Updated on 10/01/2022. Mykonos and Santorini are two of the most famous Greek islands, and especially during the high season, they can be very crowded.
But, there is an island, which I totally love, and I am a huge fan, although it might not have the glam and the nightlife of Mykonos (find our dedicated post here!) or the outstanding beauty of Santorini.
And this is Paros island!!
Paros is one of my favourite islands for many reasons.
It has beautiful beaches, you can do sports activities, visit trendy bars and clubs, enjoy delicious local food, taste excellent local wine, admire the traditional architecture and follow paths for trekking and hiking! The list, as you might understand, is endless!
But, the most important characteristic is that it’s for everyone!
That’s why going to Paros, you will notice the people from any age group visit it, from young people and students to families and older couples. This creates a fantastic mix that gives the island an extra dimension!
Paros isn’t the only excellent alternative destination you can discover – because there are wonderful islands nearby which we’re going to present to you. You’ll also learn about Antiparos, a perfect excursion from Paros, with its own remarkable charms and temptations.
In this post, you will find out:
- When should you visit Paros?
- How to get to Paros?
- What to do.
- Best beaches.
- Where to stay in Paros.
- Paros or Naxos?
- A detailed map with all the best places to visit and stay!
Update: Due to Coronavirus, this summer might also be “special”. We wrote an article (more information here!) to explain the current measures and situation, and we will update it as often as possible!
Also, see our dedicated travel guides about Paros!
When you should visit Paros Island.
July and August are the hottest months on the island – check the below table with the average temperatures. But these months are the busiest, and it can get quite crowded! My favourite months are May, June and September, which are ideal, as the island is quiet and much less touristy.
How to get to Paros Island.
You can visit Paros by ferry from Piraeus port, where there is a choice between a slow ferry and a fast (which is more expensive).
Alternatively, you can fly to the new international airport through Athens (the flight lasts around 45′!) or Thessaloniki (~1 hour) as the local airport in Paros isn’t so well connected yet.
Personally, when I have enough time, I prefer the ferry. Of course, it might take longer, but I am on holiday, so I am not in a hurry! Also, I like enjoying the view from the ship’s deck and feeling the air by the sea!
The best platform for ferry tickets is the Ferryscanner. It is straightforward and user friendly to check prices and book online tickets!
Best Things to do in Paros
#Visit Antiparos island
You might wonder why I started the must-visit list with a suggestion of another island!! And that’s an excellent point!
Antiparos was really an island for total isolation and relaxation, but the recent years have changed a little bit as it attracts more tourists every year! Still, it is a picturesque island located very close to Paros, and it is ideal for a one-day trip or more. It is up to you!
From the port of Antiparos you can walk to the main village, the 15th-century Venetian castle and seven beaches, Psaraliki 1 and 2 (the second beach has the Fanari beach bar), Snifeiko, Livadia, Agios Spiridonas, Panagia beach (~20 – 30′ walk) and the Camping beach which is also nudism friendly!
The best beaches are Agios Georgios and Faneromeni, but you will definitely need a car!
Ferries from Paros to Antiparos depart very frequently from Parikia or Pounta. Pounta might be a preferable choice, as it has more frequent ferries, it last just 10′ and you can get a vehicle with you (not entirely necessary for a one-day trip). Here, you will find the timetable from Pounta here and here from Parikia.
#Visit Parikia and Panagia Ekatontapiliani Church
Parikia is the main harbour, and it has its own beauty with alleys, elegant boutiques, some fantastic restaurants, the Church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani and an open- cinema (check here the programme)!
On some travel guides, you may see the Frankish Castle ruins included on the top things-to-do list, but personally I believe that it is not so impressive as it sounds!
A local legend claims that 99 doors have been found in the Panagia Ekatondapiliani church, but the 100th will be discovered only when Constantinople (Istanbul) will become Greek again!
But this is just a legend, and the door has never been found! You can search for that if you want!! You never know!
To be frank, with you, the church hasn’t anywhere near 99 doors! But, let’s keep this between you and me!
