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Ionian Islands

Just to the west of mainland Greece, the Ionian Islands have an air of the mysterious etched into their rugged mountains, patchwork farmland, shimmering olive groves, and pristine beaches, all surrounded by an endless expanse of green or blue sea. Covetous invaders have conquered and re-conquered these isles: Venetians, British, French, and Russians have all left cultural and architectural fingerprints behind. Today the islands are a favorite among Western Europeans and ferry-hopping backpackers heading to Italy. Multicultural for millennia, each of the Ionian Islands possesses a unique identity and singular beauty.

Homer first sang Corfu's praise, writing of its "honied fig," "unctuous olive: and "boisterous waves"; since then, Goethe, Wilde, the Durrell brothers, Sisley, and Lear have all thrown in their two cents about Corfu's perfection. Handed down from the Franks to the Venetians to the British to today's tourist hordes, Corfu (also called Kerkyra) has captivated them all. As in most of Greece's beautiful places, those who stray from the beaten path encounter unspoiled, uncrowded beaches. Try the less frenetic resorts at Pelekas, Kalami, or Agios Stefanos, or make Corfu Town your daytripping base. Even party-central Corfu holds hidden mountain villages and traditional coastal towns, where olive groves blanket the hills and you can hear the leaves rustle in the absence of rumbling tour buses.

Thucydides reports that Lefkada was part of the mainland until 427 BC, when the inhabitants dug a canal and made their home an island. A modern bridge now con¬nects Lefkada to the mainland, just 50m away; it only recently replaced an archaic chain-operated ferry built by Emperor Augustus. Modern Lefkadians are devoted to the business of tourism. Souvenir shops and overpriced restaurants abound, especially in Nidri, which is mostly composed of tourist traps and a profusion of liquor stores. Still, miles of white-sand beaches and astonishing natural beauty remain; with a little effort, you can skirt the patches of tacky tourism and find the island's unspoiled secrets.

The least touristed and perhaps the most beautiful of the Ionian Islands, Ithaka retains a close-knit feel and is happily Greek amid heavily-touristed neighbors. Those who discover Ithaka delight in the island's undeveloped pebbled beaches, rocky hillsides and terraced olive groves. Tiny villages packed with colorful homes surround the many natural harbors on the island, where the ambling pace of local life creates a much more relaxing and quiet atmosphere than that found on nearby Kephalonia or Lefkada. Ithaka was the kingdom that Odysseus left behind to fight in the Trojan War (and to wander ten years on his way home). His wife Penelope faithfully waited 20 years for his return here, while crowds of suitors pressed for her hand-and Odysseus's kingdom. A glimpse of one of the isle's sparkling azure bays from the winding mountain roads makes it clear what all the fuss was about.

Massive mountains, subterranean lakes and rivers, caves, dense forests, and more than 250km of sand-and-pebble coastline make Kephalonia a nature lover's paradise. Its beauty has been fought over by the Byzantine, Frankish, Ottoman, Venetian, Napoleonic, and British Empires. During World War II, after Italy had abandoned the Axis, 9000 Italian soldiers occupying the island fought their exallies for seven days, as Germans invaded and killed all but 33 Italians. In 1953, a disastrous earthquake forced the island to rebuild, leaving only relatively undamaged Fiskardo with the Ionian pastel neoclassical look. Today, Kephalonia's beauty draws a diverse crowd, from the upscale yachting set to budget-conscious backpackers. Inconvenient bus schedules and a number of attractions make Kephalonia perfect for a longer stay.

The varied landscapes and seascapes of Zakynthos (also known as Zante) comprise an exceptionally subtle palette of colors-white cliffs rise from turquoise water, sun-bleached wheat waves in the shadow of evergreens, and magenta flowers frame the twisting streets. Known as the greenest of the Ionian Islands, Zakynthos is home to thousands of flower and plant species, some of them unique to the island. The island is also the home of a large population of loggerhead turtles, a source of pride to the islanders. Still, in Zakynthos Town or its neighboring beaches, you'll see the sweaty backs of other tourists more than the beauty of nature. Set out for the countryside to appreciate Zakynthos's natural sights, like its famous blue caves in the north. Those who venture there will understand why the Venetians christened it Fior di Levante-the flower of the east.


