Lefkada is a relatively small island in size but it is great in terms of beauty and full of secrets that you should tour all over the place to unveil them.
Go Lefkas suggests a route that goes half way round the island. It is a course that offers the opportunity to the visitors to drive along a large part of the island’s coasts, to get to know beaches, small villages and hidden secrets.
The eastern coasts of the island are easily accessible, with small ports, many consecutive beaches and villages that are known tourist resorts. The total route from Lefkada to Vasiliki, without the detours that we are going to suggest, is about 45km and will last about one hour, depending on traffic.
The trip begins from the town of Lefkada. You should take the road to Nydri and Vasiliki, by following the road signs.
Leaving the town behind you will see “Koulmos” on your right hand, a hill that keeps many secrets. These foothills were the site of the ancient and medieval capital of the island. The whole hill is full of archaeological findings, some of them visible in private premises on the right side of the road. This is also the location where a big ancient theatre was recently discovered, the only one of its kind in all of the Ionian Islands.
We suggest that you make a brief stop of historical interest at the first settlement, namely Karyotes. You should approach the seaside to see the Venetian saltpans of Alexandros. Follow the road sign towards the church of Agios Panteleimonas, at the small street on the left, across the restaurant “Nirikos”, which will lead you to the seaside of the settlement.
We recommend that you go all around the road that surrounds the small lagoon-wetland of Karyotes. There are still some remnants of the ponds and the buildings of the old saltpans, and also the small church of Agios Panteleimon. You will also see the small fortresses on the islets of Alexandros and Konstantinos that were strong defensive weapons for the island in many time periods of its long history.
Now you can return to the main road and continue your course passing by the fishing village of Lygia. There is a charming small port with many fishing boats, one of the most important fishing centres of western Greece. In this case it may be just a place you drive through but you can always come back in an evening to have some fresh fish and be sure not to miss the Feast of Traditional Fishing that usually takes place during the full moon of August.
A small detour, if you wish it, will lead you to Katouna. Just follow the road sign on your right hand.
The trip goes on through the famous village of Nikiana. There you can enjoy the first swim of the day or have a coffee at its small port.
Maybe you have to spend a day of your vacations to visit the enchanting mountain of Skari. If trekking is one of your favourite hobbies, you can follow the old path that is still preserved in a rather good condition by the local club, because this is the place where each October the Lefkas Trail Running takes place. Otherwise, you can approach the mountain by car, following the road on your right hand, after the small port. The road sign reads “To Agii Pateres, Kolyvata, Alexandros”. Mount Skari is a place of special natural beauty with its unique oak forest in all of the Ionian Islands. According to Wilhelm Dörpfeld’s theory this mountain was the Homeric Niion that is mentioned in Odyssey. On its western foothills you can find the traditional settlements of Alexandros and Kolyvata.
The next villages are Perigiali and the cosmopolitan Nydri that waits for you to photograph the small islands across the sea and take a stroll at the seaside, among the colourful crowd of tourists that embark on the ships for the daily cruises. Maybe you decide to have one of these cruises yourselves during your staying on the island.
You have to make a detour here so that you can see the waterfalls of the river Dimosaris at Rahi, cool yourselves in their water and have a coffee under their plane trees. Just follow the road sign towards the waterfalls from the ring road of Nydri.
In addition, we suggest that you pay a visit to the unique apiary of the island that is open to the public. It is called “Meli 51” (Honey 51) and it is located at the village of Paleokatouna, about 2km east of Nydri. There is a road sign in the ring road of Nydri that reads “Paleokatouna” and leads you to the village.
At the entrance of Vlyho, the next village of your route, you can follow the road sign on your right hand and reach Haradiatika, a cool village that is famous for offering delicious local meat dishes in the evenings.
The village of Vlyho is next, with its gorgeous gulf that is also one of the important wetlands on the island and with an old tradition in shipbuilding. You can see the old shipyards at the entrance of the settlement.
Driving up towards the villages of south-eastern Lefkada, it is obligatory to make a stop just before you arrive at Katohori to photograph the amazing view of the eastern coasts. You will surely understand why. This view will remind you of pictures that you have surely already seen, because these landscapes are some of the most photographed ones of the island.
Your visit to Katohori is optional and you should go for it if you like religious monuments, because the village hosts some of the oldest churches on the island with admirable wall paintings (Agios Dimitrios, Agios Haralampos).
You may want to enjoy the main swim of the day at the crowded beach of Rouda (“Mikrogialos”) along with a cold bier and delicacies in the small taverns. This is the port of the village “Poros” that you can reach if you turn left at the junction that you will see just after the village “Katohori” (The road sign reads “To Rouda 6km and To Poros 3km”). However, there are more suggestions for you to choose from.
If you like visiting ancient sites, you can walk for 20 minutes, before you go down to the sea, to visit the ancient tower located east of Poros and also to take pictures of Rouda beach from high above, on the bell tower of Agios Nikolaos that stands dominant over the village. Furthermore, you can also look for the small church of Analipsi that resists the decay of time and hosts amazing wall paintings.
After you return to the central road you have to continue southwards. Drive past the junction that leads to the villages of Fterno and Vournikas and the next stop is at the winery of “Lefkaditiki Gi” (Land of Lefkas) that is open to visitors where you can experience the flavours of Lefkadian wine.
Continuing the trip, you will leave Syvota, the cosmopolitan resort and favourite harbouring place of the yacht captains, on your left hand. Ahead of you lie two different choices for swimming.
One of the options that you have to take a swim is at the small but beautiful beach of Afteli (or Skydi), south of the village of Evgiros. The turn to this beach can be found just before you enter the village of Marantohori, on your left hand (the road sign reads “To Afteli and Evgiros” and you will be guided from Evgiros to the majestic beach. There is a café-bar that will cater to all your needs, including a quick snack.
Your second alternative is Ammouso, an also small, pebble beach with crystal-clear waters, which you can reach if you follow the road sign that reads “To Ammouso”, turning left after the centre of Marantohori. The beach is organised and has a café and a tavern.
Late in the evening you can leave the beach, where visitors can enjoy refreshing water, snacks and ice-creams.
The picturesque and cosmopolitan village of Vasiliki waits for you to offer you a rest while enjoying your dinner in one of its many restaurants and taverns. It is the most famous tourist resort of southern Lefkada that provides tourist accommodation and many options for food, coffee and nightlife. At the same time, its gulf is one of the best windsurfing locations in the world.
If you are fanatic meat-lovers, you have the choice, after you have at least a quick stroll around Vasiliki, to eat in the small taverns of Kontarena, the next village after Vasiliki that will appear during your return to the town.
If you wish it, you can end this stunning route with a drink at Syvota.
Having completed the whole of the tour of the eastern side, you can return to your lodging, full of beautiful images and wonderful flavours of the island of Lefkada!