Let’s Go Lefkada!
Discover your perfect somewhere on lovely Lefkada
The only Island you don’t need a boat to get to!
Thinking about Lefkada? Want to know more?
Then read on…..
We at Ionian Island Holidays absolutely love Lefkada with its magnificent sandy beaches, turquoise waters lapping the shore, hidden coves, waterside villages, traditional cuisine and water sports for the more energetic.
Let’s take a brief look at the islands history
Named by the sailors in ancient times who passed by the dramatic cliffs of Cape Lefkada at the southern most tip of the island, Lefkada or Lefkas simply means “White Island”, due to the impressive stretch of white rocks white rocks on the cliff faces and mountains that line its southern coastline.
Smaller than its more famous neighbour Kefalonia, Lefkada offers its visitors a diverse landscape teaming with natural flora and fauna, mountainous regions, waterside villages and inland traditional settlements that haven’t changed in centuries let alone decades. Lefkada is unique being both island, and part mainland. Linked to the western coast of Greece by a moving causeway built in 1986 as a means of easy passage across the 7th century BC canal to the mainland.
The canal was constructed to allow access for warships leaving for battle. This period marked the beginning of an incredibly turbulent history for the island as during the 700 years of Corinthian rule the island witnessed many bloody battles and frequent invasions, including the Peloponnesian war of 431 BC.
The island as we know it today began to take shape under Corinthian rule, as the capital was formed at this time. Originally called Nirikos, we now know it as Lefkada Town, the position of the island’s capital is as crucial now as it was then as its the island’s entry point.
Byzantine rule followed this period and saw the building of many fortresses, particularly around the causeway as further defence against potential invaders. From 1477 Turkey controlled the island until 1684 when the Venetians ruled.
The next hundred years marked a time of cultural growth on the island, as writing, recording and icon-painting began to flourish. Although due to the devastating earthquake of 1953, sadly, little remains of Venetian architecture but there are still many stunning painted icons dating back to this time that can be visited in the many churches on the island.
The arrival of Napoleon in 1779 saw the end of Venetian rule and it fell under French control until 1810 when the British took control of the island. It was another 54 years before Lefkada regained Greek independence.
Whilst tourism has helped the prosperity of the island, it is still remarkably unspoilt, combining a unique blend of bustling harbour towns, a more cosmopolitan capital and the traditional villages that have barely changed in hundreds of years.
The island’s summer-long music festival is just one example of the unique nature of Lefkada’s cultural appeal. Not only are there also numerous literary works to be found in the impressive library just outside of Lefkada Town, but 25,000 of the works to be found here were actually written on Lefkada.
The literary history of the island dates back as far as the poet Sappho who allegedly dramatically took her life from the white cliffs of the southern cape, right up to the writer Lefkadio Hern – a well-travelled Lefkadian who later became famous for composing the Japanese national anthem.
The White Island is famous for its great beaches and spectacular cliffs. If you like mountains, then head for the centre. And if you like mountains, but don’t particularly like climbing them on foot, then you can use the car to drive up several of them!
On the Eastern side of the island there are busier resorts like Nidri, with huge choice of tavernas, cafes and bars all in a beautiful setting. Vasiliki, in our opinion has to be one of the best bays for windsurfing and dinghy sailing in the world. The Western coastline is where you will find some of the best beaches in the Ionian, and luckily, they are still one of the Ionian’s best kept secrets! West is best for water sports, kite surfing, water skiing and more, head for the sandy beach at Agios Ioannis – simply stunning.
The capital is probably the most interesting town on the island. Situated between a freshwater lagoon and the foothills of the stunning Mount Stavrotas, the town is small and cosmopolitan, made up of narrow streets, and an excellent blend of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and boutiques.
The architecture of the town which like neighbouring Kefalonia and Ithaka was destroyed in the earthquake of 1953, is really attractive with rows of houses adorned with bougainvillea and colourful displays of flowers on their balconies and window ledges.
As a precaution against future earthquake damage, no building in the town was built above three stories high – indeed the only remaining buildings to have survived the quake are a number of small private chapels just outside of the town, making it virtually impossible to see a picture of the town’s history.
For dining out there is a wide choice of eateries, ranging from traditional to the more tourist orientated tavernas and restaurants towards the North of the town. Head to the main square for where you’ll find a selection of good tavernas and trendy café bars to while the evening away.
The town also has the advantage of three banks, all of which have ATMs, an impressive library, internet cafes, a launderette, and a post office. The port is usually full of yachts and traditional caiques and if you love to people watch then this is the place to be.
In high summer there are often boat jams waiting to pass through the canal and its swing bridge, which makes highly entertaining viewing from the comfort of a harbour-side taverna or café.
For those searching for a more in depth look at Lefkada’s past why not take in the museums on the island which covers its archaeological history as well as its nautical past. (open in high season only) The archaeological museum is separated into four different departments covering the various aspects of life on the island.
