Yes, the above image is real and unfiltered. The world is a beautiful place. And the Ionian Islands, a cluster of six isles that are linked in a chain down the west coast of Greece, floating pretty in the Ionian Sea. The core islands are: Corfu, which flaunts windy Venetian alleyways and has several Italian-inspired characteristics, Kefalonia, Paxi and Ithaki have more of a relaxed kind of vibe, Zakynthos attracts tons of tourists and can be a bit intense, while Lefkada, hands down, has some of the best beaches in Greece. Wait, there’s a seventh, Kythera, which is the furthest geographically from the six main islands but has a rugged uniqueness that you won’t want to miss. Adventure seekers, food lovers, culture vultures and beach bums, paradise awaits you.
The oldest of the pack is Corfu, which can be seen off Greece’s northwest coast nestled in the Ionian Sea. And while Corfu is mountainous and the coastlines a bit dramatic, the island has a vibrant cultural scene you’ll easily fall into. In search of absolute serenity? Flock to the peaceful countryside.
Located south of Corfu on the northern side of the Ionian Sea is where you’ll find Paxi. You’ll appreciate the laid-back cosmopolitan lifestyle the smallest of the islands’ has to offer. Exotic blue water and fancy yachts, anyone?
Castles, monasteries and hospitable natives are a few of the treasures that can be found on Kefalonia, located at the outlet of Patraikos Bay between Zakynthos and Lefkada. Kefalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands, and thankfully never feels crowded, even in high season (late-June, early-September). Don’t leave without checking out Melissani Cave, the unique beauty you’ll discover inside will leave you in awe.
Lefkada is the most popular of the pack. It was once attached to the nearby mainland and is close enough to Kefalonia and Ithaki so that you can easily island-hop. Lefkada Town has a refreshing mid-20th century appeal and if you venture off to the remote villages nearby, you’re likely to spot older women decked in traditional dresses.
With very little tourist development, the tranquil Ithaki Island has been able to preserve its natural allure, which is one of the reasons why people go. When you arrive, take a stroll through the countryside or hunt for hidden coves adjacent to pebbly beaches, and remember to gaze up and out, the views from Ithaki are incredible.
Zakynthos produces a bounty of crops like olive oil and grapes. Translation: bring on the delectable spreads and fine wine! It’s also one of the key breeding sites of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle, which you are likely to find swimming around Laganás Bay. Music has a major influence on local culture so you can pretty much enjoy live music any night of the week.
We’re happy to report that beaches are pleasantly peaceful on the seventh island of Kithria —thought you should know. Tourism remains relatively quiet except in July and August, this is when the island goes mad. A visit to Waterfall Fonissa is one of its many attractions Kythria offers but we know you’ll find inspiration in the 40 relatively rural villages and endless acres of lush valleys.