JS Travel Diaries: Just Back from Lefkada, Greece
Recently returned from Lefkada, a gorgeous, under-the-radar Greek island in the Ionian Sea, Jetsetter editorial assistant Jackie Homan shares some of her favorite discoveries.
Lefkada was not a destination I picked out myself to satisfy an old bucket list, nor was it one chosen for me by my job. The island is unassuming, and when I told people where I was traveling, some responded with surprise. “Not Santorini or Crete or Mykonos for your first time in Greece?” I was asked.
The truth is, it didn’t matter to me what beach I was on or village I stayed in. This trip was about the who rather than the where. Addie Kopsidas—one of my best friends and the photographer who captured all the shots in this story—has traveled to Lefkada with her family for years. When she generously invited me to spend a week on the island, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Experiencing my friend’s favorite place in the world alongside her, somewhere she’s grown up and has deep family roots, would beat any Greek trip I could’ve ever scraped together on my own and would give us incredible memories together before the next stages of our lives.
Here, through the lens of my first time on the island and the lens of Addie’s camera, are our highlights and snapshots.
How to start the morning
There’s something special about the simplicity of this island—the relaxed demeanor of every person encountered, the ease of afternoons spent lying under the sun, the chilled-out nightlife scene that I can only imagine is the polar opposite of Mykonos. Mornings started the same way. When Addie first gushed about the Greek frappé, I pictured something complicated and Starbucks-y. Not so. A teaspoon or two of Nescafé instant Greek coffee, some sugar if you want, and a little bit of cold water are all it takes—shake the combo up or froth it, then top with more water and ice. That’s it! Precise measurements aren’t necessary, and it tastes good every time.
The beach worth the trek
It’s hard to go wrong beach-wise on Lefkada, but if you’re up for a hike, the best of the best can be found at the bottom of a hilly 20-minute trek that’ll leave your calves sore (or maybe we were just in bad shape?). In the tiny town of Agios Nikitas, you’ll see a sign for Milos Beach. From there, just keep walking. And walking. And walking. In the afternoon sun, the climb may feel never-ending, but you’ll be motivated with gorgeous vistas along the way, and there’s nothing like the feeling of finally arriving at an uncrowded stretch of sand and bright aqua water.
One touristy thing you have to do
I may have seen Lefkada with those who really know it, but there was one tourist activity we couldn’t resist: a boat tour of the neighboring islands on the Nidri Star, which takes in all the hot spots including the famous Porto Katsiki beach. The day-long adventure was the perfect amount of relaxation and activity. We dove off the boat’s back into the salty water, stretched out on the sand to eat lunch, and stopped in town to shop and sip—you guessed it—another Greek frappé pick-me-up.
The best view on the island
After a winding (and, I’ll admit, unnerving) drive to the top of the island one night, we parked ourselves at Fly Me Sun & Stars Bar (beside Rachi restaurant right next door) to watch the sun melt into the clouds. The cocktails were yummy and the atmosphere was cute, but it was the couldn’t-believe-my-eyes sunset view that made this place somewhere I’ll never forget.
The food I couldn’t get enough of
Gyros, tzatziki, pastichio… my stomach is growling as I remember it all. I ate my first french fry-filled gyro at Obelix in Nidri town, and it made me wonder why more foods aren’t stuffed with fries. (Does anyone know of a gyro spot in NYC that does this?!) Addie’s family’s favorite dining experience (which became one of mine, too) is at Avra, a family-owned and operated taverna right on the water in Nidri. Naturally, the seafood there was especially good.
When you need a break from the beach
Most of my days in Lefkada were spent lying on the beaches and walking around town, so stepping out of the sun and inside a winery one afternoon was a welcome change. At Lefkaditiki Gi – Lefkas Earth Winery, we toured and tasted local varieties grown only in Lefkada, learning about the wine-making and bottling process along the way.
There’s an abundance of souvenir shops around Nidri, Lefkada, and Sivota Village where you can buy jewelry, sandals, Greek spices, olive oils, and kitchen goods made from olive wood. I came home with some tzatziki spice mixes from the Greek Food Market in Sivota so whenever I’m feeling nostalgic about my trip, I can whip up my new favorite food and feel like I’m back again.
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