By Alice Tegg, Editorial and Marketing Assistant

Alice has recently returned from a week seeking the last of the summer sun in Kefalonia, staying in chic self-catering suites and villas dotted around the island. Here she reveals Kefalonia’s secret beaches, her favourite village taverna for Greek mezze, and a show-stopping infinity pool with a fire pit in the centre (yep, it’s a thing).

Greece has always been a favourite destination of mine: the food, the people, the cats – I love it all. When I arrived in Kefalonia, it didn’t take long to realise that the pastel-hued fishing villages, atomic-green pine trees and gin-clear seas make this Ionian island one of Greece’s most beautiful – enhanced by a few stylish self-catered stays along the way.

Stop 1: Fiskardo Cottages

We drove up from the airport in Argostoli to the northernmost point of the island to reach our first stay, Fiskardo Cottages. This took a little over an hour; a bit of a slog after an early flight, but the journey was pretty spectacular. You drive through the mountains, where goats hang out in gangs on the sides of the roads, and eventually reach the coastal edge with stunning views of the sea.

The cottages are in a tiny hamlet just above the chic village of Fiskardo, with a couple of tavernas and a grocery shop lining the main road. Off this road and down a bumpy lane, the 2- and 3-bed cottages sit in total privacy overlooking olive groves and out to the distant sea. I met Maria, the manager, on arrival and she, along with her very sweet son, showed me around. She’s lovely, born and raised in Kefalonia so had plenty of local insight and was on hand whenever we needed via WhatsApp.

The houses are individually designed so have their own personalities, but both share a style that blends traditional features with modern comforts. They feel genuinely lived-in and hidden away, like staying at a friend’s house rather than a holiday home. The spacious bedrooms, full-size kitchens and indoor and outdoor living areas make them ideal for families, and the private pools that look out to sea steal the show. We were in the 2-Bed Cottage; I loved the quirky design of our ensuite and that each bedroom had it’s own large balcony – the perfect place to hole up with a book, plus a great vantage point to take in the view.

From here you can walk up to the hamlet or drive 5-10 minutes through to Fiskardo, a very pretty village with pastel-coloured houses that line a yacht-filled harbour. We had a wander along the water’s edge, admiring the Venetian buildings and elegant boats, then picked up a few supplies from the supermarket (expensive compared to rest of island) and headed back. There are restaurants abound in Fiskardo, all vying for your attention, but we opted to eat at To Petrino, a taverna near our villa that had a dining terrace by the road and a nice, local atmosphere (and local prices, too).

There’s so much to explore up in this northern corner but sadly we were only staying one night. The coast up here is more rugged and dotted with hidden, quiet coves, making it perfect for snorkelling. So the next morning, after a slow breakfast on our shaded terrace, we ventured through the gate at the end of the lane which takes you (cross-country style) down to Dafnoudi beach.

Though at times following the unbeaten path felt a little like trespassing, eventually we found our way: Dafnoudi is a gorgeous secluded cove with pure white pebbles and crystal clear water (some of the clearest waters around the island, in fact). There were only two other people there when we arrived – one of which turned out to be an old friend of mine! The world gets smaller every day. After a long overdue catch-up and a quick dip, we had to set off for our next stop, back down to Argostoli.

Cottages from GBP 400 per night

Stop 2: Kefalonia Pool Suites

Despite getting a bit lost trying to reach the Kefalonia Pool Suites, all was forgotten when we arrived at the apartment complex; driving into the pine-fringed entrance where I caught the initial glimpses of the sea, I knew I was about to be wowed. Giannis, the concierge, met us at the entrance. Once he’d shown us our apartment and left us to settle in he sent us helpful directions to the closest shops and bakeries; he was always on hand and responded incredibly quickly any time we needed assistance. It’s a brilliant service: hotel-level efficiency while maintaining your independence.

We were in one of the Loft Apartments. It was the perfect size for a couple to be able to spread out, especially as the upstairs bedroom was quite small (attic-style but super cosy), but it would work well for friends or family with teens, too. The inside was bright, clean, and Scandi-chic with cool linens and wicker touches. It aired on the side of sparse, with minimal decoration and no form of entertainment (no TV, radio etc.). It wasn’t an issue for a couple of nights, but any longer and it might feel a bit too quiet in there.

