Serenity Retreat, Greece
About Lefkada Island
About Lefkas Town
About Food and Eating Out
A Great Island Experience
Nikiana is our beach-side solos' holidays base on Lefkada island, in Greece. All rooms have a direct sea-view and are right on the beach. We chose it as it's ideally located to either hop on a bus into town, or to forget that the world at large exists. It's a happy by-product of our history (we've been here since 2010) that we now know a lot of the locals and before our welcome meal we have a little wander round and you'll get introduced to some of the characters. After all, if you want know something about Greece it's nice to be able to ask a Greek.
Serenity Retreat Greece is designed for you if you are:
- Holidaying alone, or with a friend but in separate accommodations. All our rooms and apartments are for sole occupancy only.
- Looking for 'right on the beach' acccommodation with sea views (at no extra cost). We do mean RIGHT on the beach. Sleeping with the sound of the sea, nothing between your accommodation and the beach....
- Wanting the option of taking part in a course that doesn't cost the earth or eat too much into your relaxing time
- Wanting to reach your holiday destination with the minimum of fuss (more relaxing, less travelling)
- Looking for a self-reflective and meditative Time Out
- Looking to meet like-minded people
- Wanting the option of some pampering: massages and facials - all on-site at reasonable prices (40 euros an hour)
- A solo holiday maker for the first time (we'll look after you!) or an experienced solo traveller
Please note - it's impossible to get all the trips done, be massaged to within an inch of your life, do all your relaxing AND do a course in a week. Best you come for two ....
2020 will be our eleventh season in Nikiana and 58% of our guests in 2019 were returners. The friendliness of the locals is definitely one of the attractions. The gorgeous views, the fabulous food and the fact that the place is small enough not to get lost but big enough to wander off for a bit also seem to be factors.
Nikiana has crystal clear waters, great sunbathing, affordable food and a great feel about it. We'd really love you to come and see for yourselves.
Courses run every week - they are not mandatory, they're an optional extra and mostly donation-based. They are designed with you at their heart. We aren’t interested in running a boot camp, so courses never start before 10.30am. Our primary focus is to give you some space - physically, mentally and spiritually.
We know that booking your holiday is a big decision and probably one of the most expensive purchases you'll make this year, so we're doing our best to make our Nikiana holidays as simple (and affordable) as possible. We'll provide the framework, you can add the bits that appeal to you.
Don’t want to take part in the organised programme? Just need to chill? That’s ok. The choice will always be yours: solitude, the company of like-minded people, a week’s course or activities, going on trips or all of the above.
Those of us who run the courses are passionate about what we do. We aim to facilitate and to encourage you to gently look within... Serenity is, after all, an inside job :)
The courses are largely by donations (apart from Jane's).
There are some fabulous (we think) hand-picked trips:
the MS Christina Boat Trip - a perfect blend of lying down and sunbathing, swimming, local history and visiting tiny islands.
Secret Lefkas - a cultural trip taking you to a local vineyard, olive press, church and harbour, explaining the Greek traditions and customs.
Lefkas Highlights - taking you to the island's most famous monastery, a village on the west coast and then into the mountain heartland. A lovely way to see more of the island.
Sunset and Stars - Mooring up on Gerikas beach where there is minimal light polution, this trip takes guests on a guided tour through the heavens, coming to learn the Greek and Roman history behind the stars. It's a one of a kind experience. Please note that this trip normally starts at the end of May and is at the mercy of the moon (a full moon is no good!) and cloud cover so not guaranteed every week.
Meganissi Hop - An afternoon over on the island of Meganissi. Your choice whether you wander up to the village of Spartohori or relax by the beach in a beautiful bay.
Aris' Herbal Walk - a chance to pick the brains of Aris, local herbalist and very lovely person.
They're all optional extras and priced between £12 and £48. We recommend them because we think they represent great value for money and have proven to be really popular, year in - year out.
We also offer a free trip to the waterfalls in Nidri on Fridays for those who can countenance an 8am start!
It's impossible to do all of the trips AND the course - best to come for two weeks :)
Our massage therapist this year is Giota (pronounced Yota). She's a local in Nikiana and was working down the road at a swish hotel but last year she decided to go it alone and join us and we're very happy to have her back this year. She can offer all sorts of massage: sports, deep tissue, relaxing, lymphatic drainage and the world's loveliest back massage. She also offers facial massages and reflexology (both of which are divine, in my opinion - Kim). As with last year we'll charge 40 euros for an hour and 25 euros for half an hour. Giota will also be meeting and greeting you in the village. She's been a great hit since she joined us in 2016 and we're looking forward to having her with us again in 2020.
