off the coast of central Greece and once attached, Lefkada is the
fourth largest of the Ionian islands.
It has a land mass of 303 sq.km
and a coastline of 117 km. Its population is 21,000. It is attached
to the mainland by a causeway. This island you can drive to!
Lefkada has everything from mountain villages to beach resorts. Many migratory birds flock to Lefkada's salty
marshes. The causeway surrounds a shallow lagoon where you may see herons and pelicans. An occasional shark has been seen
far out by wind surfers but no incidents have occurred. More
Dolphin varieties are seen off Lefkadas coast than anywhere else in
interior villages are traditional and the women are famous for their
lace and embroidery. Windsurfing is particularly good and sailing
through its ten surrounding islets is idyllic. One of these, Scorpios,
was owned by Aristotle Onassis–that should tell you something!
Lefkada Town is very near the mainland and the causeway. It has a wonderful view of ruins of Santa Mavra fortress on the mainland opposite.
The whole town collapsed in an earthquake in 1948 and was hard hit again in 1953 and 1971. The rebuilt town is unusual in Greece. The bottom floors of houses are stone, but upper floors are wood or corrugated metal intended to hold up when the ground starts moving.
In Lefkada Town's main square is the Phonograph Museum with its collection of records and phonographs and old gramophones. There's also a small Folk Museum. Above the town is Moni Faneromenis. There's a festival at this monastery 50 days after Easter.
Busts of Lefkada's three great contributors to letters are in Bosketo Park near the end of the causeway.
South of town is the island's oldest monastery, Paagia Odhigytria. It is the only monastery on the island to have withstood all the earthquakes, hence its claim to being the oldest.
The island's west coast is rocky and rough but has stunning stretches of sand. The road down the west coast avoids the shore until Tsoukalades, where you can find a rocky path down to the coast. Agios Nikitas is a small resort with a harbor and a beach. Further south is the mountain village of Kalamitsi. Kalamitsi has waves, and a sandy beach below it.
Far to the south is the windsurfer's paradise, Vasiliki (or Vassiliki). It gets crowded in August, even though it isn't on the package tour routes yet. Windsurfers whiz around the bay. The port is lined with shops and cafes. The breeze is usually gentle enough for beginners in the morning, with strong winds cherished by experts blowing in the afternoons. Of course, after dark there is a lively nightlife scene.
The main town on the east coast is Nydri (or Nidri). There are splendid views of the offshore islands from Nydri. Nydri has a commercial feel and gets busy in summer. There are tavernas very near the shore and it's a nice spot to sit a twilight.
From Nydri, hike 45 minutes to the hamlet of Rahi to see a wonderful waterfall at the end of the Dimosari gorge. There's a pool at the bottom.
The inland villages are the place to shop for lace. These traditional farming village still have women working at looms. Karya is at the center of the island's lace and embriodery industry. You can often buy directly from the artisen herself. There's a museum dedicated to the most famous embroiderer of them all in Karya, Museum of Maria Koutsochero.
The highest village on Lefkada is Englouvi, another good shopping place for lace and embroidery. Englouvi is also proud of its lentils, often the base of many prize winning recipes.
Meganisi is a rural island with a port at Vathy. There are chapels on each side of the port and several tavernas. It's believed to be the island of Taphos mentioned in the Odyssey. The people there still engage in traditional pursuits like seafaring, embroidery making and lace making. Excursion boats from Nydri go the Papanikolaos Grotto. This large grotto is named after a Greek resistance submariner who used to dart out of it to attack Italian ships.
As mentioned above, sailing through the enchanting isles off Nydri is very popular. These wooded islets are privately owned. The islets include Sparti, Mandouri, Skorpidi, Skorpios and to the south of Maganisi, Arkoudi.
Drinking and Dining
There are good places to eat in most of the towns and villages on the island. Be sure to try the lentils.
Turbulance has marked Lefkada's history. It was in the domain of the Corinthians from 640 BC until the British left in 1864. There have been repeated earthquakes, with the one in 1953 being especially destructive.
The island was named for the whiteness of its cliffs. Leukos means white.