Things To Do in Paros, Greece: Your Ultimate Travel Guide
July 11, 2019
A Detailed Travel Guide Complete With The Best Things To Do In Paros, Greece
Paros, Greece immediately drew me in after coming across a photo on Pinterest of what I later discovered was Naoussa, a tiny fishing village in the northeast corner of the island. After that, there was no question that I would include Paros on my itinerary when planning my three week trip to Greece. I am giddy with excitement writing about this island because even with those sky high expectations, Paros was my favorite destination that I visited on my 3-month Europe trip this past year. The island is unassuming and down-to-earth unlike some of the other, shinier options, ahem, Santorini and Mykonos. But, boy oh boy, does Paros contain some hidden gems. While most travelers stay a couple of days in Paros on their way from Santorini to Mykonos, I booked seven days on the island of Paros and was ready to move in for the rest of the summer. So, while you may choose to spend two days in Paros and get a feel for the island, I strongly suggest extending that amount to six days or seven. You won’t regret it! Need further convincing? Keep reading for all the best things to do in Paros, suggestions on transportation while on the island, where to stay in Paros, and what day trips to take from the island.
How to Get to Paros Greece
One of the best things about Paros? Easy Access! A key mistake people make when it comes to travel in Greece is not thoroughly researching transportation between the islands and the mainland. But, you don’t have to worry about that with Paros, Greece because the island is so centrally located within the Cyclades, that is is also known as a port “city” for the rest of the Greek islands. Most ferries stop by on their way to Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos, Ios, etc. You can also get to Paros via ferry from Athens and Crete. I took the ferry from Heraklion, Crete to Paros which was a breeze.
I tell this cautionary tale on many of my Greece posts, but make sure that you are staying overnight on the island that your flight is departing from because ferries can be delayed or cancelled due to high winds. In fact, I missed my first flight ever because the winds were so high in Paros on the day I was scheduled to leave, that the ferry did not leave until almost two hours later. By the time I got to the port of Mykonos and took the public bus to the airport –taxis were nowhere to be found at the port — I missed the flight along with 18 other people on my ferry. I also vomited three times on the ferry because of the strong winds. Would I ride a ferry again? Absolutely. But now I know that size matters and I need to make sure I am traveling on a large boat like Blue Star Ferries and not Hellenic Seaways or Sea Jets if I am based on a island with lots of wind. If you are concerned about nausea, buy yourself some Bonine, wristbands, and my personal favorite, your own mini travel fan. The best way to keep me from vomming? Steady air flow all up in my face.
If you aren’t interested in ferries either because of nausea or time constraints, Paros has an airport (PAS) in which you can take direct flights to and from Athens year round. In low season, there are two flights a day, but that number increases significantly in the summer months. For a detailed guide on getting from Athens to Paros by either ferry or flight, click here.
Paros, Greece Hotels
One of the biggest decisions you will need to make is whether to stay in Naoussa, the picturesque fishing village, or Parikia, the port town closest to the ferries. If you are on a romantic couples trip, I would consider Naoussa because it is simply beautiful; but personally, I think Parikia is the ideal spot. I stayed in Parikia because it was close to the bus station and ferry port which made it convenient to visit the different towns and beaches on Paros island.
Stelia Mare Boutique Hotel is a 4 star hotel located just outside of downtown Naoussa. The spotless hotel is tastefully decorated and features amenities such as a breakfast buffet, swimming pool, and hot tub. The property’s staff is outstanding and attentive. There are even complimentary treats waiting for you each afternoon.
Pension Sofia is set back about a 100 metres or so from the seafront and is run by Sofia and her family. The pension is immaculately clean and rooms overlook a beautifully maintained garden which is where you can indulge in a delicious breakfast each morning.
