Φισκάρδο, Fiskardo, Fiscardo, Phiskardo
Fiskardo is one of the last true gems of the Ionian Island harbours with its original Venetian architecture, crystal clear waters and traditional fishing boats. Set at the northern end of Kefalonia it has a sense of remoteness yet at the same time it has kept up with the modern day and is a busy little village with some fantastic restaurants (a couple now quite famous) and plenty of boutique shops.
Visiting yachts over the last 30 years have led to the re-emergence of Fiskardo and increasingly often Fiskardo has been described as the St. Tropez of Greece. In July and August you can see why when the worlds rich and famous visit the tiny fishing village with their super-yachts and it is not uncommon to see someone famous enjoying a coffee or tucking into a saganaki!
Fiskardo may now be a ‘place to visit’ but there is a complex and long history here. People have lived and fished from the harbour since before the Roman Empire. The Romans and Normans had outposts here before the Venetians took control of the trading port. The village prospered from traders that used the port to trade salt, charcoal and raisins - grown or produced in the surrounding villages - with mainland Greece and many places in northern Europe.
If you have some time to explore you will find a great deal of historical and cultural interest. There is a lovely walk round to the old Venetian lighthouse, which on the way back passes a ruined Norman monastery. The ruins of an old Roman Villa on the village beach and a Roman cemetery are also both worth seeking out.
Most of the houses in the village survived the war and the subsequent 1953 earthquake relatively unscathed leaving some lovely examples of neo-classical Venetian architecture.
One fascinating, more recent story, is of a Second World War plane that was shot down during the German occupation of Fiskardo. If you visit Fiskardo Divers you’ll find more information on this unique story as it was they who discovered the old plane at the bottom of one of the local bays. Amazingly they traced the family of the pilot and discovered that they still possessed the pilot’s diary about his experience, which is now available to read in the Fiskardo Dive Centre office. Sitting in one of the many restaurants, cafes or bars is a great way to soak up the atmosphere of the harbour and watch the world go by. The harbour is also a magnet for the yachting community and it can be great fun to watch novice sailors - and for that matter over confident experienced sailors - entering and leaving the harbour. It can be a real battle for space as there are more boats than spots on the quay and there’s always some good natured banter.
There is plenty of shopping in the village with top end boutique clothes and jewellery shops sitting alongside fantastic shops selling local produce and crafts. There is even a chandlers and fishing shop should you want to fish from the harbour.
You can hire sailing yachts, motor yachts, kayaks and little motor boats from the harbour and there are several day-trip boats that offer interesting and diverse days out.
Fiskardo is a special place and not to be missed.