Ionian Islands Travel Guide for 2024

Written by James
 Last updated: February 10, 2024

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.

The Islands

Kefalonia

Zakynthos

Corfu

Corfu (Kerkyra)

The emerald island of Corfu is steeped in lush landscapes, historic architecture, and crystal-clear waters.

A haven for history buffs, the island's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcasing a fascinating blend of Venetian, French, and British influences.

Corfu's diverse beaches range from the pebbly shores of Paleokastritsa to the sandy expanses of Glyfada, making it a perfect spot for adventurers and those seeking relaxation. The island's vibrant nightlife and rich culinary scene offer a taste of Greek hospitality.

Kefalonia

Kefalonia boasts dramatic landscapes, from the mystical Melissani Cave to the imposing Mount Ainos.

Its picturesque villages, like Fiscardo and Assos, offer a glimpse into the island's serene lifestyle. The island's beaches, such as Myrtos, are famed for dazzling white pebbles and turquoise waters.

Wine enthusiasts can explore the local vineyards, tasting unique varietals like Robola. Kefalonia's natural beauty and relaxed atmosphere make it an ideal retreat for those looking to unwind and connect with nature.

Zakynthos (Zante)

Zakynthos is a paradise for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts. With its rusting freighter ashore in a white sandy cove, the iconic Shipwreck Beach is a sight to behold from the cliffs above.

The island is also home to the Caretta caretta sea turtles, especially in the protected marine park of Laganas Bay. Nightlife in Zakynthos can be lively, with plenty of options for entertainment. Its green hills and clear waters offer a tranquil escape with the promise of adventure.

Lefkada

Connected to the mainland by a causeway, Lefkada is renowned for its stunning beaches, such as Porto Katsiki and Egremni, characterized by their towering cliffs and azure waters.

The island is a hotspot for water sports, especially kite surfing and windsurfing, thanks to the ideal conditions at beaches like Vassiliki.

Lefkada's charming villages, like Agios Nikitas, offer cosy tavernas and cafes amidst narrow, winding streets. Its accessibility and natural beauty make Lefkada a versatile destination for all types of travellers.

Ithaca

Ithaca, the legendary home of Homer's Odysseus, is a haven of tranquillity. Its rugged coastlines, ancient ruins, and quaint villages like Vathy and Kioni are imbued with a timeless charm.

The island's trails invite hikers to explore its lush landscapes and stunning views over the Ionian Sea.

 Ithaca's small, secluded beaches offer peaceful retreats away from the crowds. It's the perfect destination for those seeking a quiet holiday, rich in history and natural beauty.

Paxos and Antipaxos

With its olive groves and crystal-clear waters, Paxos is a sanctuary of peace and simplicity. Gaios, the main village, is a colourful mix of traditional houses and inviting eateries.

Antipaxos, even smaller, is famed for its vineyards and two of the most exquisite beaches in the Ionian Sea, Vrika and Voutoumi.

Together, they offer a slice of heaven for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, with opportunities for sailing, snorkelling, and simply soaking in the serene beauty of the surroundings.

Kythira

Although often associated with the Ionian Islands, Kythira sits at the southern tip, blending influences from the Ionian, Aegean, and Crete.

Its diverse landscape includes lush valleys, cascading waterfalls like Fonissa, and hidden beaches. The island's villages, such as Chora and Avlemonas, offer a peek into traditional Greek life.

At the same time, its Byzantine and Venetian castles narrate a rich historical tapestry. Kythira is a destination for those who cherish off-the-beaten-path adventures, seeking a blend of history, culture, and natural splendour.

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.

Helpful Recommendations

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.

Samos
Argostoli
Lassi
Tigaki
Kassandra
Macedonia
Halkidiki
Malta
Heraklion
Athens
Attica
Lesbos