With its turquoise waters and sprawling beaches, the shimmering island of Lefkada is the perfect destination for those hoping to enjoy a relaxing break while experiencing the very best of Greek culture.
When you cross over to Lefkada from the mainland, you’ll immediately notice the vibrancy of its natural landscape. With its stunning coastlines, pine-forested mountains and warm waters, the natural gifts of Lefkada hold something for every intrepid explorer.
It’s not just its natural delights that make Lefkada such an intriguing destination – the island is home to religious and cultural festivals, historical sites, delicious traditional Greek cuisine, rolling stretches of white-sanded beaches and much, much more. And from hotels to villas in Lefkada, there are plenty of accommodation options on the island to suit every budget.
With no airport on the island, Lefkada has somewhat flown under the radar compared to some of its neighbouring islands, which is great for those visitors looking to escape the crowds. However, that’s not to imply that the island is difficult to reach. A narrow causeway and a floating bridge connect it to the mainland, making the island easily accessible by car or bus.
How to Experience the Best of Lefkada’s Culture
Sample Lefkada’s food and drink
If you enjoy traditional Greek cuisine, then you’ll be spoilt for choice by the dining options the island has to offer. Until the 1960s, connections between Lefkada and the Greek mainland weren’t well established, meaning that the local population relied on locally sourced produce as the staples of their diets.
The locals have traditionally either lived in towns or remote villages. Those that lived in towns were often fishermen by trade or small business owners, meaning they had the opportunity to trade with and sell to one another. Those that lived in villages had little access to shops, so most of their diet was made up of what they could cultivate from the land.
Of course, locals and visitors alike have access to a wider variety of options today, but the roots of their traditional cuisine can still be seen in many of their dishes. Some of the must-try local delicacies include:
- Mandolato – Introduced to Lefkada during the Venetian era, this sweet dessert is made from almonds, honey and meringue and can be found in many local shops around the island.
- Savoro – A seafood dish made with brown picarels, koutsomouras, bonitos or eels, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, rosemary and onions. Savoro is one of Lefkada’s most well-known specialities.
Explore the Agia Mavra Castle, ancient burial sites and more
Located on the northeastern tip of Lefkada lies the fourteenth-century Agia Mavra Castle. Originally built by a Sicilian count in the year 1300, the castle has survived years of natural disasters, conquests and sieges and it remains an impressive sight today.
The castle remains in fairly good condition, thanks in part to its strong and thick walls. As you walk around the castle grounds, you’ll see the remnants of a small chapel. In the summer, there are a host of cultural events held within the chapel grounds that draw visitors from far and wide.
There are plenty of other historical sites dotted across the island. Some of the best include:
- The Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni on the northern tip of Lefkada
- The Orpheus Folklore Museum in Lefkada Town
- The Bronze Age burial sites near Nidri
- The archaeological sites in Nirikos
- The Temple of Apollo ruins
Enjoy Lefkada’s wide variety of festivals
There are many festivals on offer throughout the year in Lefkada. Alongside religious festivals surrounding events such as Easter and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, there are various cultural experiences that locals and visitors alike can enjoy.
Here are some of the top cultural festivals that the island has to offer:
- The Feast of Lentils – Held in front of the church of Agios Donatos in the historic village of Englouvi every August, the Feast of Lentils celebrates the yearly harvest of the legume. The highlight of the festival takes place after a prayer when steaming vats of lentils are served with sardines and wine.
- The International Folklore Festival – This festival is held annually during the final week of August and has been since 1962. The festival features eight days of traditional music and dancing. On the first day of the festival, a large parade takes place in the streets of Lefkada Town.
- The Festival of Lefkadian Gastronomy – Taking place every July, this festival promotes local gastronomy and products. In previous iterations of the festival, visitors have been able to enjoy traditional pies, local wines, sweets, Lefkadian honey and more. Alongside the cuisine, there is live music to enjoy throughout the day.
Visit Lefkada’s famous beaches
If you’ve ever seen pictures of Lefkada, you’ll no doubt have seen some of the many beaches that the island has to offer. On the east coast, you’ll find long winding sandy beaches, while there are quieter bays and coves to enjoy on the west coast. Two of Lefkada’s most famous beaches are:
- Egremni Beach – Located 38km southwest of Lefkada Town lies Egremni Beach, which features white sands, crystal clear water and high limestone cliffs. As you approach the beach, you’ll soon notice that there are quite a few steps to navigate before you reach the sand itself. Once you descend these stairs, there is plenty of space to find a relaxing spot to spend the day.
- Mylos Beach – Located 14.5km southwest of Lefkada Town, Mylos Beach is slightly more secluded than Egremni and is the perfect place to spend the day if you’re looking for a peaceful break. It is just a short drive from Lefkada Town but can also be accessed by boat or sea bus. There are no tourist facilities in the direct vicinity, so you may feel a little ‘off the grid’ compared to other beaches on the island.
There are also numerous watersports to enjoy at various locations across the island, including windsurfing, scuba diving and jet skiing.
Wrapping it up
Whether you’re after an outdoor adventure or are on one, the island of Lefkada has something to offer everyone. The island’s beaches, fascinating culture, rich history and relative lack of crowds make it an inviting, unique place to visit and will ensure you have a memorable stay on the island.