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Inside: Naxos or Paros? Choosing between these two amazing Greek islands is no easy feat. Here’s how to decide which dreamy island is best for you.
Ahh, the Greek islands…a sun-kissed paradise of golden beaches, ancient ruins, turquoise lagoons, and mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine.
Obviously, you should go! I mean, right now. Seriously. (Unless you’re reading this in the winter, then wait until spring when the islands re-open for the season.)
But when it comes to choosing the perfect Greek island for your next vacation, the options are beyond overwhelming.
But wait, there’s more. A LOT more.
In fact, the Greek archipelago has nearly 2,000 islands of varying sizes and accessibility.
So how do you choose?
After more than a dozen visits to these magical islands over the years, I can certainly understand the dilemma. They’re all fabulous!
And while this post won’t help you choose among ALL of them, I can help you with one common island decision – the question of Naxos or Paros.
Naxos vs Paros
Two of the most popular Greek islands to visit are Naxos and Paros.
The two islands are so close together and similar in size that many people find themselves trying to decide between these two island gems.
Both islands are situated in the heart of the most famous island group in the Aegean Sea, the Cyclades. Made up of 33 sparkling islands and islets, the Cycladic group is Greece, straight out of central casting.
These idyllic isles spoil visitors annually with lovely beaches, whitewashed towns, charming fishing villages, and indigo church domes. Not to mention dazzling sunsets for days!
So which is better, Naxos or Paros?
The answer, of course, depends on what you’re looking for in an island getaway. And perhaps who you’re traveling with.
For example, one island is better for nightlife. And the other has the edge for historic sites.
If you’re torn between the enchanting island of Naxos and the posh island of Paros for your perfect Greek escape, not to worry. I’m here to help!
First, let’s cover the basics of both islands. And then I’ll weigh in on the pros and cons of each.
Off we go!
First, let’s talk about Naxos
While Naxos Greece is best known for its abundant beaches and beautiful scenery, the island is also home to plenty of fascinating ancient sites to explore. Not to mention fantastic food – much of it grown locally right there on the island.
Ready for adventure? Naxos has lots of options including scuba diving, windsurfing, cycling to different villages, or just finding a hidden beach to enjoy all to yourself.
Of course, if you prefer a less adventurous holiday, Naxos is one of the best Greek islands to visit for pure relaxation at a gorgeous spa resort.
Looking for a Greek island that has it all? Here’s why Naxos Greece is a solid contender for Best. Greek. Island. Ever.
Now, let’s talk about Paros
In ancient Greece, Paros was famed for its marble quarries. Known as Parian marble, it was one of the world’s finest varieties and brought wealth to the island through trading.
Today, tourism is the primary source of income for the island. And in recent years, Paros has become one of the most popular Greek islands to visit, known mainly for unique beaches and a sophisticated dining and nightlife scene.
And then there’s also smaller, sister-island, Antiparos. It’s a fabulous destination on its own.
From gorgeous beaches to chic fishing villages, the Greek Islands of Paros & Antiparos just might win your heart. Here’s why…
Now that you have a quick overview of each island, let’s break down the specifics.
Naxos vs Paros: A Comparison
Ease of Access
My Pick: Naxos
Which island is easier to get to, Naxos or Paros?
Getting to both Naxos and Paros is relatively straightforward, as both islands boast airports with frequent direct flights from Athens.
However, Naxos gets the nod here, as it’s the largest and most central island in the Cyclades archipelago. This means more frequent and reliable ferry connections from Athens and other nearby islands.
Both Naxos and Paros are well-connected to the rest of the Cyclades by ferry. If you plan to visit several islands, you’ll find frequent connections from either island to Santorini, Milos, Ios, and Mykonos.
Tip: The best site for booking ferries in Greece is FerryHopper.com.
Best Hotel Options
My Pick: Naxos
When it comes to hotels, both Naxos and Paros offer a range of choices, from luxury resorts to charming boutique hotels.
However, Naxos has the upper hand in terms of affordability with superb budget-friendly hotels like the Amodari Studios on the Beach and the Liana Beach Hotel & Spa. So it’s an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers as well.
It’s also a larger island with more hotel options overall.
