Ithaca is one of the islands of the Ionian Sea, located in the southern region of Lefkada and in the northeastern region of Kefalonia. Its capital is Vathy. The island has a rugged coastline, dotted with isolated beaches and picturesque villages. On booktickets, you will find all ferry routes and departure times. Easily and affordably book ferry tickets with all discounts for passengers and vehicles.
History of Ithaca
Ithaca, the homeland of Odysseus, has a long history attested by archaeological findings. Its name likely originates from Ithacos or Poseidon, according to one version. Under Roman occupation from 180 BCE to 394 CE, Ithaca came under the influence of the Romans and later succeeded by the Byzantines. During this period, Christianity was officially introduced, and churches and monasteries were built.
From the 11th century onwards, Ithaca experienced numerous raids and conquests by various peoples such as the Normans, the Orsini, the Tocco, the Turks, the Venetians, and the French. In 1809, the British took control of the Ionian Islands and Ithaca, which lasted until 1864 when the Ionian Islands finally united with Greece.
An important event that impacted the island was the devastating earthquake of 1953, but Ithaca quickly recovered from this destruction and regained its architectural beauty. Ithaca remains a symbol of nostalgia and the effort to return to one's homeland, as described in Homer's Odyssey.
Beaches in Ithaca
There are many beautiful beaches in Ithaca, each with its own unique characteristics, such as:
- Mnemata: A beautiful, tranquil beach with shallow waters, located 2 kilometers north of Vathy.
- Filiatro: A very popular organized beach, situated 3 kilometers northeast of Vathy. It is one of the few beaches on the island with organized facilities.
- Kaminia: The only beach on the island accessible by car, located approximately 5 kilometers from Vathy. It is a splendid beach with small beauties.
- Asprogialo: An incredibly beautiful and popular beach with white pebbles. It runs parallel to the road connecting Vathy to northern Ithaca.
- Polis: An organized beach located near the Stavros Monastery. It is known for its beauty and the picturesque landscape surrounding it.
- Kioni: In this area, you will find many small beaches adorned with the charming houses of the picturesque village. They are accessible on foot from the waterfront taverns and offer a delightful experience.
- Afales: The bay of Afales in the north of the island offers a surreal, wild beauty. The beaches here give visitors a Robinson Crusoe-like sensation. One famous beach in this area is Plati Ammos, the island's only sandy beach.
- Marmaka: At the northeastern tip of the island, near Frikes, lies the magnificent beach of Marmaka with its pure white marble pebbles.
These are just some of the beautiful beaches you can enjoy in Ithaca. Each one has its own unique charm and beauty.
Food in Ithaca
- Gána: Squid ink, which is cooked together with the tender meat in a pot with wine.
- Zoupa: Fire-baked bread dipped in olive oil and wine.
- Babanada: Dry bread soaked in legume sauce.
- Pinolia: The pine nuts used in various meat fillings, such as turkey.
- Poutínga: A variation of the English pudding found in Corfu and Kythira, but here semolina is replaced with white bread.
- Ragó: A type of ragout made with braised lamb or kid, a whole head of garlic, and a rich tomato sauce.
- Rovaní: Don't be fooled by the name; it resembles the classic ravani, but the difference lies in the use of rice and honey. It is served at weddings and celebrations.
- Skastes: Olives cracked with a stone, unripe.
- Sbérna: The characteristic "snake-like" fish with delicious white flesh, which is grilled in Ithaca.
- Octopus Soup: A completely unique flavor of a different version of octopus that we are accustomed to as a meze. It has a strong and assertive taste that is slightly softened by the starch from the small pasta added at the end.
- Tzéria: Offal from goat or lamb, usually fried with eggs.
- Tserépa: A traditional closed utensil in which meat dishes were baked.
- Truffles: The most popular dessert on the island, which can be found in two or three variations - white with almonds or chocolate, sprinkled with truffle.
