Paros and Antiparos
Paros is in the centre of the Cyclades islands next the island of Naxos and is the third largest island in the region. Paros is your quintessential Greek island, it has everything you expect from a Greek island, fantastic beaches, nightlife, whitewashed villages with cube like buildings, you name it, Paros has it.
The lack of an airport on Paros has kept the island less commercial than some of the other Cyclades islands, and less pricey, Paros is sometimes called the poor man's Mykonos. This is a bit unfair as Paros has plenty to offer a visitor, in fact a lot of people think that in the future Paros will rival Mykonos as the most popular island in the Aegean.
The capital and main port of Paros is Parikia, its central position among the Cyclades has made the port the hub of ferry traffic in the region, and so very popular with backpackers and island hoppers. Paros is also one of the most popular destinations in Greece for Windsurfing with international competitions being held on the island.
History of Paros
Paros has had pretty much the same history as the rest of the Cyclades, during ancient times it was dominated by its neighbour Naxos then Athens, followed by Macedonia, Rome, and most influential Venice, until finally the Turks. Paros was famous during ancient times for its marble, even today the marble on Paros is unique in the world and much sort after. Many of the famous marble statues of ancient Greece used the Marble from Paros as did some of the famous temples like Sounio.
Parikia the main town on Paros
Parikia is a very busy port but still maintains that Cyclades atmosphere that attracts visitors, the white house's with blue windows and doors, small churches all built around the castle, small narrow streets with many tourist shops, especially in the castle district (the old town). Parikia has a population of about 4,000 but in summer this is increased, also the harbour is busier than you find on many of the other islands. Parikia has a very lively nightlife, and is often compared to Mykonos, the town also has some great beaches in easy walking distance.
As you enter the port you will see the famous windmill of Paros, which has become a trademark of the island and usually the first thing visitors will see. The Venetian castle (castro) of Paros sits above the town it was built in the 13th century on the same spot as the ancient Acropolis, some of the material used to build the castle was actually part of the Acropolis. The castle isn't that impressive to see as nowadays only small sections of the wall and tower remain.
There are some very interesting churches in the castle district the most famous is the church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani (Our lady of the hundred gates), which according to legend was founded by Saint Helen the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine. The church is the oldest in Paros dating back to about 300 AD although it is thought some of the building even pre-dates Christianity.
The church does have a small museum but behind the church is the Paros Archaeological museum which displays finds from throughout the history of Paros.
Paros villages and sights
Naoussa is about 10 km East of Parikia and is the second biggest town on Paros, it is also the prettiest on the island if not the Cyclades. Naoussa is typically Cyclades in appearance; it even has the Venetian castle like so many other towns in the Cyclades. This quiet fishing village has kept all its traditional charm even with the emergence of tourism but still has all the things you want as a tourist including a nightlife.
The town is built around a small but picturesque harbour full of colourful fishing boats with a beautiful waterfront. If it is beaches you want then Naoussa has some of the best sandy beaches on Paros.
A good time to visit Naoussa is on the 23rd of August when the people of the town recreate and celebrate the victory over the Turkish pirate Barbarossa in the harbour using fireworks as cannons and guns.
If you take a drive up into the mountains you will find some beautiful traditional villages untouched by tourism like Marpissa about 16 km from Parikia,. The village has plenty of windmills and the remains of a Venetian castle as well as that typical Cyclades charm. There is also the village of lefkes, 11 km from Parikia, this traditional village was used as the capital of the Paros during pirate raids as it was protected being in the mountains and away from the sea.
Antiparos is a small island next Paros, Like Paros it is a typical Cyclades island. Although it is a lot smaller than its neighbour there is plenty to see and do on Antiparos. The beaches are marvellous and have water sports including Scuba diving. In the centre of the island is the Cave of Antiparos, this mysterious cave is worth a visit. There is also the Venetian castle to see, there are plenty of buildings and homes still in the castle walls.
Paros has some fantastic beaches, too many to mention all. Both Parikia and Naoussa have some excellent beaches in and around the towns, in Parikia there is Livadia which gets very busy due to being in the main town. Livadia has everything you expect from a busy beach; umbrellas, water sports, beach volley etc. Further out of Parikia (about 2km) is the beach of Kiros which is very pleasant, white sand, clear water and less busy than Livadia, it also has a campsite. Other popular beaches in the area are Martsello, Agios fokias and Souvlia.
Around Naoussa there are lots of popular beaches the most popular here is Kolymbithres, which is about 3 km from the town. The beach is made up of sandy coves with strange rock formations. Some of the coves do get busy.
The most famous beach on the island is Golden beach (Krisi akti) it is a huge sandy beach which is very windy, and so perfect for windsurfing. The beach is one of the top places in Europe for windsurfing with surfers from all over the globe coming. As you can image there are plenty of surf schools there and water sports even Scuba diving.
There are many other great beaches around Paros, it is best to explore and find the beaches you like as everybody has different taste.
Paros - Information
Paros is the perfect Greek island, it has everything you expect from a Cyclades island and more. Paros is cheaper than the more popular islands like Mykonos and Santorini and yet many people say its better than Mykonos.
Location - Paros is in the centre of the Cyclades islands next to Naxos, South-East of Athens
Travelling to Paros:Paros doesn't have an airport, to get to Paros you will have to take a ferry from one of the nearby islands or Piraeus. You can fly to Mykonos or Santorini and then take a ferry.
Tips: When you arrive at the main harbour you may be disapointed, it is a busy port and so not as picturesque as others. Don't let this deter you, once your into the town of Parikia and the island you will realise just how pretty the town and island are.
Paros has no airport, not even an internal one, so be prepared to do some traveling to get there.