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    Eats and Beaches in Lefkada, Greece

    On Porto Katsiki Beach. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    As you are probably aware by now, summer = vacation in the Greek islands. And no two Greek islands are the same: Crete is the biggest, Santorini entices the most travelers, Mykonos is well known for parties, but Lefkada is, perhaps, the most beautiful. Nicknamed the “White Island” because sun seekers flock to its ivory-colored beaches, Lefkada is situated on Greece’s west coast where the Ionian Sea glistens in the sunlight. Though smaller than its neighbors—it’s the 14th-largest Greek island—Lefkada more than makes up for its size. Here, pine trees cover the rocky landscape and steepled churches line the cobbled streets.

    Most visitors land in Aktion National Airport, then make the one-hour trip to Lefkada island, by rental car, coach bus or taxi. We highly recommend renting a car so you can drive around the island as you please (note: we found the rounds to be well paved but drivers go fast here so be aware!). Like the rest of Lefkada, locals speak Greek—with some English mixed in—and use euros as their currency, although cash is obviously king since Greece has fallen on some hard times. The town is a labyrinth of crumbly churches and twisty streets, with a food scene that rivals the big cities on the Greek mainland. Fresh fish, crunchy vegetables, lean meat cooked in olive oil—all of it is served here and for a fraction of what it would be in a major city.

    History buffs love Lefkada as much as foodies, with local landmarks—such as the lavishly landscaped Garden of Poets and impressive Lefkada Lighthouse—seducing thousands of visitors each year. Elsewhere on the island, Porto Katsiki is famous for its concave cliff, which looms over the turquoise sea. The Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni is another must-see, characterized by its red-roofed buildings and stunning art collection.

    Lefkada’s weather is always sultry. Fall and winter are humid—expect double-digit temperatures, even in January—and spring boasts long sticky days, with averages of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Late May through September is even hotter: temperatures rarely leave the mid-seventies—perfect for a summer vacation!

    EAT

    Rachi, Exanthia

    Steak for two at Rachi. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    Rachi serves authentic fare to hungry travelers who crave a hearty dinner after a day on the beach. Located at the foot of a jagged mountain in Exanthia, a small fishing town, the restaurant boasts stunning sea views and a chic atmosphere. The decor here is adorable with flower pots everywhere the eye looks. But the main attraction here is the sunset. There’s no view like it anywhere else on Lefkada as diners sit on a balcony 600 feet above the ground—you literally eat higher than the clouds and when they break, you have a view across the entire island. No wonder the eatery has become a local institution since it opened in 2014.

    Food favorites include delicious chicken wings ($19), which are cooked in a wood-fired oven and served on a platter, and homemade tzatziki, a classic Greek cucumber yogurt dip traditionally served with grilled meats. Seafood dishes are also popular. There’s an extensive drinks menu, too, with refreshing cocktails and local wines. The cozy taverna is open daily from noon to 11.30 p.m. There’s no need to book a table—reservations are first come, first served. Make sure to go for sunset.

    Address: Exanthia 310 80, Greece
    Phone: 0030 264 509 9439

    Taverna Spiridoula, Sivota

    Grilled Squid at Taverna Spiridoula. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    Located just across from where the boats dock on the bay, Taverna Spiridoula fuses fresh seafood with top-notch service. The restaurant is situated in Sivota, a postcard-perfect town on Lefkada’s south coast, where lavish villas and centuries-old churches populate the landscape. Taverna Spiridoula is popular with holidaymakers who come here for an evening meal.

    There’s plenty to choose from at Taverna Spiridoula. Tangy squid, grilled tuna, and prawns in creamy pesto sauce grace the menu, and all seafood is sourced from the island. In fact, all of the seafood on offer sits outside the restaurant in a chilled container so diners can pick and choose their meal. Other favorites include cod and fries and crispy sweet bread served with capers and a lemon butter sauce.

    The eatery’s decor combines traditional Greek elements: white-clothed tables are located under large wooden beams. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a meal and wash it down with a glass of wine or a local ale. The average cost for a meal for four people is $55.

    Taverna Spiridoula is open daily from 9 a.m. to midnight. Guests don’t need to make a reservation and can turn up on the day.