No one has ever heard of Lefkada and we think that’s a good thing!
The island of Lefkada (or Lefkas as it's also known) is the fourth largest of the Ionian Islands. It’s situated south of Corfu and Paxos and north of Kefalonia and Ithaka.
Linked by a bridge to the mainland, Lefkada is a magical combination of award winning beaches, spectacular mountain forests and verdant, fertile plains. Life in the traditional mountain villages offers a great contrast to the more cosmopolitan areas of Nidri and Lekfas Town.
Serenity Retreat is based in Nikiana for a very good reason. It provides the perfect location to have as much or as little as you like of the ‘outside’ world.
Nikiana is a small harbour village on the eastern coastal road of Lefkada. It has some beautiful beach and harbour-side tavernas as well as pizzerias, coffee shops, a couple of bakeries, a Greek fast food outlet (gyros), a choice of supermarkets, a souvenir/clothes shop, a butcher's, an ATM and a pharmacy.
The village is on the coast between Nidri and Lefkas Town (15 minutes to either by car or bus). There is a regular bus service that runs to both towns during the day time as well as further south to the picturesque village of Sivota and the windsurfing centre of Vassilliki. Taxis to either Nidri or Lefkas Town cost in the region of 10 – 13 Euros. So you can enjoy the livelier environments of the towns and come back to the peace and quiet of the village, alternatively don’t leave the village!
Nikiana has a couple of quiet beaches with crystal clear waters and safe swimming. They are (on the whole) pebbly, although there is one sandy beach a short walk from the apartments. Watching the mountains of the Greek mainland turn red as the sun sets is a great way to enjoy dinner in one of the sea side tavernas.
The main town of Lefkada (Lefkas Town but also known as Lefkada!) is charming and quaint. It’s a great place to spend a few leisurely hours wandering through the pedestrianised main street and browsing the curio shops and the craft shops that the town has to offer.
There are plenty of opportunities to sit and enjoy a coffee or lunch and the main square is a fantastic place to watch the world go by. It’s a mish mash of architectural styles but all the more charming for it. Definitely worth a visit (if you have the energy!).
We go there as a group on Tuesday evening so that you can become acquainted with it and then you have plenty of time to make your own way there during the rest of the week, should you feel the urge for some retail therapy or just a coffee in the square.
Food and Eating Out
Breakfast ingredients can be bought from any of the local supermarkets - pop into Thannasis' grocers for the tastiest fresh fruit and veg. There's also a good range of breakfasts at one of the local cafes - Apico, on the harbour.
If you’re on a tight budget you can make sandwiches quite cheaply for lunch. All the rooms have fridges. All of our accommodations are self catering so you’re guaranteed some light self catering facilities if you don't fancy eating out.
There are plenty of places to eat in Nikiana: fish restaurants, pizzerias, fast food, home style tavernas. You could go somewhere different every night if you wanted to in June and early September. May is a little more limited in terms of choice (but beautifully quiet), and in late September and October there are usually about three tavernas open - so still a choice.
Vegetarian, vegan, wheat, dairy or sugar free eating - you can find dishes in restaurants that cater for all types of eating – some more easily than others although you may end up eating a lot of the same thing (especially if you have an intolerance to onions and garlic...)
This will give you an idea of what's on offer, but is not exhaustive - d (dairyfree), veg (vegetarian), v (vegan
Greek salad - veg
Greek salad without feta - d, veg, v
Stuffed Tomatoes - d, veg, v
Tzatziki - veg
Big Beans (Gigantes) - d, veg, v
Horta (Green leaves) - d, veg, v
Briam (Vegetables in the oven) - d, veg, v
Courgette Balls - veg
Chips (very very lovely chips) - d, veg, v
Pasta with tomato sauce - d, veg
Cheese Pie - veg
Vegetable Pie - d, veg
Spinach Pie - d, veg
and plenty of fresh fish and meat to choose from. Main meals cost between 5.50 euros (for a Greek salad) to fish which is dependent on weight but can be between 12 and 16 euros.
The food is predominantly Greek with an Italian influence (the Italians and the Greeks come in amazing numbers in the peak season). You won’t get much in the way of ham, egg and chips. Just so you know.
We find that the biggest concern for most travelling solo is eating alone in the evening. We have four organised meet ups, one of which is on the first evening at 7pm (and none of which are compulsory!). Most of our guests end up eating together or in small groups most evenings, although it's certainly not obligatory. We lay the ground rules early on so that if you do choose to be by yourself then that's completely respected. We never split the bill when we eat together either. We only pay for what we have individually ordered - in this way we're being considerate of each other's budgets.