"A unique hiking adventure amongst pristine forrests and emerald green coves…Searching for Odysseus!"
This 7 to 10-day Ionian islands walking holiday in the lush green Lefkada, Kefalonia and Ithaca will offer you the opportunity to explore their overwhelming nature and dramatic coastlines with breathtaking views… their old network of footpaths… steep cliffs and stunning white beaches with turquoise waters… traditional mountainous villages… delicious local food and wine… friendly and experienced local guides…
All three islands are covered with evergreen trees and lush vegetation as the Ionian is one of the greenest regions of Greece. Rain is not infrequent, however the rewards for the traveler are captivating sunsets, colourful rainbows, a dreamlike landscape and stimulating smells of herbs and flowers.
Lefkada, especially in early spring and autumn, is a herbalist’s paradise. Due to the high percentage of rainfall, it boasts a high biodiversity rate, being the home of many rare plants and herbs. We have arranged for an expert herbalist to give you a unique tour into the island’s flora!
Every step in the Ionian paths is a step back in history. Ithaca, Kephalonia and Lefkada have been “claimed” by archaeologists to be the homeland of Homer’s protagonist, Odysseus. Numerous archaeological sites can be discovered while walking, hidden in ancient olive grooves and caves.
The Ionian islands have also been a crossroad for various civilizations. From the Venetians, the English, the French, to the Turks and many more, the influence of the different cultures are evident today in the landscape, architecture and local culture. One of the highlights of the week is the visit to Assos Castle in Kefalonia, build by the Venetians and considered to be one of the finest examples of military architecture in Europe, characterised “even stronger than Gibraltar”!
Mythical Ithaca, our last stop of the week, is more a state of mind… than just a destination. You will walk through its remote and beautiful paths searching for the homeland of Odysseus while tasting one of the finest cuisines the Ionian islands have to offer.
Here is an example of what you will experience during our Ionian islands walking holiday:
Early in the evening we have planned for you a relaxed walk around the village and bay of Ag. Nikitas. We’ll take the short path towards the remote beach of Mylos, ranked amongst the islands’ nicest ones. Swimming and snorkelling at the crystal turquoise waters of Milos is an unforgettable experience. We will end our walk at a traditional fish tavern by the sea!
While the village of Egluvi today holds less than 30 inhabitants and no wheat is cultivated, the few remaining local families grow in the fertile grounds one of the most renowned varieties of lentils. We’ll have dinner at the village’s main square under the shade of evergreen trees, where you’ll have the chance to try the famous lentils and other delicious local “mezes”.
We’ll continue to Mt Skaros, famous as the place where Ulysses took his sheep to pasture, and as one of the island’s most precious habitats. Located up in the river-crossed mountain, it is made up of centuries’ old moss-draped trees, especially a very rare type of oak which can only be found in Lefkada and in a handful of other forests in Europe. During the Venetian and Ottoman occupation guards were posted throughout the forest to protect it. At the top you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding islands and scattered picturesque villages.
We will follow a circular walk starting from Fiscardo towards the northern part of the island. It connects quaint hamlets, passes through cypress and strawberry tree forests, agricultural fields, beautiful secluded beaches where we’ll stop for a swim and a picnic, as well as various historical sites, such as the ancient tomb of Throni, the old village of Psilithrias, a Venetian footpath and Battaria which was a 1940 German anti-aircraft base. Supper at our favourite tavern where you can taste the acclaimed cuisine of the island.
We will stop at Assos’ delightful fishing port for a refreshing swim at the crystal clear waters of the bay and lunch before continuing our walk on the peninsula to the ruins of the old Venetian fortress. We will end our day with a visit at the most beautiful beach in the Mediterranean, Myrtos beach, with its white pebbles and turquoise waters.
Melissani is a lacustrine cave of unique beauty 3.5 km long, 40m wide and 36m high. It constitutes a unique geological phenomenon and was created by a mechanical and chemical process called karstikopoiisi (dissolution of rocks) during which water enters the calcareous rocks, erodes them and creates hollows. During our visit in the cave we will be able to take a small boat to explore the underground lake of Melissani, where very important archaeological objects were discovered. We will end our day with dinner at one of our favourite village taverns.
Walking on the steps of Odysseus, we will continue our walk passing Byzantine churches and the ancient settlement of Palaiochora, once believed to be the capital of Ithaca. We will make a refreshing stop in the local ‘kafenio’ of Perachori village before taking the path descending back to the Vathy port. The rest of the day will be free for exploring the beaches nearby Vathi and taking in the relaxed atmosphere of the island.
Wandering around what is believed to be Odysseus Palace, we will continue our ascend to the highest village of Ithaca, Exogi. From there we will follow on of the most scenic and visually rewarding tracks of North Ithaca, passing from the Plateau of Rousano and descending to the Polis Beach, where we’ll plunge into its crystal clear waters for a refreshing swim! We’ll then visit the village of Anogi with its unique rock formations and take another scenic path down to the little harbor of Kioni, one of the Ithaca’s gems. Time for our well-awarded dinner by the sea.
“A downpour during a short hike in the Ithaca hills could have been a downer as we were completely soaked. But the combination of our guide, Daphnie’s planning and unfailing good cheer, along with our mountain village Taverna’s hostess’ hospitality, warming welcome (including glasses of psipouro and dry clothes!!) and wonderful and continuously replenished, traditional Greek dishes, turned this into one of our most memorable evenings ever.”
“Fabulous. Our guide, Daphnie, was superb, being always willing to adjust the itinerary to suit people and/or weather, the walking and scenery is incredible, the hotels ideally located in small seaside towns, and the restaurants recommended for us throughout the holiday gave us a perfect ‘taste of Greece’.”
“The most memorable part was the fact that our excellent Greek guide was able to give us so much information about the islands, and also about Greek life in general. Through her we met a number of locals and felt it was altogether a very Greek experience. Daphne could be flexible and adapt walks and activities to our preferences. We had a fascinating mountain walk with a local herbalist... Thank you.”
“Excellent. Each of the walks was special. The holiday was a lovely mix of beautiful walks, experiencing nature, local culture and relaxing on the beach. The food was wonderful. I will be back next year!”
“Amazing holiday! I would wholeheartedly recommend this holiday for people who are into walking, nature and a bit of off-the-beaten track experiences! The hikes and the activities we did with our small group were varied and each one was a memorable experience full of connection with nature, history, simplicity and presence. Some of the highlights were the herbal walk with Aris, visits of the old chapels and the monastery, 360 views of the island, drinking water out of natural springs and eating fruit off the trees while walking, the sunset in Pefkoulia beach, and coming across the road to ‘Nowhere’ just before the cyclone. I admire Daphne’s knowledge, flexibility and the spontaneity and would like to join her on other trips in the future!”