Travel Notes blog
How to immerse yourself in Greek culture on a holiday to Lefkada
by Clare Evans
7 min read

How to immerse yourself in Greek culture on a holiday to Lefkada

How to immerse yourself in Greek culture on a holiday to Lefkada
This blog post will be a guide to Greek culture, from its ancient cultural sites to the traditions the locals hold near and dear to their hearts. We will delve into the depths of how you can completely immerse yourself in Greek culture on your next holiday to Lefkada.
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Lefkada may be connected to mainland Greece by a narrow causeway and floating bridge, but the convenient journey over the water swiftly transports visitors into the heart of Greek Island culture. When you cross from the mainland to the sandy beaches of Lefkada, the pace of life slows and a wealth of Greek art, music, history and food culture spills from the island’s fishing villages and hubs, including Lefkada Town.


This gem-like Ionian island is steeped in ancient Greek history. In fact, some historians believe that Lefkada is the true home of Homer’s famed hero Odysseus. While many point to Ithaca as the heroes’ birthplace, the discovery of bronze age Mycenaean remains on the island’s south coast prompted archaeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld to identify Lefkada as the home of Odysseus. References to the ‘original’ Ithaca as an island which ‘could be reached on foot’ have further strengthened many locals’ claim to Odysseus.

The Odyssey is not Lefkada’s only connection to great Greek literature. An outdated (but long-held) myth tells that the famed poet Sappho lept from the island’s clifftops (along the southern coast from Penio), heartbroken over a ferryman named Phaeon.

Beyond myth, legend and literature, Lefkada became a stronghold for the Corinthians around 700 BCE and played a crucial role in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE). After decades of turmoil, the island saw centuries of relative calm throughout the Hellenic, Roman and Byzantine periods. When the Ionian islands were taken by the Venetians, Lefkada was held for a comparatively short time (684-1797 BCE) but later fell prey to Turkish raids, due to its proximity to the mainland, although the Ottomans were never able to hold Lefkada for long.

Like every Ionian island, Lefkada has experienced a unique pattern of invasion and occupation, giving it an idiosyncratic blend of tradition and stories to draw from. As such, Lefkada’s rich, diverse history is imprinted in Greek culture, archaeology, art and music. To immerse yourself in the island’s legacy, speak with our Local Specialists for ‘hidden gem’ recommendations, explore our Lefkada villas, or read about some of our favourite local cultural experiences below.

Experience Greek Culture on Lefkada

Whether you are transported by local cuisine or connect with culture through live music, our hand-picked Experiences help you find the beating heart of Lefkada.

1. Listen to Lefkadian kantades

Music is a beloved part of life on the Ionian islands, and each is proud of its traditional local musicians and songs. Lefkada is no exception, and even boasts its own kantades (a serenade from beneath their bedroom window, traditionally sung to woo a lover and accompanied by a mandolin or a guitar). You’ll almost certainly hear kantades performed in Lefkada’s village squares in the summer, but to see more of the tradition, be sure to visit the island during one of its many festivals, such as the Varkarola in August and the Lefkas International Folklore Festival. Many of these events (including the Varkarola) take place in Lefkada Town itself, which makes our local villas (Avra, Helena and Epipleon) the ideal base for enjoying the music of the island.


2. Dance like a Lefkadian

A number of societies on the island keep Lefkada’s music and dance traditions alive. While the 80-year-old Orfeas Music and Literary Club of Lefkada preserves local kantades, the Nea Chorodia Music and Dance Club of Lefkada and the Pegasus Folk Dances Club of Lefkada preserve the historic dances of the island. You can see some of the island’s traditional folk dances (including kalamatianos, tsamikos and thiakos) for yourself at some of the festivals listed below, and even join in yourself!


To learn about these dances before visiting a festival, speak with your Thinking Traveller Local Specialists and arrange a Greek dance class at your villa. Vibrant and joyful, Greek dance classes are sheer fun and a wonderful opportunity to learn about local culture. With large, sun-baked terraces and al fresco living areas, Cape Lougi is the perfect large villa for dancing under the stars.


3. Go to a Lefkadian festival

Lefkadians love a party and with so much art, music and culture to celebrate, it’s little wonder that the island’s social calendar is peppered with events and festivities. To get a real flavour of Greek culture (and food) on Lefkada, be sure to put these dates in your diary:

  • The Riganada Feast (oregano feast) in



  • Lefkadian Gastronomy Festival in

    Markas Square, Lefkada Town


  • The Traditional Peasant Wedding in


    (1st Sunday in August)

  • The Varkarola on the seafront in

    Lefkada Town

    (Early August)

  • The Lentil Festival in




These celebrations don’t even begin to scratch the surface of Lefkadian festivities. From the poetic Valaoritia Festival in Nidri (honouring the local Greek poet who lived a stone’s throw from our Agapanthus villa), to religious feasts, parties and traditions (such as the extensive Easter celebrations), this is an island abuzz with events. Contact your Local Specialist to discover local events near our Lefkada villas.


4. Get a taste for Lefkada

Food is an essential part of Greek, and indeed Lefkadian, culture - just look at the sheer number of local festivals which centre around regional ingredients. Known for its olive oil, thyme honey, citrus and wine, the island produces wonderful ingredients and delicious dishes.


Don’t pass up the opportunity to try Savoro (fresh fish that is cooked with aromatic garlic, onions and rosemary), Ladopita (a pie rich in olive oil) or Madolato (a meringue, honey and almond dessert). If you visit Egklouvi (close to our Thymus villa - named after local thyme honey), be sure to sample the homegrown lentils, of which the locals are very proud.


5. Explore Lefkada’s history

To truly immerse yourself in Greek culture, you will need an understanding of the long, rich history which helped to form it. Lefkada is home to some fascinating historic sites and museums including:

  • The Historical Museum of Lefkada in Lefkada Town

  • The Castle of Agia Mavra in Lefkada Town

  • The Orfeas Museum of Folklore in Lefkada Town

  • Circular stone age tombs near Nidri

  • An ancient farmhouse near Poros

  • Excavations at Agios Kirikos

  • The stone apiary at the monastery of Agios Nikolaos of Nira


Our selection of Lefkada villas

With villas in some of the most beautiful corners of Lefkada, our local collection allows guests to truly immerse themselves in Greek culture. To enjoy authentic local flavour, we particularly recommend Madreterra.

This unbelievable 12-person villa sits on the northwest coast of Lefkada, occupying a magnificent hillside in the midst of pine woodland, overlooking the crystal blue sea. If you can tear yourself away from Madreterra’s impeccable decor, sea views, jacuzzi, infinity pool, spa room, gym, outdoor kitchen and al fresco dining, there is plenty of local culture to enjoy nearby.


Beautiful Avali beach sits below the house, a mere 350m saunter away. Tucked along the beach, visitors will discover the occasional cafe and taverna, perfect for beachside breakfasts and long lunches. A little further afield, guests have easy access to some of Lefkada’s cultural hubs. The town of Egklouvi, home to the famous lentil festival, is a scenic 35 minute drive away, as is Karya, the cobbled mountain village which hosts a reproduction Lefkadian wedding each summer.

Explore Lefkada...

Discover the authentic Ionian. Lefkada villa collection today.