Paros | Cyclades
37.085076° N, 25.149253° E
Its sublime coastline, laced with long sandy stretches, rocky outcrops and charming little coves. Villages and towns range from bustling centres with spotless whitewashed houses, winding alleyways and a buzzing nightlife, to enchanting traditional villages where time seems to have stopped.
With its natural beauty, wide variety of things to do, and excellent local gastronomy, Paros has a little of everything that you would except from a Greek island - and more. The island gained a reputation in the '80s as a quieter, more relaxed alternative to cosmopolitan Mykonos. It is less quiet now, yet it has managed to preserve its identity in a unique way, and still offers a pleasingly varied experience for ever type of visitor, but with an underlying laid-back feel.
ParikiaParikia, the main town and the port of Paros, boasts a charming market with boutiques and tourist shops, and a waterfront crammed with bars and restaurants. It also offers some of the island's most important attractions, namely the monastery of Panagia Ekatontapyliani, dating back to AD 326, the Frankish castle, the ancient cemetery and the archaeological and Byzantine museums.
NaousaThe old port of Naousa is by far one of the island's most Instagrammable spots, lined with restaurants and tavernas that serve Greek and Mediterranean delights. Its paved alleys are dotted with chic boutiques, cool little bars and cafes. If you fancy some time away from the buzz, catch a boat to one of the nearby beaches or visit the winery of Moraitis, an easy stroll from Naousa's centre.
LefkesTucked into the mountains, the village of Lefkes was once the capital of the island, offering a safe refuge when the pirates were roaming the Mediterranean Sea. The village has retained its traditional character, today boasting a handsome fusion of old and new, with its 15th century churches and abandoned adobes popping up among shops, bars and eateries.
PateronisiaOff the southwest tip of Paros, between Paros and Antiparos, lies a cluster of tiny uninhabited islets called Pateronisia. They offer heavenly, crystal clear waters, pristine beaches and an impressive underwater cave that is a popular diving site for experienced divers.
Parikia and Naousa have always competed in popularity and the variety of things to do. However, although over the last few years, Naousa has become the indisputable queen of the island's nightlife, Parikia still offers some excellent bars and restaurants. Despite the tourists that flock its streets during high season, Parikia retains a romantic flair, its labyrinth of alleys dotted with colorful flowers, snaking through a bustling market where you can find anything from high-fashion jewellery and clothes to local products and souvenirs. Naousa, once a sleepy fishing village, underwent a renaissance that turned it into a hip, cosmopolitan destination with excellent shopping, entertainment and dining options.
The seaside settlements of Piso Livadi and Aliki boast charming ports and an array of cafes and tavernas. The picture-perfect village of Prodromos is perhaps the island's most picturesque, with its narrow white-washed alleys brightened up by pots of colorful Geraniums and arched passages covered with bougainvillea.
A visit to Antiparos is almost compulsory, with the chic little island being just a 10min boat ride away from Paros. Ferries leave every 30 minutes during the summer, so the day-trip to Antiparos with its charming cobbled streets and cheerful array of bars, restaurants and shops, is not to be missed.
Paros is also ideal for those who love the outdoors. You can sign up for one of the yoga retreats that are organised every summer, discover the superb networks of hiking trails, or hit the beach for some world-class kite-surfing and windsurfing.
You can reach Paros either by plane, or by ferry from the ports of Piraeus and Rafina. The flight takes about 20 minutes from Athens, while the ferry ride from Piraeus 4hrs 15min and the ferry from Rafina 3hrs 30min. If you cannot find a convenient flight, you can also fly to Mykonos and then catch a 1hr ferry ride to Paros - however make sure to check the times of the connecting ferries first, especially during off season.
Paros is one of the most organized cosmopolitan islands of the Cyclades offering a vast variety of holiday villas to rent either luxurious private villas offering seclusion ideal for couples or luxury villas with a swimming pool for endless moments of fun that can host a large group of friends or families. Holiday villas in Paros are scattered throughout the island: from secluded coves and hilltops to the busy spots of the island.