A few weeks ago, we came back from a wonderful holiday to the beautiful Ionian island Lefkas (Lefkada) in Greece. I had visited Lefkas 22 years ago when we did a sailing trip around the Ionian Islands. Among islands like Kefalonia and Ithaki, we also visited Lefkas for a brief stop. From that time, when we did a scooter tour, I remembered I liked Lefkas. This year when I discussed with my husband where we would go for a short Spring holiday, we decided we would go to Lefkas.
Lefkas (Lefkada), is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea on the west coast of Greece, connected to the mainland by a long causeway and floating bridge. The principal town of the island is Lefkas Town, which is situated on the north e part of the island. Lefkas measures 35 kilometres from north to south, and 15 kilometres from east to west. The total area is 336 square kilometres. The highest point of Lefkas is the mountain Stavrota, 1,158 metres above sea level, situated in the middle of the island.
When going to Lefkas and departing from Amsterdam, you fly to the Aktion airport of Preveza, which is situated on the mainland of Greece. This service takes around 3 hours. While we stayed in a place called Nidri (also known as Nydri) it took us around 45 minutes from Preveza to arrive in Nidri by bus transfer.
We stayed in apartments “Royal Nidri”, close to the city centre and main street of Nidri where you can find everything you’ll need (shops, supermarkets, nice restaurants, the boulevard, the beach and much more). Royal Nidri is a great place to stay. The apartments are big and clean and every apartment has a nice balcony. There’s a swimming pool with sun beds and a pool bar at the complex, where you can relax and the staff is very friendly!
Dimossari Waterfalls of Nydri:
On our second day, we walked to the Waterfalls of Nidri, which is one of the main tourist attractions of Lefkas. The walk took us a 1,5 hour (one way) from our apartment and you need to do a bit of climbing and jumping on rocks, when you come near to the falls. Lefkas has an abundant storage of underground water which is one of the principal reasons why a major part of the island is lush with greenery. The high mountains that abound in Lefkas are the sources for many a waterfalls that cascades through the mountainous terrain and finally ending up into the sea. One such gorgeous cascading waterfall is the Dimossari waterfall that can be found on the outskirts of Nidri. It ends up into a gorge which is replete with white rocks. For me it was a nice walk, a great photo opportunity and worth the 3,5 hour trip in total. While we visited Lefkas in May, it was not yet very crowded with tourists which was great. Besides that, there was still al lot of water in the falls, while it was Spring and the weather had not yet been very hot. A lot of water will be evaporated in Summer and the falls might not be as spectacular during that period.
A tour around Lefkas:
To see something more of Lefkas, we rented a car for two days. We heard from our hostess, that some of the Lefkas beaches were a real must see, but unfortunately there had been a dramatic earthquake which struck Lefkas on 17th November 2015. This earthquake changed an entire area in the South West of Lefkas and Egremni beach, which was one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece and voted as the best one in the world by Tripadvisor and CNN a lot of times, was completely lost.
Egremni beach in the distance, had been destroyed by the November 2015 earthquake and is currently not accessible
One of the other beautiful beaches, Porto Katsiki Beach, would be a bit more difficult to reach now and according to the hostess, you had to take a D-tour to get there. On the first day we had the car, we drove from Nidri to our first stop “Vasiliki beach”, which is a well established windsurfing spot. The place looked nice, but while it was a bit cloudy and there was hardly a breeze, we didn’t see any windsurfer at all. We therefore decided to drive on to our next stop Porto Katsiki Beach. To our surprise, the road to Porto Katsiki beach was open and except for some debris on the sides of the the road, it was reasonably well accessible. Although the beach was partly destroyed, as well as one of the staircases on the cliff, the view was still breathtaking and we spend a while on the pebble stone beach, while we enjoyed ourselves.
We continued our tour to the North and stopped again at Kathisma beach. There we spend a few hours on the sandy/very fine pebble stone beach, which was more comfortable to lay on. On our way back to Nidri we drove through the inland of Lefkas and through the traditional mountain village of Eglouvi (730 meters above sea level), where they have cobbled streets, a square with plane and mulberry trees and the women are wearing the traditional costume of Lefkas. Eglouvi is known for growing lentils, because the climate and its territory are appropriate for such cultivation, which is also one of the main occupations of the inhabitants. At least a very charming village to visit!
