Paros is a favorite island, especially with the locals, as it offers remarkable flexibility in terms of the type of vacation you can have there: you can opt for relaxed and slow one day, high octane night-life cosmopolitan the next, adventurous the one after that, scholarly the next. The possibilities are endless if only you are aware of all the treasures Paros has to offer.
But if you’re looking for an island in the Cyclades that has the cosmopolitan touches of Mykonos, the beautiful views and vistas of Santorini, the quaint traditional flair of Andros or Tinos, and unique places you will find nowhere else without the overwhelming throngs of tourists, then you want to go to Paros!
Here are all the essential things to know of and keep in mind to see or experience in Paros!
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- Paros Quick Guide
- Where is Paros?
- How to get to Paros
- How to get around Paros
- A brief history of Paros
- Things to see and do in Paros
- Discover Paroikia
- Discover Naoussa
- Visit Panagia Ekatontapyliani Church
- Visit the Archaeological Museum
- Explore the Butterfly Valley (Butterflies Nature Reserve)
- Visit Paros Park
- Visit the villages
- Visit the monasteries
- Go on a hiking trail
- Hit the beaches and do watersports
- Take a day trip to Antiparos
- Enjoy the local food and wine
Paros Quick Guide
Planning a trip to Paros? Find here everything you need:
Looking for ferry tickets? Click here for the ferry schedule and to book your tickets.
Top-Rated Tours and Day Trips to Do in Paros:
– Full-Day Sailing Cruise in the Small Cyclades (from € 155 p.p)
Where to stay in Paros: Stelia Mare Boutique Hotel(luxury), Sandaya Luxury Suites, Ampeli Apartments (budget)
Where is Paros?
Paros is the third-largest island of the Cyclades. It is located right in the heart of the cluster of islands, opposite the island of Naxos and south of Syros and Mykonos.
Paros has a Mediterranean climate, like all of Greece. That means it gets relatively mild winters and hot, dry summers. Temperatures are at around 5-10 degrees Celsius during winter and reach as high as 35 degrees Celsius in the summer, on average. However, keep in mind that there are heat waves during the summer which can push the temperature as high as 40 degrees Celsius.
Like in all of the Cyclades, Paros also has strong winds. During the summer they are called “Meltemi” winds and they can cool down the sensation of heat by a good few degrees, which is great for making the relentless effect of the sun somewhat tempered. During the winter they can make the cold feel colder in the same manner.
Always remember to pack a cardigan when going for summer in the Cyclades, for those breezy nights!
The best time to visit Paros is from June, despite early summer beginning in mid-May to late September, which is the last of the summer days. That’s when the sea is warm enough to comfortably swim in. It is warmest during August, but keep in mind that it’s also when the winds are the strongest, too.
How to get to Paros
You can go to Paros by plane or by ferry.
If you opt for a flight, you can take a flight from Athens directly to Paros. The flight takes about 40 minutes. Paros’ airport is 10 km from Paros’ Chora, or main town, also called Paroikia. You can book a taxi or take the bus from the airport to Paroikia. Taxis may be easier to get than buses, which only leave from or to the airport four times a day. The ride to Paroikia from the airport is 10 minutes by taxi and 20 minutes by bus.
If you opt to go by ferry, you can choose either of Athens’ two ports: Piraeus or Rafina. The trip by ferry is from 4 to 6 hours, depending on the weather and which port you choose.
or enter your destination below:
You can go to Rafina or Piraeus directly from Athens’ airport by taxi.
How to get around Paros
There are many ways you can get around Paros. The best way to get around Paros is by car as it gives you true freedom and versatility, as well as the capacity to get off the beaten path.
Alternatively, you can get the bus (ktel) to all the major places around the island. Click here for more information on the bus timetable and routes.
There are also taxis around the island but they are a bit expensive if you want to use them often.
I recommend booking a car through rentalcars.com where you can compare all rental car agencies’ prices, and you can cancel or modify your booking for free. They also guarantee the best price. Click here for more information and to check the latest prices.
A brief history of Paros
There is archaeological evidence that Paros has been inhabited since as early as 3,000 BC.
According to the myth, originally the Cyclades were nymphs who angered the god of the sea Poseidon. For punishment, he turned them into islands, one of which was Paros. The first king of Paros was said to be the Cretan king Alcaios, during the height of the Minoan empire, when trading with Egypt and Babylon boosted the Minoan civilization to its peak. Because it became such a Minoan stronghold, its central town’s name was called Minoa, as all royal Cretan cities.
After the Minoans, the Ionians took over Paros, and then so did the Arcadians. By the 8th century BC, Paros was a hub of commerce, but also of culture and even healing practices, as indicated by the Asclepeion, a major healing center. The island worshipped the goddess Athena, among other Olympians.
