With warm weather, white houses and the beautiful pink bougainvillea flowers that everybody on Instagram is obsessed about, Paros, part of Greece’s Cyclades islands, is a beautiful destination for those who are looking to relax at the beach, attend cultural events and try the best greek dishes. Luckily, while the new Santorini, as people call Paros, is starting to see an increase in crowds, the island is still considered off the beaten path for the massive tourism and offers incredible beaches on a budget.
From how to get there to how to spend 3 days on the island, this Paros travel guide will help you plan your holidays and enjoy your time in Parosdise. For a more complex understanding of the island, you can read the full travel guide of Paros or use the following table of contents to skip right to your favorite part:
Travel guide: how to get to Paros
Paros can be reached by boat or by plane. Because of its location, Paros port is well connected with Athens and many of the Cyclades Islands so it is simpler to just arrive by ferry. However, if you wish to hop on a plane, Paros airport was renovated in 2016 and receives flights from Greece capital.
Flight to Paros
Paros National Airport is located about 6.2 miles/10 kilometers from Parikia, the main port of the island, and can be reached by public transport ($3.50 one way ticket) or taxi (around $15 from/to Parikia).
While the airport was renovated in 2016, the truth is that it doesn’t cover many routes so most of the visitors choose to arrive by ferry to the island. As of 2019, these are the flights coming to the island:
Flights from Athens to Paros
Olympic Air operates around 8 daily flights from Athens to the island, while Sky Express has between 1 or 3 flights, depending on the season. The cost of these tickets can range between $120 (high season tickets booked one week in advance) or $60 (low season tickets booked three months in advance)
Flights from Thessaloniki to Paros
During the summer months, Astra Airlines and Olympic Air also offer direct flights from Thessalonica to the island that range from $60 to $150 depending on how far in advance you book your tickets.
Flight from Cyclades Islands to Paros
If you are coming from other islands like Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Naxos, etc, you can arrive to Paros by plane but you will have to do a layover in Athens.
Ferry to Paros
The easiest way of arriving at Paros from Athens, Santorini or other islands in the Cyclades is by ferry. Paro’s port is located in Parikia, the main center of the island along with Naoussa, and from there you can catch the local buses that serve the whole island, or, why not, find a nice beachfront hotel in Parikia!.
While it is not mandatory to book your tickets in advance, we recommend you to do it without hesitation if you are coming to the island during the summer season (mid-June through mid-September) or during major holidays like Easter.
Tip: There are many price comparison websites where you can check timetables and prices from many different Greek ferry companies. Because many of these websites charge an extra fee when booking with them, 3 Days Abroad recommend Ferry Hopper since they don’t charge this extra fee and they event offer lower prices from time to time.
Ferry from Santorini to Paros
One of the most frequently asked questions about arriving to Paros is: How long is the ferry from Santorini to Paros? The ferry from Santorini to Paros can take between 1 hour, 4 minutes to 5 hours, 35 minutes depending on whether you are taking a high-speed ferry or a conventional one. Companies like Golden Star Ferries offers direct high-speed ferries from Santorini to Paros during high season, while Sea Jet has the longest ferry options.
When it comes to prices, the average ferry ticket from Santorini to Paros is $30 EU but you can find deals starting at $23 EU or more expensive tickets at $45. Since this route tends to sell out during the summer months, it is best to buy your Santorini – Paros tickets at least one week in advance.
Blue Star Ferry, one of the companies that go from Santorini to Paros
Ferry from Athens to Paros
Ferries from Athens to Paros always depart from Piraeus port, however, during the summer months, you will also find ferries departing from Rafina port. Whether it is best to go from Athens to Paros using Piraeus or Rafina ports depends on where are you staying in Athens, since both of the ferry companies serving those routes have an average duration of 3 hours, with some exceptions like Sea Jet’s Piraeus – Paros route that takes 2 hours, 45 minutes, and the Golden Star Ferries route from Rafina to Paros that takes around 6 hours.
A ferry trip from Athens to Paros can cost you between $50 EU and $125. Chances are that if you book last minute you will only find tickets starting at $100 EU.
