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Attractions in Kefalonia

If it is true that the Greek islands are always very popular with tourists who appreciate its ancient history, the beautiful beaches and clear sea, it is also true that not all the islands offer peace and relaxation.

Kefalonia Island is still little touristic, so it is indeed ideal for a relaxing holiday (click here to book your ferry). It is part of the Ionian Islands located in the Ionian Sea, and is on the west of Greece and the Peloponnese archipelago. In the south side of Kefalonia you can see the island of Zakynthos, in the East the ancient Island of Ithaca.

CefaloniaPhoto CC-BY-SA El Charis 9

The capital of Kefalonia is Argostoli, but the most important port of the island is that of Sami, in the central part of the East coast.

Despite being the largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia go along easily in an hour and a half’s drive. It is in Kefalonia mainly known for its beaches, but the island hides some interesting surprise even to those who love mountains. In fact, in the South, we find the Mount Ainos (Enos) of nearly 1628 meters above sea level. For several years this area has become National Park.

But the biggest attraction of Kefalonia is certainly the beaches: the most important is Antisamos, near Sami. This beautiful and long beach with small coves on the right, is also famous because here was shot the film “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” starring Nicolas Cage.

Another beautiful beach is Myrtos, in the northwestern part of the island; But here the sea is quite rough due to the currents. Myrtos offers an unforgettable sight from the top of the cliffs – with the beach enclosed between two cliffs.

The Xi Beach in Luxouri peninsula, (you can find it heading to West), is much smaller but is particularly striking with its reddish sand and clay rocks.
The Petani beach is near Paliki; Here we must be careful because the waters are deep.

The resorts of Kefalonia are all very characteristic: in the North there is the small village of Fiscardo where you can spot the Island of Ithaca. In the north, near the beach of Myrtos, there is Assos. It has a fantastic view of the village if you climb up to the ruins of a Venetian fortress. Skala is instead a very well equipped beach resort, with a nice big beach.

Near Sami and its port from which you reach the Greek mainland, the island of Ithaca and Italy, you can visit the ancient Acropolis of Sami, surrounded by its walls, and the Monastery Agrillion. Always close to Sami, there are the caves of Drogarati and Melissani; before you get to it it is very pleasant boat ride on the lake.

In the capital Argostoli there are various possibilities of passing the time pleasantly: you can stroll along the promenade and then continue in parallel street, Lithostroto, a very convenient path as it is pedestrian: there are shops, bars and small businesses offering the products of local crafts and traditional foods. If you want to know or learn the local history, there is the Archaeological Museum or the Museum of History and Folklore. Other attractions would be the bridge over the lagoon Koutavos or the lighthouse of Ag.Theodoron.

A final consideration: the town beaches in Kefalonia are very well kept and clean, and this is something that certainly proves the great civilization of the inhabitants of the island!

Greek customs and traditions

Greek traditions and customs can be better understood if you decide to actually to go on holiday on this beautiful land: you will experience first hand how the people here are so tied to the classical myths but still contemporary in their lifestyle.

The countless tourists coming to Greece by plane or ferry (click here) are attracted not only by its fantastic beaches, but also by its ancient culture, its history and its traditions.

parthenon

Photo Public Domain

Greek traditions are linked very deeply to religion as the Greek people are very religious. On the other hand, in some ways, they feel deep down a clear trust in faith. If it is true that the Greeks are very religious, it is also true that they are also very superstitious – and you can see this peculiar psychological trait perfectly on many occasions. As you proceed inland, getting to the small villages populated by shepherds, or however you move away from the big cities and touristy places, and more you will get how, hand in hand, the belief in superstition increases.

Throughout the year every religious or pagan celebration brings with it at least one rite of good luck or to ward off the evil eye. All holidays refer directly to the many local and ancient traditions, but they are also very present in everyday life. Here are some examples, just to get you an idea:

– For New Year (which for the Greeks coincide with the feast of St. Basil), during the evening of December 31, many young people go from house to house, holding a fruit of pomegranate, a symbol of prosperity, as a sign of good luck for the coming New Year.

Another custom linked to the New Year celebration again in honor of Saint Basil is to eat a traditional dessert called Vassilopita; a coin is put in the dough at the time of preparation, and it will bring lots of luck to the diner that will find during the supper.

Carnival is almost throughout Greece celebrated with masked balls, parades and various games; the most famous Carnival is held in Patras. In Ioanina, a beauutiful town located in the northwestern part of Greece, there are dances around bonfires and a greasy pole is put in the main square of the city to be climbed on.

patras-carneval

Photo CC-BY-SA Tonyesopi

If there is a party, or indeed for any occasion which requires it, the Greek popular music is there. Traditional instruments play the poignant melodies that become as fast and enthralling. Those who have never heard this music will find the pace so addictive and so difficult to resist the call of a dance! The traditional Greek dances are numerous but the most famous is certainly the Sirtaki.

At the end of the carnival, to mark the beginning of Lent, the day is called Kathari Deftera, that is, the Pure Monday; generally families go out for a picnic during which children fly kites in the sky.

During all festive occasions, but also in every-day’s life, the Greeks drink their most traditional drink called ouzo. It is a distillate with anise flavor. It is very easy to find this drink in the Greek taverns where there is also traditional food to taste.

A custom that has certainly not religious origins but has is root rather into the popular superstition, is to spit three times on the ground after having spoken of a deadly event or anything negative! You should not be surprised, therefore, if in the middle of a conversation you see someone spitting on the ground. Although of course this spitting around can seem very rude, it’s just a popular mean to get rid of the negativity.

