Welcome to a small but incomparably beautiful Greek island where cozy bays and beaches peep out through the greenery. Welcome to the legendary island tensely connected to the name of Odysseus whom we know from “Iliad & Odyssey”. Here everyone would find tranquility, relaxation and enjoy the powers of nature.
To reach Ithaca which belongs to the Ionian Islands is easier than you could imagine. The easiest way is to get here from Patra by ferry boat following to Kefalonia (Cephalonia; 4 hours of travelling) and then to Ithaca. You can reach Patra by car, if you order a transfer or even by an intercity bus from Athens.
Your trip to Ithaca could be easily combined with a trip to Kefalonia (Cephalonia). And this is another tip how to get easily there! You can fly to Athens, change your plane to the local one to Cephalonia, take a cab or book a transfer to the port and then just get on a ferry boat going to Ithaca.
But what is Ithaca? It’s an island of 96 sq.km with the capital of Vathy which is considered to be located in one of the biggest natural harbours in the world, and this is especially convenient to those enjoying yacht trips.
The island has been inhabited since the end of the 3rd millennium B.C. but became famous thanks to the king of Odysseus who used to govern here in 12th century B.C. and whose adventures were told to the world by Homer.
Ithaca as well as some neighboring areas was under the power of Odysseus.
Odysseus-IthacaThe island has been conquered by Normans, Venetians and French and became independent only in 1800 after interference of a minister of foreign affairs of Russia but Greek by origin Ioannis Kapodistria. Ithaca together with other Ionian islands was liberated by a joint Russian-Turkish fleet led by the general Fyodor Oushakov. Under the aegis of Russia a Seven Islands Republic(Septinsular Republic, Eptanissa) has been established, although has not lasted long. After that the island has became a French possession again but soon was placed by English to the amical protectorate of the United Kingdom. In 1815 Ithaca joined the Ionian Republic (a state under the protectorate of England) but kept its bonds with Greeks. Thus, it responded to the Greek Revolution of 1821 against Turkish rule and struggled against the English rule as well. In 1864 Ithaca along with other Ionian islands joined Greece finally.
Ithaca is separated from Kefalonia (Cephalonia) by a narrow strait (2-4 km). The western part of the island is mountainous and almost with no greenery while the eastern part is almost flat and generously covered by trees.
Vathi. IthacaThe capital of the island and the port is called Vathy which means “deep” in Greek. Supposedly this town was mentioned by Homer as Forkes. A strong earthquake of 1953 brought to ruins almost all buildings in the island. The houses one can see nowadays in Vathy were rebuilt from the beginning, always preserving the Ionian traditional style. Entering the port you are welcomed by an islet of Lazareto which is also called “tou Sotira” (meaning “of the Savior”) with the church carrying the same name.
In Vathy one will find many restaurants, bars and a disco.
Where to swim:
On the beaches of Tsiribi, Paliokaravo, Loutsa, Aetos, Piso Aetos, Sarakiniko, Ghidaki, Mnimata, Skinos, Filiatro, Ai-Gyanni, Koutoupi, in Korvoulia & Limenia, on the beaches of Frikes and Kioni settlements, in Stavrou bay.
In the port one can distinguish the ruins of the Venetian castle. 2km from Vathy there is a unique “the cave of the nymphs” which is considered to have no bottom. According to the legend, Odyssey, on his return from the Trojan War, has hidden here the treasures which he received from the King Alkinoy. Another name of this cave is Marmarospilia, which means “the marble cave”. Is it believed that the cave has 2 entrances: one for the Gods and another one for the mortals.
The most noticeable building of the town is the main cathedral (Mitropoli).
In Aetos area there are the ruins of the ancient city of Alalcomenae built in 8th century BC. This place is known among the locals as the Odyssey Castle. It was here that Shlieman was making excavations looking for the Odyssey Palace.
Another important sight of the island is the Loisa cave. Here the parts of the shells with letters on them were found certifying that here the locals had a cult of the ancient Greek Goddesses of Athena, Artemis and Hera. In the same cave 12 tripods came to light. The legendary feaks have brought them as a present to Odyssey.
In 2010 archaeologists have found a building which looked like a palace of the Trojan hero Odyssey, taking into consideration the description and the date of the palace. Greek archaeologists insist that it is a palace of Odyssey that they found on Ithaca. During the excavations the ruins of a 3 level palace with the cliff built-in staircase, a well of 13th century BC (the supposed time of the Trojan War) came to light. Not far from the place the plates with the Odyssey’s image on them and quotations from Homer have been found.
From the other sights worth seeing is a Byzantine monastery of the 12th century located in the oldest mountain village of Anoghi in the northern Ithaca. The place offers a stunning view of the whole island. Do not forget to visit the monastery of the “Cleaning Virgin Mary” (Panaghia ton Katharon) with a remarkable icon of the Virgin Mary devoted to the so called “Cleaning Virgin Mary” who is the protector of the island.
In Ithaca one can also visit the ancient acropolis in Aetos, medieval buildings and churches with noticeable frescos in Perahori village in the south of Ithaca.
At the beginning of summer a music & theater festival is held.
30th of June in Frikes a Saint Apostles day is celebrated.
If you are lucky to visit Ithaca in August you may participate in the Wine Feast.
August, 25th, September, 5th – celebration dedicated to Odysseus.
Kioni is a traditional village located by the sea 24 km from Vathy. It is embroidered with old picturesque houses that stayed still after a strong earthquake in 1953. Times ago Kioni was a favourite place of the pirates, today you will find here lots of boats and yachts. In Kioni one can see half-ruined windmills while to the right of the harbour there is still a piece of the stone house where till 1821 a hero of the revolution Georgios Karaiskakis lived.
Stavros village located 17km from Vathy is a northern center of Ithaca and so called “the kingdom of Odysseus”. Don’t miss the beautiful churches of Sotiris (of the Savior) and of St. Varvara, a small monument of Odysseus located in the center of the village square, as well as some traditional Venetian style buildings. There are rather many taverns, café and rooms to let, a doctor and a post office over here. Stavros would be your departing point to the Loisa cave and a place of “worship” to Odysseus.
Frikes is a tourist place located 13km from Vathy. It can boast of many bays convenient for yachts and a port with ferry boats departing to Cephalonia (Kefalonia) and Lefkas (Lefkada).
A village surrounded by beaches and greenery located 17km away from the island capital. This is a departing point for theMycenaean ruins in Aghios Athanassios, the Homer “school” and a folklore museum in Kolieri. Many paths in this area will bring to you the echo of the ancient myths of Ithaca.
Famous people born in Ithaca:
Vasilis Karavias –a major of the Russian army in 1806-1812 and a participant of Russian-Turkish wars. Under his leadership 150 citizens of Cephalonia & Ithaca 21 February 1821 conquered Galaz town in nowadays Romania. This was the first battle of the Greek liberation against the Turkish rule 1821-1829.
Lorenzos Mavilis – a lyric poet, chess player and a composer of chess exercises, a participant of the Crete uprising in 1896 and Greek-Turkish war in 1897. Was killed liberating Ioannina during the first Balkan war in 1912 while being ahead of the group of volunteers.
Vathy port: +30 26740 32909
Bus terminal: + 30 26740 32445
Health center (hospital): +30 26740 32222
Police: +30 26740 322205 (or 100 (a general number for police all over Greece)
General European SOS service (dialled even when there is lack of money on your mobile): 112
The Municipality of Ithaca will be happy to welcome tourists from all over the world. We promise everyone an unforgettable holiday on our cosy green island.
Ithaca: Watch video