This little treasure of an island in the Ionian Sea perhaps isn’t as famous as some of its neighbours like Corfu and Kefalonia, but if you take a chance on Lefkada you won’t regret it. The island boasts exquisite cuisine, idyllic coastal towns and some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece.
Lefkada, also known as Lefkas, has a leafy interior scattered with traditional mountain villages just waiting to be discovered. The eastern coast offers long beaches and calm waters ideal for swimming and relaxing on a sun lounger, while the scenic southern bays are considered to be some of the best places in Europe for windsurfing. And let’s not forget the wild west coast, the majestic white cliffs plunging into the deep blue sea is an image you won’t forget any time soon.
In and around Lefkada Town
Located in a natural harbour in the north, Lefkada is easily the largest town on the island. The waterfront is lined with traditional restaurants and cafes where you can watch life unfold in the capital. Explore some of the island’s top cultural sites including the Archaeological Museum with artefacts dating back to the Bronze Age. If you like quirky and unusual sites, you will love taking a dip into the past at the Gramophone Museum. Along with an impressive collection of gramophones, discover everyday objects like jewellery, photographs and traditional instruments.
A floating bridge over the sea connects Lefkada town to the mainland, making it much more accessible than most islands in the Ionian. Halfway along the causeway, you will find the ruins of Agia Mavra castle, built in the 14th century by the Franks to protect the settlement from pirates. Throughout its history, the castle survived 12 sieges and today is one of the island’s most famous symbols. The short drive to the mainland also means it’s simple to explore other nearby sites such as the astonishing ruins of the ancient Roman city of Nikopolis.
Coastal towns and Best Beaches
If you can’t resist quaint fishing villages, Lefkada is the island for you. The charming village of Sivota is set in a beautiful bay in the south surrounded by lush forests. It’s a peaceful town oozing Greek tradition and a great spot for watching the wooden fishing boats bobbing in the bay. For mouth-watering seafood, head to Vassiliki village on the southern tip of Lefkada, with tavernas serving delicious seafood platters around every corner. On the east coast, feast your eyes on bright blue waters dotted with rocky outcrops at Agios Nikitas. This small resort town is surrounded by hills with olive trees and vineyards and is near some of the best beaches on the island.
Speaking of stunning beaches, Porto Katsiki is an absolute must during your stay. Once you catch a glimpse of the deep blue sea set against the steep white cliffs, it will be clear why Porto Katsiki is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Descend the 347 steps to reach the beach or walk one of the trails along the cliffs for breath-taking views over the bay. A short drive down the coast, you will find Egremni beach offering a similarly dramatic setting. If you are looking for somewhere even more secluded, hike through the forest or take a boat to Milos beach, famous for its unparalleled sunsets.
Mountain villages and lush interior
The interior of the island is mostly covered by hills and forests, ideal for hiking and biking. For a taste of undisturbed island life, venture into the mountains and visit some of the little villages where time has stood still. Engluvi is one of the oldest settlements on the island and it’s also the highest so get ready for some amazing views. A rare variety of lentils is farmed in the surrounding fields, following the same methods that have been used for centuries. Nestled in the mountains, Karya is also well worth a visit. Take a stroll among the traditional stone houses, pretty gardens and women sat in the narrow streets working on their embroidery.
The resort town of Nydri is a great base for exploring the island. Located in the centre along the east coast, it’s a short drive from all the top attractions and best beaches. The town has more of a cosmopolitan feel and has perhaps lost a little of its local charm, but the surrounding landscape is stunning and the locals are extremely welcoming. With more accommodation options than most places in Lefkada, it’s easy to find a delightful hotel with a pool, like G. George Hotel or Sands Hotel. While you’re here, don’t miss Dimosari waterfall, often referred to as Nydri waterfall for its proximity to the town. After a pleasant shaded walk through the forest, you will reach the 15 metre high waterfall where you can bathe in the (cold!) natural pool at the bottom.
Best activities in and out of the water
In the far south, Vassiliki is considered a top-notch destination for kitesurfing and windsurfing, which has given Lefkada the title of the watersports capital of the Ionian sea. The season runs from April to October and it’s a great place for both experts and beginners with courses and equipment rentals everywhere. Another way to take in the dramatic scenery and secluded bays is with a boat ride along the picturesque coastline. Bring a mask and snorkel to explore the colourful sea life below.
For those looking for more relaxing activities (and to stay dry), why not visit one of the local vineyards? There are two varieties of grape endemic to the island, so you will have the opportunity to try some unique wines. At Lefkas Earth Winery, you can enjoy a tour to learn all about the production process, before moving on to the best part – the tasting. Lefkada is also known for producing some of the finest olive oil in Greece. While you’re here, stop off at the olive oil museum or one of the many shops selling local products and take home a bottle of this precious liquid gold.