Next Stop: Island hopping in the Cyclades Islands!
Of course I always got the question "what made you choose Paros over Mykonos or Santorini?" These two islands have become extremely popular due to social media and celebrity vacations. The honest answer is Mykonos is extremely expensive and known for its partying and beach clubs. While I do recommend checking it out (if that is your style) I was looking for something in between that gave me similar views, amazing beaches and was not too expensive, since we opted to splurge in Santorini, our next stop.
We arrived to the port just before lunch at the town of Parikia (Paros’ Main Port) where our sweet, Airbnb hosts set up a taxi ride for us. Upon arrival into the port you will see a giant windmill as a welcome sign to Paros (Great photo Op area if you have time). Our taxi driver helped us with our bags and drove us from Parikia to Naoussa, a town on the north side of the island where we were staying for our three days in Paros. Along the way, he told us of the little towns to visit and then recommend food spots and beaches to explore. We stayed at the Amazing Sea & Sunset View Escape www.airbnb.com/rooms/12787402?c=.pi80.pkdmlyYWxpdHkvc2hhcmVfaXRpbmVyYXJ5&euid=1aec2202-dced-031f-63b0-d28ae46a424b
If staying in Naoussa, I would highly recommend this place as it is right next to a beach and the city’s center of shops and food! Antouella & Christos were great hosts and very responsive in helping us with all of their local recommendations. We dropped our luggage off and went to explore and get our bearings of the town.
Naoussa is known as the old town and a cute, photographic fishing village. As we walked the water, we saw plenty of the iconic octopus hanging from the lines that they caught that morning and or fish for sale. We explored the town catching cute stores to drop in later (most shops don’t open till mid-day) and or future food spots we thought we’d like later. We scooped up some wine at the local liquor store to take to the beach with us later and stopped in Ragoussis Bakery for a quick lunch.
Ragoussis Bakery became a staple of our time in Paros as it was walking distance from our Airbnb and had a variety of desserts, pastries, smoothies, coffees, breakfast and lunch items, and pretty much anything you could name! The smell was to die for as we walked into the cute bakery, located on the corner of the city center. Again, the food options were huge so I definitely recommend splitting any breakfast or lunch items you decide to grab.
Once we were checked in, we changed into our swim suits quickly because we were determined to get those deep golden brown tans that most people leave with after visiting Greece. The first stopped was at the Piperaki beach located adjacent to our villa, while we waited for our ticket time for the water taxi to the beach across the way, Kolymbithres, which can be seen from our front door.
The water taxi tickets were ~8 euros each (round trip) and was a quick 5 minute ride over through the beautiful turquoise waters seen all over Instagram and Pinterest. This beach is known for its unique rock formations which were formed from prior volcanic eruptions. Once we got off the boat we noticed there were plenty of chairs/umbrellas for rent as well as a cute beach bar for drinks and food. We grabbed some Mythos (local Greek Beer) and set up shop on the sand to enjoy the day on the water and walking around the rocks before returning back on our water taxi. This beach can also be reached by a rental car and/or four wheeler if you rented one as well! Another option available by the water taxi is to go over to Monastiri Beach, which is part of the park and features a cute light house as well as a church with the iconic blue domes. Both of which are a great spot to watch sunset from.
We returned back to our place to wash up and get ready for dinner and drinks on the town. Most people eat dinner later than your typical American dinner times (around 10 or 11pm) so I definitely recommend making a reservation, if there is some where particular you want to try. See highlights below for food and drink recommendations.
What is a morning in Greece without stopping first for a frappe (iced coffee) or a freddo espresso (iced espresso shots)? After coffee, we were on our way to explore! The town was infamous for its picturesque views and pretty colored doors throughout the alleys of the town - we just had to check out. For the best lighting in photos I would recommend exploring the alleys in the early morning. There are less people around and you won't sweat as bad as later in the day. We followed with a quick breakfast at a local spot and then decided to take our taxi drivers recommendation to rent a four wheeler for the day to explore more of the island.
