Where to Go in Paros
Located in the heart of the Cyclades, Paros is often described as one of the best-kept secrets in the country, although the famous Venus de Milo and Napoleon’s tomb were both famously carved from Parian marble. The island is especially renowned for its beaches, ancient monuments like the sanctuary of Delian Apollo and Artemis as well as its lively nightlife. Occupied by everyone from the Cretans, Minoans, and Ionians to the Romans and Byzantines, among others, all have made their mark with plenty of history to explore.
You’ll find plenty of things to do here, including outstanding kitesurfing, windsurfing, and diving, while the picturesque villages and town are even more charming with the lack of crowds. As you plan your trip to Paros, you’ll want to put at least some of these places on your must-visit list.
The bustling capital of Paros is where most travelers arrive to and depart from which makes Parikia easy to visit no matter where you plan to stay. It’s home to the famous Church of 100 Doors, Panagia Ekatontapiliana, the most important historic landmark on the island which dates to the 4th-century, believed to have been established by the mother of Emperor Constantine, St. Helene.
Nearby is an archaeological museum and the ruins of a 13th-century Venetian castle. It’s not all about history here, however, with its waterfront lined with laid-back tavernas and lively bars, with the main ferry port in the middle and beach on either side. The top eateries, bars, and shops are located in the labyrinth of vehicle-free footpaths at the village center.
While Naoussa is a more modern, cosmopolitan town set within a bay at the island’s north. The Old Port houses a half-sunken 12th-century Venetian castle that was once quite stately, complete with two towers. Today, all that remains its partially submerged watchtower, but it’s a fascinating place to visit close to local bars that are ideal for sipping wine or another refreshing beverage after sightseeing.
You’ll enjoy exploring the Old Town’s stone paved streets and alleyways that are lined with whitewashed architecture, including churches, boutiques, a winery, and plenty of bougainvillea. Earlier in the day, it’s a tranquil place to stroll but after dark everything comes to life with lots of restaurants and bars offering outside tables for enjoying the atmosphere while people watching.
Paros Park is an environmental and cultural reserve spread across 800 acres, showcasing the beauty of the island with hidden coves, caves, natural cliffs, and beautiful beaches, along with an outdoor amphitheater that serves as a summer venue for theater and concerts. You’ll even find a free open-air movie theater for watching films with a spectacular backdrop of the sea.
This is also a great place for a scenic walk with a network of trails. The 3.9-mile loop trail is easy yet offers huge rewards with colorful wildflowers and spectacular views. Another route passes a prehistoric settlement, the Pro-Byzantine Monastery of Agios Ioannis Detis which is the spot where the Russian fleet headquarters once was during the Russians war with Turkey, as well as Cape Corakas lighthouse. The park’s central beach offers water sports facilities a café, and a beach bar.
Valley of the Butterflies
A hidden oasis, during the summer the Valley of the Butterflies is an incredible lush green park filled with countless butterflies. It’s just a few miles south of Parikia close to the Monastery of Jesus of Woods and every year when the warmer months arrive, Jersey Tiger Moths blanket the entire valley creating a jaw-dropping sight. One of the few places in the world they can be found, the valley’s trees have a sweet aroma that draws them like a magnet.
In September, the females lay their eggs on the trees just before dying and a month later the caterpillars emerge, eventually becoming butterflies the following May. While most of the butterflies sleep during the day, if you look closely, you’ll see hundreds on the trees and some flying, revealing an vibrant red hue on the undersides of their wings.
Moraitis Wine Museum
While there are multiple museums worth visiting on the island, the Moraitis Wine Museum in Naoussa, is a must-visit as one of the most interesting. It sits at the hub of the fishing village and displays a massive collection of wines made by local producers.
Founded over a century ago, it’s been run by the same family ever since, passing from generation to generation. It includes a winemaking center, storage and production areas along with an old winery where visitors can explore the wine museum and underground aging cellars before enjoying samples in the wine tasting hall. The winery owns organic vineyard in multiple cultivation areas, mostly featuring the island’s indigenous varieties like Vaftra, Mandilaria, Monemvasia, and Aidani Black. Other well-known Greek varieties such as Assyrtiko are cultivated too.
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