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You are in:  Top  →  Europe  →  GREECE  →  Ionian Islands  →  LEFKAS

LEFKAS

Lefkas island part of the Ionian Islands in Western Greece has a Mediterranean temperate and pleasant climate. A lot of sunshine and few clouds.

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The hot summer is moderated by the breezes which cool it and keep it dry. Lefkada is also suitable for winter holidays because it is mild. Ice and snow are rare though rain is more common.

Lefkas is very green. The southwestern section of Lefkada is covered with small pine trees. Many cypress, oaks and plane trees are to be found elsewhere. You will also discover very rare and beautiful kinds of plant life (peregrina and mascula). The watery biotope of its salt lake plays host to many of the feathered inhabitants of the island where they can be admired: herons, swans, wild ducks and wild geese among them.

The largest part of the land of Lefkada is mountainous, the highest peak being Stavrota at 1,182 m. Lower mountains set off from this central mountain mass and fall abruptly into the sea, forming sheer and rocky cliffs. Narrow plateaus in the mountains and valleys lower down, at various heights, the largest being Vassiliki, make for impressive alterations in the landscape.

West of Lefkada is the large tectonic rift in the Ionian. The great depth of the sea and the sheer western cliffs of all the Ionian islands are due to this. Lainaki, Achlada, Sikero, Skaros, Megali Rachi and the peninsula Lefkata are the haughty rocky shores here which form the natural backdrop to an uncommon, wild beauty.

HISTORY Lefkada or Lefkadia owes its name to the steep white cliffs on its southermost cape, Lefkata. Here is where legend states the poetess Sappho took her own life because of her thwarted love for Phaon. The first traces of life on the island date to 8,000 years BC. Important settlement finds near Nydri, from around 2,000 BC, bear witness to a unique culture, related to the one on the continental shores opposite.

The Leleges, the first inhabitants, were defeated by the Cephalonians and Laertes, the father of Odysseus. In fact, according to the archaeologist Dorptfeld, Lefkada can lay claim to being the Homeric Ithaca.

During the 7th century B.C. Nirikos, south of the town of Lefkada, was one of the largest Greek towns. The island was present at the Naval Battle of Salamis, at the battle of Plataia, in the Peloponessian War against the Spartans and it also participated in the campaign of Alexander the Great and resisted the Romans in the 3rd century B.C.

During the Byzantine period, the island was incorporated into the Despotate of Epirus. In 1293 it was claimed by Count Orsini, the later ruler of Cephalonia and Zakynthos, who built the fortress of Ayia Mavra for protection from pirates. This was followed by the long period of the Venetian occupation and the struggle against the Turks who conquered the island in 1503 and stayed for 180 years.

In 1684 Lefkada returned to Venetian rule and was granted a rudimentary constitution and acquired a state organization. Later it fell into the hands of the French briefly and the Lefkadians were strongly influenced by the liberal ideas ot the French Revolution. The British appeared in 1810. Structural works were built during that period as well as the first antiseismic edifices.

The Lefkadians fought with all the means at their disposal in the Greek War of Independence of 1821. The island was unified with Greece in 1864 along with the rest of the Ionian Islands. It began its economic recovery in the 1960's and during recent years tourism has offered a great deal to its development.

Picturesque little villages stick up from the enchanting mountainous landscapes with their lush vegetation, fertile slopes and dark green plateaus. Golden shores and lofty cliffs are typical sites for traditional settlements. The villages of Sfakioton (Spanochori, Lazarata, Asproyerakata,) Iie near the center of the island in a unique view from Chortata to the west and south as the landscape gradually descends to Cape Lefkata. Englouvi, the most mountainous village on the island, is at an altitude of 700 m., Karya, one of the main mountain villages is in the center of the island on a lovely plateau and is well-known for its embroideries. It contains elements of traditional architecture and has remained faithful to the old customs of the area.

The intoxicating Greek summer is full of sun and salty air, golden sand beaches both for the few and the many.

There are leeward coves, anchorages suitable for sail boats and open tranquil bays along with beaches under the imposing shadow of sheer cliffs.

The water is crystal clear and shifts from deep blue to emerald. Pefkoulia, Ayios Nikitas, Kathisma, Mylos, Egremni and Porto Katsiki are to the west. Vasiliki Bay and Ayiofili to the south. Gyra and Ai Yiannis to the north and to the east Nikiana, Nydri, Vlychos and Mikros Gialos.

Lefkada spreads its countless marine beauties before you. All you have to do is choose. Everyday something different!

SUROUNDING ISLANDS A series of small, verdant islands, the one right next to the other opposite the southeast coast of Lefkada, complement the beauty of the landscape. They are Meganisi, Kalamos, Kastos, Skorpios, Skorpidi,, Madouri, Sparti, Thilia and Kythros.

Skorpios lies a short distance from Nydri and has become inseparably linked to the happy and the tragic moments of the Onassis family, and its fame has spread throughout the world.

Madouri also a private island, belonged to Antonis Valaoritis. His lovely neoclassical country house still commands its center.

Meganissi is the largest of them all. It has beautiful beaches and three charming little hamlets: Spartochori, Vathy and Katomeri with 1,300 inhabitans. It receives many visitors in summer, and has regular connections with Lefkada.

Kalamos retains a small traditional settlement with 700 inhabitants which is worth a visit as is the small islands of Kastos.

During the summer there are caique tours that make the round of the islands. Thus you can get to know them at first and enjoy their pristine water.



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