Paros is one of the most popular Greek islands. OK so it’s not Santorini or Mykonos popular. But Paros is definitely right up there in the second tier of Greek island popularity. It’s known for great beaches, two picturesque seaside towns, accessible mountain villages, and a whole lot of rural life in between. We spent 6 days exploring this amazing place during our month in Greece last Fall. Let me show you some great things to do in Paros Greece
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Where is Paros
Paros is one of the Cyclades Islands. This group of islands sit to the southeast of the Greek mainland in the center of the Aegean Sea. They are the most-visited Greek islands and are famous for their distinct Cycladic architecture – cube shaped white washed houses with blue roofs and doors (though not always blue), built right on top of one another, connected by a series of narrow flagstone alleys.
Paros pretty much sits right in the center of this island group.
Getting To Paros
Most visitors to Paros arrive by ferry. And Greek island hopping by ferry is easy – much easier than I anticipated before our travels to Greece. The main ferry port on Paros is in the town of Parikia. Depending on which ferry you choose (high speed or not), it generally takes 3-4 hours to travel to Paros from Athens, 2-3 hours from Santorini, or less than an hour from Mykonos.
The Greek ferry system is amazing. Multiple ferry types leave from every island several times throughout the day. And researching all your ferry travel options is made simple by using a great website/app called FerryHopper. You can also use FerryHopper to purchase and store your e-tickets.
Our own Greek island itinerary took us from Athens to Syros for a week, and then from Syros to Paros for another week, with a quick day trip to Mykonos thrown in there too. I won’t go into much detail about ferry-riding in this post. Instead, I’ve written an entire other blog post about riding the Blue Star Ferry around the Greek Islands. So check that out if you want to learn more.
Staying on Paros
Paros has two main towns where visitors most commonly stay. And the town you select will bear some influence on which things you choose to do during your Paros Greece visit.
Naoussa is the more picturesque and upscale of the two towns, with a more vibrant nightlife. It’s also easily connected to many of the most popular beaches on Paros, which like Naoussa, are located on the island’s northern shores.
Parikia is the capital city of the island and also the main ferry port. When you arrive and depart from Paros via ferry, it will happen in Parikia. It’s better connected to the rest of the island than Naoussa, and is home to several important sites (see below). And while not quite as picturesque as Naoussa, it’s no slouch in terms of beauty either.
Our Lodging Choice
I generally prefer to stay in vacation rentals when we travel, and we chose an Airbnb located just outside of Parikia. I chose this particular place because of its amazing outdoor space and accompanying view.
It sits on top of a small hill, with views down to Parikia and the Aegean, and out across the adjoining rural landscape to the mountains behind the town. Plus it’s surrounded by olive trees, fig trees, and a small vineyard.
As you can imagine, we loved this location! Especially at sunrise and sunset….
But there are all kinds of different lodging options on Paros too. Here’s a useful map that may help you find your own.
Getting Around Paros
You’ll find plenty of transportation options to help you get around Paros. It’s one of the bigger Cyclades islands, and so you’ll need to use wheels of some sort if you want to experience all the things there are to do on Paros Greece.
Paros has a bus system that will take you to almost any major destination on the island. Also, a small ferry network can get you out to some of the more isolated beaches. And there are taxis as well. However, I didn’t find the taxis very practical for daily use as the only place to really catch one is at the ferry pier…and there is no Uber. We used the buses most. Here’s a link to the island’s bus schedule.
Prior to our arrival, our Airbnb host had suggested we would do fine with public transportation alone. But, after a few days of walking the 25 minutes back and forth from our apartment to Parikia (and then using the bus system to explore beyond Parikia), I decided to rent an ATV for the remainder of our time on Paros.
ATVs are allowed on all the main roads and are cheaper than car rentals. I rented ours from Paros European Rent in Parikia. They were a great company to work with and our ATV only cost around $35 per day.
Once I had my keys, we used the ATV to not only get around Parikia, but to also drive back and forth to Naoussa and explore the beaches beyond.
My 8 Top Things To Do in Paros
Once you are all situated on the island, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Paros Greece. Here are my 8 favorite…
Spend Time in Both Main Towns
As I’ve mentioned, Paros has two popular seaside towns – Parikia and Naoussa. No matter where you stay on the island, you should definitely spend time exploring both. It only takes about 20 minutes to reach one from the other.
Naoussa features a 15th century Venetian Fort, a small active fishing harbor, quaint narrow Cycladic streets, and unique dining locations.
Parikia has a long waterfront lined with restaurants, its own quaint narrow Cycladic streets, and many of the island’s most important landmarks – including the remains of a 13th century Norman fort.
