Europe

Lefkes Greece – Hiking an Ancient Byzantine Road on Paros Island

Lefkes is a scenic small village, high in the mountains of Paros, one of Greece’s famed Cyclades Islands.  A visit to this charming town should top any traveler’s list of Things to Do in Paros.  But in my opinion, the very best part of visiting Lefkes is hiking the nearby Byzantine Road.  This ancient road once linked Lefkes to its closest neighbor – the town of Prodromos.  The road is 1000 years old.  It’s paved with marble.  And it offers some pretty spectacular views of both Lefkes above and the Aegean Sea below.  Visiting Lefkes and hiking the Byzantine Road was one of the highlights of our visits to Paros.  

Some History First

Lefkes was built during the Middle Ages, when Greece was part of the Byzantine Empire.  Its first inhabitants chose the mountain location for protection from pirates. This mountainside town became the first capital city of Paros. Ultimately the early Parians built a road connecting Lefkes to nearby Prodromos, located a few kilometers down the mountain. And they paved it with marble from a local quarry. 

Now seaside Parikia is the capital city of the island, and a winding asphalt road links Lefkes with Prodromos. But visiting Lefkes and hiking that old road, now called the Byzantine Road, are Paros must-dos. 

Lefkes Greece in the mountains of Paros island as seen from the Byzantine Road
Lefkes Greece nestled up against a mountainside on the Cycladic island of Paros

Getting to Lefkes & The Byzantine Road

We generally use public transportation on our travels, and Paros is pretty well connected by a public bus system.  It seems to me that it is more designed for tourists than for locals, but it is convenient and easy to use.  You can see a list of the routes and a current schedule here.

We grabbed the bus from Parikia – our base while on Paros  The central bus terminal sits next to the main ferry pier.  From here, it took a little more than 20 minutes to reach Lefkes. The cost was 1.70 Euros.  And the bus is comfortable….more touring bus than city bus. 

The central bus terminal in Parikia Greece

Wandering Lefkes

Lefkes Greece is known for its beauty, and wandering through its streets did not disappoint.  After our arrival at noon, we had about an hour to wander before lunch.

We soaked up the classic Cycladic architecture, narrow alleys, colorful doorways, crawling bougainavillea, and views down to the Aegean from the town’s elevated vantage point.

Classic Cylcadic Architecture in Lefkes Greece
A small town square in Lefkes Greece on the way to the Byzantine Road
A small church in Lefkes Greece

The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lefkes is one of the island’s largest.  Sadly, it was closed on the day of our visit.  But from its grounds, we could look across to the adjoining hillside and see hikers walking along our eventual destination – the Byzantine Road.

The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Lefkes Greece
A view of the Byzantine Road from Lefkes Greece
The Byzantine Road can be seen cutting across the bottom of the hill

Lunch with a View

Lefkes has several restaurants strategically perched at the top of the town, giving diners a great view out over the town and down to the sea. You can even see the nearby island of Naxos. 

Chrisoula Tavern rooftop balcony in Lefkes Greece
Outdoor seating on the balcony at Chrisoula Tavern

Most of these restaurants open for lunch at 1 pm.  We chose Chrisoula Tavern based on it’s great online reviews.  The view did not disappoint.  But given the online hype, I thought the food was surprisingly mediocre.  

The view of Lefkes from Chrisoula Tavern
Our lunchtime view over the village of Lefkes

The Byzantine Road

Finding It

After lunch it was time to hike. Access to the Byzantine Road is located off the lower streets of Lefkes.  There is some signage, but you have to look close to see it.  

A hidden sign marks the way to the Byzantine Road in Lefkes Greece

I needed Google Maps to help us find our way down through the maze of streets to the trailhead. 

Ultimately, a more official-looking sign marks the beginning of the Road.

The official sign indicating the start of the Byzantine Road with the town of Lefkes in the distance

The Route

The Road runs for 3.7 km ( 2.3 miles).  It follows along the side of a hill for most of the way, working gradually downward, though there is a section of steep climbing about 2/3 of the way through.  

AllTrails.com shows a 850 foot gain for this hike.  I’m sure this refers to the opposite direction, hiking up from Prodromos 

Sections of the Road still have all its original marble completely intact.  In other areas, you’ll find dirt mixed with scattered marble remnants.

Marble lines the Byzantine Road as it descends from Lefkes Greece.  The Aegean Sea and Naxos island are in the distance

The Views 

Hiking the Byzantine Road offers some great views of Lefkes.  In fact, I preferred the views from the Road to the views from the top of the town.  

Lefkes Greece from the Byzantine Road
The marble lined Byzantine Road and the town of Lefkes Greece on the island of Paros

For much of the route, the Road follows ancient stone retaining fences and terraces on one side, and scattered groves of olive trees on the other.

Ancient stone terrace along the hillsides with Lefkes Greece in the distance
Olive trees lining the Byzantine Road on Paros island Greece

At the aforementioned steep section, the Road passes through a large area of burn scar. This adds an other-worldly element to the hike. 

The Byzantine Road as it passes though a burn scar

Ultimately, the town of Prodromos comes into view, along with sweeping views out across the Aegean and over to Naxos. 

The Byzantine Road as it overlooks the town of Prodromos Greece

Ending In Prodromas

Upon reaching Prodromos, the Road ends at the edge of town.  Prodromos is small, but like Lefkes, presents a maze of narrow streets, white-washed buildings, and bougainavillea.  Ultimately we worked our way through to the main road and the bus stop – marked with a signpost next to a cafe.  

The roadside Prodromos bus terminal on the island of Paros Greece

Unless you want to hike back up to Lefkes, you can catch a bus here back to Parikia.  I purchased my return ticket at the terminal in Parikia at the beginning of our adventure.  

Timing Considerations

It took us 1 hour to hike the Byzantine Road itself. This is exactly what Google Maps predicted.  I can usually hike 2.3 miles faster than that, but Google must have known that I go slower when I take lots of pictures.  

But here’s an important caveat. If you are starting at the top of Lefkes village, and finishing at the Prodromos bus stop, it will add approximately 20 more minutes to the hike.

And timing is important because the bus passes through Prodromos only sporadically.  Had we missed ours, it would have been a two hours wait until the next one.  

Final Thoughts

I almost didn’t take us to Lefkes.  We’d been in the Greek Islands for 1.5 week by that point, and I wasn’t sure walking through yet one more charming Greek village was necessary.

But, that would have been a huge mistake!

Lefkes turned out be one of the most beautiful villages we visited during our time in the Greek Islands.  And hiking the Byzantine Road…a 1000 year old, marble-lined road…was an awesome experience that we won’t forget.   

Be sure to put Lefkes and the Byzantine Road on your Paros list.

If you want to read more from my Greece series, then check out my post on Riding the Blue Star Ferry from Athens to Syros, my post on Top Things to Do In Syros, my post on some of the Great Things I Learned While Traveling in Greece, or my post about two days in magical Meteora.

If you want to read about some more of my hiking adventures, then check out my post about Hiking in Alta Utah or my post about hiking a Southern Utah Volcano.

2 Comments

  • Peggy

    We visited Lefkes on the ATV – it was such a cute little village. What a great hike – I hadn’t heard of it but the Byzantine road is incredible. To think that there is still original marble is mind-boggling. Great post!

    • thethoroughtripper

      We ended up renting an ATV too for our last couple days on Paros so that we could see more of the island. But walking along the old marble road remained the highlight of our time there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *