Poros (Πόρος), is a picturesque small town located in the municipality of Eleios-Pronnoi, some 40 km SE of Argostoli, 28 km SE of Sami and 12 km NE of Skala, in the southeast of Kefalonia, one of the Ionian Islands of Greece.
Poros is effectively divided into three parts. Poros port, with its couple of tavernas and bars, connects the island with Kyllini on the Peloponnese area of mainland Greece via regular year-round ferry service. During the summer months a ferry may connect Poros with Zakynthos and a couple of tourist caiques offer cruises to Ithaca and the Blue Caves of Zakynthos. The harbour is also home to the local fishing boats which supply the area with fresh fish.
Separated from Poros port by a small hillock lies the shingle town beach, backed by a taverna-fringed square (plateia) and main services: bank, chemist (pharmacy), doctor’s surgery, post office, police station and local shops. More tavernas and bars lie along the award-winning 'Blue Flag' beach, Aragia, separated from the centre of Poros by the Vohinas river which, although used as a car park in summer, can be a raging torrent in winter.
The Vohinas almost certainly gave Poros its name. The word ‘poros’ in Greek means ‘ford’ or ‘crossing’ and where the Vohinas enters the sea is the only natural crossing point, although two bridges now cross the river further upstream where the Vohinas exits the impressive Poros gorge, an 80-metre deep rugged ravine which, until a road was cut through to Skala around 1996, was the only land route out of Poros. Local legend has it that the gorge was ‘cut’ by Heracles when he stood on, and flattened, this part of the mountain.
Another local legend concerns the large rocks just off the beach between Poros and Skala. Apparently these were thrown at early invaders by the Cyclops. The coastline on the other side of Poros, facing Ithaca, is one of the last refuges of the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal (Monachus monachus).
Just out of the Poros gorge a rough vehicular track leads to the Atros monastery, the oldest on Kefalonia, with impressive views across Poros. Further along is another track leading to the Mycenaean tomb of Tzanata.
Archaeological finds from the Drakaina cave confirm human habitation in Poros since 5,700 B.C. and the area around Poros was certainly inhabited during the period when Mycenae was all-powerful, evidenced by the discovery, in 1992, of a tholos (Beehive tomb) in nearby Tzanata. Although there are (unsubstantiated) claims that this is the tomb of Odysseus, it’s more widely believed to be the burial chamber of later royalty, from the period 1400 – 1000 B.C. Although other tombs from the Mycenaean period have been found on the island, notably at Mazarakata and Lakithra, the Tzanata tomb is the most impressive yet to be discovered on Kefalonia or Ithaca.
During the classical period Poros was probably the port for the city of Pronni (above present-day Pastra, administrative centre for the area).
Successive occupiers - Romans, Franks, Venetians, Italians, French, Russians, Turks (very briefly) and finally the British (until 1834) - controlled Kefalonia and, under the governorship of Sir Charles Napier, settlers from Malta were re-located into the fertile area around Poros in an attempt to implement a model agricultural settlement and re-populate this part of the island. However, the plan didn’t work and Poros remained no more than a small cluster of fishermen’s huts until 1953, when people built new homes there following the earthquake which devastated the surrounding villages, establishing Poros as a village community and, subsequently, an important port for the island.
Situated beneath steep mountains, there is virtually no arable land in Poros. However, through the Poros gorge lays a fertile valley stretching between Tzanata, Agia Eirini and Agios Nikolaos.
Poros is a working fishing port, albeit for a handful of local ‘caique’-type boats which supply the local area. A new ice producing unit was added in 2006.
Although Poros was the first part of Kefalonia to be discovered by tourists, when a cruise ship started to call in around 1980, it has been overtaken by neighbouring Skala in terms of volume. Since 2004 no British tour companies have block-booked accommodation in Poros and, apart from July and August, when it is very popular with visiting Greeks and Italians, it is very relaxed and attracts a regular core of return visitors who appreciate the genuine hospitality of the local community in an ‘authentic’ Greek setting. During the summer Poros also attracts a number of visitors who arrive in private yachts.
Poros is also known for relaxing cafes that are the perfect setting for lazying around with a frappe and a deck of cards. An internet cafe sits on the main strip.
Fairly reliable but infrequent bus service to Argostoli. Reliable bus service to Athens, via Kyllini, Patras and the Corinth Canal bridge. Infrequent summer bus service to Skala and, possibly, on to Katelios.
Taxis tend to work out of Skala during summer. Car and motorcycle/scooter hire in Poros.