Argostoli, Greece

Argostoli, Greece is a small seaside town on the Island of Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands. Its pristine water, 39 beaches, quaint buildings and relaxed atmosphere make it the perfect setting to enjoy an enviable Mediterranean climate.

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1 Boat Approaching Kefalonia Island near Argostoli, Greece

The largest of the seven Ionian Islands is Kefalonia. It is sometimes spelled Kephalonia or Cephalonia. This archipelago was settled over 11,000 years ago and has been ruled by several nations including the Romans, Venetians, French and British before becoming part of Greece in 1864. This island’s largest city and the municipality’s capital is Argostoli. However, “largest” is a relative term because the entire population of Kefalonia is only about 36,000 residents.

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2 Cityscape Reflecting in Bay in Argostoli, Greece

So many cities along the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas showcase architecture dating back centuries and even millenniums, so your first reaction when you see Argostoli’s profile along the port is that everything looks so new. It is. This small city of less than 10,000 people suffered heavy bombing during WWII. Even more devastating were four earthquakes that struck in 1953. After they destroyed most of the Kefalonia island, the majority of the islanders relocated. Those who stayed behind rebuilt the town.

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3 Blue Wooden Shutters in Argostoli, Greece

As a travel photographer I usually aim my camera at places like dramatic landscapes or gorgeous architecture. But sometimes I delight at finding something as simple as these blue wooden shutters. These are part of a boathouse for rowing equipment belonging to NOKI. That acronym stands for the Nautical Club of Kefalonia and Ithaca in Argostroli.

Ipirou & Ioannou Metaxa, Argostoli 281 00, Greece

4 Restaurant on Waterfront Promenade in Argostoli, Greece

Along the waterfront of Argostoli is a lovely promenade called Ioannou Metaxa. It takes you passed the cruise ship and ferry ports, small fishing and pleasure boats that are tethered along the quay, a fish and produce market and ends at the Drapano Bridge. Also called the De Bosset Bridge for its architect Charles Philippe De Bosset, this stone bridge dates back to 1813. It links the neighboring village of Drapano with a 3,000 foot span crossing the Koutavos lagoon. As you stroll along you may be inspired to sample local cuisine from restaurants like the Cavo D’oro. Its menu board featured sword fish and shrimp risotto. Yum!

Ioannou Metaxa & Gerasimou Foka, Argostoli 281 00, Greece

5 Ferry to Lixoúri near Argostoli, Greece

Regular ferries shuffle locals and tourists between Argostoli and Kefalonia’s second largest town: Lixoúri. During the summer months, the biggest draw to this village of 3,000 residents on the Palikí Peninsula is the beautiful beaches such as Mega Lakos, Xi and Lepeda. It also offers trendy restaurants, bars and cafes plus frequent festivals.

Ferry to Lixouri Ioannou Metaxa, Argostolion, 281 00, Greece

6 Palm Tree with Orange Fruit in Argostoli, Greece

Several of Argostoli’s streets, promenades and squares are lined with palm trees like this one. I learned many of them were planted by Italian troops during their brief occupation in World War II. Other accounts suggest some trees are over 100 years old. I believe this palm may be a Phoenix theophrasti. If so, the species originated in Crete which is why it is sometimes called the Cretan date palm. Their orange fruit is attractive but inedible.

Ioannou Metaxa & Geor. Vergoti, Argostoli 281 00, Greece

7 Close Up of Loggerhead Sea Turtle in Argostoli, Greece

Loggerhead sea turtles regularly breed in the Koutavos Lagoon nature reserve in Argostoli, Greece during the spring and summer months. These magnificent marine creatures typically weigh more than 300 pounds and can live up to 65 years. Their head and shells glow with a rainbow of colors as they swim in the sapphire waters surrounding the Ionian Islands.

Ioannou Metaxa & Kerkiras, Argostoli 281 00, Greece

8 Church of Mother of God Sissiotissa in Argostoli, Greece

This Catholic church was founded by Saint Francis of Assisi during the 18th century. Around 1860 it switched to the Orthodox denomination and soon afterwards a grand cathedral was constructed with a Byzantine dome. In 1957, this structure replaced the former basilica. I enjoyed the wavy cornice accented by the red roof tiles and the exaggerated dentil molding on the Church of Mother of God Sissiotissa. Each March 25 the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary religious festival is held on the seven Ionian Islands. It is part of several annual celebrations called the Eptanesian Traditions.

Ekklisia Panagia Ioannou Metaxa, Kefalonia 281 00, Greece

9 Bell Tower at Campana Square in Argostoli, Greece

This tower along Lithostroto Street graces the center of Argostoli, Greece. It is located at Campana Square which was named the Piazza del Orologio when the Venetians ruled the island. The kampanarió is relatively new – built in 1985 – but the clock was salvaged from the 1953 earthquake. Inside the campanile is a small museum with historical photos of the city. There is also an observation deck at the top of the belfry.

