Parga: a colorful piece of Epirus (full guide + map)
I am sure you have all seen a carte postale of these dreamy little villages of coastal Italy. What if I told you that a very similar one is located here, in western Greece? Well, Parga, built around a secluded bay in the Ionian Sea, is one of the most vibrant and picturesque summer destinations.
Parga lavishly offers anything one can imagine for their holiday! Restaurants, cafeterias, lounge bars, little souvenir shops integrated in a network οf uphill pathways, promise you moments of joy and peace. Beaches only a heartbeat away, a Venetian castle and a small island right in front of the port complete the canvas. Parga, as part of the bigger picture, provides countless options for short excursions from beaches and seaside destinations to islands and locations of archeological interest and Acheron river, of course.
So, let’s plan the best summer escape together! Follow me…
Transportation in Parga
You can reach Parga using one of these three ways.
You could use either Aktio’s and Ioannina’s airport or Igoumenitsa’s port and then rent a car and drive a small distance to Parga. A car will enable you not only to drive easily to your destination but also to move around the area freely, which won’t be easy using the bus. The local public transportation is of poor quality and you will have trouble exploring the place! However, if you do need buses, +30 6941553743 is the contact number. Otherwise, ask either the airport or the port for transportation info.
Of course, if you live somewhere in the Balkans you can drive to Parga via the Egnatia motorway.
Parga offers 200 + 1 alternative options in accommodation.
Yeah, well, that’s not a joke! There are plenty of facilities in the area. Hotel owners know what real “hospitality” means and there are solutions that cater to every traveler! Luxurious hotels and complexes of rental apartments bejewel both Valtos beach and the peripheral road. If you are looking for small but cute hotels or for an Airbnb apartment though, you can hunt them down in the alleys. Booking will help you choose the one that meets your expectations. The reviews are promising, and the local hotels undoubtedly deserve it!
SPECIAL INFO: Despite the large number of tourists during the summer months, the residents manage to keep the place very clean. Proof: the countless bathers on the beaches of the town and the absence of garbage in the alleys.
9 + 1 ways to have a great time: where does the heart of Parga beat?
Leave your luggage in the accommodation of your choice and wander the cobbled streets of Parga. Paved steps, white arches, small stores with island aesthetics, houses with flowery balconies and colorful windows frame the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the place, a place very Instagram friendly. Get ready for loads of photos in the alleys and the port promenade.
Follow the uphill paths and you will soon find yourself in front of the Venetian castle, a trademark of Parga. The history of the town unfolds inside this castle, as it was demolished and rebuilt several times by different conquerors of the area. Today it is open to the public! So, save a little time for a historical sip. You are now at the top of the hill “Pezovolos”. The alleys will take you away from the town web and lead you to the beach of Valtos.
Walking back via the alleys, maybe it’s time for you to grab a bite.
Delicious sandwiches and puff pastries to go from a traditional bakery while strolling around is one option. Stopping to taste souvlaki is another one (personal favorite “grill 33”). Appetite for a full meal? A tavern is always a good idea (“Hellinikon“, “Sakis Tavern“). While the day turns into night, some special restaurants are now on the table (“Baros“, “Aegis“: on the esplanade, “filomila“: in one of the picturesque alleys) as well as some others that offer Italian cuisine (“GEMINI”, “La Trattoria”, “Delizie”). On the other hand, if you are in the mood for a drink, let’s say a beer or an ouzo but you also want something to eat while enjoying the breezy atmosphere, there you are: “Ponte” and “Pargas Distillery“. As the night progresses, experience the vivid nightlife in these two bars: “Sail in“, “Veranda“
TIP: Try Veranda’s and Pargas Distellery’s cocktails – they are promising indeed.
Now, coffeehouses! “Carte postale” and “The old garden” promise both stunning view and cozy decoration.
While on vacation, in sweets we trust! Choose “Motley” for cakes, tarts and waffles or pick one of the small pastry shops, back in the narrow alleys, for the best ice cream in town.
TIP: While wandering the winding paths on your way to the castle remember to look around! Most of the cafeterias, restaurants and hotels located there have balconies with a magnificent panoramic view. So, combine your drink or food with a truly superb sunset. Castle forearm will do, too! There you have it; you can take a photo for your carte-postale.
SPECIAL INFO: The island right in front of the port is graced by the Panagia chapel. A little boat or … your swimming skills can get you there, if you want. The island is only a couple of dives away.
10 + 1 beaches along with short excursions around Parga!
Parga is part of a shoreline full of spectacular beaches. Some of them belong to the town while others are a half to an hour away. Well, I guess it depends on your mood which one will be on your travel plan. And remember: hidden gems could be found all around them.
