Greek Wonderland : Discover Paros, the heart of Cyclades

Article published on May 12, 2011
Article published on May 12, 2011
by Rania Kalapoda Paros! Is without doubt one of the most beautiful islands of the Cyclades in the Greek Aegean Sea, well worth considering for your summer escape plan. It can be approached by sea or air, as there are regular daily connections. Paros is an interesting destination for all tastes and expectations.
One has the opportunity to choose a quiet and secluded retreat away from the noisy crowds or go for the complete opposite!! It is at the same time the perfect destination for someone who is looking for intense partying.

The island provides a rather good public transportation service (KTEL). However there is plenty of choice for car and motorbike rental at the port.

If you do not wish to bring your own or rent a car/ motorbike, the best area to choose for accommodation will be Parikia, the port, as it is the hub of all public transport on the island. KTEL buses will charge a relatively small fee to take you to most villages and beaches.

Of course if you are focussing on your nightlife choose your accommodation in Naousa. This is the place to be at night and what is more convenient than staying nearby your favourite bars and clubs.

If you have your own means of transportation, and wish to be in a more relaxed environment you can choose to stay in one of the many picturesque villages that are no more than 15-30mins drive from Parikia or Naousa. Piso Livadi is a seaside village build on the slopes of the adjacent hills overlooking the fishing harbour. Marpisa is another village in the vicinity, this one in the inland that has some of the most untouched vernacular architecture on the island. In the south of the island lies another seaside village Alyki and the nearby Agkairia. 

Alyki is a fisherman’s village with lots of little tavernas offering great choice of fresh fish, sea food and other traditional delicacies. Agkairia is a more quiet village on the hills. It has some accommodation facilities and one of the best bakeries on the island that is situated on the main road, so you cannot miss it even if you are just driving through. The setting in both these villages is very relaxing whether you choose to have a drink or a meal by the sea or enjoy your view from your balcony. This makes it an ideal destination for families. In the centre of the island and up on the mountains you will find the old town, Lefkes. It is a particularly beautiful example of Cycladic architecture. The adjacent pine forest makes the visitor forget they are still on the same scarcely vegetated island. There are some exceptional restaurants, the must visit coffee house (Kafenio) and  several Pensions, purpose built or in converted traditional residences.

           The island has plenty of beaches that offer sports and game facilities, beach bars and great music. If you are in a party mood you should pay a visit to Punda Beach. For over two decades it attracts the young crowds that love to dance all day long! Monastiri and Santa Maria are the probably more sophisticated alternative. Chrissi Akti (Golden  Beach) is a great meeting point for windsurfers that spend endless hours enjoying the waves.  Martselo is a beautiful beach with a beach bar and a restaurant conveniently located opposite the port. Faraggas is a more chilled out yet extremely popular choice. The definite must visit beach is Kolympithres, the most famous beach of the island, due to its unusual rock formation, that, sculpted by the waves, changes dramatically from one year to the next.

This may all sound great but not as attractive if you are travelling with children. The island though has a plethora of sandy beaches ideal for families. Parasporos and Agia Irini are beautiful beaches, easily accessible by car and are only a few minutes drive from Parikia.  Alyki and Piso Alyki are the two beaches of the fishers’ village Alyki. There may be no umbrellas or chaise long to rent for the day but the clear water and some natural shading by trees will compensate for this.

Those of you, eager to avoid both the party crowds and the families do not fret. There are some beaches largely untouched by those groups. There are two small beaches, west of Faraggas, accessed by foot through the main beach. Hardly anyone bothers doing the minimal hike to this side even though it is highly rewarding. The bar and other facilities of the main beach will prove useful. Kalogeros is a beach on the south east side of the island. It is a  sandy beach for the most part but it offers the rare opportunity for a clay wrap. The rocks on the beach can be dissolved in salt water and this paste is apparently is highly beneficial for skin and hair. So do not be alarmed if you see green people on that beach, its nothing that a dive in the clear blue water won’t wash off!

