Lefkada is a very beautiful island in the Ionian Sea that is a hidden gem among the many spectacular Greek Islands. There are a lot of things to do in Lefkada and the beaches are some of the best in Europe but with no airport, it is often overlooked by its more famous island neighbors of Corfu and Zakynthos.
This Guide covers not only the many things to see and do but also have to get to Lefkada, how to get around, and much more.
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When to visit Lefkada
The island of Lefkada has a Mediterranean climate, meaning long, warm summers and mild winters, which makes it a popular destination for tourists throughout the year.
The summer season on the island starts in May when temperatures start to rise and the average temperature for this time of year is approximately 18°C/64F.
As the summer continues, the average temperature rises to around 25°C/77F in July and August, with highs of 35°C/95F or more.
This is a great time of year to visit if you like warm weather and lazing on the beach, but this is also the busiest (and most expensive) time of year to visit Lefkada.
In September, the temperatures start to drop again, with average highs of 26°C/79F . It’s still a nice time of year to visit, especially just after the tourist season. The sea temperature is still warm at this time of year, too.
Winters in Lefkada are fairly chilly; temperatures range between 9°C/48F and 10°C. Wind and rain are prominent features in the climate of Lefkada in the winter months, so perhaps not the best time of year to visit if you want to spend time at the beach. January and February are the coldest months, seeing temperatures between 6°C/43F and 12°C/54F and much rain.
While Lefkada does receive more rain than many other Greek islands, this also means that the vegetation is lush and less arid than others, too.
Where is Lefkada?
Lefkada is one of the Ionian islands situated on the west coast of Greece. It’s around 25 kilometres south of Preveza, which is also where you’ll find the closest airport to Lefkada.
Lefkada is actually connected to the mainland via a causeway and a floating bridge making it one of only a handful Greek Islands that you can actually drive onto.
What makes Lefkada so wonderful?
Despite being so close to the Greek mainland, Lefakda’s wholly fortified nature kept it fiercely independent for centuries.
However, its position also made it attractive to a whole host of conquerors throughout the ages, including the Venetians, Ottomans, France, Russia, France and the British.
This influence has left an indelible mark on this island brimming with history and formidable landscapes.
It’s accessibility via a causeway also makes it unique and one of the few Greek Islands you can drive on to.
How to get to Lefkada
Getting to Lefkada is much easier than it is travelling to other Greek islands. That’s mainly because there is a bridge connecting it to the mainland, meaning you won’t need to be beholden to changeable ferry timetables to get you there.
Drive or Bus to Lefkada
For those arriving via the bridge, there are several different options to get onto the island. The main way to get there is to take a KTEL bus. If you’re arriving in Athens, then you should head to the KTEL Athens Central Bus Station (there’s a shuttle bus, X93, from the airport that goes straight here; it takes one hour). Buses from the central station to Lefkada take four and a half hours to cover the 421 kilometres (261 miles) between Athens and the Ionian island itself.
These buses are clean, comfortable and feature air-conditioning. One-way tickets cost around €34 (return tickets, €65; valid for one month). You can book in advance, which is a good idea during the height of tourist season.
Fly to Lefkada
if you arrive at the much closer Aktion International Airport in Preveza, which is just 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Lefkada Town, your journey will be much easier. The airport transfer from Aktion International Airport to Lefkada Town costs €40.
Aktion airport, in Preveza, features flights to and from many European destinations including Amsterdam, Berlin and London. During high season there are many flights throughout the week between these destinations, but note there are no direct flights between Aktion and Athens. From Preveza, taking a bus is straightforward.
Ferry to Lefkada
You can also reach Lefkada by ferry if you are travelling from other nearby islands, such as Meganisi, Kefalonia and Ithaca. These ferries run a handful of times per day and you can purchase tickets online or at the ferry terminal. The frequency of the ferries varies throughout the year, however, so make sure to check ahead of your trip.
GEtting around Lefkada
Lefkada is a pretty sizeable island compared to many of the smaller island destinations in Greece; it has an area of approximately 302 square kilometres (117 square miles), making it the fourth largest of the Ionian Islands.
