Paros or Naxos – Where to Go

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by Santorini Dave • Updated: June 4, 2018

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Paros and Naxos are 2 of my favorite islands in Greece. When people ask what island to visit in Greece my first answer is Santorini and my 2nd is usually Naxos or Paros (with Crete close behind – though Crete requires at least one to two weeks to fully explore). Both Paros and Naxos have better beaches than Santorini.

Both Naxos and Paros are a short ferry ride from Santorini. If you’re considering visiting another island after Santorini then Naxos and Paros should be at the top of your list. The following is an excerpt from a travel forum from a long-time resident of Greece that I’ve lightly edited (with permission, of course).

Paros or Naxos – Summary

  • Both have great beaches but Naxos has slightly better ones.
  • Both have amazing restaurants that serve wonderful local food.
  • Paros has a better nightlife and feels a little trendier with more boutique hotels.
  • Naxos is slightly more family-friendly.

Paros vs Naxos

This is not a question of which is the “better” island. But which is the most suitable? Suitable for your interests, requirements, and limitations on the particular trip. What is suitable for someone in one trip may not be suitable to the same person on another trip, and of course what is suitable to one person may not be suitable to someone else…

Paros and Naxos are very similar in some aspects, very different on others.

Size and characteristics

Naxos is the 2nd larger island on Cyclades, Paros the 3rd. Both are quite large. Naxos has a mountainous interior, Paros has a hilly interior. In both islands, there are great beaches to be found all around their periphery. Both islands are quite fertile comparing to other islands, but mostly Naxos keeps the agriculture tradition alive, while on Paros more and more people quit these occupations and rely on tourism. On both islands, there are people living from herding and fishing, not so many as they used to some years ago.

Naxos Town (The Chora).

Naxos Town is the wonderful capital and main port of Naxos.

Orientation and Moving Around

On Paros center of activity for locals is the capital town, Parikia, but a huge part of economic life, trades and services is to be found in Naoussa too. On Naxos, the center of activity is Chora (Naxos Town). Parikia and Naoussa are port towns, but Parikia seems a bit more chaotic, because Paros is the ultimate ferry hub of the Cyclades and not only, and it gets a lot of ferry traffic. Furthermore, maybe due to altitude and local architecture characteristics, the “couleur local” is more obvious when approaching Naxos Town, while you have to explore more in-depth Parikia to discover its charm. Both towns have their old town part, with Cycladic architecture, narrow lanes, arcs, and a Castro area. Both towns have very decent sandy beach attached to them. Naoussa is a very scenic little port with a tiny Venetian “castle” ruin, backed up by the old Naoussa Town with its charming lanes and arcs etc, and an expanding surrounding area, highly commercialized.

Parikia, the largest town on Paros.

Parikia, the largest town on Paros.

Moving around on Public Transport is much easier in Paros than on Naxos. There are many buses per day, starting early morning departing Parikia and Naoussa towards most parts of the island, especially during high season, making life easier for visitors wanting to explore villages, beaches etc. On Naxos, bus schedules don’t take into consideration a visitor’s wishes. Buses are oriented towards serving the local population, so most early buses depart from other parts of Naxos towards the Chora, and later on afternoon there are buses from Chora to the villages, making life easier for locals, but difficult for visitors. Exception on this rule is the excellent bus route connecting Chora to Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna and Plaka, and sometimes even more southern beaches.

Car/moto hire is widely available in both islands. The road system is very decent too. Paros is flatter, and most of the inhabited parts of the island are to be found by the coast. It is easy to do an all around the island tour on a day. Naxos is much more mountainous and its town and villages are spread all around the place. There isn’t an all around the island circular route really. Road network is better on the west coast where most of the activity is located, while there are a lot of curves as you move inland. In order to reach the villages and beaches on the east, you have to climb up the mountain Zas and go down the other way. Roads on this side of the island are full of hairpin curves, while when on the east coast if you want to explore further than the actual towns, you have to use bumpy unsurfaced roads. The same applies of course to the very south of the island, and part of the very north of the island.

On Paros, boat “taxis” connect Parikia and Naoussa with near by beaches.

