Lefkada is one of the Ionian's most unspoiled islands. Despite its small size, glorious beaches, sophisticated capital and easy accessibility (the “island” is in fact linked to the Greek mainland via a small bridge), Lefkada remains, along with tiny Ithaca, one of the Ionian’s most unspoiled destinations.
Admittedly, the coastal towns of Nydri and Vassiliki – where large bays and consistently blustery winds attract droves of watersports fanatics – have seen some (mostly sympathetic) developments, but the majority of the island, including the sleepy villages of the Sfakiotes region, and the gorgeous former capital of Karya, has retained its authentic character. Traditional village life, centred around the local kafenio, continues, almost unchanged in more than a century.
Go in September. Prices are lower, temperatures milder, and the dramatic beaches of the island’s west coast – among the Mediterranean’s very best – will feel practically deserted. fly to tiny Preveza airport, on the Greek mainland. Take a taxi from outside the terminal building, hop on one of the infrequent buses that pass by on the main road, or pick up a hire car. Public transport on the island consists of a few infrequent buses, so if you want to make the most of your visit, this is your best bet.
Seeking out the island’s best beaches. Egremni, a couple of miles south of Athani, is arguably the finest. Long, sandy, and backed by sheer white cliffs, it is never crowded, largely thanks to the huge amount of steps that visitors must negotiate to reach it. The final 50 steps take you over some steep and rickety wooden scaffolding, but at the first glimpse of the impossibly turquoise sea, you’ll realise it was worth the trip.
The shingle beach of Porto Katsiki, a little further south, is equally dramatic but there’s just 100 steps to contend with.It can get quite busy between noon and 4pm. Pefkoulia (sandy) and Kathisma (shingle), on the northwest coast, are excellent options for families. Both are safe, easily accessible and close to the shops and restaurants of Agios Nikitas. Pefkoulia attracts scores of campers, who vie for shade among the trees that overlook the sand, while the delicious iced coffees served up at Kathisma’s whitewashed beach bar should not be missed. Daily hire of a sun lounger typically costs eight euros for a pair, and all four beaches have at least one snack bar close to the shore.
On one of the island’s prettiest squares. Platia Agios Spyridon, in the heart of Lefkada Town, is often a hive of activity, playing host to religious processions during Greek Orthodox feast days, and dramatic performances during the island’s annual summer arts festival.
The northern end of the square is dominated by the 17th century church of the same name, the rest is lined with bars and restaurants. Nautilus, on the south west corner, serves a good range of traditional Greek dishes. The town itself is worth exploring — there are more pretty churches to uncover and the unusual corrugated-iron building style (a legacy of the earthquakes that have plagued the region for centuries) lends the town a certain shabby charm.
Karya’s main square, shaded by enormous plane trees and filled to the brim with chattering diners, is equally atmospheric. Try Karaboulias, one of several tavernas that ply their trade here, before picking up a souvenir at one of the embroidery shops for which this village is renowned. Penguins, on the harbour front in Vassiliki, is another good option. Expect friendly service and excellent seafood.
Lefkas is one of the masters of Greek wine production and has a welcoming selection of vineyards and wineries across the island. One of the best known ones is in Lefkaditiki just ten minutes away from the town of Nidri. Visiting the Lefkaditiki Winery you will be able to see the entire production from grapevine to glass and sample all the different varieties and tastes.
Popular Attractions of Lefkada
Skorpios was known as the private island of the late Greek shipping billionaire Aristotle Onassis. Here Onassis married the former United States First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy on October 20, 1968. Upon his death the island was passed to his daughter Christina, and then in turn to her daughter Athina Onassis Roussel. Onassis, his son Alexander, and his daughter Christina are all buried on the island.
Athina visited the island twice after her mother died, once when she was eight and then on November 18–19, 1998 with her father Thierry Roussel and their media adviser and spokesman Alexis Mantheakis in order to hold a memorial service on the tenth anniversary of the death of Athina's mother, Christina Onassis.The memorial service on Skorpios was presided over by Father Apostolis, the local Greek Orthodox priest who had baptised Athina and presided over the funerals of Aristotle Onassis, his son Alexander and Athina's mother, Christina, all buried in the Panagitsa Chapel on Skorpios. Apart from these two visits and a couple more when Athina was a toddler, she has spent no time there.
This museum is housed in the newly-constructed building of the Cultural Centre in Lefkada Town. Its four rooms cover a large chronological period, from the Paleolithic times till the late Roman years. In the first room, there are exhibits depicting life from the public and private life of the islanders in the historical times. There are findings related to music, commerce, weaving, coinage, fishery and farming. The second room is dedicated to the deities of Lefkada, through their presentation in coins and figurines.
The third room is dedicated to the funeral costumes of ancient Lefkada, exhibiting tomb monuments, stone urns and the representation of an ancient cemetery. The fourth room is dedicated to the memory of the famous archaeologist William Dorpfeld, who performed many excavations on the island and has been buried in Lefkada. In this last room, visitors can see items from the Paleolithic and Neolithic period, including weaponry, vessels and various kind of tools.
Very little lies beyond Porto Katsiki, the last of the stunning beaches on Lefkada’s west coast.
The coastal road winds for ten miles with only an occasional cluster of goats to keep you company, until you reach Cape Lefkada, a windswept promontory with sheer drops to the sea below and stunning views to Kefalonia and Ithaca, the legendary home of Odysseus. It was here that the ancient Greek poet Sappho is said to have leapt to her death after she was spurned by a lover. There is little to see on the peninsular except a small monastery and lighthouse, but it’s still a thrilling little detour.
