Kefalonia vs Corfu: Which Is The Best Ionian Island?

Kefalonia vs corfu
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It’s no secret that the Greek Islands are some of the best holiday destinations in the world. From the romantic Santorini to the sun-blessed island of Rhodes in the Aegean; no matter which Greek Island you visit, you’re guaranteed a dreamy stay. But what about the Ionian Islands? How can you choose in Kefalonia vs Corfu?

Kefalonia, also spelled as Cefalonia, is the largest of the Ionian Islands. It’s magical, enticing, and captivating. There are several reasons why Kefalonia is worth visiting. Corfu is the second largest Ionian Island and is equally enchanting. The same cobalt waters lap the shores of both Kefalonia and Corfu. Greek mythology interweaves the two Greek islands as Odysseus navigated the Ionian.

Both Kefalonia and Corfu are known and loved Greek island destinations. They are famed for the unbelievable natural beauty, amazing climate, and warm and friendly locals. So how do you choose between the two? Which of these Ionian Islands is best for you?

This Greek Island guide is going to compare all the key things, important for every traveler. Ready the feta and ouzo! Which Greek Island will come out on top?

Kefalonia vs Corfu: Getting there

Kefalonia vs Corfu: Getting there
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Both Kefalonia and Corfu have international airports, so accessing these islands is easy. Flights to Greece are renowned for being cheap, adding to the allure of vacationing here.

Despite Corfu being the smaller of the two islands, the airport is larger with a wider range of flights available from across Europe. Ferries depart daily to Corfu from Igoumenitsa port on the northwestern coast of mainland Greece. This takes around 1 hour.

Kefalonia’s airport is more limited, however, you can still access it from several different European countries. If you are on the mainland and wish to take a ferry, you’ll need to head to Patras or Kyllini in Western Greece. These run year-round.

Why not make your vacation more of an adventure? A ferry service connects all of the Ionian Islands, so you can island hop between and experience them all.

Winner: Corfu – a wider range of flights available

Kefalonia vs Corfu: Best beaches

Kefalonia vs Corfu: Best beaches
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Secluded coves and stretching beaches – the Greek islands offer some of the best beaches in the world. So when it comes to comparing Kefalonia and Corfu, we really have our work cut out for us! Both Corfu and Kefalonia have dramatic coastlines, backed with lush green mountains and crystal clear waters below.

The narrow Strait of Corfu provides calm and still waters on the east coast. However, these beaches are pebbly. If you want long stretching sandy beaches, you’ll need to head to the west coast with the compromise of choppier waters.

There are tourist bus routes connecting towns to the outer-town beaches, but renting a car is the best way to get around to see the best beaches in Corfu. Sidari, Loggas, and Agios Stefanos are three beautiful beaches that are family-friendly and safe for swimming.

But then we have Kefalonia. These beaches truly are outstanding for natural beauty. You can find an assortment of popular and organized beaches, along with secluded and remote coves – each and every corner is just as beautiful as the next.

Again, you will need some wheels to get around to see the best beaches, including Fiskardo and Lagadakia. Make sure you check out Antisamos. This beach put Kefalonia on the map as it provided the romantic setting for the movie adaptation of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, starring Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz.

Winner: Kefalonia

Kefalonia vs. Corfu: Landscape

Kefalonia vs. Corfu: Landscape
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Following on from the breathtaking beaches are the equally mesmerizing landscapes on these Greek Islands. Neither of these islands fit the dry and barren picture people often think about when it comes to Greece. Both Kefalonia and Corfu have rich and fertile land.

Corfu is the wetter of the two islands with a higher average of rainfall each year. There are two distinguishing lakes and four rivers that help the landscape stay green and vibrant. To the north, olive groves are abundant in this fairly hilly region.

Kefalonia is far more mountainous but still has fertile plains. The highest peak is Mount Ainos, 1628 meters above sea level, which has a fantastic National Park with great views across the island. In 1953, a devastating earthquake destroyed the island with only Fiskardo in the north remaining intact. The landscape of Kefalonia reflects the dramatic natural world.

Both Kefalonia and Corfu are fantastic for trekking in Spring and Fall seasons. March through to May are the best months to come for hiking vacations because the wildflowers are in bloom across the mountains. If you come in the summer, the temperatures will be too hot to really enjoy exploring the landscapes of these islands.

Winner: Kefalonia

Kefalonia vs. Corfu: Things to do

Kefalonia vs. Corfu: Things to do, Melisanni Cave
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Are you the kind of person that needs to have something to do at all times? Besides kicking back and relaxing on a beach all day, both Kefalonia and Corfu have fun things to do and go see to keep you entertained throughout your stay.

