ITHACA FAQ’S

When is the best time to visit Ithaca?

When is the best time to visit Ithaca?

Visit Ithaca any month of the year and you will never be part of a crowd. Ithaca has no cruise ships and no crowded beaches. Athens based Ithacicians will return for their summer break in August but there are still many deserted beaches to be found.

April & May: Normally mild with lots of sunshine and the one-off shower. The olive groves are carpeted with wild flowers – ideal conditions for trail walking. Rivers and waterfalls that have dried up in the summer months are flowing.

June: Pool and sea temperatures are comfortably warm and the views to offshore islands are crisp and clear.

July & August: Higher temperatures, warmer seas and more visitors to the island.

September: Perfect conditions for escaping the crowds but still with high temperatures.  

October: similar to May.

Are beaches sand or pebble?

Apart from some beautiful sandy beaches in Afales Bay (only accessible by hired boat), all beaches on Ithaca are pebble and fine shingle. Most of the beaches are natural (no sunloungers etc) and usually deserted. The following beaches have “cantinas” (serving drinks & snacks): Filiatro, Vathy, one of the beaches in Kioni Bay, Aetos, Marmaka, Gidaki, Polis Bay. Polis Bay beach has sunbeds and umbrellas, toilets, showers, kayaks for hire – all supervised by Takis the beach manager .

What is there to do for teenagers?

Life on Ithaca tends to be low key. There are a few music bars on the Vathy waterfront but the other villages are for those wanting a quieter alternative to city living. Family activities on offer include boat hire, kayaking & paddle boards at Filiatro Beach just outside Vathy, scuba diving, snorkelling trips; hiking trails, electric bike hire.

Eating out costs?

There is a good selection of tavernas in all the island’s villages plus a few off the beaten track. In the main they will be traditional Greek cuisine with Mediterranean twists & fusions. The average cost is around 30 euros per person for a 3 course meal including house wine – freshly caught fish however, will be more expensive.

There are some excellent and very innovative waterfront tavernas in Frikes.  

The house wine offered in tavernas is usually very good but there are now some very good Greek wineries on so well worthwhile trying them.

Kioni Taverna

Is it easy to buy fresh fish?

You can often buy fresh fish direct from the fishing boats on the harbour front during the mornings. You will also find a fishmonger in Stavros and Rigos (the man with the fish van) sells in all the villages.

Are supermarkets well stocked?

You will find everything you need. Most also sell fresh fruit and vegetables. Many have a butcher’s and a deli counter. British products are readily available, although may be more expensive.

Local Store in Rachi, Kioni

Do supermarkets sell gluten free/dairy free products?

The majority of the larger supermarkets sell a good range of dairy and gluten free products. Supermarkets in coastal resorts will also generally sell them, although the range may not be as good as in the larger supermarkets.

Do supermarkets deliver?

Most supermarkets and minimarkets are usually happy to deliver to local properties providing you spend a reasonable amount in their shop.

Are pharmacies well stocked?

Yes – and more treatments available over the counter than in British chemists. You will also find well known brands of baby formula and more specific baby supplies that may not be stocked in the supermarket such as creams, dummies etc.

There are 3 chemists: 1 in Stavros and 2 in Vathy.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Most shops, supermarkets and tavernas now accept credit/debit cards but you’ll get a bigger smile when paying in cash.

Best parts of the island to stay?

Ithaca’s east coast hillsides of olive groves, pine and cypress forest, shelve gently to small coves – with distant views of the Greek mainland. Ithaca’s west coast is steeper and has dramatic views to the east coast of Kefalonia.

The seaside villages of Kioni and Frikes are picture postcard pretty. Vathy is more of a working town but has beautiful views across the bay to the east coast of the island.

The drive from Frikes, in the far north, to Vathy, in the south, takes around 30 minutes so wherever you stay, you are never far from a beach or village.

View over Vathy Bay

How child friendly is Ithaca?

Greeks love children and Ithacicians are no exception.

Very few pools are gated and some gardens can be uneven with prickly shrubs.  Most tavernas have a childrens’ menu or are happy to provide child-size portions.

