This European Island Is Great For A Relaxing Vacation Off The Beaten Path

Some Greek islands are made for shopping all day and dancing all night. Others invite lazy lie-ins and lounging by the pool, imbued with a sense of relaxation from every sandy beach to laid-back taverna around town. The island of Paxos near Corfu is one such destination, where it's perfectly acceptable to spend all day reading a book at a seaside cafe, looking up every so often to watch fishermen load and unload their boats as the afternoon sun arcs across the sky. With no major airport or sprawling resorts to speak of, this is a whole other side to Greece you haven't seen yet.


Legend has it that Paxos was created when Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, used his almighty trident to strike the southern corner of Corfu and break off a slice of paradise for him and Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea. While ambling around town, it's not hard to see why any god (or human, for that matter) might choose Paxos as a secluded getaway. Only 7 miles long and 3 miles across, it's just big enough to grant visitors an authentic taste of Greece without being overrun by tourists like some of the other household names, like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete.

Things to do in Gaois and Mongonissi

The heart of Paxos is the town of Gaois, the main of three fishing villages and a lively port area with cafes, shops, galleries, and historic churches. Thanks to the Venetians who went on a planting spree in the 16th century, you'll be draped in shade from some of the island's 300,000 olive trees as you snake around the narrow streets, take in the pastel-colored buildings, and feast on local delicacies, like honey cakes, stuffed tomatoes, grilled octopus, souvlaki, and lobster caught that day.


Gaois is also a good place to explore the Historical and Folklore Museum, which houses cultural artifacts from prehistoric times to the present. When you're ready to stretch your legs a bit more, take a stroll or bike 2 miles down to Mongonissi, a shallow man-made beach where you can rent pedal boats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or a sun bed. A nearby restaurant called Mongonissi's Beach Taverna is a great place to sample classic cuisine and watch a traditional Greek dancing show.

Outdoor excursions and tips for visiting Paxos

While getting to know the islands around the Epirus region on foot is always a joy, nothing beats having your own boat or hiring a skipper to get you out onto the sea. Some of the island's 30 beaches are only accessible from the water, not to mention there are amazing geographical formations like the Tripitos Arch and sea caves to explore. The best place to book all water excursions is the village of Lakkos. Once you've snorkeled and sipped cocktails to your heart's content at Ben's Bar, take a cruise to the Blue Caves and Antipaxos for $51 or sign up for a guided kayaking tour through the caves for $92.


To get to Paxos (also known as Paxi), the nearest airport is located on Corfu (CFU), which is a popular destination from many European airports during peak season from April through October. Once you arrive, you can take an hour-long boat ride ($32 to $38) from the main port in Corfu to Gaios. Despite its under-the-radar status, Paxos can see a spike in crowds from June through August, drawing around 200,000 visitors during the summer. For comfortable temperatures and fewer tourists, opt for the shoulder seasons in May or September. But no matter when you visit this stunning Greek island, your only mission is to eat, drink, relax, and repeat.