Buses on Lefkada
First and foremost, transport on the island consists of public buses run by the KTEL company. The bus network on Lefkada connects the main villages and towns on the island, as well as some of the more popular beaches and destinations. The buses are large and modern, with air-conditioning and comfortable seats.
The bus routes mainly run along the eastern side of the island, which is where the majority of its towns and villages are situated. In the high season, the buses run more frequently, but you should note that out of season it’s more of a bare-bones service. Either way, there are fewer buses at the weekend than during the week.
The island’s central bus station is situated in Lefkada town, close to the port. You can buy tickets here, or when you get on the bus. Tickets cost around €2 for a standard fare.
Taxis on Lefkada
Given the limited area covered by the island’s bus service, many visitors also opt to use taxis to explore the island. While the costs of getting a taxi around everywhere can soon add up, the plus side is that they will be able to take you to more pinpoint locations than buses, and you won’t have to worry about missing the last bus back to your hotel, either.
That said, taxis are still fairly affordable on Lefkada – and they are especially cost-effective if you’re travelling in a group. Your best bet is to ask at your accommodation for tips on recommended taxi companies to use. You should also ask what the standard fares are between certain destinations, just so you know how much you should be paying.
Driving on Lefkada
By far the most convenient way to travel around the island is by car, especially because of the bridge connecting Lefkada with the mainland. That means you can rent your car on the mainland and not have to worry about paying for a car ferry.
Having your own car is a bonus in itself. It gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace, without having to worry about paying constantly for taxis or waiting around for buses. Again, renting a car in Lefkada is made more cost-effective if you’re travelling with friends or family and can split the cost.
Local and international rental companies can be found at Aktion International Airport and Lefkada Town, among other larger towns on the island. Prices range between €20 to €50, depending on demand. During high season it’s recommended that you book your hire car in advance (before your arrival) to avoid disappointment.
There are also motorbikes. They’re cheaper than cars, easier to park and make for an exciting way to travel the scenic roads that weave across the island.
Further reading : Driving in Greece
Where to stay in Lefkada
The main town on the island is also called Lefkada. This is the island’s capital, and where you’ll find the main port, too. Located on the north side of the island, next to the bridge to the Mainland, it’s easy to explore destinations both on the mainland and the island using Lefkada Town as a base.
It’s also a picturesque spot that’s awash with charming pedestrianised promenades, traditional tavernas and a whole lot of places to stay. Bars, restaurants and a general convivial evening atmosphere make it an attractive place to base yourself. Exploring Lefkada’s old town, with its colourful traditional Venetian buildings, is a big draw for visitors.
For groups and families wanting more space Eriel Boutique Apartments have lovely one and two-bedroom apartments or Allure View Villa is a stunning 5 bedroom house overlooking the lagoon with a pool and a big garden.
The popular tourist resort of Agios Nikitas is situated on the west coast of the island. The setting is dramatic, with vast cliffs that jut down into a cove with a sparkling (and very popular) beach, backed by the town itself, dotted with olive and pine trees.
Around 13 kilometres (8 miles) from Lefkada town, it’s easy to reach Agios Nikitas on a day trip if you’re staying in the capital instead.
And because of its location, surrounded by lush hillsides, the village is well known for its olive and wine production – both of which you can sample in its cosy tavernas and restaurants.
Couple and groups love to stay at Agios Nikitas Resort Villas nestled in the hills with amazing views and sunsets. Hotel Selini is also great for budget travellers with cheap and cheerful rooms close to the beach.
Groups here would be hard pressed to beat Agios Nikitas View 2 pool Villa which sleeps six, or The Wave Twin Villa 2 sits right above Kathisma Beach and has stunning panoramic views.
Situated on the north-east of Lefkada, the village of Lygia is known for being an important resort town for the island. Lygia is centred around a colourful port area, but more popular than the harbour are the numerous beaches scattered around the area. These are well equipped with sunbeds and sunshades, as well as beachside tavernas and cafes.
