Lefkada (known also as Leukada and Lefkas) is the fourth biggest island of the Ionian group and lies between Corfu
. Its name comes from the Greek word for "white" ("leukos") due to the white rocks in the southern coastline of the island. Along with Evia
, these are the two islands of Greece which can be visited without ferry because they are connected to the mainland with floating bridges.
Most part of the island is covered by mountains and green hills, and the coastline is very rich and includes many capes and peninsulas in its eastern and southern part. The west and east coasts are utterly different but you have most probably seen photos of fabulous large beaches with incredible milky blue colour of the sea. The photos are not manipulated for sure and this specific color of the sea is typical for the coast of some Ionian islands, as in Lefkada this applies for all west beaches. The picturesque Porto Katsiki
are the most famous and presented in world top rankings of Greek and Mediterranean beaches. Other famous beaches on the west coast are Kathisma
and the three beaches of Kalamitsi
, all covered with tiny white pebbles and coarse sand. One thing you should be aware while on Lefkada is that those beautiful scenic beaches are often exposed to strong winds, waves and none of them is shallow around the shore. And on the contrary, the east beaches which face mainland Greece are usually shallow and very calm, but they lack that unique shade of blue and they have no sand at all.
Lefkada is also a popular spot for kite surfers and windsurfers. Kite surfers would fall in love with Agios Ioannis
beach in the north where the wind is so aggressive that sunbathers and swimmers will hardly dare to stay. In the southern part of the island lies the resort of Vasiliki
, very popular place for the fans of windsurf due to a local hot wind which appears in summer months. On the island there are also three harbors ready to welcome visitors who come by yacht - the lustrous Sivota
and the marina in the capital.
The capital of Lefkada bears the same name - Lefkada Town
, a beautiful settlement with Venetian style architecture and nice promenade with cafes. Except for the capital, the most visited resorts on the island are Nydri
and Vasiliki. They all tend to overcrowd a bit in the summer months but they offer all kinds of services and choice of accommodation options and places to eat. If you prefer to sleep in a quieter and not that touristic place but yet to be by the sea, you can try Mikros Gialos
or Geni. The small Agios Nikitas
is the only settlement on the west coast which is by the sea, the rest villages there are sporadic and located above the sea level but providing magnificent views. The inner part of the island is rich in old small villages with stone houses, narrow streets and family run tavernas, still keeping the spirit of the past. Many exclusive villas are namely in and around these villages, offering tranquility away from the crowds, sometimes combined with views to the Ionian sea or to Ithaka, Kefalonia, Meganisi and the cluster of uninhabited islands opposite Nydri.
Although the main road which encircles the whole island is in very good condition, you should be aware that traveling is not that fast, mainly because in the west there are many curves and turns. The fabulous milky blue beaches are away from the main road and most of them are accessible via steep and narrow roads which have frightened many people so far. In some areas a distance of 15 km cannot be taken for less than 30 minutes, especially in July and August when it this is further delayed by cars passing in both directions at the same time.
Except for exploring the beaches and hidden coves of the island, there are some other activities you can involve in. From Vasiliki there are ferries to the islands of Kefalonia and Ithaka but they run only if the wind is not so strong. Ferries to the small but inhabited island of Meganisi depart from Nydri and the trip is short. You can also go on a daily cruise from Nydri called "7 Ionian islands" which includes stops at Porto Katsiki (Lefkada), Fiscardo (Kefalonia) and Ithaka and passes by Meganisi and three uninhabited islands nearby. There are not many sights on Lefkada, assuming that its beaches and its capital are more than interesting and capable of filling the time of your stay, but you can also pay a visit to the Monastery of Faneromeni and the fortress of Agia Mavra. While on the island, do not forget to try the local drink soumada made from bitter almonds.