The Ionian Islands, also known in Greece as the Eptanisa (Seven Islands), are a cluster of numerous islands, located in the Ionian Sea, off the west coast of Greece.
The seven principal islands are Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zante, and Kythira. The Ionian islands are quite different from the typical Greek island view of brilliant white houses. The mystical, green landscape of pines and cypresses surrounds the elegant, red-tiled houses of Venetian architecture. The fertile land allows for the vast cultivation of olive trees, whose sage green color beautifully contrasts the electric blue waters and the breathtaking view of the mountains of mainland Greece.
Along with their natural beauty and captivating architecture, the islands are the ideal sailing destination for exploring small water blue beaches and mythical caves.
The Ionian area is also a unique nesting site for the laying of eggs of the endangered Mediterranean loggerhead sea turtle species Caretta caretta. The National Marine Park of Zakynthos (Laganas Bay), the Amvrakikos Wetland National Park, as well as certain beaches of Kefalonia island and Nicopolis Bay (Preveza) are protected areas for the preservation of wildlife.
a little history...
The islands have been populated from prehistoric times. It is believed by some scholars that Homer, the blind epic poet, credited with The Iliad and The Odyssey, was born on the island of Ithaka, like his hero, Odysseus. In later times, the islands’ rulers succeeded one another, from the Macedonians to the Romans, the Byzantines, the Venetians, the French, and, lastly, the British. The Ottomans, despite their 400-year long rule over Greece, did not occupy the islands, leaving them under the cultural influence of the British. Their legacy of tea and cricket remains, especially in Corfu, where Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born. Finally, in 1862, the islands were transferred back to Greece. Due to their rich history, the Ionian Islands present a unique character, resulting from the harmonious blend of diverse cultures with the Greek element.
Many of the islands have been referenced in ancient and modern Greek and international art, including the poem Ithaca (1911) by C.P. Cavafy, the book My Family and Other Animals (1956) by Gerald Durrell (describing his childhood in Corfu in the 1930s), the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only (1981) (filmed in Corfu), the movie Captain Corelli`s Mandolin (2001) (featuring the devastating earthquake of 1953 in Kefalonia) and the Korean drama Descendants of the Sun (2016) (featuring Navagio Beach in Zakynthos).
The seven islands are,
from north to south:
Corfu, Kerkyra (Κέρκυρα)
Paxos, Paxi (Παξοί),
Lefkas, Lefkada (Λευκάδα),
Ithaca, Ithaka, Ithaki (Ιθάκη),
Kefalonia, Cephalonia, Kefallinia (Κεφαλλονιά)
Zante, Zakynthos (Ζάκυνθος)
Kythira, Cythera, Cerigo (Κύθηρα)
The six northern islands are located off the west coast of Greece, in the Ionian
Sea. The seventh southern island, Kythira, belongs to the region of Attica and not
the region of the Ionian Islands, because it is located off the tip of the
Peloponnese, the southern part of the Greek mainland.
Sailing level: novice to intermediate
Airports: Corfu, Preveza, Kefalonia
Departure ports: Corfu marina, Lefkas marina/port, Sivota-Lefkas, Preveza marina, Kefalonia (Sami, Ag.Efthemia or Fiscardo)
Wind conditions: mild to moderate
Key locations: Corfu, Paxi islands, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos
Wind & Sailing conditions
The wind and sailing conditions are mild and ideal for groups and families in search of a
relaxing and enjoyable holiday. However, there are also many itinerary options and sailing challenges, for both novice and competent sailors, that relish the thrill of the sea.
Due to their popularity as a cruising destination, the islands’ ports can get crowded in August.
Wind & Sailing conditions
From May to September the wind blows from North-West at Force 2-5. In Spring & Autumn, the wind is less strong and blows usually from the South-West. It starts
around noon, blows at Force 3-6 (10 to 25 knots), and dies down at sunset. There may be strong gusts on the leeward side due to the high land (e.g. Eastern side of Ithaka and Zakynthos).