Although Greece is a popular holiday destination, many people instantly think of Athens or the Greek Islands. However if you’re looking for alternative places to visit in Greece, there is a beautiful coastal Greek town called Parga which is small enough to be relaxing but with plenty to do to fill a week-long holiday.
After coming across Parga by accident on a Balkan road trip from Macedonia, I loved it so much that I stayed two extra nights. Now I want to share the best things to do in Parga on your trip, including what to see in Parga, the best beaches in Parga, where to eat and places to stay in the town. With colourful cliffside houses, a vibrant blue bay and a set among the hills and olive groves, Parga is a perfect summer holiday destination.
How to get to Parga
The easiest way of getting to Parga, Greece is to fly into Aktion National Airport. Several low-cost carriers fly into this Preveza region airport which is just a 1 hour drive from Parga.
If you’re travelling from the UK, TUI and Thomas Cook both offer package holidays or just flight options to this airport.
If you’re planning your trip independently, another option is to fly into Corfu airport which is served by more European airlines than Aktion. Then you can take the ferry from Corfu to Igoumenitsa which is a 40 minute drive from Parga by taxi. I did this on my first trip to this area of Greece and found it very straightforward.
Athens to Parga isn’t an easy journey unless you’re hiring a car as part of a longer Greek road trip. The drive from Athens to Parga is nearly 5 hours.
Driving to Parga is definitely an option though, I was on a Balkan road trip and drove from North Macedonia into Greece, visiting Meteora before travelling onwards to Parga on the coast. I was easily able to find parking options with the help of my hotel once I arrived in Parga.
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Where to stay in Parga, Greece
There are plenty of options for places to stay in Parga, Greece. Hotels in Parga town are a great option for quick access to the beaches, restaurants, bars and water activities. Staying in Parga town also means a late evening walk back to your accommodation after dinner and drinks is much easier.
If you’re travelling as part of a package holiday then there will be a selection of hotels to choose from for your trip. However, if you prefer to book accommodation independently and prefer apartment accommodation in Parga or self-catered options, then I highly recommend staying at Marthas Studios.
Marthas Studios is the reason we extended our stay in Parga, we booked it last minute, around 2 hours before our arrival in Parga and for £67 a night, we were absolutely blown away.
The studio is at the top of the town, above the colourful houses and overlooking the spectacular bay. I stayed on the top floor studio which had a bedroom, living area, kitchenette and a huge balcony area overlooking the bay view. Breakfast was downstairs at the cafe also owned by the owner, where you can enjoy some amazing fresh coffee at the Brazilian Cup coffee bar.
If you’re looking for the best hotels in Parga or best accommodation option, I cannot recommend Marthas Studios enough!
Or read my full review of Martha's Studio and other acommodation options in Parga.
Things to do in Parga, Greece
When you’re planning what to do in Parga, Greece, you’ll find it is perfect for those who like to mix activities with some relaxation time too. It isn’t a huge place and you’re not overwhelmed with activities and experiences, but there’s enough to enjoy some relaxation and some exploration each day.
Visit the best beaches in Parga, Greece
Parga beaches are a must-do part of your trip to Parga and you’ll undoubtedly visit several of them on your trip.
Valtos Beach is the main beach in Parga and the longest sandy stretch with views of the castle on the cliff. There are beach umbrellas for rent and plenty of bars and cafes along the beachfront.
Valtos is a lovely beach because it’s set in one of the bays in Parga so the water is calm and perfect for paddling and for families to enjoy together. The beach is rocky along the shoreline so you might want to bring water shoes for paddling.
Valtos Beach is also the place to go if you want to enjoy some watersports such as windsurfing or kayaking.
Ai Giannakis Beach
Ai Giannakis beach is a great beach if you’re wanting a bit more seclusion, perhaps for couples or families with older children. The more secluded location is the opposite side of the town from Valtos Beach and slightly further south down the coast.
It’s great for swimming and snorkelling as the water is calm but beautifully clear.
Piso Krioneri Beach
For the more adventurous among you, head a little further south to Piso Krioneri beach where the rocky coastline is perfect for rock jumping and diving.
Just a nine minute drive from Parga is the small town of Lichnos and here you can find Lichnos Beach. This white sand beach with clear blue waters is another great option for families with safe swimming areas, lots of facilities nearby and resorts here too if you’re staying in Lichnos instead. The town itself is very relaxed with traditional tavernas and cafes to enjoy.
Explore the Castle of Parga
When it comes to places to visit in Parga, you can’t miss the castle. The remains of the Venetian Castle of Parga sit on a hilltop which divides Valtos Beach from the Parga town port. The castle ruins are what you see from Valtos Beach.
The castle can be reached by a short hike from the path at the end of Patatoukou street. If you’re staying at Marthas Studio, the entrance to the castle is 30 metres from the property on that street.
The hilltop itself offers beautiful views of Parga and the bay. You can actually walk through the ruins which are partially grown over and it feels like you’re on a jungle exploration adventure!
You can walk to the top of the ruins where the old fortress defence walls were, walk through the old corridors, storerooms and tunnels that were once used.
Also on the site is a cafe and art gallery displaying local works of art. It’s a lovely place under the shade of the trees and away from the hustle and bustle of the main Parga town.
Rent a boat in Parga
Renting a boat in Parga is a must-do activity on your trip. Ask your accommodation for local boat company recommendations, or do what we did and just call the advertised number on the side of one of the boats docked in the town port!
Greece tourism rules allow people to drive a small boat themselves without a specific license, so this is your chance to take some food and drinks and enjoy an afternoon cruising along the coastline.
But if you’re not feeling too confident about driving a boat yourself, there are plenty of boat tour options in Parga too. Head to the port pier to see the various tour booths and guides offering their day trips. Look out for day tours to Antipaxos, Paxos and the Blue Caves if you want to explore some of the Greek islands off this coastline.
