General Information on Paxos
Paxoi is a cluster of islands and rocks. The most important ones are Paxoi, Antipaxoi, Mongonissi, Ag. Nikolaos, and Panagia. The largest and the only one that is permanently inhabited, Paxoi, is located seven miles south of Corfu and has a lizard-like shape. The island has a surface area of about 19km² and it is inhabited by approximately 2,700 people.
Paxoi has a captivating landscape of dense, old olive groves, dry-stone walls, farmhouses and abandoned stone olive presses. The island is very pretty and offers quite a few things to see, wonderful beaches and very hospitable people. Due to the low frequency of ferry services, the island has a limited number of tourists but is still considered an “absolute must”.
History of Paxos
According to mythology, the island of Paxoi was created by Poseidon, god of sea. Poseidon fell in love with Amfitriti, abducted her and took her on his chariot to Corfu. There, with a blow of his trident, he cut off the southern part of the island and created Paxoi, where he lived with his wife in peace and quiet. However, in the process, he lost his trident, which was found by the islanders and made it their emblem.
Although possibly inhabited since Prehistoric times, the Phoenicians are traditionally considered the first settlers of Paxoi. The name of the island is believed to derive from the word “Pax” which meant slate in their language. From the 2nd century B.C., the island was ruled by the Romans and later became part of the Byzantine Empire. In 1386, Paxoi was conquered by the Venetians and was ruled by princes and barons for many decades. From 1537 to 1571, the Ottomans tried twice to take control of the island and razed it. The few islanders who survived escaped to the neighbouring islands and Paxoi became deserted.
In 1797, after 411 years of occupation, the Venetians, surrendered the Ionian islands to the French who remained there until 1799, when the Russians and Turks occupied Corfu. Three years later under the Contrition that was formed, the Ionian islands were declared a Republic under the dominion of the Sultan and protection of Russia. In 1807, the Ionian islands were granted to Napoleon’s Imperial French. Later, the English who had already taken the Ionian islands from the French, granted a constitution, which became known as the Republic of the Ionian islands under English protection. In 1821, the war of Independence began and finally, in 1864, Paxoi was liberated and became part of the New Greek State.
Towns & Villages in Paxos
Gaios: It is located on a wide, east-coast bay and it is the island capital. It is a charming fishing village with old roof-tiled houses, well protected by two small islands (Panagia and Ag. Nikolas), which stand at the entrance of the bay.
Lakka: It is the second largest settlement of Paxoi, located at the north end of the island. The fishing village lies in a picturesque horseshoe-shaped bay. Next to the settlement, the high ground is covered in olive and Cypress trees. In this natural well protected village, cafes, taverns and bars contribute to the lively but relaxed atmosphere of the island.
Loggos: It is the smallest of the three main villages of the island, situated right next to Lakka. This fishing village is very quiet and has a lovely harbor fronted by taverns, and small bars.
Beaches in Paxos
The best beaches are located at the nearby island of Antipaxoi.
Vrika is sandy and Voutoumi is pebbled, but both of them are well organized and get crowded during summer. However, they are considered among the best beaches of the Ionian islands.
The island of Paxoi has many small decent beaches along its coastline. The best way to find them and, at the same time, explore the island, is to walk along its many pathways lined with dry-stone walls through countless olive groves.
The east coast of the island has small pebbled and deserted beaches. Also, around the villages of Gaios and Lakkes, there are few good beaches. Among them, Harami, near Lakkes, is the best and the only one with limited tourist facilities (the other beaches are unorganized).
Top Things to Do in Paxos
1. Antipaxoi: This island is only 2km away from Paxoi. It is covered with grape vines from which excellent wine is produced. The island is also famous for its two beaches which are considered among the best of the Ionian islands. Taxi-boats run daily from Gaios port to Vrika beach. In high season, there are half a dozen high-speed express boats that also leave from Gaios port. Vrika Beach at the northeastern tip is sandy, very good and has two taverns. A path links Vrika Beach and Voutoumi Beach. This beach is very picturesque and has pebbles and few taverns around.
2. Cultural Museum of Paxoi: The excellent Cultural museum of Paxoi, is sheltered in an old school that was built in 1906. The museum contains a well-displayed eclectic collection, including stone-age tools, pottery from the classical period, as well as guns and tools from the Venetian and other periods. In the main room of the building, we find the most interesting sight of the museum: a mind-boggling stirrups hanging from a four-poster bed, a 19th century sex aid.
How to Reach Paxos
Bus: there is a direct bus service to Athens twice weekly (7 ½ hours). The service includes the hydrofoil between Paxoi and Igoumenitsa.
Ferry – Domestic: there are a few ferry services per week between Paxoi and Igoumenitsa.
Ferry – International: Italian ferries, mostly, operate high-speed catamaran services between Brindisi and Paxi during summertime(4 ¾ hours).
Hydrofoil: hydrofoils operate popular passenger-only services between Corfu, Igoumenitsa and Paxoi from May until September. There are at least two services daily between Corfu and Paxoi.
Weather in Paxos
As the rest of the Ionian islands, Paxoi has gradual changes between seasons and temperatures in winter rarely fall below 12 degrees Celsius. During summer, Paxoi enjoys long hot summer days and warm winds. In the evenings, though, the temperature drops a bit, making the walks around the fishing villages ideal.
Top 10 Destinations in Paxos
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Map of Paxos