Paros is a small Greek island situated in the centre of the Aegean Sea, and the perfect spot for your next getaway. Regularly quoted as being one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations, Paros is characterised by its stunning beaches, hospitable tavernas and picturesque towns and charming villages. In a nutshell, Paros is everything you might expect it to be – especially when bearing in mind that it forms part of the Cyclades archipelago – whitewashed dwellings, blue-domed churches, fishing harbours overlooked by lively bars and cafés and much more besides. Although you may have witnessed more dramatic landscapes on your travels, there’s no doubting that the commanding sea vistas (which take in dozens of surrounding islands) are beyond favourable compare. As an all-round island base for your summer 2019 holiday, Paros offers an array of things to do and see for all visitors to its inviting shores – from aficionados of ocean sports to foodies to extreme nightlife buffs.
Paros is one of Greece’s best-kept secrets. Despite it grabbing the headlines in recent years for its paradisiacal charm, Paros has – against all the odds – remained untouched by its extended moments in the spotlight, managing to preserve integrity and local spirit in a way that other islands have not. It wasn‘t until 2014 that the first cruise ships arrived, forced to drop anchor in the bay due to the man harbour being too much of a squeeze. Even now, this part of the island is a world away from the hustle and bustle of larger resorts.
Attraction-wise, Paros boasts numerous places to discover, with the Ágii Anárgyri monastery (a peaceful eyrie located above the island’s capital, Parikiá) among its most-visited, while Márpissa and adjacent Pródromos are the most photogenic of the inland villages. Elsewhere the great cave on nearby Antíparos has been impressing tourists since ancient centuries, and the 19th Century lighthouse on Cape Kórakas still curries a lot of favour with those choosing to holiday in Paros.
With prices to suit every tourist pocket/foreign exchange rate, eateries on Paros are both affordable and plentiful; although take note that the majority are found in the more populated Parikiá and Náoussa. That’s not to say that an abundance of alternatives are evenly spread across the island, should you venture out while enjoying your Paros holiday. To name-drop but a choice few, Anna (with dishes including magireftá - casserole recipes –, angináres a la políta - artichoke stew with carrots -, stuffed squash and katsíki lemonáto - goat in lemon sauce), is one of the stand-out restaurants on the island. And if your juices aren’t suitable salivating at that prospect, perhaps Antíparos-located Avra (complete with its resolutely old-fashioned getup, fresh seafood and meat grills) is more your glass of ouzo. Meanwhile Albatros, a long-established seafood restaurant which also offers hórta - amaranth greens - , competent tyrokafterí - spicy cheese dip - and best of all a huge portion of soupiá – cuttlefish - grilled to perfection; and where local tipple, Ballos comes into sharp focus) could potentially float your boat. Elsewhere, Taverna Tsitsanis boasts produce from its own farm.
Thanks to its narrow, cobbled streets, historic old town and bustling market street, if you can tear yourself away from the seductive beaches for long enough, you and your family will witness the other sides to the popular summer holiday destination, Paros. And while your attention is distracted from beach life, why not check out the ancient Venetian Castle for a slice of history? Catch a glimpse of the dazzling cathedral, to marvel at the ornate interiors, or visit the Archaeological Museum to learn about the fascinating history of the Greek island and its people. As evening falls, you can return to the waterfront area for dinner in one of the various – and appealing -restaurants and bars; the ideal location to experience those beautiful Greek sunsets. Tradition is big business here in Paros, whether in the shape or form of squid still being hung out to dry on wooden planks in the harbour of the fishing villages, or the religious architecture which confronts tourists at many turns as they explore the diverse island landscape. What’s more, Agios Ioannis beach (taking its name from the monastery perched on the rocks) offers sublimely warm waters to dip your toes in, and stays shallow for more than 100 yards; making it perfect for children learning to swim.
