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About Ionian Islands
The Ionian group, like their most famous member Corfu, are a cooler, more verdant version of Greece, with more cypresses and olive groves. They feel a bit more European. Until you get to the beaches, which are fine examples of the very best of white-sandy-turquoise-waters Greek island perfection. Each island in the group has an independent culture, which runs from the architecture to the food. And the best places to stay in the Ionian islands reflect these charming differences.
Corfu has long been a favourite of travellers who like their beach break with a side of culture. For about the last 130 years, people have travelled to this lushest of the Ionian islands, with its mountainous north of steep cliffs and pebbly coves, and its flatter, sandier south covered in cypress forests and farmland. The island's bounty has meant it's been historically wealthy, and this wealth has been expressed with the construction of great libraries and centres of learning and gorgeous villas.
Kefalonia is best known for its Caretta caretta - Loggerhead turtles which visit the lagoon just beyond the island's capital Argostoli - Myrtos Beach, voted 'Best Greek Beach' more than ten times, and as the location for Captain Corelli's Mandolin. The success of the book, and the film, haven't spoilt this unspoilt island, and the pretty villages of the story are still pretty - especially those of the charming, and sandy, Livatho Peninsula.
Ithaca could almost be described as two islands (it comprises two large pieces of land joined in the middle by a slim strip). Famous as the home of Odysseus (though historians and archaeologists are not so sure now), there's plenty of culture, plus lovely beaches, dramatic cliffs and wonderful views. It's a great destination for active sorts with loads of hiking and biking and fantastic sea-kayaking too.
Lefkada is called an Ionian island, but it's actually connected to mainland Greece via a narrow causeway and small bridge. But despite this easy access, and its beautiful beaches and cosmopolitan capital, Lefkada is still one of the least visited islands in the group.
Zante is situated to the south of Kefalonia and is reputed to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the region, surrounded by soaring cliffs and turquoise sparkling waters.
Kythira, positioned just south of the Peloponnese, is another of the 'less travelled' Ionian Islands. Sure, it's well set up for visitors, but it's not as popular as the beauty of its beaches and the variety of its attractions mean it could be. So its reputation is of being secluded and relaxing - just like its beaches.
As with most Greek destinations, the best places to stay in the Ionian Islands get quickly booked up in the busy summer season. So if you don't want to miss out, get organised and book early!
For the Greek Island Idyll
- The Corfu Palace is just a 10 minute stroll from the centre of Corfu Town, yet it still has wonderful ocean views - right across to the mainland. The Corfu Palace was also one of the first hotels built on Corfu, so it's got something of the grand old dame about it with its private balconies and terraces.
- Emelisse Hotel in Fiskardo, Kefalonia is a luxurious choice, with four poster beds, balconies with stunning views and if you stretch the budget you'll get your own pool!
- Lefkada's San Nicolas Resort is one of the best places to stay in the Ionian Islands if you want to get away from it all, but still have luxurious contemporary surrounds and all the mod. cons.. Built right over a gentle cliff, this hotel has incredible sea views, a stunning pool and it's just a short stroll to the beach.
- Delfino blu ticks all the boxes being located just above one of Corfu's most beautiful beaches but also close enough to happening Sidari so that you can 'visit' the nightlife.
For a Historic Holiday
- Hotel Margarita on Kythira is traditional and cheerful. Converted from a 19th Century mansion, the hotel is all exposed flagstone floors and stone arches around a courtyard terrace with a beautiful view. Just off the narrow high street, this is ideal if you want to be close to the centre of town and to the beach. With twelve rooms starting from just £42 a night, this is also really good value.
- Hidden away in the Corfu countryside, the Villa de Loulia is one of the best places to stay in the Ionian Islands if you want to experience some of their lesser known pleasures. Only 400metres from the nearest beach, you're also quite close to the mountains of Perithia and several interesting abandoned villages. This is also a great place for foodies - the gourmet restaurant serves local specialities.
For a Beach Break
- Corfu's Marbella Beach Hotel is the perfect place for a beach break: five stars and right on a private beach, you have everything you need here and more. Including four different restaurants, watersports facilities galore, an extensive spa, pool and the opportunity to do some sailing or diving.
For Corfu Town
- Corfu's Siorra Vittoria is in the heart of old Corfu Town, a gorgeous neo-classical building right by City Hall Square and the Ionian Parliament. Originally a mansion, this hotel is elegant and charming, a good choice for a romantic sunny-city-break.
