Basking in the blue Ionian Sea between Corfu and Kefalonia, Lefkada got its name from the Greek word meaning white. When you glimpse the blinding rocks that give the waters such brilliance, you’ll understand why. You don’t need to travel by boat to get here, as it’s linked to the mainland, but don’t think that means it’s overrun. With a little research you can find world-class beaches with barely a soul on them. Where do you begin? Right here – with our guide to the most beautiful beaches Lefkada has to offer.
So famous is Porto Katsiki, it has represented the Greek islands on posters, postcards, tour operator adverts and magazine covers. Backed by dramatic cliffs, this white-pebble beach has preternaturally bright waters. Named Port of the Goats (because historically only goats could get here), it does require a bit of a hike down forested slopes and a steep set of steps. Arrive as early as you can to catch its natural beauty before the other best-beach hunters descend.
The west coast of Lefkada has the lion’s share of spectacular beaches, backed by rugged cliffs. Crowds are inevitable, but Mylos is quieter than most, as you can only reach it on foot or by boat. Take the 10-minute scenic walk from Agios Nikitas for head-turning clifftop views – do wear sturdy shoes, as some of the trail is dirt track. You will likely be sharing the sparkling-clear waters with only a handful of other visitors, and after your day out you can take a water taxi back to Agios Nikitas.
The narrow track down to this west coast beach puts off many a timid driver, especially those with large hire cars, so only a handful get to enjoy its unspoilt beauty, lent drama by boulders the size of lorries. Cast your towel on the sand-and-shingle beach and plunge into the lucid turquoise shallows, for tinglingly cool swims (and snorkelling) around the rock formations. There’s hardly any development here, but the lone snack bar can supply you with bottled water and crisps.
Agios Nikitas makes a great base for beach-hopping on Lefkada, with handy access to Milos as well as this long, sandy stunner. It is super-popular and naturally photogenic, so join the flow of holidaymakers renting loungers and ordering from the beach bars. Kathisma also sees windsurfers, kayakers and paragliders leaping from the cliffs above. There are a few low-key apartments and three-star hotels above the beach.
This eastern sliver of beach isn’t far south of popular Nidri, but it’s only accessible by boat, which keeps the crowds away. A strip of pure-white pebbles unravels beneath mossy cliffs, and there are no sunbed touts or jet skis, just pale shallows dropping off to inky, snorkel-friendly waters, and a small cave to explore. You might see a dinghy party full of yachties drifting in for a paddle and photos. Catch a boat here from Desimi or Nidri – and bring supplies, as it’s a wild setting.
This deep, triangular bay on the south coast has for years attracted swimmers and snorkellers with its emerald waters. Framed by thickly forested slopes, it’s gently shingly – perfect if you are put off by pebbles – and perfectly formed, if small, so be prepared to share. A small beach bar rents sunbeds and serves chocolate-drizzled waffles as well as Greek beers. To see it at its best, visit off season (early spring or late autumn) to enjoy a spectacular dip in peace.
A delicate curl of coastline unfurls into a sheltered, rocky bay, glittering with Ionian waters the colour of polished jade. This small, white-pebble cove is a truly wild swimming spot for anyone ready to brave the rocks in swimming shoes (or those with the budget to pull up by boat). Book a room at the basic-but-chic Kastri hotel, which sits above it, for the best views. If you want more facilities, walk the 15 minutes to the livelier shingle strand of Ammoussa Beach.
To explore more of Greece, check out the best hotels in Astypalea and the best budget hotels in Santorini. These are bookable with Culture Trip. During your stay, discover the 10 best nightclubs in Mykonos, and relax on the nine best beaches in Athens. Make sure you also book a table at at least one of the best restaurants in Paxos to sample some delicious Greek dishes.
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