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Inside: From gorgeous beaches to chic fishing villages, the Greek Islands of Paros & Antiparos just might win your heart. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip.
My husband and I recently returned from 3 weeks of island-hopping around the Greek Islands. While we visited 6 different and uniquely gorgeous islands, it was the island of Paros that stole his heart.
And I can’t say that I blame him.
As we discovered on our all-too-short 3-day visit, there’s just something about Paros that makes you want to stay forever. And if it wasn’t for that pesky ferry booking to Naxos on our last day, we just might have.
Why visit Paros?
Like Naxos, Paros is one of the most versatile Greek islands so it’s terrific for any kind of traveler. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a relaxing family vacation, or a lively nightlife scene, Paros has it all.
And you can get it all on pretty much any budget (another plus). Paros has 5-star hotels to rival anything on Santorini. And it also has comfortable, basic rooms to suit even the tightest budget.
Paros also happens to come complete with a lovely bonus – its sister island of Antiparos (but more on that later).
If you’re planning a trip to Santorini or Mykonos, Paros is a terrific island to add to your itinerary for an authentic, less-touristy experience.
But before I move on to all the wonderful things to see and do on Paros, a few words about…
Traveling to Greece right now
Following our recent trip, I wrote a comprehensive post about traveling in and around Greece right now during the Covid-19 pandemic: The Ultimate Guide to the Greek Islands
It’s every little thing you need to know. From pre-arrival testing and whether you’ll have to wear a mask to where you can get a Covid test if you need one to return home. It’s essential reading for anyone planning a trip to Greece right now.
But enough about the joys of world travel during a pandemic, let’s get back to the good stuff!
FAQs about the Greek Island of Paros:
What is Paros known for?
In the ancient world, 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. Parian marble was used by the ancient Greeks in the construction of some of the famous temples of the ancient world like the Acropolis, the temple of Zeus, and the temple of Apollo.
But 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. So these days Paros is known mainly for lovely, unique beaches and a sophisticated nightlife scene.
Is Paros touristy?
While the main port town of Parikia is considered the most touristy part of the island, the rest of Paros is not touristy at all. Compared with Rhodes, Crete, Santorini or Mykonos, Paros feels much more like an authentic Greek island. It is, however, more touristy than sleepier islands like Milos or Symi.
Is Paros a party island?
Not really. I mean, it’s certainly no Mykonos or Ios when it comes to high-octane nightlife, But Paros does have a lively nightlife scene centering around the swank village of Naoussa where you’ll find a variety of trendy bars to sip a seaside cocktail. And in the port town of Parikia, there are also plenty of clubs for music and dancing. But generally speaking, Paros is not considered a “party island” and is perfectly suitable for couples or families.
Is Paros expensive?
Compared to other popular Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos, Paros is a very affordable island to visit. Restaurants are reasonably priced and a suite at a luxury hotel can be had for half the price of a similar hotel on Santorini.
Which Greek Island is better – Paros or Naxos?
It’s an impossible choice. They are so close together and similar in size that many people find themselves trying to decide between the two. We visited both Paros and Naxos on our recent trip and I loved them both!
Paros has a bit more nightlife and I found it to be a little more romantic than Naxos. So if you’re looking for nightlife or romance, I might lean toward Paros. Naxos is known for long, uncrowded beautiful beaches and is slightly more family-friendly. So if you’re traveling with the whole family, I’d recommend Naxos.
But hey, they’re only 40-minutes apart by ferry, so why not visit both as we did? Three or four days on each island makes for a terrific stay in the Greek Islands!
How many days do you need in Paros?
Ideally, you’ll need a minimum of two days to explore the best things to see and do on Paros. Although, if you can spare a third day, quaint Antiparos is worth a full day on its own.
Of course, there’s plenty to do on the island for a week or even longer. But if you’re island-hopping, I’d recommend 2-3 days on Paros.
How to Get to Paros Greece– Flight vs. Ferry
There are two ways to get to Paros:
- A flight or ferry from Athens.
- Or, a ferry from a neighboring island like Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Ios, or Naxos.
Flights from Athens to Paros
Olympic Airlines operates up to 8 flights a day from Athens to Paros during the peak summer season. Olympic is 100% owned by Aegean Airlines and you can book your flights on either website (schedules and pricing are the same).
Flight time is just 40 minutes and flights are often well under EUR 100 one-way when booked far enough in advance. Tip: With Aegean and Olympic, the earlier you book the cheaper the flights.
