Lefkada: You have to see it to believe it
Lefkada is something of an enigma. It makes up part of the Ionian Islands, which gives it the allure of a remote, Mediterranean oasis, but it is linked to mainland Greece via a bridge, giving visitors the accessibility they might expect from a 21st century prime vacation destination. To know this island well is to have access to some of the most luxurious beaches in Greece, small village towns that are waiting to be explored – many of which retain their authenticity due to their unchanging natures – and exciting water sport destinations, such as Vassiliki and Nydri.
The island itself is situated on the Western edges of Greece and it was completely linked to the mainland until a channel was dug into Lefkada’s sandbanks, causing it to separate and become the island that it is today. The island is perhaps best known for the white cliffs that wrap around the edges of its western coast – this is also where it gets its name Lefkada, which means “white” in Greek.
Never a Dull Moment on Lefkada
Regardless of what a visitor comes to the island of Lefkada for, there is something for everyone, making it a prime destination for those who just want to laze about in the sun, as well as those looking for adventure from dawn until dusk. Lefkada is a "secret" kitesurfing spot in the med, so if you've ever wanted to take lessons or are an experienced kitesurfer, than this island is a great one to visit.
The Best Beaches on Lefkada
As with any prime Greek holiday spot, the beaches on Lefkada are the most alluring. Egremni is one of the more remote beaches on the island. Set against a white cliff-side, it takes more than 350 steps to reach the beach. Visitors will want to keep in mind that there is no toilet at the top – while this might be disappointing, it also means that it tends to keep the crowds away.
Porto Katsiki, on the other hand, is a shingle beach based more to the south and takes 100 steps to reach. This area can become somewhat crowded during the afternoon hours, although it’s a great spot for those who are looking to avoid a more rigorous trek. A pleasant surprise awaits those who reach this spot as sun loungers are on hire to those looking to really soak up the sun in luxury, but only during peak seasons. As with all of the Greek islands if you visit just outside of June - September, you will avoid busy beaches, pricey tourist traps and scorchingly hot weather.
A Blast from the Past
Sfakiotes is home to a handful of villages that welcome travellers to explore ancient ruins, olive groves, watermills and campaniles. This hike is definitely for the more experienced as it is somewhat demanding, but it rewards travellers for their hard work by allowing them to rub shoulders with friendly locals – some of whom can still be seen in traditional clothing.
The Castle of Agia Mavra is another spot that is not to be missed for history buffs. The castle dates back thousands of years, the foundations of which were built by the Count of Orsini who was gifted Lefkada back in 1204. It was in the 14th century when the entire castle was officially built and it has been renovated and preserved ever since. It is at a nearby church where cultural events take place throughout the year – definitely something to look forward to.
The Dimossari Waterfalls
The Dimossari Waterfalls are a reminder about how much water is stored underneath Lefkada and they make for quite a sight. This waterfall is based on the outer borders of Nydri and it is a very popular swimming destination for tourists to the area.
Getting around Lefkada
Knowing how to get around is an important part of visiting any area and Lefkada will not leave visitors stranded. One of the easiest ways to enter Lefkada is by vehicle – which can be done thanks to the bridge that connects it to the mainland, or the underground tunnel. The island can also be reached by ferry.
When on the island, daily buses will connect travellers to all of the most popular resorts, including Vassiliki, Nidri, Agios Nikitas and Vlicho. Taxis are another popular option for getting around the island and they are most frequently seen taking the route from Lefkada to Preveza.
Dining in Lefkada
When people think of Greece, they tend to think of good food and Lefkada ensures that it makes the mainland proud. Previously – up until the 1960’s that is – the villages and the capital served very different foods. The villages kept to the food of their ancestors and this was in stark contrast to the ever changing palettes of the city dwellers. Over the years this has changed, but one thing remains as true as ever – Lefkada prides itself on its local produce and this ensures that the food serves in its tavernas, restaurants and cafes are of an extremely high standard.
Visitors have a range of tavernas to pick from when they visit the island, where they will find everything from sardines to saganaki, which is a pan seared cheese and one of the most popular dishes in the region. As with any coastal region that prides itself on the skills of its fisherman, Lefkada is known for its astoundingly fresh and varied seafood.
Rest Your Head in Lefkada
Anyone visiting Lefkada and picking where to lay their head for the night will likely want to start by deciding how they want to spend their time, as each area has something different to offer, including activities and sights. Kavalos, for example, offers some of the best views on the island as it is based on a hilltop. This village is known for its olive groves, which are as inviting as they are integral to the region.
Those who are more interested in water sports will likely want to pick accommodations near some of the islands most alluring beaches, including Syvota, Vassiliki and Nydra.
Lefkada is an exciting mixture of past and present – a thrilling holiday destination that teaches visitors about Greece’s ancient past while allowing them to immerse themselves in true adventure, whether that entails riding the winds on a windsurfer, kitesurfing or hiking an ancient land to visit one of the most remote beaches in Greece. This island will leave its mark on anyone who is lucky enough to step foot on its shores.