EXPLORING THE ISLAND
THE FORT OF AGHIA MAVRA (SANTA MAURA)
Just before you cross the floating bridge onto Lefkas, by Ammoglossa beach.
Built around 1300 in the time of the Franks, by Giovanni Orsini, to protect the island from plundering pirates.
In 1463 a chapel dedicated to Santa Maura was built inside the walls by a Byzantine princess, Eleni Paleologou. It was meant as a gift of thanks to the saint for saving her daughter from drowning at sea during a terrible storm off the coast of Lefkas. The ruins of the chapel are still visible inside the castle.
The fort was captured by the Turks in 1479. Bayezid II built a bridge with 360 arches, standing on stilts, supporting clay pipes to carry water to the fort from a spring in the Megali Vryssi area. The bridge was destroyed by earthquakes, but some of the stilts are still under water in the lagoon.
Inside the fort ruins can be found the remains of the Venetian occupation: barracks, ammunition stores, administrative buildings, a hospital and dwellings.
The fort is open daily from 9am – 3pm and on Mondays 9am – 2.30 although possibly best to go in the earlier part of the day as the man with keys occasionally wanders off after lunch!
The Faneromeni Monastery has wonderful views over Lefkas town and the beaches of that area. Faneromeni is the patron Saint of Lefkas and an epithet of the Virgin Mary (Panagia). There is a Festival held here every year 50 days after Easter. A market is set up along the roadside and people flock from all over the area including the mainland to pay their respects. It is the only Monastery in operation on the island. In its grounds is a small aviary, housing many interesting birds and some deer and rabbits too! A nice cool spot to spend some time on a very hot day!
MONASTERY IOANNIS THEOLOGOU RODAKI
Near Vournikas inland towards the south of the island there is a sign for the monastery Ag Yianni sto Rodaki (around 3km drive). It is sometimes closed but still well worth a visit as the surrounding area is beautiful. Behind the monastery there is a particularly good view out over the valley.
MONASTERY AG. GEORGIOU
Drive towards Vassiliki until you see the sign directing you right for the monastery.
Agios Donatos and Profitis Ilias (The White Church):
Drive to Englouvi, a lovely mountain village. There are few cafes open in the square.
Follow the sign for Ag Donatos on the right as you enter the village and you will come to a huge plateau dotted with the ruins of the original settlement and the small church of Ag Donatos. A Lentil Festival takes place here every year on 7th August!
Continue on the road and eventually you will come to a sign for Hortata (Chortata). Turn right here.
Continuing on this road you will pass the old Nato base used during the cold war and then keeping right you will drive past the quarry, the small surfaced road leading up to the Profitis Ilias from the quarry is approx 1.5km to the top. The views from this point are probably the most spectacular you will find anywhere on the island!
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
This is a small but important museum, with finds that date back to the Middle Paleolithic Age and up to Roman years.
There is a separate room exhibiting the finds of Schliemanns’ assistant the German archaeologist Wilhelm Dorpfeld. It was he who, in the early 20th century, sought evidence to support his theory that Lefkas was Homer's Ithaca.
The museum is located by the lagoon on the road to Ag. Ioannis beach.
Opening hours 8.30am – 3pm except Monday.
THE GRAMAPHONE MUSEUM
Found down a side street off Lefkas Town High Street, close to the church of Agios Nikolaos, you will come across a rather unusual collection of old HMV style gramaphones and records including the first disks recorded by a Greek record company in 1914.
The museum of Karya was established in order to form a school of handicrafts and for the revival of old customs and traditions. Here traditional styles of embroidery are displayed, the most famous being the Karsaniki stitch. This stitch was developed by a one armed young woman over 100 years ago. She taught the stitch to the women of the village and the style eventually became famous throughout Greece.
The small museum also has a display of old farm tools, furniture, weaving looms and local dress. There is a small entrance fee.
Land of Lefkas Winery: Head towards Sivota and Vassiliki and you will find this winery on your right hand side. See how the wine is made and maybe stock up on some wine to take home with you!
Opening hours: May-June daily 10.00-15.00
July, August, September 15th daily 10.00-21.00
15th September- 15th October daily 10.00-15.00
www.lefkaditikigi.gr tel. (0030) 26450 39139
Siflogo Workshop of local wine: This ‘by appointment only’ winery is found in the village of Platistoma, near Karya and produces a limited amount of bottles yearly.
Visit the production sites and taste the wine in a specially designed underground area!
www.siflogo-lefkada.gr tel. (0030) 26450 41674 Mobile +30 6973 217833
TOWNS AND VILLAGES
The capital of the island Lefkas Town has a cosmopolitan feel to it - there are many cafes, tavernas and shops.
The Lagoon area boasts a variety of sea birds to see.
Agios Nikitas, on the north-west tip of the island, is a very pretty village surrounded by beautiful beaches.
Park your car at the top of the village and walk down the cobbled street passing various little tavernas and cafes to the beach at the bottom.
Karya is the principle village in the upland area of the island. There are plenty of shops in the village selling examples of embroidery and lace.
The village square, lined with large plane trees, is an attractive spot for coffee and people watching.
A traditional Lefkadian wedding is reenacted in the village every August (the first or second weekend) which lasts for 2 days. On the first day there are the matchmakings, washing of wool, and the preparing of the trousseau.
And then on the second day the wedding ceremony itself is performed.
ALEXANDROS AND KOLIVATA
Not far from Karya, Alexandros is an old, almost deserted village and Kolivata is a tiny village with a small family taverna, converted from the owner's house.
