Lefkada is the fourth largest island of the Ionian group and is unique as it is attached to the mainland near Preveza, by a small causeway and a pontoon bridge, and so not really an island. Lefkada was never actually an island, it never became an island until the 7th century BC when Corinthian colonists dug a canal that separated the now island from the mainland.
Lefkada is very popular with Greek tourists as they can easily drive to the island, like the other Ionian Islands Lefkada has some fantastic beaches and a beautiful landscape of green forested mountains, some over 1000 metres. The island takes its name from the Greek word for white 'leuka' after the bare white ridges and rocks on the island.
Lefkada does have a tourist industry especially on the East coast, but not to the extent of other neighbouring islands like Corfu and Zakynthos. The island has kept much of its original charm, there are still plenty of unspoilt mountain villages inland, untouched by tourism. Lefkada is also a very fertile island with huge forests of Pine, Fir and Cypress trees, not to mention the hundreds of Olive groves.
Although the East coast is the main tourist area of Lefkada, the lesser known Western coast has a very rugged beauty and some of the best beaches in the Ionian group, by far the gem of the island. Lefkada has four satellite islands off its Eastern coast, unfortunately only one of these can visited (Meganisi), the other three are privately owned, most famously is Skorpios which is owned by the Onassis family.
History of Lefkada
Lefkada has been associated with being Odeseus' Ithaca and not the island of the same name to the south. This theory comes from the The German archaeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld who excavated on the island and found Mycenaen remains. The ancient history of Lefkada is very similar to the rest of the Ionian Islands, being occupied by first Corinthians, Macedonians and Romans.
Like other Ionian Islands the most influential occupiers of Lefkada were the Venetians who left their mark with fortresses and Italian style architecture in the towns, although a lot of this has been destroyed by earthquakes. You see many of the fortresses as come to the causeway, the most famous being the castle of Santa Maura from the 14th century. Santa Maura was the name the Venetians called Lefkada.
Later Lefkada fell to the Turks and like the rest of the Ionian islands were occupied by Napoleon in 1797 until 1810 when the British became protectorate. Finally in 1864 Lefkada was reunited with the rest of Greece.
Lefkada Town is at the very North of the island were the 50 metre causeway joins Lefkada to the mainland. Despite many of the older Italian style buildings being destroyed during the two earthquakes of the twentieth century the town is still a very attractive little town even by Ionian standards.
Lefkada town is very small and can be easily walked around with plenty to see including an art museum, archaeological museum and some beautiful Venetian Churches that survived the earthquakes. Two of the most popular and attractive parts of the town are the main square, Platea Agiou Spyridonas and the main street , Ioannou Mela. Many of the town's narrow central streets are pedestrian and great for strolling around. There are also some nice beaches in walking distance from the town like Yira, a sand and shingle beach about a 25 minute walk from Lefkada Town.
Lefkada's East Coast
The East coast of Lefkada is the busiest and most commercial, the largest and most popular town is Nidri which is popular as a package tour destination and has all of what you expect from a tourist town including a large pebble beach. There is also a regular ferries and boat service to nearby islands like Meganissi and further afield like Kefalonia and Ithaki. One of the best sights near Nidri is the famous waterfalls and pools in a ravine about 3km from the town.
Vasiliki and Southern Lefkada
Vasiliki is the watersport capital of Greece and is one of the top windsurfing destinations in Europe with surfers from all over the globe visiting the town. There are many windsurfing schools in the town and due to the amount of youngsters who visit for the surfing Vasiliki does have a lively nightlife. The attraction of the area for windsurfing is because of the huge bay which has gentle winds during the morning for beginners and more ferocious ones in the afternoon for the experts. To the south of Vasiliki there are some excellent beaches and coves including the very popular Agiofylli beach.
Lefkada's Western coast
The western coast of Lefkada is less popular and commercial than the East side of the island but is considered by many the most beautiful part. The beaches on this side of the island are by far the best on Lefkada, including the longest beach on Lefkada, Pefkoulia which is a mix of sand and pebbles. Another famous beach along this coast is Mylos beach which is about a kilometre long of perfectly fine sand.
The main resort in the West is Agios Nikitas and is probably the most picturesque resort on Lefkada. The resort was fairly unknown until recently, but this beautiful little fishing village is now becoming more and more popular. The small village is built around the harbour like an amphitheatre and has a great sandy beach with turquoise waters.
Lefkada (Lefkas) - Information
Lefkada is the fourth largest island in the Ionian group and yet it isn't a true island as it is joined to the mainland (near Preveza) by a causeway and a rotating bridge.
Location - Lefkada is an island on the West coast of Greece and is part or the Ionian group of islands.
Getting to Lefkada:Although Lefkada (lefkas) doesn't have an airport, the town of Preveza on the mainland does and it is only 15km and 15 minute drive from Lefkada. The island is also joined to the mainland by a causeway. There are also regular buses to Lefkada from all over the local area like Preveza and also from Athens.
Tips: Try and head inland on Lefkada as the countryside and mountains contain some great traditional villages.