Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Ellen
Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Ellen
Greece is ready to welcome 1 million Americans on their summer vacations now that the pandemic is ‘over’. The majority of those tourists will head to the Aegean islands. But savvy budget-minded travelers will give a serious look to the much less expensive – but no less beautiful – Ionian islands.
We have been to two Ionian islands: Corfu and Lefkada.
This post is about how you can experience the beauty of Lefkada Island on a budget if you are willing to use public transportation, eat some really good pizza, and keep an open mind.
Lefkada Island on a budget
We went in September when summer vacationers had left but the sun was still strong and the water was warm enough to swim.
Let’s get to it!
This blue beauty was my personal favorite.
Kathisma Beach is on the west side of Lefkada Island. Its sand is course with tons of rocks and large boulders. The beach is backed by cliffs, and it faces open sea. The water rivals the blues of the Caribbean Sea.
Paragliders jump from the cliffs, sailboats skirt the horizon, and the blues at this beach simply hypnotized me. I stared and stared, and stared and stared. And stared.
Here’s an example of getting to this beach from the main town – which has the same name as the island – on a budget.
We took the public bus from Lefkada to Kathisma Beach. This bus trip cost 2 euros per person, each way. That’s it!
But note, in late September when we went, there are fewer buses that leave from Lefkada because it’s no longer the high season. The upside is that there were fewer tourists on this gorgeous beach.
If you go outside of high season, be sure to check the schedule at the main bus stop. It’s located in the center of Lefkada where the old town meets the newer area, at the end of the pedestrian street. (Or, use the bus station, which is outside the old town area.)
Our bus was not full at that time of year, but I can imagine the crowds during high season.
Oh – and the bus station when you get to Kathisma Beach is not a traditional bus station… take a look:
We took another day trip on the island to Nidri. And again, we got there by the public bus for just a couple of euros each.
Nidri has a tame beach as it’s on the east side of the island, shielded by land from open sea. The town is cute.
Nidri is a magnet for sailboats and vacationers who rent places throughout the quaint small town. Popular nearby island tours are organized from here.
We had a cloudy day in Nidri, so we skipped the boat tour of islands. Instead, we chilled out along the shore. It was a gorgeous day even with drizzle, wind, and clouds because the bay is serene.
Lefkada Island shares the name of the its largest town and gateway to the mainland. The island connects to the mainland with a causeway. The city of Lefkada is a seaside gem with sailboats lined up all around one part of its waterfront, and calm harbor and long waterfront walkway.
The “old town” section of Lefkada is just off the water. It comes alive in the evenings when shopkeepers reopen after a break. (Yes, Greeks take something like a Mexican siesta, and I love that!) Restaurants and cafes are also found in the old town section, but if you are only in Lefkada a short time, I recommend sunset waterfront dining.
Lefkada Island budget tips
As of May 2023, there are some rental options on Airbnb for $750 to $1,000 for monthly rentals, if you are a slow traveler staying a while. There also are many apartment rentals on Airbnb for $50 a night for shorter stays.
We paid about $40 a night for a studio apartment in a prime location in September 2018. We only stayed four nights, because we had to get to Athens for a volunteer commitment.
Dining on Lefkada Island on a budget
A typical meal at a restaurant for two people will be anywhere from $25 to $30 — with just one beer (I don’t drink). If you like wine, up that total. And if you want appetizers and/or dessert, increase that total even more. (*Note, these are 2018 restaurant prices.)
Budget travel tip: for cheat eats, go to Zimis.
This place had great reviews on Trip Advisor. A large pizza, beer, large water came out to $13 before the tip. Not bad for two people. And guess what? We thought it was the best pizza since we’d had in a long time!
Zimi’s website is here.
Getting to Lefkada Island
We’ve already covered getting around the island. Now let’s hit getting there.
If you are coming by plane, you’ll spend a lot more money than we did! As slow travelers, we don’t fly too often. We got to Lefkada from another Ionian island — Corfu. (And we got to Corfu on a ferry from Saranda, Albania.)
We took the ferry from Corfu to Igoumenitsa. That was about $26 for two people. From Igoumenitsa, we took a bus to Lefkada. That cost about $31 for two people.
It was another $50 to get to our next stop after Lefkada. So for our travel plan, it cost us about $100 to get to, and get off of, Lefkada Island.
We thought that was a reasonable price to get onto an Ionian Sea island in Greece. Especially when the destination included such beautiful Ionian Sea blues.
Lefkada Island is such a beautiful place on our planet. Don’t overlook it.