Where to stay: Parikia or Naoussa
What to do: Lefkes, Marpissa, Panagia Ekatondapiliani, Butterfly Valley, & more!
If you’re looking for a more laid-back, locals vibe when visiting the Greek Isles then Paros is the island for you. This island is know for beautiful beaches, traditional villages, and historical sites including a 4th century Byzantine church, still creating some absolutely delicious wine of the island. Paros is my favorite of the islands that we visited. It has a more rural feel than the other islands, but still has amazing shopping, restaurants, and endless things to see and do.
When booking a stay in Paros, I recommend staying in either Parikia (the main town), or Naoussa, a more chic resort town. We opted to stay in Naoussa on the North side of the island. Per usual we stayed in an airbnb and it was one of the most incredible Airbnb’s we’ve ever stayed in. The accommodations are known as the Sivanis Apartments & we booked the Lavender Apartment. It was absolutely gorgeous, super clean, and right next to all the action and a small beach. We couldn’t have asked for a better abode during our stay on the island. I highly recommend this stay and would, without a doubt, stay here again.
From the airbnb, it’s a just a 5 minute walk into the heart of Naoussa where you can find dining, shopping, nightlife, archeological sites, and so much more. Walking into the village it’s not uncommon to sea fishermen with their fresh catch, sun drying octopus over the railings on their boats. A true image of Greek island life. Our first stop once we dropped of our bags at the airbnb was to get another souvlaki. We found a place right in the main square of town and had to wait a solid twenty minutes for a table so we knew it was going to be good and we we’re not disappointed. The small 6 table restaurant is called Pita Frank and it was some of the best souvlakis we had on our entire trip. The staff was extremely friendly, and the moment out beverages were empty, someone was at our table opening a fresh, cold beer for my husband and pouring me another glass of house white wine. Perfection.
We really enjoyed strolling around the many narrow passageways of Naoussa and especially liked exploring the remains of the Venetian Fort located in the old fishing harbor. While it can be a bit treacherous to access, especially during high tide, it provides some incredible views of the town of Naoussa. Several of the local cats, which are lovingly cared for by the residents and a local nonprofit that goes around and spays/neuters them, will follow you around the ruins, begging for pets and scratches. The ruins are partially sunken so the floors are typically always wet, so be careful when you’re exploring.
When you’re ready to explore more of what the island has to offer. Rent a car and just start driving. You can make your way around the entire island in about an hour but there’s so much to see and do along the way that you’ll want to make frequent stops and check out what each town has to offer. Parikia is the main town on the island and features tons of dining, shopping, and historical sites including the incredibly well preserved remains of a Frankish castle built in 1260AD by the Duke of Naxos. Some other areas to check out along your tour include, but are certainly not limited to, the Butterfly Valley just outside of Parikia, the ancient town of Lefkes which used to be the capital of the island during the Middle Ages. It’s built high up on the mountains in the center of Paros and offers 360° views of the island and surrounding terrain. Marpissa is another town you wont want to miss; the current capital of the island. Just outside of Marpissa you can find the Cave of Demons, also known as Kalampaki. Evidence of use has dated back as far as the late neolithic time period with artifacts such as ceramics, animal bones, and evidence of fire.
While touring the island is an absolute must, one of my favorite things we did while on the island was go horseback riding. We booked an excursion through Thanasis Farm and had the most wonderful experience. I grew up riding and owning horses so anytime I can get back in the saddle, I just at the opportunity. Thanasis farm is located just about 15 min from Naoussa and is incredibly easy to find; just follow the signs. They’re a very well established farm and offer trail riding and riding lessons year around. They pair riders to horses that match their experience level so you’ll be in great hands whether you’re a seasoned rider, or it’s your first time on a horse. We opted for the longest tour (3.5hrs) and our journey took us about waste deep into beautiful crystal clear waters, galloping along coastlines, and seeing parts of the island that most tourists don’t often get to see.
Of all the islands we visited, Paros was my favorite and one that I would return to time and time again. I loved the localized feel of the island, the ease of being able to explore, the blend of new and old and, and the quietness of the islands compared to the others. If we could do the trip over again, I would book more time on Paros and less on the other islands that we visited. It’s that magical of a place.