Cruise to Paros
No Paros travel guide could be complete without mentioning that another way to reach the island is taking a cruise. While you won’t have as much time to explore it as if you were arriving by plane or boat, a cruise is an excellent way of exploring Greece and taste the best of each island in a short amount of time. However, you should keep in mind that the more budget-friendly cruises like Royal Caribbean and Costa Cruceros don’t stop at Paros so you should expect to pay more for a luxury yacht trip.
Some of the cruise companies that have a port of call in Paros are:
- Azamara Cruises: With ships departing on August 2020 and 2021, their Greece Intensive Voyage offers 10 deluxe days of island hopping between the Cyclades. Prices start at $3000 USD.
- Crystal Cruises: From April to November 2020, you can join this six-star service cruise company and sail the Aegean ocean. While the prices may vary according to the length of the trip, Greek cruises with this company can range from $6000 to $13000 USD per person.
Best place to stay in Paros
The best place to stay in Paros depends on which transportation you will be using in the island. If you are looking to move around Paros in public transportation, the best place to stay is Parikia or Naoussa. However, if you are willing to rent a motorbike or a car you will have more options to choose from.
Staying in Parikia – the best place to stay in Paros
Parikia is the main transportation hub of Paros and where the main port is located. There are 3 main reasons that make Parikia one of the best places to look for a hotel on the island:
- You can reach every spot on the island from the main bus station, including the airport
- Parikia Town Center is full of shops and great restaurants that are open and crowded not only in the high season but also in winter months
- Livadia beach is located in Parikia. While it is not the most exotic beach in Paros, it is good to have a beach that you can access by walking distance for those days when you don’t want to move around too much
One thing to notice about the best places to stay in Paros, is that it is hard to find luxury accommodation like the one you could easily spot in Santorini (think about those $500 per night caldera view hotels in Oia) or Mykonos (how many of us dream about staying at Cavoo Tagoo hotel at least one night?). However, there are a lot of clean and nice hotels that can range from $40 to $200 per night.
Below you will find our choice of the best places to stay in Paros:
- Argonauta Hotel: located just in front of Parikia’s bus station, this cozy hotel is just in the center of the action and its rooms have the traditional greek style but are modern and cozy at the same time. One of the best things about Argonauta is the free breakfast that is served by a waitress that is waiting to take your order to bring you the best greek pastries. This hotel has an average rate of $140 per night with prices starting at $80 during the low season.
- Grozos Rooms: this a family-owned hotel located almost in front of Livadia Beach and 8 minutes away from Parikia’s port and bus station. Because it not only offers double rooms but also apartments, Grozos Rooms is perfect for families and couples on a budget looking for a clean and centrally located apartment. This hotel has an average rate of $80 per night for a double room, with prices starting at $50 during September and going as high as $100 for an apartment during August that can host up to 4 people.
Staying in Naoussa – the most charming town of Paros
Naoussa is a small fishing village located in the north of Paros with charming views and Greek facades. The main transportation hub of the island is Parikia, but from Naoussa, you can get to the Golden Beach, Santa Maria Beach, and the lovely town of Lefkes without having to switch buses at Parikia.
In general, Naoussa has a more upscale look and so are its hotels. If you are planning on visiting Paros during the summer, then Naoussa is one of the best places to stay in Paros. However, during the winter months, this part of the island lacks of people, so the general advice is to stay in Parikia and rent a car or take a bus to visit Naoussa for a day.
For a relaxing stay in Naoussa we recommend the following hotels:
- Quartano Luxury Cycladic Residence: is the perfect choice to celebrate a special occasion in Naoussa. The outdoor swimming pool is spectacular and the rooms are modern, big and some of them have hydromassage or jacuzzi inside. The average price of a basic double room can cost around $150 per night and you can have a two-bedroom suite for up to 4 people for $360.
