Paros


The island of Paros is situated in the very heart of the Cyclades island group. With an area of 165 km² and 10.000 inhabitants it is one of the bigger islands. It is popular with backpackers and package holiday makers alike. The highest mountain is Mt. Agios Pantes (771 meters); in fact the whole island is one big mountain.

Local capital and port is Parakia on the west coast of the island. It is one of the busiest tourist destinations matched only by Thira (Santorini) and Mykonos. As a result the town not only has loads of restaurants, shops and bars but also a busy night life. Most of the amenities are along the shore. The old town is somewhat hidden behind this shiny modern town but it is worth visiting. Most popular is the market lane. As a result you don't always get the best deal.

We recommend Pension Alexandas in Parikia, the port town and capital of Paros.

 

There is plenty to see on Paros. For a start there is Naoussa. It is a small fishing village up north. Unfortunately during season it gets invaded and literally run over by busloads of tourists. Best stay away in high season. Popular is also Lefkes in the heart of the island. It is a cute mountain village and like an open-air museum for Cycladic architecture. One of the most spectacular places on Paros is the Petaloudes valley. In late spring / early summer there are thousands and thousands of butterflies. Another popular place to visit is Antiparos a small island 2 km off the coast of Paros. It has one of the most fascinating stalactite caves in Greece. The local village there is a good alternative to Parakia if you like it a bit more quiet.

Paros is famous for its marble. Parian marble is of the highest quality and as such first choice for artists all over the world. Most famous are the Venus of Milo and Napoleons tomb.

Paros is a relatively green island with enough water. There still is a lot of agriculture. Farmers mainly grow grains, fruit olives and - needless to say - grapes.

The best beaches are on the east coast near Piso Lovadi and Drios. Golden Beach is considered the best beach for surfing. Most popular with the young and hip is Pounda. The beaches near Parikia and Naoussa on most islands would be considered excellent. On Paros simply is just too much competition for them to be noted.


Busses on Paros
 

The bus system on Paros is excellent. There are four lines. The schedule below is from May 2008 (low season). During season there are even more busses.

Line 1: From Parikia via Lefkes and Piso Livadi to Drios

Going there: 8, 10, 11, 12:10, 14, 16, 18 (weekdays)
Going back: 7:30 (from Lefkes), 9, 11, 13:10, 15, 17, 19

Line 2: From Parikia to Naoussa

Going there: 8, 10, 11, 12:10, 14, 16, 18, 20
Going back: 7:40, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 16:30, 18:30, 20:30

Line 3: From Parikia via Petaloudes valley (butterflies) to Aliki

Going there: 7:10, 9, 11, 12:10, 14:10, 16:10, 18:10
Going back: 7:35, 9:20, 11:25, 12:30, 14:40, 16:40, 18:40

Line 4: From Parikia to Pounda (boat to Antiparos)

Going there: 7:10, 9:10, 11:10, 12:10, 14:10, 16:10, 18:10
Going back: 7:55, 9:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 16:30, 18:30



The ferry to Antiparos goes every 30 minutes (more or less). It is even mre frequent in high season. It lands in the main village on Antiparos. The boats cost next to nothing (1.20-1.90 Euro) one way. The bus stop is close to the small port. From the main port in Parikia keep left.

The schedule above is for weekdays. On weekends there are fewer busses, especially in the morning.

Besides the public transport option you can avail of private charters. Most travel agencies will offer round and day trips for about 25 Euro pp.

Ferries Paros

Parikia is the biggest ferry port in the island group and one of the busiest. Besides the regular ferries most fast ferries will stop here. They are twice as expensive but also twice as fast as regular ones.

There are 3-8 ferries a day to Athens and 3-6 to neighbouring Naxos, Ios and Santorini. 2-4 Ferries go to Mykonos but these are mostly fast ferries. During season there even is a daily boat to Crete which is rather unusual.

Still frequent are ferries to Sikinos, Folegandros, Andros, Serifos, Sifnos, Icaria, Samos and other islands, making Paros the ideal hub for travellers. From here you even get to Thessaloniki.

Already mentioned are the small ferries to Antiparos that go at least every 30 minutes.

Airport Paros

Paros has a small airport. The only flights are domestic meaning Athens. To get there from the UK best go to Mykonos and take a ferry. From overseas your best option is to change planes in Athens.


