Lefkada is one of the very few Greek islands to be visited by ... car. This is because it is only a 50 meters away from the coast of Etoloakarnania. Before becoming an island, Lefkada formed part of the coasts of Akarnania until the 6th century B.C. Nowadays it is shaped as an island, being separated from mainland Greece by this narrow canal. A floating bridge provides access to both sides. This along with the fact that it can be frequently reached by ferry boats departing from other Ionian Islands as Zante, Ithaca and Kefalonia make Lefkada a very good base for trips and excursions to the Ionian Islands and western Greece.
Capital and port at the same time, the city of Lefkada welcomes visitors with its beautiful narrow streets, small squares, traditional houses, fine belfries and paved pedestrian streets. The medieval castle of Agia Mavra is the first thing that catches the eye when passing the bridge. Was built on the 13th century by the Sicilian Ioanni Orsini, to protect civilians from the piratesâ attacks and Turks later on. The fortress initially was built next to an artificial canal on an islet of the lagoon; later, both Venetians and Turks have added some pieces.
The Archaeological, Folklore Museums and the Charamogleios Special Library of Lefkada (unique in the world) compose the image of an atmosphere, spread on every small paved alley (locally called âkantouniâ) leading you into old neighbourhoods of which, in every corner, reveals the hidden aspects of the islandsâ history and culture.
Take a tour around the city and visit:
- The Bosketo Park, which used to be a meeting point for the intelligentsia of the island.
- The pedestrian street along the coast with hangouts for young people, cafÃ©s and music bars.
- The Central Public Library which, among other things, possesses a collection of Post-Byzantine Eptanesian icons.
- The Charamogleios Special Library of Lefkada exhibiting rare books, gravures and maps and hosting an art hall, where contemporary painting and photography exhibitions take place.
- The Museum of Phonograph-Old Souvenirs, with exhibitions of old phonographs, old disks, decorative items-antiques, old banknotes, etc.
- The cityâs lagoon where the proper seasons you can find herons, swans, geese and wild ducks.
- The wetlands of Megalos and Mikros Avlaimonas, two natural fish farms near the town.
- The four windmills in Gyra (initially were twelve) and in the small village Fryni (2km southwest), built on a slope with a beautiful view.
The island is surrounded by a total of 24 islets, including the renowned island of Scorpios, property of Aristotelis Onassis.
You will find remarkable sights, churches and monasteries, picturesque settlements, green surroundings and wonderful beaches. Smaller or bigger caves, waterfalls water springs and pine forests are some of the mainlandâs beauties.
Scorpios is with no doubt the most famous private island of Greece. Was bought back in 1963, and Onassis turned it to a tropical paradise. It is covered with trees from one side to the other, with a beautiful villa in the middle, where most of the global celebrities of his time spent their summer time as guests. It was used among others: by the Kennedyâs family, Maria Callas, Greta Garbo, and Winston Churchill. In the small church next to the house Aristotelis Onassis got married with Jacky Kennedy. His natural love for the island of Lefkada helped it become a world known leisure destination with thousands of tourists visiting it every year.
The biggest among these islets is Meganisi (only 4 miles away from Nydri) with small villages, bays and picturesque beaches. You should visit the water cave of Papanikolis, the place where boats and sailing boats found shelter when they were threatened by storms. It took its name after "Papanikolis" submarine as the cave was its base during the World War II. Its chamber is very large covering 3.800 sq. m, 30 metres deep, and is the second biggest cave in Greece.
You can visit it by boat and you will be amazed by its colossal hall and its rich decoration of stalactites. In the sunlight, the combination of rocks creates thousand colours giving a dreamy atmosphere. At the end of the cave there is a pebbled passage, ideal for walking. Kalamos is also a verdant small island, with pine trees that almost reach the waters at the beach.
If you are with a yacht or a sailing boat, these small islets are the perfect scenery to stay and dive.
The wonderful beaches start just from the front-step of the capital. Gyra apart from the windmills has a magnificent sandy beach that joins the lagoon with the Ionian Sea.
Heading south with direction to Kalamitsi, you will pass by Drakano (with a nice steak tavern of Sesoula) and turn right at Athani, on the way to Gialos, Egremni and Porto Katsiki beaches. You can choose among numerous hotels, studios, restaurants and traditional taverns. When reaching the beach of Porto Katsiki, make sure that you have parked at a spot that doesnât block traffic, the road is very narrow.
|On the way to the beach, you will find a sign in the middle of nowhere, which is a path driving you to a near tavern. The original road sign shows that it is only 5 km before your final destination. A golden rule is trying to be the first to come (and park) and among the last to go.|
From the eastern side of the island, you will find the beach of Agios Giannis (with the Kite Surf sea races in July) Perigialli and Nydri. Taking the road south to Vasiliki bay, donât miss the beautiful villages of Poros, and Sivota, a natural bay and port full of yachts and smaller boats. Windsurf fans will definitely spend a few days at Vasiliki beach, where south winds bring huge waves to the coast.
If you are a sea-kayak lover, there is an ideal location at Fanari beach, on Meganisi islet. If you are with a yacht or a sailing boat, these small islets are the perfect scenery to stay and dive. Or you can try a bike tour just from the city of Lefkada, called the The Lagoon Tour (Aghia Mavra, Gyra, Myloi, Ai-Giannis, Lefkada). The area and the nearby beaches are ideal for biking through areas of unique natural beauty.
If you like caves, explore the âSPILIA TOU DAIMONAâ located close to Spartochori.
Speech and Art feasts. They are organised by the Cultural centre of Lefkada, since 1995.
In Lefkada, on the evening of Good Friday the epitaph processions of the various parishes are held, accompanied by the local band, occupying the town's main street and end up in the traditional, Venetian-style, central square.
On Holy Saturday morning, the band plays rousing tunes in the streets of the town, while the housewives throw earthenware vessels from their windows.
For 45 years, groups and artists from various countries around the world meet every august in Lefkada and share the creations of their intellectual and artistic traditions (dance, music, traditional heritage).
- Lefkada is the island to be reached by car from the other side of Etoloakarnania through a bridge,
- or take one of the small ferries coming from the nearby Ionian islands.
- You can reach island by aeroplane from Athens and Thessaloniki at the nearby airport of Aktio.
|Vasiliki Medical centre||26450-31065|
|Taxi||26450-24600, 26555 and online at the link: www.lefkasradiotaxi.gr|
|Local buses (KTEL)||26450-22364|
|Charamogleios Special Library||26450-21465|