Sights in Ithaca
- Kioni: A traditional Ionian village with a picturesque little harbor where dozens of boats anchor in the summer, once a refuge and base for pirates. Three ruined windmills adorn the entrance of the bay.
- Vathy: The capital of the island, the entire settlement of the city is a sight to behold, preserving the old Ionian architectural style and designated as a traditional settlement since 1982. It boasts an exceptionally beautiful natural harbor, embracing the small islet of "Lazarato."
- Cave of the Nymphs: Also known as the "Marble Cave," it has two entrances, one for the gods and one for mortals, adorned with magnificent stalactites. According to Homer, it was here that Odysseus hid the gifts he received from King Alcinous of the Phaeacians.
- Paliokhora: A path from Perachori leads to the medieval ruins of Paliokhora, where churches with beautiful Byzantine frescoes can be found.
- Pilikata: Located near Stavros, Pilikata is believed to be the city of Odysseus according to the Homeric description. It had a panoramic view of three seas and was surrounded by three mountains. The Archaeological Museum of Stavros is also situated here, exhibiting artifacts from the Mycenaean and Corinthian periods.
- Monastery of Katharon: The Holy Monastery of Katharon, a place of pilgrimage and reference for all Ithacans, is built on the southeast peak of Mount Neritos, at a beautiful location about 600 meters from the sea and 15 km from Vathy. Its history dates back to around 1696. The icon of Panagia (Virgin Mary) has an even older history, and it is said to have been found miraculously amidst the burning shrubs, which is why it was named "Kathariotissa" (the Purifier).
- Church of the Assumption of the Virgin: The church in Linovrochia, also known as Panagia, was built in 1800. It was preceded by a small chapel, which was enlarged to meet the needs of the parishioners. It features a marvelous wooden iconostasis of post-Byzantine art dating back to 1793, constructed by the Metsovite, as well as an imposing old bell tower from 1820.
- Church of the Panagia in Anogi: Situated at an altitude of 500 meters, the Church of Panagia is one of the largest, most important, and oldest churches in the Balkans. It follows the architectural style of a Basilica and is said to have been built gradually over 700 years. The interior of the church is of great interest, as it is entirely covered with Byzantine-style frescoes.
- Loizos Cave: An ancient center of worship for the pre-Hellenic civilization, submerged in the bay of Polis (Stavros), where an ancient city was found. The excavations at Loizos Cave have provided evidence that this harbor was frequently visited from the early Mycenaean period to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
- Statue of Odysseus: Read the "Odysseus' Wish" at the statue of Odysseus located in the park of the village square in Stavros.
- Anogi - Dormition of the Theotokos: A gem of the village of Anogi, the church was built in the 12th century and features wonderful frescoes and a Venetian-style bell tower.
How to travel to / from Ithaca?
Ferry boats carrying passengers to Ithaca depart from three ports: Patra, Kyllini, and Kefalonia. There are daily ferry routes during the peak season, providing connections from mainland Greece and Kefalonia to Ithaca.
- Ferry Routes from Patra to Ithaca: During the summer months, there is usually a daily ferry operated by Levante Ferries from Patra to Ithaca (port of Pisaetos). The ferry trip from Patra to Ithaca takes approximately 3.5 hours, and the ticket cost is 15.4€. It is recommended to book your ferry tickets in advance.
- Ferry Routes from Kefalonia (Sami) to Ithaca: During the peak season, there are at least 2 daily ferry connections between the port of Sami in Kefalonia and the port of Pisaetos in Ithaca. The ferry journey from Kefalonia to Ithaca takes about 30 minutes, and ticket prices range from 3€ to 5€, depending on the type of vessel and available amenities.
- Ferry Routes from Kefalonia (Poros) to Ithaca: Every day, Levante Ferries operates a ferry from Poros in Kefalonia to Ithaca (port of Pisaetos). The duration of the trip is approximately 50 minutes, and the ticket cost is 10€.
It is essential to stay informed about the ferry schedules, departure times, and ticket prices on the booktickets website before your journey, as this information may be subject to changes.