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Lively, cosmopolitan and authentic

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Paros: Lively, cosmopolitan and authentic

Just as the Parian stone - the Parian marble - was famous for its whiteness and clarity, the entire island of Paros reflects the Aegean light in its whitewashed houses and narrow streets.

Paros is where the heart of Cyclades beats: On its beaches with turquoise waters, in the traditional settlements, in the hills and paths, in the fertile valleys of the hinterland, in the whitewashed chapels scattered from one side of the island to the other, in the imposing monuments built by the Venetians, in the alleys of Parikia and in the gracefully hustling town of Naoussa.

Its lively character makes it hospitable for everyone: cosmopolitans, action-lovers, extroverts, but also those who seek the island’s therapeutic tranquillity.

Routes & Attractions

Also known as Frangokastello, the Venetian castle of Paros is located in Parikia, the capital of the island. It was built in the 13th century, by the then Duke of Naxos, Sanudo, from marble fragments of ancient temples, and on the ruins of classical and archaic temples. On the same hill, one can also find small Christian churches, all embedded in the castle walls.

At a short distance from the port of Parikia, you will find the church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani, one of the oldest monuments of Byzantine architecture in Greece. Wander inside the church and admire the icons, among which is the worshipful icon of the Virgin Mary.

For hikers, the Byzantine path is the oldest path on the island connecting the villages of Lefkes and Prodromos. Starting from the old cafe of Loukis in Lefkes, follow a 3.5 km path, paved with slabs and Parian marble, the history of which goes back to Byzantine times. The route is downhill, overlooking western Naxos and Ikaria. On the way to Prodromos is the beach of Molos. 50 minutes are more than enough to cover this distance at leisurely pace. It is also an ideal route for mountain bikers.

Petaloudes is not just an area of the island but the valley of Butterflies (hence its name in Greek), a wonderful habitat with dense vegetation. The butterflies of Paros can be seen from the end of May to the end of July and entry to this natural monument is allowed only under conditions of absolute silence.

Built in 1960, the island’s Archaeological Museum is considered one of the most important museums in Greece, thanks to the findings that came to light in Paros and Antiparos. Among the most important exhibits, the statues of the winged Niki (Victory) of Paros or Gorgo (which is preserved almost intact), the statue of Artemis and the marble plaques from the Heroon of Archilochus.

Beaches & Activities

Close to Naoussa is the most eerie beach of the island. Kolymbithres, with its oversized granite rocks, resembles a sea sculpture as erosion has formed a variety of shapes on the water. Small sandy bays emerge, forming a single shoreline ideal for families.

In the southeast of the island, Chrissi Akti, the largest beach on the island, verifies its name: Crystal-clear waters wash its vast golden-sand beach. Fully organized, it is a go-to destination for surfers from all over the world as the wind conditions are often ideal.

Younger tourists have three main destinations for swimming with music. Pounta (near Parikia) is famous for its beach parties that last until the sun goes down. Below the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Detis, is the beach of Monastiri, which attracts mainly sports and diving enthusiasts. Near Naoussa, Santa Maria with its golden sand beach, is also fully organized, with many options for water sports and beach bars.

Through a path and a 10-minute walk you will reach Laggeri. It is not organized and it’s the ideal beach for a quiet swim in an exotic setting: dunes, blue waters and bushes that offer a bit of shade some hours of the day. The fact that it is isolated makes it particularly popular among nudists. If you want to avoid the crowds, you may also choose Tsoukalia, or Voutakos. Near Parikia you can swim in the beaches of Marcello, Krios or Agios Fokas.

Tastes of the island

In the diverse port of Naoussa you will enjoy fresh fish and delicious seafood. You must try the “gouna” (sun-dried fish cooked on the grill), accompanied by ouzo or better the Parian “souma” (local tsipouro). The salatouri is another famous dish of Paros made of ray crumbs, parsley, onion, dill, pepper, lemon and olive oil.

The main dishes of Paros’ cuisine are cooked in olive oil: artichokes with broad beans, rice with sweet pumpkin and legumes in various versions. Another famous dish of the island is the chickpea soup with onions and sometimes tomato, as it is baked slowly in the oven in a "skountavlo" (clay pot). Don’t miss the kolopia or hortofouskotes (pies filled with seasonal greens) that are a fine delicacy. In the mountainous Lefkes, the local specialty is called karavoloi: these are large snails, and garlic sauce is a must here as well. In the rest of Paros, karavoloi are cooked as stew, in tomato sauce or served with boiled potatoes.

Kalfa is a kind of large asparagus served as salad with garlic sauce - as is cowpea salad, also delicious.

Traditions & Events

The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is a great celebration in Paros. In Panagia Ekatontapyliani it is celebrated with doxologies (hymns and prayers), In the afternoon the locals and visitors join the procession of the icon in the narrow streets of Parikia. On the evening of August 15th, it is customary for the fishermen of Parikia to participate with their boats in a sea ‘dance’ of colourful fireworks and flares illuminating the evening sky. Ships join the celebration by blowing their horns while dancers in traditional costumes perform local dances.

On August 23rd, the "Pirates Night" (Koursariki Nyxta) is presented in the port of Naoussa: A representation of the theft of the village’s women by the Barbarossa pirates in 1537. 

From June 21 to June 23, the custom of Klidonas is revived, during which residents light large fires where the May Day wreaths are burned. According to tradition, jumping over the fire will exorcise evil spirits. The most famous festivals take place in Prodromos, Naoussa and Aliki with music and appetizers.

Don’t miss...

Plan a one-day visit to very popular and neighbouring Antiparos. Thanks to its picturesque Chora, its wonderful beaches and its effortlessly relaxed atmosphere, this small island has developed in recent years into a favourite destination of the international jet-set!

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