Keep Ithaca always in your mind. Arriving there is what you are destined for. (Constantine Cavafy)
Famous as the legendary homeland of King Odysseus, Ithaca symbolises the longing to return to a previous life. In Homer, Odysseus spent 10 years fighting in the Trojan War and 10 years on a journey across the Mediterranean full of trials and adventures on his way back to Ithaca. When he finally returns to the island disguised as a beggar, the king finds that his son and wife are being tormented by suitors and pretenders to his throne, who had believed Odysseus dead. Odysseus slaughters the suitors and restores order to his palace.
Despite its proximity to Kefalonia (2km northeast) Ithaca is a much more peaceful island, though don’t mistake the quiet for a lack of things to do.
The island boasts plenty of hiking as well as mountain bike trails along the coast and through hills covered with olive, cypress, pine, oak and carob trees.
Scuba diving and sea kayaking are options too, while the Cave of the Nymph will give you the chance to combine an exciting visit with a myth: Odysseus had hidden there the gifts he had brought back from his arduous travels.
Beach lovers will take pleasure in a multitude of choices covering all tastes, from sand to pebble, from rocky to green-clad backdrops, from peaceful to busy. Some of the best are: Lootsa, Filiatro, Sarakinniko, Dexa, Minnimata, Digaki, Aetos, Aspros Yalos, Afales, Kourvoolia.
• Vathy: built on a bay, is the island’s main port and capital and is home to the Maritime and Folkloric Museum as well as to the Archaeological Museum of Ithaca.
• Perahori: A scenic village with a breathtaking view over the island. Built at the edge of the Afentikos Logos forest, it is the perfect starting point for walks passing medieval ruins among oak trees.
• Stavros: Situated on the north of the island, this village hosts another Archaeological Museum, known for the clay mask of the 1st century AD, on which is written: ΕΥΧΗΝ ΟΔΥΣΣΕΙ (‘a wish for Odysseus’).
Try cod-pie, tomato-balls, savoro fish (fish fillet fried in vinegar, raisins, rosemary and garlic), tserepato (red meat or chicken charcoal-grilled in a clay pot) and, as a desert, rovani (ground rice with honey).
Getting to Ithaca
The island is connected by boat to the islands of Kefalonia and Lefkada, and to the ports of Patras, Killini and Astakos on the mainland.