#Enjoy Water Sports
If you like water sports, then Paros is an excellent choice for you, as you can do a wide range of sports, like surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, kayaking and canoeing kiteboarding, etc. Some of the best beaches for water sports on the island are Golden Beach, New Golden Beach and Santa Maria.
Especially in New Golden Beach, the Professional Windsurfing Association’s (PWA) World Cup has been held since 1993, and it is regarded as one of the very best in the world!
#Get lost in Naoussa village
View this post on Instagram
This was an old fishing village that has transformed the recent years into a cosmopolitan and picturesque place!
You will find narrow alleys painted with the traditional white colour, unique little shops and boutiques with local products, great restaurants with top local and international cuisine, fantastic bars and clubs, and many churches.
Just stroll around without any planning, and you surely pass by the old port, where all the magic happens. There you will find the half-sunken Venetian castle.
If you stay there and prefer easy access to the beach, Naousa has three beaches (Piperi, Piperaki and Agioi Anargyri).
Naoussa is about 9 km from the ferry port in Parikia (20′ by bus) and about 20 km from the airport.
#Drink some local wine and visit an excellent winery!
The third-generation winemaker – since 1910 – produce high-quality wine and has created a beautiful winery. You can visit and taste this distinctive local wine and be guided to the small museum with the old winemaking tools, photos, etc.
You will find famous Greek varieties, including Assyrtiko and Malagouzia, and local indigenous varieties like Monemvasia, Mandilaria, Aidani Black, Vaftra and Karampraimi.
It is open from Monday to Saturday (10:00 – 18:00) for tastings, and it is situated in Naoussa.
You can visit their website here!
#Visit Paros Park
This park is a protected area with walking trails, different rock formations, caves, where you can relax with some beautiful views. Paros Park has an outdoor Amphitheatre and runs the summer Festival at the park, with concerts & plays. There’s also a free open-air cinema with summer film showings by the sea. There you will find some beautiful and easy trails!
You can try the Lighthouse and Cape Almyros. Especially I recommend the Lighthouse route before the sunset as the scenery is even more stunning! More details here!
In Paros Park, you will find three beaches: Monastiri Beach, the Perikopetra and Turku Ammos.
On Monastiri beach, the main beach, there is a lovely cafe restaurant for snacks, lunch and coffee! Note that the whole park is free to enter and open 24-hours a day. You can reach it by car, by bus and by water taxi from Naoussa.
#Enjoy Fantastic Beaches!
Paros is also famous for its beaches!
We have created a detailed post with all the 24 best beaches on Paros island!
Now, on this post, we gathered the top ones, which you should visit:
Kolymbithres: Small beaches trapped between big rocks and the water provide for a beautiful setting! There you will find sunbeds and clear water.
It is ideal for families with children. And have in mind. Don’t stop at the first bay, but check the others as well. You will also find a sailing centre offering windsurfing and small sailboat rentals and lessons; in the area, kayaks and SUPs are available for rent.
Friendly warning: In July and August it can be very crowded!
Santa Maria: Santa Maria beach starts relatively shallow – which is excellent for children (!) and then gently gets deeper. There are a few beach bars and restaurants and even some water sports available for rental. It is close to Naoussa, and a bus serves it. Maybe it isn’t ideal for the peak season if you are looking for a quiet and relaxing place!
Golden Beach: This is one of my favourite beaches, but perhaps I am a little biased as I have spent some lovely summers there.
It has deep blue waters, golden sands and the beautiful Cycladic landscape.
Also, there, you will enjoy everything from coffee to cocktails at the beach and from sandwiches to romantic dinners.
If you are a surfer, don’t miss this location. One of the best places for wind-surf and incredible wind!!
Monastiri: Lovely beach, well organised with shallow and clear water, ideal for families! You can follow the rocky path (around 20′) toward the boats, and you will find a peaceful cove beach that is nude friendly and not organised.
Faragas: The lovely setting and the clear, light blue water make this beach high on my personal list. It has a beautiful beach restaurant where you can have lunch or refreshments.
It is protected from the north wind, which is quite common in Paros island.
And many, many more beaches! We give an extra tip for a beautiful beach just below!