- Madaki Hotel: this hotel is an excellent choice for those looking for clean accommodation located right in the center of the action in Naoussa. The rooms are decorated with beach vibes and you can expect to pay between $50 and $85 according to the season
If you are coming in a large group, Naoussa is full of beautiful villas overlooking the ocean that can cost the same or even less than a hotel when you split the rate with your friends or family. We have gathered a list of Airbnb’s in Naoussa that are worth checking out:
- Beach house in Paros for up to 6 guests with ocean views
- Blue Mare Villas with jacuzzi and swimming pool for up to 6 guests
- Big Blue Sea Front Villa with a 180 degrees view of the Aegean sea for up to 10 guests
3 Days in Paros itinerary
There are many things to see and do in Paros but the good thing about this island is that, if you are short on time, you can have a great sneak peek of it in just 3 days. The purpose of this travel guide of Paros is to gather the best things to do there and mix them in a fun itinerary that will let you rest, enjoy and see.
Paros travel guide: Day 1
One of the best ways to start discovering Paros is to wander around Parikia Town. Start your day at one of the breakfast cafes located in front of the port and then start walking inside the town to check local fashion brands, traditional Greek houses, and many souvenir shops.
After wandering around for a while, head to the Monastery of Panagia Ekatontapiliani, also located in Parikia Town. The “church of the 100 doors”, as is known for, dates from 326 AC and was founded by the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great when she stopped on Paros during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land in search of Jesus Christ’s Cross.
Right behind the church, you will find the Archeological Museum of Paros, one of the most important museums of Greece because of the large collection of exhibitions founded during Paros and Antiparos excavations. One of the most fascinating things that you will find at the museum is the marble statue of Nike that dates back from 470 BC.
After a morning discovering Parikia it is now time to relax and head to the beach. Any of the beaches on the island are going to make you feel like you were in paradise so it is difficult to choose one, but, if we must do it, Golden Beach definitely makes our list as one of the most beautiful beaches in Paros thanks to its blue water, great beach facilities (there are many beach bars with reasonable prices + two beach chairs and an umbrella can cost you between $12 and $20 EU) and the great offer of water sports. In fact, this beach is popular among locals and tourists because of the Professional Windsurfing World Cup that takes place during August.
If you decide to not rent a car, Parikia bus station has direct buses from the town center to Golden Beach.
After a good sunbathing session there is no better plan than getting back to your hotel and take a shower, but don’t take too long because our last destination of the day is Naoussa. The best thing to do in Naoussa is to simply wander around this charming village, so prepare to get lost, shop a lot and eat a lot.
If you want to try fish dishes Naoussa’s harbor is the place on the island. If you can’t decide where to sit for a special evening, Barbarossa is located just in the harbor, has amazing views and the best grilled octopus.
Paros travel guide: Day 2
On your second day on the island you are going to hop on a ferry (don’t worry it will only cost you $1.30 EU) and discover the beautiful island of Antiparos. Smaller than Paros, Antiparos is a delightful island that seems to have been taken out of a fairytale and has only 200 habitants, with Tom Hanks being one of them.
For the celebrity lovers: Tom Hanks is super engaged with the Antiparos community and is always involved in the cultural events that the island holds (for example the Short Movie Festival that happens every year). Because in Antiparos he is just your-next-door-neighborhood, it is not unusual that tourists spot him wandering around Antiparos Town
Before starting your adventure, don’t forget to have a Greek breakfast! If you are staying in Parikia a good place to try Greek pastries (and have a super cheap breakfast too!) is The Bakery, located just in front of the harbor between the port and Livadia beach. In Naoussa, a great place to start your day is Ragoussis Bakery:
To take the ferry from Paros to Antiparos you need to head to Punda port, if you have rented a car or a motorbike you can hop on the ferry with it for an extra fee of $2 EU. If you are relying on public transportation, you will need to take a bus from Parikia station to Punda Port.
Once you reach the port, hop on the ferry as soon as you see it, the ticket booth is inside the ferry so don’t worry about paying. Ferries from Paros to Antiparos come and go quite often but it is always recommended to have the ferry timetable in hand.
