Sami is a small and quaint town nestled between rolling hills and fronted by the deep and clear Ionian Sea. Despite its humble beginnings as a fishing port, you might be more familiar with the village than you suspect. It was here was that Hollywood blockbuster 'Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ was filmed in 2000, becoming the temporary home of cast and crew for the duration of filming. If that doesn’t say anything about Sami’s stunning landscapes and film-worthy vistas, we don’t know what does. Home to beautiful beaches and the ancient ruins of an acropolis, a holiday in Sami has something to offer every type of traveler, as well as offering unique insight into traditional Grecian life.
Further afield you’ll find the lush island of Kefelonia is brimming with picturesque Grecian villages, pristine beaches, secret coves perfect for diving, as well as a rich history despite a devastating earthquake in 1953. The island lies parallel to Athens, its dramatic landscapes and range of attractions making it a firm favourite with foreigners and locals alike. With all this and more, a 2017 holiday to Sami should definitely be at the front of your mind.
At a glance
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Greek
- Time Zone: GMT +2
- Average flight time: 3h 35m
When to go
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Quiet beaches, mouth-watering food, water-sports and ancient ruins, Sami has it all for those wishing to holiday here this year. A wander through its sun-drenched streets will see you stumbling across locally woven textile and silver shops, where you can pick up simple yet stylish jewellery for a bargain. Houses in every colour line the main street, plants trailing from balconies where locals drink coffee while watching the world go by. Don’t let its relaxed atmosphere fool you though, there’s plenty to get your blood pumping on a holiday here. For starters, Sami’s beach is home to the island’s only extreme water-sport organisations, giving you the chance to brush up on those jet-skiing skills.
Holidaying in Sami will also place you a stone’s throw away from the island’s main attractions, most of which are within day-tripping distance. These include jaw-dropping caves that hold secret pools of crystal water, ancient acropolis, and colourful Grecian villages nestled along the shore.
Wine and Dine
Kefelonia’s fertile landscape and abundant seas make for a plethora of restaurants, tavernas and cafes serving locally sourced fresh food. Think classic Mediterranean seafood dishes like light and fragrant fishcakes, fried octopus, lobster and fish kebabs marinated in zesty juices. Sami’s waterfront provides countless dining options which serve all of the above and more, most of which overlook the harbour. A favourite with holiday-makers is the friendly Dolphin Restaurant. Ask nicely and the staff will show you polaroids of them with the cast and crew of 'Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’! Dine by candlelight and watch the Ionian Sea turn from blue to black as the distant hills of the bay slowly retreat from view in the sea mist. If that’s not enough, wine-lovers will be pleased to discover that Kefalonia is home to the Robola Wine Festival in August. Organised by the top producers of Kefalonia’s wine, you can expect to sample a spectrum of fantastic wines from all over the island, with mouth-watering Grecian tapas and traditional live music to top it all off.
Families will find plenty of activities to partake in on a holiday in Sami. With some of Greece’s most stunning beaches where snorkelling and diving are a must, sites of ancient civilisations and picturesque towns where donkeys trot through cobbled streets, there’s bound to be something for every member of the family. You’ll never exhaust the range of day-trips available in Kefelonia. For a fantastic day out, we recommend heading to Myrtos bay. Spend the morning lounging on the beach, ice cream in hand, before venturing to the nearby caves of Drogarati. See impressive stalagmites and stalactites as old as the island itself. Just around the corner you’ll find the stunning Melissani Caves, where visitors can boat through underwater pools, whose waters glow a bright turquoise when pierced by shafts of sunlight.
