The harbor, Vathi (or Vathy) is guarded on its two sides by the ruins of the forts Loutsa and Kastro, built by the French in 1805. The small wooded islet of Lazaretto, with its chapel, lies within their embrace. At one time the islet was a quarantine station and then a prison. There is a small beach by the castle of Loutsa.
Vathi is also known as Ithaki Town. The town center is small, with a few shops and cafes around the central square.
The town was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1953 in the traditional style with red tiled roofs and is considered a traditional settlement by the government. This means that unlike many other earthquake devastated island villages, future building must conform.
El Greco fans will enjoy an icon of Christ attributed to him in the Church of the Taxiarchos. The Archeology Museum rests one street back from the Limani (port) in a low modern building and displays a variety of finds from around the island. The Cultural Center next door houses a very rare Japanese translation of Homer from 1600. The Folklore Museum is also nearby.
Local beaches are reachable by water-taxi or road and include Sarakiniko, Bimata, Skinos and Filatro.
Some of the sites identified as being on the Trail of Odysseus are within walking distance of Vathi. Marmarospillia (The Cave of the Nymphs) is a 4 km walk west of Vathi and purportedly where Odysseus hid the gifts of King Alcinous. Bring a flashlight and ask before going as it may be locked.
Just below, the inlet of Dexia is thought to coincide with the Harbor of Phorcys where the sleeping Odysseus was put to shore by the Phoenicians who brought him home after 20 years of travail. There is a bar and small cantina.
Seven km south of Vathi is the lovely Marathias Plateau and about 4 km along a donkey path to its left is signposted the Fountain of Arethusa, another mythological spot. Below, by the sea, is the Perapigadia or Homeric Asteris where Penelope's murderous suitors hid, awaiting Telemachus' return from Pylos.