If you’re looking for a sunshine holiday in a tranquil, unspoilt beauty spot, you might consider Ithaka for your next summer holiday.  One of the smallest of the Ionian Islands, it is separated from Kefalonia by a narrow channel.

In reality, Ithaka is virtually two islands, separated by a narrow ridge. The western side of the island is fairly rugged, but the eastern side is fertile, with numerous small bays and sheltered harbours, which were once the haunt of bloodthirsty pirates (don’t worry they are long gone!).

Ithaka’s main claim to fame is that it is reputedly the birthplace of Odysseus.  Several locations mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, including Laertes’ Field, the Cave of Nymphs and Arethusa’s Spring are supposedly found on the island.

The capital is Vathy, a small, thriving port in the southern part of the island, overshadowed by Mount Neritos. It’s not really a tourist resort, although there are several hotels, and the waterfront is lined with tavernas and kafenions. This is one of the most spectacular natural harbours in Greece, with a narrow entrance resembling a fjord. Vathy was once a Venetian settlement, and the remains of their gun emplacements still guard the two headlands. The town is characterised by narrow alleyways and stepped paths, lined with the ruins of Venetian buildings destroyed in the 1953 earthquake, which have been taken over by trailing wisteria.

There are numerous picturesque towns and villages and over 100 beaches, some of which are only accessible by boat. One can hire a car from Kefalonia in order to properly explore the island. However, it is also possible to book a week’s organised walking tour with a local guide.

Kioni, in the north, is the largest resort. Built on a hillside, overlooking a harbour which, in summer, is filled with luxury yachts, it has elegant Venetian buildings and authentic Greek cafes and tavernas serving local cuisine. Three ruined windmills overlook the town from the top of the promontory.

Other popular seaside resorts are Polis, one of the few beaches equipped with sunbeds and parasols, and from where one can take boat trips around the island; Frikes, a charming fishing village nestling around a picturesque harbour; and Filiatro Bay with a pretty pebble beach that enjoys all-day sunshine and is ideal for swimming and snorkelling with its warm, shallow waters.

Some other places on the island that merit a visit can best be seen on a car tour.

Exoghi is one of the island’s oldest villages, and is chocolate box-pretty, with breathtaking views over Aphales Bay. Captivating views are also available from the bell tower of the 16th century monastery of Kathara on the slopes of Mt Neritos. From here one can stare out across the Gulf of Corinth to the Peloponnese Mountains. Just along the road is Anoghi, an isolated village which has an unexpectedly magnificent set of 15th century frescoes in its church.

Accommodation is available in small hotels, private villas or apartments, and there is a small campsite at Filiatro Bay. The island has no airport, so visitors have to come in by ferry from Athens, Kefalonia or Corfu. However, the trip is well worth while. So if you’re planning on visiting Greece anytime soon make sure to check it out.