Its atmospheric old bazaar area has a tight-knit set of alleys with a number of fine buildings that have survived from the Ottoman period, including a selection of excellent ouzeris (taverns). Although there are several small museums in town, the main attraction for history buffs is outside: just 8km north is Nikopolis (or ‘Victory City’, as the name translates), which was created under the order of Roman Emperor Octavian (later Emperor Augustus) to commemorate his win over Anthony and Cleopatra’s fleet at nearby Actium in 31BC.
Best of all, less than 20km south lies the region’s undisputed gem, the beautiful Ionian island of Lefkada, which is actually connected to the mainland by a causeway and pontoon bridge. Not overtly touristic except for the resorts of Nydri and Vassiliki, Lefkada is a laid back capital with several important churches, a rugged mountainous interior and a spectacular west coast. Its beaches, sandwiched between dramatic cliffs and the sea, a dazzling palette of milky turquoise blending into deep azure, rival any in Greece.
Lefkada's highly respected International Folklore Festival runs throughout the summer months and attracts theatrical and dance performers from around the world, with events taking place at different venues around town. For more information visit lefkasculturalcenter.gr.
If you catch the ferry timings right, you can take a lovely day trip from Vassiliki in Lefkada to either the very trendy Fiskardo in Kefalonia or the relaxing Frikes in Ithaki.
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