Tuck in to an authentic Greek Salad or fresh seafood
If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Parga, I’m sorry to say you’re going to be spoilt for choice. We didn’t have one bad meal on our entire trip and our diet in Parga consisted mostly of the most mouth-watering Greek salads and yummy fresh seafood.
I highly recommend asking your hotel or host to recommend their favourite places to eat in the area if you’re looking for the most authentic experience.
We enjoyed a meal at Taverna Stefanos on our last evening which sits on the cliffside with huge open windows overlooking Valtos Beach.
You will not be disappointed by the food here, be sure to try the fresh seafood including octopus, Moussaka, their signature grilled meat dishes and of course Greek Salad on the side of everything!
Take one of the day trips from Parga
If you’re considering heading out of town and exploring places to visit near Parga, there are plenty of options!
Visit the ancient amphitheatre at Dodoni
If you’re looking for things to do near Parga, Greece then Dodoni is just an hours drive inland from Parga and this huge Greek-Roman amphitheatre dates back to around 300 BC. Pilgrims used to travel here to hear the voice of Zeus, now this important and vast archeological site is open for visitors to explore.
Set sail on a day trip to Corfu from Parga
I’ve already mentioned a day trip boat ride to Paxos, but did you know you can also take a day trip boat ride to Corfu? The beautiful Venetian houses and winding streets of Corfu are perfect for a day of exploring. Often there are boat trips leaving Parga that visit both Paxos and Corfu, so check with the local operators if this is something you’re interested in.
If you want to take the day ferry to Corfu, this departs from Igoumenitsa which is a 40 minute drive up the coast from Parga. Some people may consider this option and extend this trip with a couple of days in Corfu before flying out of Corfu airport which serves many more European destinations.
Spend one day in Albania on a day trip from Parga
Yes, visiting Albania is an option now, they’re open and so welcoming of tourists. Albania was the next stop on my Balkan road trip after I departed Parga so I can absolutely confirm that there is so much to see in this stunning, underrated country and the border crossing was so quick and easy.
You will need a car and the drive from Parga to Albania is around 1 hour and 30 minutes, from there I highly recommend visiting Butrint National Park which is another 30 minutes past the border.
Butrint is home to the spectacular ruins of a sprawling Greco-Roman and medieval city. You can wander among the ruins of an amphitheatre, churches, homes and the castle. Enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding National Park landscape.
Entrance is around 600lek but they let us in for free for some reason (!!) and it took us 2-3 hours to explore.
If you’re in need of some relaxation after that, head just a little further up the road to the beach resort town of Ksamil where you’ll see water even clearer than in Parga if that’s possible! There are plenty of cafes and bars along the beach so you can relax and enjoy the view of the Ksamil islands.
Explore the stunning Meteora monasteries
I mentioned that on my Balkans road trip, I drove to Parga from Meteora. This is only a 2 hour and 40 minute trip, so easily possible to do as a day trip and so worth it to see Meteora.
Make the most of your day trip with this Meteora monasteries tour.
Meteora is one of the most unforgettable places I’ve ever visited. This UNESCO Heritage Site is made up of 6 Orthodox monasteries which are built on top of towering stone pillars, some of which can only be reached by cable car or a slightly terrifying set of switchback stairs carved into the rock.
The good news is that if you have a car, you can drive between the monasteries and the viewpoints over the valley to enjoy the best vantage points and panoramas of the site. I highly recommend the sunset viewpoint (labeled as such on most tourist maps and labeled as ‘Observation Deck’ on Google Maps).
There are plenty of hikes in the area between the monasteries, although you would probably need more than a day to do these and visit several of the monasteries. The Monastery of Rousanou is the most famous, as well as the Monastery of the Holy Trinity. The Monastery of St, Stephen is also fascinating as it’s perched on a separate rock with access only via a bridge.
Visit the Sivota resort further up the coast
I visited the Sivota, Greece resort in 2016, before I’d even heard of Parga, even though Sivota is just a 35 minute drive from Parga.
Sivota, or Syvota, is a village further north along the coast with several waterfront resorts. Neilson holiday company operate the Resort Beachclub and active holidays here, where you can do any number of active watersports, diving, sailing, hire a yacht and more, all led by their expert instructors.
Buy a day pass to the resort, enjoy the waterfront, book an activity and enjoy a lunch at their restaurant with panoramic views.
Keep active with hikes or walks in Parga and the surrounding areas
Ali Pasha Castle
The hike to Ali Pasha Castle from Parga takes around an hour and a half in each direction. The ruins of the castle are free to explore once you arrive and you can enjoy stunning views in every direction.
Vikos National Park
Vikos National Park is perfect for avid hikers who want to try out more of what the hiking scene in Greece has to offer.
The National Park is around 2 hours and 30 minutes drive from Parga and is a haven of mountains and breathtaking gorges, lakes and forests for recreational activities such as camping, swimming, climbing, hunting and off-roading, all of which are permitted in the park.
Browse souvenirs in the shops in Parga
For those who love trinkets and souvenirs, you’ll find no shortage of these in the winding backstreets of Parga. The town is full of quaint streets and alleys behind the harbourfront, filled with local shops and stores selling everything from boutique fashion brands to handmade glass, to local Ouzo to take home with you.
If you’re staying further up the hill, there are warrens of streets and stepways to walk down towards the harbourfront and explore these stores, ask your accommodation to direct you.
I hope this Parga travel guide helps you plan things to see and do in Parga, Greece on your trip. For a small place, there really is so much on offer and whilst these are the top things to do in Parga, there is so much more both further afield and nearby to explore if you’re staying longer than a week.
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