If you’re looking for an exotic vacation destination that will allow you to completely relax and unplug from the hectic pace of daily life, start making plans to visit the Paxi islands. This tiny, remote island set in the northern Ionian Sea is one of the most pristine locations in Greece. With just three main villages—Gaios, Lakka and Loggos—and a handful of smaller ones, Paxos is a place to truly get away from it all.
Best Time to Visit Paxi
Summer is definitely the ideal time to visit Paxos. During this tourism “high season,” all of the island’s shops, restaurants, tavernas and other attractions will be operating at full steam, giving you maximum options for sightseeing and entertainment. The weather will be sunny and hot—perfect for sunbathing, swimming and diving along the island’s beaches. Due to the island’s size and remote nature, summer crowds will be much more manageable than most of the other popular Greek islands, such as Santorini and Mykonos.
Getting to Paxos
At just over 12 square miles, the island doesn’t have an airport, so the only way to get there is by ferry from Corfu, a larger island approximately seven nautical miles north of Paxos. During the busy summer tourist season, many airlines offer direct flights from major European cities to Corfu, but during the low season, travelers typically have to fly in from Athens. Upon arriving in Corfu, you’ll need to take a taxi to the New Port to catch a hydrofoil or ferry to Paxos. One-way trips usually take 60 to 90 minutes and cost 10 to 20 euros.
Places to Stay in Paxos
As the island’s capital city and main port, Gaios offers visitors the most options for lodging, dining and other activities. However, hotels and private villas are also available in Lakka and Loggos.
Paxos Beach Hotel (Gaios)
Offering rooms, suites and bungalows, Paxos Beach Hotel sits on a hillside overlooking the brilliant blue Ionian Sea. Built from local stone and surrounded by olive and pine trees, the complex is a peaceful coastal oasis complete with restaurant, swimming pool, private beach access, tennis court, children’s playground and even miniature golf. All rooms include air conditioning, sea views, refrigerator, television and coffee station.
Adamantia Hotel (Gaios)
The spacious apartment-style accommodations at the Adamantia Hotel provide both privacy and flexibility for guests. The 12 stone houses blend traditional Ionian architecture with modern comfort, and the property is less than a mile from the beach. All cottages have their own private terrace and can comfortably sleep two to six adults. Amenities include air conditioning, small fridge, satellite TV, free Wi-Fi and hydromassage shower.
Bella Vista Villas and Suites (Gaios)
Perched on a hillside and surrounded by olive trees, this recently refurbished property features a sparkling Olympic-size pool, garden and playground. Every villa’s messonaite-apartment includes a full kitchen with cookware and utensils, air conditioning, toaster, coffee station, flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi.
Ilios Hotel (Lakka)
Boasting incredible views of the turquoise sea, this family-owned hotel in Lakka was recently renovated to deliver the highest-quality accommodations and service to its guests. Standard rooms are equipped with soothing light-wood furniture and soundproof windows to ensure a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. Amenities include air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV, fridge, Wi-Fi and free breakfast, making this hotel an outstanding value for travelers. Several studio apartments are also available for larger groups or longer stays; these include a kitchenette and private patio or balcony along with the standard amenities.
Kanoni Beach Apartments (Lakka)
The three apartments, villa and studio that make up the Kanoni Beach Apartments complex all feature private terraces with excellent sea views along with a seating area, kitchenette and air conditioning. The property includes a pool, communal BBQ area and free parking.
Glyfada Beach Villas (Loggos)
Nestled in a verdant valley on Paxos’ east coast near Loggos, the Glyfada Beach Villas feature beautiful sea views in a quiet setting. Surrounded by olive groves, the villas are within walking distance of both Monodendri and Glyfada beaches, and two onsite swimming pools provide additional options for recreation and relaxation. Each of the 17 villas include air conditioning, sitting room and kitchenette with sink, refrigerator and coffee station. Comfortable furnishings, large windows and stone floors complete these elegant accommodations.