Hostel: Paros Backpackers
If you are on a budget or traveling solo, you will want to stay at Paros Backpackers. This was where I stayed for seven days and I absolutely loved it. Rooms are 3 or 4 persons max and I really lucked out because I had two fabulous girls from Canada in my room who were staying for six days. There are a couple of downsides to this property — bad internet in the rooms and small bathrooms –but even without solid WiFI, Paros Backpackers was one of my favorite hostels ever. The real gem is the hostel rooftop. Not only is it a great gathering spot for hostel-goers to meet people, but it also give you the most perfect view of a stunning sunset, night after night. Check out those blue rays…have you ever seen anything like that before?! I certainly have not.
Getting Around Paros Greece
Local Bus in Paros
Paros has a great local bus system that takes you to most towns and beaches on the island. It only costs 1.80 euro each way, so most days your total transportation cost will only be 3.60 euro. It’s a bargain for travelers on a budget! The buses are clean and relatively on time. Just make sure to get a copy of the timetable from your accommodation or from the bus station upon your arrival in the port of Parikia. I wouldn’t trust what is written online as there were even discrepancies between the times listed at the bus stops and the print outs. The bus station is only a 2 minute walk or so from the ferry port, so be sure to pick up your print copy upon arrival at either the Parikia or Naoussa bus stations. To view the online schedule as a guideline, click here.
Renting ATVs or Dune Buggies in Paros
Quad or buggy transportation is an excellent way to explore the island. However, most rental companies won’t rent you a quad without an International Driver’s Permit. If they do decide to rent to you without one, they will charge you much more than the going rate. A couple of girls in my hostel were able to procure an ATV without an IDP, but it cost them 50 euros a day. I really wanted to rent one because I had done so in Mykonos years earlier and it was a highlight of my trip. However, I did not like the idea of getting ripped off. So, if you didn’t get an IDP prior to your trip, I recommend renting a dune buggy instead. You actually don’t need a special license to rent these. On the last day I met a girl from California who actually knew my cousins — small, crazy world — and she had rented a dune buggy for 50 euros a day! The same exact price as the overpriced ATV, but this buggy was fancy and had a roof to cover you from the sun. We ended up taking the buggy out for a spin at sunrise the next morning and it was incredible. We went to a beach before anyone was awake and then stopped by a local bakery named Ragoussis on the way back. If you have the opportunity to replicate this experience, DO IT.
How to get an International Driver’s Permit in the US?
Before I went to Greece, one of the things I was most stressed about was whether or not to go to AAA and get an international driver’s license. It’s a relatively simple process…you print out a form that you can find online on their website, write a check for $20, and go in to AAA to get the license. You also have to bring two original passport photos with your signature on the back. Surprise, surprise, I procrastinated this process and the idea of standing in line at my local AAA branch the day before I left for a 3-month trip and had yet to pack…well, that just didn’t happen.
Hot and windy. But like, really windy. There is even a Greek name for it “meltemia” which are the strong, dry north winds of the Aegean Sea. This is in high season, of course, when the island is open for business. Consequently, Paros is a windsurfers paradise and a sunbather’s nuisance. I say this because it is nearly impossible to keep your beach towel in place on the sand from the wind. You really need to bring 4 weighted objects (a foldable water bottle, sunscreen, etc. to place on all corners of the towel.
Peak season in Paros is July and August, but visiting anytime between May through October would make sense.
Paros Packing List
While I have written a comprehensive Greece Packing List post, I will highlight a few key items that I think you definitely want to bring to Paros.
- Long-sleeved button down shirt to protect you from the sun
- Water bottle (If you don’t bring your own, then make sure to go to the local store or supermarket and buy two large water bottles for around 6 euros. It will cost you much less money then buying small bottles multiple times a day and will last you a long time.
