The name Lefkas comes from ‘Leucos’ meaning white, referring to the imposing white cliffs at the southern tip of the island, reputed by sailors to be one of the entrances to the Underworld.
From the start Lefkas will impress you with its contrasts. It's a mountainous island with steep cliffs, forests and long sandy beaches. Those interested in history will notice influences from Venice, France, Russia and England. To the east of the island is a cluster of islands, including Scorpios, former property of the Onassis family.
Lefkas Town is the gateway to the island. You come across a floating bridge linking Lefkas to the Greek mainland and you are welcomed to the capital. To the right of the bridge lies the lagoon with lovely sandy beaches at Gyra and Agios Ioannis. The salt lake in Lefkas Town is the largest body of water on the island and plays host to large flocks of birds, including rare species. Here you can see herons, swans, wild ducks and geese and sometimes flamingos.
The town's historic centre with its traditional houses, narrow alleyways and museums contrast with the modern marina and is a most interesting place to explore.
On Lefkas most holidaymakers head for one of two places: Nidri, with its plethora of restaurants, clubs and shops, or the resort of Vassiliki.
Lively Nidri is a cosmopolitan resort with a spectacular view of the tiny islands just off its shoreline. Its harbour is always busy and sitting at one of the harbourside tavernas is a pleasant way to pass an evening. Beaches in this area are mostly pebbly and there is a good choice of watersports in the area. From Nidri you can take to the seas to sail around the little islands off the east coast, Madouri, Meganisi, and Scorpios. From Nidri you can hike to the Dimossari waterfall.
Vassiliki, in the south, grew up around its harbour and is famous throughout the world as being one of the top ten places in the world for windsurfing. The south of the island is also popular with sailing as there are many sheltered bays. In the bay you'll find tavernas, cafes, bars and gift shops; you also have access to other Ionian islands (Corfu, Paxos, Ithaca, Zakynthos and Cephalonia).
Heading west from the town you'll come across outstanding long, sandy beaches, nestling under rugged cliffs. Agios Nikitas is 12km from Lefkas Town. It is a traditional village with a strong Lefkadian flavour which has developed over the years with hotels and self catering studios. Agios Nikitas boasts a golden beach with fairly calm waters backed by verdant olive groves. This is a good base from which to access the stunning beaches on the west coast.
On the east side of the island is Lygia, a picturesque village with a little harbour full of fishing boats and a good selection of bars. Nikiana is a larger fishing village on the east side of the island.
If you have a rental car (we recommend this) then go exploring the mountainous interior of the island. Many of the villages you will find there were built in ravines or in forests to protect their inhabitants from pirates. Here the way of life has not altered much in many a year. A good example of this still-traditional way of life is Karya, a pretty village in the centre of the island where you can buy intricate hand made lacework and embroidery. Its peaceful square shaded by trees is a cool place in which to relax after browsing the shops for that special gift.
Lefkas has some of the best beaches in Greece, 9 of which have a Blue Flag rating. Here are just a few worth visiting:
Mylos Beach can be reached in 20 minutes by following a scenic footpath from Agios Nikitas or by boarding a taxi-boat. Its pure white sand and deep turquoise waters offer a splendid sight, especially when seen from above.
Kathisma - Kavalikefta - Megali Petra - Avali - all these beaches are easily accessible and close to Agios Nikitas. Their beauty lies in the turquoise waters with their pebbles and sand, blurring with the green mountains behind. Kathisma is today Lefkada’s most cosmopolitan beach, organised with umbrellas, loungers, beach bars and restaurants.
Egremni beach is 2 km long and surrounded by impressive cliffs and pure water, considered one of the best in the Mediterranean. It is the longest beach of the island and is accessible by boat from Nidri or Vassiliki.
The island's most famous beach though is Porto Katsiki in the south-west of the island. You can either get to it by boat from Nidri and Vassiliki or drive to the nearest point and walk down a hundred steps. This beach gets extremely busy in high season.
We cannot recommend this island highly enough.