Kefalonia has several beautiful monasteries and museums that are great for rainy days. Some other must-visit attractions include:

  • Melisanni Cave
  • Drogorati Cave
  • Lighthouse of Saint Theodoroi
  • Mount Ainos

Corfu is also filled with beautiful archeological sites, monasteries, and museums. Corfu town is a popular tourist town with souvenir stalls, boutique shops, and good tattoo parlors.

Regardless of which Greek Island you visit, you have to get in the water for snorkeling or scuba diving. You can find boat day trips on both Kefalonia and Corfu that will show you the island from the water and take you to various snorkeling spots. You are highly likely to see the incredible loggerhead turtles – Kefalonia is a main nesting place.

Both islands also offer great opportunities to try out various watersports including banana boating, parasailing, and jetskiing. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, head to Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia to try paragliding off the cliffside!

Winner: Kefalonia

Kefalonia vs. Corfu: Where to stay

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Corfu has something for everyone. Whether you’re after a place to party all night (and day) or would prefer a tranquil hideaway, you’re guaranteed to find it here. The area you choose to stay in depends on what sort of vacation you’re after:

  • Palaiokastritsa – best for couples and relaxing breaks
  • Sidari – a popular beach resort
  • Corfu Town – great for history and shoulder seasons
  • Kavos – great for nightlife, the party district
  • Agios Gordios – good for family resorts

Kefalonia also has distinct regions. However, it’s important to note this island is quieter overall with fewer tourists populating the streets:

  • Argostoli – the island’s capital with something for everyone
  • Lassi – traditional beach resort good for couples
  • Sami – great for exploring further afield
  • Skala – the popular hub with bigger resorts, good for families
  • Fiskardo – classy and more exclusive

Even though Kefalonia is the largest of the two islands, there are twice as many hotels on Corfu overall. Both have a good spread of budget and premium stays. If you are traveling as a group, consider renting a villa for something special and memorable.

Winner: Corfu – due to the number of hotels to choose from

Kefalonia vs. Corfu: Food

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Greeks are famous for loving their food. Not only do they love to eat, but they also love to feed others. When dining out in Greece, you become part of the family and you can taste the love in each and every dish served.

The Greek Islands have similar cuisines – Meditteranean flavors paired with fresh and local ingredients. Seafood is always popular as both Kefalonia and Corfu have a strong relationship with the sea. If you’re in a fishing village, you will be able to watch the boats come in and unload their haul directly to the tavernas. It doesn’t get better than that!

There are a number of dishes you have to try while visiting either of these islands:

  • Mousaka
  • Tzatziki and pita
  • Souvlaki
  • Gyros
  • Grilled fish

Ordering a meze from the taverna is the best way to eat in Greece. Kind of like Spanish tapas, you’ll be served with a selection of small plates to share with the table, often sampling the entire menu.

Winner: Both!

Kefalonia vs. Corfu: Nightlife

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Nightlife can be a make-or-break factor. The main thing to remember about these Greek Islands is there are strips for the nightclubs and party scenes, often popular for under 21’s group holidays.

Corfu’s club scene is Kavos. If you’re keen for a party 24/7, then this is THE place to go. Here you’ll find foam parties, paint parties, jugs of cocktails, cheap shots, and dance floors to jiggle on all night. Many of the hotels in the area have vibrant poolside vibes as well, to kick start the night – or day, depending on what time you came in.

Kefalonia’s answer to Kavos is the capital, Argostoli. There are modern clubs and vibrant bars, however, nothing compared to Corfu’s strip.

But remember, you don’t have to go to the party-mad destinations for decent nightlife. Both Corfu and Kefalonia have some cracking bars in other resort regions so you can enjoy a cocktail or two after the sun goes down!

Winner: Corfu

Which is better, Corfu or Kefalonia?

Which is better, Corfu or Kefalonia?
Photo by Shunga_Shanga from Envanto Elements

So there you have it, the showdown for Kefalonia vs Corfu! But which has come out on top?

For young adults who want to enjoy the sun, sea, and all the party, then Corfu is the place to go. You’ll be able to find a hotel or apartment that suits your budget and still experience classic Greek culture and cuisine. Just be warned, Kavos rarely sleeps!

Any travelers who want a quieter escape need to head to Kefalonia. The beaches are incredible with perfect blue waters gently lapping at the shores. This island is perfect for family getaways and even honeymooners, giving Santorini a run for its money.

Which island wins for you in the Kefalonia vs Corfu debate?

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Hi! I'm Abigail, a surfer, traveller, and nature lover. I'm from the UK but have been able to call Bali home for several years. I've backpacked across Australia on a shoestring budget, explored European coastlines, and taken in the sights across the pond and down into South America. My travel wishlist keeps growing the more I explore our perfect planet!