Traditional techniques of weaving, bread, oil and wine making can be viewed, along with representations of local and national mythology and history. There is also a wide range of pottery, jewellery, and various artefacts from recent digs in the area. The museum is open 8.30am to 3.00pm daily and is easily located ten minutes’ walk along the seafront towards the lagoon.
The other two museums are the Folklore and the Phonograph museums, which have free entry, opening times vary throughout the season – please check with your representative for more details.
In the summer there is an international festival of traditional music and drama. This festival has been running for almost fifty years and different groups travel from all over the world to attend. The festival originally for a three-week period in August but has now been extended to last from June through to September, with various musical and theatrical events throughout the season. Please ask your representative for further details.
THE WESTERN COAST
Lefkada is famous for its excellent beaches, the best of which are located along its West coast. Yira at the northern-most tip of the island is a lovely stroll of around 30 minutes from Lefkada Town and will bring you to the spectacular beach of Agios Ioannis.
This is a great stretch of sand/shingle around 4km long, where moving north along the beach will bring more seclusion – the northern most part is usually deserted, which is great if you are looking for somewhere to develop an all-over tan! If you get what we mean! If you love water sports then this is the beach for you. You can learn to Kite-surf, water ski or simply sit back and enjoy the cool breeze of a hot summer’s day. Head south for a good choice of fish tavernas serving the catch of the day. Due to a number of complexes and a camp site this southwestern most part of the beach can get quite busy in peak season.
Coming away from the beach higher up into the mountains and well worth a visit is the charming monastery of Faneromeni which is also an easy and enjoyable walk from Lefkada Town. Once inside the courtyard of the monastery, the public are free to wander around and visit the chapel with its beautiful stained-glass windows and the museum. There are also a bookshop and public toilets!
The monastery is tended to by one remaining monk and is open to the public from 8.00am – 2.00pm and 4.00pm – 8.00pm. Entry is free, although out of respect it is advisable to make sure knees and shoulders are covered when you enter – if you do not have anything with you then capes are provided by the entrance.
Walking in this area is also excellent as there are several signposted walks from the monastery. Further south along the western coast is the pretty village of Tsoukalades and just a kilometre from the village two lovely good but small sandy beaches can be found. The village itself has a small selection of tavernas and restaurants and makes an appealing alternative to the bustling Lefkada Town for an evening out.
Four kilometres from Tsoukalades is the larger beach Pefkoulia – the largest stretch of beach in the Northwestern area of the island, this is a combination of sand and pebble beach and is a good spot for swimming and snorkelling. The only access is from a narrow road which passes through a small selection of tavernas and shops. The island’s bus service does stop by this beach.
Popular for its picturesque qualities, yet totally unspoilt due to it’s slightly out of the way location and pedestrianised town centre, Agios Nikitas is a pretty fishing village with a good choice of restaurants, cafés and tavernas.
The beach here is fairly small and is a pebble one which makes it ideal for snorkelling. Alternatively, it’s easy to reach the beautiful blue flag beach of Milos which boasts a stretch of sand a kilometre long. Boats leave for Milos from Agios Nikitas beach and are regular throughout the day. Bus services run regularly to and from Lefkada Town to Agios Nikitas and there is also a service to Nidri on the East coast from here.
By far the best beach on the island is Kathisma – a stunning stretch of golden sand amidst crystal turquoise waters. Kathisma has been named one of the best beaches in Europe and is served five times daily by the island bus service.
The beach boasts a huge stretch of golden sand which reached south along the west coast as far as Kalamitsi, the next town, although visitors tend to remain around the Northern end of the beach where a small selection of tavernas are located. Kathisma has little natural shade so it might be worth taking a beach umbrella.
Kalamitsi is the last main settlement along the western coast of Lefkada and the best representative of the island’s more traditional culture, where the way of life hasn’t changed for some time and you can still find many traditional pretty island houses.
The village itself has a small selection of tavernas, a few shops and a couple of bars. There is also a popular taverna just outside the village, serving fresh seafood and boasting some spectacular views. Kalamitsi has an impressive, but small sandy beach, which stays pretty quiet throughout the summer.
The southwest tip of the island, Cape Lefkada, boasts high cliffs, no crowds, and some fantastic surf. Right on the tip of the cape is Sappho’s Leap, a dramatic drop so called after the lady who took her own life for the sake of unrequited love.
Of course, this all happened a few thousand years ago, but for a long time afterwards criminals were also ‘encouraged’ to take the same treacherous leap. If they lived, then they were pardoned, although not really surprisingly, not many did!
Later a cult of sorts developed which saw young priests hurling themselves over, sometimes with wings attached, most of which again didn’t work. Today, the other people you may see leaping from this stunning cliff face are the BASE jumpers and parapente pilots that sometimes visit the site.
EASTERN LEFKADA – VASSILIKI TO THE NORTH
One of the two main ports of the island and located on the southern coast of the island is bustling resort of Vassiliki – a windsurfer’s heaven! The town is quite small but very international and often full of bronzed surfers with sun bleached hair.