It’s a great place to base yourself if you want both beaches on the doorstep, and the opportunity to explore the island further; that’s because Lygia is well connected by road and is on the main bus route.
There are several different rental properties and hotels to choose from here such as Almyra seafront residence for groups and the beautiful Katouna Suites Adults Only Hotel in the hills above.
For something a little bit more rural, there’s the peaceful calm of the interior village of Kalamitsi village could be the answer. This scenic spot feels very traditional, and a world away from busy tourist destinations by the coast, yet it is only a short drive down to the famous beaches on the west coast.
Accommodation in Kalamitsi comes mostly in the form of family-run rental apartments such as Lenia Studios. Due to its relatively remote location in the mountains, staying at Kalamitsi is probably best done if you have your own hire car or motorbike to get around.
The famous village of Nydri is very popular for holidaymakers, which is probably because it has a bit of everything: a harbour, beaches, nearby mountains and plenty of accommodation.
Nydri also has a vibrant atmosphere, where travellers can enjoy evenings spent in the town’s bars and restaurants, or lingering over long lunches by the sea. It’s also the launching point for many day trips to the nearby islands making it popular with many visitors.
There’s some great accommodation for groups and families here such as Daglas Beach House right on the beach or stunning Villa Rigilis in the foothills just above which is very peaceful too.
For hotels check out Iris and Palm Trees Hotels, both beachfront, or Spiros Sea View just out of town.
Vlichos is a picturesque seaside destination around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the capital. It’s well-loved by keen yachtsmen who moor up in the emerald harbour for day trips to explore the charming town itself.
The town is quite long and narrow, due to the mountains almost meeting the sea here, but it has a nice, laid-back atmosphere, and is a particularly relaxing place to stay.
On the south side of Lefkada, around 40 kilometres (24 miles) south of the capital, you’ll find the town of Ponti, with beautiful Vassiliki Beach on its doorstep.
Each year thousands of keen windsurfers descend on the village to make the most of its unique wind conditions. Locals affectionately dub this wind, which arrives pretty every afternoon during the summer months, “Eric”.
If you’re not a veteran windsurfer but you’d like to learn, you can find rental equipment and book yourself some windsurfing lessons, too. Surfing is also a popular pastime on this coast (lessons and equipment can also be found).
The beach itself is a sandy spot popular with tourists who want to relax instead of catching a wave and enjoy an easy-going day by the sea. Nearby Agio Fili beach is one of the most beautiful in the area.
Lefkada restaurants and food
Lefkada is a rich destination for food lovers. The island’s gastronomy reflects local traditions, landscapes and historical influences from further afield. That means there are plenty of delicious dishes as well as specialty produce to try across the island.
The island is well known for its production of olive oil, wine and citrus fruits, all of which make their way into various local recipes. Lentils grown on the Englouvi plateau, in the centre of the island, are also a staple of Lefkada.
Being an island, fish and seafood is something you’ll find served up in many of the coastal tavernas. This is evidenced by the many fishing villages that dot the shoreline. Sardines, cuttlefish, octopus, mussels, and squid, among others, are popular.
One particularly emblematic dish of Lefkada is savoro – grilled fish marinated in garlic, olive oil, spring onions and rosemary.
But perhaps Lefkada is most famous for its meat production – namely salami Lefkados. These spicy cured sausages are to be found all over the island, in tavernas and local shops among other places. They’re a must-try for meat-eaters when visiting.
Sofigado is another must-try meat dish. It’s a sweet and sour beef stew that differs from other Ionian recipes, which features lots of garlic and quinces in the recipe, pointing to strong Venetian influences.
Top Bars and Restaurants in Lefkada
Like all Greek Islands some of the best breakfast fare is found at the local bakeries. Sivota Bakery Cafe in Sivota is an instituation as are Zimis and Zesta Xefournismata in Lefkada Town.
For a great dine in breakfast it’s hard to beat Ristretto Espresso Bar and Taste and Coffee in Lefkada Town or La Minute in Nydri.
