A tiny and scenic islet of Greece: Meganisi island is a charming place with picturesque beaches and green hills near Lefkada. During summer months boat trips and ferries arrive daily from Lefkada to Meganisi, and make this gem of the Ionian Sea easy accessable. This island is one of the largest islands near the coasts of Lefkada, where the natural sights dominate: sea caves and emerald coloured beaches, surrounded by incredible lush vegetation. The beautiful villages of Spartochori, Vathy and Katomeri have picturesque street views with traditional restaurants and some apartments for stay.
Where to find
Meganisi island is located in Greece, just 1,5 km away from the east coast of Lefkada. Due geographical conditions the island doesn’t have an airport, the nearest airport to this island is Preveza – Aktio International Airport 45 kilometers away. The connection between Meganisi island and the mainland of Greece are provided by ferries and boats, which arrive from Lefkada. The fastest and most important route for travellers and for locals both is travelling by a ferry to Meganisi, which depart daily from Nidri from Spring to Autumn.
Informations about Meganisi, Greece
If you look at the shape of Meganisi island on maps of Greece, you will meet interesting geographical conditions. The north part of the island is quite stout, but the southern part is long and extreme narrow. The landscapes are as various as the shape of the island, where fertile hills, valleys and steep cliffs are the most common. Most of the island’s territory is covered by forests, and the barren heights are rare.
The history of Meganisi is very much related to Lefkada, because for thousands of years these islands were strongly connected to each other. Greek archeologists found ancient coins, sculptures and artworks from Neolithic era, which are now preserved by the Archeological Museum of Lefkada. The island had many conquerors over the centuries, it was under Roman, Venetian, Turkish, French and British rule. After long years of foreign domination Meganisi finally became a part of the united Greece in the year of 1864.
Meganisi island has three small villages, all of these are located in the north: the names of the settlements are from west to east Spartochori, Vathy and Katomeri. The ports of the Meganisi can be find also in the north, where the port of Spartochori (known also as Spilia) and the port of Vathy were constructed. The ferries from Nidri arrives to Spartochori (Spilia), but the distance between the two main ports of Meganisi is just 5 kilometers. There are also some restaurants in the port, known as Porto Spilia Restaurant and Taverna Spilia.
The houses of Spartochori were built on a hill, which lies 1 kilometer away from the port: most of the apartments of the village and some other restaurants are situated also here, such as Tsovolas Grill House and Tropicana. From the heights the views are panoramic to the port.
Vathy, the other significant village of Meganisi were built next to the small port, where the best restaurants are Stavros Restaurant, Errikos Fish Tavern and O Pasas due to the opinions of the guests. Katomeri village has no port, but the town hall, pharmacy and an elementary school are situated here.
The narrow and winding roads are common on the island, where the tourism is much less significant yet, than in Lefkada.
What to see
The best sights of Meganisi are the natural attractions, in first place with the local beaches. The coast of the island is characterized by tiny emerald bays with calm waters, where the sea is crystal clear. The recommended beaches to swim and to snorkel are located in the north, because the narrow southern areas can be reached due the vertical cliffs.
The beaches of Meganisi are slightly organized, where beach bars are open and a few parasols and sunbeds can be rented. The seabed is primarily filled by pebbles and rocks, sandy beaches are not typical. The sea is crystal clear around the island, and there can be find some shallow areas for smaller children. The best beaches of Meganisi are called Ammoglossa beach, Agios Ioannis beach, Nylec beach and Limonari beach. Some of these places can be visited by small boats from Lefkada, if you rent a boat in Nidri or in Desimi.
One of the most famous sights in Meganisi is a sea cave, known as Papanikolis Cave. The sea cave is located in the southern part of the island, and got its name for the Greek submarine Papanikolis. The cave is one the biggest sea caves in Greece, and also the most famous due its history.
The codename of the Papanikolis submarine was Y-2, it was built between 1925-1927. The submarine was one of the most successful naval unit in Hellenic Navy in the years of World War II.: the vessel sunk several enemy ships on her patrols on the Ionian Sea and Aegean Sea. The large sea cave, which became one of the best attractions of Meganisi, was a hiding place for Papanikolis, when the vessel was on patrol.
Papanikolis Cave is a very popular destination for travellers, a lot of excursion boats arrive here from Nidri and from Vasiliki during summer months. If you sail near the coastline of the island, you will meet other interesting sea caves: Papanikolis cave is definitely a large one, but not the only sea cave here!
Meganisi by ferry or by boat
Ferries depart to Meganisi from Lefkada, the ferry station is located in the port of Nidri. The island is connected to Lefkada by ferries well, which depart many times a day from Nidri, especially from May till the end of September. Out of season ferries runs much less between these two islands, but there are also routes in a week, just check the schedules. A trip by a ferry takes 25 – 30 minutes, so this route is quite fast in Greece.
From Nidri there are also options to visit Meganisi for a few hours sightseeing: take a walk in the port and watch the billboards of daily boat trips.
Where to stay
Meganisi island is much calmer than Lefkada, and is recommended for a relaxing holiday. Most of the local apartments and villas are situated in the area of Spartochori and Vathy, where the restaurants, bakeries and mini markets are situated.