Villages

Most towns/villages on Paros are to be found on sea-side locations. Due to good travel network and exactly their particular location, most of them have some tourism involved, which is very basic and low-key in places such as Drios or Aliki, or a bit more evident as in Punda Beach and more recently Pounda Antiparou and Piso Livadi. There are some inland villages too, more notable been Lefkes of course. Lefkes is a very beautiful traditional village, well-kept and very developed recently in a good way- some high-quality shops and galleries around, taverns keeping the traditional ways, citizens coming back to renovate their old houses according to local architecture etc.

Naoussa on Paros.

Naoussa on Paros.

On Naxos, maybe most villages are to be found inland rather than sea-side. There are seaside resorts such as Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna, which already charming have gone maybe a bit too commercial, but in general, most places on Naxos are untouched by tourism and preserve a strong local character and their own pace of life. There are some seaside towns such as Apollonas that get some amount of visitors, but places such as Lionas or Moutsouna, maybe because they are hard to reach, remain mainly the same as they used to be 20 years ago. Some inland villages such as Halki and Filoti or Apiranthos, take a fair amount of daily visitors, while others such as Potamia villages hardy see any tourist. Time seems to stand still in villages such as Koronos.

Beaches

Both islands are famous for their nice beaches, mostly sandy ones. But there are any kind of beach one could favor in both islands. On Paros there are super-busy organized places such as Punda Beach or Santa Maria or the popular Golden Beach, while on Naxos there is St George Beach, Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Plaka… On Paros there is the (still) unorganized quaint Molos – with its neighborhood Kalogiros beach where one can cover oneself with a therapeutic mold – or Tripiti and Glyfa where one can often be alone, while on Naxos there are Kastraki, Pyrgaki, Mikri Vigli, Aliki or even Ayiassos. On Paros there is nudism at Laggeri while on Naxos at Plaka.

The difference on Paros is that most locals advertise even the smallest beach such as Farangas or Lolandonis, while on Naxos, if you want to go a bit off the beaten track you have to discover everything your self. Beaches such as Kalandos, Hilia Vrisi, Pinelo or Psili Ammos are rarely mentioned on Naxos, although they rate from very decent to excellent ones. On both islands you can discover your own favorite place, as there are small coves and beaches almost everywhere.

Plaka Beach on Naxos.

Plaka Beach on Naxos.

Archeological Museums and Ancient Sites

Both islands share a very common ancient history, and n both places important artifacts have been discovers. Both Parikia and Naxos have one small but very interesting archeological museum each. On both towns there is one ancient site, important but not hugely impressive (the one in Naxos covered, the one on Parikia just railed around.Both free). I may be wrong as I didn’t have time to explore to a huge extent this aspect on Paros, but although there are many ancient locations identified as such, there is not much left to see. For example you follow signs to ancient Akropolis Koukounaries above Kolybithres beach, towards Kamares village, and you see literally nothing. Naxos does not have a highly impressive site, but there is, of course, the charming Portara, and there are various sites all over the island, such as the various Kouros, ancient Iria, Temple of Demeter, and ancient aqueduct.

Churches and Monasteries

In terms of religious importance for Greek Orthodox, Paros wins hand down due to Panayia Ekantotapyliani church. Both islands have many monasteries around, like the scenic Moni tou Christou tou Dasous near the Petaloudes park with its friendly nuns, and the very rich Moni Logovardas where monks deny access to visitors. Naxos has its own monasteries such as Agios Ioannis Chrisostomos for example. As everywhere on Cyclades, everywhere you can see small churches, from 2-3 churches next to each other on a small village to one church standing alone at the top of a rock. Although I am not an expert on this field, I know there are very old churches especially on Marpissa, Prodromos, Marmara area. On Naxos there are various old churches, for example Panayia Drosiani dates back from the 6th century. Although churches are not my thing at all, I prefer Naxos because most of interesting churches are to be found on unique landscapes, and retain its original features, while in Paros they are mostly inside towns and they are heavily restored. Panayia Ekantodapyliani for example is supposed to be built by St Constantine following the wishes of his mother St Heleni, and this been true or not, it’s really dated back from the 3rd or 4th century. There are some very old frescos etc, but in general although impressive, it seems like a modern church to me nowadays.

