The temperate climate; the deep and cool sea waters; the mountains; the lush vegetation; the cultural heritage; and the cheerfulness of the inhabitants, make the Ionian Islands a very popular place for a holiday.
What is more, the traits of the Ionian Islands are perfectly combined with a flawless tourism infrastructure, excellent restaurants, diving centers, sea sports, cultural events, and a multitude of sights, historic monuments and museums worth visiting.
Scattered along the western coastline of Central Greece, the Ionian Islands as they are known, are an island cluster comprising twelve small and large islands whose total surface area comes to 2,200 square kilometers.
Zakynthos, Ithaca, Corfu (Kerkyra), Kefalonia, Lefkada, and Paxi are the six, large Ionian Islands.
Antipaxi, Erikousa, Mathraki, Othoni, Meganisi and the deserted islets of Strofades south of Zakynthos are the smaller Ionian Islands.
Once, the Ionian Islands were part of Central Greece but were torn apart when the terrain sank due to the seismic activity along the great coastline fault of the Ionian Sea.
This accounts not only for the ragged shores and hauntingly beautiful beaches but it also accounts for the islands’ tall mountains, once part of the Pindos mountain range which crosses Central Greece.
It also accounts for the great depth of the waters in the area which, at 4,406 meters, is the greatest in the Mediterranean.
The Ionian islands have a mild and temperate climate which makes them the ideal location for vacation or residence.
In summer, the heat is tempered by the meltemia, the soft, northwestern winds, and the sea breezes.
Due to the air currents prevalent on the Ionian islands, many of the island beaches have developed into internationally acclaimed windsurfing centers.
The Ionian Islands have been inhabited since Paleolithic times, have been through many invasions, and have received the influence of a variety of cultures.
Corfu’s rich multi-cultural heritage, its historic monuments, its stunning natural landscape, its crystal clear seas, and its excellent weather all year round explain why it is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations.
Corfu (Kérkyra), unlike the rest of Greece, never fell under the Ottoman oppression.
Due to the successive dominations of the Venetians, the French and the British over the centuries, the island has primarily become part of the Western rather the Levantine world.
Their culture wielded strong influence in the city: it was here that the first Greek University (the Ionian Academy), the first Philharmonic Orchestra and the First School of Fine Arts were founded.
In the beautifully preserved Old Town of Corfu, a UNESCO world heritage site, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical “repertoire” came to be successfully applied to local artistic traditions.
Palaces, fortresses, austere public buildings of the Venetian rule uniquely blend with lines of drying washing in tiny alleyways and small secluded squares.
Lefkas is said to owe its name to its white (‘lefkes’ in Greek means white) beaches and the white cliffs of Cape Lefkatas.
In one of his poems Menandros, the poet, mentions the legend of Sappho, the lyrical poet, who threw herself into the sea from these cliffs, when her beloved, rejected her love.
The fortresses of Lefkas, the prehistoric sites at Nydri and at Kalligoni, as well as the archaeological finds in the town’s museum, witness the island’s history.
Lefkas is the fourth largest of the Ionian Islands. The capital having the same name is the administrative, economic, commercial and cultural centre, where the International Folklore Festival takes place every summer, attracting thousands of guests from all over the world.
As for those who prefer more intense rhythms the town of Lefkas and cosmopolitan Nydri are offering the best choice.
The island of Lefkas, however, is primarily famous for the extraordinary beauty of its beaches.
Green waters, steep rocks reaching the sea and endless white, sandy beaches, spreading among them, compose a wild but also gentle beauty.
The geographical position of Lefkas is considered to be its great advantage.
A bridge only 50 meters long links the island to the main land, facilitating immediate approach to the airport of Aktio and other destinations.