See also: 20 Best Things to Do in Paros
The Cycladic island of Paros is one of Greece's best kept secrets. Mainstream travellers might overlook this rustic-looking island for its more famed neighbours, but in that very obscurity lie some of the most exciting vacation prospects. The experience of an intimate Cycladic lifestyle, unbridled access to pristine beaches and open water, watersporting prospects are only a handful of the options that you'll have at your disposal during a vacation on this scenic Aegean Sea island.
Paros has a small airport and port at the capital city of Parikia and Naoussa, providing easy access for travellers. The island itself has several village settings, all of which—albeit a stone's throw from each other, have developed their own unique appeal. Making the right choice for your stay then becomes a significant choice. And that's where we step in. Here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of Paros and what they might have in store for you traveller!
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The island's capital city of Parikia is a Cycladic dream. Centred around the historic port, it is one of the top choices for travellers interested in the island's history and little sightseeing tours. Some of the island's fine recognisable landmarks are in the vicinity of Parikia. The giant windmill at the port is a good place to start your tour from, but the city's real draws are the majestic Byzantine-era stone cathedral, Panagia Ekatontapiliani and the waterfront Frankish Castle.
The city quarters are quintessentially Cycladic—whitewashed housing all over the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets, something that definitely warrants a walking tour or two. As the capital city, it is also one of the most frequented places on the island and has several modern entertainment options. The waterfront is lined with cozy restaurants and casual cafes that are just the perfect place to spend an evening at, while indie art galleries and museums dot the streets inland.
The port in Parikia is one of the busiest on the island, providing easiest access through ferries (although the airport too is only a short car ride away). Hotels and homestays are in plenty, and among some of the best. The locale and cityscape is even more serene in the outskirts, with small houses by the side orchards and pomegranate trees with great outdoor pools and seating.
On the northern coast of the island, lies the former fishing village of Naoussa. Much like the capital city, the major draw here remains to be the immaculate cityscape. White townhouses, with their striking blue doors and bougainville and vine-decorated facades house some of the best restaurants. Wander about till you find the best looking display boards, drawing you in for an afternoon meal of freshly caught sardines or mackerel delicacies.
Naoussa has come a long way in shedding its humble past as a fishing village, and is today known as one of the most vibrant parts of the island. The small port is in fact one of the go-to places for a long night of partying. Several trendy bars and nightclubs have sprung up around the promenade, lending the town an alternative appeal. The construction of the port was done on the remnants of a Venetian castle, with the rustic outdoors also making for a fantastic place for evening strolls and sunset viewings.
Naoussa is a 20 and 30 minute ride from the capital city and the airport respectively. You can easily take a bus or hail a taxi to get you directly to your hotel; it is an extremely walkable neighborhood and you will not need any other mode of transportation for commuting within the town. Naoussa is home to several great homestays.
While technically still part of Naoussa, the cove surrounding the Piperi Beach has developed a unique atmosphere of its own. Surrounded by shady trees, this busy beach offers a range of prospects. It is lined with umbrellas and a few sunbeds, perfect for a long day of sunbathing or family picnics, while the clear waters are ideal for swimming. Local service providers around the beach also offer other interesting prospects such as guided snorkelling excursionists.
The beachfront has a few great taverns and clubs; you can head over to the Taverna Karina, an exquisite restaurant that looks especially stunning in the warm night lighting or grab a take-out coffee or fresh pastries from a local patisserie and wander along the picturesque coastline. You can also always head over to the Piperaki, a nearby rocky beach for a nice and private sunset viewing.
The homestays around Piperi Beach are some of the best. They offer the perfect opportunity to experience the quieter Cycladic life, as they lie just outside of the bustling town centres. The neighborhood is fairly close to Naoussa and can be easily accessed using the easily available rental bikes.
Another great coastal town located on the Naoussa Bay, Kolymbithres is one the most picturesque seaside settings anywhere on the island. The eponymous beach is divided into smaller coves, all of which are separated by mammoth granite stacks. The two central beaches have a nice range of options including seafood shacks and beach clubs; that way, you can always grab a quick lunch or evening drinks without ever having to leave the beachside.