Is Ithaca good for boat hire?

There are boat hirers in Vathy, Kioni and Polis Bay. A speedboat licence needs to be shown for hiring a boat with an outboard over 30HP. Hiring a boat is the best way to find your own private beach and to explore the coastline.

Frikes

Are there good medical facilities?

There is a Medical Centre in Vathy and a smaller medical centre in Stavros. The GP and Head of Vathy’s Medical Centre is a good heart surgeon!

Ferry service to other islands?

There are ferry services connecting Ithaca with Patras and Killini on the mainland, Kefalonia and Lefkas. The ferry from Piso Aetos on Ithaca to Sami on Kefalonia takes just 30 minutes – alternatively, private speedboat charter takes just 15 minutes.

KEFALONIA FAQ’S

When is the best time to visit Kefalonia?

April: Normally mild with lots of sunshine and the one-off shower. The olive groves are carpeted with wild flowers – ideal conditions for trail walking. Rivers and waterfalls that have dried up in the summer months are flowing. Sea and pool temperatures are still bracing.

May: Similar to April but with warmer temperatures and most of the rivers will just be trickles. 

June: Pool and sea temperatures are comfortably warm and the views to offshore islands are crisp and clear.

July & August: Higher temperatures and warmer seas but more visitors to the island.

September: Perfect conditions for escaping the crowds but still with high temperatures.   

October: similar to May.

Are beaches sand or pebble?

The south coastline of the island is generally sandy with gently shelving beaches. As you go further north they become a mix of sand and shingle. In the far north they are mostly pebble beaches.

Makris Yalos Beach
Alaties

What is there to do for teenagers?

Although the biggest island in the Ionian group, Kefalonia is not really a destination for those looking to party as it is relatively low key. There are a few nightclubs in the capital, Argostoli, one in Fiskardo and one outside Skala, but generally the nightlife revolves around cafes and cocktail bars and the very occasional Makris Yalos beach party during high season. 

Watersports are available at Skala, Lassi, Xi and Antisamos beaches. You can  hire motorboats in many of the ports and some beaches and there are a number of organised boat trips to explore the coastline. Also to be found are kayaking, pedaloes, bicycle hire (including electric bikes), scuba diving, jeep safaris, caving and paragliding.

Drogerati Caves

Eating out costs?

In the coastal resorts you will find many tavernas catering for all tastes, in the main they will be traditional Greek cuisine with Mediterranean twists & fusions. The average cost is around 30 euros per person for a 3 course meal including house wine – freshly caught fish however, will be more expensive. 

Strike inland and sample small village tavernas and you will find cheaper fayre.

The house wine offered in tavernas is usually very good but there are very good wineries on the island so well worthwhile trying them.

Simple Taverna Fayre
Trapezaki Beach Taverna

Is it easy to buy fresh fish?

You can often buy fresh fish direct from the fishing boats on the harbour front during the mornings. You will also find fishmongers in Argostoli, Skala, Sami and Lixouri. 

In some areas there is a “Fish Man with a Van” who drives around the villages selling his freshly caught fish.

Are supermarkets well stocked?

You will find everything you need. Most also sell fresh fruit and vegetables. Many have a butcher’s and a deli counter. British products are readily available, although may be more expensive, and you can also find stores selling Waitrose and Tesco products!

Do supermarkets sell gluten free/dairy free products?

The majority of the larger supermarkets sell a good range of dairy and gluten free products. Supermarkets in coastal resorts will also generally sell them, although the range may not be as good as in the larger supermarkets.

Do supermarkets deliver?

The larger supermarkets will not deliver. Smaller supermarkets and minimarkets are usually happy to deliver to local properties providing you spend a reasonable amount in their shop.

Are pharmacies well stocked?

Yes – and more treatments available over the counter than in British chemists. You will also find well known brands of baby formula and more specific baby supplies that may not be stocked in the supermarket such as creams, dummies etc.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Most shops, supermarkets and tavernas now accept credit/debit cards but you’ll get a bigger smile when paying in cash.

Best parts of the island to stay?

Kefalonia’s landscapes are diverse.

