The sparkling gemstone of the Ionian
A jewel of an island, with dense forests, cosmopolitan charm and famous beaches
You’re bound to have seen photographs of Lefkada’s world-renowned beaches. But when you arrive, you’ll quickly realise that it is even better in real life. Lefkada – or Lefkas – is easily accessible, hospitable and lively – a recipe for the perfect summer holiday in the Ionian Sea. Kathisma, Egremni, Porto Katsiki – the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean – have won international acclaim and are awarded annually with Blue Flags.
Windsurfing, kitesurfing, paragliding, scuba diving, flights in a prop plane, horseback riding, mountain biking, sailing around the surrounding islets like Skorpios… there is no end to the activities and sports activities and sports on offer here. You’ll explore the island, stay at luxurious or quaint and traditional hotels, eat at restaurants on the water. The welcoming Lefkada town will invite you to savour its culture by walking its alleyways, listening to its folk songs, enjoying bowls of Englouvi lentils on the feast day of Agios Donatas and meeting the famous courageous, the city dwellers for whom many angling is still their major hobby. – Immerse yourself in Lefkada’s magical world.
What to do on Lefkada
The most popular beaches in Lefkada
Are you ready to dive into paradise? Here, turquoise meets azure, with white sand, white cliffs and smooth white pebbles. Vast exotic beaches, bays, cliffs that plunge into the sea and an orgy of pine trees that tumbles intoxicatingly towards the coast. And what a coast! Kathisma, Egremni, Milos, Pefkoulia, Myli, Ammoglossa…beaches trip off the tongue… And the island’s number one star, Porto Katsiki. Every swim is soul-cleansing. Every beach is an unforgettable experience.
Set sail to the islets around Lefkada
At Nydri, row upon row of masts sway to the rhythm of the wind, always poised to cast off. Untie those ropes and set sail in the Ionian’s azure waters for delightful hideaways like Pringiponisa, Meganisi, Kalamos and Kastos. For mariners, Lefkada’s surrounding islands are among the favourite destinations in Greece.
Skorpios: Onassis’ island sanctuary
Near Nydri, you’ll find Skorpios, one of the most famous islets in the world and erstwhile summer refuge of the tycoon Aristotle Onassis. He bought it in 1963 and decorated it with all types of trees and exotic plants. Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Winston Churchill, kings, dukes, shipping magnates and, of course, Jackie O … all took part infamous parties and celebrations on Skorpios and on Onassis’ yacht, Christina, where they discovered the magic of the Ionian Sea. He was buried here in 1975.
Board, boom, sail… and we’re off to windsurf in Vasiliki and Ai Gianni, two of the world’s best beaches for the sport and home to the International Regatta. If you prefer kitesurfing, Myli, near Lefkada town, is ideal. If you’re even more courageous, you can paraglide – an unforgettable flight with an exciting landing at Kathisma, one of Lefkada’s most gorgeous beaches. Or soar through the sky with one of the Aeroclub’s prop planes or light aircraft.
The legend of Cape Lefkada
When you get here, the legendary energy sweeps you off your feet. At the spot where a lighthouse now stands, 60m above sea level stood the Temple of Lefkada Apollona, where sacrifices were made to the gods in ancient times.
Sacrifices to the gods were eventually replaced by the sacrifices of desperate lovers. The poet Sappho was allegedly the first to jump in 570 BC and the dramatic white cliff is named Sappho’s Leap after her. It has also been called Kavos Tis Kyras (Lady’s Cape), after the love-struck girls who threw themselves to their deaths here. It is one of the most interesting sights in Lefkada and well worth a visit.
From the castle of Agia Mavra to Gyra
When you enter the town, you’ll be welcomed by the castle. In 1300, the Venetian leader Giovanni Orsini received Lefkada as a dowry and began fortifying it with seven bastions on seven sides. Inside you’ll find the church of Agia Mavra, patron saint of Lefkada celebrated on May 3rd with a huge feast day. From the castle to the northwest side of town, there is a thin strip of land, 7 km long, that encircles the Gyras lagoon. The red villa Kalkani, windmills and fishermen’s homes adorn this unique wetland, along with numerous species of protected birds.
Surprises in the alleyways of Lefkada
Like the playful breezes, you will whirl around the town’s alleyways, where you’re in for a whole series of surprises; in the lively squares and sidewalks, stores and churches, 17th and 18thcentury architecture, impressive steeples, exquisite temples and Ionian icons. Here, you’ll be struck by the coloured sheet-metal facades of the houses’ upper floors. It’s a unique local ‘life hack’ devised to minimise earthquake damage.
Quaint Agios Nikitas
Cars are prohibited here, so you’ll explore this traditional settlement on foot. It’s a charming little marina, where, amongst the trees, fish tavernas, water’s edge cafes and bars, small hotels and stone-clad cottages abound. From here you can take a caique to the exotic and beautiful Myli nearby.
Hidden gems of Lefkada
The Venetian Olive Grove
The grove, which embraces the western side of town, was planted by order of the Venetians in the 17th century. Here, you’ll enjoy a walk or a bike ride through the immortal olive trees.
Follow the shady path under the planes, until you come upon a unique vision; water cascading with great force over enormous rocks into a radiant blue lake. You won’t be able to resist a dip.
Small in size but great in flavour. Cooked in large cauldrons by the village women on Agios Donatos’ feast day (August 7) on the plateau above the village. A festival on your plate!