Lefkada - Greece's Water Sports Paradise
Lefkada is an island which shines in the lush green of the diverse flora, the deep blue of the Ionian Sea and the bright white of the steep cliffs in the south. The island is a natural and water sports paradise which you will definitely fall in love with.
Geography - From Lefkas to Vasiliki
The Ionian island of Lefkada (also called "Lefkas") lies west of the Greek mainland, which it is connected to via a bridge. You see the two neighbouring islands of Kefalonia and Ithaka in the south as well as the small island of Meganisi in the south-east. Lefkada is about 35 kilometres long and about 15 kilometres wide. Its total area amounts to 293 km². The capital is the city of Lefkada (or "Lefkas"). The towns and villages of Vasiliki, Nikiana, Nydri and Agios Nikitas are as important for tourism as the capital. Lefkada is populated by about 23,000 people. It is mostly mountainous with peaks of up to 1,158 metres of height. The highest point is Elati. The climate on the island does not compare to that on the other Ionian island. While the summers are hot and dry with many hours of sunshine, the winters are relatively mild but rich in rain. The island is dominated by Mediterranean climate. One special feature is the strong thermal wind which occurs in front of the bay of Vasiliki.
Nature - Varied, green landscapes
Lefkada is a unique island. Its landscape is extremely diverse and impresses with rough, steep cliffs and remote, scenic sandy beaches in the west as well as with quiet, protected bays and a lush Mediterranean vegetation in the east. In the island's heartland, near the village of Englouvi, the locals practice lentil cultivation and host a festival in honour of the legumes. The mountainous regions are heavily forested with numerous pines, elms, conifers, oaks and cypresses. Popular gorges are Melissa Gorge and Dimosari Canyon. The most beautiful and important beach is Katsiki Beach at the southern end of the island. Wonderful beaches are Egremni, Milos, Vasiliki, Agios Nikitas and Kathisma Beach. The sea shines in the most stunning shades of blue here. The island is particularly beautiful in Spring when the genista blooms all over the place and fills the air with its pleasant smell. There are many other colourful flowers which bloom at that time and make the island shine. In summer, the Mediterranean fragrance of rosemary, thyme and oleander dominates the island. Gyra Lagoon is the ideal destination for ornithologists because it is home to countless migrating birds in winter and spring. You can watch species such as cormorants, little egrets, coots, ducks and black-winged stilts. The avian fauna is generally very diverse here. In addition, you can spot several mammals such as hares, foxes, weasels and ferrets.
Culture - A Venetian castle and a Gramophone Museum
The name "Lefkada" means as much as "the white one", which refers to the prominent white cliffs in the south and west of the island. There are several museums on Lefkada, which are all worth seeing. Examples are the Folklore Museum of Karia, the Archaeological Museum of Lefkada and the Library and Icon Museum. One museum which is unique to Greece and a real tourist highlight is the Gramophone Museum with an exhibition of old gramophones, radios and cameras as well as written records. In addition, travellers can visit several beautiful churches and monasteries such as Agios Minas Church, the Church of the Virgin Mary Odigitria and the Monastery of Faneromenis. A special attraction is the Castle of Agia Mavra from the 14th century. It was built by the Venetians to protect the old town. Next to the castle, you see a small church which is the location of many cultural events in summer. Travellers have a fantastic view from Cape Ducato in the south of the island. According to legend, the poetess Sappho from Lesbos threw herself off the cliffs here.
Experience - Typical island character and traditional mentality
Although the island has a lot to offer, it has been spared from mass tourism and is not as overcrowded as Crete or Corfu, for example. That is what makes it so appealing. You see traditional villages everywhere and the typical Greek hospitality is particularly pronounced here. One of the best-known mountain villages is Karia, the islands former capital, which is known for its embroidery and its traditional character. Travellers find a relatively lively nightlife in the cities of Nydri and Lefkada, which have many bars, pubs, taverns and discos. A real insider tip are the smaller taverns in the island's heartland. There you can get together with the locals and have a glass of ouzo or wine. Common food are typical Greek dishes but the international influence is increasing, for example because of British tourists. Nydri and Lefkada are full of small shops with handmade products as well as typical souvenirs shops, which sell local sweets and other things.
Activities - Windsurfing and kitesurfing
Due to the heavy winds, the bay of Vasiliki has developed into a water sports paradise. It is an excellent destination for going windsurfing, kitesurfing, paragliding, sailing and canoeing. At Nydri Bay, you can do sports such as banana boating, parasailing, fly fishing and rent quads. Numerous holidaymakers go bathing, diving or snorkelling at Lefkadas beaches every year. You find dive sites in Vasiliki, Nydri, Nikiana and Perigiali. The mountains invite visitors to go on long and demanding cycling or hiking tours. Travellers who are interested in exploring caves should not miss out on Alavastrino, Papanikolis and Dimosari Gorge. You can even go on canyoning trips on the island.
Travellers can easily arrive on Lefkada by plane. The island does not have its own airport but Preveza Airport, which belongs to Epirus, is only 20 kilometres away and can easily be reached via two bridges. You can also use the bridges to reach the island by car. Another enjoyable way of arriving is by ship from the Italian harbours in Venice, Ancona and Trieste. From there, you can take a ferry to the port of Igoumenitsa in Epirus.
Lefkada is the perfect destination for lovers of nature, water sports fans and beach holidaymakers. The island is a real gem and should definitely be explored more closely. Besides the native villages, most of which are located in the island's heartland, there are several interesting museums and cultural buildings.