The Best-Shaw family are regular visitors to Paxos and this
year they were our first clients of the season to experience the journey after Greek
airports opened to British airlines on 15th July.
Here is their report of the experience:
“We weren’t sure what to expect on our journey to Paxos this
year but I’m pleased to report that it was far easier and less stressful than
Early morning of 16th July – we arrived at
EasyJet check-in to find no queue and were checked in within two minutes. We
then sailed through security to find a relatively quiet departure lounge where
everyone was social distancing. There were a few shops and food outlets open,
all with minimal queues.
The plane was almost full, with everyone wearing masks but
very civilised boarding and disembarking with passengers and crew respecting
the EasyJet guidelines. There was a reduced trolley service and no hot drinks
but you are allowed to take your own food and drinks on board and remove your
mask while eating and drinking.
On arrival at Corfu airport the plane parked just outside
the terminal so we could walk to passport control, which was very efficient and
went smoothly. Approximately forty people off our flight were selected for a
Covid test. One member of our party was tested which only took a couple of
minutes. She was not told to self-isolate and was never contacted with the
The baggage claim was quick and efficient and no risk of not
being able to social distance due to the reduced number of flights arriving.
There were plenty of taxis available at the airport, we all
wore masks, as did the driver and he kept the windows open.
The Hydrofoil from Corfu to Paxos was busy, but there were seats blocked off to enable groups to be separated. This was the only part of the journey where wearing a mask was not very comfortable due to the heat – but a small price to pay as Paxos quickly came into sight!
We are now ensconced at Eagle’s Nest and will not feel daunted by the journey home when it comes.
On Paxos we have been made to feel welcome – a genuine friendliness coupled with a respect for safety guidelines. We wish we could have self-isolated here for the last 3 months!”
Visit Ithaca any month of the year and you will never be part of a crowd. Ithaca has no cruise ships and no crowded beaches. Athens based Ithacicians will return for their summer break in August but there are still many deserted beaches to be found.
April & May: Normally mild with lots of sunshine and the one-off shower. The olive groves are carpeted with wild flowers – ideal conditions for trail walking. Rivers and waterfalls that have dried up in the summer months are flowing.
June: Pool and sea temperatures are comfortably warm and the views to offshore islands are crisp and clear.
July & August: Higher temperatures, warmer seas and more visitors to the island.
September: Perfect conditions for escaping the crowds but still with high temperatures.
October: similar to May.
Are beaches sand or pebble?
Apart from some beautiful sandy beaches in Afales Bay (only
accessible by hired boat), all beaches on Ithaca are pebble and fine shingle.
Most of the beaches are natural (no sunloungers etc) and usually deserted. The
following beaches have “cantinas” (serving drinks & snacks): Filiatro,
Vathy, one of the beaches in Kioni Bay, Aetos, Marmaka, Gidaki, Polis Bay.
Polis Bay beach has sunbeds and umbrellas, toilets, showers, kayaks for hire –
all supervised by Takis the beach manager .
What is there to do for teenagers?
Life on Ithaca tends to be low key. There are a few music
bars on the Vathy waterfront but the other villages are for those wanting a
quieter alternative to city living. Family activities on offer include boat
hire, kayaking & paddle boards at Filiatro Beach just outside Vathy, scuba diving,
snorkelling trips; hiking trails, electric bike hire.
Eating out costs?
There is a good selection of tavernas in all the island’s
villages plus a few off the beaten track. In the main they will be traditional
Greek cuisine with Mediterranean twists & fusions. The average cost is
around 30 euros per person for a 3 course meal including house wine – freshly
caught fish however, will be more expensive.
There are some excellent and very innovative waterfront
tavernas in Frikes.
The house wine offered in tavernas is usually very good but
there are now some very good Greek wineries on so well worthwhile trying them.
Is it easy to buy fresh fish?
You can often buy fresh fish direct from the fishing boats
on the harbour front during the mornings. You will also find a fishmonger in Stavros
and Rigos (the man with the fish van) sells in all the villages.
Are supermarkets well stocked?
You will find everything you need. Most also sell fresh
fruit and vegetables. Many have a butcher’s and a deli counter. British
products are readily available, although may be more expensive.
Do supermarkets sell gluten free/dairy free products?
The majority of the larger supermarkets sell a good range of
dairy and gluten free products. Supermarkets in coastal resorts will also
generally sell them, although the range may not be as good as in the larger
Do supermarkets deliver?
Most supermarkets and minimarkets are usually happy to
deliver to local properties providing you spend a reasonable amount in their
Are pharmacies well stocked?
Yes – and more treatments available over the counter than in
British chemists. You will also find well known brands of baby formula and more
specific baby supplies that may not be stocked in the supermarket such as
creams, dummies etc.
