Travel to Ithaca: The Ultimate Guide
If you’re looking for a relaxed and rather unique Greek holiday, then look no further than Ithaca. From ancient Greek ruins to breathtaking mountain views, Ithaca has it all! Whether you’re looking for a fun family holiday or a romantic getaway, this island in the Ionian Sea delivers.
Steeped in Greek mythology, Ithaca was the home of Odysseus. You too will feel like a king or queen yourself as you dine on delicious Mediterranean and Greek cuisine, work on your tan at one of the island’s beautiful beaches, or simply relax in a pool as you take in the sea views from your rental villa.
If you’re already sold on the idea, this ultimate guide to Ithaca will help you learn how to get there, when the best time to visit is, where to stay, what to eat, and the many things to see and do on the island.
How to Get to Ithaca
One of the first things to keep in mind when it comes to traveling to Ithaca is that there is no local airport on the island. That means the only option for getting to the island is by way of ferry. Ferries leave from a few nearby islands as well as several locations on the mainland.
Sailing times can be anywhere from a half hour to 3 and a half hours depending on which port you depart from, and you can travel with or without a vehicle in many cases. The nearest airport to Ithaca is on Kefalonia Island, which is about an hour flight from Athens. You can than take the quick ferry from Kefalonia to Ithaca
Longer ferry options include the ones that run from Lefkada Island as well as those from the mainland that depart from Killini, Astakos, and Patras. Once on Ithaca, you have the main town of Vathy to explore as well as smaller villages like Stavros, Frikes, and Kioni.
Top Things to See and Do in Ithaca
For a rather small island, Ithaca packs a surprising punch in terms of attractions. Visitors will find that Ithaca is not only much smaller than its neighbor Kefalonia, but also much quieter.
The beaches of Ithaca are always a major highlight and a great place to start. The most notable beaches on the island include Pisaetos, Afales, Filiatro, and Gidaki. There are also a number of great walking trails best enjoyed during the spring and autumn months.
There are a number of fascinating archaeological sites to visit including the Pyramids of Exogi, Acropolis of Alalkomenes, Venetian Cannons, Tikti Crini, and Odysseus Palace which is said to date back to the eight century BC. You’ll also want to check out Kathara Monastery and the various museums on the island such as the Archeological Museum and Naval and Folklore Museum.
There are also caves to explore, kayaking around the island, and scuba diving in search of a great variety of marine life as well as sunken ship and plane wrecks. Taking a ferry to explore nearby islands such as Kefaloniaand or Lefkada on a day trip can also be an unforgettable experience, and you can easily book your tickets here if interested.
Where to Stay in Ithaca
When it comes to deciding where to stay when visiting Ithaca, you have many different options to choose from. Your options can range from expensive luxury villas to more affordable studios and traditional hotel rooms. There are also bed and breakfast options as well as camping if you want to really embrace nature.
You’ll find most accommodation in Vathy, but other villages like Frikes and Kioni are also popular accommodation spots. Some accommodation options offer up pools, onsite restaurants, and easy access to beaches.
What to Eat in Ithaca
Ithaca is home to several excellent restaurants, cafes, and even bakeries. In addition to offering up plenty of accommodation options, Vathy is also where you’ll find most of Ithaca restaurants and cafes including numerous family-owned and run establishments. And eateries here usually come with a nice perk in the form of incredible sea views.
Your culinary tour will consist of feasting on Mediterranean and Greek specialties with a great focus on seafood caught fresh locally. We recommend you sample savóro fish, cod pie, tserepáto which is a delicious charcoal-grilled chicken in a clay pot, rovaní, shrimp risotto, and calamari. Of course you’ll also find plenty of souvlaki and kebabs on Ithaca menus.
The island also produces fine quality wines, with plenty of options to enjoy wine tasting tours.
When to Visit Ithaca
Last but not least, the final thing to take into consideration when traveling to Ithaca is the time of year that you should be visiting. Because of Ithaca’s location, it comes as no surprise that visiting during the summer months is most popular.
Summer guarantees warm weather and sunny skies with little chance for rain, especially during August. Although it may be considered peak season, you’ll find it’s still far less busy than other regions of Greece at this time. This is also the best time to swim Ithaca’s beaches. Note that because this is the most popular time to visit, you can expect to pay more for flights and accommodation.
During the winter months, things get pretty quiet on the island as temperature begin to drop and the chance for rain and even snow increases. Snowfall usually occurs in the mountains and villages located at higher elevations. You will also notice that some businesses or activities may be closed or not offered during the winter. That being said, it’s still a nice time to visit if you enjoy peace and solitude.
Although Ithaca may be a place that is less well known when it comes to travel in Greece, it is definitely one that you should consider for your next vacation. You can escape the tourist crowds of Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Crete by choosing Ithaca for your next Greek getaway.