Spending the night on Paros

There are numerous hotels, pensions, holiday homes and private rooms on Paros. Besides that there are no less than 5 camp sites. In Naoussa you even find a hostel. In the capital of Paros Parikia my favourite places are Pension Alexandas (very cheap, good rooms, nice staff) and Pension Helliniko (also good price). For more infos click on the hotel name. (hier freier WLAN-Internetzugang).

Parikia (Paros)

Parikia is the local capital. It is one of the busier tourist centres in the Cyclades. It may be no match for Mykonos but the local night life does have a reputation. It is popular even with people coming from Athens.

In the past 30 years Parikia turned into a typical tourist destination with all its advantages and disadvantages. Cafes and clubs are open until 6 in the morning, you even find a Hard Rock Café here. The variety of restaurants and food stands is impressive. You can find pretty much everything from Chinese to Indian. Prices are above average which is not surprising. There are cheap alternatives though. Souvlaki pitas are cheap and good, there is no local MacDonalds but the Greek version of it: Goodies.

The old town is pretty. Most popular is the agora (literally translated: market). While you should visit it don't bother shopping there. It is a tourist trap. More interesting for hunting gifts are the small side streets. They are less busy with tourists and you might be able to find a good deal there. Don't rely on it. Paros is just the wrong place for grabbing a bargain.


In Greece the town is most famous for the gigantic church. Paragia Ekatontapiliani is one of the oldest churches in the whole country. It's not always open but admission at least is free. You should be able to get in before noon and between 4 pm and 8 pm. The area is enclosed by a wall and there is more than one church. Most impressive are the marble pillars and art work. The church is probably your best chance to have a close look at Parian marble.

 


Typical for Greece the old town is built on a small hill. On top is a small castle. Countless tiny little alleys invite visitors.

There are plenty of places to stay. You should get a basic room from about 40 Euro. In low season prices go down. With a bit of luck you should get a double for 25 to 30 Euros. There are quiet a few rather expensive places. Most of them would be occupied buy package holiday makers. The accommodation bureau at the port is actually quiet good.


The bus stop is only a few meters from the port. From there the four bus lines start that bring you to Naoussa, the east (Lefkes, Piso Livadi and Drios), Poubda (Antiparos) and Aliki in the south. All bus lines go frequently.

Naoussa (Paros)

Naoussa represents pretty much everything you'd expect in a typical village on a Cycladic island. The narrow alleys, the white houses and the sheer number of churches make it look like a museum. Most visitors consider it the most beautiful village on Paros.

In Naoussa you can rent a room in one of the immaculate white houses along one of the narrow alleys. There is no traffic and you feel like you've been sent back in time. During the day you can visit one of the nearby beaches, in the evening you dine in one of the restaurants at the romantic fishing port. Highly recommend is the fresh fish. Afterwards you can stroll through the village and visit one of the cosy bars. No wonder Naoussa became so popular. It sounds like a perfect day on a Greek island. The downside of this is a growing popularity. During high season the town is packed with tourists. The numbers might be lower than Parikia but Naoussa certainly is not a "best kept secret".

The local port is considered one the most beautiful in whole island group. Unlike other islands the number of fishermen is not going down. There are still plenty of fishing boats. Prices in the local restaurants have not gone down either. Quite the opposite; I wouldn't call them steep but they certainly aren't cheap either. If you are looking for a bargain stick to the Souvlaki stands on the main square.

Hotels in Naossa you find here.

 

Busses Naoossa: The bus station is – together with the tourist info – on the main square. Depending on the season there are 8-20 busses a day going to Parikia (10 kilometres). During season there are also busses to the popular places east namely Piso Livadi and Drios. In low season there is only one bus a day though.


Spending the night in Naussa: The Young Inn is the unofficial youth hostel. The place is run by a German lady. With 8 Euro per bed it is probably the cheapest place to crash on the whole island. They also got a double room for 20 Euro a night. The place is chilled out. If you call in advance the owner will pick you up at the port. This might be a good idea since the place is a little difficult to find. Also check their homepage.

2 km outside of Naoussa is a camp site. It is directly at the sea which isn't bad at all.

Other than that there are plenty of rooms to rent in town.

Lefkes on Paros

Lefkes, situated in the very heart of the island, is considered the most beautiful village on the island. On daily basis hundreds of tourists visit the village. As a result the narrow alleys are packed during the day. During high season this can be challenging.

