Situated in the heart of the Cyclades, Paros is a classically beautiful Greek island dotted with quaint churches, welcoming fishing villages, winding cobblestone streets and alluring turquoise coves that are just calling your name. Whether you’re into hiking, wine-tasting, boat trips or beach hopping, there are plenty of things to see and do on the island of Paros.
From the Museum of Cycladic Folklore and the Archaeological Museum of Paros to the Naoussa Venetian Castle and the famed Panagia Ekatontapiliani Church, there are loads of cultural sights and attractions to keep you entertained.
When you’re not sight-seeing in the capital, you can kick back and relax on one of the 40+ beaches spread around the island’s 120kms of coastline! Read on to discover some of my favourite things to do in Paros so that you can start planning your trip.
A Guide to Paros Island Greece
Where is Paros
Paros is the third largest island in the Cycladic group of islands that lie in the beautiful azure Aegean sea. Paros is situated close to the island of Naxos and a channel of water -just eight kilometres in width – separates the two islands.
How to get to Paros
There are two ferry services from Pireaus (the port in Athens) to Paros; one fast and the other slow, one more expensive and the other, cheaper! The journey takes between 2h50 and 4h. This is the best way to arrive on the island, but if time is precious, you can fly into the island’s new airport from Athens.
Paros is also connected with a ferry service to other islands like Mykonos, Syros, Naxos and Santorini among others,
The best time to visit Paros
Paros enjoys pleasant weather all year round and has an average of only 62 rainy days each year. The highest temperatures are in July and August when they average 27ºC and the lowest temperatures are in January when the average is just 13ºC. May, June and September are particularly lovely months as the weather is warm and the island is quieter.
Paros is a breezy island because of the ‘Melterni’ wind that blows usually from the north. The wind begins blowing late in the morning and continues throughout the day and is at its strongest in the months of July and August, when the temperature feels deceptively cooler so the frequent application of sun protection is needed. The winds make Paros the ideal place for windsurfers and kite surfers and the beaches on the island’s south-eastern coast (Golden & New Golden beaches) are the best.
Things to do in Paros
1. Check out the Valley of the Butterflies
Situated in Sotires village, just 15 minutes from the port of Parikia, there is an amazing place to visit called ‘the Valley of the Butterflies’ – Petaloudes. The attractive landscape is covered with dense vegetation of cypress trees, plane, oleander and carob. It is completely transformed between June- August, as thousands of beautiful colourful Jersey Tiger Moth butterflies emerge from their cocoons.
These butterflies are brown and yellow with black and white spots and their orange/red wings are visible when they fly. The butterflies can be seen everywhere on all the leaves of the trees. In Greece, this species of butterflies can only be found in Paros and Rhodes.
2. Relax on the gorgeous beaches of Paros
Paros has a great selection of beaches and definitely has one to appeal to you!
Kolybithres is the most famous beach on the island and comprises of several small sandy bays, each enclosed by unique, large, granite rock formations that are one million years old. You can reach the beaches by road, but jumping in a fishing boat at Naoussa is much more fun! The boats carry people across daily, and it is a fun journey with the chance to enjoy great views. As this beach is rocky, the water is crystal clear.
Santa Maria beach is close to Naoussa and has lovely shallow water that does shelve. There are several beach bars and restaurants and some water sports
Golden Beach gets its name from its golden sands and has deep clear waters that are really refreshing. There are restaurants for coffee, cold drinks and even dinner! This beach and New Golden Beach are a paradise for windsurfers as there is often a strong onshore breeze. Interestingly, many of the island beaches have a northerly wind blowing most days.
Monastiri is a small sandy beach with huge rocks, but good for families. Faragas is another delightful beach with clear water and a lovely setting perfect for relaxation and if you get hungry, there is a good beach restaurant too.
You might also want to check: The best beaches in Paros.
3. Hike in Paros Park
What an amazing discovery Paros Park is! There are natural rock formations and numerous trails to follow that reveal the natural beauty of the island. The Lighthouse hiking route is popular -especially for a great view of the sunset. There are three lovely beaches – Monastiri (the main beach) Perikopetra and Turkou Ammos – for relaxing and taking a dip. Cinema Enastron is an open-air cinema – what fun to watch a film under a canopy of stars.
An annual summer festival is held in the park’s amphitheatre and features live classical, jazz and traditional Greek music. Other special events are also held there. Paros Park can be reached by car, bus or water taxi.