How Long to Stay in Paxos
Given its small size, activities on Paxos are somewhat limited, so if you’re the kind of traveler who loves constantly exploring and seeing new things, you’ll probably want to limit your stay to four or five days before hopping to another island or visiting the mainland. However, if you’re simply looking for a peaceful place to relax and decompress in a stunning natural setting, you could easily spend a week or more here.
Getting Around Paxos
With most of the activity on Paxos concentrated in the three main town centers, you can easily see many of the island’s sights on foot. To travel among the villages, the island’s five taxi services are relatively inexpensive, and all of the drivers speak English. The public bus system’s routes run between Lakka and Gaios with a stop in Loggos, but if you want to see the smaller villages, you’ll need to take a taxi or rent a bicycle. This site is a good resource for information about transportation on Paxos.
Things to Do on Paxos
Named for St. Gaius, who arrived on the island in the first century A.D. to share the newly-founded Christian faith, Gaios is the island’s capital city and main port. It’s also the hub for most of the island’s shops, restaurants, government services and utilities.
- City Square: Life in Gaios is centered around the city’s main square, which is home to an Orthodox church as well as a number of cafés and bars. The square faces the harbor, which in summer is filled with luxury yachts and smaller vessels from around the world. Just across the water is the Venetian Castle on Agios Nikolaos island, although it’s difficult to see due to the thick grove of trees surrounding it.
- Beaches: The town beach is a short walk from the main square, but it’s relatively small; for more space to spread out, consider catching a taxi or taking a slightly longer walk north to Kioni Gouli, Kamini or Kaki Langada beaches. Be aware that most of the beaches on Paxos are covered with large pebbles, not the fine sand typically associated with a trip to the beach. The only sandy beach on Paxos is Mongonissi, which is accessible via the coastal road heading south from Gaios.
- Water Sports: Paxos is surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea, making it an excellent place for snorkeling and scuba diving. Boat rentals are available at the harbor, and fishing is also a popular activity.
- Shopping: The village has several supermarkets as well as a handful of bakeries and butcher shops for purchasing provisions if you plan to prepare meals in your villa or apartment. You can browse for souvenirs and other goods at a wide variety of shops, including clothing boutiques, jewelers and hardware stores.
- Walking Tours: Paxos is a very pedestrian-friendly island, with a broad range of routes from Gaios to reach both inland and coastal destinations. Paths through bucolic olive groves take you toward the center of the island to reach the charming hamlets of Fanariotatika, Veliantatika and Zenebisatika, while the coastal roadways lead you to the beaches immediately north and south of the city.
- Folklore Museum: Located in the old British Government House, the museum features exhibits of traditional clothing, coins, tools, furniture and more, all donated by the island’s residents.
Located at the island’s northernmost tip is Lakka, a former fishing village with a horseshoe-shaped bay.
- Nightlife: Lakka is the nightlife hub of the tiny island, with a few clubs and bars available for locals and visitors who like to stay out late dancing and listening to live music.
- Beaches: Just a few minutes’ walk from the town center, Harami Beach features gentle slopes that make it especially friendly to families with children. Orkos and Lakkos beaches are also within reasonable walking distance; Monadendri Beach, which offers free water sports and lounge chairs, is a short car ride away.
- Diving: OASI SUB is a full-service diving center in Lakka that offers equipment rentals, diving excursions, instructional courses and more.
- Tavernas: Lakkas features a large concentration of tavernas offering primarily Greek and Italian food; most are located along the harbor or in the main square.
On the east coast of the island, Loggos is the smallest of the three main towns and features excellent views of the Greek mainland. Also a former fishing village, the town retains much of its old-world charm thanks to the pastel-hued houses that line the harbor, and its defunct soap factory and weathered windmills have set the scene for several movies and TV shows set in Greece.
- Beaches: Several shingle beaches sit within walking distance of Loggos, including Levrechio, Marmari and Kipos, all with clear aquamarine water perfect for swimming and diving.
- Water Sports: Loggos has a wide selection of small crafts for rent, including motor boats, dinghies, kayaks and canoes.