Ferries from Athens to Paros
Ferries to Paros depart from all three ports in Athens – Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrio:
- Piraeus – This is the largest port in Athens and offers the most ferry connections to the islands. It’s approximately 7 miles from downtown Athens (a 20-minute drive by taxi) and 31 miles from the airport (a 40-minute drive by taxi, cost EUR 50-70). There are also frequent bus connections from the airport (cost EUR 6, travel time is at least an hour). Piraeus is the best option if you’re already in the city.
- Rafina – The second largest port in Athens, Rafina is further from the city but only 10 miles from the airport. So it’s the most convenient port if you’re transferring directly from the airport to a ferry. A taxi from the airport costs EUR 25-35 and takes about 20 minutes. Or there’s a public bus (KTEL) that runs approximately every hour for EUR 3. The ride takes about 40 minutes.
- Lavrio – The smallest of the three ports, you’re less likely to utilize Lavrio but there are some ferry options from here. It’s also the farthest from both the city and the airport. A taxi from the airport costs approximately EUR 55-75.
The journey takes as little as 2h 45m on the non-stop Blue Star high-speed ferry from Piraeus. Or it can take as long as 7.5 hours on the Blue Star Artemis car ferry from Lavrio (which makes 3 stops along the way). There are also a few other options in between.
My favorite choice for this route is the Blue Star Delos ferry from Piraeus. Even though it takes 4 hours, it’s a beautiful, large ferry and a very comfortable ride. It’s also one of the most economical options. Tip: A business class ticket on Delos will run you about the same price as the fast ferry.
But before you depart Athens…
If this is your first trip to Greece, be sure to stop over for at least a few days to see the sights. If time is short, here’s a foolproof one-day itinerary: 24 Hours in Athens
Ferry connections to Paros from other islands
Paros is well-connected to the rest of the Cyclades by ferry. So, if you’re island-hopping, you’ll find frequent connections from Santorini, Naxos, Milos, Ios, and Mykonos.
The best site for booking ferries in Greece is FerryHopper.com.
Where to stay on Paros
Most visitors to Paros choose to stay in the main port town of Parikia or near the Venetian port of Naoussa. But there are other good options in between.
Best Hotels in or near Naoussa
Parilio Hotel Paros – This stylish resort is a serene oasis located between Naoussa and Kolymbithres Beach. A Member of Design Hotels, the focus here is on elegant design and top-notch service. A great choice for couples or anyone looking for a little luxury on Paros.
Porto de Calma – If you’re looking for a little more space, this roomy sea view apartment in the heart of Naoussa is a perfect choice. With two bedrooms and a well-equipped kitchen, it’s also ideal for families.
Liprando – This family-run hotel is a great value with an excellent central location in Naoussa. Rooms are modern with fresh decor and some have balconies with a sea view.
Best Hotels in or near Parikia
Paros Agnanti Hotel – Located just outside Parikia near Marchello Beach (one of the best beaches on Paros), this resort is a great choice for couples. All rooms feature sea views but suites also come with either a private pool or hot tub on a large terrace. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle service into Parikia.
Angie’s Studios – This traditional Greek guesthouse is a great budget option in the heart of Parikia. It’s close to the ferry port and just steps from plenty of shops and restaurants, yet it’s still in a quiet area. Balcony rooms are worth the few extra dollars.
White Blossom – This family-owned hotel run by brothers Nikos and Stelios has large, modern suites and apartments making it a great choice for families or anyone looking for a little more space.
My favorite hotel on Paros
Our hotel, the Anna Platanou Suites was incredible. It was actually our favorite hotel of the entire 6-island trip. Located near Pounda (ferry departure point for Antiparos), rooms here have spacious terraces with a hot tub that is actually private (unlike most hot tub suites on Santorini at twice the price). We booked a Deluxe Suite with Outdoor Hot Tub and the room was beautiful but the terrace was spectacular.
The sunset views from the hotel are stunning, the pool is a serene escape, and the staff is just delightful. We looked forward to coming home to our little slice of Paros paradise each day.
Do you need a car in Paros?
If you’re staying in Parikia or Naoussa, you probably don’t need a rental car. There are good bus connections to all of the top sights on the island. However, if you choose to stay outside of the two main towns (like we did) you’ll want to have a car.
A rental car will only run you about EUR 35 per day. I prefer having the freedom to explore the island at my own pace, without worrying about bus schedules. And driving on Paros is pretty easy compared to other Greek islands.