The evil eye is something Greeks are very afraid of, especially in the countryside and for the elderly, and to remove it and protect themselves, people tend always to wear an amulet with a blue eye shaped  (you’ll find it in the shops or stalls selling souvenirs). For the same reason children often wear necklaces with blue beads that should protect them and, indeed, you can see some animals such as mules wearing these amulets. The explanation is very simple: through the eyes the bad thoughts of those who are envious or jealous can be directed to you, and thus wearing these sort of amulets seeks to dissuade him to send you the evil eye.

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to the home of a Greek family, then you must be prepared to eat a lot. Itwill be useless to say “no, it’s enough, thank you”, because by the time that you empty your plate, it will be filled again, and this to the bitter end, up to the dessert. The generosity and kindness of the owners, however, are great enough to make people forget this not always pleasant side. Then, in order to demonstrate their pleasure for your visit, the hosts will also be inviting all his relatives for the meal and all this will translate into a “big, fat Greek lunch” so lively that it will surely leave a beautiful memory for you!

If it is then an invitation for dinner, then it is useless to hurry because before 22 definitely nobody will eat; in the afternoon in Greece it is time for siesta and thus before 17 you do not leave your home (this habit of many southern countries is fully justified, given that in the early afternoon is so hot that you can not go out and perform any activity). The result is that everything is delayed by a few hours respect on the habitual dinner-time, especially if you compare it with the Nordic countries!

The amazing Thessaloniki and its surroundings

The Greek city of THESSALONIKI, with its characteristics, will fully meet the desires of all tourists arriving there.

Thessaloniki is located in the Greek region of Macedonia, the Aegean Sea. It is the second most populous Greek city, after Athens. That is why the town is very lively but also offers, especially in its surroundings, the tranquility and the beauty of its natural sites. You can get to Thessaloniki also by ferry (click here), departing from various ports.

From a historical point of view, Alexander the Great was born near Thessaloniki, more exactly in Pella. In VERGINA archaeological site, there is also the grave of his father. Many artifacts found in excavations are kept in the ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM Thessaloniki.

There are many other museums to visit, all very interesting : the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the State Museum of Contemporary Art, the Ethnological Museum of Popular Arts, the Museum of Ataturk, the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki, Museum Film, etc.

The MUSEUM OF THE CINEMA was inaugurated in 1997 and is located in the port, in a building near Piazza Aristoteleus. The museum collects everything related to the cinema’s world, starting with cameras and projectors, then the photographs and posters – also painted by hand-, a large number of films, various equipment and film accessories, soundtracks and finally an important archive. You can also view film clips here. It is really worth going there and there are budget offer for younger people, meaning the entrance is free for them.
And if you are really movie fan, you can go and enjoy the THESSALONIKI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL which takes place in November and includes several sections; the prize to the first and second consists of a sum of money over the statuette in gold or silver called  “Alexander”. This event is very important and the greatest world directors took part. In March instead the THESSALONIKI DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL takes place.

Churches and monuments in Thessaloniki

The city of Thessaloniki is rich in monuments and churches, mostly Byzantines. The Church of PANAGIA AGHIROPOIETOS is from V century. The Christian Basilica was converted into a mosque in the fifteenth century. Inside there are beautiful mosaics and a XIII century fresco. The largest Greek Church, Agios Dimitrios, is dedicated to the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It was destroyed in a fire in 1917 and rebuilt in 1948. Under the church there is a crypt that  was originally a bath; here he was imprisoned and tortured Saint Dimitrios.
The Hagia Sophia, (AGIA SOFIA) from the VIII century was the cathedral of Thessaloniki; then, from 1523 it became a mosque to get to Orthodox worship in 1912, after the liberation of the city. The mosaics are stunning: the dome dates back to 885.

Agia_SofiaPublic Domain

The WHITE TOWER is located in the eastern part of the waterfront and is one of the most representative monuments of Thessaloniki. It is one of the XV century fortress, a former prison where torture was practiced . After the liberation of the city in XIX century, the tower was painted white, and this meant to wash all the blood shed in this place. Currently, the tower is no longer really white, but his name remained.

White_Tower_of_Thessaloniki

Photo CC-BY-SA 3.0 Ωριγένης

From Thessaloniki you can very quickly get into some of the most beautiful places from a naturalistic point of view; one of these is the MOUNT OLYMPUS.
This is the highest mountain in Greece; in fact the highest of its 8 peaks is 2,918 meters. We all know the legend of Mount Olympus as the residence of the gods, but in our modern world this beautiful place has become a National Park.

Whilst on the topic of nature, more or less wild, you can visit the Chalcidice peninsula, located at the south-east area of Thessaloniki. The Greek name is CHALKIDIKI and it comes in three peninsula, located also in the northern Aegean Sea, which together suggest the three fingers of one hand. Each one has very different characteristics, but theya rare overall still interesting. The first is Kassandra, the most popular one with its international tourists; there are luxury hotels, but also simple camping areas; very impressive the village of Afissos, all built in white stone. SITHONIA is wildest, with its forests that reach the sea and the rugged coastline of Porto Koufos. The third, AGION OROS or Mount Athos is very special; it hosts various religious communities, Christian Orthodox, so there are many monasteries in this area. But the problem is that women are not allowed here and even men who wish to join in must first prove that they are driven by religious and spiritual reasons. We must therefore be content to see the monasteries from the sea, taking a boat ride; It will  be still a beautiful experience, as the waters are crystal clear and the views is absolutely fantastic.

There are still so many places, beautiful monuments and interesting things to see in Thessaloniki, and among the others do not forget to visit and enjoy all the beautiful beaches in the area close to the city, where you simply relax in the sun. So have a really great trip and enjoy a fantastic holiday in Thessaloniki!