Ithaca is an island located in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, with an area of 45 square miles (120 km2) and a little more than three thousand inhabitants. It lies off the northeast coast of Kefalonia and to the west and within sight of continental Greece. The municipality of Ithaca includes some islets as well. The capital, Vathy or Ithaki, has one of the world’s largest natural harbours. Modern Ithaca is generally identified with Homer’s Ithaca, the home of Odysseus, whose delayed return to the island is one of the elements of the Odyssey’s plot.
Coordinates: 38°22′N 20°43′E
The island has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. It may have been the capital of Cephalonia during the Mycenaean period, and the capital-state of the kingdom ruled by Odysseus. The Romansoccupied the island in the 2nd century BC, and later it became part of the Byzantine Empire. The Normans ruled Ithaca in the 13th century, and after a short Turkish rule, it fell into Venetian hands.
Read more about the history of Ithaca
Ithaka is a green and mountainous island which is often overlooked by mainstream tourism which keeps it quiet even in the height of the summer. Often prefered by walkers and painters Ithaca’s serenity is one of it’s most endearing features. The east coast slopes gently into the sea and hides some of the Ionians most beautiful bays and harbours whilst the west coast drops dramatically into the sea from sheer cliffs.
The island is no more than 29km long with a varying width the maximum being about 6.5 km and has a coastline of around 72 km. The total landmass covers 92.5 sq km with approximately three thousand inhabitants.
There is a strait situated to the west of the island called the Strait of Ithaca. The capes in the island include Exogi, the westernmost but not in land, Melissa to the north, Mavronos and Agios Ilias to the east, Schinous, Sarakiniko and Agios Ioannis, the easternmost to the east and Agiou Andreou, the southernmost in the south. Bays include Afales Bay to the northwest, Frikes and Kioni Bays to the northeast and Ormos Gulf and Sarakiniko Bay to the southeast. The tallest mountain is Nirito (806 m), the second tallest is Merovigli (669 m).
Lazaretto Islet (or Island of The Saviour) guards the harbor. The church of The Saviour and the remains of an old gaol sit on the island.
Ithaki is separated from Kefalonia by a channel some 2 to 4 Kilometres wide. The west coast of the island is steep and almost barren in contrast to the green, gentle shoreline on the east. The capital and largest settlement Vathi and is protected from the winds.
Sailboats and yachts: We definitely recommend you to visit the wonderful beaches of western Ithaca, (accessible only by boat) for the unforgettable experience of swimming in a beautiful, empty beach. Other beaches to worth visiting are: Aetos, Agios Ioannis, Ag. Nikolaos, Afales, Aspros Gyalos, Dexa, Filiatro, Gidaki, Kaminia, Kathisma, Loutsa, Marmaka, Mnimata, Pisaetos and Sarakiniko.
The mooring places for charter yachts: in Pisaetos, in Poli Bay, in Pera Pigadi and in Ag. Andreas Bay south of the island.
Water sports in Ithaki: As Ithaki is a very small island with many inaccessible beaches, there are no facilities for water-sports of any kind.
Scuba diving in Ithaki is prohibited due to the many archaeological findings underwater.
Water-based pursuits abound on the island. Take a kayak around the cove-riddled coasts – many bays and beaches can’t be reached on foot. There can be few better accessories to take snorkelling than a qualified marine biologist: operating in Fiskardo and Port Polis, Ithaca, Jamie Stirling will take you to sea in his caique (a traditional Greek working boat) and give you a detailed low-down on what to look for under the waves (www.ioniandiscoveries.com).
Museums in Ithaca:
Tuesday – Sunday 08.30 – 15.00
The museum contains various finds from Northern Ithaca, spanning from the Early Helladic to the Roman Periods. The museum was built in 1933 and in 1994 the building was repaired and the exhibition, rearranged.
Tuesday – Sunday 08.30 – 15.00
Phone: (+30) 26740-32200
The museum contains excavation finds from Piso Aetos, dating from the Geometric to the Roman period and a remarkable collection of pottery dated to the Geometric period, as well as items from Polis Cave.
• The Folklore and Cultural Museum
The Folklore and Cultural Museum of Ithaca is situated in Vathy behind the Agricultural Bank. The building was once an old generating station. This new museum is a testament to the life of the inhabitants of Ithaca during the colonial period of the island and exhibits fully assembled bedrooms, kitchen and sitting-rooms from that period, as well as photographs of the devastating earthquakes of 1953.
Transportation to Ithaca:
By air/ferry from Athens (“Hellinikon” airport) to Cefalonia (“Argostoli” airport”) Flight duration: 1 hour (from 22/06 – 20/09 daily flights). For more information, contact Olympic Airways, phone: +30 2109666666, fax: +30 2109666111
From Sami, Cefalonia by local boat to Ithaca.
By bus from Patras port to Vathy port (one or two ferries daily, duration 4 hours)
By bus from Astakos port (Etoloakarnania) to Vathy port (one ferry daily, duration 2 hours).
For more information, contact Patras port authorities, phone: +30 2610341002, +30 2610324817 or Ithaca port authorities, phone: +30 2674032909
By bus / ferry from Athens to Patras, and then by ferry to Vathy (once a day). For more information contact Athens central bus station (KTEL), phone: +30 2105250785
• Sites on Ithaca
Archaeological sites, caves, springs and monasteries