lefkada

Information about the island of Lefkada

lefkadaLefkada or Lefkas, combines elements of mountainous mainland Greece and some of the most spectacular beaches of the Ionian, which will make you wonder which exotic island you landed on.

The city of Lefkada, is like a gatekeeper for those who approach the island by road via the drawbridge, with the Castle of Agia Mavra, the modern marina, the two-storey colored houses, the interesting churches and the lively life, gives the first positive impression.

The capital, built on the edge of a huge salty lagoon, has suffered frequent earthquake damage but is still an attractive place with a jumble of narrow alleyways and a busy town square fringed with friendly cafes that provide endless people-watching opportunities. Most visitors head for the two main resorts of Nidri, halfway down the east coast, and Vassiliki at the southern end of the island.

Moving east, you will see milder and more developed tourist landscapes, while on the west side the picture is clearly wilder, with out-of-competition beaches and beach bars.
But if you do not take a walk in the mountainous – scattered among olives, pines and cypresses – villages.

The picturesque Exanthia, Karya with the paved square, the plane trees and the traditional embroidery, the Enclosure with the famous lentils, you will have lost half the charm of the island. The preserved settlement of Agios Nikitas, an ideal base for routes in Western Lefkada, is a developing resort with crystal clear waters.

The bay of Vassiliki is a must for those who love wind surfing and the profile of the area is youthful, with intense nightlife and a variety of options for accommodation and food. Vassiliki is one of the prime windsurfing resorts in Europe due to its location between two mountains that create a unique wind system in vast Vassiliki Bay.
Thousands of windsurfers gather here in high season so don’t even think of pitching up without booking ahead. The gentle morning breezes are ideal for beginners taking one of the many courses on offer and the strong afternoon gusts are a challenge for the most experienced surfers.

From here you can also reach by boat various beaches of Lefkada, Agiofylli, Porto Katsiki, Egremni and the neighboring islands. Nidri, a former fishing village, has become the most cosmopolitan part of the island.

With modern tourist infrastructure, the visitor has many options for accommodation and food by the sea. Lefkada is a must for lovers of all kinds of sports, as it has ideal beaches for wind and kite surfing, places for paragliding and hiking in cool waterfalls.

A favorite destination of sailing yachts, the wider area is ideal for boating explorations. The accommodation proposals are many and varied: from campsites, simple rentals and hotels to more atmospheric proposals, such as traditional stone houses in mountainous areas or where the waves break, but also luxury hotels.

Nidri is the busier of the two resort towns, bursting with package holiday accommodation, souvenir shops and restaurants serving both Greek and international fare.
The town has its own port with frequent ferry services to the neighbouring Ionian islands of Kefalonia and Ithaca as well as plentiful boat excursions around the pretty archipelago of satellite islets which lie a short distance offshore.

A day trip to the lovely unspoilt islet of Meganisi, six kilometres from Nidri, is top of most tourists’ agenda. You’ll get a glimpse of the Onassis-owned islet of Skorpios.

The island’s best beaches are on the west coast where white cliffs plunge down to golden and white sand lapped by iridescent water that provides some of the best swimming in the Ionian Sea.

Explore inland and you’ll find many scenic villages where you can dine in traditional tavernas, many of which offer the option of a clean, comfortable and incredibly cheap room for the night.

History

The island in antiquity was known as Lefkas or Lefkada . According to some ancient writers, this name is due to its southernmost cape, Lefkata, which took its name from the white color of the rocks or from a companion of Odysseus, Lefkos.

Others claim that the name of the island is due to the mythical hero Lefkadios, son of Ikarios and brother of Penelope and Alyzeas. The first indigenous inhabitants of Lefkada, according to the literary tradition, were called Leleges or Televoai. In Homeric epics, Lefkada is called Nirikos and is described as part of the Greek trunk “continental coast”.

The period from the end of the Bronze Age to the last quarter of the 7th c. e.g. (1100-625 BC) is characterized as a dark period for Lefkada, because the literary evidence is completely absent, while the archaeological data are few.

What to see in Lefkada

lefkada what to seeLefkada, always offering new opportunities and new things to see, to be fascinated not only by the color of the sea, but also by its history and traditions. On the island it is easy to come across one of the different beaches that are worth seeing, such as Porto Katsiki beach, Mylos beach or Egremini beach.

