Argostoli sits on the bay of Livadi, and is the islands’ capital and main working port, It is blessed with a lovely outlook over the Koutavos lagoon. The bay of Argostoli is one of only a few natural harbours in the whole of the Mediterean. The town has a population of around 14,000 inhabitants. It is home to one third of the islands’ population.
Argostoli and Drapano Bridge
The town was once full of handsome Venetian buildings but sadly any original buildings that weren’t shattered by German bombing in 1943 were destroyed by the earthquakes ten years later. Argostoli was flattened by the 1953 earthquakes and very few original features remain, with many of the town’s impressive mansions destroyed. A series of earthquakes raised the town which has now been completely re- built, following the original street layout (see earthquake 1953)
1953 Eathquake Damage
The new town, which has been built in an Ionian style with well-laid out streets, spacious, squares, many trees and alleys and a lively port. The town sits proudly on the Koutavos Lagoon – a wetland its’ ecosystem is the shelter for some of the rarest species of the Kefalonian flora and fauna and the home of many swans and ducks. The opening of the Environmental Awareness Centre built recently in the locality will help to upgrade the area. An interesting place to visit, wander through the reserve and observe the wildlife. (See places to visit)
On the cobalt blue waters of the sheltered lagoon small traditional fishing boats mingle alongside a handful of smart sophisticated private yachts. There is no full-service marina, but the waterfront can accommodate all sizes of yachts which have been seen in recent years. More often large cruise ships can be seen frequenting the waters.
Visiting Cruise Ship
The capital is where all the main business is done throughout the year and is the financial and the administrative center of the island. In winter the majority of the island goes to sleep except from Argostoli.
There are endless places to eat and drink in the town, whether it’s a full three course meal, a light bite, an ice cream from one of the parlours or a sweet cake from a coffee shop you will be spoilt for choice. Bars and cocktail lounges are also becoming more popular.
The waterfront has an attractive area with the pedestrian walkway which has been painstakingly paved and decorated with tropical palm trees and a supply of benches dotted here and there for you to rest and watch the world go by, or look out onto the water and watch the boats come and go.
As with many waterfront towns there is a hive of activity along the front with tavernas restaurants, shops and an excellent fresh fruit and vegetable market which are open everyday. You may see things that you consider funny, unsafe, strange but it’s the way they do things here. Think nothing of seeing a family on a single moped, or people on motor bikes with no crash helmets and pedestrians walking in the road, it’s all the norm here. The main coastal road runs along the quayside and can be very busy with local residents and sightseers going about their daily business. Driving around the town can be fun or stressful depending on you as a person. The only way to drive around the town is confidently. If you dither around you will start the locals off into a horn blowing frenzy. Best parking is along the back streets just off the main square. (parking passes and where you buy) Locals think nothing of double or treble parking and pedestrians meander down the middle of the road pausing to have a chat with a friends or relatives. Here’s a chap pushing a shopping trolley!
The famous village square in Argostoli is called the Platia Vallianou, Platia in Greek means square which means Vallianou Square and appears to spring to life in the evenings, which tends to be busy with people visiting the tavernas and bars which surrounds the square. Locals and visitors enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the square. (greek volta) In the busier summer months the square is closed to traffic in the evenings. During the summer evenings the square can become busy with children who gather with friends to play while parents socialise in nearby cafes. Local Greek children stay up quite late in the summer. The square is also the place for feast days and festivals,(feast day dates and locations) where parades (what parades and when) commence and local bands(what bands) play. On one side of the square sits the statue of Panagis Vallianou. He was a famous philanthropist and donated money for buildings including the Argostoli hospital. The square is named after him. The modern retail district is Lithostroto Street; this is a pedestrianised smartly paved area. Lithostroto is a long almost straight and flat street nestled with in the centre of the town. One danger to watch out for is the vertical uphill streets which cross and interrupt the flow of the street, these are not however pedestrianised at times cars and bikes do think they have the right of way. Along this smart street you will find boutiques, hairdressers, mobile phone shops, (list main shops, eateries etc. whose book shop)a book shop, cafes, bars, various eateries, bakeries, gift shops, toy shops, jewellers, supermarkets and wonderful delicatessen’s
Argostoli in some peoples eyes has lost the class and romantic atmosphere of the past. It is, however, a charming little town, which has the additional benefit of having pleasant suburbs and many sights of interest.
