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.
GoLefkas 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.
Starting from the town of Lefkada we will head to the western coasts of the island and we will follow the road towards Agios Nikitas.
Our final destination is the cape of Lefkatas, with its imposing lighthouse and legends that are thousands of years old. The drive, without the optional detours and stops, is 50 kilometres long and lasts about one hour and a half.
On the way though, there are so many beautiful spots and choices for swimming, coffee and food that could pleasantly distract you from reaching the end of your trip.
Following the road signs towards Agios Nikitas and Kathisma you pass by Apolpena and leave the plain of the town behind, the view on your left reveals all the beauty of the northern part of the island and the coasts of Epirus and Acarnania across the sea.
Your first stop should be at the monastery of Faneromeni. You will reach it if you follow the road sign on your right. The monastery of the patroness saint of the island stands at one of the most beautiful spots of the route, overseeing the plain and the island’s entrance. There is a small zoological garden that will definitely make the children enthusiastic. The two museums (ecclesiastical and maritime) and the holiness of the place will fill you with knowledge and beautiful images.
Following the road you will reach Tsoukalades, a beautiful village with many tourist facilities and quiet beaches, perfect to take a swim.
Leaving the village behind, the green colour of the pine trees creates a wonderful contrast to the various shades of blue of the Ionian Sea that is opening right in front of you at the site of “Vigla” at Pefkoulia, a usual stop for photo shooting.
The long beach reaches all the way down to the traditional tourist resort of Agios Nikitas, which you can already see. You can choose between a quick swim at Pefkoulia or take a break in Agios Nikitas.
It is the only coastal village of the western coast, beautiful, traditional and, yet, absolutely tourist friendly. Here you have the options to enjoy coffee and food or swim at the amazing beach of the settlement. West of the village, there is the famous and stunning beach of Mylos that you can access via a path over the forested hill (a walk of 20 to 25 minutes) or by sea using the small taxi-boat. Of course, there is always the danger of you getting carried away with the gorgeous beach and the refreshing sea and spending the whole day there!
The world famous Kathisma beach comes next and needs no further introduction. Take a small detour on the right, following the road sign on the uphill road and you will reach one of the most well-known, organised and favourite beaches. Take a picture of it from above and resist the urge to go near it. There is much ahead for you to see during the western route…
From Kathisma you can begin the uphill course towards the beautiful villages of western Lefkada. The country road leads to and passes through Kalamitsi.
Your route has to include a visit to the villages of Drymonas and Exanthia. You can access them via the road that you will see before Kalamitsi, on your left hand, following the road sign towards Drymonas and Exanthia.
You will first go through Drymonas that in the spring time is coloured purple because of the blooming Judas-trees. It is a traditional and quite village, one of the oldest ones on the island, and it used to be a neighbourhood of Exanthia. You can walk around its small streets, drink coffee at its small café, discover its many icons standing by the roads and surrender yourselves to its calmness.
Next you have to follow the road to Exanthia. In the road junction take the right way. The road sign reads “To Exanthia and Vasiliki”.
Exanthia is also a traditional village, with an amazing view of the endless blue of the Ionian Sea. The village is one of the oldest ones of the island. It was at its peak in the end of the 19th century and until the first half of the 20th century as one of the greatest winemaking villages of Lefkada, with its own winery from 1929 to 1952, when the facility was bought by the Defence Fund of the Winemakers of Lefkada (TAOL).
If extreme sports are a part of your everyday life or if you want to try them out, Exanthia will provide you with the opportunity. The village is considered to be the base of paragliding, an adventure sport that will literally take your breath away. You can also enjoy your coffee, food or drink and feel that you are in the clouds upon the hill of “Rahi”, where there is a restaurant with the same name.
The road from Exanthia will lead you south. Optionally, you can visit Kalamitsi and its beautiful and clean beaches of Avali, Kavalikefta and “Megali Petra” (Great Stone) if you take a turn in the junction that you will see on your right hand. The road sign reads “Kalamitsi 5km”.