Having spent long hours on the beach a good meal is what comes to mind. For sure try the tavernas around the harbor in Naousa. Marios and Tsahpinis are two of our favorites. Do not forget the fish taverns in Alyki. Mouragio is probably the best for trying all the meze type dishes and Sotiris is known for the fresh fish, lobsters and all sort of other sea food that they catch themselves. If you find yourselves in the beach Glyfa do not miss the chance to eat at the tavern near the beach. Mrs Aristea's cooking will give you a taste of the best home cooked  Greek food. In Lefkes do not hesitate to try Klarinos restaurant. The atmosphere and the food will compliment the rest of the experience in Lefkes.If you fancy desert and coffee do not miss out on the famous "galaktompoureko" served at the "Stelios cafe" on the beach of Parikia.Note that the Parian cuisine uses many locally produced ingredients like the sour fresh cheese (xinomizithra) that is used in this version of the Greek salad.

Having enjoyed a great meal you will want to continue exploring the island. There are some definite sightseeing spots. Panagia Ekatontapuliani Church, (the Church of 100 Doors) is a historic Byzantine church complex in Parikia dating back to 326AD. For those that have a car or fancy a hike the Monastery Agion Anarguron is situated on the hill near Parikia. It is a beatifull example of traditional rural architecture of the area and from there you will enjoy a stunning view of Parikia and the gulf ...what is known to the locals as the "heart of Paros". Up in the mountain on the way to Lefkes there is a small village called Marathi. This is where the long abandoned Parian marble quarries are located. The Parian marble is famous for its translucency, white colour and texture and in the antiquity had been used for some of the most celebrated works of art, such as the "Venus de Milo". The quarries has been declared as a site of interest of Industrial Archaeology and it’s open to visitors.

If you happen to be on the island for the celebrations of the 15th August do not miss the large festivities (panigiri) of the Panagia Ekatontapuliani Church in Parikia topped with fisher-boat parade and an impressive fire work display along the town's beach. On the 23rd August, visit Naousa to witness the show/revival of pirates taking the young local girls and the brave young boys throwing themselves to their rescue. Most of these festivities are followed by dancing and singing events to which the spectators are encouraged to participate.

  Antiparos is a small island next to Paros. In the last decade the island has become a popular destination for camping lovers. It is known for its cave that receives many visitors each year and for beautiful beaches such as Ag, Georgios and Despotiko. There is a great choice of traditional tavernas and the nightlife is surprisingly lively! It is not rare to see people catching the late night ferries from Paros to continue their partying on Antiparos. It seems to be ideal for a day or even a night trip. The island can be reached by passenger boats from Parikia and by a ferry boat from Pounda for those wishing to take a car across. Note that the road network on the island is rough and many areas are hard to reach by a regular car.

  Without any doubt at night, the heart of the fun beats in the lively bars of Naousa, that are located by the sea. Music, Dancing, lots of drinks, expect this in Naousa, that every summer gets flooded by cheerful crowds of all ages that party until dawn and beyond! Some of the best known bars are Barbarosa, Agosta and Linardo around the old harbour of Naousa but also Fotis' Bar located  in one of the atmospheric paved streets.

  For those wishing to enjoy a drink in relaxing surroundings, should make their way to Parikia. Yiannis Bar is a beautifully decorated space with great music and original snacks and nibbles. Evinos offers a cozy indoor space and a wonderful balcony overlooking the sea. The atmosphere is amazingly relaxing and the music greatly contributes to this. Their cocktails list is long and the rumour has it that it makes the best Strawberry Daquiry! 

 Paros is an island that has an earthy, Mediterranean beauty. One should not exclusively stay in Parikia and Naousa. The traditional villages are well worth exploring. And do not forget, Paros is located in the heart of the Cyclades, therefore you could even consider it as a day trip if you are based on one of the nearby islands.