There is a bit of competition between Naoussa and Lefkes when it comes to the title of the most beautiful village on Paros. At the end of the day Lefkes wins because the surrounding landscape. Also hiking is a lot better here. If you only look at the village itself they are pretty much even.

Lefkes most prominent features are the churches and the houses in the architectural style that is typical for the Cycladic islands. All the houses are renovated whereby tradition was adhered. In the small white houses you will find small Kafenions (coffee houses) and shops. Particularly interesting is the butcher just beside the main square (Platia) and the bakery. The latter is surprisingly reasonable. Try one their Tiropita (cheese pastry).

There are a number of restaurants in Lefkes. Prices are average unless you stick to the local wine. That is delicious and seriously cheap. Some say that most tourist are "tipsy" when going back to their hotel and I have reason to believe it.

Lefkes used to be quite big. At some stage 4.000 people lived here. Times have changed though. Most people left for more prosperous places. Today some of the expats return since tourism provides some opportunities to make a living.

The village is dominated by the church Agias Trias (the three saints). Worth visiting are the cemetery just behind the church and the local museum.

Busses to lefkes go every hour from Parikia in the west and Drios and Piso Livadi in the east. From the bus stop walk about 10 metres and then follow the cobbled road.

Petaloudes on Paros (butterfly valley)

Every year hundreds of thousands of butterflies come to the valley of Petaloudes. It is a spectacular sight. The whole valley is covered with them. They all seem to be the same; orange with black and white wings. In summer hundreds of people come every day to observe the spectacle. During the day the insects cling to the trees. They only fly at night. Despite the admission fee and the fact that they don't actually do much during the day it does worth a visit. Petaloudes is a unique place. To see the butterflies come between June and September.


To get there take the bus from Perikia to Aliki and ask the drive to drop you near the valley. There is no official bus stop. From the road it is a 500 meters walk.
 

Agios Pantes

Agios Pantes is the name of the highest mountain on Paros. It rises up to 750 meters which – for a small island – is a lot. To walk (or drive) up there wait for a clear day. Otherwise there is no point. From the top you can see more or less all the entire island group, assuming that it is a clear day. Bring a map and you can play the "what's this island" game. It's fun.

From Lefkes there is a road to the summit. We recommend walking up there. The easiest way up is from Lefkes but there are many ways up the hill. Don't forget to bring plenty of water and some food. 750 meters doesn't sound like much but it is different with the heat.


Piso Livadi and the east of Paros

Piso Livadi is a small village in the east of Paros. It has everything one could possibly ask for and on top is cheaper and more laid back than the bigger and fancier Parikia and Naoussa.

Piso Livadi is nothing but a few streets with a small port and an excellent beach. There are loads of rooms to rent, the restaurants along the waterfront without and exception are fantastic and even better all of the above are 20-30% cheaper than in the west of Paros. Why would you go anywhere else?


Actually; quite a few people asked the same question and for this very reason Piso Livadi grew considerably in recent years. In many ways we dislike the recent development but on the other hand we can't blame them. If we were living them we would probably do the same. Fair play to them; Piso Livadi still is a very, very cool place to go.

If you can do without luxurious hotels and night life this is your destination of choice. A perfect place for the family holiday.

In summer there is a small ferry going from here to Naxos. It really only is a stones throw away. There are frequent busses to Drios and Parikia via Lefkes. Depending on the season there are 6-15 busses a day. During high season there are also direct busses to Naoussa.


Drios / Golden Beach on Paros

Drios is mainly famous for the nearby Golden beach. Other than that it is a quiet village with a number of hotels. Especially in recent years they seem to spring up like mushrooms. It's quite annoying. At least there are a bunch of good restaurants, supermarkets and even a disco. The latter is packed with the kind of people that come to a place like Drios: surfers. And guess why that is! The Golden Beach is the magic word and quite literally.


The name really does give it away. Golden beach is the best beach on Paros and one of the best in all Greece. The name derives from the golden colour of the sand. It is most popular (and famous) with surfers just mentioned. Even some world cup events take place here.

There is a constant wind from the north which is quite annoying when you want to chill on the beach but is excellent when you wind surf. Not surprisingly the surfers are the majority here.

There are some restaurants, rooms to rent and lately also some package holiday hotels. We actually used to like the place. It's a crying shame what's becoming of it.

Golden beach and Drios share the busses with Piso Livadi.



 

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