    Address: Sivota, Greece
    Phone: 0030 264 503 1182

    Taverna Niagas and Meganisi Island

    Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes at Taverna Niagas. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    Meganisi Island, which means “big island” in Greek, is located just east of Lefkada in the Ionian Sea. The island, home to around 1,050 residents, is best known for its picturesque harbors and villages as well as being thought to be home to Odysseus’ kingdom in Homer’s epic poem. The island is a popular stop for private yachts, especially during the summer months.

    Taverna Niagas, one of the most popular eateries on Meganisi Island, is located along the Meganisi water-front and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The ambiance here is casual, and the food is tasty and affordable. All the food is cooked from scratch using locally sourced ingredients at this family-owned and managed restaurant. Menu favorites include traditional Greek dishes like souvlaki and moussaka and fried squid. Taverna Niagas also offers a full bar and frequently offers live entertainment with a small area for dancing.

    There are boat docks available for those arriving by sea—which we highly recommend, see below for the yacht charter we recommend. It’s the perfect pit-stop for lunch on this island before continuing your day of boating.

    While on Meganisi, be sure to check out at least a couple of the island’s eight beaches, such as Agios Ioannis, Megalo Limonari and Pasoumaki. You’ll also want to wander around Vathy, the island’s main commercial area, and the Papanikolis Sea Cave, which harbored Allied submarines during World War II. Meganisi has been occupied by the French, Turks and Venetians over the years, and this mixture of cultures can be seen in the island’s architecture, gardens, food and music.

    Address: Taverna Niagas, Porto Atherinos, 31083, Meganisi, Greece
    Phone: +30 2645 051191

    12 Gods, Sivota

    More stuffed peppers at 12 Gods. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    Located along the waterfront in Sivota along the west coast of Greece, 12 Gods is a charming taverna with a wooden deck overlooking the water, hanging flowering plants and simple white linen tablecloths. At places, the water is so close that you can reach down and dip your fingers in it. Few eateries at Sivota offer as authentic a Greek taverna experience.

    Sivota, an old fishing village turned resort community, is home to around 2,000 permanent residents. Visitors to Sivota will find a collection of uncrowded, white sand beaches, surrounded by pine and olive trees, and a lovely harbor, often filled with colorful sailboats. The town, which is easily accessible from Corfu and Lefkada, is popular with yacht and sailboat owners. Sunsets at Sivota are not to be missed.

    The menu at 12 Gods features an array of fresh fish simply grilled as well as Greek favorites like grilled chicken with lemon. Fresh salads and vegetables accompany most dishes.

    Dress at 12 Gods, as with most Sivota restaurants, is casual. You won’t feel underdressed in shorts or sundress and sandals. You’ll also be surprised at how affordable the menu is, especially for how good it tastes.

    Address: 12 Gods, Waterfront, Sivota 31082, Greece
    Phone: +30 2645 031880

    Sivota Bakery, Sivota

    Decor at Sivota Bakery

    Another popular waterfront eatery in Sivota is the Sivota Bakery. Despite the name, this beautiful cafe offers a full menu of Greek favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Baked goods make an appearance on the menu and include orange cake, baklava and made-to-order waffles and crepes. Prices here are affordable, with crepes starting at just 6 euros. We recommend grabbing breakfast here before you set out on your day.

    The setting is idyllic, with a whitewashed patio overlooking the sea, framed by craggy olive trees. The charming outdoor patio lets you take full advantage of the view. There’s even a small beach on the property. Inside, the walls are decorated with an eclectic collection of vintage bikes and carriage lamps.

    Address: Sivota Bakery, Sivota, Lefkada, Greece
    Phone: +30 697 243 2497

    Zolithros, Mikros Dialos

    Fresh fish for lunch at Zolithros. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    No one should leave Lefkada without sampling the fresh fish that are pulled out of the sea. And one of the best places to do that is Zolithros, a charming cafe located at the water’s edge on the island’s south end in Mikros Dialos. Numerous customers call the food here the best in Lefkada and frequently come here for lunch during a day at the beach.

    The ambiance here is friendly and relaxed, with simple, wooden tables topped with blue and white tablecloths. You can sit inside or take in the spectacular view on the outdoor terrace.

