It may be the second smallest island of the Ionian Islands after Paxos, but Ithaca will fill your days and time will fly leaving you wonder why you did not go there or why you did not visit that.
Beaches, monasteries and churches, sights, all that make up the scenery of this small island of the Ionian, which through the Homeric epics became a symbol for nostalgia and love for home.
Starting from the basics of holidays on an island, that is the beach for most people.In the southern part of the island, where the capital Vathi is, the most popular beach is undoubtedly Filiatro.
It is an organized beach, with sunbeds and umbrellas, but also plenty of free space. There is a beach-bar where, apart from coffee and light meals, you can enjoy your drink, even your cocktail. Occasionally in the area behind the beach small festivals or wild beach-parties are organized.
What will win you at Filiatro, however, are the blue-green clear waters of the bay, which are always crystal clear and quiet – and let the wind blow the whole island!
Another beach in the southern part of the island that you should not miss is Gidaki, where you can reach by boat from Ithaca square, or by foot, if you are more … bold. The route is short, the boats depart from the central square in Vathi and the short trip takes about twenty minutes.
The path starts from the beach of Skinos, it is short but uphill for the most part, but the impressive view of the bay with the wonderful colors from above is worth it. Gidaki is a pebble beach – like the overwhelming majority on the island – with turquoise waters, ideal for swimming. Many lists with the “best beaches of Greece” offer Gidaki one spot.
Other beaches in the southern part of the island are Kaminia, Skinos, Mnimata, Mprosta and Piso Aetos, Dexa and Loutsa, while for all the beaches of Ithaca you can read more here.
In addition to your walk in the square of Vathi and the streets of the picturesque town, where you will find shops and restaurants with special taste, do not forget to go for your drink ‘to the other side’.
This is how the locals call the edge of the harbor with the bars that gather the nightlife of the island – we are talking about 10-15 minutes from the square, walking along the sea. Here in the bars of ‘the other side’ you will enjoy your drink or cocktail, your sweet and your ice cream or even food, right next to the sea, in the small tables that are set up by the shops.
Music of all kinds and all of Ithaca’s youth is there and waiting for you either for a relaxing drink by the sea with the panoramic view of the harbor or for … fun till the morning!
If you are one of those who like to know the place they visit a little better, visit the Archaeological and Folklore Museum, the Metropolis with the elaborate bell tower, Agios Nikolaos of Xenon where there is also a painting of Jesus attributed to El Greco, as well as the Enetika Kanonia (Venetian Canons) in Loutsa. All this with a small walk in the center of the settlement, while at the pier of the square you will see Odysseus’s two-sided statue, a real jewel.
Go from Mylos to Parangka, which is around the port , once the sun has fallen and everything is washed in the sweet light of the evening and ascend to Perachori, the only village of southern Ithaca, very close to Vathi to enjoy the panoramic view of the bay of Vathi, and all the small islands of the Ionian Sea, from Ithaca to Lefkada and the coasts of Central Greece.
Surely you will like the northern part of Ithaca, with the picturesque villages and the lacy coasts. Do not forget, when passing from one part of the island to the other, to make a stop in the narrowest part of the land and look to Kephalonia in one side and Ithaca on the other.
Going north, see the sunset from Lefkes, the first village you meet. There is the starting point of the road to the beach Agios Yiannis or Aspro Gialos, which you can see from above. The mountains will purify you, it is worth to stay until evening and admire the beautiful sunset.
Next, Stavros, the main village of northern Ithaca, at the entrance of which you will see the church of Sotira (with a big festival with joy and dancing on 5 and 6 August) and the small park with archaeological interest .
The bust of Odysseus, two maps with the archaeological sites of Ithaca and the adventures of the ancient king, as well as the impressive architectural representation of the palace of the Odysseus, will introduce you to Homer’s Ithaca.
From there, the road to the beach of Polis begins, in the edge of a stunning green bay, where you will find sun loungers, umbrellas and a canteen.
Following the main road from Stavros square we drive to Frikes, the picturesque fishing village of northern Ithaca with the small harbor, always full of boats.
From there the road leads to Kioni, the traditional village that impresses visitors. But just before, right on the side of the coastal road, you will find three beaches with wonderful waters, which you should definitely visit. All three are called Kourvoulia and, depending on the order from Frikes to Kioni, they get the name Proti (First), Defteri (Second) and Triti (Third).
The First Korvoulia is hidden from the street, a small beach where you will be after about 30 stairs. Second is always the busiest, while the Third is more comfortable, you will find space for your own towel.
Kioni is the village you should visit. Park your car at the entrance of the village and stroll around the narrow alleys and the beach.
Swim in the refreshing water of the bay, take photographs, relax on the waterfront, looking at the cruising boats …
On the way back from the northern villages, mountainous Ithaca awaits us with its own secrets. Arriving from Kioni to Frikes, we do not follow the road to Stavros, but go from the other side to Plarithia, the large village whose houses are built in the lavish nature, above the impressive bay Afalon.
The route to the beach is impressive, surrounded by trees, while from there you can also drive by car to one of the few sources of running water in Ithaca, Kalamos. The bypass with the sign “Exogi” shows the next stop: the smallest village of Ithaca, built amphitheatrically on a hillside, with a panoramic view of the Aphales with its steep cliffs, it is undoubtedly impressive.
Old houses and churches of past centuries, rich nature, peace and quiet. The impressive church with the blue dome is Agia Marina and from its bell tower you will see … everything! If you ascend up to the Monastery of Panagia in Pernarakia, you will have the chance to admire a large part of Ithaca, almost half the island and Kefalonia.
Coming back from Exogi, on the road between the cypresses and the oaks, we arrive again at Stavros, but before we return to Vathi, it is worth a visit to the other small village of Ithaca, Anogi.
Stone-made houses of past centuries and an impressive church – a monument of Byzantine art, welcome us to the small square with the 16th century stone bell tower. Every year on August 14th a popular feast takes place, full of music and joy!
Finally, one of the things that one deserves to do while staying in Ithaca is to visit Kathara, the monastery of the island. Beyond the relics and the historical value of the monastery, from the bell tower you will enjoy the most panoramic view of Vathi and all of south Ithaca.
The route from Vathi is about 15 km and leads to the center of the island, near the summit of Mount Niretto, the tallest mountain of Ithaca. From there, you will see the picturesque bay as if flying by plane and you will have the chance to take some of your most impressive photos!