Platia Kampanas, Sitemporon 71, Argostoli 281 00, Greece

10 Pedestrian Shopping Street in Argostoli, Greece

The main shopping district runs straight through Argostoli on Lithostroto which means cobbled street. On either side of this pedestrian-only road you’ll find everything from charming boutiques to souvenir shops to fine jewelers such as Tzannatos. This third-generation family business began in 1904. It seems fitting a retailer of expensive watches would have a clock on its marquee.

40 Diadochou Konstantinou, Argostoli, 28100, Greece

11 Flower Boxes on Balcony in Argostoli, Greece

The Republic of Venice ruled over the Ionian Islands from 1363 until 1797. It was followed by a brief Napoleonic era before becoming a British protectorate from 1815 until the union with Greece in 1864. The architecture of Argostoli was a reflection of all of these periods until WWII and the 1953 earthquakes. Then the town’s history was leveled and the remaining citizens had to rebuild their lives. Although all of the current buildings are less than 60 years old, many of them are still quaint.

Diadochou Konstantinou & Vandorou, Argostolion 281 00, Greece

12 Saint Nicholas Church in Argostoli, Greece

The Church of Saint Nicholas was founded in 1793 and remains the only Catholic church on the island. This building with its yellow bell tower and blue trimmed cupola was rebuilt along Lithostroto Street in the late 1950s. Inside of Ayios Nikolaos is an icon of the Virgin Mary of Preveza which is located in northwest Greece along the Ionian Sea.

Diadochou Konstantinou & Vandorou, Argostolion 281 00, Greece

13 Kéfalos Theatre in Argostoli, Greece

The original Kéfalos Theatre from 1857 was a magnificent structure with a Venetian flair. After it collapsed during an earthquake in 1953, it took more than 40 years before the residents of Argostoli could enjoy the cultural performances in this replacement. This 500 seat venue regularly hosts events including the opera, orchestra, concerts and plays.

20, Geor. Vergoti Avenue, Argostoli 281 00, Greece

14 Ionian Plaza Hotel in Argostoli, Greece

On one corner of the Platia Vallianou is the Ionian Plaza Hotel. Three additional hotels anchor the remaining corners. Surrounding the rest of Argostoli’s main square are restaurants, cafes and taverns. This area is the social epicenter of town by day and the entertainment hub at night. It is also where most of the island’s festivals, parades and concerts occur. The square is named after Panagis Vallianou who was a generous local philanthropist. A statue of him sits in the center of the square.

Pl. Vallianou Argostoli 281 00, Greece

15 People Swimming in Cove near Argostoli, Greece

According to archeologists, people have probably swum in this crescent-shaped cove since Mycenaean Greece. That time period was part of the Bronze Age dating back to 1600 to 1100 BC. The island of Cephalonia (or Kefalonia) was named after Cephalus. He was a Greek mythical hero and the area’s first leader. Some experts also claim this was the Greek island called Ithaca from Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. Those epics were written around the 8th century BC.

Ellinikou Erithrou Stavrou 39 Argostoli 281 00, Greece

16 Couple in Romantic Embrace in Argostoli, Greece

This couple in a romantic embrace in the aquamarine waters of Kefalonia Island reminded me of a quote by Aristotle, a Greek philosopher who lived from 384 until 322 BC. “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”

Ellinikou Erithrou Stavrou 39 Argostoli 281 00, Greece

17 Chairs Around Katavothres near Argostoli, Greece

On the Lassi Peninsula are deep holes along the shoreline called Katavothres. This geological phenomenon seemed to swallow the sea into caverns with no apparent exit. In 1963, a team of geologists discovered the water travels through the island for nearly two weeks before draining into Melissáni Lake. These ravines were first used by Stevens in 1835 to drive a watermill. Today the area is a restaurant with outdoor seating for great views of the bay. Next to it is an old wooden waterwheel.

Katavothres Area, Argostoli 281 00, Greece

18 Aqua Water along Beach near Argostoli, Greece

The Argostoli Gulf, which is Greek’s fourth largest natural harbor, is shaped by several mountains including Evmorfia (3,396 feet) and Evyeros (2,700 feet). Surrounding its shoreline are delightful places for swimming in the transparent blue water. They are reachable from Argostoli by walking along a fir tree shaded path that is parallel to Fanari Road. Most of the island’s popular beaches, however, are on the west and southern sides. Regardless of which of the 39 beaches you select, they are all a perfect place to enjoy a Mediterranean climate where the annual high temperature is about 70° Fahrenheit.

Camping Argostoli Fanari, Argostoli Kefalonia 281 00, Greece

19 Saint Theodore Lighthouse near Argostoli, Greece

The Lighthouse of Saint Theodore was constructed at the command of Charles Napier while he was the British High Commissioner of Kefalonia during the early 19th century. After it was destroyed in 1953, the Fanari was rebuilt within seven years following its original circular design surrounded by 20 Doric columns. The popular light stands 26 feet tall at the end of a short, rocky peninsula.

Lantern St. Theodore Argostoli 281 00, Greece