Lefkada, or Lefkas, is one of the pretty cluster of Ionian islands scattered along the west coast of Greece. The clear and breathtakingly beautiful turquoise waters around the islands are perfect for swimming, snorkelling or beach hopping. We stayed at Vasiliki beach to explore the laidback, lowkey paradise island of Lefkada Greece. Read on for a lovely place to stay in Vasiliki, best Vasiliki beaches and plenty of things to do in Lefkada.
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.
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Why visit Lefkada?
One of the joys of the island of Lefkada or Lefkas (so good they named it twice!) is that it’s small, charming and yet still easily accessible. Although aeroplane-free itself, Lefkada is less than an hour away from the tiny but international Preveza airport on the mainland. The island is linked to the mainland by a floating bridge and causeway. So no need to factor in a long ferry journey to enjoy this particular slice of Greek paradise.
Lefkada manages to combine this accessibility with a surprisingly laidback vibe. Yes, we travelled there in late September so the island was ticking along in peaceful, end of season mode. And yes, the causeway access means that Lefkada is a popular weekend getaway from mainland Greece. But the infrastructure – or lack of it! – gives the game away.
The road from the airport down the east coast of the island is straight, modern and well made. It’s designed for holiday traffic and passes through Nidri, the epicentre of Lefkada tourism. But head on further south and south west and you can enjoy pleasingly low rise vistas and discover beaches without a single hotel in sight.
Add to all this: the famously electric blue waters edged by white pebble beaches, lush mountain scenery, a major watersports hub and a couple of nearby islands for day trips or a two-centre stay. All the ingredients for unforgettable holidays. And of course, there are goats on the road!
We stayed near Vasiliki beach on the south coast of Lefkada. Vasiliki is a great place to stay in Lefkada. It is less of a tourist hub than Nidri and has access to some of the most beautiful beaches on Lefkada.
Vasiliki is very much a village of two parts and there’s enough going on in the area to keep you occupied throughout your stay. The village centres around a Greek-island-pretty fishing port, a right angled harbour lined with shady trees and painted cafe tables. A gaggle of pleasure boats and wooden caiques are tied up at the stone quayside. You can easily while away a hour or so browsing the little boutiques and mini markets in the cobbled streets. Or ordering coffees under the trees to watch the boats go by.
The other side of Vasiliki focuses on its long, broad bay. It lies at the mouth of a deep valley that cuts through the mountains down to the sea. The beach here is shingly with calm shallow waters and you can walk right around the bay to Ponti beach at the far west side.
But it’s the particular geography of Vasiliki that has made it world famous. In the mornings the wide bay is calm with a light onshore breeze, ideal for beginner watersports lessons and stand up paddleboarding.
In the afternoons a reliable katabatic wind flows down the valley and across the bay. It’s a very brisk breeze but since the bay is sheltered the sea doesn’t become rough. These are perfect and much sought-after conditions for watersports experts. Thanks to this wind, known locally as ‘Eric’, Vasiliki bay hosts regular international windsurf and sailing competitions.
Vasiliki beach has a very sporty vibe. It’s the place to come for fun on the water with ranks of high tech equipment to hire and tuition from beginner to advanced at the water sports centers. As well as windsurfers and SUPs, we spotted efoil surfboards and wing foiling in the bay.
Thanks to the clear waters and plentiful marine life around Lefkada, snorkeling is also popular. A PADI centre at Vassiliki bay offers scuba diving courses and trips. And you can book mountain biking tours from Vasiliki too, it isn’t just about watersports.
Villas near Vasiliki beach
My friend Fiona and I went to Lefkada for a week’s catch up and some end of season R and R. We’ve already explored Paxos and Kefalonia together with Ionian Villas. So the chance to discover another lovely Ionian island was too good to miss.
We stayed on the hillside above Vasiliki in a sheltered spot with long views of the bay. David from Ionian Villas promised it was a special villa and he was right. In authentic Greek fashion, Villa Thimari nestles into an olive grove at the end of a bumpy single track road. It’s a contemporary little tower, built in warm ochre stone, designed in the style of Lefkada’s traditional windmills. Two more towers stand nearby, carefully landscaped for privacy.
NB the three would be a fab solution for a group booking of extended family or friends. The villas are private and secluded yet close enough to pop in and out, and you’d have three swimming pools to enjoy!
The towers are tucked away, with few other properties around, but they’re still only minutes by car from the bustle of Vasiliki and Ponti. The peaceful location of the villas means that car hire is pretty much essential – but then it would be a shame not to have a car because there’s so much to explore nearby.
Thimari villa, Vasiliki
Thimari was perfect for us. It sleeps 4 with two bedrooms, a double and a twin, on the first and second floors, linked by a steep spiral staircase. Each has its own loo and shower, cleverly crafted into the circular rooms, and a little Rapunzel-esque balcony with nice views over the valley. Embracing the tower styling, the main bedroom has a circular bed to match.
On the ground floor the kitchen has everything you can think of, ready to hand. Dishwasher tablets? Tick. A variety of coffee machines? tick. And the fridge was stocked with a welcoming homemade chocolate cake and a large bottle of (delicious) wine from the local winery.