4. Explore the main town of Parikia
Parikia is the island’s charming main town and is fun to explore on foot. It has numerous winding, cobblestone alleyways, little shops and cafés. The boutiques sell some famous brands and the jewellery shops will tempt you with pretty Greek-style necklaces and bracelets.
The town is protected by its Frankish castle which was built in 1260 and is the perfect spot to watch the sunset. Interestingly, when the castle was built, most of the stone was brought from the island’s two ancient temples. Parikia has great dining options and the tempo changes in the evenings as the hours’ pass and the clubs and bars swing into action. There is a good choice of clubs and music bars, with Island Club is the best known.
You might also like: Guide to Parikia, Paros.
5. Admire Ekatontapiliani Church
Whilst you are exploring Parikia, make sure you leave time to visit the 4th-century Byzantine church of Panayia Ekatonapiliani. The translation of the church’s name is ‘ Our Lady of the hundred doors’ and local legend tells that over the years, 99 doors have been found in the church. It is said that the 100th will appear when Constantinople (Istanbul) becomes Greek again! This old church is one of the best-preserved in Greece and the icon of Our Lady is said to perform miracles.
6. Visit the Archaeological Museum in Parikia
Tucked behind the church of Panayia Ekatontapyliani, is the Archaeological Museum. It is not a large museum but certainly has some interesting exhibits. The artefacts date from the Neolithic period to the early Christian period.
Amongst the best exhibits are the marble statue of Gorgon (6th century BC), the 49 0BC huge worship statue of Artemis, and a fascinating neolithic statue, depicting a woman sitting with crossed legs with her hands held under her breasts There are also several interesting amphorae to admire. Many of the exhibits were found in the ancient sanctuaries of Apollo and Asklepios on the island.
7. Explore Naoussa
Naoussa is situated on the north coast of the island. There is something special about wandering along the narrow alleyways amongst the whitewashed houses, decorated with pots of bougainvillaea. There is the old fishing port to admire, which is overlooked by the remains of a Venetian fort built in the 15th century.
It is fun to take a coffee or meal in one of the tavernas with tables in the street, so you can enjoy some serious ‘people watching’! If you enjoy good nightlife, you will not be disappointed as Naoussa has nightclubs, bars and live music. Amongst the best nightclubs are Linardo and Vareladiko.
Check here: Guide to Naoussa, Paros
8. Take a day trip to nearby Antiparos island
This small island is situated just south-west of Paros and is easily reached by boat. Small boats regularly leave the harbours of Parikia and Pounda and the journey takes just ten minutes, as it is less than a nautical mile. Antiparos has beautiful beaches and good water sports and the most delightful main town – Chora. There are caves to visit to admire the stalagmites and stalactites and also sea caves to explore either by boat or snorkelling.
Check here: Things to do in Antiparos
9. Visit the picturesque Village of Lefkes
This pretty mountain village was the first capital of the island and was built by people from Crete who had moved to Paros to escape pirate attacks. The village has some beautiful neoclassical white-washed buildings to admire and two monasteries.
The village is dominated by the church of Ayia Triada (Holy Trinity) which was built in 1830 from the semi-transparent marble that was quarried on the island. The village’s tavernas are held in high regard and the village is definitely the place to be on 27 July – the feast day of one of the monasteries, when there is a popular festival
There are 35 kilometres of hiking trails to enjoy on the island and the oldest trail, known as the ‘Byzantine Route’ (which is a thousand years old) begins in Lefkes, is 4.5 kilometres in length and leads to Prodromos. What is really special about the route is that it is made from the island’s beautiful marble.
10. Count the archways in Prodromos Village
Prodromos is a really pretty village that sits on a hilltop. The entrance to the village is through an archway which has a vaulted roof and an attractive belfry. The archway links two churches – Ayios Nikolaos and Ayios Spyridon.
The streets of the village, wind amongst the white-washed houses and are narrow with numerous archways. The village was named after its other church, Ayios Yiannis Prodromos and on the church’s festival (23 June) there are great celebrations.
11. Check out the unspoilt village of Kostos.
Situated seven kilometres inland from Parikia, the village gets its name from ‘Acosta’ meaning ‘far from the beach’. The village is situated just below the ancient quarries and there is a pathway linking the two. The village stands at an elevation of 160 metres above sea level and there are great views down to the Bay of Molos, with the island of Naxos beyond.