The island of Lefkada is also surrounded by many islets that deserve an excursion to admire their naturalness, such as the islet of Meganisi, the most populous, preserves turquoise waters and pebble beaches, pristine and beautiful.

Admire the natural beauty of the Dimossari waterfalls, a natural gorge that owes its name to the presence of old mills, where the water of the falls surrounded by vegetation and rocks offers an unmissable scenery.

However, the island combines natural beauties with a history that is still alive and present, testified by the various cultural centers and architectural bulwarks such as the ruins of ancient Nirikos, the Venetian fortress of Agia Mavra or the various museums of Lefkada city, the archaeological museum, the Collection of post-Byzantine icons and the Library

Archaeological Museum of Lefkada

At the Cultural Center of the Municipality of Lefkada, it presents findings from the Paleolithic era to the Late Roman times. Here are also the findings from the excavations of the German archaeologist Wilhelm Derpfeld, who believed that Lefkada was Homeric Ithaca.

The town’s Archaeological Museum, contains a well-labeled collection of finds from around the island including a 6th century BC terracotta figurine.

One room is dedicated to the work of the eminent German archaeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld (1853-1940) whose excavations of Bronze Age settlements on the island led him to believe that Lefkada was the kingdom of Homer’s Odysseus (rather than Ithaca which is the main contender for the title these days).

Castle of Agia Mavra

Just outside the city, it was built around 1300 by the Orsini in order to repel the pirates and closed for a while inside the island’s capital. It owes its name to the church of the same name, which was turned into a mosque by the Turks. Over the years it has experienced many different uses (but also disasters), while now it hosts the Feasts of Speech and Art.

Faneromeni Monastery

The most important monastery of the island, was founded around 1650, while it took its final form in the late 19th century. Hidden in a green landscape, it has a wonderful view. Waterfalls in Dimosari
Starting from Nydri and heading to the village of Rachi, follow the path to the gorge of Dimosari. At the end you will find small waterfalls rushing down their waters from vertical rocks and the most daring ones will take a dip.

Folklore Museum of Karya

Large collection of weavers and embroidery with the typical Karsani stitch. houses traditional costumes, old photos and household items which give a flavour of island life in a bygone era.

Phonograph Museum

Small, private museum in the city of Lefkada, among others contains phonographs, records, decorations and postcards of the time.

What to do

what to do in lefkadaLefkada is one of the most popular Greek islands. There are places such as Nydri, Agios Nikitas and, partially, Lefkada town somehow sacrificed on the altar of tourist modernization, other parts of the territory, on the other hand, have retained their original footprint from a landscape-environmental point of view.

In Lefkada you can relax without necessarily having to give up some worldly outings. For the rest, what has already been said for the other Ionian islands applies, even in Lefkada the weight of history plays a secondary role compared to the naturalistic aspects. Unfortunately, only a few traces of Venetian domination remain, those that miraculously escaped the earthquake that shook much of the archipelago in 1953.

Meganisi, is a little diamond hidden in the east of Lefkada, near Nydri, and offers exactly what you need for a relaxing holiday: wonderful beaches with crystal clear waters , good food in fish taverns but also neat shops and satisfactory accommodation possibilities, from simple studios to luxurious residential complexes.

meganisiWith two small ports, Vathi and Spilia, appearing in the favorite stops for sailing yachts and a total of three villages, Katomeri, Vathi, Spartochori, on a green background, it has already started to become a hot destination for boats, while VIP residential complexes are being prepared.

The small verdant islands of Scorpios, Sparta, Madouri and Heloni around the Nidri, also known as the Prince islands, are a must for diving in their crystal clear waters, you can rent a speedboat or choose one of the organized daily.

Around the Scorpios ( famous ones as the private island of Onassis) , which does not need further recommendations, while Madouri is nearby, with the house of the poet Valaoritis. Also, from Lefkada you can easily visit Ithaca and Fiskardo of Kefalonia, while another nearby destination is Preveza, with the Archaeological Site of Nikopolis, the beautiful pedestrian promenade and the calm waters of Amvrakikos gulf.