Of course, with that in mind, my favorite hotel on either island is on Paros (more on that shortly).
Most delicious Dining Options
My Pick: Naxos
Foodies, rejoice! Both islands boast a delightful array of restaurants and tavernas serving traditional Greek dishes.
But Naxos gets the win in the culinary arena, too.
The island is well known for delicious food. Mouth-watering meats, vegetables (especially potatoes), and cheeses are some of the island’s best homegrown products. Naxos boasts a fertile interior and lush valleys making it the agricultural capital of the Greek Islands.
To sample all those locally produced delicacies, there are tons of restaurants to choose from.
But if you’re looking for a true Naxian experience, head to one of the many family-run tavernas like To Elliniko in Naxos Town.
A Lively Nightlife Scene
My Pick: Paros
When it comes to nightlife, Paros takes the spotlight. Picture vibrant beach parties, lively bars lining the picturesque streets, and seaside cocktails under the stars.
Sure, Naxos has a number of bars, clubs and cafes in bustling Naxos Town. And if you’re staying in that area you’ll find plenty to do in the evenings.
But Paros’s nightlife scene is legendary. It’s a magnet for partygoers and young travelers seeking to dance the night away under the starlit skies.
Energetic Parikia and trendy Naoussa are the island’s nightlife hubs.
My Pick: Naxos
This one is tougher. Both islands have some pretty spectacular beaches.
Naxos flaunts endless stretches of sandy shores, perfect for beachcombers and water sports enthusiasts. Plaka Beach, in particular, with its azure waters and golden sand, is a must.
Other notable must-visit beaches on Naxos include Agios Prokopios, Mikri Vigla, and Aliko Beach.
On the other hand, the beaches of Paros are no slouch either. Stunning Kolymbithres is one of the most unique beaches I’ve ever seen, with its extraordinary rock formations and secluded coves.
Santa Maria Beach and Marchello Beach are also beautiful places to relax for the day. Overall, Paros beaches offer a lovely blend of sandy coves and rugged bays.
But in my opinion, it’s nearly impossible to top Naxos in this particular category.
My Pick: Paros
While both islands have charming little shops lining their cobblestone streets, Paros offers a more diverse shopping experience compared to Naxos.
The charming main town of Parikia is a shopper’s haven. It’s a delightful blend of quaint local shops and boutiques selling a wide array of items, from handmade crafts and souvenirs to trendy clothing and accessories. The shops on Paros cater to a variety of tastes and budgets, so it’s the perfect place to find unique gifts and mementos to take home.
Naxos, while still offering plenty of charming local shops, doesn’t quite match the shopping experience found in Paros. I admit that I’m not much of a shopper when I travel. But my favorite thing to buy on Naxos is the famous local Kitron liqueur (it’s not available anywhere else!).
Tip: Don’t miss a stop by the Vallindra Kitron Distillery in the heart of Chalki village.
But overall, for avid shoppers looking to indulge in some retail therapy, island-style, Paros takes the win.
History & Cultural Attractions
My Pick: Naxos
For history buffs, Naxos takes the crown.
If you arrive in Naxos by ferry, you can’t miss the island’s most iconic historic site, the Portara, it literally greets you in the harbor. Constructed in 530 BC, the Portara is a giant doorway to the never-finished Temple of Apollo.
Additionally, the Venetian Castle (Naxos Kastro) and Old Town are captivating reminders of Naxos’ rich history and past grandeur. Perched above the whitewashed houses of Naxos Town, the “Kastro” was the seat of power in the Cyclades for 300 years.
The Statues of Kouros and the 6th century BC Temple of Demeter are two more of the worthy ancient attractions on Naxos.
Meanwhile, Paros offers its own historic charm in the traditional village of Lefkes, the island’s original capital during the Middle Ages.
Built on a verdant hilltop covered with pine trees, Lefkes is one of the loveliest villages in Paros. Its narrow, shaded streets are lined with neoclassical homes and Venetian architecture.
The village’s main church, the Church of Agia Triada, is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture crafted in white marble. If you’re up for a good walk, follow the island’s oldest trail, the Byzantine Road. The 3.5 km footpath dates back to the Byzantine era and is paved with Parian marble.