The four wheelers were for rent right next to our place and cost ~30 euros for the day. *Note make sure to have an international driver’s license (can get one from AAA prior to your trip) which is required to rent one or any car in Greece. Also, if you want to opt for the small scooters you will need the international motorcyclist license. We highly recommend renting the four wheeler (which seats two) to explore the island. It was such a fun time, but do be warned, helmets are required to be worn by law.
Before we knew it, we packed our beach bags and were on the way to spend the day at Santa Maria Beach Beach on the North East side of the island. This was a quick 10 minute ride by four wheeler, which also has amazing views along the way. You could stop at smaller coves and could see other quant hotels (which would be great for honeymooners). Santa Maria beach was probably our favorite of our time in Paros. This beach has stunning water views and could easily see the mountains of the neighboring island, Naxos, across the way. Like most beaches on the island, chairs and umbrellas, paddleboards/kayaks were all available to rent for the day. There is even a lifeguard on duty at this beach which is great if traveling as a family. We grabbed some more drinks from the beach bar and set up for the day - with our wine we bought earlier, snacks and all. Other great beach recommendations for the island can be seen below in the highlights.
Since we had the four wheeler for the day we decided to head back over to Parikia to explore this town’s cute, charming alleys and shops and also grab a bite to eat. We definitely recommend stopping to grab a gyro by the water/beach area which typically only cost ~2.5 euros! These were probably some of the best gyros we had throughout our trip. We also got lost in a lot of souvenir shops, and explored the pretty town. The windmills were even prettier in person and aligned the road back on our way out to Naoussa. Other towns to explore (if you have more time) can be found below as well!
What is a trip to Greece without island hopping?! Danielle and I had so much fun exploring around Paros with the four wheeler that we decided to rent it for one more day. We kept going back and forth with using it to hop on a ferry over to Naxos for the day to explore their ruins, beaches and town or over to Antiparos for the day. In the end, we opted for Antiparos which was a quick 5 minute ferry ride across the way. We were even able to drive the four wheeler right on to the boat. For us two and the four wheeler, it cost about 5.5 euros (one way) for the ferry ride.
Once across, we hopped on and headed along the southeast side of the island to some hidden beaches that we found literally off the beaten path. We spent the day exploring and laying out in the beautiful, sunny weather. Our main stop was at Soros Beach club. This was a great spot to grab lunch, drinks and just hang out. Bonus - they also had bathrooms and showers to rinse off at after the beach. The town at the port (Poynta) was also cute for lunch and drinks as well. There are two ferry options if you decide to head over to Antiparos. One leaves from the main port in Parikia, which takes about an hour and has only a few selected times. The other, leaves from the town of Pounta on the southwest side of the island and runs every 15 minutes - which is the one we opted for!
Biggest Paros Takeaway
Paros is still a some what of a hidden gem of the Greek Islands! This island has amazing beaches, towns and night life just like Mykonos but for a fraction of the price. If on a budget, or if you still want a similar vibe of Mykonos without out all the tourist, definitely check out Paros! Since Paros is central located within the Cyclades Islands, this allows for easy day trips to the near by islands by ferry!
Santa Maria Beach: [North East Side] Best Overall*
Piperi Beach: [North Side] Local Naoussa Beach
Monastiri Beach: [North Side] Recreational Beach, Lighthouse, church, hiking trails, etc.
Kolymbithres Beach: [North Side] Volcanic Rock Formation Beach
Kalogeros Beach: [North Side] This beach is said to have healing mud
Lageri Beach: [North East Side] a nude beach
Chrissi Akti (Golden) Beach: [South East Side] Depending on weather can be quite
windy but great for windsurfing
Naoussa: [North Side] to stay, shopping, food, fishing village, Moraitis Winery
Parikia: [West Side] Main Port, shopping, food, to stay, Windmills, churches
Lefkes: [Center of Island] small quant town for coffee and walking around Marpissa: [South East Side of Island] small town for lunch or dinner
Bay Beach Bar
Come Back Bar
On the morning of our third day in Paros, we woke up and had one last run to Ragoussis Bakery for coffee (probably one of my biggest staples of this Greece trip) and a quick breakfast. After that we were off to catch our ferry over to the island that we were most looking forward to - Santorini!