A quieter alternative to neighbouring islands Mykonos and Santorini, tranquil Paros is where to go for an easy-going, authentic Greek getaway. Discover the best of the Aegean island, from what to eat to where to stay, with Culture Trip’s guide to Paros.
Paros, one of the larger islands of the Cycladic archipelago, is known mostly for two things: marble and watersports. There’s good reason for both—Parian marble, quarried on the island, was used by sculptors in many works of ancient Greek art, while the island’s windy climate coupled with the crystal-clear flat water of the surrounding Aegean Sea make for ideal windsurfing and kitesurfing conditions.
Visit today and you’ll discover there’s much more to Paros than white stone and windsurfing. This is an island where charming meets chic: think mazy little villages and lively port towns, golden beaches and hilly hiking trails, restaurants and traditional tavernas serving up seasonal, seafood-heavy feasts.
When to visit Paros
Paros hasn’t quite reached the stratospheric popularity of neighbours Santorini and Mykonos. It might have something to do with getting here – either by ferry or by flying into the island’s tiny airport from Athens or Thessaloniki, placing Paros out of reach for international budget airlines. Perhaps because it is a little harder to get to, Paros feels relatively protected from overcrowding, though it can still get busy in the height of summer. Visit in the shoulder seasons and you’ll enjoy a much more peaceful atmosphere. Keep in mind that most Paros hotels open their doors from late April through to mid-October.
Paros: Where to stay
Opened in June 2022 is Cosme, an oasis of Greek hospitality and laid-back charm at the edge of harbour town Nassoua. Everything is seamless here: whitewashed buildings and meandering pathways that mirror the streets and architecture of nearby Nassoua; a semi-circle shaped infinity pool that seems to seep into the blue of the bay beyond. It’s not just a place to sleep, either—Parostià, the hotel’s beachside restaurant, is sublime, serving up ‘Medite-Grecian’ dishes from celebrated Greek chef Yiannis Kioroglou. Round off your stay with a treatment at on-site Elios Spa, which offers everything from pre and post-sun rituals to Greek yoghurt facials.
The best Paros towns to visit
Paros’ towns have a little bit of something for everyone. Parikia, a market town on the port and capital of Paros, is the heart of local life on the island. The town is home to the historic Panagia Ekatontapiliani, an impressive and well-preserved Byzantine church, as well as the 13th-century Frankish castle. Wander the pathways surrounding the castle to get a feel of ancient Paros, then mooch around the Old Town’s vintage boutiques and traditional souvenir shops. Here, you can pick up everything from local olive oil and Parian wine to sandals and sweets.
Next up is Lefkes, a mountaintop village at the heart of the island. Spend an afternoon wandering the sloping streets and alleyways, making sure to stop at one of many tucked-away cafes for a glass of local wine and a portokalopita (Greek orange pie). Working away behind the doors of Lefkes’ tightly packed ivory buildings is a community of international artists. Todd Marshard’s serene, earthy ceramics workshop, just before the main square of the Church of Agia Triada, is well worth a visit. Just around the corner is the studio of Greek-German artist Angelika Vaxevanidou, who creates intricate pencil and watercolour portraits.
At the northern tip of the island is the harbour town of Naoussa. Here, expect a slightly more cosmopolitan vibe, as Naoussa is the hub of nightlife on the island and can get very busy during summer. There’s a maze of cocktail bars overlooking the water; start the night with sundowners here before moving on to Agosta, a small but lively nightclub that stays open until dawn.
Eating on Paros
Dining on Paros means indulging in local, seasonal and authentic Greek feasts. Make sure to try locally-produced cheese, which you’ll find served with salad or in pies. Seafood is a staple of the Parian diet; tuck into salatouri, a zingy skate salad local to Paros and Naxos, and touloumotiri, traditional Greek fisherman’s soup. Vegetables feature heavily in Greek meze, including fried aubergine and baked chickpeas. To finish, you’ll typically be served the traditional ‘sweet of the spoon’; chunks of fruit in sweet, aromatic syrup, usually poured on top of a creamy pile of Greek yoghurt at the end of the meal. The rule is to have one spoon—hence the name—taken from a dish in the centre of the table, though it’s a difficult rule to stick to.
Meat eaters won’t be left unsatisfied. Agnadio in Lefkes specialises in grilled and slow-cooked meat, and boasts a large terrace with views over the village and surrounding hills. For a truly authentic experience, venture into one of Paros’ smaller villages and dine at a friendly local haunt, such as the family-run Tsitsanis tavern in Prodmoros.
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