Visit A Mountain Town
Visiting Lefkes is another of the great things to do in Paros Greece. Lefkes is a small village high up in the mountains. You can drive there yourself, or do as we did and take the bus. Buses to Lefkes leave from both Parikia and Nauossa at semi-regular intervals throughout the day.
Lefkes was once the original capital city of Paros, centuries ago. Now its a scenic place to simply wander, admire its mountainside Cycladic architecture, and take in the views way out to the Aegean and neighboring island of Naxos. And there are plenty of restaurants for enjoying some great Greek food with your views.
Walk The Byzantine Road
If you are up for a little adventure while visiting Lefkes, then I would definitely recommend hiking the Byzantine Road. This 1000 year old road connects Lefkes to its neighboring village – 2.3 miles down the mountain. When first built, it was completely paved with marble from nearby quarries. Now, only fragments of the original marble paving remain, but the route is intact, and makes for a scenic hike. Beautiful views behind you – up toward Lefkes. Beautiful views in front of you – out to the sea.
I have written an entire blog post about our experiencing hiking the Byzantine Road in Lefkes. Check it out if you want to learn more about this great activity.
Hang Out on a Beach
One of the most popular things for visitors to do in Paros Greece is hang out on a beach. Many great beaches can be found all around Paros. As I mentioned earlier, the greatest number of these are near Naoussa.
You can find regularly scheduled boats at the Naoussa harbor to take you to the best ones.
Or, you can do as we did, and drive your rented ATV out to them directly.
We checked out the popular Kolimbithres beach, known for its unusual rock formations and crystal clear water.
But we ultimately decided to spend an entire afternoon hanging out at Monastiri Beach. Here, we rented a reasonable priced cabana, ordered some drinks, and just relaxed in the shade.
Hike To A Lighthouse
Except I didn’t actually relax the whole afternoon at Monastiri Beach. Monastiri sits on the edge of Paros Park – a rugged natural reserve at the very northern tip of the island.
Several hiking trails criss-cross the Park. And they called out to me as I laid in the cabana. So I spent part of my time on that particular day hiking out to a lighthouse on the very edge of Paros.
Go to Church
One of the great landmarks in Parikia is the Panagia Ekatontapiliani. This Byzantine church dates to 326, making it the oldest church that I’ve ever stood in.
The structure is fairly unassuming on the outside, but once we walked in, I was blown away by the beauty of the stonework. I’ve been inside many Christian churches around the world, including some of the greatest Cathedrals, and I feel that this church’s interior is one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen. Something about the patterns in the stone, combined with the age of the building, just really struck me.
Adjoining the church is a small museum displaying some of the original Eastern Orthodox relics from the church. Unlike the church, which is free to enter, there is a small fee to enter the museum. But the relics are very interesting and very unique if you’ve not seen a lot of Orthodox art.
Plus, entrance to the museum also buys you entrance into the church’s baptistery, and the upper interior balconies of the church itself. Well worth the small admission fee.
See Ancient Art
Parikia is also home to the Archeological Museum of Paros. This small museum contains several ancient relics and sculptures collected over the island’s multiple millennia history.
While the museum pales in comparison to Athen’s great (and essential) National Archeologic Museum, it is definitely worth a quick stop, especially if a visit to Athens isn’t in your schedule.
Eat Great Food
I will always list eating great food as a Thing to Do wherever I travel, and you will find plenty of great food in Paros Greece.
Here are my two favorite places to eat from our time on Paros:
Hellas is a typical Greek taverna serving all the Greek food classics. It’s located just a few steps away from the Parikia ferry pier. And their gyro platter was one of the most flavorful that I ate during our entire month-long stay in Greece. Excellent quality at Hellas.
Bountaraki is another taverna in Parikia, located just on the edge of the town’s long waterfront. Again, the quality here was outstanding, and better than (and less expensive than) many of the restaurants centered directly on the waterfront.
One of the things I loved about eating in Greece was all the fresh fish. And at Bountaraki, they served me a deliciously simple grilled fish (just lemon, olive oil, and salt) with three different preparations of vegetables.
But you should also definitely eat at some of the restaurants along the Parikia waterfront and the Naoussa harbor. We ate at several, and the food was always good, though it was definitely the atmosphere in those spots that was the most amazing. Is there really anything better than eating outdoors, next to the sea?
As should be obvious now, we found lots of great things to do during our time in Paros Greece. We absolutely enjoyed everything about this island.
And even though we didn’t seek out any organized tours during our week, here are some options for a few organized things to do while there.
I know that it’s really hard to choose which islands to visit when planning a trip to Greece. Time constraints don’t allow most people to visit more than a few. But you will not go wrong if you choose to spend part of your time on the beautiful island of Paros. It really is everything that is great about the Greek Islands.
If you would like to read more about our time in Greece, then check out these posts:
And if you would like to read about other unique islands we have visited around the world, then check out these posts: