Lefkada is an island, which is also connected to the mainland by a road. This is the great advantage of Lefkada, which has the incredible beaches of the Ionian Sea but does not require you to board a ship to approach it.
In its main town and on the east coast, around Nydri, you will enjoy dolce vita while meeting mostly families, thanks to the easy terrain and child-friendly beaches, while on the western side, there is dancing at beach bars, wild natural beauty and deep waters. Wherever you go, you’ll find the island bustling with life, since its road connection with mainland Greece makes Lefkada very popular.
The beaches of Lefkada are famous all over the world: exotic, huge white sandy beaches stretch to the west, from where you can enjoy the most beautiful sunsets. To the east, gentle coves, islets, fjords and large bays offer boats the best location to moor in the summer. The wonderful Egremni and Porto Katsiki beaches, the youthful Kathisma and the semi-organized Pefkoulia are very popular. Aghios Nikitas is ideal for families since you will find shops and tavernas there, while the three beaches of Kalamitsi are more peaceful.
Vassiliki beach mostly attracts surfers, Myli is ideal for kitesurfing, Nydri and Vlychos are perfect for boat trips around Prigiponnisia and Nikiana is famous for the fish tavern of Minas (Tel. (+30) 26450.714.80).
The Unexpected Beauty of the City
At dusk, the city of Lefkada exudes a beautiful grandeur. A walk in its alleys, with an ice cream or some local nougat in hand, unveils mansions, churches of the 17th-18th century built according to Venetian architectural standards, but also the brightly colored houses built with light materials, such as wood and sheet iron, after the earthquake of 1825.
As the sun goes down, the crowds are drawn to the west pier for the spectacular sunset in the lagoon of Gyra and the canal. In the morning, take a walk to the Castle of Aghia Mavra, with its chapel and lighthouse, and then take a dip at the small beach just below. At noon, have some tsipouro (a pomace brandy) and a meze at the simple and decent taverna Rakias (Tel. (+30) 26450.215.02).
Gastronomy in the Villages
A tour around the mountain villages is quite interesting, especially when combined with food. Eglouvi is known for its lentils. They are grown on the plateau of Aghios Donatos, where it is also worth taking a walk, especially if you are here on August 7, when a local festival takes place. Alternatively, you can sit in the cafés Hara (Tel. (+30) 26450.412.61) and Lithanofli (Tel. (+30) 26450.418.69) and if you are lucky, you will also find local lentils. At the deep shaded square of Karya, you will find several tavernas, but the village is famous for its embroideries, samples of which are housed in the museum.
The first weekend of August there is a big celebration, featuring a representation of a traditional wedding, when people wear special local costumes and dance to syrtos (Greek traditional circular dance) with atsentzeris (copper pots) on their heads. The beautiful village of Exanthia is also to be visited for gastronomical reasons, since the restaurant Rachi (Tel. (+30) 26450.994.39) stands out on the island for its unique view, aesthetics and dishes. Right next to it, there is Fly Me Cocktail Bar. In the next village, Chortata, look for the excellent taverna Aloni (Tel. (+30) 26450.332.40), while in the previous one, Drymonas, you will find the special restaurant Amente (Tel. (+30) 697.746.1415). In Lazarata it is worth going to The Brewery Pub (Tel. (+30) 26450.611.86), where the Germans Marion and Jürgen make their own beer.
Demosari, the 15 meters high waterfall, with its beautiful ponds is hidden in Demosari gorge, just outside the cosmopolitan Nidri. Its icy waters are all you need to take a break from swimming in the Ionian Sea. The 15-20 minute route starts from a wooden kiosk-café, crosses the deep shaded gorge and passes through bridges and impressive rock passages.
In the summer, you may come across the famous cantadors in the city, known as Aghiomavritiki Parea (meaning: the Aghia Mavra Group), in the context of the annual Speech and Art Festivals.
The most dramatic sunset on the island can be seen from Kavos Kyras, a cape in the southwest, with steep cliffs and a lighthouse that dates back to 1890, which compose a particularly charming setting.
Aghios Giannis next to the beach of Myla is the coolest place on the island, due to the constant wind. Its cafés under the pines are ideal for hot days.
Those in the know go to all the western beaches in the afternoon, after 18:00. Even Kathisma and Porto Katsiki are empty at that time, with easy parking and a unique sunset.
In recent years, some hiking trails have been opened around the mountain village of Syvros. Ask for directions to the Path of Springs, where lush nature offers a precious tranquil setting.