Paros a pearl in the Cyclades
Situated in the centre of the Cyclades islands, Paros is the very picture of
a traditional Greek island. There is much to see and do on the island, the
Parian wine is famous and of course, there are wonderful beaches.
Many travellers prefer to stay in the island's capital Parikia, which is a beautiful village with sparkling white houses and little streets you can wander around in. The harbour is very busy, since almost all ferryboats make a stop here. For obvious reasons, this makes Paros a perfect place for island hoppers.
Others prefer the smaller villages, especially the little fishing village Naousa. The fishing boats are everywhere, since fishing is the traditional source of income for the islanders. The Parian marble is famous since ancient times, and has also provided the island with a good income.
Paros developed its tourist industry in the late 1960s and it is, today, one of the most visited islands in the Cyclades. Paros has almost everything that a holidaymaker to a Greek island expects. For instance, a cosmopolitan atmosphere, with intensive nightlife combined with ancient monuments, monasteries, churches and, most of all, wonderful sandy beaches. There are also many areas which maintain a tranquil and traditional pace of life, together with all of the above, Paros has it all.
Paros History Paros has been inhabited since at least 4000BC. It
started flourishing around 3000BC, and all over the Cyclades the Parian
marble can be found from this time. The island was then called Minoa which
indicates that the island's civilization was Minoan (Cretan) then. Later on,
the Parian marble was to be used in Delphi, Delos and the temple of
The earliest people we know of living on the island was a tribe from Peloponnesos, the Arcades. Mixing with the Ionians they became a strong force in the area of the Cyclades. They traded their marble with the Phoenicians, and until the 6th century BC they had great power in the Aegean sea, with colonies on Thassos and other places.
Paros was defeated by Naxos at this time, and lost its position. It still held a strong cultural foothold though with a school for sculptors. When the Persian wars began, Paros initially fought with the Persians against Athens. After the Persian defeat at Salamis, Paros joined the Athenian league.
Towards the end of the Classical period Paros was ruled by Sparta, then the Macedonians and finally the Romans. Chistianity came to Paros around AD300. St Helen (Ag Eleni) then had a church built to the Virgin Mary, Katapolianis. You can still see the first baptismal font there. This church is also called the church of 100 doors and according to an old legend Greece will conquer Istanbul when the 100th door is found.
During the Byzantine period Paros continued to be an important place because of its marbles, but around 900 the island was totally deserted when the Arabs invaded. It was repopulated though and came under Venetian rule in the beginning of the 13th century.
During the Turkish rule the islanders were heavily taxed, but allowed much freedom. The islanders built many churches and monasteries during this time. Paros took a strong part of the Greek revolution against the Turks in 1821 and was soon freed.
The two most famous names from Paros are Archilochus, lyrical poet in the 7th century BC, and Scopas, sculptor & architect from the 4th century BC.
What to see in Paros
Parikia is the capital town of Paros and lies on the northwest side of
the island. It is the landing point for all visitors arriving from
Piraeus and neighbouring Greek islands. The coastal road which spreads
either side of the port is pleasant but
busy with nearly all the buildings along the road given over to the tourist
industry in one way or another. Here you will find a huge variety of
accommodation as well as car and bike hire, taverns, restaurants, cafes and
bars. The harbour itself is dominated by a charming old windmill that stands
in the middle of the main road and a bit further by the small white church
of St Nikolaos. There are good beaches, mostly to the right of the
harbour (facing the sea) towards Livadia and Krios. To the south, you
can follow the road that will take you to the small river and the hill of
Ag. Anna. All along the sea front are cafes, bars and
restaurants where you can admire amazing sunsets especially from the spot
with the palm trees. From Ag. Anna you can enjoy the stunning views that
stretch into the far distance. That road has many restaurants and
taverns, several fashion shops, souvenirs, and supermarkets. Bordered with
wide sandy beaches with tamarisk trees, well organised with plenty of
facilities to choose from.
Parikia, however, is not just seafront and harbour. Behind the main seafront road lies the old town, full of little alleyways, with small traditional Cycladic houses huddled together and competing for space with the many beautiful 18th century mansions that flaunt their elaborate carving and marble balconies quite unashamedly. Nestling amongst this you will come across tiny churches like the church Agios Konstantinos built on top of the ancient temple of the goddess Demeter and the remains of the Frankish castle right at the heart of the old town. This fascinating castle, which is now a semi-ruin, was built using material from the ancient Temple of Demeter and broken columns and pieces of the ancient temple can be easily identified in its structure.
