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Immortalised in the novel and film Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the Greek island of Kefalonia really does feel like it's straight out of a story. With many beaches only accessible on foot thanks to the mountainous landscape, you can discover hidden coves and secret bays tucked out of sight. It's surrounded by the emerald Ionian Sea, with the towering peak of Mount Ainos in its rugged interior, while its coastal towns come to life in the evenings in their busy squares and outdoor cafés and bars.
You can stay at a Kefalonia hostel that makes its own wine, which you can sip in its attractive courtyard. Or you could choose a fun space with a bar decorated in Pop Art colours and mid-century modern furniture. Some Kefalonia hostels put on a free breakfast buffet too. If you're going to be doing lots of hiking, it's worth keeping an eye out for a hostel in Kefalonia with a lift to whisk you up to your room afterwards.
Bustling Argostoli is Kefalonia's capital, where you can sometimes see turtles swimming beside the harbour boardwalk. Other key towns include Skala, the go-to spot for watersports, and Sami, with its twin beach Antisamos just over the headland. Assos is a seaside village where pretty pink-toned houses nestle against a vibrant green shoreline. It has a very local atmosphere, with a tiny shingle beach and a harbour. In the north of the island, Fiskardo is famous for its picturesque harbour lined with tavernas and its heritage as a fishing village.
Kefalonia's a relaxed island with plenty of serene beaches, from pebbly Petani to the sandy and livelier Makris Gialos. The most famous is crescent-shaped Myrtos Bay, often named one of the world's best. The hilly landscape also makes for excellent hiking: a popular option is the marked path up fir-covered Mount Ainos, which has views over the island and surrounding sea. For subterranean adventures, you can tour Melissani Cave by boat. The crystal-clear water in this inland cave shines bright blue at midday when sunlight pours through the hole in the collapsed roof.
Flights run from Athens and other European countries to Kefalonia International Airport throughout the year, and in the summer season routes are put on from other Greek cities. You can get around Kefalonia by KTEL bus or rent a car from the airport. The main bus station and taxi hub on the island is in Argostoli. If you're staying in another town, it might be worth asking your hostel to order taxis for you.