In the centre, the foothills of Mount Aenos fall to pastures, olive groves and vineyards.

To the south, the foothills lead to gently shelving, soft sandy beaches – perfect for children.  Many of the sandy beaches have sunbeds, unbrellas and beach cantinas – the more “off the beaten track” beaches are wild & natural. The airport is in the south, so shorter transfer times. The island’s capital, Argostoli, is also in the south – here you will find the larger supermarkets, more choice with shops and the island’s most famous residents: the Loggerhead Turtles, locally named Caretta Caretta. Views in the south are generally over crystal clear turquoise waters across to the neighbouring island of Zakynthos.

In the north the beaches are mostly pebble with only a handful having sunbeds and umbrellas. The northern coastline has small coves with crystal clear water – perfect for snorkelling.  Fiskardo is a magnet for yachts and is nicknamed the St Tropez of the Ionian by the locals. Views from the north are Ithaca, Lefkas and the mountains of the Greek mainland.

Fiscardo

How child friendly is Kefalonia?

Greeks love children and Kefalonians are no exception. Most of the coastal resorts have pavements and therefore good for pushchairs. 

Very few pools are gated and some gardens can be uneven with prickly shrubs.  Most tavernas have a childrens’ menu or are happy to provide child-size portions.

Family friendly Kefalonia – Alex & Archie 2018
Archie and Cat Kefalonia 2018

Is Kefalonia good for boat hire?

Kefalonia has many boat hire companies. A speedboat licence needs to be shown for hiring a boat with an outboard over 30HP. Hiring a boat is the best way to find your own private beach and to explore the coastline.

Are the ferry services reliable?

Ferries can sometimes be affected by high winds. There are regular ferries to the Greek mainland: Kilini in the North Peloponese from Poros and Patras and Astakos from Sami. There is also a direct ferry to & from Brindisi in Italy during July and August. You can also get to the neighbouring islands, Ithaca from Sami, Lefkas from Fiskardo and Zakynthos from Pessada.  A regular ferry goes from Argostoli to Lixouri Town, halving the driving journey time.

Are there good medical facilities?

There is a general hospital in Argostoli with an A&E department. There is a smaller hospital in Lixouri dealing with minor issues as well as medical centres in Skala and Sami.  Throughout the island and in the resorts there are private doctors, who will charge for a consultation.

There are dentists in Argostoli, Lixouri, Sami and Poros.

PAXOS FAQ’S

When is the best time to visit Paxos?

April: expect some rain but usually a month ahead of northern Europe so beautiful Spring days – perfect for walking & wild flowers.

May: warmer but could still rain. Perfect month to escape the crowds and meet locals when they are not so busy.

June: temperatures can be high but less humidity so good visibility/views to mainland mountains & other islands.

July & August: Hotter temperatures and warmer seas but more visitors to the island.

September: Sea at its warmest, kids back at school, locals not so stressed.

October: similar to May.

Olive Grove in May

Are beaches sand or pebble?

Most of the beaches on Paxos are pebble (beautiful clear water) but a 15-minute boat ride away are the sandy beaches of AntiPaxos.

Kloni Gouli Beach

What is there to do for teenagers?

Paxos will not appeal to those looking for all night music bars (Castello Night Club, just outside Gaios,  is the exception) – each of the 3 ports has a variety of waterfront café & cocktail bars for all ages. For activities there’s a watersports centre and 2 tennis courts. Families who enjoy boating can hire boats and ribs with 30HP to twin 350HP engines. There are two local companies who organise kayak excursions and walks to hidden island parts. A recently opened gym in Gaios can be used on a day to day basis. There are 2 scuba diving centres and in Gaios, a shop for fishing tackle.

Eating out costs?

In most Greek villages you will have a good choice of tavernas to suit all budgets and tastes. A simple, traditional meal with a half kilo of house wine should cost around 20-30 Euros per person. Select octopus carpaccio rather than stuffed peppers or a wild mushroom risotto rather than fresh sardines and you might spend more. There are now many excellent Greek wines but as most come from small wineries they can be expensive (10 – 20 Euros in the shop & perhaps double that in the taverna) but do try them if you can.

