Sunday Chapter’s Guide to:
Paros Island, Greece
When traveling back to Europe this summer, there was one thing I wanted to do differently; that being, to go off the beaten path. Heading to the main cities are fun but often feel far too commercialized which doesn’t give you a real sense of the true culture of a place. Santorini and Mykonos are prime examples of this. They’re beautiful, but there are more tourists than there are locals – it’s not the REAL Greece. It’s doesn’t show you how locals live.
So upon traveling to the Greek islands this year, I wanted to tick off a few islands in particular, first being Paros. I had heard a few things about the island beforehand, mostly that it was very sleepy, quiet and there wasn’t much to do. It’s one of those places you go to just lay on a beach all day. Because of this, we had only booked 1 night thinking it would be enough… it was definitely not enough.
Paros turned out to be possibly my favourite Greek island. It was by far the prettiest and most adorable place I have ever visited. It was somewhat ‘sleepy’, but not to the degree that I had imagined (although this is probably greatly attributed to the fact we visited in August, peak season). Cafes and bars were nearly full (as in, they were full but you could still find a table without having to go on a waiting list… ahem, Santorini), the streets became packed once the sun went down, it has a nightlife for everyone and you would easily meet locals who’d share all the best kept secrets of the island.
Paros is most often described as “Mykonos without the craziness”… and I could not agree with that more. Paros is just a splitting image of Mykonos. Everything from the streets, boutiques, bars to the shopping and restaurants reminded me of being in the heart of Mykonos, minus the crowds. Apart from Santorini, it was by far the most picturesque island I had ever encountered.
towns & villages
Where to stay
Parikia: The capital and main port of the island, which makes it the cultural and commercial hub. On one side of the road you’ll find restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars and a long beach on the other. In true Cycladic style, it’s a town of narrow whitewashed streets that form a labyrinth. It’s a great place to stay if you want to be in the centre of it all. Since your practically at the port, it’s easy to find transport connections and maybe catch a ferry to Antiparos!
Naoussa: We stayed in Naoussa at Hotel Papadakis and would definitely stay again. We just loved Noussa. It’s a little slower paced than Parikia but still comes pretty alive at night with restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges etc. I found it the most picturesque place on the island but it is slightly more expensive. There’s also the most gorgeous fishing village situated in the middle of town with restaurants and restaurants and bars surrounding it. It makes for the perfect sunset spot too.
Lefkes: A tiny little town situated in between mountains that shows you the real side to the Greek islands. It has all the makings of the Cyclades – white houses, blue doors, and bouvangelies just about everywhere, but there isn’t a lot happening. Personally I think it’d make a better day trip, but some might still want to stay a night! It’s here you can find handmade pottery, jewellery and crafts that differ from all the touristy souvenirs.
Piso Livadi: A small and picturesque fishing port with taverns famous for their fine Greek cuisine. It used to be a much calmer village but has since been transformed and is quite lively these days. Just south is where you’ll find the Golden Beach, considered one of the best spots for windsurfing. Even if you don’t stay here, you must come for the food!
Drios: Another small fishing village that was once the ancient port of the island and also the greenest village in Paros. Here you can enjoy traditional Cycladic hospitality, delicious cuisine and the tranquility of your surroundings, including several sandy beaches to suit every taste. Be sure to also check out Aspro Chorio, the small, charming settlement above Drios.
where to eat & drink
the best cafes, restaurants and cocktails
Barbarossa: Set in the picturesque harbor of Naoussa, Barbarossa is hands down my favourite place to eat and drink on the island. It’s not your traditional Greek cuisine – it’s a seafood restaurant that serves sushi, salads, appetizers and pastas, but whether you’re here for the food or atmosphere, it’s a must-see! The atmosphere is like nowhere else and it’s the perfect spot to grab a bottle of wine or ouzo just before sunset hits. You could stay here all night long, which you’ll find, most people end up doing.
Republic Espresso Bar: If you’re looking for fun and instagramable cocktails, this is the place to be! When ordering your drink, the waiters will ask you questions to figure out the type you’d like rather than ordering straight off the menu. For instance, they might ask sweet or sour, fruity or creamy, etc. Once you choose the categories you’re feeling, the waiter comes back with the perfect cocktail to match. How fun, right?
Aranto Restaurant: Located in Lefkes, Aranto Restaurant offers incredible and authentic Greek cuisine. It’s for those looking for a real local experience since it’s well outside tourist zones. That being said, the food is exceptional value for money since it’s made by locals, for locals.
Kafeneio Palia Agora: For quick, cheap and authentic Greek cuisine, or just somewhere to enjoy the freshest Gyros, Greek salads and souvlaki, look no further than this little restaurant. Located in one of the narrow alleyways of Naoussa is where you’ll find a local Greek woman serving up some of the best street food going around.
the best beaches
For water sports, swimming and tranquility
Kolymbithres: The beach of Kolimbithres is one of the most famous beaches of Paros and is located in the huge bay of Naoussa, or Plastira Bay. It has huge blocks of granite boarding it that has been sculpted into strange smooth shapes over the years. It’s quite the scenery!
Santa Maria: Another very popular beach that is well-known for its wind surfing, water-skiing and scuba diving facilities. It’s surrounded by beach bars, tavernas and restaurants which give it a more cosmopolitan feel.
Golden Beach: The longest golden sandy beach in Paros extending for 700 metres! The name was given because the sand is so shimmery, it almost seems as though there is gold glitter sprinkled through it.
what to see & do
things you can’t miss on the island
Take a trip to Antiparos: Antiparos is a very picturesque and tranquil island located just off Paros island. It would be perfect for a day trip or if you have the time, an overnight stay. Ferries from Paros to Antiparos depart almost every 30 min in high season and the trip is about 10 minutes. Sadly we didn’t get to do this due to the limited time we had, but if I had an extra day this surely would have been on my itinerary!
Rent a quad: This is pretty standard transport all over the Greek islands as there really is no better way to see an island than by quad/ATV! It takes the stress away from catching buses which are usually packed anyway, and you’ll be able to run on your own timetable.
Shop the local boutiques: The shopping in Paros really surprised me as I wasn’t expecting much. It’s filled with little markets, higher end boutiques, local Greek designer wear and beautiful jewellery. If you’re looking to find something special to take from your trip, this would definitely be the place to do so. Shopping is best done in the towns of Parikia or Naoussa, otherwise Lefkes if you’re after some local arts and crafts.
Water sports: If you’re keen to try out some water sports, Paros is the perfect place to do so! Sports like surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, kayaking and canoeing, kiteboarding, waterskiing, jetskiing, and scuba diving are available with certified trainers at Golden Beach, New Golden Beach and Santa Maria.
Panayia Ekatondapiliani Cathedra: Panagia Ekatontapyliani is a historic 4th century Byzantine Church in the port town of Parikia. It’s also known as the Church with 100 doors and is one of the most important preserved churches of Greece. The legend says that 99 doors have been found in the Church and the 100th will be discovered only when Constantinople is Greek again.
Old Town and port of Naoussa: This port is a trademark of Paros’ identity and local architecture and you really must visit to get a real feel of Paros. I would recommend going before sunset for dinner or drinks. It is too beautiful!
Cocktails or breakfast at Sousouro: Sousouro is a well-known superfood cafe in Naoussa that is known for it’s fresh organic ingredients and unbeatable cocktails. It serves up delicious healthy breakfasts in the morning with antioxidant juices and then fresh fruit cocktails at night!
Have you ever visited Paros before or is it somewhere that you would visit in the future? Otherwise, what’s your fave Greek island?!
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