The Weekly Getaway: white-washed houses, blue-domed churches and golden sand in Paros
Known for the Parian marble decorating (amongst other great sites globally) the Parthenon in Athens, Paros has been famous for its pure Cycladic nature, its high winds and its golden sand. Having slowly created a toned-down version of the vibrant Mykonos nightlife, this flat and relatively big island in the center of the Cyclades complex has been attracting more and more affluent travelers lately.
Paros has often been dubbed as a ferry hub for the Cyclades, also used as a major naval basis in the ancient time, with its capital Parikia traditionally featuring the main commercial action of the island and Naoussa, the more elegant and cosmopolitan harbor town. Other top sights include Lefkes, a inland hilltop village, Chryssi Akti, renowned surfers beach and Marathi, the ancient marble quarry that is more or less closed to the public.
Parikia, Agia Irene and Pounda
Albeit small, busy and a bit rustic, Parikia has been getting more beautiful as time goes by. When you first step off the ferry at the port and storm out the busy streets of Parikia, you find yourself in front of the Ekatondapiliani church and the small little alleys of this white-washed town. If you find yourself starving from the sea trip, head off to Ragkousis bakery to try one of their delicious traditional phyllo-pastry cheese pies. Just across the street from Ragkousis, you can follow the path up to the Frankish castle, a good 7-min uphill road, leading to 360 views of the port (and the island).
Once the sun starts going down you'll definitely want to catch a glimpse somewhere west. The beach of Agia Irene at Palm Beach Paros is ideal for some chilled vibes (although the beach itself is quite small) and as you leave after a good suntan and some nice drinks make sure to look behind and adore the view to Antiparos that sets on fire during the sunset hours. Pounda, only a few hundred meters away, is the little port from where a quick ferry boat service to Antiparos operates. Thea, a seaside restaurant with flavors influenced by Constantinople, is the perfect choice for a nice dinner before you head off for some drinks at Antiparos. If you happen to be there during the day, you can always join the cool kids rocking the scene with their kite surfing.
Chryssi Akti, Lefkes and Alyki
Eastside and south, Paros also offers attractive options. For surf-lovers, there's the long and sandy dunes and beaches at Chryssi Akti. The beach bars may get a bit crowded but you'll most likely find a spot. If you want a more private setting then try Trypiti beach or Farangas beach, which is complemented by a fairly equipped and nice beach bar.
Fairly sunburnt, relaxed and in need of some afternoon shade to complement your lunch, you can visit the little harbour settlement of Alyki for some tasty seafood or opt for a mountain setting up and some real meat delicacies in Lefkes village. For Alyki, visit To Mouragio as you'll sure be greeted wit some yummy dishes and a unique setting next to the sea. For Lefkes, you can go for steaks at O Klarinos.
Naoussa and Santa Maria
If you're after the more cosmopolitan allure of Paros then head north to Naoussa! The locals freshen up their white-washed buildings and shops just in time for the summer season, ready to welcome the crowds that flock the narrow streets of this labyrinth-like town in search of seafront tavernas, elegant retail shops and funky beats.
Barbarossa restaurant is a must for your night out, as it is famed with the best (and somewhat pricey) food around. Evgenios has transformed his father's taverna into an upscale restaurant with great fish and seafood (pictured below); make sure you reserve a table beforehand! Tsachpinis and Mario, also seafront tavernas nearby are also very good choices! If you're not up for such a big meal, then you can also stroll the alleys in the early hours of the evening enjoying a drink (or two) at Fotis art cafe or upstairs at Sommaripa Consolato overlooking the harbour. When the nights gets going, Agosta's outside patio is the perfect destination for some summer cocktails; the place inside, and upstairs, is buzzing!
If you want to plan for a swim, then Kolybithres, a lunar-like complex of small beaches with rock formations, or Santa Maria, a tiny sandy beach away from the crowds, are the best options around. If you're there with family then the organised beach and small bar will serve your purpose better. Off the beaten path is the church of Laggeri and a small beach that only locals visit.
