Ithaca is famous worldwide for being the island of Odysseus – the mythical hero lost at sea for decades before he finally returns to his beautiful island. Seeing the island with your own eyes you start to understand the longing of Odysseus.
Besides its mythical status and stunning beauty, you will find Ithaca one of the most divine Greek islands with its laid-back atmosphere, emerald waters and green hills. Especially if you love to relax and explore incredible natural land- and seascape.
Where is Ithaca in Greece?
Ithaca island lies in the Ionian Sea, in Greece, 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.
Map of Ithaca in the Ionian Sea
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. The island has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. It may have been the capital of Kefalonia during the Mycenaean period, and the capital-state of the kingdom ruled by Odysseus.
Ithaca – how to get there?
The island of Ithaca has no airport. The nearest one is in Kefalonia, where Kefalonia International Airport “Anna Pollatou” receives domestic flights from Corfu, Athens and Zakynthos all year. It also receives flights from various airports around Europe during the summer months. Flight duration from Athens to Kefalonia is one hour. The airport in Kefalonia is about 8 km away from Argostoli city center. Upon arrival you can get on one of the Ithaca ferries, departing from the port of Poros, as well as the port of Fiscardo and the port of Sami. In order to reach the different ports from the airport you can use public means of transport or hire a taxi.
You can also reach Ithaca from the Greek mainland in the beautiful port of Astakos, and go island hopping between Lefkada, Kefalonia and Ithaca. Finally, you can reach Ithaca from the port of Killini in Peloponnese, with a stop on Poros island before reaching the port of Pisaetos on Ithaca. From Kefalonia and Lefkada you will reach the ports of both Frikies and Vathy.
Beaches in Ithaca
In Ithaca you will find several stunning beaches. Drive around the island and visit Sarakiniko, Filiatro and Agios Ioannis, some of Ithacas most well-organized beaches. If you prefer a quiet beach all to yourselves, you can hike along the trekking paths or make a tour by boat, where you’ll discover some of the many secluded coves behind cliffs and forests.
Ithaca is quite famous for its beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters in shades of blue and emerald. It has an interesting, rich and variated underwater world and as such, it is perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling. Dive into the deep blue crystal-clear waters and relax in the warm sun on the beach.
Ithaca – what to do?
Ithaca is small island. A quiet island. In Ithaca there are no organized things to do. The island of Ithaca is perfect for winding down, relaxing at the beach or in the countryside. You can, of course, always go swimming or diving into the crystal-clear waters from the beaches of Ithaca. Swimming from the secluded beaches is an experience quite divine, Gidaki beach is a great spot. Spend the morning hours under the hot sun and enjoy your lunch in the shade in the cosy seaside taverns. In the evenings you can relax under the stars with a drink in a café or bar.
Hiking in Ithaca
Ithaca is perfect for one activity, and that is hiking. The many old footpaths crossing the island will lead you to secluded beaches, tiny chapels, small settlements and hilltops with panorama view to the Ionian Sea. There are about 20 trails of different length covering most parts of the island. During summer try to avoid hiking during the midday hours in the blasting heat. Go in the early morning hours or in the afternoon where the light is much better for getting some great photos in the box. If you visit Ithaca during the autumn months or in spring the weather is more suitable for longer hikes.
Ithaca – what to see?
Go immerse yourself in this magic island exploring the most picturesque village, which are Vathy, Kioni and Frikes. Each one of them have kept their traditional identity despite the thousands of visitors every year. Vathy, being the habour and the centre of the island is where you will find most activities and hotels. Consider it a must to visit the medieval village of Anogi, as well as Loizos Cave and Katharon Monastery during your holiday on the island of Ithaca.
Weather and climate on Ithaca Greece?
Ithaca enjoys the same weather as the other Ionian Islands with a mild Mediterranean climate, consisting of hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, where temperatures rarely drop below 0 degrees. The islands in the Ionian Sea have three times as much rainfall as the islands in the Aegean Sea and this is the reason for their dense vegetation, large forests and fertile plains.
Geography of Ithaca
The strait situated to the west of the island is called the Strait of Ithaca. There are several capes on Ithaca including Exogi, the westernmost, Melissa to the north, Mavronos and Agios Ilias to the east, as well as Schinous, Sarakiniko and Agios Ioannis, and Agiou Andreou in the south. Bays include the northwestern Afales Bay, Frikes and Kioni Bays to the northeast and Ormos Gulf and Sarakiniko Bay to the southeast. The tallest mountain is Nirito with its 806 m, the second tallest is Merovigli with 669 m.
Lazaretto Islet – the Island of The Saviour
Lazaretto Islet also called the “Island of The Saviour” guards the harbour. The church of The Saviour and the remains of an old prison are to be found on the islet. From 1836 the islet was used as a quarantine and later, until 1912 as a prison. In previous centuries, each port had a quarantine area or Lazaretto, where boats coming from abroad were stopped for medical examination. In its use as a prison, imprisoned were G. Petalas in 1821, Ulysses Androutsos and other opponents of King Otto and George I.
It is currently used as a scenic location for weddings and baptisms at the Chapel of The Saviour, which was founded in 1668.
Museums on Ithaca
There are three interesting museums on Ithaca, the most important of which are the Archaeological Museums, one in Vathy and the other in Stavros. There is also the Folklore and Cultural Museum of Vathy.
Historical Museum of Vathy: Many of the findings from the ancient towns found on Ithaca are hosted in the small Archaeological Museum in Vathi, Ithaca. Excavations from Aetos, Pisaetos, Kioni, Vathi and other regions in Ithaca have revealed coins, small statues, pieces of ceramic vases, jewellery and other items of daily use.
Historical Museum of Stavros: This Archaeological Collection houses findings from excavations in the wider region of Stavros and the northern part of Ithaca. The building is small and has only one room. The exhibits date from the Prehistoric times (3rd millennium B.C.) till the Roman period.
The Folkloric Naval Museum is housed in a building that once operated as an old generating station and the exhibits testify about the life of the people of Ithaca during the colonial period.
Why visit Ithaca?
Ithaca is world-famous as the home island of Odysseus, the mythical hero of Homer – visiting the island you can dive in the crystal-clear sea at the beaches, or hike along the footpaths. In between you can enjoy the laid-back atmosphere at the traditional taverns while eating fresh fish and seafood. In Vathy you will enjoy the evenings with strolls along the seafront promenade, chatting with friendly locals.