The town has schools, Museums, a hospital, banks, a theatre, a bus station shops and businesses as well as homes, these all lie integrated within the town which sweeps up from the waterside into the hill behind
Lithostroto Shopping Street
Places to visit may include;
The Archaeological Museum located in Rokou Vergoti Street contains exhibits of important findings discovered overthe whole island, mainly dating back to the Mycenaean period.
The Korgialeneios Library can be found in Llia Zervou Street and is one of the biggest libraries in Greece, housing more than 50,000 volumes and a great collection of Byzantine icons. link
The Folklore and History Museum sits beneath the Koriaglenios Library. Opened in 1966 by Eleni Kosmetatou, this enterprising woman gathered together a wonderful collection of artifacts. It hosts exhibits associated with the history of the island (costumes, weapons, heirlooms etc.) and many every-day life objects.
The area was named after the British Governor Sir Charles James Napier. One of the most pretty spots in the town to wander and take in a little peace. It is an elevated wooded park with various species of plants and trees. It is historical place and full of memories of a glorious past
Past Times In Napier Gardens
The new theatre can be found just a short walk from the main square and close to the main street in the town Lithostroto. It can seat 500 visitors and shows, films, musical shows ect throughout the year. A newly decorated exterior has changed the look of the building. Once a pale blue and yellow now beige with maroon doors.
This small square is located in Lithostroto, the main shopping central street of Argostoli. For many years was the central square of the city. link The trademark of the square is the Clock Tower that was reconstructed after it was destroyed by the 1953 earthquakes.
Today at the square there is a cafeteria and a kid’s playground and shops either side.
AINOS and AGIOS GERASIMOS, these two small ferries run every half an hour (in the summer include timetable)from the ferry stop on the quayside over to the town of Lixouri, which takes about 20 minutes and provides you with the opportunity to see Argostoli and the surrounding coastlines from a different view. Boarding the boat with a car can be a little chaotic and you usually drive on in reverse, depending on the crew in charge on the day. Beware of passengers on foot using the ferries as some tend to disembark without looking out for vehicles. These ferries are very reliable and reasonably priced, they run from early in the morning until very late at night . One thing to remember if you get out of your car and sit up on top like most people do then leave yourself enough time to get back to your vehicle before the ferry docks. The door on the ferry is opened promptly and cars, coaches and lorrys rev their engines in advance of ferry stopping and if you are late back you may well cause a problem. (specific timing warning to get back to car before ferry docks, estimate time to travel around lagoon, could be separate pages), throughout the year
The central bus station is located just beyond the Drapano bridge on the opposite side of the road. Buses leave from the bus station for the most popular destinations around the island, including Skala, Poros, Svoronata, Fiscardo and almost all tourist places in Kefalonia.
Linking Argostoli to the other side of the lagoon is the Drapano bridge (history de bosset etc built date ongoing works etc) once open to modern day traffic it was used as a shortcut, nowadays the bridge is closed to vehicles, and is being renovated by the Greek Ministry of Culture. You must now drive around the lagoon in order to get to the other side. If you are lucky you may just catch the sight of a loggerhead turtle, as this location can be an excellent place to do a spot of turtle watching.
Argostoli is also home to an Orphanage, this is located on the tree lined fanari road overlooking the lagoon.
The building was owned by the family of John Sanders (more information )last consulate of Great Britain (when did it start finish). In 1930 the building became the Sotir Orphanage and was home to some 100 children who had no parents. The board of governors successfully managed to secure the donation of the building from the British government to enable the orphaned children to be housed When the 1953 earthquake struck donations from the people of Britain and Malta assumed the full expenditure for the building, this saved the Greek government the burdensome outlay. Today the orphanage is still up and running.
The coast road Leading to Lassi is quite narrow in places, but wide enough for two cars to pass with caution, there are no pavements so you do need to be careful. If venturing out for an evening stroll take a torch, the road is not lit and it becomes pitch black at night. The coastal road out of Argostoli to the west was known during the Venetian period as the ‘Piccolo Gyro’, a very pleasant (quite a long) walk to some super beaches in the popular Lassi area.
A taxi ride into the Lassi district will take approximately ten minutes along the coastal road from Argostoli, or five minutes via the top road.
Taxi ranks can be found primarily around the main square in Argostoli. Maroon in colour they are usual quite large family salons. Everyone uses taxis on Kefalonia, and although drivers are supposed to use their meters, many don’t; agree on the fare before you set off.
The town is easily walkable and on a light note there is a small novel road train which travels around the streets