If you like sun and active holidays, a cycling holiday on the Greek island of Lefkas might be something for you. Lefkas is a relatively small island with lots of natural beauty, nice towns and beautiful beaches, where there is plenty to discover by bike. Some experience with cycling in the mountains is an advantage, because there is a mountain range that runs the length of the island. But there are also flatter stretches where it is possible to make beautiful day trips without too many elevation meters. Organizing the cycling holiday is simple enough: you only need to book a flight ticket and hotel from the Netherlands, and you can arrange everything else on the spot.
Lefkas is a peninsula of about 35 by 15 km on the west coast of Greece. A mountain range runs across the island from north to south, with the highest peak being Elati (1158 m). The northeast of the island is relatively flat and is therefore a great base for cycling trips. From the charming villages of Nikiana and Ligia it is possible to drive beautiful routes in both north and south directions. There are also many tours available from Nidri, which is a little further south, but this place is a bit busier and more touristy.
Bicycles and accessories can be rented in Nidri and the capital Lefkada, both easily accessible by bus from Nikiana and Ligia. Before you rent a bike, consider what type of tours you want to ride with it. If you want to get out of the city and into the mountains, it is not enough to rent a city bike. You will really need a mountain bike with multiple gears. Most bicycle rental companies have many city bikes and only a few mountain bikes for rent. If you travel to Lefkas in the high season, it is therefore wise to reserve a mountain bike from the Netherlands. This is possible, for example, at Moto Star or Bikeland in Lefkada. Don’t forget to ask for the necessary accessories: a bicycle helmet, a bicycle lock and an adhesive kit or emergency telephone number. It is best to bring cycling pants, cycling gloves and possibly a water bottle with you from the Netherlands.
To find your way around Lefkas, a road map on a scale of 1:40,000 is recommended, several of which are for sale on the island. The road network of Lefkas is ideal for beautiful cycling trips. The main road that runs around the island is easy to cycle. Although there is often no separate cycle path along it, the road is wide enough and people generally do not drive too fast. The interior is a true cyclist’s paradise with quiet secondary roads that offer beautiful views of the beautiful landscape. In addition, there are a number of special mountain bike trails of poorer quality, which can pose a challenge for inexperienced mountain bikers due to the loose stones and loose sand.
Some suggestions for day trips from Nikiana on main and secondary roads are described below. During the cycling tours there is plenty of opportunity to get off and see a few things. For example, the Provincial Government of Lefkada has mapped out a number of walks that can easily be combined with a bike ride.
Nikiana – Lefkada – Agia Mavra fortress – Lefkada – Nikiana (38 km, 320 m elevation gain)
Follow the main road from Nikiana north past Ligia to Lefkada. Drive through the town until you reach the edge of the lagoon. Here you can choose whether you want to ride the cycle path around the lagoon to the left or right. Along the way you will pass the bridge that connects the peninsula with mainland Greece. On the other side of the bridge is the Agia Mavra fortress that can be visited and where you can see old cannons and a walled church with a bell tower. Back in Lefkada you pick up the main road south again. Just after the chapel of Zoodochos Pigi, turn onto a small road to the right. This road takes you up the mountain slopes and past beautiful views over the Ionian Sea back to Nikiana. If you prefer not to climb, you can also drive back to Nikiana along the main road.
Nikiana – Lefkada – Melissa gorge – Ligia – Nikiana (30 km, 340 m elevation gain)
Follow the main road from Nikiana north past Ligia to Lefkada. Past the chapel of Zoodochos Pigi, turn diagonally left towards Karia. Follow the ascending road until you see a sign for Melissa Gorge. For a nice walk through the gorge, turn right here and keep following the signs. Then you return to the road that leads to Karia. Follow this road for a short distance until there is a side road to the left. Via this side road you descend to Ligia through a beautiful landscape with beautiful views of the sea. From Ligia it is only a short distance along the main road until you are back in Nikiana.
Nikiana – Nidri – Vassiliki – Sivros – Nidri – Nikiana (63 km, 520 m elevation gain)
Follow the main road from Nikiana south past Nidri and Maradochori to Vassiliki. This tourist village is a nice place for a break, but you can also turn left just before the village and continue to one of the most beautiful beaches in Lefkada, the beach of Agiofili where you can swim. The return route runs via the plain above Vassiliki to the somewhat higher Sivros. Keep right there and drive back to the main road via the secondary road under Vournikas. Follow the main road to the left and drive back to Nikiana.
Nikiana – Nidri – Vafkeri – Karia – Nikiana (34 km, 590 m elevation gain)
From Nikiana take the main road towards Nidri. Just before Nidri, keep right (not towards the center). You will soon come to a sign for Waterfalls, turn right there. It is certainly recommended to take a walk to the famous Nidri waterfalls, but it can be very busy with tourists. Continue the cycle tour by turning left in Rachi towards Vafkeri (before the waterfall). This road climbs quite steeply until you reach Vafkeri. Just outside Vafkeri you can take a nice walk to the ruins of the Assomaton monastery. Follow the road with beautiful views to the nostalgic village square of Karia. From there you can descend through the Karia valley to Nikiana.
Nikiana – Fria – Potissies – Tsoukalades – Nikiana (36 km, 770 m elevation gain)
From the main road in Nikiana you drive inland towards the mountains at the sign Kolivata/Alexandros. Soon the direction of Karia is indicated on the road surface. Follow these directions into the valley before Karia and turn right at the reservoir. This road takes you to Lazarata and there you turn left to Fria. At the triangular square in Fria, choose right to descend again on the other side of the mountain range to Potissies beach. There you pick up the main road again towards the north. Continue following the main road through Tsoukalades until you return to Nikiana. Along the way you will pass the most important monastery of Lefkada, the Faneromenis Monastery, which is definitely worth a visit.