island Paros

6 of the Top Attractions Not to Miss While on the Island of Paros

When people think about Greek islands, their minds most often turn to Santorini or Mykonos, but a number of other islands are worth exploring. One of these is Paros, a mountainous island that attracts outdoor enthusiasts with its numerous camping options and a thriving watersports culture. A short ferry ride from Athens, Paros often becomes the first destination for individuals intending to island hop, but tourists who give the island more time will quickly realize its charm. With Venetian castles, picturesque windmills, and crystal-blue waters, Paros epitomizes the rustic appeal of Greece. Some of the top attractions for visitors while on the island include the following:

 

  1. Paros Park

This natural park features some incredible rock formations characteristic of islands in the Cyclades. Tourists can explore the park by walking along well-demarcated paths that will take them to some of the best vantage points in the area. In the summer months, they can take a dip at the beach of Monastiri or take in a free film at Cine Enastron, an open-air theater. Between June and October, the park features a music festival with jazz, classic, and traditional Greek concerts, along with other cultural events. Meanwhile, the Museum of the Park provides a unique perspective on the history of the island, and visitors can get even more historical detail at the Ai Yiannis Detis monastery.

 

Monastiri Beach

Monastiri Beach | Image by Sally Taylor | Flickr

 

  1. Archaeological Museum of Paros

Located in Parikia, the capital of Paros, the Archaeological Museum of Paros provides visitors with a glimpse of how the island has changed over time, starting with artifacts from the Neolithic period and moving all the way up to early Christianity. The museum is relatively small, so visitors can get a solid sense of the island’s history without burning an entire day. Furthermore, the museum features a number of notable pieces, such as a marble statue of Gorgon from the 6th century BCE and a massive statue of Artemis from about 490 BCE. Visitors should also be sure to see the Neolithic-era figurine of a seated woman.

 

  1. Panagia Ekatontapyliani

Also located in Parikia, Panagia Ekatontapyliani (“the church with 100 doors”) is a Byzantine church constructed in the 4th century. It has emerged as one of the most sacred sites in the country. According to legend, 99 different doors have been found in the structure, but the hundredth will not be found until Constantinople is again returned to Greek control. In addition, the icon of Panagia is believed to have made miracles happen. No trip to Paros is complete without an exploration of this landmark church.

 

  1. Byzantine Path

Fans of hiking should definitely devote some time to following the Byzantine Path. Built as a defense when Paros faced pirate raids, the path is comprised of stone streets connecting the village of Lefkes, which served as the capital, to other towns and ports throughout the island. A section of these streets is preserved as the Byzantine Path, which has become one of the best hiking paths in all of Greece. The trail starts at Lefkes and proceeds through olive groves and fields of wildflowers to Prodromos, a village that dates back 1,000 years. This section alone will take individuals about an hour. From there, people can hike to Marpissa, which has interesting 17th-century homes and windmills, or take the sharp uphill course toward the Agios Antonios monastery.

 

Byzantine Path

Byzantine Path | Image by Sally Taylor | Flickr

 

  1. Naoussa

Today, Naoussa serves as the primary resort town for tourists in Paros, and many would argue that it is also the prettiest part of the island. Venetians built the old quarter so that the backs of houses created a wall along the water as a defense against pirates. They also constructed a beautiful and colorful old fishing port that still features the ruins of a fortress. Here, tourists will find white-washed cobblestone alleys and passages that look almost like mazes. The town has a number of different bars and restaurants with outdoor seating where diners can enjoy the sights of the island while enjoying their meal. At night, Naoussa can become a party town, especially around the old port, so people craving some nightlife should definitely check it out.

 

  1. Golden Beach

Recognized as one of the best spots for watersports in the entire world, Golden Beach is ideal for kayaking, wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, and more. In general, rental prices here are very affordable, although they can change between companies and across different seasons of the year. However, with several rental spots right on the beach, competition between companies helps keep everything affordable. When taking a break from these activities, tourists will find various beach-themed shops and boutiques, as well as tavernas serving some of the best seafood on the island.

