Tiny Paxos is one of the cluster of Ionian islands off the west coast of Greece. It’s a haven of brilliant blue seas and secluded bays. Paxos holidays are all about relaxing with family and friends: swimming, sunning and exploring in a timeless Greek setting. So that’s just what we did! Here’s our guide to things to do on a family trip to Paxos island.
- Crystal clear blue sea
- Hidden beaches
- Boating and snorkelling
- Venetian influence
- Greek island living
Who went Nancy, Nick 20 and Ed 18
Where Paxos, one of the Ionian islands of Greece
When early September 2017
Nancy: we flew Ryanair from Stansted to Kerkyra, Corfu, overnighted in Corfu Town then transferred to Paxos island the following morning. On the return we left Paxos in the morning and took an afternoon BA flight back to London Heathrow.
Ionian Villas arranged our Paxos villa holiday including accommodation and transfers to and from Corfu to Paxos island. We booked our flights online.
Things to do on Paxos island
After a busy summer we all wanted some rest and relaxation before autumn and the new university term. Authentic Greek island sunshine sounded perfect! I’d heard lots about Paxos holidays and we arranged to meet up with friends who happened to be going out there too. Here are our favourite things to do on a family trip to Paxos.
R and R in a postcard-pretty Greek setting
Yes, this was our view and this actually is the colour of the sea around Paxos island. It sparkles like crystal and ombres from palest turquoise to inky indigo blue.
Unlike Corfu, its near neighbour, little Paxos is slightly off the beaten track where tourists are concerned. One of a sprinkling of islands in the Ionian sea, it lies to the west of mainland Greece. It doesn’t have an airport so the only way to get there is by boat. For visitors from Britain this extra leg of the journey generally means a flight to Corfu and an overnight stay in Corfu Town before the short sea crossing to Paxos.
This is a bonus! Paxos is a gem of an island which has retained its laidback charm because the majority of visitors to Greece stick to the islands with airports. Corfu Town was busy when we passed through but an hour or so later we were relaxing in the peaceful shade of an olive tree with our toes in the turquoise sea.
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There’s a strong Venetian influence in Paxos. The Venetians arrived uninvited in the 1400s and ruled the Ionian islands for centuries. They left their mark in the elegant buildings around the tiny harbours and in the thousands of ancient olive trees which cover the island. These gnarled trunks are a hallmark of Paxos island, lining the dusty little roads between hamlets and framing enticing glimpses of sparkling blue sea.
Nobody comes to Paxos for the shopping or the nightlife. There aren’t any bustling beach resorts or designer boutiques and the handful of hotels are low key and tucked away. Most people stay in villas, apartments or the boats they’ve sailed up in. A couple of mega yachts poised off shore during our stay – but that was as glamorous as it got.
Which was just how we liked it. Paxos is for slow living and simple pleasures with your favourite people.
We stayed in a villa just above Lakka, the most northerly of Paxos’ three coastal villages. Set on a horseshoe bay it’s a haven for sailing boats which adds to its postcard-perfect charm.
Lakka is a two-bakery Greek village! A handful of little streets lead to the harbour, punctuated by shady squares with cafe tables. A shiny pharmacy and recently installed ATM combine effortlessly with more traditional Greek sights like cats snoozing in doorways and brightly painted taverna chairs.
We loved Lakka’s relaxed friendly atmosphere. Plus there’s the sense that daily life goes on – this village isn’t just for the visitors.
Lakka has two small beaches. Harami lay just beneath our villa so we visited lots of times.
It’s a quiet strip of smooth white pebbles, fringed with olive trees. At the water’s edge the pebbles give way to sloping sand so we could hop straight into the sea and swim without any stony paddling.
The shady taverna serves food and drinks all day and offers sunbeds too.
Just south of Lakka lies another harbourside village, and another appealing jumble of tavernas around a pretty harbour.
We didn’t spend long in Loggos but we were lucky enough to catch the arrival of the local bus.
Which negotiated the quayside with breathtaking precision!
There are lots of lovely tavernas here by the way, our friends recommend Vasilis on the waterfront.
Gaios is the capital of Paxos but don’t go expecting a big town by mainland standards. It’s a charming little port with a harbour and main square.
This is the place for excursion boats and the sea-taxis that whisk across the strait to the tiny island of Anti Paxos. Bigger boats from the mainland and Corfu dock at the new port, out of sight.
There are plenty of tavernas to choose from and shops to browse for wine, Paxos olive oil, sticky cakes or shady hats for the beach. We all met up one evening and strolled out of town past the Green Man statue that honours a Greek Resistance hero.
