Ithaca is one of the smaller Ionian Islands, very close to Kefalonia, and great if you want to get away from it all and relax. It's well-known for being the legendary island of King Odysseus, whose adventures are told in Homer's Odyssey. Although there are no hard facts to support this, there's plenty of circumstantial evidence and some archaeological finds on Ithaca which back up the theory.
Although it is quite small, Ithaca is a dramatic island with a few mountainous peaks, and impressive to see from a boat or a plane. It's great for walking, especially to explore the Odysseus sights. One or two of these, and a museum, can be found near the island's second town, Stavros, an unspoilt hill town in the north of the island.
Ithaca doesn't have great beaches but there are enough decent ones to keep the sunbathers happy. It isn't over-run by tourism, which is part of its charm – and it's got enough to appeal to celebrities like Madonna and Steven Spielberg, who have taken vacations on Ithaca.
There is no airport on Ithaca, and the easiest way to get there by plane is to fly to Kefalonia and take the ferry (see below), or take a flight to Lefkas and catch the ferry from there. There are numerous cheap charter flights to Kefalonia and Lefkas in the summer holiday season. Kefalonia also has flights from Athens and other Greek destinations.
For a small island, Ithaca is quite well served by ferry connections. In the summer holiday season daily ferries go from Ithaca to the islands of both Kefalonia and Lefkas, to Astakos on the west coast of northern Greece, and also to Patras in the Peloponnese on the Greek mainland. Ferries from Kefalonia take about 60-90 minutes, depending which two ports you are travelling between. Ferries to Lefkas take about 90 minutes.
Note that ferries go from different ports on Ithaca:
Ferries in Greece has an excellent and very thorough website where in addition to checking ferry schedules and times, you can also book tickets and get lots of useful information about travelling by ferry in Greece.
This Athens dining guide doesn't list restaurants but gives practical advice on types of eating places, tipping, hotel breakfasts and picnics.
Spetses in the Saronic Gulf Islands of Greece is an easy day trip from Athens and has some good beaches. This page gives details of ferries and what to do.
Athens Airport hotels include the luxury Sofitel at the terminals, Holiday Inn near the airport, and others close by like the Hotel Pantheon.