As you drive from one side of this beautiful Ionian island to the other, you are warmly welcomed by quaint villages, lush greenery, and the most breathtaking turquoise waters you’ve ever laid eyes on.
Lefkada boasts remarkable natural landscapes, world-famous beaches (that are even more beautiful in real life), verdant mountains, delightful local cuisine, a noteworthy winemaking tradition; and an exciting range of things to see and do. Otherwise known as Lefkas, it’s the perfect spot for a summer holiday; and in our complete guide, we share the best beaches to visit in Lefkada, as well as where to eat, stay, play, and more!
Getting there & getting around
Lefkada is the only Greek island connected to the mainland (via a bridge). Located in the Ionian Sea, it’s set on the west coast of Greece, and the closest airport is in the city of Preveza; from here it’s a 30-minute drive. If you are arriving from Athens, the distance is 280km, which is around 4.5 hours by car. You can also reach Lefkada by ferry from the islands of Ithaca, Kefalonia, and Meganisi. Seeing it’s a large island, hiring a car will allow you to explore the area easily. Alternatively, you can use public transport (bus). Keep in mind, most buses depart from Lefkada town.
Where to stay
Lefkada Town is located North of the island and here you will find a range of eateries, cafes, shops, and plenty of sandy beaches close by; making it a suitable option for families. A few kilometres away is Agios Ioannis, a beach town popular amongst those who like wind/kite surfing. Nikiana is a quaint little village town with a small beach and a range of waterfront taverns. Nidri is Lefkada’s main resort town with lots of places to eat and drink; take note: during summer it gets packed. Vassiliki is the perfect spot if you enjoy water sports and there is a wide range of taverns and shops here, whereas, Agios Nikitas is one of the prettiest parts of the island and ideal for couples.
Where to sleep
If you are looking for apartment-style accommodation check out Sappho Boutique Suites or Kavadias Apartments, which are both located in Vassiliki. For a modern and boutique hotel check out Secret Boutique Hotel. For an adults-only luxury hotel, there is Katouna Suites in Lygia. Crystal Waters is one of the newest hotels; and for a unique experience take a look out Pavezzo Retreat, which is set in Katouna village- it offers a more private and secluded escape.
Where to eat
When it comes to dining, there are plenty of options. If you are looking for traditional Greek cuisine try Andreas Tavern in Ponti, To Balkonaki tis Zois in Agios Petros, Sesoula Tavern in Dragano, Batzanakias The Tavern of the Village in Vassiliki, T’Agnatio in Agios Nikitas, Tavern Ionio in Athani, Avra Tavern in Athiani, or Kollokas Taverna in Katouna. Mavros Lagos and Nirikos are also great if you want to taste traditional dishes. T’ Aloni is definitely a must for homemade delicacies; the vegetables are straight from the owner’s garden. For a range of psarotavernas (fish taverns) head to Sivota; our pick is Spiridoulas. For creative dishes with a modern twist try Kato Rachoula Nouvell and Rachi in Exanthia, which offers an incredible overall experience (try to make it here in time for the sunset). And for fresh seafood by the water book Errikos taverna on Meganisi.
For some handmade gelato head to Ciao Gelateris. If you are looking for Greek pastries and desserts check out Once Upon A Pie, and for heaps of local sweets and biscuits try Sivota Bakery, My Bakery in Nidri, and Loli Bakery in the Old Town.
Where to drink
For cocktails in Lefkada Town head to Xartes or Karma Café, and if you are looking for a cool little wine bar make your way over to Mavros Lagos. For late night drinks by the sea check out Amente Restaurant & Café Bar in Kathisma, I Gonia Bar in Agios Nikitas, Tree Bar in Nidri, and NV Bar or Pavezzo Vintage Bar in Nikiana. With plenty of beach bars to choose from, some of the most popular spots are Areaia or Copla Beach Bar at Kathisma, NV Beach Bar in Nikiana, and Island Beach Bar in Nidri. Also, add Mylos Bar to your list; this converted windmill on Kastros, serves great cocktails and offers splendid views of the sunset.
Local delicacies & dishes
Lefkada is renowned for Lentils of Egklouvi, which are grown in the most mountainous village of the island and are served as a salad during summer and as a soup in the cooler months. The other legume dish to try here is Lathiria (beans). Also, taste Kokoras Kokkinisto (chicken in a homemade tomato salsa) served with pasta. For seafood lovers, try the Savoro, freshly caught fish cooked in onion, garlic, and rosemary, or the Octopus with Macarotsinia (pasta). Riganda is a hot roasted bread with olive oil; and oregano and the Ladopita is an olive oil-based dessert made with flour, almonds, sesame, and semolina, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
For meat lovers, the local salami and sausage are made using pork and peppercorns; very unique to the island. For something sweet try the Pasteli (sesame seeds with honey), Mantolato (nougat), or spoon sweets. Lefkada also has some good local wine- if you find Vertzamo or Syflogo on the menu, we recommend you order it. Speaking of beverages, also try Soumada– made from bitter almonds, then finish off with a Rozolo– traditional liqueur with subtle hints of orange and cinnamon.
Where to swim
Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are found in Lefkada and let’s be honest, its crystal clear waters are one of the main reasons people visit year in, year out. The beaches located on the west coast of Lefkada between Agios Nikitas and Vassiliki all magnetise beach lovers, and if you are on this side of town add Mylos (local secret), as well as Kalamitsi and Lygia to the list. No trip to Lefkada is complete without a swim at Porto Katsiki- and if you think the photos are filtered- no chance. Images actually don’t do it justice. This beach really is a slice of heaven.
