LEFKÁDHA (Lefkás) is an oddity, which is exactly why it is some people’s favourite Ionian island. Connected to the mainland by a long causeway through lagoons and a 30m pontoon swivel bridge, it barely feels like an island, at least on the busier eastern side. Lefkádha was long an important strategic base and approaching the causeway you pass a series of fortresses, climaxing in the fourteenth-century castle of Santa Maura – the Venetian name for the island. These defences were too close to the mainland to avoid an Ottoman tenure, which began in 1479, but the Venetians wrested back control a couple of centuries later. They were in turn overthrown by Napoleon in 1797 and then the British took over as Ionian protectors in 1810 until reunification with Greece in 1864.

The whiteness of its rock strata – lefkás has the same root as lefkós, “white” – is apparent on its partly bare ridges. While the marshes and boggy inlets on the east coast can lead to a mosquito problem, the island is a fertile place, supporting cypresses, olive groves and vineyards, particularly on the western slopes. The rugged west coast, however, is the star attraction, boasting some of the finest beaches in the archipelago.

Lefkádha remains relatively undeveloped, with just two major resorts: Vassilikí, in its vast bay in the south, claims to be Europe’s biggest windsurfing centre; Nydhrí, on the east coast, overlooks the island’s picturesque set of satellite islets, including laidback Meganíssi. The capital’s superb marina also appeals to yachties in large numbers.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Greece features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
11 tips for travelling in Greece

11 tips for travelling in Greece

Although the news has been full of negative stories about the financial and immigrant crises which have engulfed Greece in recent years, there are still many r…

02 May 2017 • Nick Edwards insert_drive_file Article
A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

Cyprus has been a divided nation for over 40 years, but fresh reunification talks have offered hope of a united future. As Cyprus prepares to make history aga…

26 Apr 2017 • Darren Loucaides local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month