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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.