And perched on some rocks to catch the last of the sun.
On the way we saw a couple of tiny pebble beaches but the organised beach at Morgonissi is just a short drive away.
Mongonissi is a sheltered bay at the southern point of Paxos with, whisper it, a manmade sandy beach. There are kayaks, pedaloes and SUPs to hire. So this was bound to happen:
Discover the best beaches in Paxos
Pretty bays and little coves punctuate the east coast of Paxos. Some are hidden and best accessed by sea, others can be reached by car or on foot.
Monodendri, just east of Lakka, is famous for Ben’s Bar where straw parasols and soothing Latin sounds set the scene. It’s a pretty white pebble beach with a bar and taverna if you decide to spend the day.
The little cove of Lakkos is nearby but a bit less accessible. On the afternoon that the boys and I visited the only other people there had arrived by boat.
Hire a boat
Ok we didn’t do this. We spent too much time lazing around the pool, planning the next meal and catching up on everyone’s news. But a little self-drive boat looks like the perfect way to access the most beautiful east coast beaches on Paxos.
A boat gives freedom to roam and anchor where you will. A boat hire company in Loggos offers on the spot training.
Take a sea taxi to Anti Paxos
We all caught the sea taxi from Gaios quayside one morning to visit Antipaxos. The two main beaches offer a bewitching combination of fine white sand, Caribbean-blue seas and lovely tavernas.
Watch the sun set
The best place to catch the sunset on Paxos is on the west coast at Erimitis bay. There’s a bar and restaurant with a grandstand view of the setting sun and its reflections on the white cliffs.
But we had our own sunset just a couple of minutes away from our villa, to the west of an old lighthouse. By car we could drive right down to rocky Plani beach where the waves crashed and a handful of people gathered on the huge flat slabs of rock to watch the sun go down.
It’s a wild beach, not somewhere for swimming, but suitably dramatic for sunset viewing.
Find a villa by the sea
Since the island is just seven miles long and two miles wide I thought we owed it to ourselves to find a villa with a sea view. Luckily this isn’t hard on Paxos but we still reckon we found the perfect place to stay. Villa Avra has a pool with the view of Lakka bay.
A pretty beach and taverna lie at the bottom of a path through the olive terraces. The village is a short stroll away along the beach.
For all-round convenience coupled with seclusion I think it would be hard to find a better position on Paxos. Check out our post on our Paxos villa and decide for yourself. In the meantime, brand new Avra with its deep blue views, spacious terrace and speedy broadband is available through Ionian Villas. It sleeps four to five and I suspect it’s going to be a favourite!
Getting to Paxos
Corfu to Paxos We caught the elderly hydrofoil from Corfu Town to Gaios on Paxos island. The journey takes one hour and costs around 20 euros each way. The regular ferries take longer or, to do the trip in style, you can hire a sea taxi. Whatever you decide if you book your stay with Ionian Villas their island manager will organise tickets and an itinerary to suit.
Car hire Paxos It’s worth having a car for part of the holiday at least. Paxos has a couple of good roads running north to south, although ‘good’ doesn’t necessarily mean they have pavements, kerbs or even road markings! We found that once we turned off the main roads we were soon in single track territory with few signposts. Over the course of the week we identified certain landmarks: Chicken Corner, the one with the gravelly hairpin bend and the flock of hens wandering across it and Goat Hill: self-explanatory!
The boys and I arranged our Paxos villa holiday accommodation, transfers and hire car with Ionian Villas, click here to go to their website
I loved the fact that this is a family-run specialist villa company. Based in the UK, the Watrous family have an in-depth knowledge and love of the islands coupled with years of experience in the travel industry. They have a great selection of Paxos villas and carefully select every house and apartment on their books. Ionian Villas offers a truly personalised service: they will advise on destinations and can tailor-make itineraries to allow flexibility in arrival dates to suit flights or two-centre holidays.
Their charming and efficient on-island managers, Dimitris Aronis and his father, run an agency in Lakka and oversee their Paxos villas. Dimitris emailed us in advance and, according to needs, he can arrange meet and greet services, transfers, car hire, villa cooks and hampers. This on-the-spot expertise smoothes over concerns about transfers to Paxos island or co-ordinating flights and boats. We popped into their office several times as we passed by to ask for tips and say hello to Pongo the office dog.
Disclosure: Ionian Villas hosted our stay in one of their Paxos villas in return for coverage of our trip. This post is entirely my own thoughts and opinions.
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