Athanasios the Parian (who was a great teacher) was born in the village and his home has been preserved and can be visited. In the village centre, there is a monument dedicated to him. On the edge of Kostos, the old wash houses have recently been restored and are interesting to see.
12. Visit the ancient marble quarries
The island of Paros long had a reputation for its high quality, luminous and semi-transparent marble which was used to create many fine statues and buildings. The marble was quarried at Marathi and the mine was first established in the 3rd millennium BC. The buildings on the site, date from the 19th century and there is the chance to see some of the underground tunnels in the quarry. The marble was quarried intermittently until the 19th century.
Parian marble was considered the finest and was used for many temples and public buildings in Delos, Delphi, Athens and Olympia. Many of the fine sculptures and statues exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in Delos were made from Parian marble and many of the greatest craftsmen, such as Ariston, Agorakritos and Skorpas were born on the island.
13. Admire the special view from the sanctuary of Delian Apollo
The Sanctuary of Delian Apollo and Artemis is situated on a hilltop outside Parikia. The site was carefully chosen because it offers a magnificent view of the sacred island of Delos. The sanctuary was built in the geometric period in the 8th century BC and the remains of its marble temple (measuring 9.5 metres by six metres) can be seen.
It is believed that a huge statue of Artemis measuring 2.74 metres in height, stood next to the altar. Archaeologists discovered dozens of pieces of the statue which were carefully stuck back together and the statue is now on display in the Archaeological Museum in Parikia.
14. Go windsurfing and Kitesurfing
Paros has long been known for its great water sports. It is a great place for windsurfers and for many years, the Windsurfing World Championship was held at the Golden Beach and this is still a popular place for this sport. There are so many water sports to enjoy on the island including surfing kitesurfing, kayaking and canoeing, kiteboarding, waterskiing and jet skiing and the best news is that everyone is welcome to give them a go– whatever your level.
15. Explore underwater!
Scuba diving is popular on the island and there are a number of dive centres with courses run by certified trainers, available for all levels from beginners to advanced. There are some great diving locations including nearby uninhabited islets, reefs and several old shipwrecks.
16. Visit the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Detis
This beautiful monastery is certainly a memorable sight as it overlooks a small harbour with the beautiful Aegean stretching as far as the horizon and emphasising the strong blue of the church dome.
The monastery is named after St John the Baptist but the word ‘detis’ means ‘to tie’ and refers to the way in which the Saint was able to ‘tie-up’ the illnesses suffered by believers so that they were cured. The church was built in the 17th century. The area around the monastery is an ‘Environmental & Cultural Park’ and is a protected area as it has many rare species of flora and fauna.
17. Visit the fishing village of Piso Livadi
The pretty fishing village of Piso Livadi lies 17 kilometres south-east of Parikia The fishing harbour has a promenade lined with cafés and tavernas which is perfect for simply relaxing. If you fancy ‘island hopping’ there are boats going to several islands regularly from here.
The village is currently growing quite quickly as it is proving a popular spot with holidaymakers.
18. Enjoy a day trip to Naxos
The beautiful island of Naxos is larger and greener than Paros, but otherwise the two islands share many similarities – which is not surprisingly as they must have been one island in the past. It is the perfect place to enjoy some walking, but because of its size, you will not see all the island in one day! If you would rather relax, its main town is delightful and there are some wonderful beaches to tempt you too.
What a wonderful way to explore some of the islands – aboard a boat skimming through the crystal clear waters of the Aegean. The islands of Delos and Mykonos are very different to Paros and well worth exploring. Delos is a sacred island, that was dedicated to Apollo, god of light and music. You will be able to see the ruins of the temple of Apollo and the island’s famous lion statues there.
In complete contrast, Mykonos is one of the most famous islands, with its pretty main town with winding streets and restaurants and its famous row of windmills. There is plenty to see and do during your time on the island, or you can simply head for a beach – there are some really lovely relaxing ones.
Santorini is another well known Greek island and that’s not surprising when you discover how stunningly beautiful it is! The island has been formed from the top of a volcano. Its capital Thira (Fira) with its (white-washed buildings and blue-domed churches) and several other villages cling to the edge of the ‘caldera’ which has steep cliffs that plunge into the sea-filled crater. All of these villages have beautiful views, numerous little restaurants, bars and some great little shops.
