What to Do in Paros
Located in the heart of the Cyclades with 75 miles of coastline, countless idyllic sandy beaches edged by brilliant blue waters along with serene landscapes that include rolling hills and lush valleys dotted with monasteries and little churches, Paros is a true gem. There are whitewashed towns and villages, ancient ruins and monuments, and no shortage of enticing cafes, tavernas and bars.
Parikia, the main port, is a maze of winding, stone paved streets that sit beneath a castle made from the marble of an ancient temple. The island is synonymous for its high-quality marble, quarried here in ancient times, used for iconic sculptures like the Venus de Milo. To top it all off, prices are reasonable, and the locals are friendly too.
While you could simply relax and enjoy the picturesque scenery, the list of things to do is long, with these top options just the start.
Stroll the Streets of Parikia
Exploring Parikia, the capital, is a joy, particularly the Old Town, clustered around the castle’s hill. You’ll find typical Cycladic whitewashed architecture and homes with blue doors, shutters and balconies that make it fun just to wander. Some of the highlights include the 13th-century Kastro which was built on the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Athena.
Don’t miss the 4th-century Church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani, one of the country’s major Byzantine monuments, more often referred to as the “Church of 100 Doors.” Legend tells that 99 doors have been found in the church and that the one-hundredth will be discovered when Constantinople (Istanbul) is returned to Greece. You might also stop at the ancient cemetery to see the tombs that date back to the 8th-century BC. For an original cocktail and the chance to mingle with the locals, end your day at Pirate, a tiny hole-in-the-wall bar behind the Kastro.
Explore the Archaeological Museum of Paros
If you have any interest in ancient Greece, don’t miss a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Paros where you can discover all sorts of fascinating artifacts uncovered throughout the island, displayed in indoor and outdoor exhibits that range from sculptures and pottery to sarcophagi. While it has just two rooms and a courtyard, it’s jam-packed with items that include many finds from Neolithic to Roman times.
The statue of Gorgon which dates to the 6th-century BC is remarkably well-preserved and something not-to-be-missed, with other highlights including the 5th-century BC statues of Artemis and Nike along with the relief plates from memorial for poet Archilocus who lived during the 7th-century BC. Outside you’ll find a lapidarium with a Roman mosaic, urns, and funerary friezes.
Discover Paros’ 5,000-Year-Old Winemaking Tradition on a Wine and Herbs Tour
Winemaking goes back more than 5,000 years on Paros. A wine tour is a great way to learn all about it while enjoying tastings too. One of the most popular options is a gastronomic excursion that focuses on wine and herbs on the island. It will bring you to mountainous Lefkes village where fragrant herbs grow in the wild to learn about their medicinal and culinary uses in the past and present, followed by terraced vineyards that have produced Lefkian wine for centuries.
You’ll meet the owner, walking around the vines as he fills you in on the local varieties, cultivation, and traditional vinification methods. Afterward, a picnic will be waiting for you under the shade of soaring plane trees, featuring a generous tasting of four wines, Parian cheese, traditional Greek cold cuts, olives, salad, and a locally cooked vegetarian dish.
There are so many postcard-perfect beaches on Paros, you might want to go beach-hopping to find your favorite. You’ll find stretches for waters ports like windsurfing and diving as well as secluded beaches for peaceful contemplation and sunbathing.
Faragas sits at the head of one of the small coves that lie between the rugged headlands on the south coast where you’ll find gorgeous sands and calm water protected from the wind. It includes a bar that offers sun lounger rentals and full waiter service for dining and drinking.
Golden Beach, in the southeast, is one of the most popular, with shallow transparent blue waters as well as restaurants and bars with opportunities to rent loungers and umbrellas. Many feel Marcello is the best beach, but it isn’t the busiest despite providing full waiter service, a white crescent of sand and swimming pool-like water.
Visit the Venetian Castle and Other Attractions in Naoussa
Paros’ Venetian occupation in Paros lasted from the early 13th-century, when the Duchy of Naxos was founded by Marco Sanudo, through 1537, when the island was looted by Ottoman pirate Barbarossa. A key commercial port in Venetian times, due to the increasing threat from the Ottoman Empire, a fort was built to guard the island around the turn of the 14th-century.
Today, you’ll see a small circular tower that still stands, burrowed with casemates, with the walls of the castle beneath the sea. The fort and the sunken walls are all that remain. It can be reached on foot from the harbor, and visitors can look through the firing positions for a stunning perspective of the village’s white and blue waterfront. Afterward, you might want to explore Naoussa’s Byzantine Museum which showcases works of art from prehistoric times to the Byzantine era.
Discover the Endless Butterflies in Petaloudes
The Valley of the Butterflies, officially known as Petaloudes (Butterfly in Greek), is just a few miles south of Parikia near the Monastery of Jesus of Woods. If you visit during the summer, the valley will be exceptionally verdant, blanketed with Jersey Tiger moths with vibrant red hues on the underside of their wings.
It’s a remarkably stunning natural phenomenon with the butterflies drawn to the fragrance of the trees, where most will be found sleeping during the day, although there are almost always some flittering about so that you can take in the full glory of their beauty.
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