My name is Naomi Christodoulou and welcome to my travel article on Ithaca. I’m 32 years old and I was born in Sydney, Australia. At a young age, my family and I moved to Greece, as my mother is of Greek descent. We have been living here ever since. I currently reside in Western Greece, specifically in Patras which is the third largest Greek city.
The lifestyle is totally different from that of Australia with regard to culture, mentality, traditions, history and food. Greece will always be dear to my heart because of the language, its rich history and mythology. I was so inspired by the latter, that I studied Greek literature and also have an M.A. in Classics.
For the past four years I’ve been working as a copywriter at an e-shop with a range of top fashion brands. Apart from this, I teach English and Greek to high school and university students. In my free time I enjoy going for walks around the city and along the beach. Getting together with friends and colleagues for a coffee after work, or for dinner and drinks at night, is something I do at least twice a week. I also enjoy traveling and while doing so, I love to take photos of all the beautiful places I visit.
Why Ithaca is a Gem of the Ionian Sea
The first time I traveled to Ithaca was in 2019 to celebrate the Greek Orthodox Easter, and have been visiting the island quite frequently ever since. Ithaca was an island that I always wanted to visit as it has been praised by my favorite epic poet, Homer, through the famous Odyssey, and also by my other favorite poet Constantine P. Cavafy, as “Ithaca” is a poem that is a symbol of traveling, adventure and nostalgia. Ithaca is calm and wild, simple and genuine, romantic and poetic, mysterious and legendary.
The emerald and turquoise waters surrounded by rocky beaches, the stunning light blue beaches, the crystal clear sea, the verdant green landscapes filled with olive trees, the charming colorful villages, the breathtaking views from the rocky mountains, the buildings inspired by Italian architecture, the traditional foods and delicacies and the mesmerizing feeling of nostalgia, which was praised in the Odyssey and in all texts mentioning this matter, make the island a gem of the Ionian Sea.
My Favorite Place in Ithaca: Kioni
Ithaca has many beautiful villages to visit but my favorite by far is Kioni. Kioni is a small coastal village located at the northeast side of the island and is truly the embodiment of Ionian beauty. Here, you‘ll see gorgeous houses made of stone and villas, traditional fish taverns, charming cafes with terraces – the perfect place to catch the sunset. This calm, picturesque and romantic village is part of the reason why I keep coming back to the island. And as you can see from my photos, it is picture perfect!
10 Special Things To Do in Ithaca
- Spending (at least) one day in Kioni. You can enjoy the beach, the traditional food and the beautiful view.
- Enjoy the idyllic beaches of Gidaki and Afales, which are famous for their light blue beaches. Access only by boat from the beach.
- Swimming at Filiatro and Sarakiniko. The water is so crystal clear that you can’t understand where the beach starts and where the coastline ends. Both beaches are organized with umbrellas, sunbeds and canteens. Also, while swimming, particularly at Filiatro, you come across rainbow fish.
- Visit the Monastery of Panagia of Kathara. The Monastery is built on the peak of mountain Niritos and has a breathtaking view of Vathy – the capital of Ithaca, southern Ithaca, and its neighbor island, Kefalonia.
- Visit Vathy, the capital of Ithaca, which offers everything a visitor needs: beautiful scenery, taverns, cafes, bars, etc. Also, when you go to one of Vathy’s taverns, don’t forget to order ‘tserepa’, a traditional Ionian dish and fresh fish from local fishermen.
- Visit Stavros. Stavros is a charming village situated 16km from Vathy and you can find the best traditional sweets of the island, ravani and troufa.
- The village of Lefki is the perfect sunset spot.
- Visit Frikes, a traditional fishing village, where you can enjoy every kind of fresh fish at the local taverns.
- Enjoy a picturesque dinner at Chani Restaurant. The restaurant, which is situated at the middle of north and south Ithaca, is the perfect place to enjoy a dinner of Greek delicacies while enjoying an impeccable view from the top.
- Visit the village of Perachori. Perachori is a village 3km away from Vathy at an altitude of 240 meters above sea level. Here, you will enjoy a magnificent view of Vathy, while sipping your Greek coffee or tasting traditional foods.
Stay at Aithon Palace in Vathy
Whenever I plan my accommodation in Ithaca, I always stay at Aithon Palace, a place which offers both apartments and studios. It is located at the hill entering Vathy. The rooms are always comfy and spotlessly clean, there is parking space and a pool, not to mention the most incredible view of Vathy from the top. The reason why I love this place so much is because of the generous hospitality of the owners, Elizabeth and Mrs. Maria, who at every visit make me feel like I belong – like a true Ithacan.
Need to Know Before you Go
If you decide to visit Ithaca, you need to consider the following first and foremost, you‘ll need ‘wheels’ such as a car or a motorcycle. In case you don’t bring your own vehicle, it would be an excellent idea to rent one for your sightseeing trips. In Vathy you will find car rental agencies.
Also, as some beaches are only accessible by boat, it would be a great idea to rent a boat for the day and explore the beautiful emerald bays with crystal clear waters and coastlines. Moreover, you should keep in mind that there are three ways of traveling to Ithaca:
- With a ferry from Patras, Astakos or Kyllini
- With an airplane to Kefalonia and then a ship from Kefalonia to Ithaca
- By private yacht
A Cherished Memory of Mine in Ithaca
There is no doubt that some of my fondest travel memories to date are from Ithaca. However, there is one specific memory that is truly my favorite. While visiting Ithaca on the 15th of August, I visited Anogi, a village which holds a great annual festive celebration (which in Greek is called ‘panegyri’) in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Although these celebrations are very popular during the Greek summer throughout Greece, this one is celebrated differently. In Ithaca there is a historic affection for European dances, such as the waltz and tango, which creates a truly festive and regal atmosphere.
Locals and tourists gather at the center of the village enjoying folklore music and European dances, eating local treats and drinking Ithacan wine. The way the Ithacans celebrate this very special Orthodox Christian day gave me a deeper understanding of their culture and local customs, as well as a totally different and unique experience compared to the way I usually celebrate this day in the Peloponnese.