You could be forgiven for thinking – especially if you’ve stumbled across certain TV documentaries – that cheap holidays in the Greek Islands are all about night clubs and bargain boozing, but on the island of Ithaca in the Ionian Sea, the pace of life is rather different to that of Malia.
This makes it the ideal place for a quiet couples’ break – giving you and your partner the chance to enjoy peaceful meals for two in harbourside restaurants, walk in the lush hills and relax on sandy beaches.
Ithaca is reached by boat from its larger neighbouring Greek Island of Kefalonia, where the international airport is situated, which itself is reachable direct from London in around three and a half hours.
Where to stay
Ithaca is made up of two main bodies of land joined by a thin strip of land in the centre. In the south, the only real holiday town to speak of is Vathy or Ithaki, the island’s capital, while in the north there are several settlements where you can bed down, including Frikes and Kioni.
The capital is home to a significant percentage of the island’s inhabitants, whose houses are built around a long, thin bay, which provides excellent shelter for the harbour.
Thanks to local planning regulations, the buildings are all in keeping with one another, giving the town a real charm and there are some lovely churches to explore. Along the waterfront are a good selection of bars, restaurants and cafes.
Although there’s no sand down at the harbour to enjoy, there are some absolutely stunning beaches within a short drive of Vathy to both the east and west.
Frikes, in the north-east of the island, is home to a gorgeous stretch of white sand that is sheltered by a large, wide bay. Although much smaller than Vathy, the village offers eateries and bars, and there’s also a ferry service to the attractive fishing village of Fiskardo on Kefalonia.
Just south of Frikes is the village of Kioni, which like Vathy is situated around a pretty harbour, where you’ll find restaurants, bars and private boats mooring. From here you also have easy access to the best beaches in the north-east of Ithaca.
What to do
No matter where you stay, because Ithaca is such as compact island you can easily drive from Vathy to Frikes in around 30 minutes. This means all of its attractions are doable on any given day.
This might include taking a boat trip across the bright blue waters to discover hidden coves and beaches, walking in the lush green mountains or getting to know the friendly locals in a traditional village tavern.
But with average temperatures in the 20s from April to November and little rainfall between May and September, you might be tempted on your stay on the island to spend most of the time relaxing on the white-sand beaches and dipping your toes in the warm Ionian Sea.
Ithaca really is a lovely destination for couples, where you can simply enjoy each other’s company in the peace and quiet of the Greek countryside.