Of all the Cyclades, the island Paros best combines tradition with modern entertainment. This destination’s picturesque little tavernas and quiet beaches harmoniously co-exist with beach bars and vibrant nightlife activity.
Parikia, the island’s capital and main port, as well as Naousa, the main nightlife areas of Paros, both offer dozens of food and nightlife options. By contrast, the pace of things is slower and Paros’ tradition is far more apparent at Marpissa, Ampelas and the village Dryos.
Astir of Paros: This facility has been developed at a lush expanse with a tennis court and golf course. Its rooms, comfortable and featuring tasteful décor, offer either garden or sea views. The hotel’s big swimming pool, surrounded by palm trees, is impressive. The hotel offers two restaurants, serving Asian and Greek-Mediterranean dishes prepared with ingredients from the proprietor’s organic garden. It also maintains an art gallery hosting work by artists from Greece and abroad. (Monolithos, Kolybithres, +30 2284051976-84, www.astirofparos.gr)
Saint George Hotel: This is a classic holiday hotel, Cycladic in style. It rooms are simple and well kept, while amenities and services for young children and babies are also offered, including babysitting. The hotel’s large swimming pool offers an open view of the Aegean Sea. Nea Hrysi Akti beach is located directly next to the hotel. (Nea Hrysi Akti, +30 2284043400, www.saintgeorgehotel.gr)
Maryo Village: Maryo Village is situated at a quiet location just five minutes from Piperaki beach and offers a lovely view of the sea. Its rooms are simple yet clean and bright. The pool space with a wooden deck is a bonus. (Naousa, +30 2284051972)
Where to eat
Aspro Paros: Restaurant-Beach Bar
Aspro Paros, at Ampelas beach, awaits diners for special food in a totally relaxed atmosphere.
Visitors can enjoy breakfast, fruit juice and exceptional dishes on sunbeds at the beach, all to the sound of music that will let your mind travel.
Following your dip in the crystal-clear waters at Ampelas, enjoy authentic Mediterranean flavours created by distinguished chef Giannis Baxevanis, a pioneer of modern Greek cuisine.
All the dishes here glorify seafood. The restaurant’s knowledgeably compiled wine list perfectly complements the gastronomic experience here.
(Ampelas, +30 2284 052151, www.asproparos.gr)
Barbarossa: This Paros restaurant, possessing a glamorous track record, is situated at the most cosmopolitan point on the island. It has hosted many luminaries from Greece and abroad. Offering gastronomic creations prepared using traditional ingredients, it continues to forge ahead. (Naousa, +30 2284 051391)
Rada: This restaurant, part of the Cove Paros hotel, offers a menu curated by well-known chef Gikas Xenakis. The dishes have both international and traditional Greek leanings. Emphasis is placed on the use of local ingredients. (Agioi Anargyroi, Naousa, +30 2284028576)
Galazia Hytra: A joint venture with the Hytra restaurant and bar in Athens, Galazia Hytra serves creative Greek cuisine at an elegant, stylish space. (Marpissa, Summer Senses hotel, +30 2284093000)
Alyki: This is a place to go to primarily for casserole dishes, prepared using ingredients from the proprietor’s vegetable garden. Alyki also serves wonderful fish dishes. (Alyki, +30 2284091235)
Apollon Garden: The Apollon Garden, housed at an old olive press from 1920, also offers a superb lush garden. It mainly serves casseroles dishes, classic Greek recipes, as well as a number of dishes with influences from abroad. (Parikia, +30 6934272841)
Thalami: Diners who choose Thalami will enjoy the shade offered by tamarisks and a sea view. The menu is dominated by fish selections, while a number of casserole dishes are also available. (Ampelas, +30 2284053351)
Tsitsanis: A taverna focusing its attention on the island’s culinary tradition, Tsitsanis uses fresh ingredients for attentively cooked casserole dishes and freshly cut salads. (Prodromos, +30 2284041375)
Mario: Located at the Venetian harbor of Naousa, Mario serves modern Greek cuisine, using mostly fish and seafood. Its wine list is also very worthwhile. (Naousa, +30 2284051047)
Halaris: This is an ideal spot for assorted meze dishes following your visit to the beach. The eatery also serves kakavia, a mixed fish soup, its specialty. (Piso Livadi, +30 2284043257).