There are 3 chemists: 1 in Stavros and 2 in Vathy.
Are credit cards widely accepted?
Most shops, supermarkets and tavernas now accept
credit/debit cards but you’ll get a bigger smile when paying in cash.
Best parts of the island to stay?
Ithaca’s east coast hillsides of olive groves, pine and
cypress forest, shelve gently to small coves – with distant views of the Greek
mainland. Ithaca’s west coast is steeper and has dramatic views to the east
coast of Kefalonia.
The seaside villages of Kioni and Frikes are picture
postcard pretty. Vathy is more of a working town but has beautiful views across
the bay to the east coast of the island.
The drive from Frikes, in the far north, to Vathy, in the
south, takes around 30 minutes so wherever you stay, you are never far from a
beach or village.
How child friendly is Ithaca?
Greeks love children and Ithacicians are no exception.
Very few pools are gated and some gardens can be uneven with
prickly shrubs. Most tavernas have a
childrens’ menu or are happy to provide child-size portions.
Is Ithaca good for boat hire?
There are boat hirers in Vathy, Kioni and Polis Bay. A
speedboat licence needs to be shown for hiring a boat with an outboard over
30HP. Hiring a boat is the best way to find your own private beach and to
explore the coastline.
Are there good medical facilities?
There is a Medical Centre in Vathy and a smaller medical
centre in Stavros. The GP and Head of Vathy’s Medical Centre is a good heart
Ferry service to other islands?
There are ferry services connecting Ithaca with Patras and
Killini on the mainland, Kefalonia and Lefkas. The ferry from Piso Aetos on
Ithaca to Sami on Kefalonia takes just 30 minutes – alternatively, private
speedboat charter takes just 15 minutes.
Voucher Prize can not be exchanged for a cash alternative. Voucher must be redeemed by 31/10/2019 Flights, transfers & car hire not included. Minimum 7 day stay. Winner will be drawn at random. Winner will be contacted via email. Draw will be made on 20/05/2019.
By entering competition you accept that your email address may be used to contact you about this competition and others hosted by Ionian Villas.
Archie is now 19 months old and has been travelling with us on our trips to Greece since the age of 6 months! Our little man has done several flights including one long haul and he really seems to be getting the hang of it now… as do we! Alex and I often get asked how we find travelling with a young baby/ toddler. So, I thought I would share with you some of our tips, including useful gadgets and good advice given to us along the way.
Firstly, try not to over-fret! 90% of people on the flight have probably had children of their own or have children in their family so they know it isn’t easy travelling with little humans. Cut yourself some slack – if your baby starts crying don’t worry, try and stay calm – your baby will sense your anxiety and it will only make things worse.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks. Now Archie is a toddler we pack as many snacks as we can. We try and go low sugar so he doesn’t get too excited on the flight!
If your little one is walking, try and tire him/her out as much as possible in the airport. If they want to walk up and down the aisle on the flight – stay close but again don’t worry about the occasional passenger scowl – most people understand. A three hour flight to Greece is a long time for a child to sit still.
If your baby is on formula you can pre order this from Boots up to 5 working days before you fly and pick it up in the terminal … it’s really handy. You can also do this with baby food too!
To help with ear popping on the flight a friend told me to try to feed your baby their milk at take-off and landing. The sucking really helps regulate the pressure.
Fun pack … we always pack a little fun pack for Archie full of some of his favourite toys along with some new exciting ones to keep him busy on the flight and for the holiday. But don’t forget to hold some back for the flight home!
Our favourite holiday must-haves and gadgets
Bullabaloo muslins – these muslins are great and so versatile. I particularly like the large size. I used mine for snuggling Archie up on the plane and when he was small they were great for creating shade or as a blanket at the beach. https://bullabaloo.com/collections/new-muslin-swaddles/products/muslin-swaddle-blue-cloud
Once out of a pram it’s a great idea to invest in a lightweight travel pushchair. Our friends who also travel a lot recommended the baby jogger buggy, it folds up easily and has a travel bag with straps. http://babyjogger.co.uk/product/city-tour/
Greek tavernas will make you and your children feel welcome. Many have highchairs and some even have toys/crayons etc. Sometimes we like to go off the beaten track so we take a travel highchair with us – it’s great for beach picnics and can be strapped to any chair. https://summerinfant.co.uk/product/pop-n-sit-booster/
Our top toddler friendly villas
When choosing a holiday villa it can be hard to know which ones are toddler-friendly. Here are our Ionian island favourites ….
Elissa– sleeps 6. The property is all on one level with plenty of outside space and shade. Also within walking distance of Lakka bay which is great when you have a buggy.
Artemis–sleeps 5. The villa is all on one level with lots of grass for burning off some toddler steam!
Limonia – sleeps 8. A great location in the centre of Vathy port close to a children’s play-park. The villa also has an enclosed, fenced-off pool area.