For lunch with a view head to Seven Islands Taverna on the waterfront in Ligia, Sapfo on the beach in Agios Nikitas or Afteli Beach Bar & Restaurant at the bottom of the island, overlooking beautiful, remote, Afteli Beach.
In the interior of the island be sure to stop at The Plane Tree when visiting Nidri Waterfall and T’Aloni with sweeping views over the valley in Chortata.
For a special dinner Seaside Restaurant in Geni, Zorbas in Vasiliki and Porto Nikiana in Nikiana are all very romantic, have exceptional service and excellent food. For something more suitable for families and groups then it’s hard to beat The Barrel in Nidri harbour which is wildly popular, Pomodoro and Nirikos which are both Italian, or Basilico in Nidri which has been a perennial favourite for decades.
After dinner there are a number of great bars in Lefkada including Fly Me Sun & Stars Bar in Exanthia, Stoa in Nidri and Octopus Garden in Lefkada Town.
Things to do in Lefkada
Lefkada is a big island with many towns and villages to visit during your stay. No matter if you like being active or spending your days completely chilled out, you’ll find somewhere on the island that suits you.
Lefkada is world famous for its stunning beaches and you are spoilt for choice when visiting. The beaches on the west side of the island are really impressive with their steep white cliffs and huge rock formations. The east side beaches are usually sheltered from the wind and better suited to families with small children and the water is usually calm.
Most of the best beaches are located in the south of the island, including Porto Katsiki, one of the most photographed beaches in Europe, famous for its towering white cliffs and crystal clear, aquamarine water. Here there is paid parking, umbrellas and sunbeds for rent and food and drinks available.
Nearby is beautiful Egremni Beach which is more secluded and far less crowded but it’s fairly difficult to access.
Further north again is Gialos Beach, also less crowded and with a very relaxed cafe/taverna and sunbeds. This beach is great for snorkelling and watching the amazing sunsets too.
Right in the south of the island, you will find Vasiliki Beach, Kastri, Agiofili, Ammoussa and Afteli, all quite close together and all excellent. These beaches are quite protected and have lots of interesting caves and coves. You really can’t go wrong anywhere in this part of Lefkada.
In the south-east the beaches include Lila, Kamari and Lakka Beaches although these are more pebbly than the ones already mentioned ( which some people actually prefer).
The north of the island also has numerous idyllic beaches including Mylos Beach and Kathisma, one of the most popular on the island due to its many facilities such as watersports, parasailing and several bars and tavernas.
History and CUlture
Castle of Santa Maura
Located on the northeastern tip of the island, the castle of Santa Maura began life as a small fort in 1300 to control access to the island. Eventually, it developed into a fully walled settlement until the Ottoman Empire took control and enlarged the castle walls. Though much of it lies in ruins, the castle tells the tale of Lefkada’s invaders and conquerors through the years, from the Venetians to the Ottomans.
Located on the harbour with a very good beach next door these old Windmills are reminiscent of a bygone era when the wind was required for energy to assist local farmers and merchants. Today they are mostly popular for photography purposes.
The Lighthouse of Lefkada
Set on the dramatic Cape Doukato, this isolated lighthouse has been a landmark since it was built in 1890. Standing at an impressive 14 metres tall, it’s not just the historic lighthouse itself that is worth a visit. Views from here across Lefkada and across the sea to Kefalonia and Ithaca are stunning. It’s best visited on a hike as the road is quite uneven for regular cars.
Located in the mountain village of Lefkas this museum explains the history of Olives and Olive Oil in Lefkada and there is a short tour you can do to learn more.
Admission is 2.50 euros.
Karia Folklore Museum
This small museum is popular with tourists who often comment on the passion and humour of the custodian who often acts as tour guide. It showcases very crafts and cultural activities from Lefkada through the ages including weaving and handicraft, tools and farming techniques, plants and flowers as well as a showcase of the original dwellings and how life was for locals.
Located in the interior village of Karya, the entrance fee is a few Euro and there is free parking nearby.
