For years, I was convinced that the postcard I had seen, with the colorful buildings and the islet of Panaghia in the crystal-clear waters, had been carefully cropped to show only the prettiest corner of Parga.
I would have sworn that there was no way the entire town could be that attractive. But it is. And although it’s in Epirus, which most of us associate with high mountains and fast-flowing rivers, Parga is a coastal town that wouldn’t look out of place on an island.
This whole section of Thesprotia and Preveza is full of beaches, which are traditionally popular with northern Greeks who can get here quickly on the Egnatia Highway. Now that the Ionian Highway has made the whole area more accessible from Athens, Parga’s popularity as a great weekend destination has soared. And why not? The colorful captains’ houses and steep, narrow alleyways, immortalised in song, are charming.
You’ll come across archways (called volta) offering convenient shady resting points, as well as a seafront esplanade along which you can stroll, admiring both the town rising up behind you and the Ionian waters spread out before you. There are countless ouzo bars, and boutique hotels offering high-quality accommodation (I will never forget the beautiful decor and the restful sleep I enjoyed at Salvator Villas). Dense vegetation rings the town and there are, of course, endless beaches along the Ionian coast.
You’ll make wonderful memories – and take marvelous photos – at the Venetian castle, which also houses a café where you can sit and gaze over the town and the sea, pausing for a bit after wandering the paved paths and ancient ramparts.
A swim to the islet of Panaghia with its recently spruced-up castle is a must, and the old olive press, owned by the Lekka Brothers, who founded their business in 1929, is impressive. It was the first mechanised olive press in Parga; today the building operates as the Paragaea Museum. Here you can find out about local history, and about the importance of olives and oil to the people of Parga. You can also sample extra virgin olive oil and other local delicacies, and sign up for cooking classes and wine tastings.
You can swim at Kryoneri, the town’s main beach, or Piso Kryoneri and Valtos, located on either side of town. Alternatively, you can head south for Lychnos or Aï-Yiannakis, or further down the coast to the renowned beach of Loutsa in Preveza, 25km away. To the north, you’ll find the beaches of Sarakiniko, Karavostasi and Arilla, while 30km away lies Syvota.
In the afternoon, you can stroll uphill to the Chapel of Aghia Eleni for some amazing views, or take the tourist mini train to either the watermill of Anthoussa or the well-preserved castle of Ali in nearby Aghia. One thing is certain; in Parga, you’ll never get bored!