Paros is seemingly a by-word for water sports; or it might as well be. The welcoming Greek island has benefitted from a long tradition as a base for water sports, underlined by the staging of The Windsurfing World Championship at Golden Beach. Aside from windsurfing, adrenaline-fuelled holiday pursuits like surfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, boogie-boarders, canoeing, kiteboarding, water-skiing, jet-skiing and scuba diving are all readily available; with certified trainers at beaches like Golden Beach, New Golden Beach and Santa Maria all willing to teach you the rudiments of the pastimes. Elsewhere, Poúnda’s beach is recognised as one of Greece’s major kite-surfing centres. Of course, if your idea of adventure is a little more risqué, then beyond Tsardákia, tiny Mesáda is one of Páros’ favourite naturist coves.
Parikiá itself has one of the best in-town beaches in the Greek islands at Livádia, yet Paros is certainly blessed with plenty of other sandy strips from which to choose. Up with the very best, Golden Beach (a 700-metre-long stretch of beautifully soft sand in the southeast of the island) has precious few detractors among those who have enjoyed Paros holidays, not least because it’s a fantastic location to indulge in windsurfing (courtesy of oft-formidable winds and waves). Another well-subscribed to beach from a swimming perspective is Ambelas Beach, where visitors will discover cool sparkling waters at their instant disposal. Party-lovers will be keen to learn that Punda Beach is the one to make a bee-line for if you’re into a livelier scene, which habitually includes extreme sports and beach bars. Of course, there are much quieter alternatives, such as the more compact (and semi-secluded) Monasteri Beach, near Naoussa, which beach critics describe as ‘a cultured and sociable spot’; and that routinely hosts events such as midnight concerts and open-air film screenings. Of that same R&R ilk, is the tiny Molos Beach, where you can enjoy soft sands, stunning views - out to the island of Naxos – combined with a generally more chilled-out ambience.
Paros nightlife isn’t exactly Ibiza-esque, mostly comprised of bars, traditional cafés and a smattering of dance clubs. Geographically-speaking, bars in Parikiá are largely distributed between the seafront and the old market, while in Náoussa they tend to concentrate at the edge of town. There is a choice to be had for those planning a night out while enjoying their Paros holiday this summer, and the following examples are the highlights in our opinion. Although not the ACTUAL Café del Mar (of Balearic dance music fame), this traditional bar-café situated in the old port, Náoussa- with waterside tables outside and a vaguely nautically themed bar inside – does boast its own small dance floor and does play a lot of 90’s music. Maintaining a dance music vibe, Vareladiko (a nightclub with a DJ-mediated, mixed foreign and Greek soundtrack and tropical décor comprising palm trees, a pool and comfy sofas) is also a firm favourite of visitors to Náoussa, while Koukoutsi, a bohemian joint specialising in strong rakí, and Nemo Bar, a hot spot for music lovers, are both found on the Parikiá seafront.
Arguably the most impressive site of natural interest (for couples or families for that matter), is discovered on Paros’ satellite islet, Antíparos. Here the great cave rarely fails to impress. Only the topmost galleries with their stalagmites and stalactites – some 45 million years in the making - are accessible to holidaymakers. Meanwhile the island's capital, Parikia - with its striking blue-and-white buildings, historic sights and laidback atmosphere – represents an attractive proposition to romantic promenaders; as does Naoussa and the charming town of Lefkes and Aliki on the southwest coast.
Here on the island of Paros, denizens and holidaymakers alike are captivated by the almost hypnotic beats indicative of various instrumental sources throughout the summer. The Paros Jazz Festival takes place annually in late July, with events staged at venues across the island. Don’t forget the Marian Festivals, when August sees two noisy, spectacular events take place. On the 15th, after religious formalities at Ekatondapylianí and a brass-band parading of its icon, its standing room only along Parikiá quay for a no-expense-spared fireworks display over the bay, usually launched from a handy ferry. The island is proud of its history and traditions, with many small villages, such as Aliki, boasting their own locally run museums.