Is it easy to buy fresh fish?

During the busier months of the season most of the locally caught fish is bought by the taverna owners (put on ice & on display in each taverna). You will find fishermen selling their fish from their boats on each village waterfront around 8 – 9am. Otherwise there are two fishmongers in Gaios

Gaios fishmonger with patient audience

Are supermarkets well stocked?

Yes! From Alpen or avocados to zucchini. Good deli counters, big variety of pasta, diverse fruit & veg, drinks galore and even marmite (shame on you). Each village will have a bakery with assorted breads & pastries.

Do supermarkets sell gluten free/dairy free products?

Some supermarkets, in particular the supermarket in Gaios High Street, stock a range of products for food intolerances such as dairy free milk, rye bread, rice cakes and other gluten free snacks and confectioneries.

Do supermarkets deliver?

Yes – most do but the busier the season the harder it is for them so check.

Are pharmacies well stocked?

Yes – and more treatments available over the counter than in British chemists. You will also find well known brands of baby formula and more specific baby supplies that may not be stocked in the supermarket such as creams, dummies etc.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Most shops, supermarkets and tavernas now accept credit/debit cards but you’ll get a bigger smile when paying in cash.

Best parts of the island to stay?

On an island 7.5 miles by 2.5 miles you are never far from a taverna, a beach, a shop, total seclusion or village hubbub. Your holiday view is important – west coast views are over a big sea, aerial displays of seagulls & swifts & birds of prey against a backdrop of white cliffs and valleys of cypress trees; east coast views are across the sea to the mountains of the Greek mainland and a soft Paxos coastline of olive groves , peppered by tall cypress and wild myrtle. Try both coasts!

How child friendly is Paxos?

Children are welcomed everywhere on Paxos. The terrain however is not so friendly towards toddlers. Most of the villas will have split level terraces and gardens and only a very few swimming pools are “gated”. Tavernas have a good choice of child friendly dishes and the Greeks
love their ice cream almost as much as the Italians

Villa Loula
Swimming pool is separated by a gate for extra toddler safety.

Is Paxos good for boat hire?

Paxos is great for boat hire. There are boat hirers in Lakka, Loggos and Gaios. Fibreglass boats & ribs with outboards from 30HP – twin 350HP (Speedboat License required for over 30HP). A fun way to explore the coastline, beach picnics and visit AntiPaxos beaches.

Loggos boat hire

Are the hydrofoil/ferry services reliable?

From time to time the Paxos/Corfu hydrofoil and fast boat service can be affected by mechanical problems or bad weather. If your flight to Corfu is delayed you might miss a hydrofoil/fast boat departure. Our Paxos manager will put a Plan B in place to ensure that you are looked after.

Any other languages spoken by locals?

Most locals will speak/understand English and Italian. French and German by a few. If you hear a language unlike any other, it could well be Albanian – the Albanian population on Paxos is about 20% of the total.

Are there good medical facilities?

There is a well-run clinic in the village of Bogdanatika, not far from Gaios, and two doctors. Gaios has a good dentist.

 

Travelling with a little human

Archie is now 19 months old and has been travelling with us on our trips to Greece since the age of 6 months! Our little man has done several flights including one long haul and he really seems to be getting the hang of it now… as do we! Alex and I often get asked how we find travelling with a young baby/ toddler. So, I thought I would share with you some of our tips, including useful gadgets and good advice given to us along the way.

The Flight

  • Firstly, try not to over-fret! 90% of people on the flight have probably had children of their own or have children in their family so they know it isn’t easy travelling with little humans. Cut yourself some slack – if your baby starts crying don’t worry, try and stay calm – your baby will sense your anxiety and it will only make things worse.
  • Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Now Archie is a toddler we pack as many snacks as we can. We try and go low sugar so he doesn’t get too excited on the flight!
  • If your little one is walking, try and tire him/her out as much as possible in the airport. If they want to walk up and down the aisle on the flight – stay close but again don’t worry about the occasional passenger scowl – most people understand. A three hour flight to Greece is a long time for a child to sit still.
  • If your baby is on formula you can pre order this from Boots up to 5 working days before you fly and pick it up in the terminal … it’s really handy. You can also do this with baby food too!
  • To help with ear popping on the flight a friend told me to try to feed your baby their milk at take-off and landing. The sucking really helps regulate the pressure.
  • Fun pack … we always pack a little fun pack for Archie full of some of his favourite toys along with some new exciting ones to keep him busy on the flight and for the holiday. But don’t forget to hold some back for the flight home!

