If I’m being perfectly honest, Paros is probably the main reason that I didn’t like Mykonos. If I’d only visited Mykonos and not made it over to Paros, I think I would have thought Mykonos was worth it despite the cost and the crowds.
But the amazing thing about Paros is that it’s Mykonos but cheaper and quieter. I found the same beauty and the same quintessential Greek island architecture and buildings. Actually, I thought Paros even more beautiful than Mykonos. And that’s not just my budget travel bias stepping in.
Paros seems more authentic, whereas Mykonos seems like a parade put on for tourists. I loved that Paros wasn’t perfect; some of the buildings definitely need repainting and other streets had only ruins of buildings left.
Paros Old Town
We arrived in Paros on a very delayed ferry from Mykonos which left us the afternoon to explore the old town of Parikia. Paros has two main centres to explore; Parikia (the main town and where you’ll find the port) and Naoussa. Many tourists stay in Naoussa but we decided to stay in Parikia because it was cheaper and it was easier to access the ferry from here.
Exploring the old towns on the Greek islands, especially on Paros is super easy. The best plan is to have no plan at all, because Greek island streets were made to get lost down.
Even on the short walk from our guesthouse into town I found beautiful streets and took what I think is the best photo of my whole month in Greece. We just wandered aimlessly around the streets of Paros, snapping pretty pictures and stopping into stores and cafes.
We decided on a quick gyros lunch which would leave more money in our budget to splurge on a seafood dinner that night. But the culinary highlight of our first day was the incredible ice cream we found in the old town at Vanilla Gelateria. I tried the cheesecake flavour and it was some of the best gelato I’ve had outside of Italy.
The town of Parikia is small so even though we purposely got lost, stopped for lunch and icecream and just wandered aimlessly, we still only spent about two hours in the town. Kristine headed back for a nap while I headed out to get a much needed pedicure in town. It was right by the gelato place and it was seriously the best I’ve had in a long time!
When we headed out for dinner we soon realised that we needn’t have made that room in the budget at lunch by eating gyros. Paros was infinitely cheaper than Mykonos; we got a seafood platter for two with a whole fish, prawns, mussels and squid for €20. By the time we added taramas (fish caviar dip), dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), wine and dessert, we still had only spent €20 each. Considering that the cheapest seafood platter we saw in Mykonos was €40 it is a huge difference!
For our second day on the island we decided to venture out beyond Parikia to visit Paros’ other major town; Naoussa. The tourist influence was clear here; there were a lot of travellers on our bus that had just come off the ferry and the town was full of guesthouses.
But it was super beautiful and I wish we had the opportunity to go back there for dinner because the seafood restaurants right by the water looked absolutely beautiful.
We had the same plan of attack for Naoussa as we did for Parikia; we wandered, we got lost and we stopped for greek yoghurt smoothies (a new obsession of ours). Naoussa was very similar to Parikia but I can understand why people would want to stay there; its closer to some of the major beaches and it’s potentially slightly more picturesque as its not as commercial as the capital.
Aka the windiest beach of our whole time in Greece. The Cyclades are famous for the Meltemi wind that arrives ever summer. For the most part the wind isn’t bothersome; it’s actually really welcome as it keeps the temperature from being unbearable.
But the wind at Golden Beach on Paros was definitely not welcome. We attempted to sit on the beach for about half an hour while we were windblasted with sand. We got into the water to try and wash the sand off, only to return to the beach for some more sandblasting. It wasn’t exactly how I picture a relaxing afternoon on the beach. But I guess the wind shouldn’t have been surprising as Golden Beach holds Windsurfing Championships all the time…
Unfortunately the buses from Golden Beach back to Parikia are pretty infrequent, something we didn’t think was a problem as we were ready for a couple of hours on the beach. Instead we spent the afternoon at one of the beach restaurants drinking cocktails and trying to stay out of the wind! It was a lowlight for us and I only wish we had known to visit somewhere else.
Our biggest mistake on Paros
Out of all of the islands I visited during my month in Greece, Paros is the only island where I wish we had more time. We were hoping for three full days but because of the ferry schedules we only ended up with one full day and two half days. I would have loved to take a day trip to nearby Antiparos, or had time to visit the montanous village of Lefkes in the centre of the island.
Luckily I am almost certain that July 2016 won’t be my only summer trip to the Greek islands!
Paros is very well connected with all of the Cyclade Islands, although the easiest way to arrive is from Mykonos or Naxos which are very close. There are ferries that will take you directly there from Athens.
We stayed at Perivoli Rooms; a small guesthouse that ended up being our best accommodation of our whole Greek island trip. The rooms were newly renovated and absolutely beautiful. The showers were modern, the staff were so friendly, we got a free pickup from the port and our room was immaculately cleaned every day. I couldn’t recommend it more!