The sinkholes of Argostoli

The Enigmatic Sinkholes Of Argostoli

If you’re in Argostoli, the capital of Kefalonia, you should stop by to see the unique phenomenon of the sinkholes here. Especially if you’re visiting the Saint Theodore Lighthouse, which is located nearby. This geological wonder may not look like much from the outside, but a rare geological process, that really is quite fascinating, is going on here. This post covers the sinkholes of Argostoli, what they are, why they’re cool, and how to get here.

The Sinkholes Of Argostoli

Kefalonia is home to one of the rarest scientific phenomena in the world, a geological karstic system, which is a unique type of sinkhole.

A sinkhole is a natural formations, known as katavothres. It’s formed when underground water erodes the limestone rock, creating deep, vertical shafts. 

The sea water passes through these shafts and makes an underground journey all the way to Sami, over 12 miles (20 km) away on the opposite end of the island. On its journey, the sea water mixes with fresh water that trickles down through the carbonate rocks of the Ainos Mountains of Kefalonia.

The sinkholes of Argostoli
Sinkholes of Argostoli

The water continues on, filtering through Melissani Cave before reaching the springs that feed Karavomilo Lake, not far from the port of Sami. It emerges as brackish water, which is a mix of seawater and freshwater.

When I took my boat tour in Melissani Cave (which I recommend) my guide explained that to prove the karstic theory, scientists placed dye into the sinkholes in Argostoli. Days later, this dye was seen in both Melissani Cave and Karavomilo Lake.

Learn how to get to Melissani Cave Lake to see this stunning sight.
Melissani Cave

How Fast Does The Sinkhole Water Move?

They say the water in the sinkhole moves about 10’ (3 meters) per second (or about 600’ per minute). Fast enough for the water wheel below to once generate power!

The Water Wheel

A cool feature that you’ll see at the sinkhole is a charming old wooden water wheel at the sinkholes. Known as the Katavothres Mill, it once used the motion of the water in the sinkholes to generate power. Isn’t that cool?

The water wheel at the sinkholes of Argostoli
Sinkhole Water Wheel

The wheel here is not the original, but a replacement of the one that was damaged during the great earthquake of 1953. This earthquake was so powerful, it resulted in heavy damage to most of the Ionian islands.

The waterwheel actually moves pretty slowly, so I’m surprised it was able to generate power. Unfortunately, there’s not much more information available on it.

Katavothres Club-Restaurant

The area here is beautifully landscaped with Katavothres Club-Restaurant sitting right behind the sinkholes and the water wheel.

The restaurant was closed when I was here in the fall. The Facebook page shows it a a club type place with music. It looks like it would be a lively, fun place to visit at night.

How To Get To The Sinkholes of Argostoli

The sinkholes of Argostoli are located on the northern end of the Argostoli peninsula. If you’re staying in Argostoli, it’s about 1.2 miles (2 km) away along Fanari road. The Saint Theodore Lighthouse is a 10-minute walk west of the sinkholes, and a poplar spot for selfies.

I stayed at King A in Argostoli (more in that below) and it was about a 25-minute walk.

If you’re staying in Lassi, which is south of the sinkholes and the lighthouse, it’s about an hour walk along the coastline. This may seem long, but this is not an uncommon thing to do here.

Saint Theodore Lighthouse

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If you’re staying in Lixouri, you can take the ferry over to the port of Argostoli and walk to the sinkholes and the lighthouse. In peak season the ferry crosses very frequently.

Where To Stay In Argostoli

  • King A is where I stayed. It’s centrally located in Argostoli, near many restaurants, and is really lovely. It’s also within waking distance of a bus stop. It’s privately owned and run by family. I think the owners name is Argamemnon, which is how it gets its name “King A”. He was born on the island in 1953, when the big earthquake hit here. Now he’s an architect and designed this hotel. The rooms are charming and well-kept, with sea views, and breakfast is offered on the patio by the sea. I highly recommend it.
  • Tourist Boutique Hotel is also nearby. It looks like the quality is very similar to King A and also offers rooms with sea views.
  • Elite Luxury Apartments are set back from the bay a few blocks, but close to Vallainou Square. They offer kitchenettes and balconies with mountain and city views.
Panorama At The Sinkholes

Want More Of Greece?

Greece is such an amazing place. I’ve visited multiple times and been amazing each time. With its incredible history on the mainland and over 200 inhabited islands there’s so much to see!

My favorite places along with some stories along the way are listed below.

Mainland Greece

Crete Island

Ios Island

Kefalonia Island

Milos Island

Naxos Island

Paros Island

Santorini Island

Zakynthos Island

Other

For an overview of all the best places in Greece, as well as how to get around, safety, tips, and more, see my Greece Travel Guide.

Northern viewpoint for Myrtos Beach
Myrtos Beach

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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