Budget travel, Europe, Family Travel, The Balkans, Travel

Paxos, Greece (with kids)

I don’t know a single soul whose bucket list excludes the charming heaven that is, Greece. Ancient monuments, sumptuous cuisine, friendly people, and beaches like these? Amazing.

Greece has been on my list for as long as I can remember. In fact, being so near Greece was one of the biggest factors when my husband accepted a position in Albania (where we currently live and love).

Last month, we decided to make the drive down to Greece for Fall Break. We spent an incredible week on the tiny Ionian Island of Paxos.

I think early fall is the perfect time to visit Greece because the weather is still beautiful, but the prices are so much cheaper!

The best way to sum up life on Paxos in the fall can be explained in a conversation we had with a native Greek lady who now lives in England. She stopped to help us as she could tell we weren’t quite sure where we could park. We talked for quite a while. Eventually, I told her I was sorry we took up so much of her time asking questions, and she told me, “Darling, it’s Paxos in October… nobody has anywhere to be”.

It seemed to be true. We sat down for dinner along the harbor that evening. A few English tourists explored the streets with varying degrees of clothing on, presumably after spending the day on the beach. They wandered casually with their flip flops, beach bags, and massive sun hats.

Traditional music played from the speakers of the taverna, delighted squeals of local kids playing football in the center of the village, and the faint waves of the sea all competed for my attention. I sat taking it all in while waiting for the bill. The rest of my family was long gone, exploring the harbor, watching the fish jump in and out of the water.

The bells of the tiny terra cotta Orthodox Church rang nearby and somehow jolted me into realizing I’d been waiting for my check for a really long time. I stood to go ask for it and realized our waiter was down the harbor a bit, fishing and chatting with friends. He saw me and jumped up to get me the bill. That, my friends, is Paxos in a nutshell.

There are three small villages on the island which is only 8km wide.

Longos, the smallest of the three, is basically just one street. We ventured over there in our car and found it nearly empty, except for one exceptionally tan Greek man lying along the small concrete harbor with a battered straw hat covering his face. We did find a charming little bakery tucked away on a back street, and bought up what seemed to be the last sweets of the day.

Gaios is the largest and most touristy of the bunch, though it was still really quite calm and quiet. It’s where you will arrive on a ferry, which is the only way to access Paxos.

Gaios is the place to go if you’re looking for cute little shops with jewelry, dresses, swimwear and souvenirs.

Lakka was probably my favorite. The colorful harbor is picture perfect. It reminded me a bit of Cinque Terre (without the cruise ships and over tourism). Warm, colorful houses and restaurants scattered along the harbor. The best part was that we had the whole place nearly to ourselves. By the end of the week we had become familiar with the owners of our favorite bakeries, restaurants, and grocery stores, and they would greet the kids with a big smile as we walked in.

Where to stay

We stayed at Villa Katerini for a full week for under €700. It had a beautiful private pool, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a huge well-equipped kitchen. I had my coffee on the terrace as I looked out to the sea, the kids swam for hours, we painted, read books, and the kids played with “Midnight” the Villa cat. We loved it so much. I can’t imagine staying anywhere else.

Where to eat

You must eat dinner at Taverna Nionios in Lakka. The food was delicious, but the service was truly an experience. We looked at the menu outside and soon a handsome Greek man (the owner) swept our little family into his kitchen to show us every dish, and to explain what was in each of them, and how it was made from fresh, local ingredients. “That’s how we do it here,” he told us. The kitchen smelled like you’d imagine a cozy Greek home to smell after hours of cooking for the ones you love. We were sold. And sat down to one of the most delicious meals we’ve ever had.

For something casual and cheap, but really good, try George’s Corner in Gaios.

And make sure to get the fresh Greek donuts in the morning, hot fresh and drizzled with honey, at Oh Giros Ton Paxton in Gaios. You can thank me later. You’re welcome.

What to do

The best part of vacationing on Paxos is that it’s just so relaxing.

-Rent a boat

-Take a tour boat to the caves

-Explore the beaches (Erimitis is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to)

-Wander the village streets

-Shop

-Take the ferry to Corfu

-Take a ferry to Antipaxos

-Eat your weight in Baklava and Greek Salad

Basically, go to Paxos! If you’re like us, it will likely be one of the most relaxing, adventure-filled, and memorable trips of your life.

Budget breakdown

Villa €650

Car ferry €80

Eating out €200

(I don’t count groceries as that’s a normal cost)

Souvenirs €200

(The handmade jewelry shop got me!)

Gas €100

Total: €1230

❤️ Melissa

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