On the west coast of Greece in the south Ionian sea lies Lefkada Island. This island has rugged, mountains covered in wild forest, olive groves and quintessentially Greek villages that remain un-spoilt.
Crystal clear turquoise waters and stunning coastline made up of beautiful sandy beaches Pair these mountains and beaches with dramatic rocky coves and cliffs; it is all part of what make this Island my favourite place to visit in Greece.
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Having worked in Greece for several summer seasons, I completely fell in love with everything about Greece and i’m not alone. Every year over 30 million people visit Greece for for it’s beautiful mountains, crystal clear waters, beaches, islands and preserved ancient history. Check out these Inspiring pictures and quotes about Greece. Three of my summers were based between the north and south Ionian coastline (with cover work, annual leave and many days off spent on the island of Lefkada). With a total of 6000 islands and 227 that are inhabited, below are the top reasons why you should include a visit to Lefkada on your net Greek trip… and trust me they are pretty compelling. You will soon be itching to go if you haven’t already. But first how to get there…
Getting To Lefkada
You can reach this island from the mainland by car; no ferry ticket needed, no boat ride, just drive across the causeway bridge.
Half of the fun on this island is driving with steep climbs, hairpin turn and jaw dropping views at every turn.
There isn’t an airport on the Island so if you are travelling by plane the nearest airport is Preveza (PVK).
On the mainland, you would need a transfer of some sort usually organised by your accommodation. However in Lefkada and Nydri there are taxi services just contact them in advance.
1. Beautiful Beaches
Porto Katsiki (Pictured above) is probably the most well known and pictured beaches on the island with its white rock dramatic vertical back drop. It is on the south west of the island (not to far from Vasiliki).
When you arrive at the car park there you will be stunned by the contrast of colours between the turquoise water, white rock beach and chalk like back drop. This is further amplified when you get a clear and calm day, as the water is so clear you can see the dark patches where the sea bed drops.
There is a rail and rocky natural steps to walk down to get to the beach. But don’t expect toilets, shops or people selling drinks down there. Take everything you need with you and leave no trace. In summer this beach does get busy, so just bare that in mind you. If you are a reasonably competent swimmer there are some cool caves you can swim into.
From Agio Nikitas you can reach Milos beach which unless you are staying in the hotel you can only access this by forest hike or boat (aqua taxi costs about 3-5 Euros each way). This beach was discovered by accident by me and a friend trying to get to the kite surfing school on our day off, when we got directions to the wrong Milos beach (should have been Milos beach beach resort in the north near Lefkada – mentioned below in this post). But this is the place to go to have a bit more of a chilled time away from crowds in summer. People will still go hear and pay for the boat, but most tend to head to the more accessible beaches.
As you can see the crystal clear waters, the constant sound of gentle waves, the smaller crowds and sandy beach make this place ideal. It is easy to access with a small car park. There is also a lot of apartments near by to stay in.
This beach is a bit busier but still feels chilled out. The beach is a bit wavy like Tsoukalades and this is a great beach to relax, read a book and enjoy the sun sea and sand. Kathisma is one of the few beaches on the island that also has a bar right next to it. It is a sandy beach with sunbeds already put out so you can use one of them or head to the far side which is clear and sit on your own towel. There is also paragliding you can do from here (you will be taken up the cliff or to the top of the mountain behind for this and land on the beach).
This beautiful little beach is close to Vasiliki but sandy instead of pebbles (like Porto Katsiki). It does get very busy so arrive early.
The drive up and car parking is essentially a dirt road so take this into account. It is a great place to laze around and just enjoy life in flip flops.
If you do get a little bored being sat on a beach, then you can either go for a swim (or snorkel) or head up to the rock for some Cliff Jumping.
I only dared to do the lower jump after three times visiting this place and watching everyone else. It was really tough.
2. Adventure in the Mountains
As you may already be able to tell by the beaches this place is full of natural beauty. However, it’s not just the coastline that deserves your time and attention. There is plenty to see and do in the mountains.
This gorge is on the south east of the island near Nydri town (which is home to other amazing sandy and sheltered beaches, and some great shopping). I took some of these pictures in peak season (August) when the water level was lowest but it was still amazing.
I’ve been a few times on my way to Vasiliki or as a day trip on it’s own, you can see the contrast between the two pictures above earlier in the season then when the water is low.
The water is icy cold even in the peak of summer; and trust me when its in the late 30’s temperature wise and high humidity you will love the cold water.
We mentioned about the roads being steep and curvy, well there are also lots of trails that are perfect for mountain bikers of all levels. Vassiliki (Pictured below) is a great place to base yourself for this with many close routes from the town. Whilst the town itself is flat, it is surrounded by mountains.
Some of the resorts in Vasiliki also have bikes you can rent or use as part of your package. With many of them having experienced mountain bike guides who can take you out on some of the best routes, and a selection of great quality, well maintained bikes.
Ebikes have also become available recently from EVass. and you can do these with a guide.
- A Beginners low level guided E-bike tour from Vassiliki costs £53 for the half day A medium to low level guided E-bike tour from Vassiliki costs £53 for the half day
- More advanced options Also start from £53 for the half day and you can opt for a more scenic option or ride to the very top for an extended trip for £70
Bring Your Own Bike
Alternatively if you are flying with British Airways they have great deals (sometimes free) to bring sports gear. It is not uncommon to see people coming through Preveza airport with their own bikes and/or boards of every kind to take advantage of this all this amazing island has to offer.