5 Reasons to fall in love with Paros
I’ll be honest, there are way more than 5 reasons to fall in love with Paros. But these were my favorite places on our recent visit so they’re a great place to start.
1. The fishing village of Naoussa
This cosmopolitan fishing village is 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 hotel options, it makes a great home base to explore Paros.
The town itself is a labyrinth of narrow white alleys fringed with vibrant bougainvillea just begging for exploration. Walk along the seawall to Venetian Fort that welcomes fishing boats back to port.
In the evenings, the sophisticated dining and nightlife options are perhaps second only to Santorini. It’s the one place on Paros to see and be seen. (Of course, if that’s not your scene, see #4 below.)
If you’re staying in Naoussa, it’s easy to find affordable, frequent boat trips to any of the nearby beaches if you don’t have a car or don’t want to take the bus.
2. The Beautiful Beaches of Paros
When it comes to beaches, Paros has plenty of great choices. Here are 3 of the best beaches on Paros:
- Kolymbithres Beach – The most unique beach on Paros, Kolymbithres has crystal clear waters dotted with fascinating rock formations.
- Santa Maria Beach – Widely considered the best overall beach on Paros, Santa Maria is well organized with plenty of dining and watersports options. And with calm, clear waters perfect for swimming, it’s a great choice for families.
- Marchello Beach – Located just north of Parikia, this popular beach is home to several beach bars and can get very lively in the summer months.
3. The hilltop village of Lefkes
Head toward the island’s interior to travel back in time and discover the traditional village of Lefkes, the original capital of Paros 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. The trail leads to the village of Prodromos and then down to the sea and takes about 45-minutes to walk one way.
4. Piso Livadi
If you find Naoussa and Parikia to be a bit too busy (or touristy), head over to the east side of Paros to the small fishing port of Piso Livadi. This small, picturesque harbor is home to a handful of hotels and seaside tavernas and a crescent-shaped beach with calm, clear water for swimming.
It’s a nice, laid-back alternative to the island’s larger towns if you’re seeking a quiet getaway. In fact, you might even choose to stay in Piso Livadi (if you do, View Rooms is a great hotel choice with incredible views).
In the summer months, it’s also possible to book boat trip excursions from Piso Livadi to neighboring islands.
5. The island of Antiparos
Why Visit Antiparos?
The smaller, quieter sister island to Paros, Antiparos makes a fantastic day trip. During the high season months when Parikia and Naoussa swell with visitors, sleepy Antiparos is the perfect escape.
How do you get from Paros to Antiparos?
From Parikia or Naoussa, drive or take a bus to the small port of Pounta on the western side of the island. From there, the ferry to Antiparos runs daily every 30 minutes and departs at the top and bottom of the hour. Returning from Antiparos to Paros, the ferries leave at 15 and 45 minutes after the hour.
Tickets are EUR 1,20 per person and EUR 6,30 per car and can only be purchased on the boat with cash (EUR). The scenic ferry ride takes just 7-10 minutes.
Can you drive from Paros to Antiparos?
Yes, the ferry can take cars and most rental car companies do allow you to take the car on the ferry to Antiparos (but check with yours to be sure).
It’s not necessary to have a car if you just want to explore the main village of Chora. But if you want to explore further afield, it helps to have a car.
Best Things to Do on Antiparos
One of the great things about the lazy island of Antiparos is that there aren’t a ton of things to see and do. That’s just part of the island’s charm.
But there are a couple of things you really must see while you’re there:
- Explore Chora – If you don’t drive to Antiparos, you can still explore the charming main town of Chora. The whitewashed streets are lined with cafes and shops. Don’t miss the Venetian Castle of Antiparos, built in 1440, or the island’s main cathedral, the Church of Agios Nikolaos.
- Cave of Antiparos – Aside from the town, this natural wonder is the most popular attraction on Antiparos. First explored in the 15th century AD, this fascinating cave full of stalactites and stalagmites was once used as a refuge and a place of worship. The cave’s oldest stalagmite is estimated to be 45 million years old and the oldest in all of Europe.
- Agios Georgios – Located on the south end of the island, this is another great place to visit if you do choose to drive. You’ll find a couple of tavernas with fresh seafood and a small, lovely beach with sunbeds.
And there you have it!
Five great reasons to fall in love with the fabulous Greek Island of Paros.
So whether you spend a whole week exploring Paros, or just stop over for a few days while island-hopping through the Cyclades, you’ll find plenty to love about this delightful island.