Without doubt, Kioni is one of Ithaca’s most beautiful villages and one of the most stunning destinations in the Ionian Sea. Its settlement dates from the 16th century, when access to the sea became imperative for the inhabitants of nearby, hillside settlements.
As you approach Kioni, you are greeted by the sight of its small, beautiful bay and by the traditional, well-maintained houses built amphitheatrically rising from the sea and losing in the woodlands of the surrounding hillsides.
In the months of May to October, the bay and harbour are filled with sailing boats of all sizes, jostling for space among the small boats of the local fisherman.
Arriving by road from Vathy, a distance of 24 km, you enter the village at its highest point, Rachi. To your left is the small cove of Mavronas, which provides a safe refuge for small fishing boats.
This neighbourhood, where you can now visit a small church, was the site of St. Nicholas’s monastery in the 19th century. Today the church is home to some very ancient columns that are preserved in the altar area. Rachi was also witness, in the 17th century, to a bloody battle where the locals fought off bands of marauding pirates. You can also visit the church of the Evangelistria, built towards the end of the 19thcentury, home to an interesting altar screen.
Descending into Kioni towards the harbour and the bay, you will pass by the church of Agios Ioannis, well known for the beauty of its wood-carved altar screens. The vista, as you descend, is one of olive trees, cypress trees, and the red-tiled roofs that peek from amongst the lush foliage.
Once at the water’s edge, you can choose from a variety of cafes and restaurants and, in the evening, the three windmills that guard the entrance to the bay are lit up to great effect. A walk towards ‘Argalio’ and the neighbourhood of Loutsa brings you close to the ruins of the home of Georgios Karaïskakis, a hero of the 1821 Greek uprising, and to the pebbled beaches and crystal clear waters of Katsikouli, Sarakinari, Plakoutses and Filiatro—all ideal for a refreshing swim.
Kioni celebrates the festival of the Prophet Elias on the 20th of July every year. On this day, there are morning services at the small church to which worshippers are transported by small boats. The evening celebration is held in the square, close to the water and lasts throughout the night.