Ionian Islands, Greece

The archipelago of eleven islands,large and small, strung out along the west coast of mainland Greece and totalling 2,200 sq. km. in area, is known as the Ionian Islands. The six large ones are Zakynthos, Ithaka, Corfu, Kephalonia, Lefkada and Paxoi, while the small ones are Antipaxoi, Ereikousa, Mathraki, Othonoi, Meganisi and the cluster of uninhabited islets to the south of Zakynthos, the Strofades. Together with Kythera, which is, however, cut off from the rest, opposite the southern Peloponnese and the shores of Lakonia, as well as neighbouring Antikythera, they constitute the Heptanese.

The historical past of the Ionian Islands, known to us from the lines of Homer’s Odyssey, goes back millennia. Ithaka was home to the cunning King Odysseus, some of whose adventures took place in

the Ionian Sea, while Corfu (anc. Corcyra) is identified with the Homeric island of the Phaeacians. Important landmarks in the history of the Heptanese are: their colonization by Peloponnesians and Euboeans in the mid-eighth century BC – involvement in the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (431-404 BC) – subjugation by the Romans in 197 BC – Venetian Occupation (1204-1797) – Septinsular Republic (1800-1807) – French Occupation (1807-1814) – British Protectorate (1814-1864) – Union with Greece (1864). 

These islands, with their wonderful natural environment, abundant water, fascinating towns and villages, mild climate, superb beaches, inviting bays, crystal clear seas and archaeological sites are set like precious jewels in the vast blue Ionian Sea.

Ithaca Island, Greece

Ithaca Island, Greece

An island known worldwide from Homer’s Odyssey, a mythical and symbolic place, the desired homeland of return for King Odysseus and his companions. Ithaca covers an area of 96 sq. km.,

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Kefalonia Island, Greece

Kefalonia Island, Greece

Its terrain is basically mountainous with Ainos a national forest park as its highest peak, in the southwest (1,628 m. a.s.l.). The island essentially comprises four interconnected peninsulas

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Lefkas (Lefkada) Island, Greece

Lefkas (Lefkada) Island, Greece

Colonists who founded the city of Lefkas in the sixth century BC cut through the isthmus that linked the peninsula with the mainland. During the Peloponnesian War Leukas supported the Corinthians,

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Paxi (Paxos) Island, Greece

Paxi (Paxos) Island, Greece

This is the smallest ‘large’ island in the Ionian Sea, just 25 sq. km. in area and with a coastline 46 km. in length. It lies 7 km. south of Corfu and its history is closely linked with that of its neighbour.

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Corfu Island, Greece

Corfu Island, Greece

Corfu, which is identified as the Homeric island of the Phaeacians, Odysseus’ penultimate stop on his voyage home to Ithaca (Odyssey vi), is one of the best-known and most highly

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Zakynthos (Zante) Island, Greece

Zakynthos (Zante) Island, Greece

The Venetians’ ‘Fiori di Levante’ (flower of the East), Zakynthos or Zante, is famed worldwide not only for its natural beauty but also for the turtle Caretta caretta.

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