If you fancy a break from the beach, Lefkada offers some great walking trails through its mountainous countryside, unspoilt inland villages to explore and shops and museums a plenty in the bustling capital. One of the most popular day trips is a cruise round the satellite islands off the east coast of Lefkada with a stop for lunch on magical Meganisi with its lush landscape and pretty pebbled beaches.

Spend a few hours getting to know the capital, Lefkada Town, built around the south east corner of a salty lagoon at the northern tip of the island. Despite being devastated by earthquakes in 1867 and 1948, it’s an attractive place with narrow flower-filled alleyways, pretty pastel-painted houses and plenty of good shops and eateries along the waterfront and in the pedestrian streets around the main square.

If Dorpfeld’s work has inspired you might want to visit the Bronze Age ruins that he excavated near Vlyho on the east coast about 20 kilometres south of the capital. The archaeologist’s tomb is at Agia Kyriaki near the house where he once lived on the Yeni Peninsula across the bay from Nydri.

From Nydri you can take an excursion boat around the satellite islets of Madouri, Sparti, Skorpidi and Skorpios and stop off at the largest of the group, Meganisi.

The island offers many lovely walks including a 45-minute hike inland from Nydri to a waterfall near Rahi.

Visit Cape Lefkatas, in the south west corner of the island, to see the spot where the great poet Sappho reputedly leapt to her death in the 7th century BC after being spurned by her female love.

Local food and cuisine

lefkada-cuisineIn Lefkada you will have the opportunity to try real Greek cuisine in all its best known dishes, from Moussaka to pita, passing through Souvlaki and yogurt.

If you are in Nydri or in Lefkada, you will really be spoiled for choice for the places to choose for your culinary evenings. In addition, on many beaches there are restaurants and bars that carry out an umbrella delivery service.

There places to eat out of the tourist chaos and with a rustic aspect. For example, on the road that leads from Lefkada to Nydri, there is an authentic Greek tavern, the family run Nidrikos. Menu only in Greek, with the best Moussaka in town, exceptional prices and impeccable service. Another very nice place is Alexander restaurant on the Vasiliki pier in Nidri which serves really fresh and well cooked fish at reasonable prices.

Make a visit at the wineries of the island, on the road between Nydri and Vasiliki, and buy their famous red wine, Vertzami, which is really good, perhaps after taking the free guided tour .

Finally you must absolutely buy honey, of various types, and olives from one of the many stalls that are on the road towards the western beaches, you will be truly amazed!

Where to stay in Lefkada

Choosing where to stay in Lefkada is important for planning your vacation, getting the most suitable means for your travels and experiencing the island in complete tranquility and autonomy.

Facilities such as hotels and studios are present in several towns on the coast and in the hinterland of the island, among the places to stay there are undoubtedly the main city of the island, Lefkada city, in addition to the centers of Vasiliki, Nydri and Agios Nikitas.

All well connected to the rest of the island by roads and public service, they have different strengths, to be evaluated according to your travel needs. –

Moving around

Lefkada is the only Greek island where you can take car without boarding a ferry thanks to a new underwater tunnel and the Rio Antirio bridge. KTEL runs daily buses from Athens and the journey takes about five hours.

There are several buses each day from Preveza-Aktio Airport. Buses run from Lefkada town to all the main east coast resorts. Bus services to west coast villages are less frequent. Download Lefkada bus timetables in English from a pdf file here.

There is a taxi rank in all the popular resorts on Lefkada. In Lefkada Town it is located on Agios Minas square and in Nidri it is on the harbour front.

Getting there

By Air

Holiday charters fly to Preveza International (PVK) on the mainland Greece. Facilities at the airport are limited and it can get congested. A daily bus service runs from Lefkas, Preveza and Vonitsa and there is free parking for cars. The journey from Preveza to Lefkada Town takes about 30 minutes. There are regular daily domestic flights from Athens and there are international flights to nearby islands of Corfu and Kefalonia with ferry and road connections but connections are not good and journey times can be considerable.

By Ferry

There are lots of ferries from the Italian coast to Igoumenitsa, near Lefkada. Ferries leave Venice, Ancona, Bari and Brindis and the main ferry firms are Minoan, Anek and Superfast. It’s a two hour drive from Igoumenitsa to Lefkada Town. On Lefkada there is a daily ferry from Nidri to Fiskardo on Kefalonia via Ithaca. Daily car ferries also sail from Nydri to Meganissi .