- Walking: Several beaches and small villages are accessible via tree-lined footpath from Loggos, including Kipiadi Beach and the tiny hamlets of Dendiatika and Apergatika. If you’re up for a longer stroll, head toward the rocky cliffs of Eremitis on the island’s west coast for breathtaking views across the sea to the island of Corfu.
Located along the island’s public bus route, Magazia is a quaint village that’s home to several interesting historical sites, including a few ancient wells and cisterns and three graves dating back to 600 B.C. Just outside the village, the Olive Press Museum features an original stone press from the mid-19th century that remains operable today.
You’ll step back in time when you visit Fontana, one of the smallest villages on Paxos. You can admire the lovely old houses and town church, get a bite to eat at one of the charming tavernas and stroll the rustic streets for a brief escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
This tiny sister island to Paxos is just two square miles in area, but its vast sandy beaches and shimmering blue waters draw thousands of visitors each year. Speedboat taxis travel frequently between Paxos and Antipaxos, making the diminutive island a perfect place for a day of swimming and lounging on the beach. Bring a sturdy pair of shoes for navigating the rolling hills through the orchards, vineyards and gardens and climbing the rocky cliffs at Radovani Beach.
Places to Eat in Paxos
Paxos is home to a few dozen restaurants and tavernas, most of which are concentrated in the three main towns, although smaller villages typically have at least a taverna or two if you find yourself in need of sustenance while out and about.
Best Breakfast in Paxos
Giappy Café on the harbor in Lakka is a delightful place for enjoying a light breakfast or sweet treat. The menu includes coffee, fresh juices and smoothies, sweet and savory crepes and waffles as well as lunch sandwiches and wraps.
Best Lunch in Paxos
Enjoy some of the best views in Gaios when you visit Genesis, a modern Mediterranean restaurant that sits directly on the arbor adjacent to the famous “Green Man” statue. The extensive menu includes fresh seafood, grilled meats and traditional favorites like moussaka and risotto. End lunch on a sweet note with classic loukoumades (Greek doughnuts with honey and walnuts) and a cappuccino.
Best Dinner in Paxos
Located in Gaios, Carnayo emphasizes quality over quantity, with a brief menu of Mediterranean-influenced dishes centered around local flavors and influences. The upscale stone-and-wood interior creates a cozy environment for enjoying specialties like ceviche made with freshly-caught Ionian seafood, local limpet risotto and lamb keftiko—spit-roasted lamb, grilled vegetables and feta cheese baked in flaky, buttery phyllo dough. The wine list includes a well-rounded selection of local and international varieties, and everything from bread to sauces is prepared fresh in-house.
Best Dessert in Paxos
The friendly staff at Gelato Italiano in Lakka serve up creative flavors of freshly-churned gelato, ice cream and frozen yogurt—the perfect refreshment for a warm summer day spent on the beach.
Top Photo Spots in Paxos
- Tripitos Arch: This unusual rock formation on the island’s southwest coast is actually the remnant of an ancient sea cave; today, it’s a stunning 60-foot stone arch surrounded by bright turquoise water. The terrain is a bit rough, but the arch is actually wide enough to walk across, leading to magnificent views of both the rugged cliffs and the seemingly endless sea.
- Agios Nikolaos Islet: This lush green islet across the port in Gaios is crowned by a Venetian castle built in 1423, although you’ll need to take a boat to the islet to see it amid the thick tree cover.
- Analipsi Church: Unlike the whitewashed churches of the Cyclades, this modest structure in Gaios features a rust-colored exterior and a single bell tower and contains several interesting frescoes.
- Kipiadi Beach: Get here before sunrise to capture the brilliant golds, oranges and pinks that explode across the sky each morning. The tranquil sea and the olive groves that line the beach frame the scene handsomely.
- Loggos Harbor: The candy-colored buildings that line the harbor and the lush green hills behind it make for a striking photo.
While glamorous Cycladian islands like Santorini and Mykonos get most of the headlines, Paxos is a peaceful and picturesque island escape and one of the best-kept secrets in Greece. If you want a relaxing seaside vacation without crowds and constant activity, consider planning a stay in Paxos.