Local products: Wine, cheese varieties (xinomyzithra, kefalotyri, ladotyri), souma (local tsipouro spirit). Traditional products: Gouna (sun-dried fish, usually mackerel, charcoal grilled), sun-dried octopus, ladosoupa (olive oil-rich soup), karavoloi (snails), diada (pluck cooked in a tomato-based sauce), amygdalota (chewy almond cookies), petimezopita (cake flavoured with grape molasses), myzithropitakia (small pies with myzithra cheese filling), skaltsounia (sweet pastries), revithada (chickpea soup), salahi (ray) salad, artichoke with broad beans.
What to see
A pirate past, castles, quarries and ancient temples are all part of Paros’ fascinating offering. Explore the local history while holidaying on the island.
Panagia Ekatontapiliani: A historic Byzantine church complex situated a short distance from the part, Panagia Ekatontapiliani is Paros’ most iconic landmark and one of the most significant monuments of the Early Christian period. Panagia Ekatontapiliani is believed to date back to the 4th century, while some ambiguity exists as to who was responsible for its construction. Some sources believe Saint Helen built the church after her vow to find the True Cross, while others trace it back to her son, Constantine the Great, following an instruction from his mother. The church stages a grand service every August 15 to mark the Dormition of the Virgin or Assumption of Mary. The service is well worth experiencing if on the island on this day.
Archaeological Museum of Paros: The Archaeological Museum of Paros includes sculptures from the archaic and classical periods, as well as artefacts from virtually every historic period between the Neolithic and Roman eras. A marble Gorgon statue, 1.35 metres tall, from the 6th century BC, is impressive. (Parikia, +30 2284021231)
‘Anthemion’ Paros Museum: Parikia’s cultural centre, established following a private-sector initiative and much effort, includes a vast collection of books, magazines, manuscripts, coins, banknotes, jewellery and costumes that shed light on the wider Cycladic region’s history, especially that of Paros. (Parikia, +30 2284091010 & +30 6937887257)
Byzantine & Post-Byzantine Collection of Naousa: This collection is housed at unified cells of the Agios Athanasios monastery, dated backed to the 17th century and situated at the entry into Naousa. The museum’s collection includes icons from the 15th to 19th centuries, crosses, sections of a wood-carved altarpiece, as well as part of a mural discovered at a Byzantine church in Protoria. (Naousa, +30 2284053261)
Venetian Castle of Naousa: A medieval fortress, it was part of a settlement that stretched around the port. The castle was built by the Venetians in the late 13th century and belonged to the Sommaripa dynasty, a French noble family.
Castle of Parikia (Frangokastelo): Situated on Agios Konstantinos hill, it was built in approximately 1260 by the Venetians – who used materials from the acropolis and other ancient temples on the island – when Paros was under the administrative control of the Duchy of the Archipelago, also known as the Duchy of Naxos.
Ancient Marble Quarries of Paros: Paros is backed by an extensive marble history, which began in the Early Cycladic period and has continued to the present. The quality of Paros’ marble was renowned as a result of its clarity and transparency, light penetrating as deep as seven centimetres. Some of the world’s most celebrated statues have been sculpted using marble from Paros, including the Aphrodite of Milos, better known as the Venus de Milo; Hermes of Praxiteles, also known as Hermes and the Infant Dionysus; the Kore sculptures of the Acropolis; the Nike of Samothrace; as well as renowned temples, among them the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The marble quarries of Paros are one of the world’s few offering two-level extraction, as their white marble, above ground level, was extracted for the construction of temples and buildings, while the transparent marble, extracted from below the surface, has been used by sculptors for statues. Corridors, galleries and inscriptions by ancient artists may still be seen at the quarries.