The water is clear and almost all the coves are protected from gusts of wind, making for great swimming spots. While families mostly prefer to stay within the vicinity of the two major coves, backpackers and younger travellers often hit the more secluded beaches that follow. The Aqua Paros Water Park is another great spot to hang out with family, especially with kids. Head a little northward, and you can explore more extensive watersporting options including windsurfing and waterskiing.
Kolymbithres is accessible through almost all public means of transportation. You can even get a local ferry from the port at Naoussa to chauffeur you to the neighborhood's central cove. Hotels and homestays are largely centred around the northern part of the town.
The northeastern town of Santa Maria is home to some great white soft sand beaches, unlike many other of Paros' beach towns that have coarse sand and rocky barriers. The vast Paralia Santa Maria is the perfect choice for travellers looking for a more laid back weekend vacation; you can spend your evening lazing around the beach, or relax on the shaded sunbeds or spend time sipping a refreshing drink at the seaside shacks - which offer stunning views of the emerald water and even the adjacent Naxos island!
And even beyond the beaches, Santa Maria remains a calm vacation prospect. The cityscape is typical of a Cycladic village, with small chapels sitting by the side rustic-looking roads. Get a rental bike and explore the lush setting; be on the lookout for yoga retreats and an inland camping site, something that would interest the seekers of an outdoorsy vacation. Talking of which, you can challenge yourself to surfing and paddleboarding lessons at the local trainer's.
Tucked away into an extreme corner of the island, Santa Maria is one of the farthest from the airport. That said, access is fairly straightforward. You can hail a taxi from the airport or Parikia, or even take a ferry from the ports at the capital and Naoussa. Try and find a nice sea-facing room centre around the beachside for the best experience.
The charming mountainous village of Lefkes holds the distinction of being the only inland neighborhood on the list. The emphatic setting served as a haven for its earlier residents, who built the town to escape from pirate attacks. The village has done well to retain its culture and strong sense of community. The meandering cobblestone streets running up the lush hill are all dotted with quintessential landmarks—beautiful white chapels, obscure museums and public spaces used as venues for several festivals and street fairs, which are still carried out with the same yesteryear flair.
The village then works perfectly for travellers looking for an escape into the typical Cycladic life, away from their busy city life. There's plenty of bakeries, cafes and creameries (in striking shades of yellow and blue), with colourful patio furniture in their outdoor terraces. To take a break from all the cafe hopping, head over to Ramnos - the central thoroughfare where you can rummage through the local handicraft stores and souvenir shops.
Lefkes has easy access through public transport from the airport and the island's capital city. You can also avail pre-booked taxis to chauffeur you around from other parts of Paros. Within the village, you would probably just want to walk from one place to the other. Homestays are pristine, especially the ones set atop the hill with panoramic views of the island.
One of the best places to enjoy the Cycladic cuisine is the small harbour town of Piso Livadi. Fishermen bring on fresh produce to the local markets and you can enjoy wholesome Greek lunches and dinners at one of the town's many home-grown eateries. While restaurants serving local delicacies in a localised experience dominate the streets around the central part of Piso Livadi, the waterfront features a wider variety of choices including upscale bistros, oyster bars and some fine dining seafood restaurants.
Piso Livadi is also known for its two main beaches. The Paralia Piso Livadi lies adjacent to the harbour and is the top choice for families and visitors arriving at the harbour. The second of the two beaches, Paralia Logara is a much bigger sandy strip with rental umbrellas and sunbeds. Both beaches have a few great eateries to choose from. The village also hosts the Ascension Day celebrations, marking the best time to enjoy the island's gourmet delights and choicest wines.
Piso Livadi is a half an hour away from both the airport and the capital city. Hotels should be easy to find, and there's also the added advantage of having several apartments and rental villas in the vicinity. As an aside, you can also hail ferries bound for a day long trip to nearby islands of Naxos, Ios and Anti-paros!
That's our complete list of neighbourhoods from Paros then. Take your pick and start planning your next vacation traveller; a Cycladic dream destination awaits!