Reasons to Visit Lefkada, Greece

There are many spectacular beaches with turquoise waters on Lefkada, Greece
There are many spectacular beaches with turquoise waters on Lefkada, Greece | © Harris Dro / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lindsay Bennett Ford
29 September 2021

Shimmering in the Ionian Sea off the west coast of Greece, Lefkada is refreshingly under the radar of mainstream package-tour crowds. That’s largely because there’s no airport on the island. That said, it’s no hardship to reach the island, and its assets are extraordinary, while life is deliciously slow here. We’ve scoured around to bring you the ultimate reasons to visit Lefkada. Read, digest, and make a date.

It's easy to get to by car

Architectural Landmark
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Lefkas (Lefkada) town, amazing view at the small marina for the fishing boats with the nice wooden bridge and promenade, Ionian island, Greece
WKRJ0R Lefkas (Lefkada) town, amazing view at the small marina for the fishing boats with the nice wooden bridge and promenade, Ionian island, Greece | © Georgios Tsichlis / Alamy Stock Photo
Connected to the mainland by a short bridge, Lefkada is a cinch to reach with your own wheels. It has all the island vibes with none of the ferry-connection planning. The first thing you’ll notice is how dramatic Lefkada is. As it’s uniquely layered with high peaks, deep pine forests, white cliffs and a stunning coastline, it’s no wonder it’s a favourite with nature lovers.

It's got fantastic beaches

Natural Feature
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The spectacular Porto Katsiki in Lefkada, Greece
EJT14J The spectacular Porto Katsiki in Lefkada, Greece | © Constantinos Iliopoulos / Alamy Stock Photo
Lefkada is home to more than 20 beaches, from wild and remote pebble coves to well-organised sandy strands. All have one thing in common: they are stunning. Head to the west coast to be dazzled by Porto Katsiki, which, rightfully, steals hearts with its white sand and see-through blue waters, perfectly framed by cliffs. Come the leisurely way – there are boat trips from Nidri or Vasiliki – or drive, finishing up by descending the 100 steps from the clifftop.

Its villages are so picturesque

Architectural Landmark
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Inside the folklore museum of Karya village, Lefkada (or "Lefkas") island, Ionian sea, Eptanisa ("Seven Islands"), Greece
CRPPH5 Inside the folklore museum of Karya village, Lefkada (or "Lefkas") island, Ionian sea, Eptanisa ("Seven Islands"), Greece | © Hercules Milas / Alamy Stock Photo
To get a real sense of Lefkada, head inland to Kayra, one of its traditional mountain villages. Here, the unique centuries-old Karsaniko embroidery tradition lives on, practised by local weavers. Visit the craft shops to see the beauty of their detailed work, and wander picturesque cobbled streets before cooling off in an enchanting shaded plaza. Near Karya’s main square flanked by ancient plane trees, the Pardalo Katsiki serves delicious local dishes.

Lefkada's flavours are irresistible

Cafe, Italian
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Sweet healthy sesame seed and honey bars
M9J229 Sweet healthy sesame seed and honey bars | © Eva Ziaťková / Alamy Stock Photo
The people of Lefkada have a distinct sweet tooth. So, while you’re here, make sure you try the local mantolato, a pale, chewy nougat incorporating local honey, almonds and egg whites. If you’d be happier with a nuttier taste, ask to sample the sweet (and, yes, nutty) pasteli. Also made with local honey, as well as roasted almonds and baked sesame seeds, pasteli is best sampled with a Greek coffee so you get the perfect balance of bitter and sweet.

The wine is delicious

Bar, Wine Bar, Wine
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Nidri waterfront
S21NA8 Nidri waterfront | © Arrionette / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo
Lefkada is proud of vardea, one of the most important white wine varieties in the region. To taste it – and enjoy a vineyard tour – visit the scenic Lefkas Earth Winery. In Nidri, head to De Blanck, a harbourside wine bar with an unrivalled collection of local wine, cheese boards and platters, handpicked by Anja & Bob de Blanck from Denmark. If you’d like to combine a tasting with a room for the night, try boutique Aigli Hotel 1800 in Lefkada Town, offering wine and gourmet retreats.