The other standout beaches are Egremni, Kathisma, Pefkoulia, and Agiofyli, which are all sublime and feature white sand and turquoise waters. For a gorgeous little bay that is perfect for kids and has an authentic little tavern right there, make your way to Ammousa. For more kid-friendly beaches head to Agios Ioannis, and surfers check out Poros Mikros Gialos.
If you enjoy windsurfing head to Vassiliki or Sivota- home to the world windsurfing championships. And if you get a chance also dive into the waters at Avali Beach, another local favourite that boasts clear waters and a stunning landscape.
Lagoons and waterfalls
Divari and Ivaria lagoons surround the historic town of Lefkada; and don’t miss the stunning waterfalls of Nydri- one of the best in Greece. The walk to the waterfalls is about 15-20 minutes and is quite easy even with kids. With its ice-cold waters and just a short drive from the town of Nydri, the Dimosari Waterfalls offer a refreshing dip during summer.
-For a deeper understanding of Lefkada’s history and culture, visit the Archaeological Museum, which presents artifacts dating from the Paleolithic era to the late Roman period.
-Make your way over to the Temple of Apollon and also check out the medieval Castle of Agia Mavra, which was built by the Franks in 1924. The castle was later occupied by the Ottomans, who built mosques, a couple of schools, barracks, and several other buildings inside its walls.
-The 1913 constructed lighthouse located in Cape Doukato at the very south of the island offers a breathtaking view of the open sea and the surrounding white rocks.
-Naos Pantakratora was built in the 18th century and is the first neo-classical building of Lefkada; here you will also see the Tomb of the famous Greek poet, Aristotelis Valaoriti.
-Viviliothiki Lefkas is a historical library founded in 1953 at the Palio Neoklasiko and has more than 60,000 books.
– Tour the Venetian Olive Grove, a historically unique and living environmental monument that is home to olive trees which were planted in 1684 with the support of the Venetians, who took over the island and wanted to turn the people of Lefkada away from the sea and towards agriculture. Here you can enjoy a walk or a bike ride through the everlasting olive trees.
-Agios Nikolaos Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries dedicated to
Saint Nicholas. Here you will be greeted by a friendly nun who produces a range of honey.
-Panagia Faneromeni is the most important monastery of Lefkada and houses a small ecclesiastical museum with Byzantine icons and other religious relics.
-Agios Ioannis about 3km from Lefkada Town is the oldest church on the island. It is said that Apostle Paul walked here on his way to Rome.
-The church of Panagia Hodegetria is one of the oldest Byzantine monuments of Lefkada and also popular amongst pilgrims.
Must visit villages
– Drive through Lefkada’s pine and chestnut-filled mountainous villages and on your way make sure you stop off at Agios Nikolaos, Agios Petros, and Eglouvi (famous for its lentils) and sit at one of the cafes and enjoy a Greek coffee with the friendly locals.
-Walk to the charming village of Agios Nikitas (cars are not permitted here) so you can explore the surroundings on foot.
-Exanthia is worth a visit for its unique architecture and local traditions.
-Karya is one of the most picturesque villages. Here you will be able to see traditional embroidery “Karsaniko”. The textile technique is very unique, as all pieces of art are still handmade by locals using traditional methods. You can discover more at the textile museum.
-Sivota is a quaint little fishing village where you can capture lush greenery that meets the sea.
Stroll through Lefkada Town
The capital of Lefkada is filled with narrow cobbled alleyways and traditional architecture. Here you can buy some local souvenirs and delicacies such as homemade liquor, honey, and spoon sweets that are unique to the island. You will also come across numerous cafés, taverns, a nice harbour, and a touch of fresh sea breeze. Make sure you walk across the wooden bridge- one of the island’s landmarks; it’s a nice spot to catch the sunset.
Can’t leave until you…
-Fly above unique and beautiful landscapes. If you are a thrill seeker- make sure you paraglide!
-Grab yourself some locally made pine honey from the street stalls on Dragano on Epar Od. Komiliou.
-Hike up to Profitis Ilias. It offers a wide view of the surrounding landscape and sea- the perfect spot to take lots of photos.
-Be adventurous! Windsurfing, kitesurfing, scuba diving, flights on a propeller plane, horseback riding, mountain biking, sailing around the surrounding islets, are some of the endless activities on offer in Lefkada.
-Drive through the Stavrota Mountains. Lefkada is not only blessed with beautiful beaches but also lush greenery and an endless horizon. The open roads allow visitors to capture the best of both worlds.
– On the southwestern part of the island, soak up the views (sunset is the best time to visit) at the lighthouse in Cape Lefkatas. Here you will also find the rubble that was once the Temple of Apollo, where sacrifices were made to the gods in ancient times.
Day trips from Lefkada
Lefkada is also an ideal base for those who want to explore nearby islands. Kalamos island across the village of Mitikas is a great spot that offers complete privacy. You are also able to sail to Ithaca, Meganisi, and Fiskardo harbour, which as at nearby Kefalonia. Other delightful hideaways include Pringiponisa and Kastos. If you get the chance, also cruise to famous Skorpios “The Island of Onassis,” which is set to become a resort for the super-rich and famous.