Check out these cool things to do in Ithaca – the land of myth, beauty and relaxing walks around beaches without anyone around <3
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been absolutely fascinated with Greek mythology – so many gods, drama and majestic adventures. I had visited Greece once before, when I was very little and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the oranges growing on trees! Even back then I could feel the fabled atmosphere all around, while immersing into Greek culture through music, dancing and grabbing a bite in the typical Greek taverns.
Okay, before I dig into Ithaca, let’s make one thing clear – Odysseus was a fictional character, so don’t expect to find something that would prove his existence. Some people from our group kept asking the guide where we can find the ruins of his castle 😀 Well, that was before concluding something like: “Meh, this guy was totally fake!” 😀
Odysseus and Ithaca
Odysseus is one of the most famous characters from the Greek mythology that is not actually a god himself. As portrayed in Homer’s Iliad, he was actually the genius behind the plan with the infamous Trojan horse! To be honest, I had forgotten that “little” detail, only to be reminded of it by our tour guide in Ithaca.
So, why is he so famous?
What most of us remember from our childhood readings of the Iliad was actually his epic journey home. The journey was actually not supposed to last more than a week or two, but Odysseus’s pride and Poseidon’s curse on him were the things that prolonged this journey to a whopping 10 years. When Odysseus started his journey back to his home Ithaca, he stopped to rest on a small island, inhabited by a cyclops. The cyclops, of course, wasn’t very happy about it, and, lo and behold, started eating some of his crew members. So Odysseus tricked him and managed to blind him (well, he only had one eye to deal with 😀 ). Afterwards, however, the cyclops prayed to his father, Poseidon, to curse Odysseus to never be able to go home (and the prideful Odysseus decided to tell the cyclops his name… uh!). And thus, the long journey began!
I will not go into more details about Odysseus’s journey back to Ithaca, but his return was very curious as well, let me know in the comments whether you’d like to find out and I will share a few more details!
Vathy is the capital of Ithaca and it carries a very harmonic and orderly beauty. After the devastating earthquake that shook the Ionian during 1953, the city was rebuilt and it is probably even prettier than it has ever been. All of Ithaca’s cities are quiet with few tourists wandering around.
This tiny islet actually served a great purpose in the middle ages. Due to many plagues and diseases, newcomers to Ithaca were asked to spend 1 night on it before stepping foot on the main island of Ithaca. What a great idea, right?
While Ithaca does not have typical sandy beaches, it does have some pristine beaches where you can have some time all to yourself. Just driving around the island, you’ll see views like these:
So be on the lookout! The two most famous beaches are the Shipwreck beach (yep, there is one in Ithaca too), Gedaki beach and Polis beach, which is absolutely amazing for snorkeling. As always, be careful with the sea urchins and bring swimming shoes!
This is not a typical tourist attraction, but religion is a big part of Greek culture. The building itself is quite beautiful, and if you catch the flowers blooming, you’ll be in for a treat.
This is the absolute perfect lunch spot! The views are breathtaking and even though there are a few restaurants, it is very quiet. Then, take a long walk along the coastline and enjoy Ithaca’s crystal-clear turquoise waters.
Odysseus Theme Park
Don’t expect Disneyland, here. It is actually a small park where you can see a beautiful statue of Odysseus, as well as a map of his journey. He went all the way to Morocco before turning back to Ithaca, so he basically went around the whole Mediterranean in his adventure.
After you visit the “theme park”, make sure to go to the nearby cafe and try a very typical dessert in Ithaca – ravani. Ravani is a coconut cake with syrup, and as you can see – it is served with vanilla ice cream <3 It tastes a bit weird, but it’s sweet (and this is always good enough for me :D)