The Church of Panagia Ekatontapilliani or Katapoliani is one of the oldest, best preserved and most important churches in Greece and is constructed on the ruins of an ancient temple, it is one of the earliest Christian churches in Greece and is found in Parikia's park. According to tradition it was built by St Helen around 300 AD and its baptistery belongs to the original building. It has an interesting Byzantine Museum which is situated in a peaceful courtyard garden. The little wooded copse of pine trees behind the church is also interesting as you can easily see the force of the Cycladic winter winds with all the trees bending at the same acute angle. is worth strolling around in. There is also an interesting museum with various findings from different periods in Paros history.
Naussa is a picturesque town on the north side of the island. Here there exists the ruins of a a Venetian citadel from the 15th century . Around the port and promenade you will find many taverns, restaurants and cafes. If you are on Paros on the 23rd of August don't miss when the people of Naoussa celebrate the victory over the Turkish pirate Barbarossa by reacting the events: 100 boats imitate the battle and the celebrating goes on until the morning after.
is a little picturesque mountain village around 16km from
Parikia. The village itself is charming and full of historical
interest, with traditional Cycladic houses and narrow paved
roads. It boasts many churches that date from around the 16th
and 17th century as well as the ruins of a Venetian Castle.
There are some typical Cycladic windmills and a folk museum
sited in St. Nicholas square at the centre of the village. .
Piso Livadi:About 8km south of Naussa is the wonderful resort of Piso Livadi, with a small harbour frm where you can visit the neighbouring island of Naxos. Here you will find cafes, fish tavernas and restaurants as well as accommodation in beautiful lodgings that are built around the port. There is a small sandy beach with tamarisk trees and not far away is the larger beach of Logaras.
Drios: About 23km from Parikia and 1 km from Chrisi Akti is the village and beach of Drios. The main road to Drios beach is small and winding util you reach a free car park where you can leave your vehicle and walk the short distanct to the beach. The paved lane leading down to the seafront is very well kept, bordered on both sides by Oleander trees with a good selection of studios and apartments to rent.
For nature lovers a few kilometres outside Parikia is the Valley of the Butterflies and there are organized tours to this area. Close to this valley is the nun's Monastery of Christ of the forest. At Marathi you can visit the caves of the nymphs. They are two by number, and by the entrance of the first there is a sculpture of the nymphs.
At Dilio are the remains of the ancient temple to Apollo, and about 11km outside Parikia is the famous Asclepio, the temple to the god of medicine where the ancient Greeks sought remedies for various illnesses.
The beach of Livadia in Paros
Traditional street in Parikia
The picturesque market street in Parikia
the village of Marpissa
The picturesque small port of Naousa
The long and sandy golden beach in Paros
The small port of Piso Livadi
What to do in Paros
There are various water sports around the island and you can also go scuba diving, which is quite unusual in Greece. You can also go biking or jogging quite easily since the island is basically flat. Among other things that have made Paros so popular is that the island is ideal for windsurfing and every summer Paros hosts windsurfing competitions. There are many sporting facilities on the island, most of them located in the larger hotels. The island also has diving and snorkelling schools and there are many places where you can enjoy these activities, either as part of a group or independently. Fishing is another activity that many enjoy and the island boasts plenty of places to do this.
Paros has many beaches and it is difficult to say which are the best.
For families, the Kolymbithres beach is considered ideal .This is an amazing location with fine sand and a rock formation which resembles a lunar landscape, unique and enchanting. Especially out of high season when it is deserted. Close to Nausa on the north coast are the beaches with the quaint names of 'large and little piperi'. Also there is the beach of Lymnes, the beaches of Santa Maria, Xifari, Lageri and, a little further to the south is the beautiful beach of Ampelas.
