Sometimes called the Caribbean of Greece, the island of Lefkada in the brilliant blue Ionian sea is famous for the natural beauty of its beaches. From wild and rugged shorelines to calm and sandy coves, these are my 6 favourite beaches on Lefkada, Greece.
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Lefkada or Lefkas is one of the little chain of Ionian islands to the west of mainland Greece. Like Paxos, Kefalonia and Meganisi it’s well-known for it’s crystal clear turquoise waters and pale pebble and sand beaches. Yet it’s remarkably undeveloped. It says a lot about Lefkada that one of its most spectacular beaches can only be reached by a 300 step stairway. Or a boat!
For such a small island Lefkada offers a wide variety of beach life. Head to the south west of the island for dramatic landscapes and the two most beautiful beaches of Lefkada. Further north up the coastline you’ll find more organised stretches with sun loungers, bars and cafes.
The Lefkada beaches to the north and south of the island are famous windsurf spots. But the island has sheltered coves too, perfect for snorkelling or families with small children.Stay for two weeks and you could visit a different beach everyday.
Lefkada has some beautiful natural beaches, some say they are the best in the Mediterranean sea. They aren’t crowded in by high rise apartments, luxury hotels or lively resorts. And they are all the better for that. Read on for my favourite beaches on Lefkada including a fun beach club that you may not expect to find here!
I travelled to Lefkada as a guest of Ionian Villas who hosted my stay on the understanding that I would write an honest and unbiased account of my trip. All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
Porto Katsiki beach: Instagram perfect
Porto Katsiki beach is a classic contender for ‘best beaches in Greece’ status. It’s certainly one of the most beautiful of the Lefkada beaches. With dazzling sheer cliffs framing a curvy cove, it has fine white pebbles and sand, deep turquoise waters, facilities – but not too many. Plus Porto Katsiki beach is west facing so has epic sunsets. It really does tick all the boxes.
As you drive along the main road you’ll know you’re getting close when you pass the honey stall, with the rich scent hanging in the air and multi-coloured hives on terraces at the roadside. Take the tight elbow turn down to Porto Katsiki beach from the Taverna Oasis. Then park up to catch your first glimpse of the coastline.
Through the pine trees you’ll catch flashes of bright turquoise and deep cobalt water and the glowing pale stripe of shoreline along the west coast of the island.
NB When I say main road, I mean ‘only road’. Porto Katsiki isn’t near a town or even a village and has a pleasingly hidden vibe.
Well it did at the end of September. We drove down the steep, twisty route to the parking lot (10 euros a day) with no difficulty. But the man with the tickets told us that long queues snake back up the narrow road in peak season when Porto Katsiki gets thousands of visitors.
Adjacent to the car park is a little cluster of stores with snacks, drinks and beach essentials. The loos are here too. I got chatting to Christos in one of the kiosks who was whizzing up takeaway fresh fruit smoothies of strawberry, banana and peach, with optional vodka. Armed with cocktails plus feta and tomato rolls we made our way down the flights of metal steps to the beach.
Porto Katsiki has 80 steps down to the shore and every turn on the path reveals another magnificent view of the cove. The pale limestone cliffs soar vertically, in fact in places it feels like they’re leaning over the beach. Smooth white pebbles, grading in size from bird’s egg to caviar slope gently to patches of sand near the water.
On a late September afternoon we, plus a handful of others, had all this magnificence to ourselves.
Large waves crashed and frothed on the sand where the beach falls away steeply at the water’s edge. It was a playground for the strongest swimmers only, but we were happy just to sit in the sun and soak in the views.
As the sun dropped we were almost the last to leave – then raced to the clifftop just in time for the sunset.
Tips for visiting Porto Katsiki beach
- From Vasiliki in the south, it took us about 30 minutes to drive over the mountain to Porto Katsiki on the south west coast. At the end of September it was very quiet. It’s a well made but windy road, with lovely views out to sea and to the islands in the distance.
- Porto Katsiki beach is west-facing, so the sea is rougher than on the more sheltered east coast of the island. I wouldn’t recommend it for children, based on the day we visited.
- This isn’t a large beach, and most likely feels crowded when it’s thronging with summer visitors and boat parties. So late afternoon is a good time to go, especially if you want to catch the sunset as well.
- Take a parasol and something to sit on. The bottom of the cliffs is roped off so there isn’t a great deal of natural shade in the afternoon. The pebbles can be tricky to walk on so water shoes are a good idea too.
- Porto Katsiki has paid for parking and kiosks selling some food, drinks and beach accessories.
- The only access is by a steep 80-step staircase down to the beach. Or by boat.
