Ionian map Greece - Detailed map of the Ionian islands - Ionian travel information
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"The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece" - when Lord Byron tossed his bouquet, he was not under the spell of today's popular Cycladic islands but of the Ionian Islands. Located off Greece's northwest coast, the Ionians offer some of the country's loveliest natural settings, including beaches, a fine selection of hotels and restaurants; a distinctive history and lore; and some unusual architectural and archaeological sites. The Ionian islands are rainier, greener, and more temperate than other Greek islands, so the high season lasts a little longer, from late June to early September.
The roads are generally in fine condition, even if unavoidably steep and twisting. Accommodations range from luxury resorts to quiet little rooms on remote beaches. The local cuisine and wines offer numerous special treats. Among the best are sofrito, a spicy veal dish, bourdetto, a spicy fish dish; and wines such as Robola, Liapaditiko, and Theotaki (this last preferred by James Bond).

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The Ionian islands include Corfu (Kerkira), Paxos (Paxoi), Levkas (Lefkas, Lefkada), Ithaka (Ithaki), Kefalonia, and Zakinthos (Zakynthos, Zante), the seventh, Kithira (Kythira) - off the south coast of the Peloponnese - is linked only as a government administrative unit. There are many more islands in the archipelago along Greece's northwest coast, including several that are sparsely inhabited.
In this site we single out Corfu and Kefalonia, with a side trip to Ithaka. With a couple of weeks to spare, you can take a ship or plane to either Corfu in the north or Zakinthos in the south and then make your way by ship to several of the other Ionians (although outside high season, you will have to do considerable backtracking). If you have only a week, you should fly to one island and then use ships to get to a couple of the others. In either case, rent a car to get around the larger islands. If it comes down to visiting only one, Corfu is a prime candidate, but if you want to get off the beaten track, consider Kefalonia or Ithaka. All the Ionians-especially Corfu - are overrun in July and August, aim for June or September, if you can.
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In the fabric of their history, the Ionian islands can trace certain threads that both tie and distinguish them from the rest of Greece. During the late Bronze Age (1500-1200 B.C.), a Mycenaean culture thrived on at least several of these islands. Although certain names of islands and cities were the same as those used today - Ithaka, for instance-scholars have never been able to agree on exactly which were the sites described in the Odyssey. People from the city-states on the Greek mainland then recolonized the islands, starting in the 8th century B.C. The Peloponnesian War, in fact, can be traced back to a quarrel between Corinth and its colony at Corcyra (Corfu) that led to Athens's interference and eventually the full-scale war. Ionian islands later fell under the rule of the Romans, then the Byzantine empire. They remained prey to warring powers and pirates in this part of the Mediterranean for centuries. By the end of the l 4th century, Corfu fell under Venice's Control, and the Italian language and culture-including Roman Catholicism-became predominant. When Napoleon's forces overcame Venice in 1797, the French took over here and held sway until 1815. The Ionian Islands then became a protectorate of the British, although the islands experienced peace and prosperity, they were in fact a colony. When parts of Greece gained true independence from the Turks by l 830-due in part to leadership from Ionians such as loannis Kapodistrias-many Ionians became restless under the British. In 1864, British prime minister Gladstone allowed the lonians to unite with Greece. During World War II, Italians first occupied these islands, but when the Germans took over, the Ionians, especially Corfu, suffered greatly. Since 1945, the waves of tourists have brought considerable prosperity to the Ionian islands.

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