The sun is sinking on the horizon and the Ionian Sea is glistening with the last rays as we look up from our table in Parga Beach Resort’s Alselea Restaurant and experience a dramatic moment.
A man and woman eat at a table in the sand. We kept a vague eye on her all evening, wondering if a marriage proposal was imminent.
When we finish our appetizers, they are actually standing by the water and experiencing an intense moment. We hold our breath. Then they kiss: it’s clearly a “yes” – and the guests burst into applause.
Annabel Venning visits the pretty town of Parga (pictured), which is in the Epirus region on the north-west coast of mainland Greece
“We get quite a lot of suggestions here,” says Roi Ioannou, who runs the Parga Beach Resort together with her brother Christos.
It’s easy to see why, with the backdrop of boats bobbing up and down and the romantic ruins of Parga Castle looking down from the headland.
Parga is located in the Epirus region on the northwest coast of mainland Greece. Its position facing the Ionian Sea from Corfu, Paxos and Antipaxos gave it strategic importance and it was frequently attacked by the Ottomans, Venetians and French.
Annabel stays at Parga Beach Resort (above), where her fellow guests are a “mix of families and couples from Britain and Scandinavia, as well as Greek holidaymakers.”
Parga Beach Resort has more than 100 rooms — like the guest room pictured — in stone cottages with porches and balconies
Above is Parga Beach Resort’s Alselea restaurant, where Annabel “lives a dramatic moment” as she witnesses a couple getting engaged
Today, Parga is a small town of colorful houses topped with terracotta tiles, tucked between the forested hills above and the sea below. It almost feels like an island.
It’s rarely crowded and locals navigate the narrow streets on mopeds. From the beach below the town you can easily swim to a small two-humped island, Panagia, in the bay, with its own small whitewashed church.
Actually there is a small church on almost every corner of Parga. When local fishermen got caught in storms, they promised God that they would build a church if he brought them safely to shore.
Annabel describes Parga as “a small town of brightly colored houses topped with terracotta tiles, tucked away between the forested hills above and the sea below” that “almost feels like an island”.
Parga is “seldom crowded and the locals ride their mopeds through the narrow streets,” reveals Annabel
From the beach below the town you can easily swim to a small two-humped island, Panagia (above), in the bay, which has a small whitewashed church on it
Parga’s position across the Ionian Sea from Corfu, Paxos and Antipaxos gave it strategic importance and was frequently attacked by the Ottomans, Venetians and French
Near Parga is Necromanteion, which the ancient Greeks believed was the entrance to the underworld and where they consulted the oracle of death. The river Acheron is said to flow into the underworld. Today you can swim or kayak in the cool water.
Another nearby archaeological site is the ruined city of Cassope with the remains of a temple dedicated to the goddess of love, Aphrodite.
But it’s the dazzling sea and safe sandy beaches that are Parga’s main attractions.
Pictured is a bird’s-eye view of the Necromanteion archaeological site, which the ancient Greeks believed was the entrance to the underworld
Annabel reveals that the river Acheron pictured is meant to flow into the underworld. “Now you can swim in the cool water or kayak,” she notes
A nearby archaeological site is the ruined city of Cassope (above), complete with the remains of a temple dedicated to the love goddess Aphrodite
Below the town lies the beach of Kryoneri. To the west, Valtos beach is considered the best beach in western Greece, sheltered and peaceful with a handful of hotels, no high-rises, including Parga Beach Resort.
There are more than 100 rooms in stone cottages with porches and balconies. Some have private pools, but there are four other pools dotted around the resort, as well as a yoga platform.
There is also a wellness center – I fall asleep during my massage, the ultimate compliment to the masseur I think – and a gym, games room and playground.
Beaches are the main attraction in Parga, reveals Annabel. Above is Kryoneri Beach, which lies below the town
The ‘sheltered and peaceful’ Valtos beach (pictured) next to Parga to the west is considered the best beach in western Greece
Our fellow guests are a mix of families and couples from the UK and Scandinavia as well as Greek holidaymakers.
If you feel like island hopping, you can take a boat to Corfu, Paxos and Antipaxos.
Or – with the money you saved by not staying on an island – you can rent your own for the day.
If you fancy some island hopping you can take a boat to Antipaxos as pictured above
On a boat tour, Annabel stops for lunch at the port of Gaios (pictured above), the capital of Paxos island
Our boat, chartered from Orca Yachting through the resort (orcayachting.com), takes us around Paxos and Antipaxos, stopping for lunch in Gaios and anchoring in coves beneath limestone cliffs towering over a sparkling turquoise sea.
We snorkel through caves and swim to secluded coves before returning to Parga Beach Resort for another feast.
The Ottomans and Venetians were right about the attractions of Parga and its surroundings. They are worth fighting for.