TIP: Paros is well connected by public transport, and Antiparos has a hop on hop off bus that will cost you $6 EU for a day and will take you to all the main tourist places, so, at least for this day, we think it is a waste of money to hire a car since you won’t be needing it very much
Antiparos port is right next to Antiparos Town so this is the first place where you can start your Antiparos adventure. During the morning the streets will be quiet and not many shops will be open, but it is an excellent opportunity to have a photoshoot around the island and sightsee locals doing their day to day activities (for example, there is a real modern gym in the town and you will spot many people going there for a morning routine). While exploring the town, don’t forget to check the Church of Agios Nikolaos, the cathedral of the island, and the Venetian Castle of Antiparos, which was built in 1440 when the Venetian Giovanni Loredano married Maria Sommaripa of Antiparos.
After your morning stroll, head again to the Antiparos Port. Right where the ferry left you, there will be a bus stop that will charge you $6 EU for a full tour around the island. The first stop of the bus is the Cave of Antiparos and it is where you are heading too.
The cave of Antiparos is believed to be the oldest cave in Greece but wasn’t discovered until 1673 when the French ambassador to Constantinople, Marquis de Nouadel, stepped inside for the first time. The stalagmite that is at the entrance is the oldest in Europe and it was used as an altar for a mass performed by the order of the Marquis. Since then, the cave became a sacred place for Greek Christians.
The cost of entering the cave is $6 EU and the bus will come back for you every hour. You can also ask the driver for the exact time of the return.
Agios Giorgios Beach
After feeling like Indiana Jones inside Antiparos Cave, it is time to get back to the bus and head to the beach for a while. Antiparos has many beautiful beaches with crystal water to soak some sun, but what we recommend for a one day adventure on the island is Agios Georgios, which is the last stop of the bus. This beach is located in one of the most expensive towns of Antiparos so the bus views, while you are heading to the beach, are spectacular since you can see the ocean and the incredible Greek mansions where locals live.
Agios Georgios is perfect for a one day visit because there are many things to do nearby, you can choose to do nothing and relax at an uninhabited beach (you can rent an umbrella and there are also many water sports activities but that it’s it, there won’t be any food shops at the actual beach) or take a boat trip around the island and visiting Despotiko island that is just in front of Agios Georgios (expect to pay around $35 EU per person).
The bus will stop at the entrance of the beach where you will see many waterfront restaurants offering delicious fish dishes, all of the places there are recommended for lunch with a view. For the beach, you need to walk a few steps to the right.
After the beach, the bus will take you back to town. From there, you can come back to Paros or enjoy an evening at Antiparos. Ferries come and go between the island until 2 am so it is a great opportunity to discover the vibe of Antiparos at night and have a nice dinner and cocktails.
Paros travel guide: Day 3
Sailing cruise around Paros
An excellent way of ending your trip to Paros is to take a sailing cruise around the Cyclades. There are many boat owners in Parikia port and you can arrange a private day trip around the island with any of them.
If you are looking to hire a private boat, expect to pay around $450 – $500 EU for a 6 hours trip in a small boat with skipper included. For this option, we recommend you contacting Paros Rent a Boat, a well-known boat company on the island.
If you are traveling on your own or with a partner and can’t afford a private boat, for $155 EU per person you can book a 10-hour semi-private boat tour that will take you to the islands of Iraklia, Schinoussa, Naxos and Despotikos. The trip includes lunch, wine, snacks, and beverages and can be booked in advance through Get Your Guide
If you want to take the best pictures during your boat trip around Paros, check the tutorial that we made of how to take underwater pictures with your iPhone like a pro!
Santa Maria Beach
If a boat trip around the island is out of your budget, don’t worry, there are many beautiful beaches to visit in Paros! Santa Maria beach is at the northeastern end of the island and one of the best things about this beach is that is well protected from the winds.
Santa Maria beach is full of facilities and you can expect to pay between $20 and $30 EU for two beds and an umbrella. Because it is just 3km away from Naoussa, we recommend you to end the day at the port town and drink a goodbye cocktail at Sante Cocktail Bar.