Now that we’ve compared the basics, let’s talk about which island is best for various types of travelers.
Naxos or Paros – which is best for…
My Pick: Naxos
Both islands are great for family holidays. However, if you’re looking for the perfect Greek island for a family vacation, I’d give Naxos the edge.
Naxos has an exceptionally family-friendly atmosphere and a range of activities that cater to travelers of all ages. The island’s long stretches of soft sandy beaches and shallow crystal-clear water create a safe and enjoyable playground for a day at the beach with the kids.
Additionally, Naxos has numerous family-oriented accommodations, from spacious villas to cozy beachfront hotels with plenty of space for the whole family.
For example, just a short walk from Plaka Beach, the Seaside Naxos Holiday Villas is a complex of 4 holiday villas with 3 or 4 bedrooms each. Two have their own private pools and are perfect for a large family or two families traveling together.
Exploring the rich history of Naxos is also a fun educational adventure for kids, with ancient ruins like the impressive Portara. It’s easy to explore the site via a manmade walkway from Naxos Town and free to visit 24 hours a day.
It’s also one of the island’s most popular spots to watch the sunset.
Naxos’ laid-back ambiance and genuine hospitality cultivate a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it the perfect Greek island for families to spend quality time together.
Couples looking for romance
My Pick: Paros
I might be slightly biased on this one because I personally found Paros more romantic on our last visit. However, part of that might have been due to our fabulously romantic hotel, the Anna Platanou Suites.
With its captivating blend of stunning landscapes, intimate ambiance, and romantic settings, Paros is the perfect choice for couples. For romance, skip the main town of Parikia, and head for straight for Naoussa, a cosmopolitan fishing village perched directly on the sea.
Naoussa is home to the island’s poshest seafood restaurants, elegant cocktail bars, and trendy shops. And with plenty of romantic hotel options, like the enchanting Parilio Hotel Paros, it makes a great home base to explore Paros.
In the evenings, Naoussa’s sophisticated dining and nightlife options are perhaps second only to Santorini.
Dazzling beaches, like Kolymbithres, offer secluded coves and mesmerizing rock formations, perfect for couples in search of tranquility and seclusion. Not to mention all those stunning Paros sunsets!
Tip: Sunset from your own private hot tub is a Bucket List must (see above!).
From candlelit dinners at charming seafront tavernas to romantic hotels and plenty of dreamy scenery, Paros is a winner for travelers seeking romance and relaxation.
Solo Travelers or Friends Traveling Together
My Pick: Paros
If you’re traveling solo or with a group of friends, you’re probably more interested in nightlife than the average traveler.
And when it comes to nightlife, Paros vs Naxos is a slightly easier decision. Paros definitely has the edge.
Solo travelers can embrace the island’s bustling nightlife scene and make new friends at the numerous beach bars and clubs in Parikia and Naoussa.
Adrenaline junkie? You’ll love the island’s energetic water sports scene, including windsurfing and kiteboarding. And there are plenty of opportunities for group activities.
Whether you’re seeking new connections or bonding with old ones, Paros is a terrific Greek island destination to visit solo or bring the whole squad for a fun-filled holiday.
The Bottom Line?
Both Naxos and Paros are incredible Greek islands to visit, each with a unique charm and allure.
Naxos shines with affordability, superb beaches, and rich culinary experiences. It’s an excellent choice for families and couples seeking relaxation and local culture.
If you’re traveling with the whole family, I’d recommend Naxos.
Paros, on the other hand, has a spirited nightlife scene, diverse shopping, and chic seaside villages. It’s a great choice for couples, singles, and travelers looking for an energetic social atmosphere.
So if you’re looking for nightlife or romance, I lean toward Paros.
Ultimately, your choice should be guided by how you like to travel and who you’re traveling with. But don’t worry, whichever island you choose, you really can’t go wrong.
So, which is better, Paros or Naxos?
I love them both. And you probably will, too. So only you can decide which island is better.
But luckily, you don’t really have to.
I mean, hey, they’re only 40-minutes apart by ferry, so why not visit both! Three or four days on each island is the perfect recipe for a heavenly trip to the Greek Islands.
So don’t choose, I say.
Visit BOTH Naxos and Paros. It’s okay to love them both.
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