    This family-run eatery is open daily for lunch and dinner. Popular menu items include grilled red snapper, grilled squid and beef stifado. Of course, a good selection of local wines is available to accompany your meal. A small store at the restaurant sells food products to take home, such as extra virgin olive oil made from Zolithros’ own olive grove.

    Address: Zolithros Cafe, Epar.Od. Porou, Lefkada 31100, Greece

    Phone: +30 2645 095111

    BEACHES AND BOATS

    Mikros Dialos Beach

    Mikros Dialos Beach with a space for your boat. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    While it’s a short (5-7 km) drive from the village of Nidri, Mikros Dialos Beach is worth the trip. The trees run all the way down to the completely clear turquoise water—it’s quite the sight. Many locals come here for sailing, snorkeling and to enjoy sunbathing and hanging out at the on-site restaurants and taverns like Zolithros (above). The boats moor here through the summer season, making it a popular fishing port. The water here stays calm and the current doesn’t blow into the shore because it’s on Lefkada Island’s southeast side.

    This beach is 30 km to the south of Lefkada Town. To reach Mikros Dialos Beach, travel toward Vasiliki when heading out of Nidri village. Be careful taking the road down to the beach as there’s often oncoming traffic, and the road isn’t very wide—like most of Lefkada!

    Kathisma Beach

    View of Kathisma Beach. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    Near the village of Agios Nikitas, Kathisma Beach is one of Lefkada Island’s most sizable beaches. This place holds many similarities to Mikros Dialos, and it’s also on the southeast side of the island, which means the water is calm and a clear turquoise color. What makes it special is the intense mountain backdrop. The area is home to many water sports, and the nearby locals regularly visit here to sky parachute. There are some beachside restaurants here, but unless you want pre-made sandwiches and chips as opposed to fresh seafood, it’s wise to bring your own lunch, however the restaurants here also rent sunbeds for the day, which we highly recommend.

    To get to Kathisma Beach, take Epar. Od. Lefkas – Kato Exanthias until reaching Nikolas & Sofia Studios. The road down to Kathisma Beach is right next to there, roughly in the middle between the villages of Kalamitsi and Agios Nikitas.

    Porto Katsiki Beach

    View of Porto Katsiki Beach from the top. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    Situated on Lefkada Island’s southwest coastline, Porto Katsiki Beach is a further distance but worth the longer drive. It’s a hot spot for watersports, with activities ranging from body boarding to wave surfing; many paragliders also frequent this area. What sets Porto Katsiki apart from other Lefkada beaches is the beautiful limestone rock lying beneath the water surface, which adds gorgeous tones to the blue waters. The sea is a bit less clear here though, which makes snorkeling a less popular option. The surrounding mountains stand out, and the only direct path to the beach involves 80 steep steps down the cliff. It’s very secluded and as of press time, there are no restaurants, bathrooms, or sunbeds anywhere near the beach so be prepared to come with everything that you need—SPF included.

    To reach Porto Katsiki Beach, head toward Nikolaos Niras via Epar. Od. Komilou – Akrotiriou Lefkatas. If heading from Athani village, there’s a direct turn-off to the road down to the beach—it’s hard to miss.

    Vliho Yacht Club and Charters

    View from day out at sea. Photo: Stevie Benanty

    If you want to charter a boat during your stay in Lefkada—which you definitely should—Vliho Yacht Club and Charters is the place to rent from. Visitors can purchase timeshares or get one-time boat rentals for their vacationing needs. These rentals are available for both bareboat cruises and skippered cruises. With a skipper, it’s possible to travel to many parts of the area in touring fashion which makes it easy to go snorkeling, visit water caves (Alavastrino, Papanikolis) and more. The most popular yacht rental is “the Poseidon,” which is used for skippered cruises. However, they have six other rental options in their yacht fleet, all with three cabins and ranging from 10.82-12.94 meters in length.

    The Yacht Club is located in the southeast corridor of Lefkada Island, along Epar. Od. Lefkas – Vasilikis, and features various amenities nearby, including local bakeries, grocery stores, parks and restaurants. The Club is easy to find as it’s right on Vilho Bay, which can be found when traveling between Fterno and Nidri village.

    Address: Vliho Bay, Lefkada 310 84, Greece
    Phone: +30 2645 029282

    stevie benanty

    stevie benanty

    Founder of a conversation.

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