Is Paxos worth visiting on your Greek island odyssey this year? That’s what we’re here to find out. The tiny islet in the midst of the Ionian Sea might not be the first choice for most visitors to this sun-kissed southern extremity of Europe. It’s certainly not up there with the likes of Crete or Santorini. But being out of the spotlight is something that Paxos does well…
Hidden somewhere in the sparkling Mediterranean between the dog-leg end of Corfu and the rugged north coast of Lefkada, it’s a land where Greek traditions die hard, and where moments of peace and serenity come easy. Yep, it’s not a pumping party island a la Mykonos. And it’s no historic heavy hitter like Rhodes. But there’s loads to do and plenty of R&R to be had in Paxos’s diminutive landscape.
Here, we’ll run through just seven reasons to answer whether Paxos is worth visiting or not. We’ll cover the unique nuances of this little Ionian gem, the sort of beaches you can expect to find, and some of the highest-quality hotel options going. Ready to dive in?
Paxos offers two islands for the price of one – say hello to Antipaxos!
Most travel agents and travelers don’t think of Paxos on its own. Instead, the isle is usually coupled together with its even-smaller compadre, Antipaxos. Now, if you were just about getting your head around how quiet and remote Paxos itself is, you’re going to need to be sitting comfortably for this one. Antipaxos is a whole other beast of rest and relaxation.
Sometimes referred to as Mini Paxos, it sits a short 1.3 miles from the south coast of its big brother. Just 2.1 miles from tip to tail, it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss it sort of place as you whiz by on the boat. Thankfully, there are regular water taxis from the harbor towns of Gaios, Lakka, and Loggos that will take you straight there.
On arrival, you’ll be greeted by a teeny-weeny harbor area where a few squat tavernas hide behind BBQ smoke scented by griddled fish. The roads are all dirt tracks and there’s barely a single car in sight. You can hike the whole place, so don’t worry about getting around. Just pack some strong sandals and you can head off to explore the secret coves of Mesovrika Beach and Paralia Vrika on the north coast.
But Antipaxos really comes into its own when the day-trip crowds have departed. If you can score a night in one of the handful of hotels here (we LOVE the uber-luxury Villa Lover’s Nest), wait for 6pm to see the whole place go quiet. You’ll be able to hear a pin drop between the sloshing Ionian Sea and the swaying of the pine groves.
Paxos has some spectacular beaches
Shh! Don’t go telling everyone just how many stunning beaches lurk on the shorelines of Paxos and Antipaxos. We’re firm believers that they’re still so awesome because they’re often emptier than other spots across the Ionian and Aegean seas. Thankfully, the remoteness of the coves and cliffs means that it’s unlikely this isle will go full tourist mecca a la Santorini any time soon.
Our advice? Be ready to hike or hop in a water taxi to seek out the best beaches on Paxos. The most idyllic locations are often quite far from the main harbors. The east coast holds the more classically photogenic sands. They include Kanoni, which is known for its azure waters on the side of Lakka harbor, and the secret marina cove of Kaki Lagada. Those who make the trek over to the west side will be rewarded with dramatic cliffs that drop straight into the Ionian Sea, caves and grottoes, and untrodden shingle beaches where there’s often no other soul in sight.
Also don’t forget the gorgeous beaches of Antipaxos. They will be a water taxi ride away from the main tavernas and marina areas of Paxos proper, but they’ve got a sort of Caribbean feel to them that other Greek sands can only dream of. The best we’ve already mentioned above: Voutoumi and Mesovrika in the north.
Is Paxos worth visiting for the hotels and villas?
There’s not an overload of places to stay on Paxos and Antipaxos. Booking.com shows around just 315 stays shared between both islands, which is just a fraction of the thousands upon thousands that are on offer over on, say, Santorini. But it’s very much a case of quality over quantity in this corner of Greece.
Yep, the hotels tend to take a turn for the uber-stylish. As if to make the most of the small plots of land that Paxos and its smaller bro can offer, they pack in glinting swimming pools and pine-filled gardens, stone courtyards, and can even boast access to hidden coves where non-guests simply can’t go.
But is Paxos worth visiting for the hotels alone? Check out some of our favorite establishments to judge for yourself:
- Paxoi Resort ($$-$$$) – This adults-only resort is an absolute stunner of a place to recuperate and relax. It’s got one of the most inviting infinity pool-Jacuzzi combos we’ve seen, like ever. What’s more, the deluxe apartments are peaceful and romantic; all finished in traditional Greek stone but with mod cons aplenty.
- Anassa Mare Villas & Residences ($$-$$$) – The Anassa Mare Villas & Residences stand on a perch above a hidden little pebble beach on the lovely east coast. You’ll sleep to the sound of the lapping Ionian Sea and wake to visions of the sun rising over the water from your balcony. Heaven!
- Alia Studios ($$) – Compact but modern Alia Studios are a cozy choice that gets you close to the (relative) bustle of Gaios town. Units have fitted kitchens, modern bathrooms, and small sitting areas.
Gaios – a taste of Italy or the Aegean where you least expect it
Gaios is the main port of Paxos. It’s also the biggest town on the island, and probably the place you’ll first touch solid ground when you hop off the ferry from Corfu. It stretches along a couple of clicks of coastline behind a small fragment of an islet where there’s a white-painted Greek monastery. The shape of the shoreline forms a sort of natural harbor, which is probably the reason that the area attracted the Venetian traders who first raised the town.
