Famous as the island home of the mythical King Odysseus, and perhaps Homer, the tiny, unspoiled and beautiful green island of Ithaca offers all the ingredients you need for a tranquil Greek Island honeymoon and romantic getaway.
Easily explored on foot and by car, Ithaca (or Ithaka) consists of two large peninsulas joined by a narrow isthmus with a landscape of vertical cliffs and mountains on the west coast and rolling hills scattered with cypress trees and olive groves on the east.
Inhabited by man since prehistoric times and named after Ithakos, son of Poseidon and Amphimile, Ithaca is wrapped in mythology and legend as described by Homer in The Iliad and The Odyssey.
Step back into legend and antiquity on the paved streets of ancient Ithaca on the Pilikata Hill and in the ruins of ancient Alkamenae. Visit the Cave of Loizos, once used to worship the goddesses Artemis, Hera and Athena.
Wander narrow passageways inside the Cave of the Nymphs and climb up to the mythical Spring of Arethusa.
Wander the charming streets of Vathy, the island’s capital and port (photo), which sprawls around a deep and sheltered bay. Discover several hotels and a wide variety of taverns, cafes, bars and nightclubs along the waterfront.
Examine ancient artefacts in the Archaeological Museum, see the wood-carved iconostasis (icon screen/wall) and belltower of the Cathedral of the Virgin and admire the ruins of a Venetian castle at the entrance to the harbour.
On the green islet of Lazareto (or Soteras), visit the small Chapel of the Saviour and stroll around the ruins of several Venetian buildings.
Visit the medieval village of Anogi, which boasts the beautiful Monastery of Panagia Katharon, with an impressive bell tower and views over much of Ithaca.
Stroll through the remains of old stone-built houses and churches and see fine Byzantine frescoes in uninhabited Paleohora, the old medieval capital of Ithaca.
Don’t miss Vathy’s music and theatre festival held during July and August, and various Homeric events held from late August to early September.
Discover these must-see attractions in Ithaca – sites described by Homer in The Odyssey…
On the Pilikata Hill, wander a paved street among archaeological remains dating back to 3500 BC. Archaeologists believe this to be the site of the ancient city of Ithaca, home to the palace of Ulysses as described by Homer in The Odyssey.
Pilikata Hill is located around 1km north of the picturesque village of Stavros where you can also visit 16th century ruins and see a fascinating collection of ancient artefacts at the Stavros Archaeological Museum, including an amazing clay facemask excavated from the Cave of Loizos.
The cave, which is located on the northern side of Polis Beach within easy walk of the beach, is believed to be an ancient place of worship for the cult of the goddesses Artemis, Hera and Athena.
The picturesque village of Stavros, with its panoramic views of the Bay of Polis, is located 3km from Vathy.
Stroll through the remains of the ancient 7th century BC city of Alkamenae. While many of the artefacts found here now reside in the British Museum in London, you can see others at the archaeological museum in Vathi, dating back to the Mycenean, Corinthian and Dorian periods.
Alkamenae is located in Aetos, the narrow isthmus linking the northern and southern parts of the island.
Wander narrow passageways among coloured speleothems into caverns lit by tiny karst openings in the roof. The cave is believed to be the site in Homer's Odyssey, where the returning Odysseus supposedly hides gifts given to him by King Alkinoos.
The Cave of the Nymphs is located near Dexa Beach and 3km from Vathy.
Climb gorse-covered rugged hillside bisected by vertical ravines to the mythical spring described by Homer in The Odyssey.
The spring is where Eumaeus, Odysseus's faithful swineherd, brought his pigs to drink and where both men were reunited on Odysseus's return to Ithaca, following the directions of the goddess Athena. The spring is located 5km south of Vathy.
The island of Ithaca is known for fine golden sand and clean turquoise water – perfect for honeymoon couples.
The best beaches on Ithaca, include…
This picture-perfect narrow crescent of soft golden sand nestles between a steep bush-strewn hillside and the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea.
