Lefkada (Lefkas) Island

“Lefkada (Lefkas) Island; Cosmopolitan and serene the diamond of the Ionian island”

“Lefkada (Lefkas) is surrounded by a total of 24 islets – Aristotle Onassis’ Skorpios being one of them. It connects to the opposite coast of Central Greece via a floating swing bridge (length: 50 m). The bridge offers easy access to Lefkada to visitors from all over Greece. On Lefkada you will find noteworthy sights, churches and monasteries, picturesque villages, lush vegetation, idyllic coves of transparent, turquoise waters, busy and secluded beaches of stunning beauty, a significant cultural heritage and hospitable locals.

Lefkada is the island’s capital and port town. The town planning is a very particular one and resembles a “fish backbone”. There are picturesque alleys, small squares, traditional houses, elaborate belfries, and paved pedestrian zones that give this town its character. The city is surrounded by a canal and a lagoon, while, farther north, lies Gyra, a thin stretch of a sandy beach forming a circle, dotted with windmills and scant vegetation.

Adrenaline seekers welcome to the perfect destination forwindsurfing and paragliding!

Dozens of beaches of unsurpassed beauty crown the coastline of Lefkada. Among them are the photo champion Porto Katsiki, gorgeous Egremnoi, busy Gialos, vast Kathisma, peaceful Myloi, youthful Agios Giannis on the west; cosmopolitan Nydri, stunning Syvota and the bay of Vassiliki on the East. Some of them are on the leeward side, others sandy, some marked with high white cliffs and deep turquoise waters; no matter which one you’ll like best, they are all perfect for unforgettable moments of fun and joy.

Lefkada is an unparallel destination for lovers of sea sports. If you are one of them, put on the friskier of your moods and give in to an adrenaline party at the hot spots of the island.

The water track and field of Lefkada is a paradise for surfers and is famous with Greek and international surfers alike. The wind’s strength that reaches its peak in the afternoon has put the beach of Vassiliki, a globally acclaimed surf spot, in the TOP 10 beaches in the world and the TOP 3 in Europe. Slalom and freestyle in side shore conditions are a must here. In the North of the island, not far from the town of Lefkada, the beach of Agios Giannis almost pairs up with Vassiliki wind-wise, but its different waters mostly attract kite surfers. Huge kites glide on the waves at breakneck speed before soaring in the air to fill the sky with color. Windsurfing schools and equipment shops facilitate things for light travelers and those deciding to take part in the thrilling activity on a whim

Sea sports rule on Lefkada! Enjoy pedalo, canoe, and water ski rides, or indulge in the pleasure of more “sophisticated” activities, ranging from barefoot to mono ski, double ski, wakeboard, and kneeboard. If you want to alternate beach games with water ones, you are in the right place. Let us just mention a few ones to dispel any possible doubts of yours: fly-fish, tubes, banana, crazy-sofa, big marble, etc. A Centre of Sea Sports is in operation in the area of Nydri, providing expertise and equipment. Go parasailing over the bay of Vassiliki and all the way to the beautiful – ex Onassis owned – island of Scorpio. Paragliding is a blast of a choice too, especially when you want to go downhill over the area of Kathisma and land on the beautiful beach.

The wonderful landscapes give way to equally wonderful seascapes, with azure waters bathing white sands in coves adorned with picturesque fishing villages. Sail around the island to explore all those unspoiled spots. As a matter of fact, sailing has developed in a rather impressive way here. The modern marina in the town of Lefkada can host up to 620 vessels, attracting Robinsons in quest of fun and adventure on the island of Lefkada and on the smaller ones opposite Nydri: Prigkiponissia, Meganissi with the countless coves, Kalamos and Kastos with the secluded beaches and sea caves. If diving is your cup of tea, the Lefkadian sea bed will fascinate you with the unforgettable images you’ll see unfold before your eyes.

Beyond the famous beaches and the picturesque mountain villages, Lefkada, the beauty of the Ionian Sea, produces fine products renowned for their uniqueness and taste. An integral part of the cultural heritage is its traditional cuisine, worth a try when visiting the island.

