Paros is a jewel in the Cyclades that meets all the needs of those who want to experience endless partying but also those who want to find their inner peace! Paros is an island with beautiful beaches, picturesque alleys, beautiful villages both coastal and mountainous, and has the positive energy you are looking for!
Shall we go for a walk together to Paros?
A Little Bit of Parian History
The history of the island has its roots in the Stone Age and the Bronze Age (5th millennium BC). During the Venetian occupation, and more specifically in 1207, it became part of the Duchy of the Aegean and its inhabitants were turned into slaveholders. At the same time, the island faces pirate raids and looting and Naoussa becomes a pirate base. Then, the island and the castle of Parikia are built. Much later, the island was occupied by the famous pirate Barbarossa while in 1560 it was conquered by the Turks.
In recent history, Paros was an active place in the Greek revolution of 1821, while it was severely tested during the German occupation, resulting in many Parians being forced to settle in Piraeus and later abroad. In the late 1960s, tourism began to play a key role in the development of the island’s economy and, by extension, in all its sectors.
Parikia – The Capital
The capital of the island, Parikia, the center of all commercial activity, is built on the site of the ancient city, on the outskirts of the hill of the Monastery of Agioi Anargyroi, with its trademark, the Mill and its picturesque all-white alleys, which marry the intense past but also the vibrant present of the island.
Its name is said to come from the Byzantine era and more specifically from the “inhabitants” of the church of Ekatontapyliani. Here is the famous passenger and commercial port of the island, but also the huge beach with its centenarian palm trees. In its traditional alleys but also in its main coastal road, you can find places for food and entertainment that satisfy every taste, while during a walk you will have the opportunity to enjoy the Cycladic beauty and the hospitality of its inhabitants.
In Parikia, you will also see the church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani, one of the most important early Christian funerals in Greece and the largest. A characteristic attraction is a Castle, built on the hill above the port. In addition, in the wider area of the old town and around the castle there are about 40 churches that are worth visiting. Do not forget to walk along the main street of the Agora (Lohagou Fokianou Street), which is full of typical Cycladic architecture buildings.
Naoussa – The Cosmopolitan Fishing Village
In the north of the island, built on its second-largest bay, the charming fishing village of Naoussa has one of the most picturesque and cosmopolitan ports of the Aegean, where all kinds of boats moor, from fishing boats to luxury yachts! With a trademark of the popular bridge, a well-known meeting point of locals and visitors, and the Venetian Castle on the beach, here the heart of the island beats!
The old fishermen’s warehouses are now amazing hangouts perfect for food, drinks, and entertainment. While its all-white Cycladic alleys, with the flowery bougainvilleas, charm the visitor with its authentic natural beauty while preserving the past’s authenticity and highlighting its cosmopolitan glamor!
The Must-Sees of Paros
Paros, among its many natural beauties and its many beautiful shops, has some places that, when you go to the island, you must visit!
One of the most important temples of Christianity, it is a place of worship but also a great attraction, of the highest cultural, architectural and religious significance, with hundreds of visitors annually, from all over the world. It was built in the 4th century, while its name came, according to the legend, from the following phrase: “Katapoliani has 99 doors. The 100th is closed and is not visible. It will be seen and it will open when the Greeks take the City “.
Built on the highest point of Parikia in 1260 by the Venetian Duke of Naxos, the Frankish Castle steals the impressions of visitors, thanks to the impressive, panoramic view it offers. It consists of clusters of ancient temples, while the purpose of its creation was to protect the island from pirate attacks. A walk will enchant you!
Just 4 kg. southwest of Parikia is the Valley of the Butterflies. It is a green, almost spooky, habitat with a small spring, covered by dense vegetation. In this “earthly paradise”, thousands of butterflies (including the Tiger moth, for which it is an ideal place) cover the trunks of trees! Butterflies gather in this area in June and “disappear” in August.
The jewel of the island is located in the port of Naoussa. It was built by the Sommaripa dynasty, as a fortification building, during the 15th century, to protect the port, where the merchant ships anchored, from pirate attacks. It remains an impressive attraction, against the backdrop of the sea!
The Beaches of Paros
Whether you are a fan of organized beaches and beach parties, or you prefer the untouched natural landscapes, the beaches of Paros are more than enough to cover all tastes.
Probably the most famous of the beaches of Paros, with its crystal clear, pool-like waters and the incredible rock formations that create small successive sandy beaches.
