Published in Travel Guides
Unrivalled natural beauty
Beautiful beaches, great hotels for all budgets, and countless bars and nightclubs ensuring lively and enjoyable nights out. It is of course also a mecca for wind-surfers.
Paros is at the centre of the Cyclades, its population about 13,500, and the inhabitants are mostly employed in the tourist trades although they are of course also fishermen and farmers. The three major centres of Parikia, Naoussa and Lefkes concentrate the greater number and the remainder live in the many villages and hamlets scattered all over the island. The configuration is mainly mountainous but there are cultivable valleys with market gardens, vineyards and olive groves.
At the time of the Minoan empire Paros was a maritime centre of importance and one of the major centres of Cycladic civilization. Its development was due to the quality of its much sought-after Parian marble which was used to build many significant temples and for works of art such as the Hermes of Praxiteles and the Venus de Milo. Paros was the birthplace of the great sculptor Skopas and of the poet Archilochos.
In the 8th c. BC the island was a maritime power with considerable colonies. Its decline began in the 3rd c. BC and in the years of Byzantium it suffered devastating inroads by Goths (267 AD) and Slavs (675 AD).
The Venetian Marco Sanudo captured Naxos, Paros and the neighbouring islands in 1207, founding the Duchy of the Aegean. Paros then flourished again, until the appearance of the Ottomans in the Aegean sea in the 16th c. In the course of clashes between Venetians and Turks the island suffered devastation, while its ports became the prey of pirates. It took part in the War of Independence of 1821 against the Turks, and was incorporated in the newly-constituted Hellenic state a little later.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN PAROS
With a population of 4,500, it is the island’s capital and port, with intense tourist activity mainly concentrated along the waterfront. The alleys and the castle quarter have all the characteristics of Cycladic architecture, with arches, medieval vaulted passageways, snow-white little houses with bougainvilleas and delightful chapels, most noteworthy among them that of Agios Constantinos and Eleni, with its blue cupola, at the fort.
A major Byzantine monument, the paragon of the island. An Early Christian church founded in the reign of Byzantium’s first emperor, Constantine the Great (280-337 AD), it consists of three parts and its name derives from the one hundred (Greek: ekato) openings it is supposed to have, of which they say 99 have been identified to date. Worth noting are the marble iconostasis and the icon of the Kimissi (Dormition), and especially the icon of the Panagia (Our Lady), said to have miraculous powers and attributed to Saint Luke the Evangelist. There is a small museum in a cell of the courtyard with religious relics and icons.
8:30 am-3 pm, closed on holidays
Neolithic finds and figurines, examples of the great artistic skill of the Proto-Cycladic civilization of 6000 BC from the excavations on Sialangos island in the narrow channel between Paros and Antiparos. You can see the portion of the Parian Chronicle (Pariou Chronikou) containing a relation of events with took place between the 16th c. BC and 262 BC, the statue of Wingless Victory (Apteros Nike) by the sculptor Skopas (5th c. BC) and the relief depicting the wedding of the poet Archilochos (6th c. BC).
A seaside fishing village of 2,500 inhabitants with a very attractive harbour at the entrance of which there are the semi-submerged ruins of a small Venetian fort of the 15th c. In recent years Naoussa has evolved into an important tourist centre where most of the social life of Paros is concentrated, with lots of boutiques and chic bars. Stroll around in the charming lanes of the town, in the Agios Dimitrios quarter by the sea, and see the fine churches of Agios Ioannis Theologos and Kimissi tis Theotokou.
Enjoy, finally, a cup of coffee, or have a meal at one of the island’s good fish tavernas next to gently rocking yachts providing a pleasant contrast to the multi-coloured fishing caiques.
A delightful peaceful mountain village of 600 inhabitants, with a lot of greenery, built like an amphitheatre in a small valley. There has been some increase in recent years in tourist activity, bringing with it shops in good taste and excellent options for accommodation. Explore the picturesque paved alleys between attractive white houses, chapels and shady squares with old-style kafenions - cafes. See the majestic marble church of Agia Triada. When leaving, we propose you take the road leading to the top of Profitis Ilias, Paros’s tallest mountain (771 m). The route is balmy with the scent of thyme and every sort of wild flower and will offer you a spectacular vista in the round to nearly all the islands of the Cyclades. Lefkes is connected to the villages Prodromos and Marmara by an old Byzantine cobbled road (kalderimi), which is a very pleasant walk.
● The ancient marble quarries are located near the hamlet of Marathi (5 km from Lefkes. This was the source of the pure white marble used in so many great temples, celebrated statues and even Napoleon’s tomb. The old galleries, stone supports and a few ancient inscriptions scratched into the walls are still intact. Parian marble was sought after for its translucency as light penetrates up to 3.5 cm below the surface.
