Lefkada Trail day 1 Lefkada Town to Nikiana

This walk runs from Lefkada Town main square to the small harbour of Nikiana. It takes in the pretty mountain village of Katouna about half way (there are tavernas there and both ends). The trail is inland in the hills above the coast for most of its route. This way you are walking along unsurfaced tracks for much of the route and completely away from the busy coastal highway. You also get some fantastic views.

14.5km
480m ascent
Moderate.

View in Gaia GPS >
Download GPX route >

Accommodation and tavernas in both Lefkada Town, Katouna and Nikiana.

Frequent bus runs between Nikiana (from Nidri) and Lefkada Town.

Day 1 of the 80km Lefkada Trail.
Days [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

The trail is the first part of the Lefkada Trail. Also great as a one-way hike getting a bus or taxi back to Lefkada Town. It is easy walking underfoot and there is a fair amount of shade with taverna just over half way. It makes a good hot-day walk if you start early. In winter it is good for low-cloud days.

The trail starts from Lefkada main square. Go through the small streets towards the marina. At the main roundabout take the turn past the schools and then out towards the Nidri road. When you pass Lidl go right a short way to a small road going left beside a car wash. You leave leave urban for olive groves and hills.

After 200m take a track off left

After about 200m take a track off left. Keep right as this climbs up the hill. After about 1km the track turns into a surfaced but very quiet road. You start to get views across the Inland Sea and to mountains beyond. You are walking past the site of the ancient city of Nirikos founded in 2000BC, now mostly stones in the trees. Parts of the wall and a theatre have been excavated but currently closed to the public. After 1km keep straight on then join a another road going left.

Passing a very pretty church of Ag. Nikolaos

The road climbs the hill with hairpin bends. It passes the very pretty Ag. Nikolaos church and then traverses along the fir-clad hills of northern Lefkada. The road keeps changing between unsurfaced and concrete (usually on the steep bits). After 1.5km there is a road going left by a brown sign in Greek pointing back the way you came. Take the road left descending the hill.

Brown sign pointing back the way you came – turn left.

After a hairpin right there is a track going off right just as the road hairpins left again. Take that track. Descend through the trees ignoring turnings to the bottom of the valley. The track meets another coming down the valley along a delightful stream. Keep left downstream. You join another track and cross a ford. Then continue on the other bank going downstream. The trail forks right crossing the stream once more over a concrete bridge. Just 40m past the bridge take the second path right going up the hill.

Climb up through fine pine and olive trees

Climb following the path, through fine pine and olive trees, going generally up, ignoring side turnings servicing olive groves. After 0.5km you meet a concrete road. Turn right going gently uphill for 150m to where a monopati turns sharp left back up the hill. Climb the wonderful monopati to Katouna village.

Wonderful monopati goes up to Katouna

The monopati joins the road towards the village main square. At a sign to Karia and Lazarata this trail will go straight on, but first go left into the square and three tavernas. One is open all year closing only during afternoon in winter.

Katouna village square with tavernas

Return to the trail going left and follow the road up through the pretty village. Keep straight on climbing until you get to a large disused building with several large eucalyptus trees outside (which you can see ahead as you come through the village). Keep right then left keeping the building and trees to your immediate left. Just past the building turn right at the slightly staggered cross roads. The track is now unpaved saved for a few concrete sections past villas. As it starts to descend you see your destination at Nikiana port ahead. Skaros mountain, to the right behind the port, is your target tomorrow.

Nikiana port with Skaros mountain to right

Keep right at the first fork near building plots. Leave villas behind and descend the track about 1km to a turn off sharp right. Go right as the track becomes grassier. After another 1km go left at a T junction. After a concrete section down a steep hill go second right down the small valley.

Turn second right down the small valley

Keep going straight on past some villas. The track joins a tarmac road over a bridge. Turn left and walk along the road following the stream until you reach the main Lefkada-Nidri road. Turn right and go a short distance around the bay into Nikiana along the wide verge. Take care as some cars go very fast. There are good swimming beaches around the bay followed by shops, tavernas and hotels along the road and in the small port.

Nikiana port

An alternative to the short section of main road is to go right as you first join the smaller tarmac road. Walk about 1km to a T junction and then go left into Nikiana. This goes past quite a few compounds with noisy dogs.

After a rest in the tavernas you can return to your base – there are frequent buses running between Nidri and Lefkada town that stop near the port. Or stay in one of the hotels in Nikiana if on the The Lefkada Trail and tomorrow you set up Skaros on day 2 Nikiana to Karya.

If on The Lefkada Trail then there are also options to stop in Katouna overnight.

Mellisa Gorge Loop

Walk down into the delightful Mellisa Gorge in the hills above Lefkada town. This gorge is frequently mentioned in guides to Lefkada as a great place for a shady walk beside a stream in the impressive Mellisa Gorge – and indeed it is. However the path through the gorge itself is in extreme disrepair and most of the wood bridges are rotting and very dangerous. Hence you can’t safely traverse into the deepest part of the gorge. But this trail takes you to all the safe parts of the gorge and adds a loop up and back through Kavalos village to make a circular walk.

