Ithaka has enjoyed over 4000 years of history going back to the Neolithic period, though it remains most famous as the mythical home of Odysseus. The island's capital, Vathy, dates back to the 16th century and has a number of historic ruins, including a French fort from 1807. A visit to the town’s archaeological museum gives a good insight into its history. On exploring the island you’ll come across a variety of ancient ruins, tiny churches and monasteries, the most popular being the 16th-17th century monastery of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) in Kathara.
Throughout the island you’ll find wonderful tavernas and restaurants serving a fabulous variety of Greek cuisine, from the traditional moussaka, kleftiko and stifado to typical meat and fish mezes. The town of Vathy offers a great variety of dining options, including chic cafés and bustling crêperies, all of which are situated around the harbour, where the local fishing boats chug in and out delivering their fresh catches of the day. For those looking for something a little different, enjoy traditional rural cuisine at the little tavernas in the mountains.
Ithaka offers a delightful selection of sheltered coves and sweeping bays curving round shimmering turquoise seas. Most of its beaches are pebble and shingle, so the warm waters are crystal clear and ideal for snorkelling. While some are accessible only by boat, the more popular beaches feature quaint seafront tavernas where you can indulge in lunchtime mezes and escape the heat of the midday sun. Alternatively, pack a picnic and enjoy the peace and quiet of one of the secluded, undeveloped beaches dotted around the island.
As the mythical home of Odysseus, Ithaka attracts sailors from around the world who come to explore the island. You’ll spot beautiful yachts moored up in the calm, protected bays, with many a flotilla sailing past en route to one of the pretty harbours. Also popular with walkers for its variety of flora and fauna, the island offers a fabulous network of both mountain and coastal paths – some routes are quite challenging and require a guide – with panoramic views over the sea and a chance to experience a little rural life.
Average monthly temperature and rainfall for the Ithaka holiday season°C