Our favourite holiday must-haves and gadgets

  • Bullabaloo muslins – these muslins are great and so versatile. I particularly like the large size. I used mine for snuggling Archie up on the plane and when he was small they were great for creating shade or as a blanket at the beach. https://bullabaloo.com/collections/new-muslin-swaddles/products/muslin-swaddle-blue-cloud
  • Once out of a pram it’s a great idea to invest in a lightweight travel pushchair. Our friends who also travel a lot recommended the baby jogger buggy, it folds up easily and has a travel bag with straps. http://babyjogger.co.uk/product/city-tour/
  • Greek tavernas will make you and your children feel welcome. Many have highchairs and some even have toys/crayons etc. Sometimes we like to go off the beaten track so we take a travel highchair with us – it’s great for beach picnics and can be strapped to any chair. https://summerinfant.co.uk/product/pop-n-sit-booster/

Our top toddler friendly villas

When choosing a holiday villa it can be hard to know which ones are toddler-friendly. Here are our Ionian island favourites ….

Paxos

Elissa sleeps 6. The property is all on one level with plenty of outside space and shade. Also within walking distance of Lakka bay which is great when you have a buggy.

Kefalonia

Artemissleeps 5. The villa is all on one level with lots of grass for burning off some toddler steam!

Ithaca

Limoniasleeps 8. A great location in the centre of Vathy port close to a children’s play-park. The villa also has an enclosed, fenced-off pool area.

Corfu

Kalami – sleeps 4. A spacious modern villa in large grounds with plenty of grass around the pool.

Lefkas

Nicholetta – sleeps 4. The villa has an enclosed lawn and swimming pool area. It is a 10 minute walk to Agios Ioannis beach which has a few tavernas and a sheltered swimming area at one end. Lefkas town is also only a 10 minute walk via a flat track.

If you would like any further advice you can always give us a call or email. We have been to all our villas and can help pick the best one for you and your family.

Catherine xx

Best 4 Tips for Parking at Airports at the Ionian

Top Tips for Airport Parking

Let’s face it: compared to the excitement, promise and glamour of almost all other aspects of preparing for a holiday, parking at the airport is probably the least attractive. But consider the problems that can arise when trying to park in any other situation. Unexpected difficulties can often arise and can result in serious delays. When you’re catching a booked flight those are delays you cannot afford. By taking a little time to undertake some research and make the right choices you can avoid stress, anxiety and possibly even missing your flight. Here are some Top Tips for Airport Parking to help:

  1. Don’t leave booking too late

With all of the other things to think about when planning a holiday, many people leave it to the last minute before they think about parking. This is going to cause not only stress and worry but it will also cost you hard cash. Peak holiday times not only mean increased costs of flights and accommodation, but filter through to pretty much everything else, including parking charges. As would be expected, parking charges increase as spaces become scarcer. Early booking can reduce charges and by tackling a booking several months before your flight you can relax and spend more time researching in order to find the best deal. Try to ensure that your booking can be cancelled, however, to reflect any unforeseen changes that may arise. The reason this is number one in these Top Tips for Airport Parking is that it is so important; failure to book early limits choice and forces you to accept what is available rather than what would be your first choice.

2. Choose a secure car park

Whether you are going to be leaving your vehicle for a day, weekend or a week or more, you want to know that it is going to be safe while you do so. Spend some time researching possible car parks that meet your needs. Has the one that appeals to you most been independently inspected? Does it have, for example, the ‘Park Mark’? This is a system whereby parks are assessed for both security and levels of maintenance. It is a Police crime prevention initiative and whilst absolute guarantees of security can never be given, choosing a park with the Park Mark accreditation offers some peace of mind.