The beach is rarely crowded as it can only be accessed by sea or along a 3km-long dirt road from the small village of Agios Ioanis, which sits on a nearby hilltop.
There are no facilities here so you need to bring your own food and drinks. Agios Ioanis is located on the west coast on Ithaca.
This small white-shingle beach is surrounded by bush-clad hills and faces a sheltered aquamarine bay perfect for swimming.
Facilities nearby in Frikes village include accommodation options, cafes, tavernas, shops and an open-air nightclub with live music in the high season.
Frikes Beach is located on the east coast, around 13km from the port of Vathy.
Unwind on the sand and pebble beach, swim in the turquoise waters of the bay or relax in the shade of the olive trees that blanket the surrounding hillsides.
Facilities include lifeguards and there is a beach bar, however it’s probably best to bring your own food and drinks.
Archaeologists and historians consider Dexa Beach to be the site where Odysseus stopped after returning to Ithaca from the Trojan War, and that the nearby Cave of Nymphs is where the returning Odysseus concealed the gifts given to him by King Alkinous.
Dexa Beach is located just 1km from the port of Vathy.
This long crescent of white sand and shingle faces a beautiful bay framed by bush-covered headlands.
Relax on the beach, swim in the clear turquoise waters, soak up the marvellous setting and enjoy a cold drink at one of the beachside tavernas.
Polis Beach is located on the west coast, 2km from Stavros and around 19km from Vathy.
A good range of honeymoon accommodation options can be found in Ithaca Town and close to the main beach resorts.
The best time to visit Ithaca (and any of the Ionian Islands) is during March to June and September through October when the weather is warm and the island is less crowded.
But for the best weather visit during the hot summer months of June, July, August and September.
The Ionian Islands enjoy a Mediterranean climate with sunny, dry summers and mild, wet winters.
Summer, from June to September, you can expect long sunny days with cooling sea breezes in the evening. Daily averages of 29°C (84°F) peak around 35°C (95°F) on occasions. You can expect average highs of 28°C(82°F) in June, 31°C (88°F) in July and August and 28°C (82°F) in September.
Cooling sea breezes are fairly consistent throughout summer but strongest during July and August, when the strong, dry northerly wind known locally as the Meltemi blows. Sea temperatures peak around 25°C (77°F) in August.
Autumn sees an average temperature of 18°C (64°F) in October and 14°C (57°F) in November.
Winter experiences higher rainfall and cloudy days with little sunshine while temperatures average 10°C (50°F) from December to February.
Spring temperatures average 12°C (53°F) in March, 15°C (59°F) in April and 19°C (66°F) in May.
November and December are the wettest months, with light showers falling during spring and autumn.
High season: July and August, when hotel and restaurant prices are at their highest.
Low season: Spring and autumn – the temperature is cooler, hotel prices are more reasonable and the crowds non-existent.
The best time to visit Ithaca for a beach holiday is from mid-June to early-September. The summer months of July and August are usually hot and crowded.
However, anytime from early-May to early-October is good for a range of outdoor activities.
Ithaca enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. The mountainous areas are generally cooler.
Ithaca and the Ionian Islands in general escape the heat found in mainland Greece and the strong meltemia wind that blows across the Aegean Islands.
Information on Ithaca weather…
Ithaca (also Ithaki or Ithaka) is located in the Ionian Sea, to the west of mainland Greece, and lies less than 4km (2.4mi) east of the island of Kefalonia.
The Ionian Islands comprise the islands of Corfu, Kefalonia, Ithaca, Zakynthos, Paxos, Kithira and Levkas.
The most convenient route to Ithaca is by air to Kefalonia Airport (EFL), followed by bus or taxi to the ferry terminal and interisland ferry to Ithaca.
Most scheduled flights to Kefalonia Airport are from Athens on Olympic Air. Direct flights from European capital cities are mainly seasonal, during the summer holiday period.
More information on how to get to Ithaca…
Latest update: Best Beaches in Ithaca: 26 July, 2022