● The Valley of the Butterflies is 6 km south of Parikia. A small valley with dense vegetation and lots of streams, it is the chosen mating grounds for the multicoloured Jersey tiger moth. Each spring and summer they gather in their millions, clinging to the branches and leaves of the trees. Some 2 km to the north, the 18th c Christou tou Dasous nunnery, perched on a ridge, offers a splendid view. Only women admitted.
● The Longovardos monastery, one of the island’s most significant, is an imposing collection of buildings in the shape of the cross (1638). The domed church in the centre of the courtyard is built in Cycladic style and is filled with frescoes (17th c). Only men admitted.
15 August, at Parikia: The feast day of the Panagia Ekatondapylianis, the island’s biggest religious event, is celebrated with a procession behind the icon, fireworks and merrymaking.
23 August, at Naoussa: Illuminated fishing caiques reproduce the inhabitants’repulsion of the turkish admiral/pirate Barbarossa in 1537. Followed by feasting on fish, music, dancing and plenty of wine.
BEST BEACHES IN PAROS
If you think you’ll find deserted beaches on Paros you’re on the wrong island. The fun in Paros begins with the morning (more likely midday) sortie to the beach, with many thronging to the beach bars rather than bathing in the sea. Nevertheless, there are always a few relatively quiet spots reserved for those who enjoy more privacy.
A series of little beaches protected from the wind, with extraordinary sculpted rocks. It is usually crowded here, especially at the height of summer. But you should see the place, even if only once. You can get there from Naoussa either by road or by motorboat.
A sandy beach with turquoise waters in a pretty little cove. It’s a little bit beyond Kolymbithres and also sheltered from the wind. Popular because of its good bar-restaurant. Loud music and high spirits are what you will find here. Also accessible by boat from Naoussa.
Exceptionally beautiful, long sandy crescent on the closed bay of Naoussa. The smaller beach on the northeast tip is less crowded and has about 10 umbrellas. You can get there by motorboat from Naoussa in 15 minutes.
Follow the many and well placed signs along the dirt coastal road from Aliki to this lovely, peaceful, fairly small beach with fine sand and clear water. It also has a decent, quiet beach bar. There are several other good unfrequented little beaches in this area (southeast Paros), such as Trypiti, which you can get to on foot or by boat.
A charming beach divided into two by a pretty mini-promontory. Although it’s likely to be crowded, it’s large enough that it doesn’t matter. It boasts a diving school, water sports concessions and fish tavernas. Accessible by road or boat from Naoussa.
Where the young meet for a dip with a loud beat, fun and adrenaline, bursting from one of the best known and biggest beach bars in the Cyclades. Incidentally, the small sandy beach has umbrellas, a few trees and good swimming.
Narrow but decent beach with few people and no unwelcome extraneous intrusions. Next door, the shallow waters of Molos beach are ideal for small children.
A bit to the south of Pounda, Mesada couldn’t be more different. There’s no canteen, no umbrellas and it’s quiet.
The windsurfers’ beach. This is where the international windsurfing championships take place every August. If wind doesn’t madden you, you’ve come to the right place.
The best beach in the vicinity of Parikia. Sandy, organized and with a good bar. Those without wheels can get there and to the equally attractive organized beach of Martsello by boat from town.
PAROS TIPS & INFORMATION
By air from Athens, El. Venizelos airport, with Aegean Airlines.
From Piraeus Port Authority, tel. 0030210 4172675
By sea from from Paros to Ios, Donoussa, Naxos, Mykonos, Andros, Tinos, Santorini, Syros, Kalymnos, Karpathos, Kassos, Kos, Lipsi, Leros, Kastellorizo, Nisyros, Patmos, Rhodes, Symi, Tilos, Halki, Astypalea, Evdilos & Agios Kirikos (Ikaria), Fourni, Vathy & Karlovassi (Samos), Skiathos and Thessaloniki. And in summer, with Amorgos and Skyros. Paros Port Authority, tel. 003022840 21240.
In your own car, because the island is fairly large and you need to be independent to see it properly. You can of course hire a car on the spot.
From May to September. Avoid the month of August here too because the island sinks under the throngs of visitors.
Try the rafiolia — little round pies with ricotta-like myzithra cheese — karavoles — snails prepared in different ways — and octopus pilaf.
For useful safety information and licensed water sports centers please visit
Parikia Community Office 00302284021222, 00302284023244
Parikia Police 00302284023333
Tourist Police 0030 2284021673
Paros Airport 00302284091257
Paros Health Centre 00302284022500
Naoussa Community Office 00302284051220
The island is considerably developed for tourism and it isn’t only its natural beauties which have made it so fashionable. The locals have taken care to organize its infrastructure well, cleverly exploiting the high cost of a stay at neighbouring Mykonos. The island has two aspects: its tourist side in Parikia or Naoussa, with their crowded beaches and beach bars, and the other featuring the traditional local colour of the tranquil villages of the interior, still ticking over in the peaceful pace of island life. Nonetheless Paros is not so much the place to go for a quiet time as of its nightlife.
DISCOVER THE HIP SIDE OF GREECE