The stars of the Cycladic Islands are Mykonos and Santorini, holiday gems that people flock to. But Paros is the secret charmer. It’s green, beautiful and relaxing and Cycladic down to its white-painted houses, blue-domed churches and pretty blue tables and chairs perched on quaysides.
It has about 40 beaches, lots of water sports, an aqua park beside the sea, resorts to chill-out in, tranquil villages, trendy bars and boutique-like shops, a bustling main port with a picturesque old town, loads of lovely tavernas and lively nightlife.
There is a butterfly valley, a mountain, spectacular views of the many islands that surround Paros, quarries that produced flawless white marble for famous classical statues and a marble-paved footpath built a thousand years ago.
So what hasn’t Paros got? Although it gets busy in peak summer months it doesn’t get the massive crowds of the better-known islands. But the secret of this Cyclades charmer is getting out. Here’s why.
Parikia, the main town, has a traditional harbour, a lovely old quarter of stylish, traffic-free lanes packed with white-painted shops, bars and cafes. There’s an impressive church that dates back to the 4rd century called Our Lady of the Hundred Gates, even though no one has ever found more than 99.
Naoussa, on the north-coast, is chic and beautiful. At its heart is a labyrinth of lanes full of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes in white-painted buildings and spread around a picturesque little harbour often packed with colourful fishing boats. It even has a partly sunken castle. Naoussa is a great place to be in the evenings.
There are beaches of all kinds, some with fantastic facilities. The lovely, sandy Gold Coast beaches on the east coast have hosted spectacular international windsurfing events. Other beaches are quiet, and secluded.
Pretty Lefkes is a flower-filled Greek village, where the ancient Byzantine Trail provides a lovely countryside walk. There are potters and weavers, a cathedral and a hidden café in Lefkas. One of many delightful finds on a charming island.