The Phoenicians are traditionally held to have been the first settlers on Paxos. The name is believed to be derived from Pax, which meant trapezoidal. The Romans ruled the island from the 2nd century BC, and during the Byzantine period and Middle Ages it was constantly attacked by pirates. After various rulers and Crusaders had passed through, the island was taken by the Venetians at the end of the 14th century. During the Napoleonic wars, the Ionian Islands were occupied by the French and the Russo-Turkish alliance. In 1815, United Kingdom established the Ionian Union. In 1864, together with the other Ionian islands, Paxos was ceded to Greece.
The island is approximately 13 km in length and tipped up towards the west. The west coast is dominated by steep white, chalky cliffs that are greatly eroded at sea level, and harbour many 'blue caves'. Much of the attractive landscape is covered in olive groves. These stretch from Lakka, the harbour community in the north, through Magazia to Gaios, the capital. Olive oil making, soap manufacture and fishing were supplanted by tourism as the main industry in the mid-sixties, resulting in the construction of villas and hotels, especially at the coastline around Gaios.
Idyllic and unspoilt the island of Paxos looks like a little piece of heaven that fell to earth. The endless groves live harmoniously surrounded by turquoise waters. Churches, monasteries, archaeological museums, museum of olive, picturesque streets, the harbour, are some elements that give colour to that particular island. Lush countryside scattered with picturesque villages, to sites with great historical and mythological interest, Paxos is the perfect place to spend Greek holidays with the relaxed pace, among friendly locals.
In Paxos visitors can take advantage of organized rides around the island or choose some of the idyllic beaches of white pebbles and crystal waters. There are many trails for hiking and one can even walk from one side of the island to the other and meet some of the special architectural buildings, chapels, windmills and old mills. Many coves are accessible only by foot or by boat and are a great way to explore the best parts of the coastline of the island, and are often the only way to get access to more remote beaches.
For the romantics, the bay Herimitis offers the best sunset of the Ionian Sea. Tavernas offer delicious local dishes and fresh seafood cooked in olive oil produced on the island with excellent quality, and wine from their vineyards.
In south you can visit the Antipaxos in just 20 minutes by boat, with beach sand, turquoise waters and beautiful vineyards.
The island is serviced by hydrofoils and ferry boats from the mainland Greece port of Igoumenitsa (1.5 hours), hydrofoil boats from Corfu (1 hour) and from Bari and Brindisi (4 hours). Excursions to Albania (the resort of Saranda and the magnificent Greco-Roman settlement of Butrint) can also be arranged with the local jetfoil operators.
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