Island Hop

Explore the beautiful Greek islands.
By Lola Méndez

Greece is indisputably one of the most sought-after travel destinations in Europe. Visions of cerulean seas, white-domed churches, and fuchsia bougainvillea come to mind when daydreaming about visiting Greece’s Ionian Islands. Here’s what to do while visiting Corfu, Ithaca, Kefalonia, and Zakynthos.


This large island is a year-round destination, thanks to sunny skies in all seasons and incredible natural landscapes waiting to be explored. Corfu has a reputation as a party destination, but it’s also a cosmopolitan Mediterranean oasis. Between stints at the beach, learn about the island’s fascinating history. Corfu was never conquered by the Ottomans and was where the first Greek University, the first Philharmonic Orchestra, and the First School of Fine Arts were founded. Stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the well-preserved Old Town of Corfu and admire palaces, fortresses, and quintessential Greecian narrow cobbled streets. Have a coffee in Liston where aristocrats once took their evening promenades. Stop in Spinada in the city center and marvel at the 19th-century French architecture and British-built Saint Michael and George Palace.


This legendary island is known worldwide as the home of Odysseus. While the island has a romantic history, today it draws adventure travelers. The mountainous island is just 27 kilometers long but offers many hiking and mountain bike trails alongside the coast and through olive groves. If you prefer to get your thrill out in the sea, go scuba diving to the Cave of Nymph where it’s said Odysseus hid gifts from the land of the Phaeacians. Ithaca also has wonderful beaches including sandy coves and shores sprinkled with pebbles. Visit Lootsa, Filiatró, or Sarakínniko. Rent a kayak and go out on the sea to take in breathtaking views of the island from the water.


For those looking for a beach vacation, Kefalonia is the Ionian Island of choice. As the biggest Ionian Island, it boasts the best vibrant azure water beaches around the entire island, but Myrtos Beach is one of the best. The seabed around the island is full of aquatic life making it a world-renowned spot for snorkeling or diving. If you’re lucky, you may see the elusive endangered Caretta caretta sea turtle. Pull yourself away from the beach to hike through pine, cypress, and olive trees on Mt. Ainos’ peak, then try the local Kefalonian Robola wine variety at vineyards at the base of the mountain.


Lovingly referred to as Zante, this is another Ionian Island where travelers flock for spectacular beaches. You’ll find sandy beaches tucked into secluded coves on the southeastern part of Zákynthos island, while in the west you’ll find rugged cliffs leading straight to the sea. You might catch a glimpse of the endangered Monachus monachus seal happily swimming in the sea. The Venetians ruled Zákynthos from 1484 to 1797 and called the island “Fioro di Levante” (flower of the East) as the verdant island has over 7,000 species of flowers. Soak up the island’s rich history by admiring the gold-trimmed statues and other important artifacts at the Post-Byzantine Museum of Zante.


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