Good to know

This page has some information that you may find useful before or during your holiday, have a read through, or jump to a section that interests you.
Weather and climate
Summer Clouds in Kefalonia

The weather in Kefalonia is generally settled during the summer months, but at other times it can be as varied as anywhere else in Europe and there are substantial variations from month to month and indeed week to week.

During the months of June, July and August temperatures frequently exceed 28°c, but it often feels much hotter and you are not likely to see any rain.

In April, May, September and October you may see more changeable weather, but generally speaking it is comfortably warm during the daytime, however, you might need some long sleeves in the evening. These months are a great time to visit Kefalonia if you want to get out and about and see more of the island. Between November and March, daytime temperatures will frequently be between 9°c and 15°c and it is much cooler in the evenings with temperatures sometimes dipping to 0°c in higher areas.

Wherever you may be on the island, it is not uncommon to experience different weather conditions from one end of the island to the other or indeed from one village to another!

Outside of the summer season, I wouldn’t trust a weather forecast in Kefalonia much beyond 2/3 days and global weather trends I’m sure, will not help this situation.

If you want to see seasonal trends based on historic figures, then you can see that information here.


On the road

Hiring a car is a very good way to get out of resort and see all that Kefalonia has to offer, but driving in Greece is always an adventure and Kefalonia is no different. Here’s some things that you need to know before you tackle the roads.

  1. Most of the locals will drive in the middle of the road, the reasons for this include – a combination of: winding roads, cattle, goats, sheep, pedestrians, mopeds, quad bikes, parked cars, roadside bins and poor road maintenance.
  2. Let’s talk roundabouts. Roundabouts are few and far between on Kefalonia and they have rules that are different to what we are used to in the UK: don’t wait at the entrance to the roundabout, just drive onto it and at each exit look to your right, if there is a car coming stop and let it join the roundabout, once clear then carry on your way.
  3. There are some hilly, winding roads, but driving in Kefalonia is fun and once you reach the top the views are amazing and well worth it. Drive at your own pace and don’t let a queue of cars or an impatient taxi behind you put you off, simply put on your hazard lights, pull over in a safe place and let the cars go by.
  4. Some drivers will pull over and have a chat or run an errand, most will give you warning by putting on their hazard lights first.
  5. Safety! Driving in flip-flops is considered unsafe and police can and do check – especially hire cars. Drink-driving laws are stricter in just about every European country than the UK. Just because you may not necessarily see a police presence, doesn’t mean that they are not about. Don’t drink and drive!
  6. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it rains hard after a long dry spell, the roads can become quite slippery so exercise some caution in wet weather.
  7. Satellite navigation (sat-nav) works better here than it used to and the roads are slightly better. However, still use one with caution because some roads may start off looking safe but then quickly turn into little more than a dirt track. It would be advisable in this kind of situation to turn around and find another route if possible. Please don’t blindly follow sat-nav!
  8. When you drive around in a hire car, you are obliged to carry your rental agreement and driving licence at all time.
  9. There are almost 40 petrol stations on Kefalonia and none of them are self service. All you need to do is pull up and tell the attendant how much petrol you would like (just like the good old days). By law you should be able to pay by card or cash but please check beforehand because we know of at least one that says cash only. Here you can find a list of petrol station locations and a guide of how much you can expect to pay per litre.

You may get some advice from hire car companies, listen to them, they know what they are talking about. The best advice we can give is: be sensible, stay safe and enjoy driving here, it’s so much fun.


Currency and ATMs
Euros

The local currency in Greece is the Euro and has been since 2002. By law, both cash and cards are accepted at all establishments; although cash is frequently preferred, don’t be afraid of asking to pay by card. When coming on holiday it is considered good practice to bring a mixture of cards and cash, just in case of an emergency.

All ATMs in Greece charge for withdrawing cash no matter who you bank with and costs vary between €2.50 and €3.00 depending on which banks machine you use – in my experience it is normally better to use an ATM from one of the big 4 Greek banks (Pireaus, Alpha, National Bank & Eurobank). You will be presented with 2 choices when you are withdrawing cash using a UK card.

  1. Let the local bank do a conversion for you – this has the benefit of letting you know exactly how many £’s you are withdrawing, but can work out more expensive.
  2. Let your UK bank carry out the conversion for you – unless your bank stings you for using your card overseas, this will usually be the better option as you will get the daily rate as set by the card issuer (Visa/Mastercard).

Before you travel, it is well worth finding out from your bank how much it costs to use your card for non-sterling transactions and if you have accounts with a few banks, try to use the one which gives you the best deal.

There are both debit and credit cards that are great for paying abroad – a good site to compare them is Money Saving Expert.


Healthcare

If you’re feeling unwell a good place to visit in the first instance is your local pharmacy; the pharmacists are well trained, experienced, and licensed and will dispense advice or suggest things that you can try, they will not hesitate to refer you to a doctor or hospital if they think it is necessary.

There are some local public doctors on the island, their schedules and locations in some areas are not well published so it may be best to ask a local for this information – your accommodation owner or receptionist is a good place to start. They do not have an appointment system; you must turn up and wait your turn just like the locals do – most of them are only open in the morning.

Some of the busier resorts and villages may also have a private doctor, but you will have to pay to see them. Just like the public doctors, there is no appointment system, but they do keep longer hours – some are on call 24 hours a day, and due to the small number of ambulances on the island, they may also do some local emergency call-outs . If you do need to see a private doctor you will need your passport and insurance details so that they can claim for any expenses directly from your insurance company.

