|The Greek Islands
|The island of Paros in the Cyclades in Greece
The island of Paros in the Greek Cyclades is an island where we have been many times, in the beginning usually just to catch the small ferry to Antiparos, or on the way to another island. This is where almost every ferry in the Cyclades make a stop, and where you can find connections to most other islands. Paros is central station for the ferries. Untill recently it was however not very high on my list of Islands I like to visit, but this changed when I started to explore the island. The first time we stayed at the tourist center Naoussa, which is on all the postcards, but can also get pretty busy in high season. But the island Paros has got a good amount of 'hidden treasures' as well. Personally I loved the southcoast. If you want to meet some authentic Greece, and want to get some rest during your holiday as well than go there. If you want life and action and some good (but more crowded) beaches close at hand you can for instance stay in Parikia and maybe rent a scooter or a car to see some more of the island. There are several places for car rental on the island.
The island op Paros is quite large and is centrally located in the Cyclades. Therefore it is called upon by many ferries. Actually the island is hard to be avoided (if you should wish to) by the islandhoppers. This is one of the reasons why during the peak in high season it can get very busy. This is partly to blame on the charm of Paros, because there are plenty of good sandy beaches, it's quite fertile and there is also some kind of nightlife for the people who enjoy that. And now some more very positive news about the beautiful and also quiet eastcoast of Paros with the village of Piso Livadi and the beach at Chrissi Akti. And not to forget there is the amazing and almost deserted southcoast with endless beaches, beautiful rockformations, views over other islands (amongst them Antiparos), the small ferry harbour Punta and the delightful small village of Alyki with its whithewashed houses and plenty of brightly coloured fishingboats. The footnote is that in recent years much has been built on the island and especially along the coast. The people that like it quiet will therefore have to make some more effort and get of the beaten tracks to find an empty beach. The best option still seems the coastline between Pounta (in the south opposite Antiparos - with the small ferry going up and down) and Alyki, or also especially recommended: Faranga Beach, which is also close to Alyki in the south of the island. Compared to its neighbours Santorini and Mykonos it is still relatively quiet though, especially if you know where to go to. Paros large map - click here
|Parikia, the capital of the island of Paros
Parikia is the capital and the main tourist resort and it is located in a protected bay on the west coast. This place has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and was always the capital. There was once an early Cycladic village on the site. Only during the occupation by the Turks Parikia was not the capital, as they chose Lefkes for that. This place offered a better protection against attacks by pirates. Today Parikia is a long stretched village that extends primarily along the coast rather than up into the hills. In the center is a typical Cycladic Chora, complete with a piece of Venetian wall (built in 1207 on the site of the old akropolis). Even if it gets busy Parikia is still a bit of fun. To the west lies the old part of town and to the east the beach and the more modern part, where most of the hotels are located. The ferries come into the quay where the large white windmill is standing. Nearby you will find the bus station, the taxi stand (behind the mill) and the place where the boat to the island of Antiparos leaves.
Along the quay is a great choice in tavernas, shops, ticket stores (for the ferry) and cafes and you find relics from the ancient Greek time. In Parikia there are also two cinemas, including an open-air theater (with English films). The nightlife is dominated by a large number of cocktail bars at the port and the streets a bit beyond. Behind the promenade of the Port are narrow shopping streets and pretty white houses with bougainvillas and here and there is a small square with a couple of tavernas. Parikia also has a few nice beaches within reach, of which the largest is the townbeach. On both sides (in the east and the west) are even more beaches, including the beach at Livadia in the west and the bays / beaches of Krios still a bit further, which are also used by naturists. Greek wooden boats, buses and taxis will bring you to the other beaches on the island that are often more quiet and more beautiful. We liked the harbour and main-village Parikia, allthough the beach directly in the port is not very inviting with ferries sailing in all the time. It is better to go to one of the beaches just outside the center, like the long sandy beach of Livadia. Parikia has plenty of sights, some nice shopping streets and lots of terraces overlooking the sea. The only problem is pherhaps the waiters in the restaurants, that can sometimes be a bit pushy trying to get you in their restaurant when you are not hungry. A friendly terrace I found was at the end of the boulevard in a cafe called Latte.