At the Golden Beach the sea can get quite rough, but the winds attract windsurfers from all over. Chrisi Akti in Greek or the Golden Beach is possibly the most popular beach on Paros due to its glorious fine golden sand. It is a wide beach, dotted with sand dunes, culminating in the crystal clear turquoise sea of the Agean. It is well organised with umbrellas, several taverns cafes and bars that organise beach parties. There is a large area of free parking. You will also find a good selection of rooms and studios to rent near by. The Golden Beach is popular with wind surfers and the beach has excellent sporting facilities for this and a well known wind-surfing competition is held here every August with competitors arriving from all over Europe. The region of Chrisi Akti is very fertile with many fields of tall rushes. The road from here to Drios is very fertile and verdant. There are Cypress and Palm trees, olive groves, vine yards and orchards all along the route. Piso Livadi on the east coast has golden sands with very good tourist facilities and also some good hotels and other forms of accommodation. A few minutes walk from Piso Livadi is the beach of Logaras well organised and sandy.
Just like anywhere else in Greece, you will find little bars and taverns even in the smallest village on Paros. If you really want to party, it's best to stay in Parikia - that's where the clubs and discos are.
There are also many places with live Greek music. Naoussa as well has a
lively nightlife. There are also summer cinemas in Parikia where you can
see English films with Greek subtitles.
When I first visited Paros in 1971, I came as a musician playing with my group at a nightclub near to Parikia (at Souvlias beach) and later the same summer in Livadia at the restaurant Argo that today is converted to a hotel. During those good old days the spot of the nightlife in Parikia was the Discotheque Fishermen where I worked as a DJ for some years.
This summer I visited Paros again after almost 30 years and the old Disco was converted to a cafe, but my nostalgia was transformed to happiness when I met again my good old friend Gianakos with whom we worked together at his uncles Gianni's Disco , the Fishermen.
Today Gianakos owns with his brother George the spot of the nightlife in Parikia, the music bar Saloon d'Or, right on the seafront towards Agia Anna and a bit further under the hill the famous Dubliner dancing club with a complex of bars and clubs that during the high season can accommodate more than 3000 people !!!! with all kinds of music and many happenings.
Food and Restaurants
Paros restaurants are very varied, and you can get traditional Greek food or more international meals. In Parikia you will find most of the restaurants and taverns at the right side of the port towards Argo beach and further to Krios. There are also many eateries, ice cream parlours and fast food places around the Mando square and inside the old town. To the left of the port the long promenade is bursting from cafeterias, pizzerias, music bars and snack bars. Here you will find the oldest restaurant of Paros the Hibiscus as well as one of the oldest cafes of Parikia the Stelakis cafe that today you can eat the best Galaktobouriko. For the largest portions of food ever seen in a Greek restaurant try the Balkoni in Alyki.
Most shops are in Parikia, and here you can get everything from cheap souvenirs to antiques and jewellery. Marble from the island in various shapes, local wine & embroideries are nice present for yourself or friends. At the Mando Square under the police headquarters located the shop of the farmers association of Paros here you will find local products like honey, wine and other original bio products, there are also many supermarkets, bakeries and green grosser shops. The same kind of shopping you will find as well in Naoussa and Marpisa.
Hotels and accommodation
Hotel - Parikia, Paros.
A warm and friendly welcome is to be found at this charming, recently refurbished hotel, La Selini. The Canadian owner, Lou Ann Loveday came here a few years ago to follow her dream of running a hotel in Paros. Her dream has been realised in this delightful hotel where your every need is provided for with care and professional commitment. Located just 400 metres from the port of Parikia and only 45 seconds walk to the sandy beach of Argos, La Selini is in a quiet tree lined street with ample free parking. The accommodation comprises 17 comfortably furnished rooms and studios, each with private shower and WC, air-conditioning, TV and refrigerator. Contact details: Tel:+30 22840 23106 email:firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.laselini.com.
There are fairly good roads on Paros connecting all the major villages on the island. You can rent a car or a bike, take taxis or use the local buses. The road infrastructure is excellent and you can make the round of Paros within few hours on a bike or a car.
Getting to Paros
Paros has its own airport with daily connections to Athens, and as mentioned there are excellent Ferry connections to the whole of Greece from here. Many charter companies choose not to land here, but fly to Mykonos or Santorini instead.
Facts about Paros
Size: 195 sq km
Population: about 8000
Cash machine: Yes
Health center: 22500-3
Internet cafe: Yes
International code: 0030
Local code: 22840
Police (Parikia): 21221
Coast guard: 21240
Taxi (Parikia): 21500
Tour Operators: Argo, Apollo, Ving
Tourist Office: 25301