It’s no wonder the makers of Hollywood blockbuster Captain Corelli’s Mandolin chose Kefalonia as one of the film’s backdrops. The island is all tree-studded hills, which look out over pale beaches, which roll into perfectly-blue waters. There’s a mix of village life inland. Skala, for example, is popular with holidaymakers and is kept lively with late-night bars. Lourdas, on the other hand, revolves around a sleepy main square.
• Drogarati Caves are a must-see. The twisty maze of stalagmites and stalactites is thought to be more than 150 million years old. Thanks to the cave’s natural acoustics, music concerts have been staged here.
• The restored Monastery of St Andreas showcases 16th-century frescoes. They were hidden under plastered walls until a huge earthquake in 1953, which destroyed the church and unveiled the artwork.
SHORE EXCURSIONS► View all EXCURSIONS
Melissani Lake & Drogarati Cave►
Like the old saying goes, ‘beauty comes from within’. Today, you’ll find out why, as you explore some of Kefalonia’s most famous caves. Researchers believe Drogarati Cave is around 150-million-years-old, but it was only discovered 300 years ago. You’ll find orange and yellow-tinted stalactites and stalagmites inside. It’s also got a 900-square-metre great hall, which regularly holds musical events, thanks to the excellent acoustics. Opera singer Maria Callas was one of the famous names that sung in the chamber. Next, you’ll visit the subterranean Melissani Lake, where you hop on a boat across its bright blue waters. Here, you can see the sun’s rays hit the lake, giving the whole cave a blue-coloured glow. Look up and you’ll see trees ringing the cave’s opening, over 100 feet up. On your way back to port, keep your eyes peeled for sheer white cliffs and crescent-shaped beaches.
Legend has it the Monastery of Agios Andreas houses the sole of Saint Andrew’s right foot. You’ll get to inspect for yourself on this tour. The church is believed to date back to the 13th-century. Inside, everywhere you turn is painted with colourful biblical scenes and there’s a huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling. But, the highlight is the silver casket containing the remains of the church’s saint. Next, you’ll head around the corner to the Robola Wine Cooperative. Here, you’ll be taken through the wine-making process from grape-picking to bottling, before tasting a selection of white, red and rosé wine. Your final stop is in Kourkoumelata – a picture-perfect village with a heart-warming history. After the 1953 earthquake destroyed most of the village, a local ship-owner paid to reconstruct all the buildings to their neo-classical glory. You can wander through and admire the beautifully-tended gardens, elegant villas and sweeping sea views.
It’s often hailed as Captain Corelli’s Kefalonia. And you’ll get to visit one of the blockbuster’s most memorable locations, the world-famous Myrtos Beach. You’ll start with a trip to underground Melissani Lake. It was only discovered in 1951, but artefacts from the 3rd-century BC have been recovered here, from animal horns to tiles and slates. The 1953 earthquake caused the cave’s roof to fall in, so you’ll get an impressive light display as the sun reflects off the turquoise waters. You can take a boat out onto the lake, to get a closer look at the cave’s stalactites. Next, it’s time for a visit to the island’s most photographed stretch of sand, Myrtos Beach. This mile-and-a-half-long curve of white pebbles is the setting for several scenes of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Your final stop is in Fiskardo village, where you’ll stroll past brightly-coloured Venetian buildings and waterfront tavernas, before heading back to port.