Paros is a major party island in July and August! After
Naxos and Andros, Paros is the 3rd largest island of the Cyclades,
with 195 sq. km of land mass and 118 km of coast. Paros rests 95
nautical miles from Piraeus and is a superior piece of Cycladic
real estate due to its marble, fertility and supply of water.
Mt. Profitis Illias (770m) is in Paros central-southeastern section
surrounding which are several fertile flat areas. There are two
natural gulfs: Naoussa on the north and Paroikia in the west.
grows much of its own food including barley, wheat, olives, and
citrus. There is wonderful local wine. Its population is around 10,000.
is famous for its marble, considered the best in the world
due to its translucence which allows light to pass to a depth of
3.5 centimeters. Many of the statues you will see in the world's
greatest museums are made from Parian marble. The Venus de Milo and Napoleon's tomb are both carved from Parian marble.
Paros has several villages from which to base oneself and yachting facilities at its upscale secondary port of Naoussa.
There are many wonderful beaches. The water around the island is crystal clear, the sands are golden, the people are fun-loving and hospitable. It's a perfect vacation spot.
There are pleasant resorts dotting the island, which rises gently to Mt. Profitis Ilias.
In spite of all the tourists, Paros has managed to maintain a Greek island feel. You can find a rowdy night time scene in the waterfront bars of Parikia. The night haunts of Naoussa are a bit more sophisticated.
Paros is the main ferry hub of the Cyclades. You pass through it when traveling to other island chains in the Aegean. This makes the main port at Parikia frantically busy at times.
Only 1km southwest of Paros is the small island of Antiparos, which is easily reached by boat.
Paroikia: Paros' Capital & Main Port
Paros' western shore lies Paroikia, the island's capital, also called
Paros Town. This is Paros' main port where ferry passengers arrive and
depart. Visitors to this beautiful natural harbor are greeted by
its solitary but no longer functional windmill. The windmill is a central reference point, and restaurants and other amenities fan out around it. The present town
rests on the same site as the ancient city.
is the largest town on the island. Facing it from the port you'll
find most of the accommodations and beaches to your right. Most of
the restaurants and bars are to your left towards the built
up area of Livadia, with its tree-lined beach. The main
bus station is harbour side as are the water taxi connections
to beaches near the town and to Antiparos.
most charming and most traditional section of town is roughly in the
center and clustered around the Kastro on the southwest side of
the harbor. The castle (kastro) sits on the highest eminence of
the village and is built on the site of the ancient acropolis. The castle is constructed from many ancient marble columns and fragments
of the temples of Apollo and Demeter.
the village's northern outskirts between Parikia and Livadia stands Paros and Paroikia's most important church,
The Church of 100 Doors or the Ekatonapyliani (open 8-1 and 4-9, no shorts, modest dress).
Ekatonapyliani translates to 100 doors (or 100 gates). There aren't a hundred, but there are a lot. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Katapoliani. It is one of
the oldest Christian basilicas in Greece. The
church has several outstanding features including its gilded wood iconostasis.
The building is actually three churches: Agios Nikolaos, the largest, has Parian marble columns and the aforementioned iconostasis. The others are the Church of Our Lady and the Baptistery.
short distance away and behind the church is a modern structure containing
the Archeological Museum of Paros (open Tue-Sun,
8:30-2:30, fee). Within is contained a section of the artistic history of Greece known as the "Parian Chronicles."
This early collection of marble tablets were discovered in the 17th Century. Some of the Parian Chronicles have been removed to Oxford.
The Archeological Museum also has a Gorgon, a 5th Century
Winged Victory, a mosaic of the Labors of Hercules, various amphora and
numerous swastikas, which are early solar symbols whose rays go opposite
to those of the Nazi symbol.
Along the waterfront, you'll find the ancient cemetery, which dates to the 7th Century. Roman graves, burial pots and sarcophagi are lit up at night in the cemetery.
Valley of the Butterflies
Southwest of Parikia, 6km by bus or or motorcycle, is the Valley of the Butterflies. Go in the early morning in July and August to see the butterflies (fee). The valley is cool and refreshing, even when the butterflies are not there.
Naoussa: Paros' Secondary Port
the small, traditional, laid-back fishing village of Naoussa, 10
km north of Paroikia, has retained much of its innocence. It remains
among the loveliest villages in the Cyclades. Naoussa still retains
much of its traditional architecture in the form of two-storied,
white-washes houses with carnation and bougainvillea covered balconies. Naoussa is the first place where the Greek government clamped down on shoddy building, a dubious claim to fame. Its intriguing medieval castle is in ruins and half submerged by
Built by the Somaripa family (1386-1516) the sunken stone work provides
an romantic background for the harbours blue and white fishing boats.
In season Naoussa becomes the
cosmopolitan haunt of the upwardly and nautically mobile jet setters.
You may see anyone here from Sting to 'Proletar' from Albania. Cosmopolitan, but expensive, stylish cafe-restaurant-bars compete
for your recreational dollars.
The islanders re-enact their battle against Barbarossa on August 23 in the Naoussa harbor. One hundred torch-lit boats fill the harbor for the re-enactment. Naturally, there is music, dancing and a party scene after the battle.
Naoussas harbor is an ideal places to read
the latest foreign papers over an omelette of feta cheese and people watch.
The blue-domed Byzantine Museum is up from the central square. There's also a small Folklore Museum with regional costumes.
There are great and popular beaches for all tastes in and around Naoussa. Some are long
and wide, some are small and cozy and several have special activities
to offer (for example Wind Surfing and Scuba Diving).
