Lefkas, or Lefkada as the Greeks call it, is a very popular summer
resort, where there is something for everyone. Young visitors party all
night, windsurfers have some excellent spots, there are quiet places for
those who just want to relax, and there is lots to see.
The people on the island is known for their hospitality, and many of them manage to live off the tourism in the summer. Others are involved with farming, fishing and stockbreeding.
The island's name means white, and refers to the white cliffs in the south part that are characteristic for Lefcas. It is a green, mountainous island, and it is connected to the mainland by a bridge..
points to that Lefkas has been inhabited since the Stone Age (4th Millennium
BC). According to mythology, the island was given by Odysseus father to
Penelopes father as a wedding gift. The cliffs of the island were a
"favourite" suicide spot for people with broken hearts, and some legends
claim that it was here, and not on Lesbos, that Sappho jumped to her death
after her love for a sailor had not been returned.
The people on the island separated the island from the mainland by making a canal in the 7th century BC. In the 4th century BC the Macedonians conquered Lefkas, and the Romans invaded in in 2nd century BC.
The island went through many wars and attacks from nations and pirates, and in 1204 it fell under Frankish rule. The Turks took the island in 1479 and after constant battles with the Venetians, the island changed rulers several times, but the Turks lasted the longest and stayed until 1684.
What followed would again be years of different rulers, constantly changing hands. The Venetians succeeded the Turks, and was then forced to give the island back to them. At the end of the 18th century the Napolean armies invaded, then the Russians came, only to be followed by the British in 1810 for five years. Lefkas remained a British protectorate, though, until 1864.`
Quite a few famous Greeks were born on Lefkas, but they are not so well known abroad. The one you are most likely to have heard of is Aggelos Sikelianos (1884-1951), nominated for the Nobel literary prize twice.
Tourism came in the 1960's, when the international press gathered on the island to be close to the shipping magnate Onassis and his wife Jackie.
What to see
: Lefkas town is the
island's capital. Here, there is an interesting archaeo-logical museum as
well as the original "gramophone museum". There are several churches as
well. The Venetian church Christ the Almighty (Cristou Pandokratora) dates
back to the 17th century.
The castle of Agia Mavra dates back to the 14th century, but has been renovated many times since then. It was originally built by Sicilian rulers, and used to protect the old town. There is a nice church here, and during summer there are often various cultural events going on.
The Papanikolis cave is also worth a visit. It is a big stalactite cave which can only be reached by boat.
The monastery of Panagia Faneromeni (The Illuminated Virgin Mary) is open for visitors. According to tradition, St. Paul the Apostle preached here, and there is a church inside dedicated to St. Paul and. St. Peter. The monastery was probably built on an ancient sanctuary, perhaps to Artemis or Hera
What to do
: Windsurfing and watersports are the two major things to do here, but the island also is very nice to explore yourself, either on foot or by renting a vehicle. There are often events going on in the Castle of Agia Mavra, and you can go on several boattrips to the neighbouring islands, as well as Onassis' island Scorpio - which, of course, you can not visit.
: There are both sandy and pebble beaches here. On the beaches around Nidri you'll find lots of watersports and taverns, but there are also several more quiet beaches like Lagada and Dessimi.
: The most bars and discos are in Nidri, and this is a paradise for people who really want to party. Lefkas town also has many options. If you want a more quiet time, Perigiali and Nikiana might suit you better.
There is both Greek and international food served on the island. You get the most choices in Lefkas town and Nidri, but there are also many taverns in the villages and at many beaches.
:You'll find everything you need in Nidri and Lefkas town. There are both traditional shops with lots of handicraft things, as well as more ordinary souvenir and sweets to bring home.
: There are both buses, boats and taxis to take you around, but if you really want to explore the island you should definitely rent a car or a moped.
The airport, Aktion, is on the mainland and from there the drive is about 1 hour.
Facts about Lefkas
Size: 290 sq. km
International code: 0030
Population: about 24 000
Local code: 26450
Cash machine: Yes (National Bank of Greece)
Internet cafe: Yes,
Highest Mountain:Elati 1158m
Port Police: 22322
Tourist Police: 95207
OTE Telephone company
Bus company: 22364