You can access state healthcare whilst on holiday for free, and you should always have your EHIC with you – just remember that an EHIC is not a substitute for comprehensive travel insurance cover.

The hospital in Kefalonia may not look great by UK standards but the staff are friendly, professional and fully qualified. If you do require an extended stay in hospital, then it is common for family and friends to look after the patients everyday needs, including feeding and cleaning them – if you are not able to do this, then contact your insurance company who will help you to get a private nurse to help with such things.


Rainy days
Weather mix

Sometimes it rains in Kefalonia!

The temperature could be so hot that rain evaporates before it hits the ground or you might get caught in a passing shower that can last anything from 1 minute to a couple of hours. Just occasionally, it’ll start raining in the morning and set in for the day and it is not uncommon for heavy showers to be accompanied by spectacular storms. As we are in a location where sunshine is expected you might think that there is nothing to do when it rains other than sit in a bar with a beer whilst staring at the telly, but you would be mistaken. Here’s why:

If you have children, why not go to the Prokris Play Park in Mazarakata, Nr Peratata in the Leivathos region. They have lots of indoor and outdoor activities to keep the children occupied all day, there is also food and drink available on site so you can relax and let your children play.

For the more cultured amongst you, why not have a day out in Argostoli? Buy a brolly and have a stroll along Lithostroto, browse round the many shops and then take a break in one of the cafe bars. While you are there you could go to the Catholic church of St Nicolai. Also, in Argostoli is the Museum of ancient Greek technology, the Korgialenio Historic and Cultural Museum, the Italian “Divisione Acqui” War Museum, the Church of Panagia Sissiotissa and Saint Spiridon Church.
If you get any breaks in the weather, then why not try to spot the turtles by the fishing boats along the sea front.

If you don’t fancy venturing too far, then pop down to the to your local café-bar and ask the owner if they have any playing cards or board games such as backgammon, chess or draughts. Then grab a frappe or a nice hot coffee and chat with the locals or your fellow holidaymakers – who knows what you might find out.


Mother nature

Greece is one of the most common places in Europe where earthquakes occur and Kefalonia is no different. It sits just to the east of a major tectonic fault line which is called the Cephalonia Transform Fault. There is frequent minor seismic activity on the island, but most of it is never felt and is considered ‘normal’, however, you should be aware that more significant quakes can and do occur. For safety, there are strict building regulations in the region which all buildings must adhere to. Your holiday accommodation should have a guide available to help you prepare for any possible quake.

Due to the long, hot, dry summers it is possible that you may see some forest fires, especially if you are here during late August or September. During this period, you may notice that some areas of the island will be closed to visitors (the most likely being the national park at the top of Kefalonia’s highest peak, Mount Ainos). In order to minimise the risk, always be careful with any glass, plastics or reflective materials you have with you and make sure that any litter is disposed of properly. All through the summer, specially trained pilots fly fire planes over the island to try and spot any small fires in remote areas and alert ground-based responders (most of whom are volunteers) before they get too big. If you notice a fire call the fire brigade on 199 or the pan-European emergency number 112 and try and keep yourself safe. Always follow the advice of local authorities as they are very knowledgeable about where a fire might go and how best to avoid it. Try not to panic!


Cats and dogs

There are many stray cats living on the island and you will undoubtedly come across a few on your travels; they tend to hang around the restaurants hoping to get the odd tidbit. During the summer months it is advised not to feed them because they hunt and act as a deterrent for rodents and other pests, which is very useful in residential areas.
It is very easy to feel sorry for the stray animals but the local residents do feed them occasionally, especially during the winter months when natural food sources may be more scarce.
It is not advisable to allow cats into your accommodation, it may well entertain the kids, but many will bring in unexpected passengers such as fleas or ticks. Also cats will hang around long after you have departed and perhaps the next occupants have allergies or just don’t want to be pestered whilst on holiday.

Lets talk dogs! Most of the dogs here have an owner and are kept in the garden during the summer; there are some however, which are allowed to roam freely in the villages, generally they are quite friendly but always be vigilant. If in doubt, just ignore them, they will soon get bored and wander off. You may sometimes encounter a stray dog whilst walking in the countryside; we would advise you not to approach it, simply ignore it and walk on. Always take care of yourselves when venturing into remote areas where there will be wild animals.


Smoking ban
No smoking

Greece has had a smoking ban in enclosed public spaces since 1st September 2010, but this has not been widely enforced.

A revised law was enacted on 16th October 2019 with the aim of broadening the scope of the ban as well as ensuring it is enforced. As well as indoor and partially enclosed locations, smoking at playgrounds and other outdoor spaces frequented by children is prohibited, as is smoking in private vehicles with a child under the age of 12. Fines range from €50-€500 for individuals and €500-€10,000 for managers or owners – 5 violations will see their business licence revoked.

From recent experience, most establishments are also stopping the use of electronic cigarettes.


Brexit

There has been a lot of information thrown about with regards to how Brexit might affect your holiday, so we’re here to let you know exactly what’s what.
For 2020, holidaying in the EU will be no different to what it has been for the last few years – the UK is in a transitional phase where all EU rules are still applicable. So with that in mind here is some stuff we do know:

  • You still go through the same EU queue at airports and the same customs rules will apply.
  • There are no changes to the process for hiring and driving a car.
  • Reciprocal heath care arrangements have not changed and your EHIC is still valid.
  • On your mobile phone, you can use your bundled calls, texts and data as you could before.

We will post updates for 2021 and beyond as soon as we have more information.

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