Some beaches are quiet and
with very shallow water, ideal for families with young children, some
offer concerts and beach parties and one allows nude bathing. The best is Kolimvythres, which has unique rock formations. You can snorkle at Monastiri, plus they have some popular clubs there. There's good windsurfing on the eastern headland at Santa Maria. All the beaches are reachable by road or caique.
There is also a very
good & frequent bus service, so you can move back to Parikia easily
or visit other parts of the island. During the high season, the buses
even run all through the night!
At a distance of twenty
kilometers from Parikia lies the seaside village of Drios (alternate spelling Dryos), at the very
southern most tip of the island. Drios is a picturesque little village
with plentiful vegetation, surrounded by sandy beaches ideal for relaxation
and swimming. In Drios you can find small hotels and rooms to let, built with traditional
cycladic style, in complete harmony with the landscape.
Throughout the area there are tavernas, restaurants, music bars,
watersports like scuba-diving and windsurfing. Look for the ancient trenches carved in the seashore
rocks, used to haul up the boats for repair or sheltering.
Although it attracts many tourists during the summer months Drios is never
really crowded. It's a good place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the
landscape along with the clear waters.
Go up a mountain road to Lefkes, at 200 metres
above sea level the highest village
on Paros. It's on the bus route. It is built in the form of an amphitheatre on the surrounding
hills, with gleaming white houses and old churches and monasteries. The
main street of the village, which has 500 inhabitants, contains houses
and churches dating from the 15th-17th century. The Church of the Holy
Trinity and the Monastery of St. John Kaparosshould
Lefkes is probably the island's loveliest little town. It's situated in the
in the middle of the island, approximately 12 kms away
from Parikia. It faces east with a beautiful view towards Naxos. It is an
extremely quiet and remote place. Local lore says that if you visit Paros, you haven't
really seen Paros if you didn't go to Lefkes.
Lefkes is very green with a little forest
above it. See the impressive cemetery that is still in use in a "secret
garden" behind the cathedral Agias Trias.
Enjoy the exquisite architecture (combining Cycladic and Venetian style),
admire the little houses with entrances and windows you think are too
small to be in use. The porches are full of flowers and herbs.
Visit its traditional pottery shops or watch the Greek ladies weave. There is a famous trail for walking,
the Byzantine Trail, a paved path that leads you through beautiful
countryside down to the village called Prodromos
and then further down to the sea.
The sleepy village
Kostos near Lefkes has a charming atmosphere and
is a great place for a traditional Greek dinner!
Below Lefkes onthe east coast of the island, Pisso Livadi is a nice little town with a fishing port. Pisso Livadi has with some of Paros' most important beaches (e.g. Golden
Beach or Chrysi Akti, Pounda Beach) and the small and similar villages
Logaras & Drios nearby. It was the port for the marble quarries at one time.
Pisso Livadi is now an
important holiday resort approximately 25 km away from Parikia, with access
to daily trip boats heading for Naxos, Delos, Mykonos, Santorini and Amorgos.
Pisso Livadi, like Logaras, is also recommended for traditional Greek
Pisso Livadi is in the center of Paros' beach colonies. Molos is just north. Pounda is just to the south.
Aliki is similar to Pisso Livadi, a fishing port on the south-west coast
of Paros, facing the little island Antiparos. Aliki is mostly known for
the airport, which is further north and used by Olympic Airways and Hellenic
Star for domestic flights. Chances are that it is the smallest airport
you have ever seen - the planes Olympic Airways use have about 18 seats
and are called "mosquitoes"!
Marpissa is a picturesque village upon a hill about 20 km distance
from Parikia, just above Pisso Livadi. It lies a couple of km off the waterfront.
Here you find beautiful alleys with tall trees, traditional Greek farm life, but
not many accommodations. Within walking distance, atop
a hill, there is the 16th-century monastery Moni Agiou Antoniou. There are lovely frescoes in the monastery.
Paros has to offer
a great variety of beaches with crystal clear waters throughout the island.
In the south part of the island are the expansive sandy beaches of
Chrisi Akti (Golden beach) and Tserdakia (New
Golden beach). These beaches are famous worldwide among those who love watersports and specially
among the windsurfers.
At Tserdakia Beach every August they hold the annual P.W.A. World cup an event
that brings to Paros the best windsurfers of the world in a unique competition
under the refreshing wind and the sun of the Aegean sea.
beach from that part of the island is Pounda, which is a well organized
sandy beach with snack bar, music, restaurant, and a beach bar that is
always crowded with young people who are dancing, flirting and having
Opposite to the island Antiparos lies the beach of Santa Eirini with
palm trees, crystal waters and an exotic touch ideal for relaxation.
You find many spots on Paros where the rocks form an impressive landscape
with little harbours ideal for tanning and enjoying the water.
Drinking and Dining
Almost every village on Paros has good food choices. In Parikia and Naoussa there are dozens of good eateries. You must try the octopus, of course.
We already mentioned the lively nightlife that can be found around the waterfront bars.
Inhabited since prehistoric times, Paros had a Bronze Age installation on the hill above Paroikia. From the 8th Century BC until the Persian Wars it was active in trade, mainly because of the quarrying of marble.
Legend has it that in in 326
AD St. Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine was traveling from Rome
to the Holy Land by sea and put into Paros during a storm. She prayed
that if she was sucsessful in her pursuit of the true cross and was landed
safely in Jerusalem, to build a church on Paros. She was and her son dutifully
fulfilled her promise. However the Church of 100 Doors or the Ekatonapyliani
you see today is a reconstruction
built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th C and again restored in 1960
to its current appearance. Attached to the church is the oldest baptistry
in all orthodoxy and a small Byzantine museum.