Ithaca is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. The island is located off the northeast coast of Kefalonia, the two separated by the Strait of Ithaca. The island consists of two parts that are about equal in size. They are connected by the isthmus (a narrow piece land) of Aetos. The two parts enclose the bay of Molos whose southern branch is the harbour of Vathy. Vathy is the capital and largest town on the island.
Since around 1228 BC, Ithaca has been identified as the home of Odysseus in Homer’s Ithaca. The word Odyssey comes from “odos-zeus.” Odos meaning “way” and zeus meaning “mind.” Odysseus was named by his grandfather Autolycos, due to the boy’s fearlessness, intelligence, and stubbornness. Odyssey is a metaphor for ones’ life struggle. There is still debate to this day whether Ithaca is is the place written about by Homer, but much evidence points toward it being so.
During the Neolothic period (4000 – 3000 BC), there were inhabitants on the island, but it’s unclear who they were. There is evidence of walls, buildings, and a road from the time period, giving evidence that people did live there. During the Hellenic era, the island would continue to be inhabited and at least some of the population would migrate to other areas of the island.
According to oral traditions, it is believed that Ithaca became the capital of the Ionian Kingdom-State during the Mycenaean period. At this time Ithaca would rise to its highest level. It was referred to as one of the most powerful states of the time. The Ithacans were regarded as being great navigators and explorers. At the end of the Mycenaean period though, the island of Ithaca’s influence would diminish. Ithaca would be annexed to the Greek Kingdom, along with the rest of the Ionian Islands, in 1864.
Administrative Region for Ithaca Island, Greece
Area of Ithaca Island, Greece
117.8 km2 (45.5 sq mi
Population of Ithaca Island, Greece
Top Attractions in Ithaca Island,Greece
Cave of Nymphs – Located in Vathy. Also known as Marmarospilia, it is found 180 meters above sea level. While a bit of a trek to get to, it’s worth it to see the chambers and balcony.
Monastery of Panagia Kathariotissa – Located in Anogi. The monastery is considered the protector saint of Ithaca. The exact date of its construction is unknown, but it was reconstructed in 1696.
Church of Savior Christ – Located in Vathy on the small islet of Lazaretto in front of the Vathy port. The islet became a prison in 1864, but was destroyed by an earthquake in 1953. The church was built in 1668 and remains today.
Filiatro Beach – 3 km from Vathy, it’s the closest organized beach to the town. It’s a calm area with white pebbles, crystal water, and greenery surrounding the beach. This beach is family friendly.
Marmaka Beach – 25 km north of Vathy, this beach is found at the northernmost point of Ithaca. The beach is secluded and not organized. Shiny white pebbles and emerald-colored water are features of this beach.
Ancient Town of Alalcomenae – This ancient town is located on a hill above the town of Pisa Aetos. Founded in the 6th century, the ruins of the site can still be seen today. Objects have been found at the site that have the name of Ithaca imprinted as well as the image of Ulysses.
Stavros Archaeological Collection – Located in Stavros. This collection is housed in a small house on the road to Platrithias. Items that were excavated from northern Ithaca date from the early Hellenic period to the Roman period.
Archaeological Museum – Located in Vathy, a block from the quay. Houses finds from excavations in Vathy, Kioni, Pisaaetos, and Aetos. You can see vases, jewelry, and more at this museum.
Agios Ioannis – 9 km from Vathy. A family friendly, non-organized beach. This is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island with its golden sand and emerald water.
Dexa Beach – 2 km from Vathy. This beach is non-organized, but convenient due to its close proximity to Vathy. A unique combination of fine sand and white pebbles make this beach a must-see.