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No matter how you arrive, boat or plane, one step onto Paros, Greece, and you know you’ve chosen THE island for that perfect Greek holiday. It’s hard to beat Paros for its selection of beaches, fabulous restaurants, and trendy bars. A Best Bits Guide to Paros wouldn’t be complete, if I didn’t recommend one hotel that will become your home away from home.
How to get to Paros
One of the conveniences of Paros is that it has an airport. Don’t be scared – that doesn’t mean that the hordes descend from far and wide. From London, you fly into Athens, where there is a direct flight twice a day. You can also arrive by boat via Athens. Since it is one of the Cyclades Islands, you can also catch a boat from one of the nearby islands, such as Mykonos and Naxos.
Where to stay in Paros
You will feel you hit the jackpot when taking your first step into Hotel Petres. Set about a kilometer from the vibrant town of Naoussa, Hotel Petres sits on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. Clea and Sotiris, the owners and your hosts, are on a mission to make everyone of their guests adore the island as much as they do.
From welcoming us with a warm smile when landing from Athens at 6:30am, to sitting down with map of the island and spending the time to describe every aspect of the island, there is nothing these two won’t do for you – within reason of course!
They explain which beach is which, which tavernas not to miss, how to get the boat to Antiparos, and most importantly where to eat Lobster Spaghetti, the Cyrpiot’s favortie dish. Every question is answered as if its the first time it was ever asked!
Did I mention the breakfast? Everyday there is something special on the menu. so no day is the same. All the standard breakfast fare, including fresh fruit, yogurt, pastry plus a few savory and sweet Greek specialties, like spinach and pumpkin pie. My favorite was homemade Mastiha cake – made from the resin of the mastic tree.
There is also a pool, so when returning from a day out, you could always have a drink or cup of tea and watch the sunset. It was hard to leave and after having been there once, I felt like family!
What to do in Paros
You’re in Greece, so grab your towel, sunscreen, book, hat, and glasses, and let’s head to the beach. On Paros, there are loads of choices. Even if you are in Paros for two weeks, you’ll be able to experience a new beach every day. Some are calm, some a bit windy (good for the windsurfers), some are organized, some wild – there is one to make everyone happy!
Here are a few of my personal favorites to start you off.
Out of all of the Paros beaches, Kolymbithres Beach gets most of the press. Not surprising as it’s a wonder to behold. Misshapen rocks emerge from the seas like frozen waves. They are low enough to climb all over and are endlessly instagrammable. There is a sandy beach next to the crazy outcrops and it’s only minutes from Naoussa. One caveat – it is small and can get quite crowded at the weekends, but it’s a must see if you are in Paros.
Santa Maria Beach
Our host, Clea, was adamant we didn’t miss Santa Maria Beach, not only for its lovely cove, but for lobster spaghetti! No, you don’t have to fish for it or make it yourself. Head directly to O Katsounas restaurant, steps away from the beach, even before you’re set down your towel. Run in and tell them you want Lobster Spaghetti for lunch. They will call the fisherman and make sure he has one.
Return to the beach and spend the morning frolicking until you get hungry. Then saunter up to the restaurant, tell them you are ready and voila a gorgeous plate like the one above is brought to you. Make sure you are hungry!
There is no hiding on Pounda Beach. It’s see and be seen. Saying that, we are talking Paros, not Mykonos (the busiest island in Greece). There are plenty of unreserved beds, comfy lounge pillows, and loads of sand to put your towel down on, if you don’t wish to pay. There are also swimming pools, a few bars and lots of restaurant choices. Sometimes it’s fun to have your lunch served under your umbrella. A simple wave to your server will also get you a frappé!
After a few days of organized beaches, the simplicity of pulling up to a beach with no music pumping, no beds to obstruct your view, and no wind sports can make you a bit more relaxed. Glyfa beach is perfect for that. Bring just a towel or set up with your own chairs.
