Greek Guide

Lefkada Island Greece Guide Lefkada

Lefkada Island Greece Greek Holiday Destinations

Lefkada is one of the Greek Ionian Islands located off the west coast of mainland Greece. It's a beautiful, fertile island with some superb beaches, an imposing mountainous interior and verdant valleys carpeted with vineyards, olive groves and cotton fields. The island has embraced package holiday tourism wholeheartedly but still has much to offer the independent traveller. There are bustling tourist resorts awash with beachside activities and late night bars but you'll also find many wonderful walking trails that weave their way between unspoilt mountain villages where rural life continues much as it has done for generations.

The island (also known as Lefkas and Leucade) is connected to the mainland by a 50 metre drawbridge that was built in the 1980s to replace the archaic chain operated ferry originally introduced by the Emperor Augustus. In fact Lefkada was not an island at all until the 5th century BC when the inhabitants dug a channel to separate themselves from the mainland. These days you can reach the island by bus from Athens (several buses make the six hour journey each day) or fly from the Greek capital to Aktion Airport near Preveza on the mainland. Regular buses run to and from the airport and the island capital, Lefkada Town.

The capital, built on the edge of a huge salty lagoon, has suffered frequent earthquake damage but is still an attractive place with a jumble of narrow alleyways and a busy town square fringed with friendly cafes that provide endless people watching opportunities. Most visitors head for the two main resorts of Nidri, halfway down the east coast, and Vassiliki at the southern end of the island.

Nidri is the busier of the two resort towns, bursting with package holiday accommodation, souvenir shops and restaurants serving both Greek and international fare. The town has its own port with frequent ferry services to the neighbouring Ionian islands of Kefalonia and Ithaca as well as plentiful boat excursions around the pretty archipelago of satellite islets which lie a short distance offshore. A day trip to the lovely unspoilt islet of Meganisi, six kilometres from Nidri, is top of most tourists' agenda. You'll get a glimpse of the Onassis owned islet of Skorpios where several members of the shipping magnate's family lie buried including Aristotle and his daughter Christina (but don't try to put ashore if you're in a private boat because the island is well protected by security guards).

Vassiliki is one of the prime windsurfing resorts in Europe due to its location between two mountains that create a unique wind system in vast Vassiliki Bay. Thousands of windsurfers gather here in high season so don't even think of pitching up without booking ahead. The gentle morning breezes are ideal for beginners taking one of the many courses on offer and the strong afternoon gusts are a challenge for the most experienced surfers.

The island's best beaches are on the west coast where white cliffs plunge down to golden and white sand lapped by iridescent water that provides some of the best swimming in the Ionian Sea.

Explore inland and you'll find many scenic villages where you can dine in traditional tavernas, many of which offer the option of a clean, comfortable and incredibly cheap room for the night.