Kefalonia and its small sister island Ithaca sit in the Ionian Sea, just off the coast of Aetolia in Western Greece. They’re known for their spectacular beaches – you’ve probably seen Myrtos in countless travel brochures. Expats looking to buy property in Kefalonia or over in Ithaca will find a laid-back lifestyle and fantastic weather. But, with so many pretty villages to choose from, where are the best places to purchase? Keep reading to find out in our area guide to Kefalonia and Ithaca.
What’s it like living on Kefalonia?
This is above all a rural island, with a slow pace of life. While this might not appeal to city-lovers, you’re in the right place if you want peace and quiet. The island’s only around 300 square miles in total, with a low population density. Its main attractions are the countryside: the turquoise waters of Melissani Lake and Cave are a popular sight. All around the island, you’ll find poppy fields, giving a red burst of colour to the landscape.
We can’t mention Kefalonia without talking about the beaches. For a small island, there are plenty to choose from. One of the most famous is Myrtos, whose white sands and mountainous backdrop has featured in numerous adverts and brochures. You can access it by a steep road from the village of Divarata. A more unusual option is Xi, near Lixouri. Its bright orange-red sands make it particularly distinctive. It’s a good place to go for a day out – there are plenty of tavernas and bars nearby.
And what about Ithaca?
Ithaca may be smaller than Kefalonia, but it occupies a big place in Greek mythology. It was supposedly once home to Odysseus, hero of the Odyssey. You can easily reach it within forty minutes by ferry from Sami in Kefalonia. The island’s divided into two main areas, connected by a narrow isthmus. Vathi, in the south is the capital. In the north, the largest village is Stavros.
Vathi is a bit of a hotspot with local sailing enthusiasts, as it has one of the safest natural harbours in Greece. Perachori, the largest village on the island, isn’t dissimilar to other typical villages. However, its upper reaches offer breath-taking views across Vathi, the Ionian Sea and right over to Patra. Most beaches are slightly pebbly, but Loutsa Beach is sandy. You can access it via the coastal road from Ithaca.
How is transport and access?
Public transport on the islands itself is virtually non-existent. As such, you really will need your own car to get around. There are buses around twice daily from Argostoli to beach areas like Skala. Generally, however, don’t rely on the service.
To get to Ithaca, there’s a ferry route from Sami in Kefalonia. It lands at Pisaetos, in the south of the island. It makes around four crossings a day in summer and two in winter. The journey takes between 25 and 40 minutes.
Have a read of our free Viewing Trip Guide so you know exactly what to look out for when seeing properties.
How are the essential services?
Schooling, as in much of Greece, is firmly of the local variety. There are no international schools in Kefalonia. For your weekly shop, the main large supermarkets are Lidl and AB, both just outside Argostoli. There’s a branch of Spar in Argostoli itself, and (more expensive) minimarkets around the island. Rubbish collection takes place seven days a week from communal collection points in the streets.
What sort of property is available?
Kefalonia and Ithaca are, as mentioned above, part of the Ionian Islands. They’ve had a great deal of Italian influence. Of course, the most recent was the occupation, but the earlier almost 200 years of Venetian rule also had a great impact. The local architecture has fewer of the ‘typical’ whitewashed homes that you see if you’re buying in the Cyclades. Instead, most homes have a more Italian feel, with pastel colours and terracotta tiles.
If you’re going to buy in Kefalonia, do take into account the possibility of earthquakes. The last major one in the Ionian islands was in the 1950s, but it’s good to be careful. Most local homes are built with a steel-reinforced concrete shell for extra safety. Do make sure that any property you’re viewing or renovating has one. Summer here in the Ionian islands is glorious and winter is mild, but it can still get chilly and rainy. Some houses don’t have damp-proof courses, so, again, do double-check.
Most houses are detached here, so you’ll always have a good level of privacy. There are plenty of modern villas as well, which generally feature a more modern open-plan layout. Many young people leave for the mainland for work and don’t take on old family homes. As such, you can also find renovation projects if you want one.
Where are the best places to buy property in Kefalonia?
The island is small, so you’re never really far from anything. That said, you will still find differences in price, property and lifestyle depending on where you are. On the island as a whole, the average price is around €950 per m2. That average, however, is skewed by the relatively small number of properties and the wide range between luxury and basic.
This is the capital of the island and its busiest settlement. Lithostroto is the main pedestrianised throughfare, lined with shops and stalls. The Kefalonia Botanical Garden’s a peaceful area to while away an afternoon. The area around the harbour’s popular for a stroll, being largely pedestrianised and lined with palms. Nearby Markos Gialos Beach is great for watersports.
You can find apartments for around €120,000 and homes in good condition for a lot more – normally around €700,000 with a pool. A sea view will add a premium.
This is quite an affluent area of the island, but its relative remoteness keeps prices a little further down. Ainos Oros is located here, which is fantastic for walkers. There are a number of popular beaches in the vicinity, including the very long stretch of Lourdata. Some of the more favoured villages among expats include Spartia and Trepazaki.
Modern, ‘architect-designed’ villas can run into €2,000,000. Don’t worry, however, as more traditional townhouses with plenty of space are usually around €250,000.
Head right up to the very tip of the island and you’re in Fikardo. Houses here range between around €300,000-€600,000 for detached properties. If you’re looking to buy property in Kefalonia for less, you can head further out of the village into the mountains. Here, you can find two-bedroom houses valued at around €250,000.
When transferring lump sums to buy property in Kefalonia, you are exposing your hard-saved money to the vagaries of the currency markets. Learn how to protect your budget by locking in an exchange rate in the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
The town’s nicknamed the ‘St Tropez of Kefalonia’ and has plenty to do. Its waterfront is lined with cafés and bars, many built in that Ionian mix of Greek and Italian architectural styles. The surrounding area is densely wooded; the government has declared it an area of natural beauty.
Where to buy in Ithaca?
This even smaller island only has a few small villages, but they do each have their own charm and character.
Vathi is, of course, the capital and has a stunning location by the water. You can easily find detached stone houses with sea views for prices around €120,000. For historic, Italian-style mansions or villas with pools, you’re looking more at €300,000+.
As we mentioned above, the bay is especially sheltered, being an offshoot of the main bay. As such, this is a great place to live if you’re into boating.
Up in Kioni, also on the east coast, prices are higher. This is a popular resort, and the seafront has lots of tavernas, bars and restaurants. Like most villages on Ithaca, it’s ‘amphitheatrical’ (a term you will see a lot from local estate agents!). This means that it’s built around the bay like an amphitheatre, so most properties have some kind of sea view.
A detached house here will set you back around €450,000. You can find properties as low as €100,000, but they will generally be in poor condition. If you are looking for a renovation project, however, that can be great value.
What’s next if I want to buy property in Kefalonia?
Fortunately, the process if you want to buy property in Kefalonia is relatively straightforward. It can seem complicated trying to piece it together from various articles and sources, but download your free guide below and you’ll have all the information in one place. You’ll learn about finances, legalities, transferring money without the risk of losing thousands of pounds and more.
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