HIDDEN GEMS; KEFALONIA
KEFALONIA IS NO HIDDEN GEM
A PUZZLE PIECE
Fzeen Boutique Retreat
So my first recommendation is a true hidden & beautiful gem of a hotel situated on the south west coast of the island; Fzeen Retreat. Perched between Mount Aenos (the highest point in Kefalonia at 1628m) and the long sandy beach of Lourdas, this boutique hotel is small but mighty. Its serve all day but sole evening restaurant, Selini combines golden sunsets alongside some of the most delicious food on the island, taking a modern twist on Greek cuisine. Fzeen is styled simply beautifully, think boho luxe at its finest (I still think we should have brought the lampshade home!). The name Fzeen derives from a phrase meaning 'a good life in terms of balance & health' & its outdoor gyms and yoga decks are central to this. I can testify the yoga was taught to a really high standard by the friendly teachers and the outdoor gym was a special place to do a couples workout but equally a single traveller would feel perfectly at ease in this hotel.
If you're thinking fitness & holiday should never feature in the same sentence, you can take it or leave and simply chill by one of several inviting pools, take a stroll to the beach loungers just a walk away, go get a massage in the spa or head to the very dangerous for the holiday spends boutique. The wonderful thing about Fzeen is you feel right at home from very the start & that's a testament to the brilliant staff....it is whatever you want it to be and they will do anything for you! Gaia is the other restaurant at Fzeen and is a daytime stop for fresh salad, mezze, juices or the easily drinkable Gentilini wine from the local vineyard. In the evening simply retire to Selini which is the heart of the hotel, take a trip to one of the local tavernas or retire to the outdoor cinema and get romantic (or in the case of Mr Abbot Kinney just fall asleep) with a screening of Captain Corelli's Mandolin (don't panic they don't play this every evening). I loved Fzeen and would recommend staying on the 'Raw' side in their newly renovated wing. It's simply beautiful and even if you can't stay here don't miss a meal at Selini.
Emelisse Nature Resort
Irida'sWe had lunch here and the most delicious fish to share. The staff were really friendly and it was in the perfect location on the edge of the harbour of Fiskardo. They have a gorgeous boutique attached to the restaurant and its full of lots of stunning jewellery. We got several limited edition bracelets here that didn't even make the website before they sold out.
The Olive Lounge
The Olive Lounge is in a gorgeous setting up near the castle high above Argostoli. The views are stunning so try to get here for sunset. Liana, the owner is the perfect hostess and her food matches her enthusiasm & energy for her restaurant.
VinariesWe didn't actually end up eating at this restaurant and instead just stopped by when we visited the Fanari Lighthouse. However the setting overlooking Argostoli Bay was great and I hear good things from fellow travellers so check it out and if you do let me know as it's on my list to eat here on my next visit.
Our hotel suggested this when we asked for a local recommendation of somewhere they would eat. This is a taverna based in Trapezaki and when we got dropped off I have to be honest the place opposite looked like the more modern place to go. How wrong I was! Veremente was great, we had a gorgeous meat Mezze to share, wonderful service but best of all was the baked feta & honey they are known for. The honey comes from a particular type of indigenous fir tree only found in Kefalonia....it's delicious.
Rent A Car
Rent A Boat
Messalini LakeWe went here before heading on to Antisamos Beach. This is effectively a cave so my husband really wasn't keen as for some reason every recent holiday we have been on includes a cave trip! We are definitely not cavers so I am unsure how this has actually happened. My husband's view is 'seen one stalagmite seen them all' and I kind of agree having looked back at pictures from recent trips they kind of all seem the same. Anyway, I digress... this one is worth doing. It's not a long experience, 15 minutes on a little boat in an open air cave with the most amazing turquoise water you will ever see. My husband's review 'as far as caves go that was a good one.' Most would think it's amazing!
You have to go here! WOW! I can see why this beach lands itself in the top beaches in the world lists time and time again. It's breathtaking. When you follow the windy road down to the beach the blue is just as it looks from the top. The viewpoint is not to be missed, the sheer cliffs either side of the gorgeous bay, it's literally as it looks on all the photos which places rarely are.
Fiskardo has to make it on your itinerary when you come to Kefalonia. It's a beautiful fishing village that was lucky to be largely unharmed in the 1953 earthquake retains many of its original Venetian buildings. As a result its more touristy and a lot more 'yachty' than some parts of Kefalonia but I loved it's pretty flowers, cosmopolitan feel and boho boutiques. One of my favourites was Bonsai but all of them were beautiful, filled with unique clothing, jewellery & accessories....an Abbot Kinney recipe for disaster after a Gentilini or three!
Try & see it all in a day
Although the distances may look short on a map, due to the nature of the roads nothing happens quickly in Kefalonia. I would recommend splitting the places you want to see across a couple of days. We did Sami, Messalini Lake & Antisamos Beach on one day and Myrtos & Fiskardo on another, stopping overnight at the end of that day for a well earned bottle or two of Gentilini.
Let the roads scare you off
Whilst it is tempting to lie on your lounger all day there is so much to see and do in Kefalonia so hire a car and get out there with the goats....just take your time! It's a good relationship tester the Kefaloninan open road. Fzeen are happy to organise the car to be delivered and collected from the hotel which we took advantage of.
WHEN I RETURN
- The gorgeous tiny island of Ithaca just a boat trip away
- Zakynthos & Navagio Beach which is just a ferry or boat ride away but was on the quarantine list when we went
- Agia Efmia, a small traditional village on the East Coast that although we saw we didn't spend any proper real time in
On the penultimate day of our holiday to Kefalonia, Cycle Ionas, known as a medicane, a rare Mediterranean hurricane hit Greece with Kefalonia, Zakythos and Ithaca amongst the worst hit. The island was prepared for the onslaught of 100km winds and torrential rain so they made the preparations they could but ultimately there was little they could do but wait to see what happened. Our return flight was cancelled and we flew back a day later than scheduled but we remained safe and well in our hotel. The north of the island took the full brunt of the force and sadly the gorgeous village of Assos pictured in this blog was left completely devastated by mud slides, resulting in the road washing away and rumble where just a couple of days ago there had been buildings. The people of Assos were left without electricity, water, food or shelter and it will take time and money to rebuild. Volunteers are now helping to fund this. You can donate here. The south of the island is now relatively unscathed and Kefalonia will no doubt bounce back stronger than ever. I look forward to once again visiting this beautiful place.
The roads are pretty scary, keep luck close by with the Bonne Chance Necklace
People will be swooning over your trip, keep jealously at bay with the beautiful Flying Eyes Bracelet
Match the turquoise sea with the Paradise Mimosa Earrings
Shine like a Greek Goddess with the Zeus Necklace
Never holiday without it; The Bali Bamboo Bag