Family Destination File: The Ionian Paradise of Paxos

If you and your family are looking for a little piece of the magic of Corfu, you might just find it on the neighboring island of Paxos.


According to Greek myth, Paxos was a piece of Corfu that Poseidon pointed his trident at and catapulted 12 miles into the Ionian Sea. His intent? To create a stunning and serene getaway for himself and his wife Amphitrite to canoodle on.

Indeed, Paxos shares many of the characteristics of its (much) bigger neighbor: from the lush vegetation to the Italian and British influences. Yet the pace of life is much slower here. Paxos remains idyllically tranquil and its small size – just 16km in total length – means that staying in any of its villages is a familial affair.

Although it is no longer a secret, Paxos remains a great destination for diving off boats into glassy aquamarine waters, befriending the locals, letting your kids run amok in the quaint village streets and living the authentic life well away from package holiday-makers. All just one hour away from Corfu with its international airport.

Villages

Paxos has just three villages that are all very well suited for families. The pastel pink port of Gaios with its Venetian architecture is the busiest and the place to shop for supplies. Loggos, the smallest of the three, is located halfway up the eastern coast. At the northern tip is Lakka with a scenic horseshoe-shaped harbor that attracts yachts and sailboats.

Beaches and Boating

Most of the island’s more popular beaches, such as the partially organized Levrechio, Loggos, Harami and Monodendri are reachable by foot. However you’ll need a trail map such as the one produced by longtime Paxos regular Ian Bleasdale.

For even more ease and fun, hire a boat from Loggos, load it up with food, water, hats, armbands, masks and snorkels and spend the day captaining as you explore Paxos’s sparkling coves and beaches. All are pebbled except for man-made Mongonisi, on the southern side which is a family favorite.

On the eastern coast, the bays of Kypiadi, Marmari and Pounda are more remote and better reached by boat, while on the western side you can explore blue caves, and spot the Ortholithos, which looks like a pyramid rising out of the sea.

Another joy of being on a boat is that it offers you the chance to admire the greenness of Paxos. The island’s hills are luxuriantly blanketed in thick olive groves, a remnant from the Venetian era when in the late 1300s a quarter of a million trees were planted.

Another must-see spot by boat is the tiny island of Antipaxos to the south, just a 15 minute (1.6km) trip away, where there are two idyllic white-sand beaches for kids: Vryka and Voutoumi. Although inhabited by just a handful of people, there are tavernas catering to daily visitors in the summer. If you want to linger there until the end of the day, climb the 152 steps up to Bella Vista taverna to enjoy breathtaking views and fresh local specialties.

Strolls and dining

With a network of lush and colorful mule paths and trails stretching across the island, late afternoon walks before dinner will reward you with sweeping vistas over the sea.

Each of the villages has their evening charms. Lakka and Loggos are especially picturesque with motor yachts, sailboats and fishing boats moored in their harbors. Both have an elegant allure (which is why they have attracted A-list film stars and British royalty alike) yet maintain a relaxed ambiance. Kids from around the world play and a cacophony of different languages is carried along by the sea breeze as parents sip their wine.

Dinner can be enjoyed on the waterfront, tucked away in the town or al fresco in a garden restaurant. In Lakka, try traditional Greek Nionios, or for a Michelin-standard meal go to Tem Resto.

In Gaios try Taka Taka for succulent Paxos dishes or Mediterraneo.

In Loggos try classic and well-known taverna Vasili’s, Gios for home-style dishes or seafront Nasos for fresh seafood.

GETTING THERE

From Corfu to Gaios port, 1 hour on the hydrofoil.


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