The villages that you will come across next are located one after the other. They are Hortata, Komilio, Dragano and Athani.
Hortata is also a very old village with intense characteristics and memories of the past. There are also very good options for you to get some food. At the central square, with the huge plane tree that has a whole cavern in its truck, you can refresh yourselves at the small cafes.
To reach the next three villages that are the only ones in the south-western part of the island you have to follow the road signs towards Athani, Komilio and Dragano, turning right in the central country road. You can take a stop in one of those to buy honey. South-western Lefkada is famous for its honey production.
Komilio is a new village built on a lower location in comparison with the old one that was abandoned because of landslides.
Right after comes the village of Dragano. This is the place where every August the Feast of Honey is organized by the local cultural club and the apiarists of the region. Following the road sign at the entrance of the village to the church of Ypapanti you can initially go to Panohori, an older settlement of the village, where the country chapel of Agios Anatolios is found, and then to the church of Ypapanti with its marvellous bell tower, one of the most beautiful ones on the island.
The well-known beaches of the island, namely Gialos, Egkremni and the world famous Porto Katsiki, begin from Athani, which is the last village on your course. After the 2015 earthquake, the beach of Egkremni can only be accessed by sea, at least for the time being.
From here on you can choose whether you are first going to enjoy a swim at Porto Katsiki or you are going to continue your trip to the cape. In a big clearing among the pine trees you will come across a fork that will lead you to Porto Katsiki in 5km if you take the road on your right or to the cape in 6km if you take the left road.
Porto Katsiki needs no introduction. It is a beach off amazing wild beauty. Vertical rocks that immerse into the sea and an endless beach that is cooled by the absolute turquoise colour of the Ionian Sea. A small part of Porto Katsiki is organized and there are also parking lots and cafés where you can get your necessary beverages and snacks.
The route to the cape is delightful due to the landscapes that unfold along the road. On your right hand there is the Ionian Sea with all the shades of blue that blend together harmonically with all the hues of green and grey of the rocks.
The monastery of Agios Nikolaos at Nira just before the end of the road (there is a sign that leads to it on the only junction that you will come across on your way) will take some of your time. Its history goes centuries back, round about after 1807, when the Crusaders passed through the island carrying the relics of Saint Nicholas. It was a great religious and spiritual centre for the villagers of western and southern Lefkada. Since 2013 it has reopened as a convent and the visitors can enjoy the nuns’ hospitality, take a tour at the premises, and acquire handmade sweets, jams and honey from the region.
On the exterior of the monastery there are stone beehives, the construction of which goes back in the Mycenaean Period. Their initial use is of unknown nature but they were used for centuries as beehives by the beekeepers of the villages and the monastery.
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When you arrive at the lighthouse of Lefkatas or Nira or Doukato or “Kavo tis Kyras” (Lady’s Cape), you will definitely feel awe. The absolutely wild beauty of the landscape with the grey colour of the rocks and the blue colour of the sea, the white colour of the waves and the abandoned marbles from the ancient shrine of Apollo constitute images that will be unforgettable. You will surely want to see them again. Take your time wandering around and enjoy the moment. The legend says that the ancient poetess Sappho fell off the cliffs into the foaming waves due to her love for the young Phaon. It is also recorded that many love-struck followed her example because they believed that this was the only way to relieve themselves from the pain that little winged Cupid inflicted on them.
The lighthouse was constructed in 1890 and was initially functioning with diesel. It is built upon a shrine of Apollo. It was ruined by an earthquake in 1950 and, until its reconstruction in 1956, it worked as an automatic acetylene torch. In 1986 it was electrified. It runs under the jurisdiction of the Lighthouse Service of the Hellenic Navy.
From there you can start your return trip.
Let us note that the options for a swim on the western coasts of Lefkada are numerous. Our suggestions were based on the facilitation of your tour.
You have to understand that both the western and the eastern courses have endless alternatives that cannot be covered within a single day. But our island is here, waiting for you to visit it again and again, in order to make the suggested tours as many times as you want, so that you can experience every single beach and all the beautiful settlements.
We are waiting for you!