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! Read more to discover our complete guide to Lefkada.
From remarkable natural landscapes and world-famous beaches (that are even more beautiful in real life) to verdant mountains, delightful local cuisine, and a noteworthy winemaking tradition- this is the perfect spot for a summer getaway. Here we reveal where to eat, stay and play when visiting Lefkada.
Getting there & getting around
This is the only Greek island connected to the mainland (via a bridge). Located in the Ionian Sea, Lefkada is set on the west coast of Greece, and the closest airport is in 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 more areas. Alternatively, you can use public transport, with most buses departing from Lefkada Town.
Where to stay
Lefkada Town is located North of the island. This is where you will find a range of restaurants, 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 and kite surfing. Nikiana is a quaint little village town with a small beach and a nice range of waterfront taverns. Nidri is Lefkada’s main resort town with lots of places to eat and drink- just keep in mind it’s packed with tourists over the summer. Vassiliki is the perfect spot if you enjoy water sports, plus there is plenty of taverns and shops to choose from. Whereas Agios Nikitas is the prettiest part of the island- ideal for couples.
Where to sleep
If you are looking for apartment-style accommodation (run by local families) check out Sappho Boutique Suites or Kavadias Apartments, which are both located in Vassiliki. For a modern stay in the heart of town, we recommend the Secret Boutique Hotel. And for couples seeking privacy, Katouna Suites in Lygia is a luxury adults-only hotel. Crystal Waters located in Nikiana village is one of the newest hotels on the island and offers stunning water views, while Pavezzo Retreat, which is set in Katouna village offers a unique, secluded escape.
Where to eat
When it comes to dining, there are plenty of good restaurants scattered all over the island. 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 or Avra Tavern in Athiani, and Kollokas Taverna in Katouna. Also, add Mavros Lagos and Nirikos to your list for their tasty local dishes. T’ Aloni is definitely a standout, with dishes that are made using fresh ingredients from the owner’s garden. And for a good range of fish taverns head to Sivota (our pick is Spiridoulas). For a more creative and modern food experience try Kato Rachoula Nouvell and Rachi in Exanthia, where you can also catch a beautiful view of the sunset. And for the freshest seafood by the water book Errikos in Meganisi.
For some handmade gelato head to Ciao Gelateris. If you are looking for traditional Greek pastries and desserts check out Once Upon A Pie, and for a variety of local sweets and biscuits head to Sivota Bakery, My Bakery in Nidri, and Loli Bakery in the Old Town.
Where to drink
For delicious cocktails in Lefkada Town head to Xartes or Karma Café. If you are looking for a nice little wine bar, make your way over to Mavros Lagos, which is also in the heart of town. For late-night drinks with water views 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 and Copla Beach Bar at Kathisma, NV Beach Bar in Nikiana, and Island Beach Bar in Nidri. Also, add Mylos Bar to your drinks list- this converted windmill serves great cocktails and splendid views of the sunset.
Local delicacies & dishes
Lefkada is renowned for its Lentils of Egklouvi, which are grown in the most mountainous village on the island. They are served as a salad during summer and as a soup over the cooler months. The other famous legume dish to try here is Lathiria (field beans grown in the plains). For mains, we recommend Kokoras Kokkinisto (chicken and handmade pasta in a red sauce), Savoro- freshly caught fish that’s cooked in onion, garlic, and rosemary, or the Octopus with Macarotsinia (handmade pasta). This island is also famous for its Riganda, a hot roasted bread with olive oil and oregano, and the Ladopita, an olive oil-based dessert featuring almonds, sesame, semolina, and cinnamon.
For small goods, the local salami and sausages made with pork and peppercorns are a standout. And if you would like to take some local delicacies home, look for some Pasteli (sesame seeds with honey), Mantolato (nougat), and homemade spoon sweets. Lefkada also produces some good local wine- if you find Vertzamo or Syflogo on the menu, we recommend you try a glass. Speaking of beverages, also taste Soumada– made from bitter almonds, then finish off with a sip of Rozolo– a 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, the crystal clear waters are one of the main reasons people visit here year in, year out. The beaches located on the west coast of Lefkada (between Agios Nikitas and Vassiliki) all magnetize visitors who can’t wait to dive in. And when you are on this side of town, add Mylos (a local secret), as well as Kalamitsi and Lygia to your list.
In no way is a trip to Lefkada complete without a swim at Porto Katsiki. 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 absolute standouts are Egremni, Kathisma, Pefkoulia, and Agiofyli, which are all sublime with their white sand and turquoise waters. For a gorgeous little bay, that’s perfect for families and not so crowded drive over to Ammousa.
Surfers from all over the world make their way over to Poros Mikros Gialos each year, while those that enjoy windsurfing can be found at Vassiliki or Sivota– home to the World Windsurfing Championships. And if you get a chance, also dive into the stunning waters at Megali Petra and Avali Beach- favourites amongst locals thanks to their clear waters and stunning landscape.
Lagoons and waterfalls
Divari and Ivaria lagoons surround the historic town of Lefkada, and don’t miss the stunning waterfalls of Nydri- it’s one of the best in Greece. The walk to the waterfalls is about 15-20 minutes and is quite easy to get there (even with kids). For even cooler 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 that 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, oil, and oregano.
-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 is 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). Sit at one of the traditional cafes and enjoy a Greek coffee with the friendly locals.
-Walk to the charming village of Agios Nikitas (cars are not permitted here) and explore the wonderful surroundings on foot.
-Exanthia is worth a visit for its unique architecture and local traditions.
-Karya is one of the most picturesque villages on the island. 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, an ideal spot for lunch.
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 all unique to the island. You will also come across numerous cafés, taverns, a nice harbour, and a welcoming sea breeze on a warm night. Make sure you walk across the wooden bridge, which is one of the island’s landmarks and a good spot to catch the sunset.
Can’t leave until you…
-Fly above the 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 photos.
-Go windsurfing, kitesurfing, scuba diving, flying on a propeller plane, horseback riding, mountain biking, and sailing around the surrounding islets- these are some of the adventurous 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.
– Soak up the views from the Lighthouse in Cape Lefkatas (sunset is the best time to visit). 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 remote spot that offers complete privacy. You are also able to sail to Ithaca, Meganisi, and Fiskardo harbour in nearby Kefalonia. Other great day trips include Pringiponisa and Kastos. If you get the chance, also cruise to the famous Skorpios “The Island of Onassis,” which is set to become a resort for the super-rich and famous.
All images by IN+SIGHTS GREECE ©