A few hours away from famous Mykonos and Santorini, translucid water beaches and picturesque villages can be found in much less crowded scenery. Sitting in the heart of the Aegean, Paros is an island that captures the authentic charm of the Cyclades. Easily accessible by ferry from Athens, it is becoming an increasingly popular destination.
I discovered Paros as a baby, walking my first steps in my old family home. I soon discovered my passion for the Aegean Sea and, as years passed by, wandered around the island, learning all its secrets.
1. Panagia Ekatontapiliani Church
Built during the fourth century, the church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani was allegedly founded by Saint Helen, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Located a few meters away from the central port of Paros, in Parikia, this treasure of Byzantine architecture offers tourists a glimpse of the orthodox faith, inherently connected to the island’s traditional lifestyle.
Ticket Price: Free entrance
2. The Byzantine Path
If you are a history fan looking for a nice hike, then you will enjoy the Byzantine Path trail from Prodromos to Lefkes. Already in use during the Byzantine era (1000 AD), the path is paved by Parian marble. Spreading over three and a half kilometres, it offers key views of the island.
3. Kolymbithres Beach
The most famous beach of Paros, Kolymbithres is an agglomeration of small beaches surrounded by huge blocks of granite modelled into strange shapes over centuries by the wind and sea. The water is crystal clear so you can see the sea bed.
Other top beaches: Santa Maria and Monastiraki.
The second biggest village on the island, Naoussa is famed for its picturesque streets, sea level bars and nightlife. Developed around a tiny, colourful port, the narrow streets are filled with whitewashed houses and offer some of the most beautiful views in the Cyclades.
Well connected to attractions by public transportation, taxis, car rental and tour agencies, Naoussa is also a convenient place to lodge and offers a wide range of accommodation.
5. Day Trips to Other Islands
Located in the centre of the Cyclades, Paros forms a hub between islands. Two hours and a half away from Santorini and one hour and a half from Mykonos and Delos, it offers the opportunity to visit the most famous Cycladic landscapes and archaeological sites.
Ticket Price: Prices vary depending on the destination and travel agency.
1. Natural Clay at Kalogeros Beach
Thirty minutes away by car from Naoussa, Kalogeros Beach is framed by mountain sides covered by grey clay. Wet the clay with water, apply the mixture to your skin and let it dry for 15 minutes to get a natural spa experience!
2. Butterflies Valley
The trees of the Butterflies Valley give out a fragrance that draws Jersey Tiger Moth butterflies, famous for their bright colours. They can be admired in the valley from late June to late September.
Ticket Price: 3€
3. Concerts under the stars at Paros Park
Close to Naoussa, there is an amphitheatre where concerts are organised each year during the summer. If you sit towards the upper part, you will be able to see the sea beyond the stage. If you look up, you might catch a few shooting stars. You can find the full program of Paros Park events here.
4. Windsurfing in Golden Beach
If you enjoy water sports, then head to Golden Beach for a windsurfing class. Recognised as one of the best windsurfing spots in Greece, the beach hosts many international windsurfing competitions.
Ticket Price: Windsurfing classes typically vary between 25 and 45€.
5. Museum of Cycladic Folklore
Located in Aliki, the small Museum of Cycladic Folklore showcases miniatures of the most famous monuments of the Cyclades. There, one can also appreciate models of ancient ships and, if lucky, meet Benetos, the creator of the artefacts, who is always happy to share a cup of coffee and a good story!
Ticket Price: Free entry
Travel when you’re there
While most central places on the island are accessible by bus, less touristy destinations are only reachable by car. Motorbikes, quads and cars can be rented from Parikia and Naoussa. Taxis are much cheaper than in the UK and can also be a convenient transportation method for an occasional ride. Don’t forget to ask the taxi driver to turn on the meter to avoid being charged the tourist price!
Depending on your budget, you can also rent small boats or go on small boat tours to access isolated beaches. Donkey rides are also available, starting from Parikia.
Food & Drink
1. Fresh Fish
With Paros being an island of the Aegean, it is easy to find a wide variety of fresh fish.
Try the fish of the day at one of the best fish restaurants in Naoussa, Mitsi Restaurant, and enjoy the food alongside amazing views.
Address: Naoussa, Paros 844 01
2. Local productions
Paros is home to the Louridis winery, producer of renowned wine. I recommend buying a bottle of wine directly from the winery for cheaper prices and the best quality.
Local cheese and yoghurt production from Paros and neighbouring Naxos are also worth the detour. Take a bite of xynomizithra, talagani, Naxos yoghurt or graviera cheese: you will be pleasantly surprised!
3. Greek Gastronomy
Greek gastronomy provides a wide variety of plates such as Moussaka, Pastitsio, Gemista… Most of which can also be found and savoured at traditional restaurants all over Paros.
For the best moussaka, head to All day Taverna Karina in Naoussa. Address: Piperi Beach, Naoussa, Paros 844 01
Tourism is a staple of Greece’s economy, and authorities have made it easy for tourists to come into and travel around the country relatively safely, despite the pandemic. A perfect mix of Greek natural landscape, tradition and modern lifestyle, Paros is the ideal destination for anyone wishing to experience the Cyclades away from touristic mobs.
Words and photographs by Marina Grigoriou