The island of Ithaki (also known as Ithaca) is one of the Ionian group and lies off the East coast of Kefalonia, separated by a narrow canal, only 3km wide. Throughout the ages, Ithaki is known as the home of Odysseus whose 10-year adventurous trip back home to Ithaca (after the fall of Troy) is the subject of Homer’s Odyssey.
Ithaki is mainly a mountainous island with pine forests, olive trees and vineyards. Many natural bays and crystal clear beaches surround the island.
The capital is Vathi, one of the world’s largest natural harbours. Although much of the island’s architecture was destroyed by an earthquake in 1953, the Venetian influence is still visible everywhere on the island and especially in Vathi. Other popular places to visit while you are in Ithaki are Kioni, Frikes, Perachori, Polis, Stavros and Exogi. These picturesque small villages provide a natural and traditional setting for holidays on the island.
Most of the commercial shops are located in Vathi, however you will find traditional tavernas and restaurants in the villages. Vathi also offers some relaxed nightlife with a few bars and pubs.
Ithaki island has many beautiful, clear beaches such as Aetos, Dexa, Filiatro, Gidaki, Filiatro, Loutsa, Mnimata, Pisaetos and Sarakiniko. The greatest pleasure, while on sailing holidays in Ithaki/ Ionian Sea and the rest of the Ionian Islands, is that you can discover your own private beach! Since many of the beaches and the coves are accessible only by (sailing or motor) boat, make sure you visit the wonderful Western beaches of Ithaki for an unforgettable experience.
Overall, Ithaki is an island unspoilt by tourism, calm, beautiful and perfect for a relaxing holiday! It is also lovely place for sailing enthusiasts & summer boat holidays in the Ionian sailing area/ Greece!
The climate in Ithaki is very similar to the rest of the Ionian islands with 3 times more rain than the Aegean islands (such as the Cyclades), hot sunny summers and wet, mild winters.
More specifically in Ithaki, you should expect frequent rainfalls in April, May, September and October. The temperatures vary between 18-22 degrees Celsius (64-72 degrees fahrenheit). During the summer months (June, July and August), temperatures rise steadily between 23-26 degrees celsius (73-79 degrees fahrenheit) with no rainfall at all. Although it may get very hot during the day, the night is usually chilly.
In Ithaki one can moor in Vathi, Kioni and Frikes where you will find some limited places. For anchoring, you may go to Frikes, Ag. Nikolaos, Mavrounas, Vathi Limani, Aetos, Dexia, Sarakiniko, Ormos Andreou and Polis.
According to findings, Ithaki was first inhabited during the late Neolithic Period and remained primitive until the early Mycenaean years when it became the capital of the Cephalonian states. That only lasted for a short while though as by the end of the Mycenaean era, Ithaki lost its power and came under the jurisdiction of the nearest large island. During the following years Ithaca, like most of the Ionian Islands, fell under foreign rule. Some of its dominants were the Romans, the Normans, the Franks, the Turkish, the Venetians, the French and the British. Ithaki became part of the New Greek state in 1864 together with the rest of the Ionian Islands. Today, tourism is one of the main sources of income for the islanders.
Places of interest:
There are several interesting sites and places to visit in Ithaki island! Starting from Vathi, you may go to the Archaeological Museum and the Aretousa spring. In Dexa, you will find the Cave of the Nymphs (also called Marmarospili). Also, worth a visit are the Archaeological Collection in Stavros village, the Monastery of the Archangels at Perahori and Alalkomenes (believed to be the ruins of Odyssea’s palace).
Make sure you visit the Monastery of Panagia Kathara (Moni Katharon) which offers a unique view of the island from its bell tower as it is located 600 metres above sea level.
As Ithaki is very small island with many inaccessible beaches, there are no facilities for water-sports of any kind. Furthermore, scuba diving is prohibited due to the many archaeological findings underwater.
If you are a nature lover, Ithaca offers some excellent walking opportunities in the fabulous scenery!