The Ionian Islands are the greenest and most fertile of all the island groups. Lying off the west coast of mainland Greece, they have been greatly influenced by Western Europe. Periods of rule by the Venetians, French, and British have left their mark on many of the islands, especially in the mixed architecture of places like Corfu town. The Ionians first became a holiday destination during the Roman era, and today their beaches remain one of their most popular attractions.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Corfu offers the diverse attractions of secluded coves, bustling resorts, and traditional hill villages. With its grand French-style colonnades, elegant Italianate buildings, and famous cricket pitch, Corfu town is a delightful blend of European influences. The Palace os St. Michael and St. George was built by the British between 1819 and 1824 to serve as the residence of a high commissioner. The palace is now home to the Museum of Asiatic Art.
Northern Corfu, in particular the northeast coast, is a busy vacation destination, which boasts a whole host of popular resorts and beaches. More varied than the north, southern Corfu offers other attractions apart from beaches. Tranquil hillside villages, such as Vátos and Pélekas, offer a more traditional image of Greece.
The largest island in the Ionians, Kefalloniá has a range of attractions, from beach resorts to areas of outstanding natural beauty. Mount Ainos and the Mount Ainos National Park in the south, and the haunting subterranean Melissani Cave-Lake are sights not to be missed. Fiskárdo, with its 18th-century Venetian houses clustered by the harbor, is Kefaloniá’s prettiest village.
Zákynthos is an attractive and green island with beautiful beaches and scenery. Zákynthos town is the point of arrival on the island. Here, the impressive church of Agios Dionysios and the Byzantine Museum, which houses a breathtaking array of frescoes, both deserve a visit. At the northernmost tip of the island are the unusual and spectacular Blue Caves. The caves can be visited by boat from the resort of Agios Nikólaos.