- Quick Drying Water Shoes for pebbly beaches
- Permethrin – mosquito repellent to spray on your clothes before your trip
- Travelon Anti-theft Signature Slim Backpack – my go-to travel bag
Best Towns in Paros, Greece
Naoussa is a fishing village located on the northeastern corner of Paros about 10 kilometers away from the port of Parikia. It is also a photographer’s dream. The village is centered around a tiny fishing harbor packed with traditional fishing boats and the remains of a Venetian castle. Tavernas surround the harbor and as you venture out among the traditional Cyclades stone streets, you will come across a plethora of charming shops and the best dessert you will find in Greece, Loukoumodes. Ok, I did not just sell these enough. Loukoumodes are essentially donut holes and you can choose to add toppings like Nutella and ice cream. I don’t even like donuts and loukoumodes are still probably in my top five favorite desserts ever. So make a visit to a loukomodes shop a priority during your time in Naoussa!
While most travelers look to nearby Mykonos and Ios for the nightlife scene, Naoussa is the popular spot on Paros for a drink or three. The local buses go back and forth from Parikia to Naoussa until 3 AM, so if you’re a backpacker looking for some nightlife, then the bus system has you covered.
Leftkes was probably my favorite town on the island of Paros because of its unexpected charm. I had high expectations for Naoussa which were surely met and exceeded, but Leftkes was an authentic village high up in the foothills of the island. There isn’t too much to do in Leftkes in terms of attractions, so I recommend grabbing a coffee near the bus stop where there is a beautiful overlook of the village and local church before heading down to roam the tiny streets. Make your way to the church and cemetery for a quick peak, before stopping at a taverna for a Greek salad, a refreshing treat in the summer heat.
Parikia is the commercial and business hub of Paros, Greece with the ocean and port along one side of the town and restaurants, laundromats, supermarkets, travel agencies, nail salons, etc. on the other side of the road.
The boardwalk might not be the prettiest part of Paros, but once you venture into the heart of Parikia, you will find that traditional Cyclades architecture that we all love so much. Not only are there an abundance of great restaurants in the port city, but there are historical sites to explore like Panagia Ekatontapiliani or the Church of One Hundred Doors. The church dates back to the 4th century and is one of the oldest churches in Greece. I stopped by a couple of times during my stay in Paros and was lucky enough to witness a church service. Panagia Ekatontapiliani is free to enter, but if you would like to enter the baptistery or upper levels, it will cost you a couple of euros.
Pace of life is a bit slower on Antiparos, but all in all, I felt as though it was almost an extension of Paros. You will find the whitewashed streets typical of the islands in the Cyclades and numerous beaches. Read anything online about Antiparos and inevitably the first few sentences will tell you that Tom Hanks and his Greek wife Rita Wilson have a house on the island. I suggests coming to Antiparos for a day trip if you have already explored Naoussa, Leftkes, and Parikia on Paros.
There are a couple of ways to get to Antiparos from Paros.
- Take a bus 8 kilometers from the station in Parikia to Pounda. From there, you will take a local ferry to the port of Antiparos. You can’t book ferry tickets online, but you can do so at the port before the ferry departure. During high season, ferris from Pounda to Antiparos depart almost every 30 min from 7 AM to 7 PM and the trip is about 10 min. Both passengers and vehicles can ride. Fun fact: there is a church on the ferry where you can pray if you are still inclined.
- You can take a small ferry boat directly from the port of Parikia to Antiparos. It costs a little bit more than the bus/ferry combination, but it is a nominal difference.
- If traveling from Naoussa, you can take a bus from Naoussa to Parikia and then follow #1. You can also arrange for a taxi to take you to and from Naoussa to Pounda and then ferry from Pounda.
Should you take a day trip to Naxos while on Paros? I’ve gone back and forth with this and ultimately decided that I would not recommend. I did do a day trip to Naxos because I was meeting friends from the US who happened to be stopping on Naxos for the day on their way to Mykonos. Unfortunately, on the day that they were to be there, the first ferry from Paros to Naxos did not leave until 11:00 AM or so and the return ferry was at 5:00 (17:00) PM. I didn’t end up getting to Naxos until around 12:30 PM, so we decided to sip coffees and eat lunch for the available hours that we had on Naxos. If we had come with the intention to sightsee, I don’t believe that we would have had enough time to actually see very much. And, from what I hear, Naxos is a fan favorite. So, instead of visiting for the day, why don’t you spend a few days in Naxos after Paros?!
