Paros is an island in the heart of the Cyclades Islands in Greece with population of around 12,500 and 120kms of beautiful coastline and has a bit of everything you’d expect from an island in the Cyclades archipelago – whitewashed villages, blue-domed churches, serene landscapes, fishing harbours overlooked by taverna tables, plus lively bars and cafés complemented by endless sandy beaches with azure blue waters. The landscape is perhaps not the most dramatic, with its modest 771-metre (2,530ft) -high Ágii Pándes summit, but from the ring road the views out to sea over dozens of surrounding islands are unbeatable. The length of the island is around 22 km, and it measures around 13 km at its widest point. It takes about 30 minutes to drive the longest way (north to south) from one end of the island to the other.
Successively occupied by Cretans, Minoans, Ionians, Arcadians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantians and others, who’ve all made their mark on this large, hilly and fertile island, Paros has been tagged as primarily a ferry hub in recent times. Yet Paros’ bustling capital with its ancient remains, the resort town of Naoussa and sweet rural villages are all the more charming for their relative lack of crowds compared to the more popular Cycladic islands of Mykonos and Santorini.
Geologically speaking, Paros has long been a Greek star; white marble drawn from the island’s interior made the island prosperous from the Early Cycladic period onwards. Most famously, the Venus de Milo was carved from Parian marble, as was Napoleon’s tomb.
On this small island old men sit beneath ancient oak trees playing backgammon and the hippies who washed up here in the 1970s still revel in it’s traditional simplicity. These isles have been drawing writers and artists seeking escape for centuries. In the early 19th century Lord Byron inscribed his signature in a cave at the southern end of Antiparos, a place where millennia-old stalactites and stalagmites spiral into the darkness. Truman Capote, having just finished Breakfast at Tiffany’s, spent the summer of 1958 on Paros. Throughout his long stay in Parikia, he worked on the text for Richard Avedon’s Observations, the photographer’s first collection of portraits, and read Proust and Chandler. He also began writing Answered Prayers, his final, and famously unfinished novel.
Time stands still on Paros. The alchemy of this wonderful island is restorative, cathartic, elemental – swimming every day in the sea, walking through the amber pastures of arid farmlands and historic villages, eating the simple traditional Greek dishes you’ll find at every little taverna, and enjoying a cocktail at the waterside – it is just as Cecil Beaton wrote while staying with Truman Capote on the island, “life is nothing but sleep, swim, eat and read”.
Antiparos, a quiet and pristine island set adjacent to busy Paros, is a beautiful place to chill out and it is suitable for young singles, solo travellers, couples and families. Imagine a whitewashed town with cats wandering around narrow streets and colourful bougainvilleas hanging over blue doors, pristine sandy beaches and a vibrant yet nostalgic nightlife. Welcome to Antiparos!
Although super tiny, Antiparos Island is perfect for either a short escape or a longer relaxing holiday by the sea. You can also visit Antiparos for a day trip however, we strongly advise against that unless there is absolutely no time for you to enjoy at least an overnight stay here.
It was known in ancient times as Oliaros, which means a wooded mountain, and lies one nautical mile southwest of Paros. Once you get to Paros, you can reach Antiparos by ferry from Paroikia (30 minutes) or from Pounda (seven minutes). Renting a car or scooter is recommended, as the buses do not run at night.
Antiparos Town or Hora as it is known by the locals, is the capital and harbour of Antiparos island. The waterfront is filled with cafes and fish restaurants and the street that leads into the village is lined with cool cafes, boutiques, Greek and Italian bistros and restaurants, gift shops, craft and art galleries. In the center of the town is a Genovese fortress from around the 14th century, with a small museum in the centre of it.
The most important site on the island is the Cave of Antiparos which was discovered in 1673 but is mentioned by the lyric poet Archilochus in the 6th Century BC. People have been climbing down into the cave for hundreds of years and carving their names and the dates in the stalagmites and stalactites hundreds of feet below. There are now 411 stairs that go all the way to the heart of the cave. Historical signatures carved into the rock include Lord Byron, King Otto and Queen Amalia who visited the cave in 1840 would not leave until she saw every inch and read every signature.
Swimming, diving or sailing around Agios Georgios beach is a must. Cool turquoise waters, volcanic formations that have created coves, bridges, and caves one can swim through or dive into will add one more memorable experience.
For the young and the young at heart, Antiparos has one of the legendary open-air discotheques in Greece, a remnant of the late 1970s disco craze. It is the last disco in the Aegean and one of the last in Greece overall and one must dance to a classic rock tune there at least once.
But, whatever you choose to do, don’t miss the chance to watch the sunset at Sifneiko Beach. The latter looks towards Sifnos Island, hence its name. In order to get to the beach, you have to walk an easy and utterly picturesque path that starts from the main square. Just follow the signs to Sifneiko or Sunset Beach to enjoy one of the best sunsets you will ever experience.
Once you arrive on this island paradise, you’ll lose track of time. In the summer every day is languid whether you are strolling the streets of Antiparos town, swimming off long sandy beaches with crystal-clear water, sailing around the island with one of the local captains or exploring Despotiko, an uninhabited nearby island that is the home of an important archaeological excavation.
By the way, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Pierce Brosnan and several other famous people all have villas on this tiny island.