Asklepeion of Paros: A temple dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing, the Asklepeion of Paros is dated back to the 4th century BC. It is situated on the Agia Anna hill and offers an incredible view of the Aegean Sea. The remnants of the ancient Temple of Apollo Pythios may also be seen at this location.
Where to swim
The waters of Paros are magical. The island offers beaches covering all preferences, from serviced beaches with loud beach bars and water sports to family beaches and detached beaches for absolute serenity.
Kolybithres: The island’s most renowned beach, Kolybithres is one of Paros’ most beautiful and unique seaside spots. Its waters are crystal-clear, while impressive rock formations feature at this beautiful setting. The beach is serviced, covering all essentials.
Logaras: One of Paros’ most popular beaches, Logaras also offers superb waters, and also has tall tamarisks. If you enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling, the waters here are worth exploring. The beach is serviced, offering beach bar and restaurant choices. Visitors may also play beach volleyball, go waterskiing and also enjoy other water sports.
Pounta: A lovely beach, medium in size, Pounta is popular among windsurfers and kitesurfers, drawn by suitable winds in the area.
Hrysi Akti: A serviced beach, this spot offers superb sand and a variety of water sports.
Agia Irini: Slightly resembling Miami as a result of its tall palm trees along the coastline, Agia Irini is lovely and sandy, with superb waters and a canteen for snacks and drinks.
Martselo: A big beach with lovely waters, Martselo is an attraction for younger people and offers water sports.
Monastiri: A small, elegant bay, Monastiri is sheltered from windy weather. The beach is serviced and is preferred by families, attracted by its shallow and clean water.
Laggeri: This beach can be accessed by boat or on foot. It offers incredible crystal-clear waters, tamarisks and quietness. Opt for this beach if you prefer non-serviced beaches.
Kalogeros: The backdrop of tall rocks creates a setting that is entirely different to those of other beaches on the island. This beach is not serviced. It is well worth reaching.
Santa Maria: Featuring transparent waters and a golden sandy beach, Santa Maria offers beach bars, sunbeds, as well as water sport options.
Faraggas: This beach, covered in fine sand and offering deep blue waters, is blessed with considerable greenery at the back. It is one of Paros’ most popular beaches. If you don’t find a sunbed, just lay out your beach towel under the shade of the trees.
What to do
Secure some time away from the beaches and all the entertainment to enjoy the other side of Paros, namely the island’s lovely villages and nature.
Diving: If you enjoy underwater exploration, the waters at Logaras are fascinating.
Trekking: The island’s network of paths covers a total distance of approximately 35 km. The trails at the Environmental Park of Paros are the most accessible and shortest routes. Even so, they are very interesting and the majority offer superb views. The park, spread over an expanse covering 80 hectares, serves the purpose of protecting and highlighting the Ai Giannis Detis peninsula. The park includes an open-air summer cinema (free entrance), a canteen, and a serviced beach (Ai Giannis Detis, Naousa, +30 2284053573). Trekking is also recommended at Lefkes, one of the island’s loveliest and picturesque villages, inland. At the village, stroll along Ramnos, this village’s main street, featuring impressive neoclassical buildings, take a good look at Agia Triada church, built in 1835, and relax with a glass of souma at any of the village’s small cafes. Kostos, Marpissa, Ampelas and Dryos are also worth visiting.
One-day excursion to Antiparos: This small island opposite Paros could be described as a miniature version of Mykonos as its charming alleys attract celebrities from Greece and abroad. A stroll along the main cobbled road, beginning from the port, for some window shopping and a glass of ouzo at any of the tavernas along the way, is a delight. Boats depart from Paros’ Parikia and Pounta for Antiparos on a regular basis.
Must: A dip at Kolybithres beach and a glass of souma sided by gouna (sun-dried fish, charcoal grilled) and sun-dried octopus are essential Paros experiences.
Info/Useful telephone numbers
Paros Health Centre: +30 2284360000
Paros Port Authority: +30 2284021240
Paros Police: +30 2284023333 & +30 228402707
Paros Tourist Police: +30 2284021673
Paros Town Hall: +30 2284360100-5