Paros to Santorini: Yay or Nay?
I would not suggest a day trip to Santorini, Mykonos, or Delos during your time in Paros for a variety of reasons. Most of the ferries leave Paros at around 9 or 10 in the morning and leave from the other islands to go back to Paros at around 5. Is it worth it to go all that way to have lunch in Mykonos? I personally don’t think so. There are companies that do private tours to these islands, but I think you would be better off spending that money to stay overnight so that you have the opportunity to visit the town at night and art gallery hop when the sun isn’t steadily beating down on you. And Santorini? Just, no. The island is too incredible to simply be there for a few hours. You would not be able to see the sunrise or sunset in Oia which I believe to be a major party foul
Read More: Greece: An Ideal 10-Day Itinerary
Alternative Things to Do in Paros, Greece
While I expect that most days will consist of a visit to different towns or islands, followed by an afternoon at the beach, there are a few other Paros attractions that you might wish to add to your agenda.
- Folklore Art Museum of Cycladic Civilization (located in Aliki)
- Moraitis Winery (located in Naoussa)
The Best Meal I Have Ever Had
I don’t quite know how to express this experience, but I guess I would equate it to fantasizing prior to your trip about meeting a Greek god of a man and then actually having that day dream materialize during your trip. But in my case, it was fantasizing about sitting around a table and being served outrageous amounts of food by a Greek family.
My hostel roommates and I chose the restaurant Ouzeri Apostolis because it was across the street from our hostel and we wanted to eat somewhere quick before running back to watch the incredible sunset from our rooftop. Pure convenience. What we didn’t anticipate when we arrived at around 8:00 (20:00) PM was that we would be there until midnight. Immediately after we ordered, a plate of calamari and a jug of wine were plopped on the table – on the house. Those were immediately followed by some tzatziki and 4 more pitchers of wine. As you can see, we were all best friends by the end of the evening. The level of Greek hospitality at Apostolis was unmatched. I can’t guarantee free food and drink if you decide to visit, but know that you will see a remarkable sunset and the food that you do order will be scrumptious.
Best Beaches in Paros
There are a ton of beaches on Paros, Greece and quite frankly, I was overwhelmed by the options while I was visiting. I spent much more time exploring the different towns of Paros than I did laying out at the beach. But, it is entirely possible to spend the morning exploring Naoussa or Lefkes before heading to one of Paros’ many beaches in the afternoon. I did spend time at one of the best beaches in Paros, Kolymbithres Beach, which is not only a sandy beach with crystal clear waters, but there are massive blocks of granite adding to the beautiful scenery. There are multiple transport options to Kolymbithres including the local bus or ATV/buggy. You can also take the public ferry or a 10-15 minute water taxi if you are coming from Naoussa. I came to this beach via buggy for sunrise when there was not a soul in sight and it was absolutely remarkable.
If you are looking to do wind-related water activities like windsurfing, wakeboarding, or kitesurfing, then Golden Beach –named for its golden sand — is your spot. This is also one of the most chosen locations for the Professional Windsurfing Association’s World Cup which is held every August.
Faragas Beach, Martselo Beach, Santa Maria Beach, Aliki Beach, and Monastiri Beach are just some of the beaches on Paros that are worth checking out as well.
I don’t feel that it is necessary to create a very detailed itinerary because visiting Paros is truly about embracing the island life. I recommend choosing a different town to visit each day during your trip and then you can add some beach time to either the morning or afternoon every day.
If you have 2 days in Paros, I recommend visiting Naoussa and Leftkes, exploring the port of Parikia, renting a buggy or ATV, and spending some time at Kolymbithres Beach.
If you have 3 days in Paros, then add Antiparos to your Paros itinerary.
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Have you been to Paros, Greece before? What other things to do in Paros would you recommend to future visitors? Let me know your Paros travel tips in the comments below!
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