- The Bella Venezia is right by Corfu Town's 'Spianada', which is the main street, and within easy walking distance from the main attractions of the main town. It's also great value.
- If you're travelling with children we'd recommend the Petani Bay Hotel, overlooking the Ionian Sea on Kefalonia. Luxurious, yet not overpriced, it offers superb facilities including a children's pool, and they can arrange activities for all ages.
Best Hotels in Ionian Islands
Bella Vista 23 rooms from $50Benitses, Corfu
A simple family-run property in the centre of Benitses. Colourful rooms, family rooms and apartments with balconies and included air con, close to the main attractions. A family friendly choice just a stone's throw from the cove at Potomaki and excellent value for money.Beach Life - A simple property in the village of Benitses, just a short amble from the marina and Potomaki cove.Families - A good selection of accommodation from family rooms to small apartmentsLess £ - Doubles from as little as €44 per nightSights nearby - The Achilleion, Bay and monastery of Paleokastritsa, Bay and monastery of Paleokastritsa.
Hotel Margarita 12 rooms from $57Kythira
Historic lodgings turned boutique hotel with old-fashioned charm. Spacious but simple rooms with period features. A great low cost slice of paradise with sun-kissed beaches and towns for you to explore and relax in.Local exploring - Perfectly located for exploring the historic town of ChoraValue chic - A quaint, traditional stay at an inviting priceGreat walks - Good for walkers.Fishing - Excellent fishing nearby.
Levant Hotel 25 rooms from $76Pelekas, Corfu
Lovely neo-classical hotel in the hills above the Ionian sea. Attractive traditional building, charming rooms with sea facing balconies, lovely terrace and cafe, and swimming pool. A great value choice within striking distance of beaches, golf and Corfu Town. Suited to couples, families and groups.Groups - The hotel welcomes groups of artists, musicians and yoga enthusiasts.Views - Breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorHouse party feel - Be prepared to meet people.Recommended by - Fodors
Captain Yiannis Hotel 23 rooms from $86Vathi, Ithaca
This cute, comfortable and cosy property has apartments, rooms and suites offering wonderful views of the Ionian Sea. Decor is simple yet artistic and includes a sitting area, well equipped kitchenettes and private balconies. Breakfast and light snacks by the poolside are available too.Weddings - Their pool side space is an ideal spot for a small wedding celebration or a birthday partyLocal exploring - Ideally located, close by to the beaches and the town areaFamilies - Apartments are ideal for families for long or short staysBeach nearby - A short walk from the Loutsa Beach
Kythira Golden Resort 10 rooms from $97Diakofti, Kythira
Kythira Golden Resort is an excellent hotel right by the beach in Diakofti. The modern rooms enjoy spectacular seaside views and the outdoor pool is the perfect place to relax and soak up the soothing surroundings. A serene spot for a quiet holiday on a Greek island.Local exploring - A charming and comfortable base to return to after exploring the village of Diakofti and the surrounding coastline.Sights nearby - Venetian Castle and Fortress of Avlemonas are both within three miles.Local markets - Head down to the Diakofti market and pick up some regional produce.Diving - The surrounding coastline is great for scuba diving.
Marbella Beach Hotel 393 rooms from $117Nr Stroggili, Corfu
Five Star luxury on the beach. Contemporary chic rooms, suites, and apartments in creams and whites with all the mod cons and sea-facing balconies. Fabulous restaurants, extensive spa, gorgeous pool and lounge area, private beach. Romantic, family friendly, often good value.Restaurant - 4 restaurants; seafood, Mediterannean, Greek, Italian.Views - Incredible views across to mainland GreeceFamilies - Two-bedroom suites.On the beach - Private beach.
Kontokali Bay Resort & Spa 259 rooms from $113Kontokali, Corfu
Contemporary chic hotel and spa resort with private beach. Rooms, suites and garden bungalows have creamy furnishings, wooden floors, modern gadgetry and sea views from private balconies. Extensive spa, salt water infinity pool and good restaurant and bar. Great for a beach holiday, family friendly.Views - Wonderful views over the Ionian SeaOn the beach - Private beach.Beach LifeSpa breaks
Bella Venezia 31 rooms from $114Kerkira, Corfu
A traditional townhouse hotel with sophisticated living areas and contemporary rooms and suites. Excellent value for its central location. A smart choice with no added frills.Sights nearby - Central location in Corfu Town a stone's throw from the "Spianada" and easy walking distance to all main attractions.Sailing - Can be booked nearby.Local markets - Good for local colour.