|The village of Naoussa on Paros
On our first visit to Paros, we stayed in the village Naoussa. In itself, this is a very picturesque fishing village with a beautiful harbour with the typical Greek colored boats, nice restaurants and all kinds of things that look good on your holiday snaps. Unfortunately there is no really good beach in the village itself (there is one but it tends to catch some wind) and in the evening it really gets very busy. Apparently, everyone in the village leaves during the daytime in search for the beaches in the area. In the evening everyone comes back and you stumble over the people. Naoussa is located in the north of Paros and is dominated by a large church. In many guides, the village is described as smaller and more beautiful than Parikia, but this is a matter of opinion. If I could choose myself I would prefer to stay in Parikia. The village is overflown and it is very touristic (especially in the evenings as I just said, it is okay in the daytime), not just during the high season. There will, of course, be people who do not agree with me and that will send me an e-mail to tell so, but this is my humble opinion, and there are others. You have to decide for yourself which has your preferance. It is a nice village I agree to go and have a look around because it is indeed colourful and picturesque. In the center of town is the old white chora, there is a nice promenade with tavernas and the harbour with the kaiks and the old Venetian houses in the background will do well in your photo album. Through the centre runs a (in the summer dried out) river. Here you will find the bus station of the village. There are boats and buses to a number of better beaches in the immediate vicinity of Naoussa, including the beach of Santa Maria.
|How to get to the island of Paros by ferry or by plane
Paros can be easily reached from Piraeus, where there are daily ferries going to the Cycladic islands. The journey takes three hours or more depending on the speed of the boat you take and the schedule it follows. Sometimes there are ferries from Rafina to the island of Paros. On the airport of Athens there are regulair busses going to Rafina, and you don't have to drive through Athens itself. Off course you can also take a taxi. The ride takes about half an hour. It's also possible to fly to the island of Paros from Athens. If you want to check the ferries from and to Paros and order a ticket - click here.
Paros has an airport for for domestic flights and can also be reached by plane from Athens (national flights only because there is no international airport). For plane tickets from Athens to the island of Paros check Aegean Airlines.
|Rent a car on the island of Paros - Paros car rentals
Compare prices of the different car rentals and different kinds of cars with reviews of the car rental company on the website of rentalcars.com - click here.
|Hotel Manto, Naousa Paros - excellent reviews
Hotel Manto is situated in a quiet spot, a few minutes walk from Naousas centre in Paros. It offers free internet access and rooms with views over the Aegean Sea or gardens. The family hotel is built in traditional Cycladic style. It features spacious and air-conditioned units with private bathroom, balcony and refrigerator. TV is standard. Breakfast including fresh juices and home made delicacies, is served daily. Guests can relax in the sea-view terrace that is equipped with sun loungers. Hotel Manto is sited on a convenient location next to restaurants, bars and tourist shops in Naoussa. It serves as an excellent base to enjoy the delights and the lovely beaches of the area.
Check availabilities & prices and book Hotel Manto on Paros - click here
|Ikia studios and apartments in Alyki on Paros - my choice and recommended
Paros is an island big enough to visit for a couple of weeks and tour around the different villages. Some people like it so much, like me, they come back again and again to visit new places and revisit their favorite "old" places. The villages on Paros are all different and there is something to find for everybody. For shopping and sightseeing you can for instance go to the capital Parikia, and for the beaches the best parts of the islands would be the south and the east of the island. My favorite village would be Aliki or Alyki in the south of Paros, dreamy and cosy in its bay, with lots of good beaches within walking distance. One of the nicest places to stay would be the very affordable and comfortable A' Class Ikia Studios which were build in 2001 and are very near to the beach.
All studios and apartments (some are complete houses) are tastefully decorated and beautiful and owner Anna is always very nice. For us Ikia Studios is no longer one of the hotels we stay in, it has become more like a second home. The studios are situated at a short walking distance of all amenities like a supermarket, a mini market, a bakery, a couple of nice tourist shops and plenty of tavernas and a small bar. In Alyki there is a petrol station as well and besides the two village beaches there are plenty of beaches in the area and not far away there are some fabulous (Faranga, Makria Myti - both also for naturist) beaches. The prices at Ikia Studios are really low and sometimes Anna also has special offers for people that stay 6 days or longer, ask her!
Tel: +30 22840 91394 / +30 6972 297 557 - Fax: +30 22840 91409 - Send an e-mail to Ikia Studios.