If you want to race across the bay on something a bit more stable, there are dinghy sailing clubs with everything from Mirrors up to Lasers and Hobie cats. These often overtake the old ferry as it sails across from Kefalonia!
Don’t come here for the beach alone, the main attraction here is the wind; steady and gentle in the morning and perfect for beginners, it builds up in the afternoon to give the true aficionados a screaming ride across the waves.
There is also a wide range of other water sports available such as ringos, banana boats, water-skiing and jet ski from the beach.
A good choice of tavernas and bars are available here, being one of the island’s most popular resorts, but be warned, this is not the place to escape the crowd! Sivota and Mikros Gialos further along the southern coast of Lefkada are two charming bays, each with a small settlement and scattering of tavernas.
Sivota is a firm favourite with sailing flotillas and as such, this pretty bay has gained popularity in recent years, but has still managed to maintain its traditional charm. Sivota is best visited to enjoy the waterside tavernas rather than the beach, which is fairly small and pebbly.
Likewise, Mikros Gialos has a small offering of traditional fish tavernas and a small pebbly beach, which boasts excellent clear waters and is great for snorkelling.
Nidri is the most popular holiday resort on the island, the harbour town of Nidri is basically one street wide – albeit a very long street! There is nightlife with a good choice of bars and nightclubs, although those wishing to escape the crowds and tourists may wish to avoid this area in high season.
With around twenty to thirty tavernas, Nidri is a very welcoming town, but the action in high season never really slows down. A regular street market is on offer during the majority of the summer months, the entertainment is extensive and varied with stalls selling a range of handmade gifts, plus stands offering hen tattoos and even English tarot card readings!
The town however, is essentially a harbour town, and it is possible to take many trips to other islands and around Lefkada, and one of the most popular boat trips from the port is a full day visiting Skorpios, Meganisi and its caves, and the inner islands near the coast.
For the less adventurous, the harbour in Nidri is often full of impressive yachts, and it’s a great place for armchair sailors to sit and watch the world go by at one of the many waterfront tavernas.
For walkers there is an excellent trail from Nidri to view the impressive waterfall around 45 minutes’ walk inland from the town. This trail will bring you past an array of pretty olive, orange and lemon groves and has shade along the way, although it is best to take the walk earlier in the morning or in late afternoon to avoid the strong midday sun. There is a taverna situated halfway between Nidri and the falls for refreshments should you need them.
Accessed by boat from Nidri, Skorpios is world famous as Onassis’s Island. The famous Greek billionaire bought it many years ago, chopped off the top of a small mountain to build his helipad, and then built various villas for his family and wives.
Thoughtfully, he also constructed mausoleums so that they didn’t ever have to leave.
The island of Meganisi is simply another world like stepping back in time, its tranquil, sleepy and very relaxing! However, its west coast is extremely rugged with cliffs honeycombed with caves – some of them big enough to hide boats (even submarines!). You may even be lucky enough to spot the extremely rare, and protected, Mediterranean Monk Seal.
Just five minutes’ drive from Nidri is the charming Geni Peninsula or aptly named “Tranquil” bay. This makes a lovely alternative for an evening out, with a selection of six or seven tavernas, some of which are situated right on the waterfront. Just five to ten minutes’ walk from the bay is a pretty church which is built into the rock face and can only be reached on foot or by boat.
Driving North from Nidri will bring you to the attractive and relatively unspoiled waterside towns of Nikiana and Ligia, which are both pretty fishing villages, with a good choice of tavernas and attractive pebbly beaches. Access to both of these beaches is easy either by car or by bus, as they are both situated just off the main road between Nidri and Lefkada Town.
OUR HANDPICKED VILLAS ON LEFKADA
Why book a villa for your next holiday?
If you are looking for a romantic hideaway that you’ve dreamt of, a longed-for family holiday you’ve promised yourself or just a simple get together with friends and family then our Lefkada villas are the perfect choice.
We handpick villas with your holiday in mind in quiet locations yet close enough to local amenities to give you everything you need for that perfect Greek island summer holiday.
A villa holiday on Lefkada is ideal for those who want a chill out in a spectacular setting amongst ancient olive groves with stunning views across the Ionian and beyond. Take a swim in your own pool or just sit back, relax and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of lovely Lefkada. Rustle up a barbeque for a family feast under a starlit sky, what’s not to love!
If you can tear yourself away from your villa, pack a picnic, hop in the car included in your package and explore hidden coves or historical sites on Lefkada or drive across the causeway to the mainland.
We have a fabulous collection of villas all with their own pool for you to choose from. Smaller villas for couples sleeping up to four, family villas sleeping up to eight in utter comfort and style. The choice is yours!
To help you choose here’s a selection of our top best villas on Lefkada, Villa Anamnisis, Villa Memories, Villa Vrahos, Villa Sunrise, however if you’d like more information on Lefkada or a wider selection of villa options then give us a call and speak to a member of our knowledgeable team on 0208 459 0777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.