WHY IONIAN ISLAND HOLIDAYS?
AWARD WINNING HOLIDAYSIONIAN & AEGEAN HOLIDAYS ARE PROUD TO HAVE BEEN VOTED BEST TOUR OPERATOR TO HELLENIC EUROPE AT THE BRITISH TRAVEL AWARDS 2011 AND 2012.
EXPERT ADVICEOur team of experienced and knowledgeable advisers are here to make your holiday to the Greek islands memorable - and for the right reasons!
An island only since the sixth century BC when a channel was dug through the low isthmus connecting it to the mainland. Lefkada has its own unique appeal, possibly due to the fact that the Venetians handed over the island to the Turks in the 16th and 17th century, in return for control of nearby Kefalonia and Ithaka. On the other hand, could it have a connection with the romantic legends of two renowned beauties from a much earlier age?
Sappho, desperate after being spurned by her lover, fled to the high cliffs of Cape Lefkada on the extreme southwestern tip of the island. Here she threw herself into the sea, in ancient times a certain cure for unrequited love. She died!
Over the following centuries, criminals and lunatics were forced to repeat the act, sometimes with rudimentary wings attached, by priests from the nearby temple of Apollo in an annual ceremony. Nowadays, hang-gliders and parapentes manage Sappho’s Leap with much more success. In the 8th century AD, Saint Mavra, the black saint famous for her beauty and purity, sought sanctuary on the White Island to escape an unwanted suitor. She lived in solitary contemplation until her death, when her sainthood was assured after the discovery that her tomb would cure sickness and drive out evil spirits.
Today, Lefkada is still largely an agricultural island with thriving olive groves, vineyards and a famous lace-making cottage industry. Development of tourism has been confined to a few resorts such as Vassiliki and Nidri on the east coast. Elsewhere, the loudest noise might be from the surf breaking on shingle or the echo of goat bells through the olive trees. In spring, rare orchids thrive on the verges and the woods are bright with the purple blossom of the Judas tree.
Many of the older women in the rural areas still wear the traditional Lefkadian costume, consisting of two skirts, a brown headscarf and a rigid bodice. Stop for a retsina in a small kafenion and soon you will be engaged in conversation by a friendly local, who will be only too happy to point out all the local attractions.
Lefkada Town, the island’s capital, is situated at the north end of the island beside the narrow isthmus. It is an intriguing hotchpotch of narrow streets, timber, stone and even corrugated iron houses, with a busy harbour full of yachts. The town hosts a number of art and cultural festivals throughout the summer. The fascinating Epiros coast on the mainland is within easy reach across the swing bridge with its guardian fort of Agia Mavra.
Nidri, on the coast road 15 kilometres south of Lefkada Town, is a bustling resort in a beautiful setting from where boat trips can be taken to Onassis’ island of Skorpios, Meganisi and the Inner Islands. There is a ferry port with a daily scheduled service to Kefalonia and Ithaka and nearby a waymarked trail leads up to the Dimosari Cascades. Streams and waterfalls are extremely rare in the Ionian Islands as most of the rainfall disappears deep into the underlying limestone. Vasiliki, further down the coast is one of the world’s finest windsurfing locations and another ferry port for Kefalonia.
To discover the real Lefkada, take any of a number of quiet country roads that wind up green valleys towards the rugged mountains. Apart from the outstanding views of the inner Ionian Sea dotted with islands, many of the oldest monasteries can be explored including Agia Panaghia Odigirata, near Lefkada Town on the main road to Lazarata. Dating from the 15th century, with wonderful frescoes, recently restored, this is just one of many old churches scattered across the island. West and north of the mountains there are a series of traditional stone-built villages untouched by tourism. Typical of these are the five villages surrounding Lazarata, including Spanohori.
These quiet villages, set back from the coast, are ideal bases from which to explore Lefkada’s magnificent west coast. From the village of Agios Nikitas, set in a glorious position above a crescent of sand and soft shingle, a whole series of wonderful beaches run north and south, some such as Mylos only accessible by water taxi. To sit on an empty beach as the sun sinks gently towards the western horizon, towering white cliffs glowing pink and the sea turning from turquoise to deep blue, this must surely be one of life’s most memorable experiences.
- Explore secluded coves and islands from Nidri in your own motor boat
- 3 island cruise around Kefalonia, Ithaka and Meganisi
- Enjoy the beaches on the west coast – Agios Ioannis, Agios Nikitas, Kathisma, Milos & Porto Katsiki
- Visit Lefkada Town for its plateia (square) shopping and cosmopolitan nightlife
- Windsurfing and dinghy sailing in Vassiliki
- Kite surfing at Agios Ioannis beach
- Karia, the old capital and one of the most picturesque mountain villages on the island
- The impressive Zagori mountain range on the mainland range with one of the world’s deepest gorges Vikos Gorge
- The Dimosari waterfalls near Nidri in mid and low season.
Direct flights from London Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham
Your hire car will be waiting for you at the airport with driving instructions, otherwise you will be transferred to your accommodation by taxi. Approx transfer time: 30 mins to 1 hour 15 mins
PRE-BOOKING YOUR AIRCRAFT SEAT
To pre book your seat please contact the airline directly quoting Ionian Island Holidays as your tour operator, your booking reference number, flight number, date of departure and specific flight request. Payments for these seats are direct with the airline.
AIRLINE CONTACT DETAILS
Fly Monarch: 01582 556331
Fly Be: details to follow
20kg for checked baggage, 5kg hand baggage.
Security restrictions may apply, please contact the airline, the airport or ourselves before departure.
We are able to offer a limited number of flights direct to Kefalonia, Preveza and Corfu. Contact out UK office for further details on 020 8459 0777.
Please also fully inform us of any disability or walking difficulty you may have, so we can provide assistance at the airport. This must be made at least 7 days before departure.