Parga really does exist, and it is a charming seaside town in the North-West of Greece. And when I say “charming”, I do not take the term lightly; this little gem will surprise you whether you are the “sun, sea and sand” type or, on the contrary, nothing of the sort.
And just to set things straight from the very beginning, I am not this type and I will always prefer a city break to a seaside one. More than 2 days on the beach are too much for me, and I must confess that this was my first trip to Greece. After years (literally😊) of avoiding it, we’ve finally decided to spend a week here and the actual destination, after extensive research, was done by choosing Parga out of a random Google search. But hey, now you know that you should always trust Google!:)
You can reach Parga by plane, the nearest airport is in the city of Preveza, or by car. We chose the latter and that meant a 14-hour drive from Bucharest, with minimal stops. Too minimal, if you’ll allow me a bad speech construction just to make a point… Upon arrival, it is totally worth the drive, the views are breathtaking, and the city will definitely remind you of Cinque Terre. Actually, that is not surprising at all, as Parga was at some point under Venetian rule. A very distant point in time, around 1400, to be exact. This is truly showing in the architecture, colors and overall setup.
On the practical side, you should know that the city is built on a hill, so lots and lots and lots of stairs are waiting for you. If you don’t fancy going up and down all the time, make sure to enquire also about altitude, not only distance, when you choose your hotel. We’ve randomly chosen Alfa Hotel and got totally lucky. Not only it is situated on the lowest level, relatively close to the waterside, but it was also recently renovated, boasting a super clean and minimalist Nordic design. Which is right up my alley, of course😊, but quite unexpected for a Greek destination. The mystery didn’t take long to uncover itself – it seems that Parga is a very popular choice for Scandinavian tourists.
Being all set up, here’s a short account of what I liked the most in Parga.
The hiking trail to Lichnos Beach. Yes, I know that sounds twisted, but although I liked the beach itself, the hiking trail was the highlight here. From the hotel to the beach, there was a 10 minutes drive. But there is also the possibility to go there through a hiking trail, which basically crosses over a hill. A big hill, that is, and it takes around 1 hour of walking. It’s totally worth it, because you get to go through an olive tree orchard and come across a little church, and the sun is shining, and….you know, all those things that scream vacation. The only word of advice I would give here is to wear proper shoes, I actually managed to get a toe infection because of several calluses due to…well, cute but unpractical white canvas snickers.
The food. OMG, delicious. Let me write that again, with caps: DELICIOUS. I haven’t known until now that I like moussaka, but it turns out I do. Minus the béchamel sauce that they put on top, but that can be easily scraped.
Every place where we ate served absolutely gorgeous foods, but there were a few that stood out. The first one is Arkoudas, located in the marina, where the main specialty is…the owner😊 The food was great, but it was an absolute treat to talk to the owner of the restaurant, who was welcoming guests, serving at the tables, who knew and talked to everyone, absolute delight. If you happen to go there, you’ll get what I’m talking about.
Also liked a lot Krioneri Taverna, ate there several times and discovered a dish called buyurdi, cheese cooked in the oven with tomatoes and onions, wonderful. Another great place is Sakis, located uphill and absolutely worth the walk.
Running on the waterside. Well, I hate running, but took this up around the time we went to Parga as a way to boost my energy during the day. So I made a point out of running at least 10 minutes every day and I usually hate it. But in Parga I loved it. Because it meant running on the waterside, exactly when the city was starting to awake, the sun not shining too bright. Didn’t make me love running per se and forever, but I do recommend to try it here.
Sarakiniko Beach. There you have it, there’s a beach on the list. But it must be noted that to get there you need to drive on a somehow offroad route, so what you get in return is a very scenic small beach, with that kind of water that you only see in pictures, nested by cliffs and really quiet and relaxing. We were welcomed by a very nice host who was running a small business there and I was really impressed by how comfortable and simple everything was. There were beach beds, a changing cabin, there was a small bar there and a restaurant up the hill – basically, everything you needed, but very low key and understated. And that made the place even nicer and complemented the raw beauty of nature.
All in all, this was a surprise trip. Wasn’t really sure that I would like it, but it turns out I loved the city.
The views are of course beautiful and everywhere you turn there’s something that just feel cozy and simple and gives you that soothing vacation feel. So you might want to put Parga on your travel list, it might turn out to be an unexpected excellent choice.