If you want an alternative gorge have a look at the Klousouria Gorge on the other side of the island.

Map data ©OpenStreetMap contributors, SRTM
Map style ©OpenTopoMap (CC-BY-SA)

7.8km
330m ascent
Moderate (Easy if you just visit the gorge and return)

View in Gaia GPS >
Download GPX route >

Many hotels, tavernas and shops in Lefkada town.

There are several walks in the gorge and valley – a nice one starting from Lefkada village. Unfortunately none of the paths in the gorge link up so you need to walk into the gorge from different directions. This trail takes in the best bits (at least as far as safety allows).

You need a car or taxi to reach the start of the trail. You could take the Karia bus from Lefkada town and get off at the monument, and then walk the 3km to the start.

Drive up the road out of Lefkada town towards Lazarata. About half way up there is a monument on the right hand side (commemorating the 1819 uprising against the British). Immediately in front of the monument is a narrow road going right. Follow the twisty road for 3.5km until an unsurfaced track goes downhill on the right signposted to the Mellisa Gorge. Park here without blocking the road or other tracks. A few drivers go a little down the track to park, but it is pretty rough for a car.

Start of the trail down to the Mellisa Gorge. Park here without blocking the road or track.

Head down the track going left at the first fork and then keeping on going down the hill. After a few hundred metres you reach a stream with a collapsed wooden shelter followed by a wood arch across the track. More interestingly on the left are signs of an ancient cave that has collapse leaving old stalactites on the cliff wall.

Cliff wall of old collapsed cave system.

Carry on down through the wooded valley down to the start of the gorge. Here is a stone shelter and wooden fences indicating the start of the “official” gorge hike. The gorge runs left and right with dead-ends at the end of the path for each.

Path through the Mellisa Gorge with collapsed hand rail.

First take the path to the left going up the gorge. The narrow stone-surfaced path follows the banks of a lovely stream gently climbing through trees. There used to be a wood handrail but this has almost all collapsed. However the path is easy and the biggest danger is tripping on one of the remaining metal supports. Go a few hundred metres until the path joins a track and then terminates in a grassy area. Good for a rest or picnic. Afterwards retrace your steps back down the path.

On returning to the stone shelter keep left as the stone-surfaced path heads this time downstream. Again, go a few hundred metres as the gorge starts to get narrower and steeper. You meet a track fording the stream and heading off into a valley up to the left (you will go up this track in a moment). The stone-surfaced path heads down into the gorge proper and starts to get very narrow and steep. However the path crosses over increasingly high wooden bridges over the gorge and back again – all of which are in serious disrepair. The wood floorboards are all rotting and several have already broken leaving big gaps. We recommend going no further down the gorge as it is just too dangerous. We will watch to see if they get repaired and update this trail accordingly.

The bridges are now too dangerous to cross – especially where they get higher.

If you came just to see the gorge, go back to the track you came down and hence back to your car. If you are up for the the full loop, head back only as far as that valley that went off left, now right as you are now looking the other way :-). Walk up the track climbing this lovely tree-lined valley.

The start of the valley leading away from the gorge.

Follow the track running up the base of the valley. You pass a huge quarry cliff face up on the right. Ignore the tracks heading into this quarry. Shortly after the track ends in a grassy area. Follow an indistinct path going right straight up the steep hill – just to the left of a small gully filled with thick vegetation.

Head up the steep bank to the left of the thick vegetation

After about 100m the path becomes much clearer before becoming a track zig-zagging up the steep slope. Ignore tracks leading off into olive groves and keep to the main track continuing upwards. After a long climb the track meets a surfaced road. Head left along this road.

Views back across Mellisa Gorge to Lefkada town and mainland

The road climbs, a little less steeply, around the gorge top around to the pretty village of Kavallo. You get great views across the gorge and down to Lefkada town and the mainland beyond. As you approach the village there is a crossroads (or double fork) on the saddle of a hill; take the left turn ahead. Heading into the village you can either keep to the road or take a short track running around to the left – both end up in the village. Once in the village you pass the village church with a distinctive metal lattice bell tower.

Church bell tower in Kavallo

Just after the church, there is a turning off left marked back to the “Mellisa Gorge”. You will turn left down this road, but first walk 50m further past the junction where there is a small taverna on the right. After refreshment head back to the Mellisa Gorge road.

Turn to “Mellisa Gorge” in Kavallo village

The road starts to head back down around the other side of the gorge. It is down hill all the way from here. After going round a few bends, just after passing a cemetery on the right, there is a further turning left again marked towards the gorge. Go down this road as it starts to descend more steeply. After winding down through several olive groves, and passing an old stone watermill on the left, it eventually reaches the track where this trail started.