Forget Mykonos. Head to the lesser-known Greek island of Paros, home to remote beaches, the pretty cobblestone town of Parikia and the unmissable fourth-century Panagia Ekatontapiliani. Read on for Culture Trip’s recommendations of things to do on Paros.
Most visitors to the Cyclades bypass the island of Paros for its more showy neighbours of Santorini and Ios. However, those in the know head here to experience some of the best beaches, tavernas and villages in Greece. From windsurfing to wineries, boutiques to Buddhist retreats, this is an island that is full of surprises.
Lefkes is not only the most mountainous village on Paros but also the prettiest. Spend a morning here wandering the narrow, cobblestone streets, and take a peek at the view of neighbouring Naxos past the brightly coloured houses. When you’re starting to feel a bit peckish, stop by Lefkiano Restaurant in the centre of the village for traditional Greek fare like moussaka, fried squid and octopus salad.
If scenic vistas and remote beaches are your thing, be sure to carve out time to spend walking the trails of Paros Park. Plonked at the very tip of the island, there are three clearly mapped-out footpaths here (take the third for the best beaches). You’ll pass through wildflower meadows as well as historic monuments like the Cape Corakas Lighthouse, one of 120 stone lighthouses in Greece (you’ll need to follow route one for that).
A short 15-minute trip from Naoussa harbour, across Paros’ crystalline waters, will take you to Kolymbithres Beach. This secluded beach isn’t long and sandy, rather a quiet cove dotted with sunbeds. Swim out from here into the calm turquoise water. If you are still lingering close to sunset, head up to the Monastery of St John’s of Deti – its cobalt-blue roof and whitewashed walls make for a prime photo opportunity.
Before heading over to Kolymbithres, set yourself up for the day with a delicious breakfast at Sousouro Cafe. In the heart of Naoussa, Sousouro places a strong emphasis on healthy eating, and, here, you can dine on delights like avocado and egg on toast, “nice cream”, smoothie bowls, mango salads, superfood smoothies, bananas and figs with homemade nut butter and vegan brownies.
While there’s plenty of calm, wind-protected beaches to laze on on Paros, those looking for a fun activity on the island should head to New Golden Beach in the southeast to try their hand at windsurfing. Paros Windsurf Centre is the oldest windsurfing club on the island, and it’s been home to the Professional Windsurfing Association’s (PWA) World Cup since 1993 – so, you’re in good hands if you want to learn here.
Split across two levels, with a small terrace overlooking the port of Naoussa, Agosta is the place to be when night falls on Paros. With a cocktail in hand, grab a seat at one of the outside tables to marvel at the sunset before rubbing shoulders with locals at the buzzing bar. It’s open until 4am most nights, so you may just get to glimpse the sunrise from here as well.
No trip to Greece is complete without visiting its local stores, and the boutiques in Parikia are some of our favourites on the island. Visit Atelier 1935 for handmade sandals, Yria Ceramics for stoneware and Mina’s Closet for handmade clothes and accessories – you’ll want to leave room in your suitcase for the latter, as you’ll likely be tempted to buy the whole collection of fun and vibrant designs.
A holiday should be a chance to rest and recuperate, but, if you want to take your relaxation a step further, book in for one of the Tao’s Center retreats. A meditation and yoga oasis, Tao’s Center runs five-day workshops focussing on everything from breathwork to Buddhist teaching; there’s even a dance retreat, too. Take a few classes here, and you’ll feel brand new.