The island also became renowned for its exquisite marble, the Parian marble, from which important temples at Delos were made, as well as iconic sculptures, such as Hermes by Praxiteles.
In the 1200s the Venetians took over the island until the Ottomans. In the Revolution of 1821, the island participated majorly and became part of the modern Greek state. During the WWII Occupation by Nazi Germany, the Germans force the locals to leave the island, but they returned after liberation and especially around 1960.
Things to see and do in Paros
Though often you might be told that Paroikia doesn’t hold a candle to Naoussa, another town in Paros, those words are only from people that haven’t managed to discover Paros’ Chora’s hidden treasures.
Paroikia is the port city and the first town you will see if you arrive in Paros by ferry. You will be greeted by its famous landmark, the bright white windmill.
The entirety of the port is also a beautiful, picturesque promenade. You can’t realize that during the day when traffic is overwhelming. However, when the afternoon comes, the promenade is closed to traffic, and you can enjoy the picturesque sunset, the abundant cafés, restaurants, and clubs, the high-end shops, and the romantic seaside without any car disturbing you.
Don’t miss out on visiting Frankokastelo, or the Frankish Castle, which is a medieval Venetian castle overlooking Paroikia, built with material from nearby ancient temples. The view is breathtaking, and the style of it is unique.
Naoussa is a gorgeous fisherman’s village located in northern Paros, about 10 km from Paroikia.
Naoussa is renowned as one of the most beautiful villages in all the Cyclades, not just Paros. It has managed to maintain and preserve its authentic character and traditional, picturesque charm.
At Naoussa, you can walk its narrow, paved, winding paths between whitewashed houses decorated with brightly colored shutters and fences and fuchsia bougainvilleas. There’s the old port to visit, where wooden fishing boats still gently bob on the crystal clear water, and there is also the Fort of Naoussa, another Venetian castle to enjoy.
When night falls, you can enjoy clubbing and dining as Naoussa has some quality venues to visit!
Visit Panagia Ekatontapyliani Church
Paros has traditionally been one of the two islands where religious pilgrimage occurs during the summer, the other one being Tinos. In Paros, people go pay their respects and pray at Panagia Ekatontapyliani, in Paroikia. The church is very old, built in the 4th century in the Byzantine architectural style. Its name means “Virgin Mary of the 100 Gates” (or Doors) and it is swathed in legend and folklore.
According to the lore, a holy icon of the Virgin Mary was discovered through which miracles were performed. The church was built to house it and tradition has it that over time, 99 doors were discovered throughout the imposing structure, which in reality is an intricate complex rather than just a simple church. The 100th door exists, lore says, but will not reveal itself before Constantinople (Instabul) becomes Greek again, as in the days of the Byzantium.
Visit the Archaeological Museum
Though small, the Archaeological Museum of Paros in Paroikia is quite remarkable. Featuring choice exhibits from the Neolithic to Early Christian periods, you won’t be disappointed for perusing its halls.
Among them, you will see an interesting statue of a woman from the Neolithic period, a large statue of Artemis, and interesting pottery and friezes from the very important hubs of Paros’ various temples.
Explore the Butterfly Valley (Butterflies Nature Reserve)
7 km from Paroikia, you will find the gorgeous kingdom of Paros’ butterflies. It is a verdant valley with lush trees and vegetation where butterflies of vibrant colors reign. They are mostly Jersey Tiger Moth butterflies, with striking patterned wings.
You can see them from late May to late July, as in August they disappear to lay their eggs. Approach with caution and quiet, as you will be instructed at the entrance, to keep from startling the butterflies all around you.
Visit Paros Park
Stretching across a peninsula of great geological and historical importance, Paros Park is a unique experience that is a must-see.
Historically, Paros Park is located in the area where Count Alexei Orlov hid his fleet in the First Russo-Turkish war from 1770 to 1775. The location was chosen because of its unique geological structure that offers a natural bay that can be used as a port. Beautiful rock formations and hidden beaches await for you to discover them.
In Paros Park a lot of events of cultural nature, including music, dancing, folk events, and more, also take place, so don’t neglect to ask for a program! You can get to Paros Park by car, bus, or even a water taxi.
Visit the villages
Paros is full of pristine, preserved, extremely picturesque villages for you to discover and enjoy. Like Naoussa, many of them are fisher villages except for Lefkes.
Lefkes was the original Chora of Paros, and as such it has beautiful neoclassical houses and an air of grandeur that arises even from the whitewashed roads and smaller, more traditionally Cycladic houses. Though white persists everywhere in Lefkes, there are also brightly colored houses and other splashes of color, making for a very unique experience.