Its natural assets are magnificent

Natural Feature
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The largest among the waterfalls waterfall in Dimosari gorge, close to Nydri Nidri town, Lefkada Lefkas Greek Island Greece
DG5BGF The largest among the waterfalls waterfall in Dimosari gorge, close to Nydri Nidri town, Lefkada Lefkas Greek Island Greece | © Paul Thompson / Alamy Stock Photo
Outside Nidri, the Dimosari waterfalls are yours to discover a short walk along a well-signposted wooded trail. Join energetic Lefkadians and international tourists cooling off in the naturally clear rock pools underneath the foaming cascades. Naturally formed by the flow of rainfall down from the mountains, the waterfalls’ volume can dwindle considerably in peak summer months, but it’s still a worthwhile walk here – you’ll love the pine-scented scenery.

It's rich in culture

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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Coffee shops and restaurants in the main square of Lefkada town.
2CCF6PA Coffee shops and restaurants in the main square of Lefkada town. | © Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo
In a nation rich in poetry, Lefkada is the island of poets. Not only is it the birthplace of two national legends, Aristotelis Valaoritis and Angelos Sikelianos; myth holds that it is where the ancient poet Sappho jumped to her death (on the southern tip). For more uplifting inspiration, head to Lefkada Town, and explore the museum dedicated to Sikelianos. Nominated for the European Museum of the Year 2020 Award, the poet’s former home includes objects and art related to the Delphic festivals he founded.

It's base for Ionian Island explorations

Natural Feature
Map View
Mountains of mainland Greece from Fanari, Meganisi, lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece.
DCGM83 Mountains of mainland Greece from Fanari, Meganisi, lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece. | © graham bell travel / Alamy Stock Photo
In less than 20 minutes from Nidri, you can be on the peaceful little island of Meganisi, thanks to regular ferries that deposit you for lunch at one of the harbourside tavernas a few steps from the dock. Or spend a day lazing on one of the spectacular beaches. Nidri also has ferries to nearby Ithaca, home of Odysseus, Homer’s great hero. Build your own Ionian odyssey by including Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Corfu and Paxos, to get a true sense of the diverse beauty of the region.

You can enjoy watersports

Natural Feature, Sports Center
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kitesurfers on Milos  beach, Agios Ioannis
GD8B9K kitesurfers on Milos beach, Agios Ioannis | © Nick Moore / Alamy Stock Photo
Reliable winds make the north coast one of the finest spots for windsurfing in Europe. Head to Agios Ioannis Beach, where deep-blue waters are lined by 4km (2.5mi) of white sand. Try Milos Beach Resort for A-grade rental gear and lessons in kitesurfing, windsurfing and flyboarding between April and September. If kayaking to remote beaches sounds more appealing, head to Vasiliki Beach, and book a tour with Ionian Explorers, who offer self-guided or fully guided adventures.

Sunsets are spectacular

Natural Feature
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Lefkada, Greece. August 18th, 2011. A girl admires the view near one of the old mills of Milos Beach at sunset.
2C83W9F Lefkada, Greece. August 18th, 2011. A girl admires the view near one of the old mills of Milos Beach at sunset. | © Alessandro Tortora / Alamy Stock Photo
For spectacular molten-red end-of-the-day displays across the Ionian Sea, you need to be at the western point of the marina in Lefkada Town, where the sun sinks into the Gyra Lagoon. For a more secluded experience, pitch up at Mylos Beach with your own picnic. Or, a 15-minute hike from Agios Nikitas, you’ll be rewarded with a scenic show. If you’re peckish, try Rachi Restaurant in Exanthia, known for its gourmet food and sunset views over the mountains. The restaurant doesn’t accept reservations, so arrive in good time to bag a table and settle in before golden hour is upon you.
These recommendations were updated on September 29, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh. This article is an updated version of a story created by Lindsay Bennett Ford

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