Rugged Ithaca (Ithaki), Odysseus’s legendary homeland, has yielded no substantial archaeological discoveries but it fits Homer’s description to perfection: “There are no tracks, or grasslands … it is a rocky severe island, unsuited for horses, but not so wretched, despite its small size. It is good for goats.”
Despite its proximity to Kefaloniá, relatively little tourist development has arrived to spoil the place. This is doubtless accounted for in part by a dearth of beaches beyond a few pebbly coves, though the island is good walking country, and indeed the interior with its sites from The Odyssey is the real attraction. Ithaca has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC.
With its 27-kilometre long and 6.5-kilometre large mountainous surface, it boasts plenty of hiking as well as mountain bike trails in a sequence of blue and green alongside the coast and through olive, cypress, pine, oak, arbutus and carob trees up on the hills. Scuba diving and sea kayaking are also fun options.
Two km west of Vathy, on the slopes of Mt Áyios Nikólaos, is the Mármaro Spília, a stalactitic cave and ancient cult site which is identified as the Cave of the Nymphs. This cave found mention in Homer's Odyssey wherein the returning Odysseus is believed to have hidden the gifts offered to him by King Alkinoos.
The beach lovers will take pleasure in a multitude of choices covering all tastes, from sand to pebbles, from rocky to green-clad backgrounds, from peaceful to busy ones, such as, Lootsa, Filiatro, Sarakinniko, Dexa, Minnimata, Yidaki, Aetos, Aspros Gialos, Afales and Kourvoolia.
Vathi or Vathy is the main harbor of Ithaca and lies at the head of a long inlet on the East coast, four miles south of Kioni and five miles south of Frikes. It is a popular destination for yachts of all sizes during the season, as it provides a number of berthing opportunities as well as good anchorage off the town.