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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To explore more of Greece, check out the best hotels in Skyros and these beautiful places to stay on Corfu Island. These are bookable with Culture Trip. During your stay, explore the top things to do and see in Corfu, and relax on the most beautiful beaches the island has to offer. Make sure you also book a table at at least one of the best restaurants in Heraklion to sample some delicious Greek dishes.
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