- Panagia Ekatontapyliani Church - famous for its 100 doors, this church is claimed to have been built by Saint Constantine, Emperor of Constantinople; it features 99 doors and a secret one that will only open when the church of Agia Sofia in Istanbul will become Orthodox again. Ideal for a relaxing stroll during the morning (or better yet midday) hours
- Moraitis Winery - just minutes away from Naoussa, this local winery offers brief tours and wine tastings for the connoisseurs
- Lefkes - nice traditional village set upon the inland hill with great views to Naxos island; the square next to Agia Triada church traditionally transforms to fully-blown festival during mid-August
- Marpissa - one of the traditional villages on the east coast of Paros, known for its unique Easter celebration vibe
- Antiparos - just a 5-min boat ride from Pounda, Antiparos is the perfect excursion for a dinner or night out at the upscale bars, or a quick dip during the day. A destination on its own, Antiparos has been claimed as a quite smaller and more elegant version of Paros in recent years
- Yria Resort - upscale, elegant and rather tasteful; also at reasonable prices. Try their suits, unless you want to go big for their luxury Ktima villa. Also, a great location near both Parikia and (almost) Naoussa
- Minois Village Hotel Suites & Spa - more of a hotel-like experience, offering the typical Cycladic aesthetics and a good experience. Also located in the same area of Parasporos
- Kolybithres - rocky formations and crystal clear waters, overlooking the bay of Naousa, at times crowded
- Agia Irene - nice small beach and a great setting, also featuring Palm Beach Paros, an upscale and super elegant beach house by its French owners
- Golden Beach (Chrysi Akti) - long sandy dunes, ideal for surfing and water sports alike. Many beach bars and plenty of free space to throw your towel
- Little Santa Maria - next to the more commercial Santa Maria, this little version of it is kept away from the more touristic crowd. Once you get to the end of the road, park your car and walk along the sandy path. There are a few umbrellas (if you're lucky) managed by the small bar behind the beach
- Laggeri - small, unorganised and fairly empty if you're around the Santa Maria area and are looking for something off the beaten path
- Farangas - further away from the busy beaches of the north and east, Farangas is the best organised option in the southern part of the island
- Tripiti - sandy beach with nice waters. If you're in the area you may want to go on a trek to its smaller and more private equivalent here
- Barbarossa - the most classic and classy choice in Naousa, set just outside the church of the port. The ambience is amazing although the food can at times be off (especially for the price)
- Thea - a long standing tradition of Paros, serving Constantinopole-influenced cuisine during the evenings and overlooking the bay facing Antiparos. Also features a great collection of wine
- Yemeni - home-cooked cuisine in this tiny place squeezed in the narrow alleys of Naousa. Good reviews overall although it can be a bit off at times
- Siparos - nice seating, with some tables next to the sea, and others in an adjacent outdoor patio; offers a more elegant experience to the traditional taverna at reasonable prices. Try the fava and its octopus!
- To Mouragio - located in the remote village of Alyki at the southern part of the island, Mouragio is the ideal place for fresh fish and seafood served by brothers Dimitris and George. Try getting a table right on the port's docking
- Tsachpinis - dubbed also as the "Ouzeri ton Naftikon", this is the most traditional taverna in Naousa. Very busy during the night. Nextdoor the same owner runs Mario, a more upscale version of the same kitchen
- To Paradosiako - perfectly made golden honey dumplings, making for the perfect end to a good night out - a must!
- Fotis art café - famous for its atmospheric views next to the sea, you must visit during the sunset hours and later for some relaxing drinks away from the crowd. If you happen to visit out of season you'll most likely also find them open
- Cafe Symposium - traditional coffee place in the small streets of Parikia, underneath the fully-blossomed bougainvillea. Ideal stop for some Greek coffee and a sweet treat
- Sommaripa Consolato - hidden away from all the buzz of Naousa's narrow paved streets, Sommaripa has been the perfect café overlooking the fishermen boats, the passersby and Naousa's north-facing port. Ask for some tasty bites as they serve good snacks!
- Come back - funky cocktails, eclectic music and the coolest crowd of them all, Come back has been a Paros original for some good (night) times. As the night goes on, so do the beats so better get inside to best enjoy!
- Agosta - entertaining the night crowd for years now, Agosta is the best option for a loud night out. Upstairs the music (and most of the times the crowd) is better and more funky!
- Sante - great ambience in a tiny square under a big tree, perfect for some pre-dinner drinks