibe.
Relax and soak up the romance of Kefalonia, one of the most beautiful of the Greek Islands. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy a holiday with your partner if you are looking for a relaxed pace, plenty of sunshine and great food. You can rent one of the small boats from the harbour, pack a picnic and discover your own unspoilt cove to spend the day. Enjoy a romantic dinner at one of the beachfront tavernas, and linger long into the evening with drinks. If you enjoy walking, there are some excellent hikes across the island’s lush, forested hills, or you could take to the sea and go scuba diving to explore the underwater marvels.
Much of the island’s architecture was destroyed by a devastating earthquake that hit in 1953, so there are few historic buildings to visit on Kefalonia. The capital, Argastoli, was elegantly rebuilt in traditional style, and is home to several museums including the fascinating Museum of Archaeology, which offers insight into the island’s earliest inhabitants and cultures, and the interesting little Museum of Folklore. In Lixouri, you can visit the wonderful Iakovatios Library, set in a handsome mansion, which also boasts a small museum of treasures such as paintings and decorative objects belonging to the aristocratic Tipaldos family. You could also visit the Monastery of Agios Gerasimos, the holiest of shrines for the Kefalonians, which contains the body of their beloved patron saint.