Siorra Vittoria 9 rooms from $114Kerkira, Corfu
A gorgeous neo-classical mansion in Corfu's old town. Elegant rooms and suites have parquet floors, high wooden-beamed ceilings, and all the mod cons. Lovely garden, sitting room, and breakfast dining room. Easy access to restaurants, beaches and sights. A great choice for romantics and groups.Views - Great views from hotelRomantic BreakSights nearby - Neo-classical building of Corfu old town, close to City Hall Square and the Ionian ParliamentSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - Fodors, CN Traveller
Bella Mare Hotel 21 rooms from $130Corfu
"Serious Relaxing" is how Bella Mare describes itself. Offering studios with sea facing balconies and apartments with kitchens. It is great for families. Very chic and boutique, it has lovely gardens and a swimming pool. Clean, comfortable and great value.Romantic Break - Two luxurious villas have a separate entrance, spacious gardens, a private pool and unbelieveable viewsFamilies - Apartments come with 2 single beds, a separate bedroom with double bed and a fully equipped kitchenGreat walks - Some of the best walking areas are around the hotelSwimming Pool - An outdoor swimming pool
Perantzada Hotel 19 rooms from $131Vathi, Ithaca
A chic all white hotel on the coastline in Vathy. Rooms and suites are romantically decorated, have private balconies, sea views and all the mod cons. Lovely pool and terrace. Walking distance to main attractions. A spot for honeymooners and romantics.Views - Great views over Vathy BayRomantic BreakHoneymoonsSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape
Corfu Palace 115 rooms from $137Kerkira, Corfu
One of the first hotels to be built on Corfu. A large imposing building in a prime location. A mixture of contemporary and old-fashioned rooms with private balconies/terraces. Good spa, pool, restaurant. Well equipped, friendly staff, excellently positioned.Views - Great views over Garitsa Bay to the Greek mainlandSights nearby - 10 minute walk from the centre of Corfu TownSpa - Thalassotherapy spa centreSwimming Pool - Outdoor and Indoor PoolsRecommended by - CN Traveller
San Nicolas Resort 17 rooms from $137Mikros Gialos, Lefkada
A gorgeous contemporary classic hotel with stunning seaviews. Rooms and suites in white and pale blue have private balconies and all the mod cons. Stunning pool and relaxation area, and a short distance from the beach. For romantics and sun seekers.Views - Wonderful views over the bayLuxuryBeach LifeRomantic BreakRecommended by - Tablet
Delfino blu 15 rooms from $149Agios Stefanos, Corfu
Wonderful beach boutique hotel with contemporary chic suites and apartments. Fabulous Greek restaurant, champagne breakfasts, pool and beach bar. Very romantic, yet still family friendly (some apartments sleep 4). A great choice for a faultless beach holiday.Foodies - Wonderful Greek restaurant.Beach LifeRomantic BreakViews - Great views from hotel
Petani Bay Hotel 12 rooms from $151Pelaki, Kefalonia
A very well positioned and good value hotel on the coastline with fantastic sea views. A collection of suites with kitchenettes and private balconies, all in muted tones. Lovely pool and relaxation area, restaurant and bar. Very family friendly, and lots to do in the sea and around.Views - Looking out to the Ionian SeaValue chicFamiliesBeach Life
Villa de Loulia 9 rooms from $183Peroulades, Corfu
A romantic manor house hidden away in the countryside, but driving distance to the beach. Traditional elegance throughout; pink archways strewn with bougainvillea, pastel bedrooms and suites, and lovely central courtyard swimming pool. Excellent table d'hote.Romantic BreakSights nearby - Mountains of Perithia and discover the ancient abandoned village.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoorSailing - Can be booked nearby.Recommended by - I Escape, CN Traveller
Emelisse Hotel 36 rooms from $246FISKARDO,, Kefalonia
Supreme luxury on the coastline. Fantastic rooms and family apartments (sleep up to 5) have all the mod cons, four poster beds, balconies and private pools (some). Excellent spa, restaurant, and boats to charter. Great for an indulgent holiday.Views - Most rooms enjoy wonderful sea viewsFamilies - 2 bedroom apartments.Cinema - Open-air.Beach LifeRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet
Levendis Estate 4 rooms from $407Stavros, Ithaca
A fantastic choice for honeymooners or families. Rustic cottages surrounded by nature and sunny shores with beautiful views. Rambling gardens, wildlife, beaches, and biking. Magical and understated.Back to NatureViews - Great views from hotelHoneymoonsFamiliesRecommended by - I Escape