To see more apartments, studios and hotels in Aliki on the island of Paros - click here.
|The village of Alyki or Aliki on Paros
Aliki is really just a pretty, small village on the southcoast of Paros: a few houses, some hotels, a souvernir-shop or two, a harbour front with restaurants and two supermarkets. Off course there's also the kaiks and the boats in the cristalclear water, and the little white church with the blue dome. It is actually quite nice. For me this is the sort of quiet Greek village that I enjoy and that I would return to. The beach is big, good and not too crowded. And around every corner you will find a new beach. You can take the bus to Aliki from the main town Parikia, or a (cheap) taxi. We always enjoy the walk from the small ferry harbour Punta along the coast to Aliki.
|The village of Piso Livadi on Paros
A slightly smaller village is Piso Livadi on the east coast of the island, overlooking the island Naxos. At a time the small ferry Scopelitos left here in the direction of Naxos and the small islands Cylades (Koufonissia, Schinoussa, Iraklia and Donoussa) towards the island of Amorgos. In the area of the village are many nice beaches, something for everyone. You can reach them walking a path along the coast towards the south walk to the large Chrisi Akti (= golden sand) beach, which is popular with windsurfers. Piso Livadi is a nice small village that is located in a protected bay. Here it is more quiet than in Parikia or Naoussa.
|The village of Lefkes on Paros
In the interior of Paros, you find the Chora and (temporary) ancient capital Lefkes. During the days of pirate attacks, the people of Paros were forced to move more inwards. Coastal villages were often abandoned and the people moved inland. Also Parikia was deserted by the people. Lefkes is quite authentic and not affected by tourism. The bus from Parikia comes through the village on its way to Piso Livadi.
|For those who love to cook...
No longer operating on Paros island, sorry... One of the nicest things I have ever done on Paros is visiting Eddy and Louisa. The have a cooking course on top of a mountain in the south of Paros, close to the village of Aliki with it's beautiful beaches. Louisa is a charming, hospitable lady with a big charisma, and Eddy is the the type of guy with a "rough" appearance, but with a big heart with plenty of space for everybody. We were welcomed so very warm and enthousiastic, and their place on the mountain is just fabulous. On two sides you look over the sea, and in the distance you can see the opposite island of Paros and several other islands. The sunset is unforgetable, and is much more beautiful than my picture can show. There is a serene silence, because there are no cars, and there are no people in the immediate suroundings. It's a place to relax and enjoy. Eddy and Louisa have singlehandedly rebuild and refurbished an old dilapedated traditional cycladic house and and turned it into a dreamhouse. On this spot Eddy gives cooking lessons: he takes the guests on a trip over the island of Paros to find wild herbs, takes them to the market to buy fresh ingredients, and he teaches them to make special Greek dishes in a simple way. I have had the privelige to have dinner at their place, so I can honestly say that Eddy is a wonderful cook, and that I can't remember having eaten such wonderful Greek food in years: really awesome. And the spot where they are situated is really unique! If you like peace and quiet, adventure, cozyness, and if you like the nature and like to cook, I can truly recommend this. Eddy had his own website (out of the air and no longer to be found), and he gives 3-day and 5-day courses.
|Yoga on Paros
A friend of mine who lives on a canal in Amsterdam during the wintertime (just like me...) is starting new yoga courses in the prettiest village of the island of Paros this year (Aliki, my favorite). Her name is Oona and she send me the following update on her plans: "Situated at the south of the island Paros, in the fishing village called Aliki, is the yoga studio of Jeanne and Oona, two yoga teachers (mother and daughter) from The Netherlands. During the winter they live and work in Amsterdam, and during the summer they organise 7-days yoga workshops on Paros. The groups are small; maximum ten people. Because of the small groups there is enough personal attention for everybody and therefor the classes are suitable for all levels. Also for people who never tried yoga before. Daily classes in English. Enough time left to enjoy the island. Jeanne was trained in India by mr B.K.S. Iyengar himself, more then 30 years ago, and started teaching from then on. Her daughter Oona started practicing at the same time with her mother and others (at the age of eight) and is teaching as well for the last 20 years" You can email Oona, call her at 00 30 69 79 351 951 or check out her website for more details.
