The Ionian Islands are a group of seven magnificent islands off the western coast of Greece in the Ionian Sea.
They are known for their fantastic and often breathtaking scenery, featuring crystal-clear waters, picturesque villages, and beautiful olive groves.
The culture combines mythology, tradition, and seafood-based cuisine, making it an excellent destination for a near-perfect holiday.
A Short History of Ionian Islands
The Ionian Islands have been inhabited since the Paleolithic era, with traces of Neolithic settlers from 5000 – 3000 BC. It has had a tumultuous history, facing rule from various empires and rulers, including the Romans, Byzantines, Normans, and French. It became part of the newly-formed Greek state in 1864 and remained an archipelago of stunning landscapes and unique cultures.
Where to Go
Corfu: Located northwest of the archipelago, Corfu is a charming island with winding streets, a beautiful harbour, irresistibly blue waters, and a vibrant nightlife scene.
Paxos: This small island is mainly characterized by its lack of a motorway, perfect for a peaceful and relaxing holiday.
Kefalonia: Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands and is known for its dramatic landscapes, great food and drink, and its numerous archaeological sites.
Ithaca: It is the home of Homer’s famed character Odysseus, and its landscape is made up of lush greenery, small churches, and clear waters.
Lefkada: Known as the ‘Island of Lilies’, thanks to its abundance of wildflowers, Lefkada offers a stunning paradise with a lively atmosphere.
What to Do
Swimming in Zakynthos: The beaches of Zakynthos are the perfect place to take a dip.
Sailing in Corfu: Yachting charters are available to explore the waters and enjoy the incredible scenery.
Diving in Kefalonia: Kefalonia is home to some of the best diving sites in the Mediterranean region.
Kayaking in Paxos: Plenty of kayaking tours in Paxos offer visitors a chance to explore the beaches and coves from a unique perspective.
Food & Drink in Ithaca: Enjoy some of the best Greek food and wine in the delightful surroundings of Ithaca.
Cycling in Lefkada: Go explore the more minor roads of the island by bike.
Local Foods to Try
Tzatziki: A famous dish of Greek yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon, and dill.
Octopus & Olive Salad: A fresh and delicious salad with octopus, olives, feta cheese and olive oil.
Cheese Pie: Savoury pastry filled with feta cheese, oregano and herbs.
Saganaki: Fried cheese in a light batter made with feta cheese.
Spanakopita: A delicious pastry stuffed with spinach, feta cheese, onions and herbs.
Souvenirs to Buy
Traditional jewellery: Crafted with intricate designs, perfect as a memento of your trip.
Religious icons: Icons in various styles, perfect for believers and collectors.
Pottery and ceramics: Local artisans created stunningly decorative dishes, bowls and trinkets.
Local wines: Red and white wines are made with local grape varieties, a perfect gift for the wine connoisseur.
Hand-made jewellery: Unique pieces crafted with local materials such as lava rock and olive wood.
Are the Ionian Islands Expensive?
Accommodation is generally quite affordable, as are food and transport. Some luxury activities and restaurants may be more expensive.
Ionian Islands Weather
The islands generally have a mild climate with hot summers and warm winters. However, there can be rainfall during the cooler months. The best time to visit is typically between April and October.
Where to Stay
Premiere Suites: Sophisticated resorts located in Corfu, Paxos, and Lefkada, with stunning views of the sea.
Boutique Hotels: A selection of small but luxurious hotels in Corfu, Ithaca and Kefalonia.
Villa Complexes: A great selection of villas for groups of friends or family, with pools, gardens and excellent facilities.
Certified Guesthouses: Traditional guesthouses offer rustic charm and hospitality on almost all islands.
B&B’s: Plenty of smaller guesthouses, often family-run, all over the islands.
Taxis: Taxis areas are available in all the major tourist spots, but agree on a price before you start your journey.
Ferries: Ferries are the best way to travel between islands while allowing you to enjoy the views.
ATMs: ATMs are available in most of the bigger towns; always have some cash on you.
Currency: The official currency of Greece is the Euro.
Sunscreen: The sun can get very strong, especially in summer, so always carry some sunscreen.
Preparation: If you’re going for a holiday in the Ionian Islands, ensure you have everything you need to make the most of your trip.