I have a glut of travel posts in queue, places in Greece I’ve visited but I’ve yet to post about my experiences staying in these places. Some are islands others are mainland. Regardless, they should be shared and I think these posts will be useful for those going to Greece or thinking of going to Greece. Greece more than ever needs tourists this year and I hope that you’ll go to Greece this year and see and feel and eat what I do each and every time I go.
First stop is Lefkada, called an island in the Ionian chain but its really a peninsula joined to the coast of Akarnania by an isthmus with salty shallow marshes on both sides. Once on Lefkada you’ll reach the main town of Lefkas and the string of towns that face the Akarnania mainland are where most of the islands rooms are located. The beaches are okay on this side of the island but Lefkada’s reputation for gorgeous beaches is given due to the beauty of its beaches on the Ionian side, facing Italy.
The center of the island is mountainous with most of the good roads circling/hugging the shores. I stayed in Nikiana, about 11 km south of Lefkas and just kilometres north of Nidri…famous for being patronized by Ari Onassis and family who’s island Scorpios can be seen from shore. The first decent beach is located at the south end of the island in an inlet called Mikros Gialos. Pretty by most people’s standards and perhaps a nice little beach to prepare for the beauty that lies ahead.
The protected bay of Syvota is just southwest and although not really for swimming, this fishing and sailing village is very picturesque, ideal for people/boat watching and there are some great tavernas serving traditional Greek fare. Further west along the island’s southside is the small port village of Vassiliki. Here you will see lots more boats, yachts, sailboats and small touring boats that take many a tourist to the popular beaches of Egremni and Porto Katsiki.
The most well-known beach of Lefkada is also on the Ionian side, south of Egremni and accessible by boat or automobile. If you have access to a speed boat, you have access to all of Leflkada’s beaches including some secluded ones where you may enjoy such beauty all on your own. Porto Katsiki is also served by tour boats but beware….none them will land on shore and you may be lucky to jump of the boat for a dive or two into these crystal waters much like Egremni’s. The good is news is that Porto Katsiki is also accessible by road but the parking lot fills up very quickly and you be disappointed that you’re traveled all this way just to find yourself looking for a parking spot. I went to Porto Katsiki at 9:30am and found parking.
The other down side is that you have to walk down some 100 steps to the beach from the parking lot and you better take snacks/water with you. One of the cafes above hands out flyers/menus for those on the beach that would like delivery. There are cell numbers given on the flyers for those wishing to make an order but don’t bother. Just wave down the delivery guy and you’ll eventually be served. Porto Katsiki is breathtaking, again sandy beached and steep cliffs with warm crystal water but…it’s very crowded. A victim of it’s own beauty, the beach is overcrowded and I found difficulty in walking into the water as people were laying everywhere! I was disappointed with the overcrowding of this beach but it is breathtaking and worth the visit and the fabulous photos you’ll take at another one of Greece’s most beautiful beaches.
Egremni can be reached only by boat with the trip taking just over an hour. Long sandy shore backed up by steep white cliffs, this crystal clear beach is one of Greece’s prettiest. Your time on this beach is linited as the captain of the boat stays there with a fixed return and in fact, you may have to leave early if he feels rough waters may be in store for later in the day. Egremni is a must-see if you’re visiting Lefkada.
Further north but easier to get to from Lefkas are the beaches of Agios Nikitas, Kathisma and Kalamitsi. Agios Nikitas is a good, clean beach with tavernas nearby. The next beach further south is Kathisma – a long stretch of beach more geared for the younger crowd with the beach cafes pumping loud music and turning into bars/clubs at night. I enjoyed this beach alot as it was a windy day and we had huge waves that were popular with kids and adults alike. Yet further down is a quiet beach called Kalamitsi – beautiful looking from the roadside and popular with naturalists (nudists) and campers. I ended up staying at this beach for an hour and left as everywhere I stepped there were big rocks.
Lefkada is about 4 hours drive from Athens and about the same drive from Thessaloniki. It’s a very popular “island’ as one may simply drive to it (avoiding ferry boat).There are a lot of Italians on the island and Greeks from the mainland and the island is very popular with those owning their own sailboats, watercraft. While driving through this beautiful island, you’ll see olive trees along most of the roads and it boasts of some fabulous local wine. Stay tuned as I explore the food scene of Lefkada.
While visiting Lefkada, I stayed at the Sunrise Hotel in Nikiana. This Greek run hotel is clean, all rooms have A/C and there’ a wonderful view of the mainland with a brilliant sunrise and sunset.
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