Egremni beach: for Robinson Crusoe vibes
The beauty of Egremni beach has almost mythic status. Sheer white cliffs, crystal clear waters, and 2.5 km of pristine shoreline. It’s remote, with few facilities which adds to the Robinson Crusoe feel. Egremni Lefkada is for real beach buffs.
Like Porto Katsiki beach, Egremni lies on the south west coast of Lefkada. But it’s not as accessible as its neighbour. Yes Egremni beach has a car park ( 8 euros a day) and a hillside cafe. But unlike Porto Katsiki you can’t drive part of the way down the cliff. A tarmac road loops down from the car park but you have to walk it and it’s around 2 km. At the end of the road is the cafe (closed on the day we visited) and then newly installed metal steps that zig zag down the sheer face of the cliffs to the beach.
No one seems to know exactly how many steps, but more than 300 seems about right. An earthquake destroyed access to Egremni beach in 2015 so the staircase is new and well designed. Landings at regular intervals allow you to stop, take in the beautiful views and catch your breath. It took us about 15 mins to walk down the road, stopping for photos, and another 10 or 15 to negotiate the steps. Going back up obviously took longer!
On the beach you can make the most of the wide open spaces and the big cliff and ocean views. Like Porto Katsiki, the beach shelves into the water and waves can be big with under tows so this isn’t a family beach.
Tips for visiting Egremni beach Lefkada
- Be prepared! You’ll need lots of sunscreen, plenty of water, a hat and walking shoes. At the same time you won’t want to carry too much because you’ll have to bring it off the beach – up the 300+ steps – at the end of the day. The day we visited we could buy bottles of water on the beach. We saw a few sun beds and parasols too.
- As Egremni beach is west facing we didn’t find much shade on either the road or the steps in the afternoon. This is definitely something to consider in the height of the summer when you decide whether to walk down to the beach or not.
- Also check the wind direction. When we were there, at the end of September, the wind was blowing up the beach. This is apparently unusual, but it wasn’t very pleasant either. Egremni is wild and beautiful but it doesn’t offer much shelter and we didn’t spend long there.
- To avoid all this walking in the heat of the summer the best way to visit Egremni is on one of the local boat tours. The Ionian Princess departs from Vasiliki harbour to Porto Katsiki and Egremni.
Alternatively to reach the Lefkada beaches that really are best approached from the sea you can book an all-day cruise around Lefkada and its neighbouring islands.
This full day cruise with buffet lunch on the pretty wooden boat M/S Christina, departs from Nidri and sails to four different islands and beaches close to Lefkada. The boat makes swim stops and snorkelling equipment is provided too. It gets great reviews for the attentive staff, the knowledgeable commentary and the occasional dolphin sightings!
Vasiliki beach: for water sports
We stayed in Vasiliki, to the south of Lefkada island, for a week at the end of September. Vasiliki village has a pretty harbour with small shops and restaurants and boat trips to the local Lefkada beaches. Separate to this is Vasiliki beach on a wide sheltered bay that’s famous around the world for its ideal water sports conditions. Sheltered by green cliffs, it’s beautiful especially when it’s dotted with colourful sails.
Vasiliki bay is visited each afternoon by a wind called Eric. I am not making this up! Eric breezes in down the hill and a flock of windsurfers take off across the flat water of the bay. These unusual conditions make Vasiliki one of the most popular windsurf spots in Europe. This means it’s a very busy beach in peak season.
But Vasiliki beach is also a great place to learn water sports, as the morning conditions are perfect for beginners, and Vasiliki has plenty of surf school opportunities. The Ponti end has areas for paddling and swimming, while Vasiliki has lively bars and restaurants for post-Eric socialising.
Tips for visiting Vasiliki beach
- It’s easy to park and access but this is not the prettiest of the beaches on Lefkada, and it’s primarily a watersports destination.
- You can enjoy swimming in the calm waters on the Ponti side, but keep an eye on the waterborne traffic!
- Vasiliki is a great village to use as a base from which to explore other beaches on Lefkada. It’s only 30 minutes drive to Egremni and Porto Katsiki, whilst the south eastern coast has a selection of sheltered coves.
- You can also catch a tour boat from Vasiliki harbour to explore more Lefkada beaches and see the island from the water.
Or take a snorkelling safari from Vasiliki beach. The boat visits the Wall drop off, The Blue Cave and Amoussa bay. It gets great reviews. Be prepared for cooler water in Spring, you might need a wetsuit.
Agiofili beach: the great all-rounder
Agiofili is a local beach to Vasiliki and also a port of call for taxi boats and island cruises. From Vasiliki harbour we drove along a quiet country road with some pretty old olive trees to the parking above the beach. This cost 10 euros: parking for Lefkada beaches can be surprisingly expensive.