In fact, the Venetian roots of Gaios are what help it stand out. They lend the place a rustic Latin charm, which is a touch reminiscent of marinas over in Sicily or Symi in the far eastern Aegean. Prepare to see pastel-painted mansions, terracotta-topped cottages, and colorful boats all bobbing down by the quays. Lovely.
More than anything, Gaios is the place to be to feel the beating pulse of Paxos. The main area to the immediate west of the marina is awash with cafes, bars, pastry houses, tavernas – you name it. It’s pretty much the only corner of these isles that can start pumping towards the evening. Check out the narrow alleys that lead away from the square by Analipsi Church and you should find some good options for an aperitif and a cold Mythos beer!
Adventure awaits away from the coast
Is Paxos worth visiting for adventure travelers? Well…it’s no secret that most people will come to Paxos for the secluded beaches and the slow pace of life. But there’s also something for more intrepid folks who are keen to pull on the walking boots and hit the trails. Actually, the very fact that these islands don’t have many paved streets means there’s oodles of land left to historic donkey paths and olive groves. Getting out and about on them should be high on your list of things to do.
Some of the best treks on the island are the ones that take no specific direction. Ramblers can leave the main town of Gaios by morning to wander up to the rustic Church of Hypapanti and the small speckling of hamlets that surround it. There’s also a great hike that’ll whisk you to the salt-washed rocks at the extreme south of the island, where some early Christian ruins lurk above the inlet of Agia Marina.
On the whole, the northern part of the island is definitely the least built up. You’ll wander between lush pockets of evergreen woodland there and encounter time-stood-still villages that might have a single taverna to help you refresh on route. It’s worth trekking out to the west coast at least once, too. That area has dramatic cliffs and some of the emptiest beaches on Paxos as a whole.
If you’re after a traditional hit of Greek food, then you could do a whole load worse than Paxos and Antipaxos. These islands are known as hotspots for traditional Ionian cuisine. That means lots of very (like very) fresh seafood and fish, along with some rustic country dishes that are now headline acts in the national kitchen.
Classic staples of the region are the mezze of taramasalata (a salty and tangy dip made from cured cod roe), tzatziki (everyone’s favorite fresh yoghurt dip with mountain mint, oregano, and garlic), and the smoky melitzanosalata (a mix of roasted eggplant, lemon juice, and olive oil). Mouth watering yet? Well…you’ve also got the famous butter-fried zucchini and dolmades stuffed vine leaves to get through. And that’s really just a starter.
There’s also no shortage of excellent places to dine on Paxos. There’s none of the fancy, chic, creative dining of Mykonos here. It’s virtually all rustic, real, authentic western Greece. That means long lunches on a beachside terrace and late dinners to the sound of the cicadas and the swaying pine trees.
Paxos might just be the ultimate relaxation island in Greece
The thing about Greek islands is that they often try to be too much at one time. Take Crete, which packs in soaring mountains for hikers but also the 18-30s party mecca of Malia. Then there’s Corfu, which is just a stone’s throw from Paxos to the north. It offers some pretty upscale resorts next to family apartment blocks. And it’s got quiet beaches just along the coast from hedonistic Kavos.
At least in Paxos you know what you’re getting from start to finish. It’s all basically chill, do some more chilling, and chill a little more. We’ve already shown how you can spice up the routine with long treks or visits to remote beaches, but don’t let those activities fool you – Paxos and Antipaxos are really all about good old, hard-earned R&R.
That’s backed up by the fact that the islands don’t have many cars and come laced with very few roads. The towns feel smaller than other harbor towns in the Ionian region, and you’re rarely any more than five minutes’ walking to the nearest cove for a swim. To put it simply: Is Paxos worth visiting for relaxation? 100% yes, perhaps even more than any other island in Greece!
So, is Paxos worth visiting?
That really depends on what you’re after. If your idea of the perfect Greek escape involves white-pebble beaches, turquoise seas, charming tavernas, and a slow pace of life (and let’s face it, that’s what a whole load of people want from their Greek vacays), then we’d say start booking those ferries to Paxos right away. Just be aware that Paxos is small, very quiet, and doesn’t have anything like the nightlife of places like Malia, Rhodes, or Mykonos.
How big is Paxos Greece?
Paxos is not very big at all. At just 25 square kilometers and a mere 6 miles from one end to the other at its widest point, Paxos is among the smallest inhabited Greek islands out there. Antipaxos – the neighboring brother of Paxos – is even smaller than that again.
Does Paxos have an airport?
There is no airport on the island of Paxos. It’s actually one of the most disconnected of the whole Ionian chain. Everyone, from tourists to the locals, relies mostly on boats to get in and out. You can catch them from nearby islands or the mainland. That said, you might be able to charter a seaplane from Corfu if your budget allows!
How do you get to Paxos Island?
The main way to get to Paxos is via the sea. Regular ferries come in from the main port in Corfu and the mainland at Igoumenitsa. We’d recommend booking these early if you’re planning on traveling in the high summer months because they can fill up pretty fast.