The living room on the ground floor has comfy sofas for the evenings and a TV. But it’s the outdoor facilities that are really expansive. On the terrace is a big shady outdoor table and a swing seat stacked with cushions. From here a path sweeps down to the private pool where hammocks, sun beds and another sheltered table and chairs offer plenty of places to catch the sun or shade.
It would be easy to spend all day at Thimari, but then you’d miss the chance to explore the neighbourhood.
Vasiliki beach is primarily a watersports beach. It’s really the perfect place for kayaking, paddleboarding or windsurfing, whatever your level of ability. At the Ponti end of the beach you’ll also find sunbeds and water’s edge tavernas.
Here you can enjoy a leisurely lunch whilst watching all the action on the water or enjoy fab traditionally Greek cuisine close to home in the evenings. We recommend To Kyma on the water’s edge in Ponti.
I’d say Vasiliki is a functional beach rather than a smart or pretty one. A small road runs behind it and you can park directly on the shingle. Beach bars cater to the watersports clientele and we noticed a pleasant lack of souvenir shops on this side of the bay. But don’t worry, if you’re looking for a more sybaritic beach experience there are plenty of options to choose from.
On the east side of Vasiliki, 3 km out of town, Agiofili is a postcard-perfect cove. A newly asphalted road from the harbour winds along the coast past ancient olive trees to the beach parking lots. From here you walk down a rough track and several sets of steps to a pretty little bay with high cliffs and turquoise water.
The sheltered pebble beach slopes steeply into the sea so it’s lovely for swimming and snorkelling around the rocks. A little canteen sells cold drinks and crisps and hires out sun beds and umbrellas. Agiofili is not a cheap beach: parking is 10 euros a day and two sunbeds cost another 20 euros. But it is very popular. Regular taxi boats visit from Vasiliki port so head there early or late to enjoy it at its quietest.
Ammoussa beach, 10 km from the village of Vasiliki, is another small bay with a great reputation. Like Agiofili it is sheltered from west coast winds and waves and is good for swimming. Ammoussa offers both parking and a taverna close to the beach.
Explore Lefkada’s superstar beaches
Lefkada is an island that’s famed for its beautiful beaches. But two in particular are quite simply breathtaking and regularly turn up on lists of ‘best beaches in Greece’. You haven’t visited Lefkada properly unless you’ve had, at the least, a clifftop view of Porto Katsiki or Egremni.
They both lie on the south west coast of the island, half an hour’s drive from Vasiliki. A well-made windy road takes you over the mountain through verdant groves, punctuated by tall cypresses and olive trees. There’s very little development round here so you can really soak in the natural beauty of the place.
A hairpin turning off the main road at Taverna Oasis leads to Porto Katsiki. Park up by the trees for your first clifftop glimpse of the coastline. You’ll spot a shining strip of silvery sand framed by indigo sea and soaring white cliffs. Carry on down the road to a car park and a cluster of little kiosks. From here it’s about 100 steps down to Porto Katsiki bay.
Alternatively continue north past Oasis to another sharp turning left, this time at Taverna Ionio. Egremni beach also has a car park, but it’s still a long way above the beach. Visitors need to walk a couple of kilometres along a tarmac road that loops down the cliffside, then tackle the 300 or so steps down to the beach.
It’s a significant workout, especially on the way back up, as the road is steep and there’s minimal shade. It’s certainly not something I’d undertake in the height of summer! But the reward when you get there is the long long beach that stretches up the coastline alongside the paradise-blue Ionian sea.
Don’t worry if the cliff hike doesn’t appeal. It’s perfectly possible to get to both Porto Katsiki and Egremni by the regular boat service from Vasiliki harbour.
Things to do in Lefkada
Although the beaches are a main attraction there are lots of other things to do on Lefkada.
Meganisi is one of the best kept secrets of the Ionian. A tiny island off the coast of Lefkada, it doesn’t even feature on many maps of the Ionian isles. But Meganisi is an absolute gem. Surprisingly it has 30 km of coastline, a pie crust edging of little coves and bays. It is quiet, authentic and largely un-developed. But look more closely and you’ll discover luxury villas tucked away and mega-yachts moored off shore.
We caught the ferry from Nidri for a day trip to Meganisi, read about it here. Better still, you could rent a villa on Meganisi for a two-centre stay coupled with Lefkada.
Ionian Villas manages Akonita, a 3 bedroom villa in a swoonworthy position above a beach and overlooking the island of Skorpios.
Sivota is a pretty fishing village on the south coast of Lefkada, just a 15 minute drive from Vasiliki. It reminded us quite a lot of Fiscardo on Kefalonia. Boats nudging together along the quay, heaps of saffron fishing nets, pink bougainvillea draping the waterfront tavernas and stylish little gift shops. And at the end of the harbour is a tiny beach for paddling.
We ordered coffee and fresh orange juice at a cafe table under a Venetian style lamppost. The Ionian islands were controlled by the Republic of Venice for nearly four centuries and you can still spot influences in the architecture around the island.