The island’s principal products such as virgin olive oil from the hinterland, honey, sweet wine (the rare variety “Vertzami”, considered the best in the country), and all the ‘goodies’ of the mountain and the sea, compose a culinary mosaic.

Local products such as the delicious award-winning lentils ‘Englouvi’, (a rare variety that thrives in the traditional homonymous village), the famous salami with its mild aroma of garlic and whole peppercorns, and the superb, but unfortunately, hard to find, avgotaracho, produced locally, all make up the trademark of Lefkada’s cuisine.
According to the season, the housewives of Lefkada, prepare delicious homemade pies filled with wild aromatic greens, garden or wild, rice (rizopita) or pasta (makaronopita), sweet pumpkin, ‘briani’ (made with thick green courgettes) and of course the traditional sweet pie, ‘ladopita’ made on New Year’s Eve.

Other favourites and “special” local dishes include: salted codfish cooked in a casserole with potatoes and onions, cuttlefish cooked in its ink with rice, sweet and sour ‘sofigado’ (veal with quince and molasses or grape-juice syrup), ‘cocotos’ (rooster or beef) with thick macaroni in a rich aromatic sauce, or ‘savoro’, fish served in a sauce with plenty of rosemary and of course, lentils served with ‘riganada’ (dry bread moistened with olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and salt).

From the “sweet sins,” you can distinguish pasteli made with sesame and nougat, a soft drink called soumada (orgeat – from barley or almond and orange-flower water), and the local liqueurs such as rozoli with flavors of cinnamon and orange, mint or rose.

  • To the lagoon, one of the Ionian Sea’s most significant wetlands, protected by the Ramsar Convention as a wetland of international importance. There is also an ivari, a fish farm where fish grow in their natural environment.
  • To Agia Mavra fort, at the town’s entrance, constructed by a Sicilian named Giovanni Orsini in 1300.
  • To Bosketo Park, where busts of the island’s eminent scholars are to be found.
  • To the pedestrian zone along the coast lined with the younger generation’s hangouts.
  • To the central square with many restaurants and cafés where Agios Spyridonas church is located (late 17th c.) with an interesting iconostasis and icons. The main town mall (along Melas Street) starts from this point.
  • To Kouzounteli (or Kouzoumpei) area, where age-long plane trees stand next to traditional coffee shops that serve freshly ground coffee and soumada drink made from fragrant almonds.
  • To the Archeological Museum. Finds (mid-Paleolithic times – 4th c. AD) come from tombs excavated at Nydri, burial grounds of the ancient town of Lefkada, etc.
  • To the Public Library. There is a wide collection of printed documents and post-Byzantine icons painted in the style of the Eptanesian iconography school by eminent religious iconographers such as Doxaras, Roussos, etc.
  • To Charamogleios Eidiki Lefkadiaki Library (a library treating exclusively local themes) exhibiting rare books, gravures and maps. The art gallery is often the venue for painting and photography exhibitions. The library’s collection has been included in the Guiness Book of Records.
  • To the “Pantazis Kontomichis” Folk Art Museum. Exhibits include a wide and rare collection of items related to local everyday life and work.
  • To the Phonograph-Memorabilia Museum whose exhibits include old phonographs, vinyl records, decorative antique items, old banknotes etc.
  • To the agelong Elaionas (Olive Grove).
  • To Megalos Avlaimonas and Mikros Avlaimonas wetlands, two natural-habitat fish farms near the city.
  • To the windmills at Gyra.

International Folklore Festival. As of 1962, bands and artists from all over the world meet in Lefkada every August and exchange the product of their cultural and artistic folklore in the fields of dancing, music, and traditional heritage.
The Discourse & Art Festival. It has been organized by the Cultural Centre of Lefkada and involves theatrical and musical events, exhibitions, conferences, and poetry nights. It is one of Greece’s oldest cultural institutions along with the Athens Festival.
Wine festival that takes place in Sfakiotes Municipality on Frya Square, around the historic Frya Well.
Representation of a traditional wedding in Karya (August 11th).

