Seemingly, everyone is planning a trip to Greece, which isn’t a surprise given that it’s usually at the top of many travel bucket lists and it happens to be where I was born. With so many Greek island choices, consider the island of Kefalonia where we recently spent a perfect week in Assos.
A Greek Island for Every Personality
One of the reasons it’s a perennial fan favorite is aside from the treasures that Athens has to offer, there is an island for every personality. Do you want a party scene? That’s Mykonos. Are you seeking to take quintessential and recognizable Instagram photos? That’s Santorini. Are you envisioning the island from the movie Mamma Mia? That’s Skopelos. Do you want to combine a trip to Turkey with a Greek island? That’s Rhodes. Are you hoping for a low key, family-friendly island? That’s Crete. Do you just want to get away to an island that is pedestrian-only? That’s Hydra.
You get the picture. With over 6000 islands, there’s one for every taste.
The Ionian Islands Offer “Off the Beaten Path”
For us, we wanted to go off the beaten path from a typical Aegean island. So, the obvious choice was to explore an Ionian island. The Ionian islands are an island chain located between Greece and Italy. When I was in high school, access to the Ionian islands was a bit more difficult than it is today.
For example, we would have to take a 5-6 hour bus ride from Athens to the coast to then board a 3-4 hour ferry ride. Today, consumer demand for getting off the beaten track (an oxymoron if there ever was one) has made it simpler to explore the Ionian islands. Now, there are numerous sailboat excursions. Also, if necessary, flights are available from Athens, and during the summer, from London.
Perfect Week in Assos, Kefalonia
We chose Kefalonia because we didn’t want to feel compelled to see a bunch of historic sites. We just wanted to find a quiet beach hamlet, relax, do some hiking and reading, and have our only difficult decision of the day be…what taverna to go to for dinner.
Kefalonia has some dramatic cliffs, gorgeous beaches, and very scenic villages – again offering areas to fit every tourism taste. For the night-life, you go to Fiscardo. You want to visit the filming site of the movie Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, you go to Sami. You want more resort-style amenities, you go to Argostoli.
Instead, we opted to go to the beautiful and quiet (think 100 residents) harbor of Assos. See the video below and you’ll quickly understand why.
There, we stayed in a small villa that overlooked the harbor and faced a Venetian fortress, which provided the perfect location for our daily hikes.
The week was spent watching sailboats pass by, catching up on reading, swimming in the crystal clear waters, and occasionally venturing out to a local taverna for dinner. There are four restaurants in Assos, two well-stocked grocery stores, and a couple of souvenir shops carrying beach toys and other items. Renting a vehicle is not necessary as the island has decent bus and taxi services, which offer fixed fares from one major location to another (i.e. Argostoli to Fiscardo).
We ventured away from Assos for a day-trip and visited Fiscardo, the Cave of Melissani and Sami. But in the end, Assos was the best spot as it offered the perfect balance of an old-fashioned, simple beach vacation activities in a low-key, beautiful setting.