Lefkada has some fabulous paragliding which can be booked from Kathisma beach. There are two routes you an take a lower one when the wind is a little too high which still gives you amazing views over the sea and mountains or a high one which is just that little bit more breathtaking. It is best to book your paragliding ahead of time or you will need to be prepared to wait around or possibly be turned away if its too busy. I can think of worse places to wait around but it can be annoying if you are short for time and exploring the island. This costs about £106 and is absolutely worth it for the stunning views.
Despite being scared of heights still, I do find this really relaxing and another great way to see the landscape of a place. The guides have go pro’s and sticks (as you can see), so you can film your experience. You just pop in your own memory card to it and away you go. They will have it wrapped around your wrist to help you keep hold of it, but this is a great option for those of you who like me at the time couldn’t afford a go pro (I had a faux pro lol) or simply don’t have attachments to make some of your adventures safe. I would love to see more companies do this.
3. Adventure on the Water
Vassiliki is a town sits in a large bay in the south, looking out to the island of Cephelonia. It is classed as a high wind resort area and known as a mecca for windsurfing. When working in Greece, the company I worked for specialised in active holidays and has a resort right in Vasiliki taking full advantage of the consistent wind.
I was lucky enough to work here on several of occasions for holiday cover teaching yoga to guests. I also used to come here on my day off from the mainland resorts (day off club) and enjoy getting on the water.
If you want to learn to windsurf and haven’t got any experience you can still be taught here, just bare in mind you may need to do your lessons in the morning before the heavier wind kicks in.
A lot of sponsored competitive windsurfers work in the town as instructors at the resorts including: Neilson (Cosmos), Club Vass or Ocean Elements. This gives them chance to use their lunch breaks and days off to practice their own skill. The water in the afternoon is packed with windsurfers harnessed in and planing up and down the bay. With an average wind speed of about 8 knotts during the season (Above are the pictures I got from the beach at Cosmos trying to practice panning with a new camera).
If you are into windsurfing you may want to follow Cookie, who was the active manager at Cosmos and has worked around Greek beach clubs managing teams of instructors. He has also made a YouTube channel doing ride along tutorials so you can see learn about using a harness, body drag and how to carve-gybe Click Here to check out his channel.
In the North of Lefkada, you should visit Milos Beach Resort at Paralia Agios Ioannis. Like its southern counterpart (Vasiliki), it has consistent high winds. There are two kitesurfing schools in this area which both have great reputations for teaching beginners right through to more advanced. I find kite surfing very difficult (like windsurfing) and it is very tiring but I can’t wait to do it again.
Windsurfing and kite surfing are not allowed to be on the same beach in Greece (brought in by a new regulation in 2011 to have specific kite surfing zones). You may be thinking this is odd but when you see the speed that surfers go in both of these sports, you’ll use your common sense to realise how much damage can be caused when crowding occurs and just imagine the two sports in the same bay.
Stand Up Paddleboarding or Kayaking In Lefkada
The waters on the west of the island may be wavy, and the exposed north and south windy, the east side of the island. However there are coves all over this island that are sheltered and even Vasiliki whilst windy is very flat water (and best in the morning). The east side of the island that is more sheltered near Nydri and little Siv are ideal for paddle boarding.
Sailing Around Lefkada Island
As I mentioned earlier Lefkada is in the south Ionian, which means if you are doing a Flottilla here you are most likely going to visit this amazing island. However, it isn’t just fun for sailing yatchs and catamarans for week long island hopping, you can also enjoy day trips or rent out your own dinghy’s.
In Vasiliki you can give dinghy sailing a go at one of the many resorts along the bay. If you are staying on the resorts you get these included or alternatively you can pay a day rate by dropping in. Please note: their guests take priority so this is not guarenteed.
Just outside of Nidri you can go an a full day trip Sailing the turqiose waters and coastline of lefkada where you will see large caves and even visit the island of Kalamos. This costs a £133 and must be booked in advance due to limited spaces (10 people per yatch). Snorkels, Lunch, Wine and Meze’s are included.
I did this on a day off from work. We took a boat first to Meganisi which is just of the east of the island and visited then to Kalamos. It was amazing, I took my camera but stupidly forgot to charge it (‘rookie error’), my pictures came out but they weren’t the best quality from my phone at the time. The islands are gorgeous and charming and you will see old stone windmills, beaches with only a few people there and more scenery that isn’t altered so much from the footfall and a bit wild. It can be booked from Nydri, Lefkas or Vassiliki.
More Experiences In Lefkada
- Kavalo sunday horse ride – Each week as tradition a group of locals ride their horses to the local coffee shop (which is also a taverna, local grocery shop and I heard they also cut hair here).
- Englouvi and Kaira village are both off the beaten track shrouded in Greek tradition, artwork and more.
- Syvota or little siv as I call it, based on the fact there is a Sivota in Thesprotia on the North Ionian coastline of mainland Greece opposite Corfu.
- Gialos, Egkremi and Pefkoulia beach are also really amazing and deserve a mention here, but we’d be here all day, so I chose my favourites.
- Lefkas and Nydri are brilliant towns. They have plenty of restaurants, bars, shops and apartments.
- I’d recommend at least a week on the island if you have the time, you don’t need to move around from one accommodation to another but I would recommend hiring a car, scooter or bicycle.
- May/October is cheapest for flights and accommodation, plus the bars, beaches and everything is that little bit quieter. Still enough to socialise and meet people though.
Don’t forget to Pin It or you could check out my other articles on Greece. After working there for 4 summer contracts (April – Nov) and going out multiple times to train up staff or cover work, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore a lot of this beautiful country (especially those areas off the beaten track).
Near to Lefkada
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