Traditional Greek Cooking on a Farm
Spend half the day learning to make traditional Greek dishes and bread at Lefkada Micro Farm near Nidri. This includes a brief tour of the farm and a look into the way of life including bee keeping and Olive Oil production.
Churches and monasteries
The islands oldest church is Lefkada Agios Ioannis Antzoussis. Situated above Agios Ioannis beach, it’s the oldest church on the island and was carved into the rocks of the cliffs themselves in the 16th century. It’s an important spot: it’s believed that Paul the Apostle gave a sermon here in the 1st century. Inside the church, visitors can get a glimpse of rare Byzantine depictions of biblical scenes.
In the north of the island Faneromeni Monastery is very beautiful and considered by many to best the best on the island to visit. The monastery was built in honour of the Virgin Mary, the patron of the island, during the Venetian conquest in 1684 to 1797 and was rebuilt in 1887, after a devastating fire. The monastery is still in operation today and is home to a permanent population of Monks. It also has two small museums and a small zoo, making it a nice spot to visit for families.
There is no admission charge and the views are quite spectacular.
Watersports and activities
If you feel like a spot of windsurfing, you’re in luck as Lefkada is a popular place to go windsurfing. And as mentioned earlier, there’s no better place on the island to do it than at Ponti. There are plenty of places to rent equipment and even take lessons if you’re ready to learn the ropes.
One of the best activities you can do on any Greek Island is a boat trip and Lefkada is no exception. Sailing around the neighbouring island of Meganisi, Skorpios ( once owned by Aristotle Onassis), Spartia and Madouri is a magical way to spend a day or even longer.
There are excellent sailing cruises that explore these islands including lots of swim stops and a great lunch too. You can also do a day trip over to Kefalonia and Ithaca from Nydri, which we highly recommend.
Another amazing water activity is exploring Rouda Bay Sea Caves by Kayak. This tour leaves from Mikros Gialos in the south of the island and makes its way through the magical Blue Cave and azure waters.
Head to Kathisma Beach between March and November and you can do some paragliding with some of the most amazing views in the world. Contact Lefkada Paragliding with Janni , Flyfeel or Lefkada Paragliding for more information.
Nature and the outdoors
Hiking in Lefkada is very popular and there are numerous tracks you can explore for all types of fitness levels.
At the centre of the island in the mountains in Stavrotas Peak, a popular but somewhat challenging hike that takes in some truly stunning views and landscapes.
South of there, near the village of Syvros, is Karoucha Cave and Kerasia Waterfall, a small spring located in very pretty, green surroundings.
Check out Country Walks in Lefkada for more information.
Mountain Biking is also really popular and you can ride through medieval villages with extraordinary backdrops for rides you will never forget.
Porto Katsiki Beach
Events on Lefkada
One of the most important festivals in Greece is the Dormition of the Virgin. Taking place on the 15th of August, this event is often referred to as the “Easter of the Summer”. There are many different panigiri (island festivals) taking place in Lefkada, the largest is usually held at the Monastery of Faneromeni ( see below) but there are festivities in every town and village.
Feast of Agia Kyriaki
Held on 7th July, the Feast of Agia Kyriaki is celebrated in the villages of Nidri and Vlichos, marked by plenty of local cuisine and music.
Held on the 6th of August each year in the interior town of Englouvi this festival co-incides with the festival of Saint Donatos and after Church the attendees are few big vats of delicious lentils and other food.
A Traditional Wedding
This event is quite unique for the Islands and is the re-enactment of a traditional Greece wedding. It is held on first Sunday of August in the town of Karia.
Celebration of the Monastery of Faneromeni
Just above Lefkada town is the Monastery of Faneromeni (built in 1634 on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Artemis). This is the religious centre of the island and the focal point of a feast day on the 15th of August. Expect food, music and dancing. Views from here are also beautiful.
International Folklore Festival – Taking place across the last week of August, this annual event is a celebration of local traditions. The main focus is on uniting people with common cultural traditions. Festivities include parades, costumes and dancing.