Then, don’t neglect seeking out the village of Prodromos with the many gorgeous archways and the blooming crawling plants and bougainvilleas, as well as Kostos village near the ancient quarries, with the beautiful church and interesting arches and other architectural structures.
Finally, Piso Livadi village is a beautiful seaside place to kick back and relax, with beautiful sandy and shaded beaches, from where you can take boats to other islands if you fancy some island hopping.
Visit the monasteries
Once, there were 35 monasteries in Paros. Nowadays, however, there are only 5, and not all of them are inhabited by nuns or monks. They are, however, preserved as religious sites containing ages of religious heritages within their walls.
The monastery of Loggovardas Paros is the largest one, with a rich library of ancient or medieval texts, rare editions of various books, and other works of art. It also has a touching WWII story of how the head monk saved 125 resistance and allied fighters by pleading with the German officer. When he refused, the monk asked that he be killed first, and the German officer, surprised by this act of self-sacrifice, did not go through with the execution of anyone. Unfortunately, women are not allowed inside this monastery.
Aghios George’s monastery was built in the 16th century, but currently, it is only seen by a single monk, who cares for all visitors. The monastery is beautiful, with several different structures and rooms including sleeping quarters for guests. It also boasts a wonderful sweeping view of the rolling green hills and the island of Naxos right across the sea.
Aghios Antonios’ monastery is a stunning 16th century complex with a beautiful church with unique architecture. Inside the altar is made of Ionian capitals and decorated with Venetian crests.
Aghios Ioannis Detis’ monastery was built around the 17th century in honor of St. John the Baptist. Sufferers of illnesses were said to be cured thereafter their afflicted was ‘tied’- hence the name ‘Detis’. Apart from the beautiful iconic architecture and church, you will also get a sweeping view of the Aegean.
Go on a hiking trail
Paros is a stunningly beautiful island, full of interesting natural areas to visit and admire, from unique geological structures to lush vegetation, iconic architectural structures, and many more. Choose to go at least on one of the various available hiking routes, such as the Byzantine Road, the oldest paved trail on the island, or the Lefkes route where you will discover all the springs and glistening streams of Paros.
Hit the beaches and do watersports
Paros is renowned for its gorgeous beaches. Each one is so unique, you are bound to fall in love with at least one above all others, and still long to lounge around on more!
Of the most famous and unique is Kolymbithres, which is actually a cluster of small bays separated by large, smooth rock formations of around a million years old. The water there is crystal clear and tinted turquoise thanks to the rocky nature of the beaches. Reach Kolymbithres by car or by boat, and dive in from the boat side!
Santa Maria is the perfect beach for families as it is shallow and boasts golden sand, while Golden Beach’s even finer sand and emerald waters will charm swimmers and windsurfers alike. Kite surfing and scuba diving are also very popular in Paros, so give them a try!
Monastiri is a small family-friendly, sandy beach featuring huge rock formations, while Faragas will astound you with its clear waters and quiet, relaxing atmosphere.
Take a day trip to Antiparos
Ten minutes from Paros, on a ferry called “padofla” which means “slipper” in Greek, you will find the gorgeously lovely Antiparos. Antiparos is a small island right next to Paros: the name literally means “opposite Paros”.
Antiparos is where many Hollywood stars have their villas, which sometimes stand out from the typical and picturesque sugar cube houses. Despite the cosmopolitan flair, Antiparos remains traditional and full of heritage, with that sensation of beautiful authenticity imbuing everything.
While you are on Antiparos, make sure to visit its Venetian Castle and the Cave of Antiparos, a beautiful chamber full of stalactites and stalagmites.
Take a stroll through Antiparos’ Chora and enjoy the good food and beautiful traditional wares on sale. And of course, don’t forget to hit the beach!
Enjoy the local food and wine
Paros has a lot of local delicacies for you to enjoy! It has a particularly wide range of deep-fried dumplings of all types, mainly dough or cheese seasoned with the various local and very fragrant herbs. Tomato balls, zucchini balls, potato balls, cheese balls, and meatballs should not be missed!
There are also the local “xerotigana” which are sweet or savory deep-fried dough stripes, delicious fresh fish grilled or fried or baked in the oven in various ways, and of course the delicacy of “karavoles” which are giant snails cooked in three ways: boiled with garlic, fried, or cooked in tomato.
Don’t neglect to taste the various Parian cheeses, from soft cheeses like “kopanisti” and “xynomyzithra” to kefalotyri, which is a hard salty cheese.
Winemaking also has a long tradition in Paros, where three DOC wines are produced: red, white, and Malvasia, which is a dessert wine you shouldn’t miss out on.