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skiing

6 of the Most Wonderful Ski Resorts for Winter Sports in Greece

For travelers, Greece conjures up images of sandy beaches and ruins from antiquity, but the country is also home to rugged mountains perfect for winter vacations. Tourists will find a number of excellent winter resorts that provide impressive slopes for skiing and snowboarding, with options for people of all skill levels. While Greece has become a popular winter sport destination among Europeans, international visitors are now recognizing its unique appeal, especially in the winter months when it’s possible to go from the beach to the slopes in less than a day.

Some of the top ski resorts in Greece include:

 

  1. Mount Olympus Elatochori Ski Center

Mount Olympus, famous for being the mythological home of the Greek gods, has emerged as one of the most popular choices for winter sports among tourists. Elatochori Ski Center is located on the northern peak of the 2,917-meter mountain. Individuals will find six slopes served by two lifts, as well as a run specifically for snowboarders and another reserved for sleds. Beginners can choose to take lessons from two different ski schools, and several nearby villages provide affordable lodging and restaurants. In addition, the Ski Center has a chalet where people can take a break and warm up during the day. Any travel mates who do not want to ski can opt to climb Mount Olympus instead.

 

  1. Parnassos Ski Resort

Among Greeks, Parnassos Ski Resort has become the most popular choice for skiers, especially because it’s close to Delphi and only a couple of hours by car from Athens. Mount Parnassos actually consists of two different peaks: Fterolakas at 1,950 meters and Kellaria at 1,750 meters. One of the largest resorts in the country, Parnassos features 19 runs, 10 trails, seven ski routes, and three smaller slopes meant for beginners. Children will enjoy a special playground if they do not want to take to the slopes, and novices can take skiing and snowboarding lessons. The resort is open from December until May, and most visitors choose to stay at the nearby town of Arachova. Generally, skiers should make a reservation as quickly as possible since the passes do sell out, especially on the weekends.

skiing

 

  1. Mount Pelion Ski Center

Mount Pelion is easily one of the most gorgeous regions in Greece—and one that provides a rich cultural experience as well. The area around the mountain is dotted with charming villages, as well as beaches and thick forests great for hiking. Here, especially in the village of Volos, travelers will find the traditional spirit tsipuro, similar to ouzo but without the anise flavoring. The resort itself does not always have snow, so it is important to check beforehand; when operating, it has five slopes and a chalet with both food and accommodations. The Ski Center also has clearly marked trails that take hikers to great vantage points.

 

  1. Kalavrita Ski Center

Another option not far from Athens is Kalavrita Ski Center on Mount Helmos, which is 2,340 meters high. Kalavrita boasts 12 slopes, half of which are rated as easy. While skiers and snowboarders with less experience will enjoy these options, two of the runs are marked as difficult, so experienced athletes can still have fun. In addition, two of the runs are specifically for beginners, and there are separate areas for snowboarders and skiers who like doing tricks. Most visitors will stay in Kalavrita, a quaint town known for its small train that transports people to the mountain from the waterfront town of Diakofto through the Vouraikos Gorge. At certain parts of the year, it is possible to go skiing in the morning and then swimming in the sea that same evening by a short train ride alone.

 

  1. Velouxi Ski Resort

Located in Karpenissi, Velouxi Ski Resort has 18 different slopes of varying difficulty, as well as a snowboard park and a shop for renting skimobiles. The resort is on Mount Tymfristos, which is 2,220 meters high. The greater region, called Evrytania, is known as Little Switzerland, although travelers from the United States have also compared it to the mountainous part of North Carolina. While most visitors stay in Karpenissi, a number of other villages nearby also have accommodations. Plus, the tavernas in this part of Greece are famous for their grilled meat and dishes made with fresh trout.

children

 

  1. Kaimaktsalan Ski Center

One of the most luxurious ski resorts in Greece, Kaimaktsalan Ski Center sits on the northern slope of the 2,480-meter Mount Voras. Individuals will find 13 different runs, as well as four ski trails, a park for snow tubing, and a designated area for snowboarding. Kaimaktsalan has earned the name “Winter Mykonos” because it attracts a wealthy, affluent crowd. Travelers who want to stay in a less ritzy town can look into Edessa and Florina, two charming villages. The resort is also not terribly far from the major city of Thessaloniki.