The path down to Agiofili beach is uneven and rocky then rounds some shrubs to reveal a small bay with cliffs and turquoise water. This Lefkada beach is calmer and more sheltered than the ones to the west. Rocks stick out from the water making a natural perch for swimmers and sunbathers. And the snorkelling here is good in the crystal clear blue water.
Tips for visiting Agiofili beach
- You can hire parasols and sunbeds and a small kiosk on the beach sells cold drinks and crisps. But you’ll need to bring your own lunch.
- The taxi boat runs several times a day to Agiofili beach from Vasiliki harbour and day trips from Nidri stop off here too. This is only a small beach, if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds then arrive in the early morning to make the best of it.
Kathisma beach: sun loungers, sunsets and paragliders
We arrived at Kathisma beach one late afternoon after a trip to Rachi in Exanthia. This mountain restaurant and bar overlooks the west coast. It’s a must-see on Lefkada partly for the fun of watching paragliders launch from the hillside next to your table.
These same paragliders land on Kathisma beach below. So once we’d finished our drinks we headed down to the coast to watch. Further north than Egremni beach, Kathisma is an altogether different vibe. The hills are set back from the coastline here, so you can easily drive to the beach and park beside it. It even has some free parking. And no steep steps at all!
Kathisma is the most organized of the Lefkada beaches that we visited, with rows of sun loungers and parasols, and beach bars behind. This plus the easy access is bound to make it very popular in high season.
And yes, this is where the paragliders land!
Tips for visiting Kathisma beach
- Kathisma beach is close to Agios Nikitas and other beaches on this stretch of the west coast. It has easy access compared to some of the other Lefkada beaches and bars and restaurants too. This makes it one of the most popular beaches on the island.
- The sand is quite coarse here and, like the other west coast beaches, it shelves quickly once you get into the sea. It is known for its big waves too, so take care. But Kathisma beach is also a great place to admire Lefkada’s stunningly beautiful turquoise blue waves and white sand.
Sailinn Beach Club: a chilled port of call
Sailinn Beach Club on the east coast in Nidri is one of my top tips for anyone visiting Lefkada. Not only is it a nice place to spend the day whenever you feel like a bit of pampering, it’s also a particularly good way to begin or end your visit to the island. It’s popular too with visitors from Meganisi who are heading back via Nidri to Preveza airport.
Ionian Villa‘s island representative, Ergi, recommended Sailinn Beach Club to us, and we wouldn’t have thought of it without him. If you’re staying in the south of the island, it is directly on your route back to the airport in Preveza.
After we checked out of our villa in the morning we had time to kill before our early evening flight. Sailinn Beach Club was the perfect port of call for a final swim, a shower and something nice to eat before we drove the last 40 minutes to Preveza airport.
The previous day we had trekked to wild and beautiful Egremni beach, see above, and had been slightly sand-blasted by the winds there. In contrast at Sailinn we were shown to sun loungers and parasols at the water’s edge of the sheltered bay. There are fresh towels for the shower. And a cocktail menu. After we’d had a little dip in the calm shallow waters a waiter brought our drinks and a lunchtime Greek tapas menu.
To be honest I could have stayed there all weekend.
Lefkada beaches are famous for their natural, untrammelled beauty. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. But it’s always good to have options. And on the day that you’d like a little more sophistication around your swim and sun schedule then Sailinn is here for you!
Tips for visiting Sailinn Beach Club
- Sailinn is a family run business that started life a generation ago as a beach bar. Today it’s a stylish beach club offering all day dining with indoor bars and tables plus sun loungers around the edge of the small bay. Yes, you can have your food served at the water’s edge!
- All these facilities, including parking and showers, are free when you order from the dining menu. They’ll store luggage too.
The west coast of Lefkada is less sheltered and has bigger waves than the east coast. Agios Ioannis beach on the north of the island and Vasiliki beach at the south are both ‘reliably’ windy for water sports.
Lefkada doesn’t have its own airport but is linked to mainland Greece by a floating bridge and causeway. So it is easy to access the island from Aktion international airport at Preveza. It takes about 20 minutes to drive from Preveza airport to Lefkada Town.
Please note that all visitor information here is for guidance only. Please check the relevant websites for the most up to date information eg. accommodation details, tickets, entrance requirements, opening times etc.
What to read next
Our guide to Vasiliki Lefkada with tips on things to do and where to stay
Take a day trip to beautiful Meganisi island, or plan a two-centre stay
Discover more beautiful Ionian Islands with our guide to Kefalonia
About the author Nancy is a former women’s magazine editor and writer who lives in London and is mum to two 20-something boys. In Map&Family she shares info and inspiration for curious travellers: singles and couples as well as families travelling with teens and young adults.