The next day we drove the road on the East coast of Lefkas, on our way to Lefkada Town. Lefkada Town is a pleasant and modern city with a nice city center with all kinds of shops, bars, restaurants and a big marina. We walked the main pedestrian road between the Main Square and the North Harbour alongside the shops and we had a nice coffee break.
After we had left Lefkas Town, we decided to go back to Kathisma beach on the West side of the Island. This was the beach we also visited the day before. We took a photo stop on our way and when we arrived at Kathisma beach, we had lunch and after that we spend another few great and relaxing hours on the beach. It was our holiday after all, so why not take things easy for a while…..
When we came back at our apartment we had received a message that “the Forgotten Island Tour”, which we had booked for the next day could not proceed because of a bad weather forecast and it was now scheduled for the last day of our vacation. Because of this we unexpectedly had nice day to relax in between our activities, so we did not mind.
Forgotten Islands Cruise with the M/S Christina
On Friday, the last day of hour lovely vacation, we went to the Nidri harbour at an early hourly to board the M/S Christina for a sailing trip around the forgotten islands and traditional villages, in the waters that are surrounding Lefkas. Now we had seen the Island from the land, we were also curious to look at it from the sea and see something more of small islands east of Lefkada. The weather was nice and sunny and we were in good spirits, excited about the trip we had been looking forward to. During our trip there would be around 7 stops, including swimming stops, snorkeling and a lunch break.
Leaving Nidri harbour, on our way through the Meganisi channel to our first swimming stop at the cave of Papanikolis on Meganisi.
3rd stop, Kastos village on Kastos island. A tiny settlement of traditional stone houses built around the fishing harbour. Time to enjoy a walk around the village and a coffee in one of the harbourside cafes. The island has only one village, the homonymous Kastos, located on its east coast. It has a population of about 80, involved mainly in fishing and tourism services. During the summer Kastioti of the diaspora return for holidays and, together with the fluctuating visitors arriving on yachts, form its seasonal character. The island is 7 km long from north to south, and 800 m wide. The area is 5.901 square kilometres and its highest point is 142 metres over the Mediterranean Sea level.
4th stop, Limni beach, Kastos Island. The white beach, turquoise waters, complex rock formations and secluded location make for a stunning setting for a swim before lunch. A nice lunch buffet with traditional Greek food which was freshly made and served on board of the M/S Christina.
5th stop, Asproyiali beach, Kalamos Island. One of the most beautiful beaches in the Ionian. A pine forest stretching down to the dazzling white beach.
Scorpios Island and ‘Jackies beach’ (right) on Skorpios Island where Jackie Onassis was photographed naked once after a yoga session, by a paparazzi who hid himself in the bushes. After that strict security measurements where taken on Skorpios to prevent this from happening again
6th stop: Skorpios Island. Onassis’private playground from the 1960’s, now the pet project of the daughter of a Russian billionaire.It’s not a coincidence that Aristotelis Onasis chose to create his personal paradise off the cost of Nidri, making Scorpios island the center of attention world – wide. Celebrities as Jacky Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Greta Garbo and Maria Callas enjoyed holidays here. It was great and interesting to hear the story the hostess on the M/S Christina told us about the Onassis family and how, despite their wealth, there has been so much tragedy in this family for decades.
7th stop: not really a stop – but we cruised slowly past the private island of Madouri, which still belongs to the family of the great Greek poet Valaoritis
The see, the beaches, the sun, the breath taking sunsets, the genuine Greek spirit and hospitality of the locals makes Lefkas and her neighbor islands an attractive destination for a holiday. The last day of our holiday on the M/S Christina is a fantastic memory to look back to and while floating through the Ionian sea, we decided we’ll come back to Lefkas and the other Ionian Islands in the near future for a Sailing trip, to explore this beautiful part of the world some more!