Lefkada, the undiscovered Ionian Island
Lefkada is still somewhat of a secret island, having been spared the mass tourism of the other, more famous, Greek islands. It is also the only Greek island that can be reached by car as it is connected to the region of Epirus via a bridge.
Bridge connecting Lefkada to Epirus on mainland Greece with the island in the back ground
It is an enchanting island, with some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. It may not be a place to spend 14 days, but a week here and another on neighbouring Kefalonia island. From Lefkada you can also set out to discover the awesome natural beauty of nearby region of Epirus, another undiscovered hidden gem in Greece.
Tavernas on the lagoon in Lefkada town
As we recommend that you plan ahead before visiting Lefkada, an important decision will be of where to stay on the island. There are many lodgings on the eastern coast in towns like Nydri, a coastal town where most of the resorts and hotels are located. Another area with a number of accommodations is Vasiliki in the far south of the island, although it is a more recent development and not that authentic. We had decided to stay in Lefkada Town and explore the island from there. It was a decision we did not regret.
Lefkada Town is a wonderful place. The old part of town is a puzzle of hundreds of tiny streets and alleys with small houses with flowering balconies. You can do everything by foot.
Michael exploring the town in search of special places to stay
Landscape near Nydri, Lefkada, Greece
We set out to discover the rest of the island driving down the eastern coast, the one nearest to the mainland. This closeness to mainland Greece and the verdant little islands make the landscape between the two look more like an Alpine lake than an ocean. The waters are pristine and mostly completely still. Along the road the coast is dotted with small little villages and a few hotels here and there. Verdant hills covered with dense pine forests and olive groves run down to the sea. The many sailboats on the water make for an idyllic scenery. Nydri is the largest town and the one with the biggest tourist infrastructure, although it still beholds an authentic atmosphere.
As we continue south, the landscape turns more dry and Mediterranean. The views from the hillside road open up spectacularly overlooking the islands to the south. We come through the town of Vasiliki, a favourite wind- and kitesurfing place due to the regular winds in the bay. Although it has not been “destroyed”, it has a more commercial feel about it than the other towns on the island of Lefkada.
Landscape near the town of Vasiliki in southern Lefkada island
We head west from Vasiliki, anxious with expectation. Somewhere before us lies the famous Porto Katsiki beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. On the way we venture off the road in search of a few luxury holiday villas that we heard about. We discover them high above the ocean with spectacular views over the bay of Vasiliki and the Ionian sea. More about them at the end of this post under “where to stay in Lefkada”
We have lunch in one of the tavernas along the coastal road.
Taverna near Porto Katsiki, Lefkada
Not far from here the landscape opens up to the ocean, whose colour is indescribable. It is the brightest blue we have ever seen, as if the water was backlit. We have arrived at the famous Porto Katsiki beach. The setting of the beach and the colour of the water are indeed absolutely amazing. As with most beaches in Greece though, it is a pebble beach, so don’t forget to bring waterproof foot wear.
Ocean in front of Porto Katsiki beach
In contrast to the eastern coast, the western part of Lefkada is sparsely built. The road north takes us through macchia and pine tree covered hillsides with fabulous view. Wildflower honey seems to be the main product of the area with little shops selling it along the road.
Wildflower and sage honey for sale
One of the many beaches on the western coast of Lefkada
The next morning we enjoy a marvellous breakfast in one of the many fantastic bakeries in Lefkada town and then head west again to visit what had been our initial choice to stay, the little fishermen’s village of Agios Nikitas. The village lies indeed in a picturesque bay with turquoise waters and surrounded by mountains that end directly in the ocean. But it also seems to have lost a bit of its charm trying to protect itself from the tourist crowds. We understand that roads must be closed for cars, but the barriers gives you the feeling that you are visiting an outdoor museum with a beach and a few tavernas.
Bay just before Agios Nikitas
On the way back to Lefkada town we chose the road through the hills to visit the village of Exanthia, besides being a traditional village it is a famous spot to watch the sunset. The best place to do so is the Fly Me Sun and Stars Bar.
Village of Exanthia
Where to eat in Lefkada town
Although there are some tourists in Lefkada, many of them from the sailboats that stop over at the island, it never seems overcrowded. There are a number of very good and inexpensive tavernas spread out over the narrow alleys in the historic part of the city.
The main square is the busiest area of Lefkada town
We tried the Eytyxia a good and authentic taverna in the centre of town, although already a bit touristy. Also recommended are the Thymari, a bit more upmarket, and the Nissi Medite Kuzina on the main square, but there are many more to try out. We had the best fish at the Taverna Rakias a bit off the marina.
Freshly prepared delicacies at Taverna EYTYXIA
For breakfast you can opt to have it overlooking the lagoon at the Karma Café or, as we did, choose a good bakery and savour the endless choice of local pastries, sweet or savoury. We recommend the Apxontapiki or the Zesta Xetourismata.
Apxontapiki bakery on high street in Lefkada town
High street in Lefkada town
The best deserts are served at the Yellow Cake Café right next to Taverna Light House.
Yellow Cake Café
The Havana bar, a nice place to listen to live music and have a drink after dinner
The best beaches on Lefkada island, Greece
The best beaches in Lefkada are on the western coast of the island. The most famous being Porto Katsiki, but almost all of the other furthers north are also very nice. The Gialos, Kavalikefta and Avali beaches have larger pebbles, the Kathisma Beach has sand and smaller pebbles. Quite known is also the Mylos Beach.
Where to stay in Lefkada, Greece
The most beautiful hotel we found is the Pavezzo Country Retreat just south of Lefkada town. Abolutely georgeous.
Pavezzo Country Retreat swimming pool
Pavezzo Country Retreat dining room
Pavezzo Country Retreat holiday cottage with private pool
If you are looking for a villa, take a look at these on the extreme south of the island of Lefkada.
Three villas near Vasiliki, Lefkada
Beautifully decorated holiday homes on Lefkada
View over Vasiliki
In Lefkada town you will find the Bohèmian Boutique Hotel Lefkada and a number of holiday flats such as the Eriel Apartments.
The Pavezzo Country Retreat comprises a group of old renovated cottages built on a hill slope at the edge of the village Katouna on the beautiful Ionian island of Lefkada. Built in the late 19th century and home to ten families, the properties have been converted into exquisite houses, maisonettes and apartments with a shared pool, gardens and verandas as well as two independent villas with private pools. Each house has its own unique style, decorated with elegant antiques, furniture and artwork giving it a natural, rustic and romantic flavour – a perfect combination of old school glamour and simplicity with today’s modern comforts. Situated on the hillside, the Pavezzo Retreat is the perfect sanctuary to escape to and experience the tranquillity and peace of the surrounding mountains, watch the fiery sunsets and breathe in the natural beauty of Lefkada. The individual properties sleep from two to six people and collectively can accommodate up to 34 guests so are ideal for couples, families and small groups of friends looking for an idyllic escape on their own as well as for larger groups looking to holiday together or celebrate a special occasion. Nove Cento is the restaurant of Pavezzo where breakfast of fresh fruits, juices and a variety of homemade products including cakes, different types of bread, jam and other delicacies is served daily. Guests can also enjoy a light meal or dinner in this elegantly furnished and decorated dining room with a private and cosy atmosphere.