Valtos beach (5-10’on foot -uphill way-/ 5’ by car)
Valtos in Greek means swamp! I really don’t know why on earth it is named like that. Jokes aside, it is the largest one in the town, it’s organized, it’s shallow for several meters from the coast and it’s definitely an excellent choice.
SPECIAL INFO: The sunbeds on this beach are charged and managed mainly by the beach hotels. If you want to combine swimming in the sea with a dip in the pool, then you can visit the Tango beach club. Also for camping fans, Camping valtos can serve you!
Kryoneri Beach / Ai Giannakis beach (the extension of the port of Parga -2′ on foot)
Overlooking the islet of Panagia, which is a stone’s throw from the coast.
Piso Kryoneri Beach (10′ on foot and 5′ by car)
Cove with rocks. However, there are a few sunbeds on the beach. Slightly calmer atmosphere than the bustling Kryoneri.
Lychnas Beach (10′ to the South by car): organized beach, wider than Valtos.
Sarakiniko Beach (25′ to the North by car)
Homonymous with the unique beach of Milos, Sarakiniko of Epirus also boasts for blue crystal-clear waters and beautiful natural landscape. It is one of the busiest beaches in the area yet, worth visiting. However, you may want to avoid weekends in order to enjoy it without the crowd. On your way to the beach you will pass by the village of Anthousa. Keep in mind that on the way back you can stop there to eat at a beautiful fish tavern, “Δίχτυ”. Now, what would you say about a pinch of history? If you’re interested, include the castle of Ali Pasha in your program. History plus view: divine!
Odysseus Bay, Skala beach, Alonaki beach of Fanari (30 ‘ to the South by car)
They are characterized by turquoise waters and breathtaking natural landscape. In Alonaki there is a beach bar and some sunbeds while in Skala the beach is not so organized. Odysseus Bay is a small beach and a free camping site.
On the way to these three beaches you will pass by the area of Mesopotamos. There, you will find Necromanteio of Acheron. If you are in the mood, visit this special monument, which, as its name suggests, is related to the ancient Greeks’ beliefs about death.
Vrachos Beach, Kastrosykia Beach (30-40 ‘ to the South by car)
Quite organized, shallow beaches with the first one flooded by beach bars and taverns.
If you choose the beach of Kastrosykia:
There is an area of particular historical interest only 15 ‘away. Of course, I am referring to Zalongo with the monument of the “Dance of Zalongo” and the site of Ancient Kassopi. In the village of Kamarina you can make a stop to taste traditional dishes!
Sivota- Bela Vraka Beach (40 ‘ to the North by car)
A group of islands a breath away from the shore with various beautiful beaches. Some only accessible by boat while Bela Vraka beach on the island of Megalo Mourtemeno, is accessible via a strip of sand! Discover…
Kanali Beach, Monolithi Beach (50 ‘south car)
The first is a large organized beach with deep waters and several seaside facilities to meet your needs. The second is a vast deep blue beach with a beautiful forest just above it ,creating a unique landscape.
10′ away from Monolithi beach is the picturesque coastal city Preveza. If it’s past noon and all you can think about is fresh fish with an iced beer or ouzo, there’s no better place to find them than the taverns in the alleys of Preveza. Leave your car in one of the parking lots in the port of the city and head to “Agora” (Ethnikis Antistaseos Street). Follow the cobblestones and enter the alleys opposite the large clock (which, in fact, is the bell tower of the Agios Charalambos church).
After the meal, an ice cream to go, a walk along the beach or the other narrow streets of Ethnikis Antistaseos Street and, why not, a coffee in the port promenade will recharge your batteries for the way back.
One-day trips starting from Parga
Departure from the port of Parga
You will have the opportunity to dive in the clear blue waters of Paxos and swim in its caves, not to mention walking in Gaios, the beautiful capital of Paxos. Depending on the cruise you choose, you may have the chance to see the beautiful little village of Lakka.
Visit to the Acheron River (40 ‘ by car)
If you are a nature lover and thirsty for adventure, get ready! Hiking (multiple incredible routes along and THROUGH the river), horseback riding and easy rafting are just a few of the activities you can find on the riverbanks in Gliki.
TIP: Ask about the hiking trails as soon as you reach the riverbanks. Locals could provide you with hiking maps or you could even use the help of a guide if you are novice.
SPECIAL INFO: If you choose to go hiking make sure you are fully equipped (waterproof shoes, backpack with the necessary supplies) and keep in mind that most of the routes pass through the river! Be prepared for the cold water!
Parga, the princess of Epirus, has many treasures in her collection after all! Wouldn’t you agree?