 

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 Cavo Orient Beach Hotel & Suites
Boasting an outdoor pool and a sun terrace with unobstructed sea view, the beachfront Cavo Orient Beach Hotel & Suites is located in Tragaki. more...
 Aurora Beach Hotel
Enjoying a seafront location at Agios Ioannis Peristerion Beach, Aurora Beach Hotel is surrounded by a well-tended garden and features a swimming pool, poolside bar and restaurant. more...
 Villa Bambas Resort
Surrounded by lush olive groves, Villa Bambas Resort is located in the area of Karousades within 0.6 mi from the village center. more...
 Lagounaris Beach Hotel
Boasting a garden, Lagounaris Beach Hotel offers accommodations on Alykes Beach. Featuring a terrace, this 2-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom. more...
 Telesilla Hotel
Telesilla Hotel is located in Kontokali, a short walk from the sandy beach, next to Gouvia Marina, and a short drive from Corfu Town and port. Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport is at 3.7 mi. more...
 Apanema Lefkada by Omikron Selections
Located 1.8 mi from Pefkoulia Beach, Apanema Lefkada by Omikron Selections features accommodations with a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a garden and room service for your convenience. more...
 San Georgio Boutique Hotel by Hotelius
San Georgio Boutique Hotel by Hotelius is located in Agios Georgios Pagon, 492 feet from Agios Georgios Beach and has an outdoor pool and a bar. more...
 Amfitriti Hotel & Studios
Surrounded by lush greenery and only steps from Harami Beach, this family-run hotel features a small pool with poolside bar, sunbathing terrace and spacious rooms with furnished balcony overlooking more...
 La Signora Hotel
Set in a whitewashed building with terracotta roof, 984 feet from Lourdas Bay on Kefalonia Island, the family-run La Signora Hotel offers an outdoor pool, a restaurant and views of the Ionian Sea. more...
 Koukounaria Hotel & Suites
Koukounaria Hotel & Suites is located on the outskirts of Alykes, amid a lush garden. The beach and the center of Alykes are located only 984 feet away. more...
 Glyfada Beach Hotel
Glyfada Beach Hotel is located just 98 feet from sandy Glyfada Beach. It features direct sea view and it is surrounded by hills covered with olive and pine trees. more...
 La Grotta
Located across from the bay of Agios Nikolaos in Volimes, the family-run La Grotta Studios features a restaurant serving traditional Greek cuisine. more...
 Pantokrator Hotel
Set on a picturesque hillside overlooking the sea and 984 feet from the beach, this stylish hotel offers a fine blend of modern design with traditional Greek style on the island of Corfu. more...
 Tereza's Sunset Hotel
Set in Agios Stefanos, less than 0.6 mi from Arillas Beach, Tereza's Sunset Hotel offers accommodations with a restaurant, free private parking, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool and a bar. more...
 Pansion Filoxenia Apartments & Studios
In the village of Tsoukalades, 3 miles from the main town of Lefkada, the Filoxenia has traditional accommodations with a balcony and free Wi-Fi. The sandy beach of Pefkoulia is 2 miles away. more...
 Grand rawia studio
A bar and a garden, as well as a terrace are available in-house at Grand rawia studio, which is located in Plános, just 0.7 mi away from Gaidaros Beach. The apartment also comes with 1 bathroom. more...
 San Antonio Corfu Resort (Adults Only)
Within 66 feet of Kalami Beach, San Antonio Corfu Resort - Adults only is perched on a hillside among olive groves. It features 2 pools, and offers rooms and suites overlooking the Ionian Sea. more...
 Alkyon Beach Hotel
Centrally located in Agios Georgios Village and 164 feet from a sandy beach, Alkyon Beach Hotel features an outdoor pool and poolside bar. more...
 Belussi Beach Hotel & Suites
Located on Kypseli Beach in Zakynthos, this hotel features a pool and a hot tub. Belussi Beach Hotel & Suites features rooms with a kitchenette and balcony with views to the Ionian Sea. more...
 Thomas Art Hotel
Located in Pélekas of Corfu, Thomas Hotel offers a bar-restaurant with a sea-view sun terrace, and a blossomed garden with BBQ facilities. It offers bright rooms overlooking the Ionian Sea. more...
 Palotel Design Gouvia
Offering free WiFi and a furnished terrace, Palotel Design Gouvia is set in Gouvia. Corfu Town is 4.3 mi from the property. more...
 Hotel Athina
Located in Karavomylos Sami, Athina Hotel is close to the awarded Antisami beach, the Melissani Lake and Drogarati cave, some of the most attractive sights of Kefalonia Island. more...
 Magdachris Beachfront Rooms
Set in Agios Georgios Pagon, Magdachris Beachfront Rooms offers beachfront accommodations 0.9 mi from Akrogiali Taverna Beach and offers various facilities, such as a bar, a garden and a terrace. more...
 Hotel Akti Arilla
Just 328 feet from Arillas Beach, Hotel Akti Arilla features a pool, a poolside bar and a restaurant. Leisure facilities also include a table tennis, billiards and soccer. more...
 Fiscardonna Luxury Suites
Set within 1.1 mi of Kimilia Beach and a few steps of Port Fiskardo, Fiscardonna Luxury Suites features rooms in Fiskardho. This 4-star hotel offers a concierge service and a tour desk. more...


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