Love Greece’s culture, cuisine and climate but ready to check out somewhere new? Give Lefkas a whirl. New to Jet2holidays for 2020, this Ionian island offers traditional villages, sun-kissed beaches and a sprinkling of ancient history.
It sits off the country's west coast, separated from the mainland by a small causeway and draw bridge, making it one of the few Greek islands you can drive to.
Whether you’re looking for adventure-filled days out touring the unique landscape or you love lazy days on the beach soaking up the rays, this charming island has a little something for everyone. Ready to explore this idyllic setting? Here’s a rundown of what you can expect…
Top things to do in Lefkas
The best of the beaches
Lefkas’ beaches are much less touristy than those on its neighbouring Greek islands, so you’ll have the pick of the bunch when searching for a glorious spot to lay your towel down.
At 22 miles long and measuring nine miles from east to west, this varied island has plenty of wildly beautiful coastline to discover. The beaches of Mikros Gialos and Porto Katsiki are relatively hidden away, but once you’ve found them, you’ll never want to leave. Expect the brightest turquoise waters against picturesque mountainous backdrops.
Secluded Milos Beach is also one to look out for. Its white sand-and-shingle shore is only accessible on foot along a rocky path, so if you’re up for the challenging walk, you’ll be rewarded with a real hidden gem.
Blue Flag Agios Ioannis Beach is the closest to the capital, Lefkas Town. So, if you’re looking for the best of both worlds with golden sands close to bustling streets, it’s an ideal choice. Want to up the tempo? The strong breeze at Ponti-Vasiliki Beach is perfect for windsurfing, while the headlands protect the bay from choppy waters, so it’s great for swimmers too.
Don’t miss: The sunset from the cliffs at Porto Katsiki Beach. The pinky-orange hues are simply stunning.
As one of the lesser-known Greek islands, Lefkas is filled with historical sites that are much less crowded than other attractions. History buffs will be in their element browsing its castles, churches, museums and ruins.
Delve deep into the island’s past at Karya Folklore Museum which is up in the mountains and showcases traditional agricultural tools and carnation embroidery. You can view the ancient interiors of an old village house and admire intricate fabrics made in the local area.
Although badly damaged during World War II, the Castle of Agia Maura is an attraction you should tick off your bucket-list. This imposing medieval structure was built back in the 14th century to protect the island from invasions and pirates. Today, you can still admire its crumbling ruins, rusted canons and picturesque views.
Don’t miss: The daily service at the Faneromeni Monastery. The chiming bells can be heard from all around.
If you’re looking for serene settings, then you’ve come to the right place. It’s certainly not all about the dramatic coastline in Lefkas as there’s plenty more to explore if you venture inland.
A real hidden gem on the island is the Dimosari waterfalls just above Nidri. Take a shaded walk from the coast along the river to reach this quaint beauty spot, passing towering trees and impressive rock formations along the way.
During the summer months, the flowing water is not as strong, but the cooling natural pools below are just as enticing. There’s a laid-back café just steps from the falls where you can pick up refreshments before the walk back.
Don’t miss: The fairytale-like setting of Melissa Gorge. Hiking through this lush green landscape will take you past elegant bridges, verdant forests and ancient watermills.
The best places to eat and drink in Lefkas
Greek gastronomy is known the world over for its succulent meat, rich oils and juicy ingredients. And in Lefkas’ restaurants, things are certainly no different.
In the larger seaside resorts, you’ll find a great selection of bars and restaurants serving traditional Greek food as well as international favourites. Think hearty moussaka, grilled gyros and souvlaki as well as tasty fish and the freshest salads. A simple Greek salad contains tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese and a sprinkling of mountain oregano. The juicy olives and rich olive oil drizzled on top finish off the dish perfectly.
Check out the lively restaurants along Lefkas Town’s promenade or enjoy beautiful sea views with your meal at cafés in Agios Ioannis. For a true taste of the island, head off-the-beaten-track to family-run tavernas that have perfected their cooking serving both hungry locals and intrigued tourists for decades. Much of these menus will be made from scratch and on the premises, so you’re getting the freshest meals, usually for a much lower price!
The restaurants lining Nidri Harbour will be your favourite if you love fish and seafood. These laid-back tavernas serve the local fishermen’s catch of the day with everything from seafood moussaka and seabass to giant prawns and swordfish.
No holiday in Greece is complete without a shot or two of local ouzo. This anise-flavoured aperitif is widely consumed by the locals and often offered to tourists as a gesture of thanks and goodwill after dinner. Old-school tavernas and beach bars serve the best of this local spirit, so after a hearty dinner, why not give it a try? Cheers, or as they say in Greece, “Yamas!”.
Not an ouzo fan? Check out Lefkas Earth Winery and go for something a little more familiar. Learn how sweet reds and crisp white wines go from grape to bottle as the knowledgeable team take you on a tour of this factory and wine cellar. Sample these local tipples before getting the chance to purchase some as souvenirs at the gift shop.
If you’ve got a hankering for a sweat treat, family-run bakeries and street vendors are not in short supply either. There’s syrupy baklava to sink your teeth into as well as the street food staple, loukoumades. These deep-fried dough balls are usually served with a generous covering of honey or melted chocolate. Forget about the calories - they’re a great snack to keep you going on a busy day!
Don’t miss: Sivota Bakery Café near Poros. This harbourfront café bar serves Insta-worthy brunches, stacks of pancakes piled high and strong Greek coffee.
Fancy a spot of island-hopping? Along the east coast, there’s a cluster of other islands that you can explore with ease. Boat trips leave from Nidri Harbour at various times each day, so hop onboard to see more of the Ionian islands and see how many you can tick off.
Venturing across to Meganisi should be top of your list. Consisting of only three small villages and with a population of just over 1,000, this island remains generally untouched by tourism. It’s a peaceful and romantic spot thanks to its naturally beautiful backdrop and idyllic beaches.
Fanari Beach is a popular choice due to its pristine shore and calm waters. You can hire sun loungers and stay for the whole day! The best part of this beach is probably the reggae-themed Jammin’ In Paradise beach bar. Soak up the laid-back vibes under the sun and if you’re staying ‘til late, live DJs provide the tunes.
Madouri is another islet that you can admire on a day trip, sitting just 700m from the coast of Lefkas. This heavily-forested island is small and uninhabited, but it features a beautiful yellow-hued house that was once the home of Greek poet Aristotelis Valaoritis.
Skorpios and Sparti are also close by. Although these are privately-owned, they’re still definitely worth a look from the boat. Large pine trees cover most of the land but the clear-blue seas that surround it are often filled with colourful plants and fish.
Don’t miss: The fascinating Papanikolis sea cave, on the south coast of Meganisi. During World War II it was used as a submarine hideout.
Posted: 3rd Apr 2019.