3. Study different car parking packages

There are several different options available, so choose what suits you best:

-Park and Ride. This is just the same as the shopping scheme. Your car is parked in a location a short bus ride from the airport. This makes it cheaper as it is not on-site at the airport. Shuttles transfer you after parking. Both airports and independent operators offer this service.

– Parking at the airport. This is usually the most expensive option as you are very close to the terminal.

– Meet and greet. This is a medium-priced option. A driver meets you at the airport terminal, usually helps you with luggage, then drives your car to the car park and secures it. The process is reversed on your return. This option offers much convenience as you stop at the actual terminal but don’t pay the highest price and you don’t have to worry about the bus trip between the car park and terminal. Very useful for those with small children, busy business people and those with restricted mobility.

4. Best way of shopping around: use consolidators

Although this is listed last it is one of the most important. It is really important to shop around, but you can take a lot of the work out of doing so by using consolidators such as SkyParkSecure. Consolidators are similar to price-comparison websites: they gather information about different car parking products available for different airports and compare details and pricing, making it easy to identify the product that best suits your needs and budget without having to do the leg work yourself. SkyParkSecure’s map feature is particularly helpful if you’re concerned about how far away from the airport the car park you’re thinking about booking is.

Back-packing & Island Hopping Nostalgia in the Ionian Sea

We’ve just returned from a 12-day Ionian island-hopping trip. Comfy villas & apartments on 4 islands. An intriguing alternative to staying in one place.

Sky Express make it all possible. Difficult to arrange if you’re booking a more rigid

package holiday (1 or 2 week durations) but no problem with a more flexible Ionian Villas holiday.

We stayed 3 nights on Paxos at Eliana Cottage, 3 nights on Lefkas at Villa Fotini, 5 nights in Fiscardo, Kefalonia at Katy’s Apartment and the final night on Corfu at the Cavalieri Hotel.

All Sky Express flight departure times made for a comfortable trip – the 8am hydrofoil from Paxos to Corfu gave us time for an airport coffee before the 10am flight to Preveza (Lefkas).

The flight time between islands is just 15 minutes. The cost is around £45 per person for each island hop flight.

When is Best to Book a Greek Island Holiday

Understandably the Greeks are finding it hard to accept punitive austerity measures and their future still remains uncertain.

It might appear flippant to talk up tourism to Greece but visitors to Greece are needed this time more than any other. The opportunities to forgo our busy lifestyles for a relaxed escape on a beautiful Greek island are still there.

Athens no doubt will continue to be the central stage for Greeks to protest against these measures but on the islands, where there tends to be more self sufficiency in lifestyles, people are more philosophical. Here you will hear Greeks complain about price and taxation increases but most are self employed or dependent on tourism for income and they are therefore not all affected as seriously as the employed or unemployed on the mainland.

It would appear that most tour operators (companies selling package holidays) are suffering from a very slow start to the holiday booking season for Greece. For Ionian Villas , a new business, we have been busy with enquiries for all Ionian islands.

If you are thinking about a holiday on a Greek island this year but you reckon that it’s best to wait a while before booking – you might benefit from panic offers but you might also be faced with a limited supply and therefore increased cost of flights (caused by tour operators “consolidating” their programmes and charter flights being cancelled). Scheduled carriers like Easyjet watch the supply and demand of charter flights very carefully when pricing their own flights.

Naturally we would advise to book early to secure what is best for you and to take your money now rather than later! At Ionian Villas (we are booking agents for individual property owners and not a package holiday company), we are happy to help if a price is outside your budget. If a particular property appeals but the price is too high, let us know and we can speak to the owner to see if a reduction can be made. No guarantees but it’s always worth asking – and it might help you secure your flights before a possible price increase.

© 2018 Ionian Villas Limited

Call us on: +44 (0) 1243 820928    ..or email enquiries@ionian-villas.co.uk

Follow by Email
Facebook
Google+
https://blog.ionian-villas.co.uk/category/holiday-tips-help">
Twitter
Instagram