|The beaches of Paros
There are so many beaches on Paros, it's hard to mention them all. A big part of the southcoast and the south eastcoast of the island of Paros consists of beaches, but also in the west between the cliffs you find some beaches (one of them with palmtrees even). In the north are the beaches of Santa Maria and Kolybithres (with a beautiful rock in the sea). Chrissi Akti is a small coast-village with a big beach. There are a few hotels and some restaurants. It's not very big. Chrissi Akti means 'Golden Beach'. They say it's the best beach in Paros, and it's populair with windsurfers, because of the high waves and the wind. Allthough it is indeed a very good beach, personally I prefer the more quiet small beaches. According to the guides the best beaches are all to be found in this area, but in the south there are just as many, just as good, and they are more quiet. Besides the big main beach of Chrissi Akti you will find plenty of more beaches in the direct surroundings.
The coastline between Piso Livadi and Chrissi Akti is very beautiful. We visited in may when it was still quiet and there were lots of flowers everywhere. On the walk you will find all kinds of beaches, some very quiet, some with beachchairs and more commercial like the beach at Punta (not to be confused with Punta the ferry-harbour in the southwest of Paros). Some beaches have almost no waves and around the corner you will find another that does. On Paros there is supposedly a naturist beach a bit north of Parikia (the capital) called Krios. Never been there though. Close to Santa Maria (north) we found a naturist beach (don't know the name, it can be reached via a path fron the lighthouse and from the neighbouring small "normal" beach and you can see Naoussa on the opposite side when you lie on it), and in the south between Aliki and Pounta there are many small beaches and it is so quiet we took our clothes off everywhere we liked. One of them is a larger beach at the end of an asphalt road somewhere in the middle. The other option is to take the small ferry or kaik to Antiparos where it is naturists' heaven. No umbrellas or facilities anywhere so bring your own water.
|The church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani in Parikia on Paros
This church in the center of parikia is better known as the church of a hundred doors. It is a major Byzantine monument 200 metres from the port. Tradition and history state that the church began life in the reign of Constantine the Great (280-337 AD). It consists of three parts build in different periods, and its name derives from the one hundred doors of which only 99 doors have been counted. It is said that the last door will reveal itself when the Greeks take Constantinople back from the Turks. The church was ruined in a 1773 earthquake, and rebuild again after that. Only the beltower has not been restored. This is why you can see the bels hanging outside the church beside the entrance in a big tree.
|The history of the island of Paros in Greece
The island of Paros has been inhabited since 3200 BC as are proving the excavations made on the islet of Saliagos, located between Paros and Antiparos. It probably formed one single island during ancient times, and seperated during an earthquake. Mythology tells us that King Alkaios of Crete was the first king, and that he build a city on the site of which is today known as the capital Parikia . Then fertile Paros was strategically positioned in the middle of the Cyclades. The Cretans turned it into a naval basis. In 1100 BC the Ionians defeated the Cretan Minoans and took over the rule of the island. In 1000 BC, Paros was taken by the Arcadians, that were lead by Parios, from who the island took its definitive name. After that the island became a maritime power. Part of the army of Paros army fought with the Persians, during the Persian wars, and were defeated by the Athenian army. In 338 BC, like all the Greek islands, Paros came under the rule of Philippe of Macedonia and became part of the Macedonian empire. When Alexander the Great (Philippes' son) died, Paros came under the control of the Egyptian Ptolemies, Alexanders successors.
The faith of the Greek islands is pretty much the same on each of them. The Romans took over the island, and after them the Byzantines. They brought Christianity to the island and build many churches, amongst which the most important monument from that period in Greece: the Church of Ekatontapiliani in Parikia. Between 1207 and 1389 Paros was ruled by the Venetians and after them by the Ottoman Turks. After de Greek revolution in 1821 Paros became part of the new Greek State.
|Sculpturing in marble for starters on the island of Paros
Greece and especially Paros are famous for their beautiful white marble and on the island of Paros you can take a look at the marble caves. The artist Jessy Boelen gives very special private lessons on the island of Antiparos. she teaches how to sculpt marble in the old Greek tradition and she does it in a very inspiring surrounding. There is no need for experience and it is not especially physically demanding. From 8 tot 15 May 2011 one of the courses is planned. More info you can find on her website.