Three coves in a row, all three of them with golden sand and transparent Aegean waters. Many will tell you that it is the most beautiful beach on the island – and they may not be wrong. Especially the third cove, it is unorganized, and the landscape is magical.
Organized full, with wonderful soft sand and very shallow waters. It floods in August with people and hosts in the evenings some of the best beach parties on the island.
Chrysi Akti Beach
The golden sandy beach that implies its name extends to a length of 700 meters, and its wind creates the ideal conditions for windsurfing.
Beautiful and sandy, with crystal clear waters, surrounded by taverns and well organized: with a few sunbeds and many free spots on the beach.
Santa Maria Beach
Exotic sand, turquoise waters, beach parties, water sports, and whatever other synonyms of summer fun you can think of.
Golden sand, turquoise waters, and a super view to Naxos. Ideal for families, you will find it near the village of Marmara, on the east side.
The Villages of Paros
Apart from the capital Parikia, the cosmopolitan Naoussa, the wonderful beaches, there is the other, lesser-known side of the island – which reminds us that Paros is above all a beautiful Cycladic, picturesque island with postcard images, natural, beautiful villages, peaceful landscapes, and Greek aromas and colors. A “journey” to the island’s villages is definitely a magical experience!
A mountainous, green village of Paros, in the center of the island, east of Parikia. Its main feature is the narrow, all-white alleys, with the blooming bougainvilleas. It is built naturally under the pine forest and was once the first capital of Paros.
At a very close distance from the village of Lefkes, you will find the historical settlement of Prodromos, which took its name from the Metropolitan Church of the 17th century of St. John the Baptist. Tip: Try to follow the 1000-year-old path that connects the two villages, Prodromos and Lefkes. The enjoyable, 1.5-hour route will impress you.
One of the most beautiful and popular villages of Paros. In the east of the island, full of picturesque alleys and old houses. At the top of the hill, is the church of the Transfiguration. During Easter, it acquires a special glamor and fills up with people, as the impressive Passion Play takes place.
25 kilometers from Parikia, the beautiful village of Dryos has a long history. In the past it was the port of Paros, where the ships were refueled. It is worth visiting the ancient settlements (the places where the ships took refuge), but also the cave of the devils with stalagmites and stalactites!
At a distance of 14 km. from Parikia, is the picturesque village of Marmara. Full of old mansions and beautiful churches. Among its churches, the white church of Taxiarchis and the church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary stand out. Extra tip: On the mountain, Antikefalos, according to the legend is the ancient city of Yria.
A beautiful fishing village, with a picturesque harbor, taverns, and the beach Piso Alyki with white pebbles and tamarisk trees. It is located in the southern part of Paros and it is perfect for an evening stroll and dinner at one of the seaside taverns.
Flavors from Paros
The beautiful island of Paros, from Parikia, to its smallest village, has a way to leave its visitor with the best impressions. Paros, apart from being a popular tourist destination, is also a treat for foodies.
The special dishes, sweet and savory dishes, are made mainly with local goods of the Parian land. Olives, the excellent oil, legumes, and cereals, are among its main products. The branded Parian wines, made in the local wineries, also have a prominent place. The “accompaniment” of the fine fish appetizers is the ‘souma’, a kind of local tsipouro.
The Excellent Cheeses
The protagonists in the cuisine of Paros, of course, are the excellent local cheeses. Tasty and special, they become a pleasure for even the most demanding palate. Taste the sweet gruyere, the mizithra (made from whey), and the cream cheese. Furthermore, the famous sour cream of Paros from whole milk is amazing! Also, its kefalotyri, which matures in brine. In some stores, you will find more rare Parian cheeses, such as ‘touloumisio’ and hard sour cheese.
Paros, like all the islands of the Cyclades, produces several varieties of figs, that locals use in pastries and jams. The famous ‘samota’ dried figs, which are opened and baked in the oven, sprinkled with sesame are to die for. Other sweet temptations are the cheese pies, the pastels, and of course the sugary baklava, a Parian trademark.
Traditional dishes of Paros that you should try are: fish soups and especially ‘kakavia’, snails stew or chickpea soup, baked all night in a wood oven, pilaf with sweet pumpkin, string beans with garlic, artichokes with beans, moussaka with artichokes, fried or grilled mushrooms and many other delicious dishes. The Parian table is accompanied by local sourdough bread, rusks or barley buns, and of course local wines.
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If you want to get even more inspired, we suggest you read our ‘Naxos, Queen of the Cyclades article’. Naxos and Paros are a deadly combination!
Featured Image Credits: Marco Verch