Now, the other big question comes to our mind.
Where to stay
The main towns that you can stay in are Parikia, Naoussa, Piso Livadi and Drios. Lefkes is also a good and affordable choice, especially if you don’t mind staying on the island’s mainland.
Here you will find a complete list of the best hotels on Paros Island and a detailed map.
Now that we highlighted the top points for Paros, we will give some extra tips, some other secrets!
Lefkes is probably the most famous mountainous village on Paros island, and it’s worth spending some time wandering its quaint alleyways! This village has retained the serenity and the traditional colour charm of an era that has passed!
Don’t forget to visit the Church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity), which was built in 1830 and you will definitely notice it.
Also, from Lefkes begin that lead you to Lagada, Drios, aspro Horio, Agkaria Kamari etc.
We did the most famous one, the Byzantium Path, a 3.5 km path paved with slabs and Parian marble, and the history of this path goes back to Byzantine times (1000 AD).
The route is generally downhill, except for 150 to 200 meters, lasts about 45 minutes and is I think it would be ok for families with children and teenagers.
You will end up at the small and beautiful Prodromos village, and you can have a drink or eat something from the “Tsitsanis” tavern or – my favourite – the traditional Kallitechniko kafenio (find the location here!)
Get lost in the white colour of the village and take as many photos as you want from the stunning white and blue churches. The name of Prodromos village comes from the temple of Agios Ioannis the Baptist, and every summer, on June 23rd, one of the most important festivals of Paros takes place here.
Lefkes – Prodromos trail ©secretgreece
There are many beautiful beaches like Chrysi Akti, Pounta Bar Beach, Santa Maria, and Faraggas and Aliki. But, close to Naousa, you will find a lovely beach, Laggeri, with fine sand, spectacular dunes and cedars trees, offering the requested privacy for the lovers of unspoiled nature!
Paros or Naxos?
This is a frequent question that I get asked frequently in SecretGreece! Before letting you know my preference, let’s analyse it a bit!
Both islands are easy to access with airports (Naxos airport is larger with better connections) and frequent ferries from Piraeus and Rafina!
Both have excellent beaches that I have spent many summers enjoying! Paros has plenty of different beaches. Here you can find here my analytical guide about the best 24 beaches in Paros. Naxos may have fewer, but they are longer, with fine quality sand and great for sunbathing and relaxing. (Our article about the best beaches in Naxos can be found here.)
Here is a field where there is no winner as both islands can offer fantastic and different activities!
Both islands are a paradise for water sports, like windsurfing and kitesurfing etc. And also, both have many hiking trails. Paros trails might be easier and have better access, but Naxos I think, are prettier as it is a more wild and mountainous island.
Lately, Paros has opened new high-quality restaurants where they use some of the famous local products. On the other side, Naxos has more traditional Greek food, and due to the size of the island, it produces some excellent meat, cheese and vegetable products.
Both islands have some unique villages that you can walk around and spend some time there! Paros has more fishing villages, like Naoussa, Piso Livadi, Ampelas, Aliki etc.
Naxos has some great mountainous villages with a local and traditional character like Filoti, Halki, Apeiranthos etc.
In terms of nightlife, I think we have a winner here! Paros is an island that gathers a variety of nice bars and clubs, especially in Naoussa village.
Both islands have two of the best bus connections in the Cyclades, with many routes and frequent buses. Naxos is much larger so, if you want to discover it you will need a car!
So, now my answer to the question would be…… it depends! When I was younger I preferred Paros and now I tend to want to discover Naxos. Note, that you can visit both islands as they are super close (25′ το 50′) by ferry.
How to move around Paros
Paros is an island that you will need a car, as it has quite a few places to visit. But, if you prefer not to drive at all during your holiday, then I would like to inform you that the bus connection in Paros is one of the best in the Cyclades!! You can check here for timetables, tickets etc. Note that July and August can be quite busy, so bear this in mind. Also, there is the option to get a taxi.
You can find at the below map all the mentioned places and our extra tips!
Do you have anything secret to share with us about beautiful Paros? Just leave us a comment!