Paradise in Paxos

"An isle under Ionian skies. Beautiful as a wreck of Paradise"
Percy Bysshe Shelle

I so nearly didn't write this post. Why? Well, because I fell in love with Paxos so hard that I didn't want to share it - I am, after all, at heart still the sulky teenager who used to get annoyed if someone started liking a band that I had been coveting. Ridiculous, I know but there it is! Anyway, Paxos is a little piece of paradise. A jewel in the Ionian sea. Just over an hour away from Corfu by ferry, it's small enough to pretty much explore every part of it over a fortnight's holiday and because of its distance from any large land mass, you really do get the sense of being 'away from it all' and isolated in the most positive sense of the word.

Where we stayed

We stayed in a beautiful two bedroomed villa with a view of Lakka harbour that never ceased to be breathtaking.

Converted from old stone farm buildings, Villa Elissa was the perfect base for us to explore the island.

A slightly strenuous walk down to (and an even more strenuous walk up from) the small waterside town of Lakka meant that we didn't have to jump in the car every time we wanted to do a supermarket shop or go for dinner. 

Lakka is a pretty harbour town with bars and restaurants lining the waterfront and even more in the alleys and squares behind. Shops selling hammam towels, woven beach baskets and greek leather sandals jostle with bakeries, mini markets and cats. Lots of cats!

 

There are three pretty pebbly beaches too within a fifteen minute walk - two along from the town itself and one very quiet one behind the villa near the lighthouse. 

What we did

Boat hire - We hired a boat twice during our two week holiday from a place in Lakka. It's best to go down the day before to see what is available and to pay a deposit. Whatever you do, please don't expect it to be a quick, organised process!

On the morning of your hire day, you will need to nominate one person to be shown how the boat works, which route to take, etc. Costs were 70 -100 euros plus fuel costs of about 30 euros.

You can travel around the coast of the whole island in a few hours and make a visit to Anti Paxos too. We grabbed spinach pies and nectarines from Lakka for our lunch and you are provided with a cool box to keep your drinks cool.

The coastline is, of course, stunning with many secluded beaches to stop off at for a snorkel. The Blue Caves aren't far from Lakka on the north east coast and although you are advised not to drop anchor on this stretch, the water is deep enough for you to actually take your boat into the largest cave - it's magical.

Antipaxos - friends had told us to get up early on the day we wanted to visit Antipaxos (a small, unspoilt island 1.5 miles from Paxos) to avoid the worst of the crowds and I'm so glad we did.

There's no need to pre-book the boat from Gaios, we just turned up and managed to get straight on one which dropped us at the first (and most popular) beach - Vikra. We were lucky enough to grab loungers just below Taverna Spiros where we had lunch.

The island is beautiful with turquoise water and white sand to rival the caribbean and you can walk from Vikra to Voutoumi beach via a rocky track (not advisable in Birkenstocks as my husband found out when he sprained his ankle!). We didn't make it as far as the cliff top restaurant, Bella Vista, but as the name suggests, the views from there are meant to be incredible.

Monodendri beach - this was our favourite beach and only a short drive from our villa with easy parking.

Loungers and parasols on the beach or decking area are free as long as you reserve a table at the taverna and drinks can be ordered at the very cool Ben's Bar or brought to your sunbathing spot on the beach.

The beach is pebbly, as are most on Paxos, and the water is crystal clear and perfect for snorkelling. An added bonus is that there are a handful of paddleboards available to use free of charge.

Mongonissi - just along the coast road from Gaios on the south eastern tip, this beach is small and sandy but perfect for young families. There is plenty of parking, loungers to hire and a good beachside restaurant (Mongonissi Beach Restaurant). Kayaks and paddleboards are available to hire, although you can't go too far on them - there are a lot of boats in this stretch of water. Be sure to grab a drink at the very cool Carnayo Gold Lounge Cafe. 

Gaios - as the main town and harbour on the island, Gaios has a definite buzz about it. It has a lovely waterfront lined with restaurants and a maze of shops, bars and tavernas behind, some dotted around pretty squares. Well worth an evening visit for dinner or a morning coffee and a spot of people watching. 

Loggos - this pretty harbour is only a ten minute drive from Lakka and has some good restaurants and bars with a constant hum of chatter. Roxi bar was recommended as a good spot for a sundowner or two but also check out Le Rocher for a cool waterside spot to watch the sun set. 

Paxos Beach Hotel - this hotel is just outside Gaios and is open to non-residents. You just have to pay 5 euros per person but this is refundable if you have lunch at the poolside restaurant.

There are loungers around the pool and also along a short harbour wall with steps straight into the sea.

Crazy golf, tennis and table tennis are also available for a fee. It's a lovely spot for a chilled out day with a book.

Where we ate

Mambo - we ate here twice it was so good! Situated by the water in Gaios with friendly service, Mambo serves the best in greek food - my favourite was the briam, a vegetarian dish of aubergine, courgette and potato in a tomato sauce.

Erimitis -perched on a high cliff top on the west coast, Erimitis is 'the' spot to watch the sun set over the Ionian Sea.

The food is expensive but good value - the tempura prawns were amazing. Alternatively, you could always just go for a pre-dinner cocktail and watch the sun set from the viewing platform.

Ben's Bar - a cool beachside bar (see above) and taverna situated at Monodendri beach. The waiting staff were really friendly (they even recognised us and said 'hi' one morning in Lakka when we were waiting for our hire boat!) and it's in a lovely spot, slightly elevated from the beach offering some welcome shade.

They do the most delicious beetroot salad with an amazingly ferocious garlic oil and they were happy to add some feta to mine. So good! There is a pizza oven and the usual fish dishes and a plate of homemade taramasalata is served with your bread basket.

Averto - not far from Lakka on the road to Gaios is the hamlet of Magazia with a supermarket and tavernas lining the road. We ate lunch at Averto one lunch time on its pretty terrace with views to the distant sea. The service was outstanding and the gravadlax and quinoa salad was a highlight.

Salty and Sweet - not sure about the name (!) but this place is a real gem. Also in Magazia, it's a beautiful stone building with yellow paintwork and seating on a front terrace as well as a shaded courtyard.

We had lunch here and meant to come back for breakfast but never quite made it. Most of the food served is homemade and there is a good selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Their pies come highly recommended.

Taverna Vassilis - this is a nice spot for an evening meal, looking out at Loggos Harbour (and marvelling at how the passing cars don't drive off the narrow road into the water). It has a slightly upmarket feel and although the service was a bit hit and miss, the food was really good.

Stasinos - we ate at quite a few restaurants in Lakka but this was one of my favourites.

Family run with friendly service and a pretty courtyard garden setting. The orange cake was the best thing I ate all holiday!

Arriva - we loved this place with its waterside deck - the food is good and the cocktails even better! It's a great place to sit away from the crowds and people watch until the sun sets on another beautiful day in Lakka.

Getting there

We flew from Bristol to Corfu with Thomas Cook and returned with Easy Jet. 

The hydrofoil journey from Corfu Town to Gaios, Paxos takes just over an hour and costs approx 20 euros per person.

Our car hire was arranged through a local representative and cost around 590 euros for two weeks.

Our villa was booked through Ionian Villas and I received a 10% discount in exchange for mentions on my social media posts and this blog.

Before flying home, we spent two nights in Corfu Town which will be detailed in a separate blog post.

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As ever, thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a comment.

F x

  

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