Whatever she has cooked that day is what is on the menu!
If you would like to book call (0030) 26450 41228 or mobile tel. +30 6984 056686
Katouna is approximately 9km south of Lefkas Town. There is a sign 5km out of Lefkas Town next to the hotel Konaki. Turn right here climbing for around 3km until you get to the village. There is a car park to the right or you can park in the little square.
The best time to visit this village is in the early evening. Wander round the village and its little back streets and then either have a drink in the cafe or a meal in the local taverna.
Nidri is the main tourist resort on the island with lots of cafe bars and restaurants on the harbour front.
The ferry to Meganisi departs from here as do most of the island's boat excursions.
Sivota is in the south-east at the head of a large bay and has an outstanding natural harbour.
Plenty of restaurants, many of which serve fresh fish and cafes can be found here.
Vassiliki, in the far south, has a pretty harbour with a waterfront of restaurants and cafes. Vassiliki Bay has perfect conditions for windsurfing.
CAPE LEFKATAS (SAPPHOS LEAP)
Cape Lefkatas is dramatically situated at the southern most point of the island. Situated 60 meters above sea level it looks across the water to Ithaka and Kefalonia.
Legend has it that the Poetess Sappho leapt to her death here for the unrequited love of the demi-god Theon, after Aphrodite cast a spell on her.
We list a few options below, but any of the beaches on the west coast will provide a theatrical setting.
Milos Beach Bar, Ag Ioannis: The other side of Lefkas Town and past the lagoon, this beach is kite surfing heaven but also a great place to watch the sun go down.
If you prefer just to sit on the beach drive along the road by the lagoon and past the windmills until you get to the quieter parts of the beach and stop here.
The Panorama Taverna in Athani village has good food and an amazing view.
As mentioned before the restaurant Rachi in this village is superb but gets busy and you can’t book. Have a drink at the bar while you wait.
LAND AND SEA EXCURSIONS
If you would rather have a guide to show you some of the island, the “Island Discovery” excursion starts at Nidri and visits the following:
Santa Maura (Ag. Mavra) castle and the Archaeological Museum
Faneromeni Monestery; Karya for coffee; Kathisma beach (a 2 hour stop for a packed lunch and swimming); Vassiliki for shopping and ice cream; back to Nidri.
Ask Trish to book for you.
If you would like to explore a little further with an English speaking guide this trip takes in historical sites on mainland Greece and visits:
Nikopolis ‘Victory City’ just past Preveza; Acheron River, where it flows into the sea (a lunch or coffee stop here with a chance to go rafting down the river); a view of the Necromanteo (oracle of the dead) from the coach; Parga (walk through the little streets and do some shopping or walk to the medieval fortress and a swim); return to Nidri.
Trish can tell you more.
The M/S Christina
Departing from Nidri harbour this beautiful ‘gullet’ takes you to the ‘Forgotten Islands’ including Kastos and Kalamos.
The trip includes plenty of swim and snorkeling stops.
Look around the only village on Kastos; lunch (price included) on board before moving on to Kalamos where you can stroll around the harbour; more swim stops; return to Nidri.
To book either visit the boat which is on the harbour front every evening, in Nidri or visit the web site
www.the-mschristina.com or contact Trish.
This trip is best for families with children as Captain Jerry and his wife Marido make sure that they are entertained!
Depart Nidri harbour and visit:
The cave of Papanikolis; Spartohori on Meganissi (option to walk up the hill to the village to see a working olive press and to visit the village church); 3 hour stop on a beach with a Greek barbeque. Sun umbrellas provided. A little Greek dancing on board as you set off again for a swim off Scorpios and then a gentle sail back to Nidri.
To book visit the harbour front in the evening, contact them via their web site or get in touch with Trish.
Sunset and Stars
This trip departs Nidri at 7.30pm and takes you to a deserted beach where food and drink will be provided and as the stars come out Steve will regale you with stories and explain the stars to you.
To book please visit Borselino Travel on Nidri High Street or call (0030) 26450 92528
SOME IDEAS FOR DAYS FURTHER AFIELD
If you have the time and would rather explore independently we suggest the following:
This site is approx 5km past Preveza Town (you pass under a toll tunnel which costs 3 euros each way). “Victory City” was built by Octavius after defeating Anthony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Aktio on 2nd September 31 BC.
There is a museum, mosaics and an amphitheatre amongst other interesting finds at the site.
Approximately 35km from Preveza Town, Kassopi is remarkably well preserved. The city was built before the middle of the 4th Century BC. It was situated at an altitude of 650m, on a hill in the southern side of Zalongo near the village of Kamarina.
Here are the ruins of the Odeon and the Theatre.
Kassopi was finally destroyed by the Romans in 167 BC.
A monument set at the top of a rock dedicated to the women of Souli, who in 1802 danced their way over the cliffs rather than allow themselves to fall in to the hands of the Turks.
Necromantion (Oracle of the Dead)
Near Kanalaki, in Messopotamus village (approximately 45km from Preveza Town)
On a rocky hill overlooking the River Acheron is the Necromantion, the only found oracle of the dead, the entrance to the mythological underworld (Hades).
The oracle, famous throughout the Greek world from the 5th century BC, was where people came to speak to the dead.
A beautiful walk along the banks of the River Acheron or why not ramble through the river itself with its natural springs.
In Mythology Gliki is where Achilles’ mother dunked him in the water, holding him by his ankle.