Go to Rachi – a mountain restaurant with sunset views
Everyone told us to go to Rachi. And it is justly famous. This restaurant, nestled into the hillside overlooking the west coast of Lefkada, is a five star experience. Rachi and its companion cafe-bar Fly Me, are set in the traditional mountain village of Exanthia.
Chic and stylish, with perfect coastal sunset views, a cosmopolitan menu and inventive cocktails, it’s a Lefkada must-do.
And it has an added surprise since Rachi is also a take off point for paragliders. We were delighted when a pilot took wing and flew right past our table to float gently away down the mountain towards the blue horizon.
See the Lighthouse at Cape Lefkatas
We ran out of time. But if we’d had another day we’d have driven to the southern most point of Lefkada and the lighthouse at Cape Lefkatas. There’s definitely something romantic about lighthouses, and this particular one has an uber romantic legend attached.
Ancient Greek poet Sappho, suffering from unrequited love for the sea god Phaon, is said to have thrown herself from the cliffs at the Cape. Sappho was a real person and her love poems were considered some of the greatest of her time. Although many now believe Sappho actually lived to a ripe old age, the legend has survived.
Archeologists have also found the remains of a temple to Apollo close by the lighthouse. So it was in many ways an important spiritual site in ancient times.
Head south from the turning to Porto Katsiki and you’ll see the lighthouse high on the edge of its sheer cliffs, looking out over the Ionian sea to Ithaca and Kefalonia. The epic views match its fabled history. You can’t go inside the lighthouse but it’s a wonderful place for panoramic views at sunset.
Go to a winery
We tasted some delicious wine in Vasiliki, which came from the local winery Lefkas Earth or Lefkaditiki Gi. Local grapes and modern techniques combine to make high quality red and white wines. The winery is on the road from Vasiliki to Nidri, just above Sivota. It offers free tours and tastings – and the chance to buy a bottle or two! Check their website for more details.
Take an island cruise
Although you can drive to many of Lefkada’s beaches, some are best accessed by boat. There are lots of ways of doing this too.
For maximum freedom you can’t beat renting your own boat or chartering a skipper for a tour. Ionian Villas can help you to do this and Ergi, their island manager, offered me a menu of tempting options: a boat over to Meganisi for a seafood lunch at a favourite restaurant? A dolphin spotting boat trip? A visit to a seal island? A day out beach hopping?
Alternatively you can make use of the regular island ferry services. You can take day trips to Meganisi, Kefalonia and Ithaca from the port at Nidri on the east side of the island.
Or save yourself some legwork, and parking fees, and take a taxi boat from Nidri or the port of Vasiliki to some of the best beaches on the island like Agiofili, Porto Katsiki or Egremni.
Finally, you can choose a guided tour. This full day cruise on a traditional wooden boat, the M/S Christina includes swim stops, snorkelling and lunch.
Explore Lefkada’s mountain villages
I would have loved to have had more time to explore the interior of the island and its picturesque villages. The traditional mountain village of Karya is a must see. A central square, shaded by plane trees, has tavernas and bars and you can also explore the locally made crafts in nearby shops. Karya has a long tradition of lace making and villagers still produce beautiful embroidery and rugs.
The Karya folklore museum gets wonderful reviews, see here on Tripadvisor. It’s a traditional home, preserved in loving detail by a local family.
Nearby, the village of Englouvi is famous for another traditional way of life. Local people cultivate a variety of lentil here, using seed and methods that have been passed down through the generations for centuries. The lentils are famed as superfoods for their nutritional content and delicious taste. And the Englouvi plateau is now a protected area because of its unique cultural interest.
If you’d like to explore the mountain villages this customised private tour is an easy way to do it and has excellent reviews.
Weather in Vasiliki Lefkada
April to June is a quiet time in Vasiliki with Spring flowers and average temperatures rising from 15 C to 25C. By June the days are hot and the sea is around 23C so good for swimming.
The summer months of July and August are the hottest and busiest, with temperatures reaching the 30s. These are also the months least likely to have rain.
In September temperatures are still in the high 20s at the beginning of the month. Later in the month these will cool along with an increasing likelihood of a few cloudy days and some rain. But the sea will still be pleasant for swimming.
Airports near Lefkada
Lots of people ask how to get to Lefkada. We flew direct from London to Aktion international airport, also called Preveza airport in Western Greece. From here it is about 25 km, with a crossing via road bridge, to Lefkada Town.
Ionian Villas arranged our car hire and we picked up our car at the airport. It is a very straightforward 30 minute drive to Lefkada Town from the airport. You could also take a taxi transfer to the island.
About Ionian Villas
Ionian Villas is a family-run agency with 35 years experience in the Ionian Islands. They’ve got the expertise to advise you on the island and the villa that’s exactly right for your needs, whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or a luxe stay. On the island, a local manager helps ensure your stay goes smoothly, facilitating car hire, private transfers – by car or boat – or in-house cooks.
What to Read Next
Click these links for island guides and villa recommendations on the Ionian islands of Paxos, Antipaxos, Kefalonia and Meganisi.
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.
All photos are all rights reserved. Please do not reproduce these photos without prior written permission.
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