What better way to spend the day than sailing to another beautiful island? There is great sailing to be enjoyed from Paros and the possibility to visit islands like Iraklia, Schinoussa and the Kousonissia Islands. Each of these destinations is special because each of the islands has its own character and what better way to relax?
You might also like: The best day trips from Paros.
22. Go wine tasting at the Moraitis Winery
The Moraitis Winery is situated in Naoussa. This family-run winery opened in 1910 and is now run by the third generation of the family. The winery produces wines using well known Greek grape varieties such as Assyrtiko and Malagouzia, but also local indigenous varieties including Monemvasia, Mandilaria, Aidani Black, Vaftra and Karampraimi.
When you visit the winery, you will be guided around its museum with its collection of photographs and old winemaking tools and afterwards, there is the chance to taste some of its excellent wines
How to get around Paros
The easiest way to get around the island is by bus and there are bus stations in both Parikia and Naoussa. There are printed bus timetables to pick up in both bus stations. The buses run regularly until midnight and are surprisingly punctual. The best news of all is that they are very cheap!
Car and scooter hire is easy in the main towns and if you are feeling energetic, there are several bike rental companies too. If you want to explore the island and also are limited in time, renting a car is the best option.
Flavours of Paros
Being an island and home to many fishermen, many tavernas and restaurants in Paros, specialise in seafood dishes. And menus are dominated by seafood. There are certainly a number of specialities to enjoy during your stay on Paros.
The first on the list must be grilled octopus. The octopus is served sizzling from the grill. Drizzle it with plenty of freshly squeezed lemon juice and some olive oil and enjoy! If you enjoy fish; another speciality to look out for is gouna – roasted mackerel, flavoured with herbs. Kakavia is the delicious local fish soup cooked with vegetables.
Revithia sto fourno is a tasty local dish that is chick peas slowly cooked with rosemary and onions in a red clay pot in the oven. If you are a cheese fan, order saganaki as this is simply fried cheese smothered in local honey and you just can’t beat it! Who mentioned cheese? Mizithra is the local creamy white cheese made from goats’ milk. Mizithra tastes similar to Ricotta and is delicious in salads and tossed with pasta.
The other speciality, of course, is the island’’s wine. There are several to choose from and they are the perfect accompaniment to every dish.
Where to stay in Paros
Paros has so many lovely accommodations, it is hard to choose! Much of the accommodation is in snowy white hotels that have traditional Cycladic architecture. None of the accommodation is far from a beach and all of it is attractive covering a wide spectrum of tastes including family-run hotels, boutique hotels, adult-only hotels, self-catering and family orientated hotels. Many of the guest rooms have sitting areas and fridges and the hotels have beautiful pools – even if the beaches are a stone’s throw away.
There are some great places to stay in the centre of the main town, Parikia and many more on the edge of the town. A good example is Alexandra’s Rooms, which is a comfortable hotel situated right on Livadia Beach. Many of the stylish rooms have private terraces with views of the Aegean and the town’s harbour is a few moments away.
The popular family-run Argonauta Hotel is situated just five minutes from the town’s harbour. The hotel has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and a pretty courtyard for quieter moments. It has a really good reputation too for its popular restaurant.
There are numerous great accommodation choices in Naoussa. Hotel Senia has a seafront location, just 200 metres from the town. This beautiful hotel has luxurious rooms and suites and a stunning infinity pool that is floodlit at night. Check here for more information and to book your stay.
The Adonis Studios are also close to the town and have stunning views of the bay of Naoussa. The Adonis is styled in classic Cycladic style with white-washed walls and numerous archways and there is the choice of double bedrooms, apartments or studios – some with private pool. Click here for more information and the latest prices.
Piso Livadi is another popular place to stay especially for those seeing a quiet relaxing holiday. Elena Studios and Apartments are just 100 metres from the beach and 200 metres from the village with its restaurants, bakery and a small market. The building is attractive with natural stone features contrasting with white-washed walls and the cerise pink of the bougainvillaea. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
Hotel Aloni is in a typical Cycladic architectural style and the guest rooms are furnished in blue and white to mirror the colours of the white sand and clear blue sea. All of the guest rooms have comfortably furnished balconies so that you can relax and soak up the atmosphere. Check here for more information and to book your stay.
Wherever you choose, you will be warmly welcomed Kalosorisate steen Paro- Welcome to Paros
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