Lefkas has its very own Sunset Boulevard strip complete with bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and twinkling harbour lights at night time. Its natural Greek ambiance and elegant Venetian architecture makes the strip one of the most admired attractions at the heart of Lefkas Town. An evening meal on the strip is a magical experience for couples and families and you’ll have plenty of fun feasting on the Greek Meze platters. Don’t forget to come back the next day and snap up gifts from the boutique shops and market stalls overlooking the marina port.
Take a trip to one of the surrounding islands off Lefkas’ south eastern shores and discover a whole new array of mystical Greek wonders. The first stop is usually the beautiful Papanikolis blue cave on the coastline of Meganissi. It’s a great diving spot and is rumoured to have been a submarine hideout during WWII. Papanikolis is the second largest cave in Greece and is shaped by the surrounding white limestone cliffs. After exploring Papanikolis cave, moor up on one of the nearby beaches and journey to one of the island’s settlements for an authentic lunch at a taverna.
Popular Resorts of Lefkada
Nydri is a town on Lefkada island situated 17km southeast of the island’s capital, Lefkada town. It is the most popular tourist resort on the island. Nydri has a population of 800 inhabitants and the municipality comprises beautiful traditional coastline villages like Geni, Vliho, Desimi, Perigiali & Mikros Gialos and the hillside villages: Paleokatouna, Alatro, Poros, Platistoma, Neohori, Vafkeri, Fterno, Haradiatika, Rahi and Katahor. The area of Nydri attracts a great number of tourists from country and abroad each summer, fascinating them with crystal blue sea and beautiful beaches and offering a vast variety of summer activities and attractions to enjoy during vacation.
There are a wide range of accommodation in Nydri, from budget studios and self-catering apartments to Luxury Villas and Hotels. The prices of holiday accommodation in Nydri vary depending on the time of the year and hit the highest point during summer months.There are a great number of restaurants, pubs, traditional Greek tavernas and bars to be found in Nydri and surrounding area. Restaurants range from traditional to Italian and can suit all tastes. For a drink tourists can choose from a wide variety of cafes, music bars and night clubs opened until early hours during the summer time. Although the Nydri area is pretty touristically developed it hasn’t lost its natural beauty. Wide vegetation with olive trees, pines and cypresses as well as clear blue sea and beautiful sandy beaches attract more and more tourists every year.
Vassiliki is a picturesque fishing village located 37 km southwest of Lefkada Town. It lies around the beautiful bay, a long pebbled beach famous for its perfect windsurfing and sailing conditions. Water sports facilities and windsurfing clubs renting material are available on the beach. In the surrounding area one will find a wide range of accommodations, camping sites, taverns, shops, cafes and modern bars. The beach also has some hotels that offer facilities for windsurfers and their material
Windsurfing in Vasiliki - Vasiliki has a reputation for being one of the best windsurfing spots in Greece. You can hire windsurfing equipment and other water sports facilities are available.Day cruises - The boats leave from Nidri and go to the small islets of Meganisi, Sparti, Skorpidi, and Skorpios. There are some Bronze Age Tombs south of Nidri that were excavated by Wilhelm Dorpfeld in the early part of the century.
Sivota remains one of the most unspoilt regions in the whole of Greece. Located on the mainland of Greece just 20 kilometres north of Parga and overlooking Corfu, holidays in Sivota are fabulous for anyone looking for a beautiful unspoilt holiday destination with most of its heritage still intact.A quiet landlocked bay, the harbour is the focal point of the village, with its small marina. Stock up on olive oil, local liquors and honey from one of the modest little shops dotted behind the marina. Sip a cocktail while watching the sunset down at the harbour and choose from many excellent Greek and speciality fish restaurants on your holiday to Sivota.
Sivota is a haven for boats, and the cosmopolitan marina is a sophisticated collection of luxury yachts, ideal for soaking up the sun and atmosphere as well as a bit of day dreaming! Sivota holidays are calling out to holidaymakers who are seeking to truly kick back and relax away from the daily hustle and bustle. A must-see resort for anyone wanting a Greek holiday in a truly traditional setting.Sivota remains one of the most unspoilt regions in the whole of Greece. Located on the mainland of Greece just 20 kilometres north of Parga and overlooking Corfu, holidays in Sivota are fabulous for anyone looking for a beautiful unspoilt holiday destination with most of its heritage still intact.
Directly opposite the busy main Lefkas holiday resort of Nidri lies the long Geni peninsula which wraps around and encloses the huge sheltered bay of Vlycho.Dotted with luxury villas and smart waterfront tavernas, the Geni is considered the more 'exclusive' area of Nidri.Covered in dense forest pierced by olive and citrus groves, the eastern hillsides of Geni have views across to Meganissi and the other offshore islets of Lefkada while the western slopes look across Vlycho Bay to the popular holiday resort at Nidri.Tiny beach coves can be found all around Vlycho Bay with the pebble beach of Desimi the closest to Nidri and where there is a beach taverna and a large camping site.
The village of Vlycho, wich gives its name to the bay, is located at the southern end of the expanse of water and has a charming quayside mooring, some waterside tavernas and several shops as well as a watersport centre.The village resort of Geni is found midway on the western shore of the bay and has traditional stone houses, narrow alleyways, pleasant waterfront tavernas and a few shops.Upmarket holiday villas and apartments are strung along the shore and dotted in the wooded hillside above the village.Tiny hillside hamlets like Paliokatouna and Neochori are a step back in time and offer panoramic views over Lefkada.