Although no one to bring you a frappé, you are not far from a fabulous lunch. Leave your stuff on the beach and then head a few feet past the parking lot into Restaurant Glyfa. All the fish is caught fresh that day and all the produce is grown right in front of you in their massive garden that you walked through to get to your table.
Strolling in Naoussa
Although you may have arrived in Paros at the port of Parikia, Naoussa village is the heart of Paros. With its white-washed cottages, stone pathways and draping bougainvillea, Naoussa ticks every box when describing the perfect Greek island village. There are design stores, shops selling local products and, of course, bars and restaurants. Spend every night walking in circles, window shopping, and hunting for that one thing you’ll want to bring back home.
Restaurants in Naoussa
There are some great restaurants in Naoussa, as well as ones that you would be perfectly content with, if you can’t get into the great ones. So, don’t worry, you’ll eat well almost everywhere.
Barbarossa is the best in town set in the main square, spilling almost into the water. The menu is filled with all the greatest hits in Greek cuisine, done to perfection. You can really eat there every night and be happy.
Yemeni Tavern and Palia Agora are two more great picks, but without the sea view. Chairs and tables are crammed into the maze-like, windy streets. If it’s souvlaki you’re after, due to too much lobster spaghetti at lunch, then Meat Bar is your place. You can order a whole platter or just a few sticks of chicken or lamb grilled to order.
Worth the drive is SiParos which you’ll find on the way to Santa Maria Beach, or the way back from Santa Maria Beach to Naoussa after your swim. Although usually in Greece, restaurants don’t get hopping until about 10pm, SiParos is all about the sunset, so head there, even for just for a drink to see the sun disappear into the sea. then return for dinner later. It’s the definition of ρομαντικός (romantic!)
Bars in Naoussa
Bars are everywhere in Naoussa – it is a summer resort town after all. You’ll have to wait for your table at Yemeni Tavern and Palia Agora, so don’t miss the wonderful Itria, right across the “street” and run by one of the best bartenders on the island. Every cocktail makes the wait seem shorter and shorter.
For the cocktail geeks, Sommaripa is the bar for you. Immediately grab one of the bar stools outside overlooking the port for an entire night of people watching. There is also a cosy balcony for two, right over the water.
Trickers and Kosmos are two great bars in Naoussa as well. Settle in for the night with better than average mojitos!
Sightseeing in Parikia
Paros’s port town may not be as cutesy as Naoussa but it holds one of the most important churches in all of Greece, Panagia Ekatontapyliani. Dating back to 326AD, the Panagia Ekatontapyliani, otherwise known as the Church of 100 doors, is one of the oldest churches in the world. Rumor has it that the mother of Constantine used to summer on Paros and needed a church of her own.
Her request was granted, but don’t waste your time searching for her 100 doors as they won’t be found. No one really knows why it was called that! My friend and the author of the Rough Guide to the Cyclades, John Malathronas, advised me not to miss an early example of stadium style seating behind the scrim. You can view it by going upstairs and looking down behind the cross.
Once upon a time, there was a Venetian castle in Parikia. All that remains is this one wall, built with the leftovers of many of the ancient temples that were once found on the island. Get as close as you can and try and count how many different types of stones ayou can find!
Eating Baklava in Lefkas
I think the only way I might pry you off of the beach to visit Lefkas village is to tell you that you might experience the best baklava you may find anywhere, in the world. It’s a pretty village in its own right and the first capital of Paros, built high in the hills to avoid pirates. Still, it’s the baklava at Aggelantonis Aegean Coffee Lab that the Cypriot and I can’t stop thinking about.
Tours of Paros and other islands
Books to help you get ready for Paros
Best Bits to leave you with
There are so many islands in Greece that you never know which one will float your boat. I know that Paros ticked all my boxes and made me eager to return. There was nothing I could fault. Our stay at the Hotel Petres was the highlight and we can’t wait to until summer.
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