The colourful Varkarola Festival celebrates the return of Greeks to Parga back in the early 20th century, after a 100-year exile. On the night of the 14th, boats take locals and tourists 100 metres across to the islet of Panagia for a huge traditional fiesta. The next day, Venetian-style boats leave from the islet and sail to Parga’s harbour – a ceremonial return to their homeland. Beachside fireworks end the 2-day festival.
Rising sharply from sea level, the winding roads and paths around Lichnos make rewarding hiking and biking terrain. Along the way, you’ll see wildflowers and orange and lemon trees, and birds of prey often come in to land on the cliffs. You could take a 2-hour round trip to the tiny chapel of Agia Eleni – perched high on a steep hillside, it has a clear view of Parga town and beyond.
Next to the beach at Lichnos, a fringe of low-key tavernas and bars serve fresh fish, local wine and traditional Greek specialities. For a change of scene you might want to dine out at Parga’s little harbour. Grilled sea bass often tops the menu, but for a side dish try feta souli, a local version of grilled feta cheese mixed with tomatoes and herbs.
Parga is the place to go for leather handbags, jewellery, pottery, embroidered linens, as well as edible treats like honey, ouzo and soumada – a sweet syrup drink made of almonds. Fashionistas, meanwhile, should head to the designers clothes and shoe boutiques in Preveza, an hour’s drive away.