Lefkada or Lefkas island is one of the seven Ionian islands in North West Greece. It is probably one of the few islands all over the world that can be accessed also by car instead of a boat! given the long winding peninsula. It is true though that you can travel by boat or plane as well, using the adjacent Aktion (Preveza) Intl Airport, if you happen to be on the mainland or one of the neighbouring countries, the car is the most popular way to visit Lefkada. This is the reason that it has become one of the top destinations for the Greeks of mainland Greece.
Lefkada is connected with the Greek mainland via a floating bridge as it is very close to the opposite shore. It is just 78 metres away from the west coast of central Greece and it is separated from the channel of Lefkada which is only 25 metres wide.
Lefkada covers an area of approximately 300 sq. km, it is the fourth largest island in the Ionian Sea and the closest one to the mainland.
It is approx. 400 kilometres away from Athens and daily buses are running from Athens and Thessaloniki to Lefkada. The name of Lefkada probably derives from the word LEFKOS – which translated in Greek dialect means WHITE - and it is due to the white colour of the mountains on the south-west side. The population of the island is 22,652(2011), with the majority living in the town of Lefkada.
Three-quarters of the terrain is mountainous with cliffs, especially on the west side, while on the east the landscape is much flatter.
There is a coastal path opened by the Corinthians in ancient times and developed by the English in 1818 which lead the boats from the calm lagoon of the east side to the open waters of the Ionian Sea on the west side.
The island is verdant with trees and is home to some of the best and most renowned beaches in the Mediterranean with turquoise sparkling waters.
All these beaches are easily accessible both by road or sea.
Perhaps the two most photographed beaches on the island are those of Porto Katsiki and Egremnoi. Both of them are sheltered by large dominating cliffs and have the most stunning waters of all the islands' beaches. The first one is among the six most beautiful beaches of the Mediterranean, whereas the exotic setting of the second creates a feeling of a deserted tropical island in the Pacific Ocean.
Porto Katsiki Beach
Porto Katsiki is located 45 kilometres southwest of Town, close to Athani village. To access the beach you need to climb down quite a few stairs while overlooking the abrupt white cliffs. Even though there are sun loungers and umbrellas, as it is one of the main beach attractions, the idyllic landscape still takes your breath away. There are also a few snack bars to have a small lunch on the beach and enjoy swimming in the pristine waters until late in the afternoon. The beach is frequented by vessels as this is the best way to access it.
Egremont is even more difficult to reach as you need to scale approximately 350 steps. The number might sound a bit discouraging and intimidating, but the magnificent scenery that awaits you, with the long sandy beach and the surrounding barren cliffs is definitely worth the effort. There are a few beach bars on the right, but at the far end of the beach, more secluded spots can be found. It is not as crowded as Porto Katsiki due to its location, even though there are still plenty of visitors looking for an ideal swimming experience.
Mylos beach is ideal for water sports lovers as the wind blowing there makes the perfect conditions for kite-surfers. It is also ideal for nature lovers due to its unspoilt environment and the green cliffs.
Pefkoulia beach is a top destination beach for families, as it is safe, easily accessible and there are shops and restaurants in the nearby village of Agios Nikitas. It is a large beach and gets quite crowded in the summer, but the area beyond the big rock is quieter and favoured by nudists.
Kathisma is another well-known beach of Lefkada. It is mostly preferred by younger people due to the water sports activities that take place there and the accommodation found quite nearby. However, swimmers should be extra careful with the northwest wind and the large waves it creates.
Other beaches on the island are Ai-Giannis beach, Kastro and Gyra beaches, Gialos beach and the beaches of Vassiliki, Agios Nikitas and Nidri.
Sport & Nature
Culture and History
On the island of Lefkada, various religious feasts, festivals and cultural events ("Panayria") are held throughout the year but they all reach their peak during the summer months with the International Folklore Festival. The Festival is part of the events for literature and arts that are organised every year since the 1950s. A lot of famous and well-respected artists and scientists visit Lefkada to join the conferences and the celebrations. Maria Kallas the renowned Opera Singer, gave her last performance for the Greek audience as part of these events in 1964.
Lefkada was the first place in Greece to start this tradition of events for literature and arts which has eventually been embraced by many municipalities around the country. In no other place in Greece though, is organised an International Folklore Festival like the one in Lefkada. People from all over the world have set the island as their annual meeting point to present their customs and traditions in this amazing feast dedicated to cultural diversity and peace among different nations.
During the Festival the Town of Lefkada looks like a spectacular parade, with folklore dancers dancing cheerfully, dressed in their traditional costumes, holding their flags and singing traditional songs. On the first Sunday of the festival, the parade takes place in the streets of the town and ends on the beach, where dancers from many different countries dance all together with the dance of peace. If you can arrange holidays in August, don’t miss this lifetime experience and do join the International Folklore festival! It is a great opportunity to meet people and observe many different customs and even be enlightened of our neighbouring (or not) countries.
Other cultural events that take place on the island are the traditional wedding and the Valaoritia Festival. The first, as the name implies, is a revival of a traditional wedding. It takes place in Karia and shows how wedding celebrations were performed in Lefkada in the past. The second is a festival dedicated to the memory of the poet Aristotelis Valaoritis and his significant work.
Apart from the cultural festivals, religious feasts are organised throughout villages around the island. This is usual of all the Greek islands and the villages of the mainland. Almost everywhere in the country, 15th August is a big celebration and so it is on Lefkada too. The feast takes place in the Convent of Faneromeni in Frini because the convent is dedicated to the Virgin Mary whose Dormition is celebrated on this day.