The best part was our private terrace. It was large and pleasantly discreet, partially hidden by the garden, with uninterrupted views over the shared pool and out to sea. We ate breakfast here each morning, which felt like a real mental reset. As the majority of them are west-facing, they see spectacular sunsets, too, that are well worth staying in for.

Our time here was really relaxing, and far more private than I was expecting from an apartment complex. Despite it being fully booked, it was incredibly quiet. I only saw one other couple during our 2-night stay, and we never shared the pool with anyone.  There was a tiny hint of traffic noise when outside but given the location, just a few kilometres above the capital, that’s not surprising. I imagine the peacefulness entirely depends on who your neighbours are during your stay but, with a minimum age of 12, a grown-up atmosphere is practically guaranteed.

The downside to the quiet location is there’s really nothing within walking distance. To stock the cupboards, dine out or hit the beach, you’ll need a car. Thankfully, Argostoli is only a 10-minute drive and had everything we needed. We found it to be a nice-sized city, with a good choice of cafes and restaurants and the perfect level of buzz (though we visited in early October – no doubt summer feels decidedly more hectic). One morning we also spotted the Loggerhead turtles who live in the harbour, coming up to the fishing boats to take their scraps.

There are some lovely beaches near the apartments, too. Makrys Gialos is a popular stretch of sandy beach, but we chose Kalamia, a small cove close to Argostoli. It had a few loungers, a beach bar playing laid-back music, a mixed crowd of families, older couples and backpackers, and a cat living the beach-bum dream, only moving from his shady spot when he saw food being served. What a life!

Apartments from GBP 157 per night

Stop 3: Kefalonia Seaview Villa

After a blissed-out afternoon at Kalamia, we met Giannis back at the Pool Suites and he led us to the Kefalonia Seaview Villa (as he was our concierge for both), about 20 minutes further south in Pessada. It could be tricky to find, being tucked away on a hillside above the small fishing village, but Giannis would no doubt provide specific instructions. Plus, the driveway begins right beside the port, so as long as you find your way there, you’ll be fine.

This 3-bedroom villa is undeniably a showstopper. The first thing that took my breath away was the view from the terrace. The kind of view that is physically hard to pull your eyes away from. And it’s all yours. There’s no noise, no obstructions, no neighbours (ok, there’s one house next door but it’s invisible once you’re through the gate). Just you, your swish villa and the far-reaching seascape that meets Zakynthos on the horizon. Heaven.

Then there’s the sleek infinity pool, designed for the wow-factor with a sunken sofa and fire pit inside it. Inside, the rooms were lovely and spacious, with pale linens, stone and rattan features, and brass finishes. It felt new and stylish without being at all sterile; comforting but free of clutter. Each bedroom had its own selling point, be it a gorgeous mountain view, twin showers or the huge in-room bathtub in the master suite. I loved waking up to glimpses of the sea from the bed, and the luxurious on-site steam room was a hit with my partner.

After a busy few days of travelling the island from top to toe, we welcomed the chance to relax at home. We spent hours on the patio, splitting our time between the pool and the cloud-soft loungers, soaking in the views, and why wouldn’t you? This is the kind of place you can stay put in all day and not feel guilty about it. I mean, it would be wrong to leave that pool on its own.

But eventually we did leave our loungers to explore the area. We checked out a nearby beach (Pessada beach is very hidden – we didn’t spot it until later in the evening when we’d already been to another – but it’s a walkable distance) and had a tasty late afternoon snack at the pretty seafront taverna by the port. We also had a beautiful meal of Greek mezze at Gefiri in Trapezaki, a village nearby, that we agreed was the best of our trip.

Again, there’s not a lot in walking distance, only the taverna down the hill and, at a push, a little shop in Pessada, so a car is essential. This is somewhere you’d want to stay for a while, though, and the family-style kitchen and outdoor pizza oven make self-catering a joy. It’s a great base for exploring Kefalonia and, as the ferry literally couldn’t be closer, you can easily spend a day on Zakynthos, too. If we’d had more time we would have. Next time, perhaps…

Villa from GBP 470 per night