Action and Adventure
If diving into a colourful underwater world, horse-riding through Kefalonia’s verdant mountains, or exploring incredible natural beauty sounds like your thing, you’ll find a holiday in Sami the perfect option. Adventurers of every age will find something to suit their taste, wonder at the impressive natural stalagmites and stalactites hidden deep in the nearby Drogarati Caves, or book a boat taxi for more incredible scenery and visits to nearby islands such as Ithica. If getting in the water is more your thing, you’ll find extreme water-sports right on your doorstep. Rent out kayaks and jet-skis, or even try your hand at water-skiing. The other-wordly Melissani Lake is also one of the island’s most attractive offerings; to say its waters are crystal-clear would be an understatement. On a trip here you’ll be taken out onto its surface on a tiny boat, where upon peering down you’ll see the bottom of the lake is perfectly visible. Look up and you’ll see a break in the cave where sunlight streams in, sending patterns of water and light dancing over the rock-face.
Life's a Beach
Kefalonia’s beaches are some of the most idyllic in Greece – making it unsurprising that Captain Corelli’s directors chose to feature a handful in the film. Think sugar-fine sands hemmed with dark green pine forests, clear, dappled waters in a myriad of blues and greens, and dramatic snow-white cliff faces that hide secluded coves. Sami’s own beach is a classic stretch of golden sand, perfect for lazy days spent soaking up the sun, moving only for a refreshing dip in the sea, or an ice cold cocktail from a nearby taverna. If you’re up for beach-hopping your way through some of the island’s finest offerings, make Skala a must-see during your holiday in Sami. This beach fans out from rugged, unspoilt scenery, providing stunning vistas from every angle. Skala, along with many of the beaches in Kefalonia, is ideal for snorkelling, while excursion boats depart to the nearby islets and isolated coves. Another unmissable stop is Myrtos Bay, a spectacularly white sanded stretch close to the mythical Drogorati Caves and Melissani pools.
There’s plenty in the way of bars in Sami, many of who are open well into the night and will keep a steady flow of Ouzo going! Willy’s Cafe is a favourite for many, having made a name for itself as the go-to for local nightlife. For those seeking something a little more lively, head to one of the larger villages and round off your day-trip with a proper night on the town. At the north of the island you’ll find the town of Fiskardo, home to one of the most famous and oldest nightclubs on the island, the Kastro Club. Once an old mine, this cool space boasts a large bar and even larger dance floor, and is surrounded by lush greenery. It’s easy to forget you’re in a town at all! Capital city Argostoli also has a great selection of bars, discos, and clubs that have been known to attract celebrity DJs come summertime.
Holidaying in Sami is ideal for couples seeking serenity and romance. With a range of magical beaches, dramatic landscapes, and authentic fine-dining opportunities, there are endless options when it comes to indulging with your loved one. Relax on the beach, white wine in hand, before slipping into an elegant restaurant on the waterfront to sample fresh Grecian cuisine. Sami also boasts spectacular sunsets, throwing the bay into an array of colours and evoking an awe that inspired the ancient myths this town was built upon. To create memories that will extend far beyond the last day of your holiday, be sure to pay a visit to Assos, a village whose pastel-coloured houses pepper its hillside before fanning out towards the water. Wander its winding streets before stopping at one of the many waterfront bars for lunch. To round off your romantic getaway, book one of the many boat tours that depart from village all over the island, stopping at secret coves and secluded beaches unbeknown even to locals.
You’ll be pleased to know that a holiday in Sami brings some of Kefalonia’s finest historic sites within comfortable day-trip distance, including the ancient acropolis and the Drogarati Cave. The former of these is one of the most iconic sites on the island, transporting guests back to ancient times of yore, while surrounding them with craggy hills and pine-forests. History-buffs will also appreciate the medieval Monastery of Agios Andreas. Founded in 1579, this site is also a sacred place for pilgrims, housing the foot of the Apostle Andrew. Today it is a nunnery and museum, boasting icons and original frescoes that date back to the churches’ origins. A trip to Kefalonia would be lacking without visiting the impressive ancient acropolis' archaeological site. Located in Sami itself, the site is a reminder of the towns pre-earthquake history. For a truly immersive experience, read up on Sami’s mythical past. The town made an appearance in Homer’s Odyssey and has been admired all over the world ever since.