Swimming. If you stay in Lefkada town, you can swim at Kastro, Gyra, Myloi, and Agios Ioannis Antzousis. You will discover there are amazing beaches almost everywhere and to the island’s east, you will find numerous beautiful, wooded isles.
Visiting the sea caves. Kalamos and Kastos isles are within a short distance and can boast beaches and sea caves of great beauty.
Bicycling; the town of Lefkada as well as the nearby coastline are ideal for a bicycle ride. Go round the lagoon, following the exceptional scenic route: Agia Mavra – Gyra – Myloi – Ai Giannis – Lefkada.
Marina: it is located on the town’s east side, and is considered to be the best-equipped marina in Greece.

  • Kite surfing in Myloi beach.
  • Mountain biking: the island’s tall, green mountains are criss-crossed by routes and trails that are ideal for this sport. Rent your mountain bike in Lefkada town.
  • Paragliding (parapente) over Kathisma beach.
  • Kariotes, a seaside village with modern tourist facilities, lying on the island’s east shores. At “Spasmeni Vrysi” location there is a well equipped camping site.
  • Nikiana, a picturesque fishing village, built at the foot of Mount Skaros near a forest of age-long oak trees.
  • Nydri. The island’s biggest tourist resort can boast an intense nightlife and an ultra-modern marina. Nydri faces Prigkiponisia (i.e. Madouri, Cheloni, Skorpios, Skorpidi and Sparti islands). There is a ferryboat service running to Meganisi, Ithaca, Kefalonia and Central Greece. You can go scuba diving; try one of the local scuba diving centres that organise underwater explorations. You can also opt for other water sports such as sailing or choose mountain biking, hiking, even swimming at the waterfalls cascading in Dimosari ravine.
  • Poros, the southeastern Lefkada’s “balcony” offering a fine view of Arkoudi, Oxies, Ithaca, and Kefalonia islands. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Mikros Gialos, where you can also find a well-equipped camping site.
  • Vasiliki is a place with abundantly flowing waters and a vibrating nightlife. Take the ferry for a visit to the captivating Porto Katsiki beach, Agiofylli beach, Kefalonia and Ithaca. Vasiliki bay is a destination widely known for the particular climate conditions and favourable winds that make it very popular among windsurfing fans. You will also find horse riding farms that organise outings on horseback in the country.
  • The lighthouse (within a short distance from Athani village) and the ruins of Apollo’s sanctuary in cape Doukato (Lefkata or Cape Kyra). That breathtaking location of rugged cliffs and magnificent sea view is also known as “Sappho’s Jump”; legend has it that this was the spot where Sappho, the lyric poetess of antiquity jumped off from, taking her own life.
  • Agios Nikitas, a beautiful seaside village.
  • Karya, a well known mountain village with a picturesque plane tree shaded square. The exquisitely crafted traditional “karsanika” embroideries have won the place a fine reputation.
  • Egklouvi, another beautiful traditional mountain village. It is famous for producing delicious lentils that are one of the top varieties in Greece. Other cultivations include chickpeas, broad fava beans, and a rare grape variety called “vertzami” possibly introduced to the area by the Venetians in 1684.

Meganisi
Ferry runs connect this green island to Nydri. There are three traditional villages, namely Katomeri, Vathy and Spartochori. Visit Giovani’s Cave and Papanikolis Cave, (accessible only by sea).

Kalamos
Kalamos Island is covered with pine trees, especially the north part. There is a ferry connection with Mytikas, Central Greece. Visit Episkopi, Kastromonastiro and Porto Leone, a small scenic bay.

Kastos
Kastos is an elongated isle covered in olive trees. It provides safe anchorage for boats sailing the Ionian Sea. There are very few roads on the island, so there are no cars. Sarakiniko, the island’s west natural bay has a small jetty that allows mooring even during bad weather. There is a small shuttle boat service running to Central Greece. Visit Kastos village, Fokotrypa, and Agios Aimilianos country chapel.

Source: Visit Greece