Kalami – sleeps 4. A spacious modern villa in large grounds with plenty of grass around the pool.
Nicholetta – sleeps 4. The villa has an enclosed lawn and swimming pool area. It is a 10 minute walk to Agios Ioannis beach which has a few tavernas and a sheltered swimming area at one end. Lefkas town is also only a 10 minute walk via a flat track.
If you would like any further advice you can always give us a call or email. We have been to all our villas and can help pick the best one for you and your family.
For many people, the concept of a relaxing holiday is not to
be dependent on a car. The smaller Greek islands are therefore conducive to
chilling on foot and not slumped behind a steering wheel.
On most of the Ionian islands you can hire fibreglass boats
and larger ribs with outboard engines ranging from 30HP to twin 350HP. A
speedboat license is required for engines over 30HP.
Hiring a boat with outboard engine is a fun and to many, an
out of the ordinary way to explore an island. Distances on the Ionian islands
are not large but a few special properties have a mooring spot within a stone’s
Angelika(sleeps up to 5) is a 2-minute walk to Gaios waterfront.
The Ionian islands of Greece have some of the most
beautiful, natural coastlines and crystal clear waters in southern Europe.
The islands offer a diverse playground for both explorer and
cushioned deckchair enthusiast.
Say you are the one responsible for planning the family
holiday or for trying to get a party of friends together – say Sally wants to
escape city pressures and read a book in the shade of an olive tree; Malcolm
only has a week off and wants to experience a different island coastline each
day; Isobel just wants everyone else to be happy (especially Malcolm as he just
won’t sit still); twins Frank & Fiona can’t do boats as they fear sea
sickness; Pops and Granma want to be pampered. The Huddlestones and the
Brinkmans don’t yet know if they can join the party.
How do you choose the right compromise for everyone’s holiday
A more conventional decision might be to either book one
Greek island villa for all or one crewed yacht for all. But why not mix the two
and satisfy everyone?
Ionian Villas offers a wide selection of Ionian island properties for parties of 2 to 20. Fleewinter offer luxury crewed yachts in the Ionian for up to 10 people.
Why not spend a week in a comfy Ionian island villa to keep everyone except Malcolm happy, followed by a week on a Fleewinter yacht exploring the other Ionian islands. If Sally and the twins don’t want to join the yacht party, they can fly back home or extend their villa stay. In any case there’ll be plenty of room on board for the Huddlestones and Brinkmans.
Fleewinter’s yachts have from 3 to 5 cabins taking up to 10
and each one has a skipper and private chef.
You can get involved in the sailing or just take it easy and let the
crew do the work. Each day you decide with the crew whether to take it easy in
a beautiful bay or explore some of the villages and tavernas.
It’s a bit like having a floating luxury villa, and like all
great houses each yacht has a garage full of toys: waterskis, wakeboards, paddleboards,
windsurfers and inflatable toys that are towed behind the private
speedboat. All meals are included except
dinner where you have the option to dine onboard or head ashore to explore.
If you book a 2019 Fleewinter yacht charter through us before the end of March, a 10% price reduction will apply.
After the Trojan War it took Odysseus 10 eventful years to
return to his Ithaca home.
Reaching the end of his journey, Odysseus was taken from
Kefalonia to Ithaca in a Phaeacian longboat. Seeing the Phaeacians returning to
Kefalonia, Poseidon raised his trident and turned the boat and oarsmen to
Tzika House and the Sunset Cottages look down to an outcrop of rock emerging from the sea in the distinct shape of a Phaeacian longboat.
It is said that the Phaeacians dropped Odysseus off at the beach below Dexa Beach House and Villa Areti. The photo below was taken by the owner of Areti – the rainbow falls onto the beach.
Nowadays Odysseus could fly to Kefalonia, then a 40 minute taxi journey to the port of Sami with a private speedboat to whisk him over to Ithaca in 30 minutes. All arranged by our Ithaca manager, Sue.
And to regain his strength before slaughtering Penelope’s suitors he could hide himself away in comfort at Hilltop House.
In Episode 5 of the latest series of The Durrells, the family are invited for dinner by some Italian friends.
The beautiful Manor House was chosen as the filming location for this dinner.
You too can be part of the Durrells’ adventure and have a special holiday escape on Corfu at The Manor House.
The Manor House, a mid 18th Century Venetian residence, hides away from the outside world and is a perfect venue for the Durrells. The visitors books contain the signatures of crowned heads and their families, film stars and celebrities – testament to a special comfort and privacy.
The house has the peaceful feel of a bygone era but modern touches include a 72 square metre pool. The views over the channel between Corfu and the mainland of Greece, are magnificent.
We can offer good availability in June, July and September for parties up to 10.