Paros’ charm is everything you would expect in the Cyclades – sandy beaches, whitewashed villages with winding cobblestone streets, cafes and restaurants overlooking the fishing harbour and plenty of churches and historical sites. It’s a quaint but authentic Greek island without the crowds and dramatic mountainous landscape which characterises much of Santorini and Mykonos.
The ferry is the easiest way to get there if you’re coming from Athens or another Cycladic island. It takes around an hour and a half from Santorini. The first thing I noticed on the way to the hotel just outside the island’s capital of Parikia is how arid and flat the landscape is. As you travel from the built up town centre surrounding the ferry port, the shops, cafes and hotels become further and further apart. It’s a stark contrast to Thira and Oia where everything is packed into the cliff faces.
We’d seen our face share of draw-droopingly beautiful sunsets in Santorini but we thought why not catch another to throw into the Greek sunset memory cache. This one was pretty spectacular, largely due to the lack of crowds. We’d checked out the world famous Oia a few days beforehand and I was more interested in how so many people comfortably packed themselves onto rooftops and the woman beside me taking photos on her iPad than the sun itself. Anyway, in Paros we sat on the wall outside an old quintessential Greek, blue-roofed church above the port, sans crowds. Warm pinks and oranges lit up the sky and it stayed a peachy, cotton candy colour well after the sun dipped below the horizon. Stunning.
Another one for the bucket list is Paros’ beaches. They’re sandy so you can actually comfortably lie on the beach without random rocks stabbing into your back. The water is crystal clear and refreshing, albeit very flat. In late-summer it was still hot and humid but most of the holiday crowds had departed or favoured some of the larger islands in the Aegean Sea. The island is famous for its water activities and there are various horse riding tours you can embark upon to explore more of the islands and its beaches.
Paros feels like one of the more authentic, quaint islands as it’s off the beaten tourist path and has a more relaxed vibe. There is a maze of alleyways to get lost in in town and stumble across churches, old buildings, shops, cafes and of course it wouldn’t be a Greek island without a plethora of roaming cats.