Southern Lefkada follows the pattern of the eastern coast of the island, while preparing, nevertheless, the visitors for the wild beauty of the west. Coves, small beaches, picturesque villages, culture and tradition coexist in harmony with the requirements of modern tourism.
The village of Syvota is our first stop, a small beautiful fishing village that offers high quality tourism standards. It is located at the inner end of a closed cove that is a favourite harbouring point of the yacht captains. This was the place where, according to tradition, Odysseus disembarked, when he finally reached his “Ithaca”.
Syvota is an ideal choice for the people who love eating fish because of the many small taverns that offer fresh fish and other seafood delicacies, while there is also a variety of cafés and bars that provide moments of both relaxation and intense fun! There also many special alternatives for your accommodation.
A few kilometres away from Syvota, do not neglect to buy exquisite Lefkadian wine at the open to visit winery “Lefkaditiki Gi” (Land of Lefkas) and to take a tour at the facilities, the vineyards, the small museum and the botanical garden.
Our next stop is at the semi-mountainous village of Evgiros. There you can enjoy the best olive oil bagels (ladokouloura) of Lefkada at the traditional bakery of Mrs Gianna but also the view that reaches out to cape Lefkatas.
A little further to the south there is the famous “Hirospilia” (Pig Cave) that is listed as one of the top archaeological sites of the island because of the findings dating back to the Palaeolithic Age. According to the theory of W. Dörpfeld, there was the pig cave of Eumaeus, the loyal shepherd of Odysseus.
Nearby there is the spring of Arethousa, that is also well known due to Homer. The big surprise that the village conceals is definitely the small but gorgeous beach Skydi or Afteli. It is a small pebble strand that embraces the endless blue of the sea. There is a café in the region that fulfils the needs of the visitors. When you come out of the sea you can also enjoy a cool shower with water that comes from a cistern!
In Marantohori, the next village, you can wander around the small streets of the old settlement and visit the church of Agios Georgios, which used to be a monastery, with significant frescos. It is really worthwhile paying a visit there, especially on the name day of Saint George after the Greek Easter, because the litany of the saint’s icon is performed on horses! In the village there is also a small but very important water biotope, the one of the unique on the island natural lake of Marantohori.
At about the centre of the village, if you take the road to the left, you can reach the amazing beach of Ammouso and the picturesque cove of Kastri. Cobbles, cool waters and seaside walks are the main features of the organised beach. There you can also find a tavern and a café by the sea.
The picturesque village of Kontaraina comes next and offers a travel back in time through the small streets of the old settlement where you can discover, among other things, ruins of old churches, water wells and old mansions. The church of Panagia, with important icons, is impressive due to its size. It is also worth visiting the church of Agios Spyridonas with an astonishing iconostasis that is located at the centre of the village. You can enjoy coffee and food beneath the shadow of the plane trees before you decide to pay a visit to the nearby mountainous villages of Vournikas, Syvros and Agios Ilias.
On the way from Kontaraina to Vournikas, you will first come across Agios Ioannis at the site of Rodaki. It is one of the oldest churches of the island, with wall paintings around the altar and a part of an ancient column as Holy Table. The church was built upon an ancient temple dedicated to an unknown deity. However, the temple must have been important because it was notable in size, even bigger than the temple of Poseidon in Sounio! The local cultural club takes care of the surrounding area, keeping it in a very good condition.
Within the village, just a little higher, the church of Karaviades is also one of the oldest on the island, with frescos of considerable value. Vournikas is full of green vegetation and waters, built on the mountainside, with a view of the south of the island.
A few kilometres away there is Syvros, also a green-clad village, with lots of springs (Kerasia, Dafni, Anteliko) watermills and the famous and mysterious cave of Karouhas that are all accessible and visited by many people. Syvros offers many choices for food, mostly for the meat-lovers, and you can also enjoy your coffee while observing one the watermills of the village (in the old days there were many in operation) that has been completely renovated and works as a café. In the village there is also the Olive Museum, house in one of the oldest mansions on the island.
A little higher you can find Agios Ilias, a mountainous traditional village on the road that leads to the central plateau of the island. The view of the south is amazing. What is also amazing is the small church of Agia Paraskevi, north of the village, built within a canyon of the mountain Stavrota.
From Syvros you can head down to Vasiliki, passing through the green plain. A settlement, that was a fishing village in the old days, has become the most important resort of southern Lefkada. It has preserved many traditional elements, like stone houses and a harbour full of fishing boats. It offers the visitor many alternatives for accommodation, taverns, cafés and bars, thus satisfying every kind of culinary and entertainment demand. It is located at the end of a big gulf and is connected by sea to Kefalonia. There are tourist boats that transfer visitors from the port of Vasiliki to the beaches of Porto Katsiki, Egkremni and Agiofylli on a daily basis.
Agiofylli is a beautiful, small, organised and very popular beach, in the south-east of the village, which is also accessible through a path from Kolyvata, the seaside southern suburb of the village. The path follows a green-clad route above the sea, through consecutive charming small beaches.
At the big beach that leads from Vasiliki to the small settlement of Ponti there are many windsurfing schools, because the gulf of Vasiliki is considered to be one of the best windsurfing spots not only in Europe but also worldwide. For many years, Vasiliki hosted the annual Water Sports Festival, every June, with participants from all over the world.
The village of Agios Petros is the final destination of the route to the south of the island. It is a big village with intense elements of music and religious tradition. Its oldest church, namely Agii Apostoli, was built upon the ruins of an old Frankish church. You can rest at the traditional cafés of the central square and enjoy Lafkadian delicacies at the small taverns of the village.
The pine tree forest of Pontzos surrounds the village and offers unique routes on its many paths. The lovers of trekking can also visit “Germanika”, i.e. the ruins of the old German station/observatory from the years of the German Occupation, via the old pathway of Ponti-Athani.
Roupakias is nowadays an abandoned village. Its people were relocated to Agios Petros. It is hidden within the pine tree forest with the homonymous torrent that offers sites of indescribable beauty, with old water mills and a historical bridge, which was the only passage over the torrent for many years.
At the plain beneath Agios Petros there are ruins of ancient settlements that are proof of the long history of the broader region.
If you happen to be in Agios Petros during mid-August be sure not to miss the revival of the old custom of the equestrian games from the chapel of Agia Eleousa to the village.