Sports and Activities

Both islands are famous for their windsurfing which is mainly located on the west beaches on Paros, east beaches of Naxos, not only die to the winds, but also due to the stream between the two islands. Popular windsurfing centers are on Golden Beach and New golden beach on Paros and on St George beach and Plaka on Naxos, but in other beaches in both islands too. Waterski is to be found in both places too, mostly in St George in Naxos, maybe a bit more on Paros, mainly on Kolibithres and Santa Maria beaches. Kitesurfing in to be found too, mainly on Pounda on Paros and Mikri Vigla on Naxos. There are diving centers in both islands, Agios Prokopios, Plaka on Naxos, Golden Beach, Santa Maria on Paros. In both islands there is horseriding, mostly in Naousa on Paros and Agia Anna on Naxos. Paros a tennis club in Agia Irene area south of Parikia, while as far as I am aware of, there are tennis courts only in one or two hotels on Naxos. In both islands there is sailing, mostly in St George area on Naxos, Parikia on Paros. Kayaking, rings, bananas etc are to be found in the same areas and even some more. There is good hiking on both islands, I believe though that Naxos wins a bit on this aspect. On Paros there is the Vyzanine trail from Lefkes to Prodrommos which is well-signposted, then there are some routes such as Logaras to Drios, but not much more, while on Naxos, although less organized, there are many more hiking opportunities. Mountain Zas climb, Potamia area and so on.

Other activities – Museums – Galleries

On Naxos, there is Kitron distillery on Halki. On Paros, there is winery on Naoussa.

On both islands there are plenty of small museums on various subjects. Near Aliki on Paros, a local artist-Benetos Skadas- created a small museum with miniatures of fishing boats, well-known buildings etc, various old-time items etc. In Naoussa in Agios Athanasios exhibit hall, there are important byzantine icons. There is a small folklore museum with local dresses etc hidden in the back lanes of the same town. Attached to Panayia Ekatontapyliani in Parikia there is a small museum with a collection of ecclesiastical items.

On Naxos Town there is the Venetian Museum of course. In Apiranthos there are three interesting small museums, the archeological one, the geological one and the folk art one.

In both islands there are some art galleries, such as Apothiki in Parikia and Medousa in Naoussa, and the Petalouda Art on Naxos Town.

Local Products

Both islands produce decent wines, olives, olive oil. Moraitis wine is a quite strong brand name locally on Paros. Paros produce a local spirit called Souma, similar to Raki/Tsipouro. Naxos produce Kitron and there are 3-4 flavors, and 2-3 brand names, Valindras been the most famous. In both islands local pastries and desserts such as spoon desserts, amygdalota, loukoumades, jams etc are widely available, Hamilothoris been a favorable brand name on Paros. Both island have an excellent dairy products. Naxos is famous for its cheeses: kefalotyri, anthotiro, graviera, feta and especially mizithra and xinomizithra. Although it is not known so widely, the same cheeses of high quality are produced on Paros too.

Naxos produce a large quantity of potatoes every year.

Paros produce a small but high quality amount of chick peas that are cooked in various ways all over the island.

In both islands there are some local workshops offering pieces of art, especially pottery. Yria Ceramics on Paros and Fish & Olive pottery on Naxos come immediately to mind.

Paros and Naxos marble and emery are very well-known all over the world, in both islands the marble quarries are accessible to public and on Naxos one can see remaining infrastructure of the emery industry in Moutsouna and Lionas.

Day Trips

Both islands share identical and common excursions to Delos/Mykonos, Santorini, Iraklia/Koufonisia. On Paros there is an island bus tour taking in Antiparos town too. On Naxos there is a bus tour as well, taking in all the important spots (minus the Antiparos of course). On Naxos there is boat trip taking in various beaches all around the island, while there is not such a tour on Paros – I guess because all beaches are easily accessible on a vehicle, which is not the case on Naxos. But on Paros there are boat trips taking in Antiparos and Despotiko.

Food – Local specialities

On both islands the food is absolutely fantastic! The fact there are so many ingredients produced on the islands themselves adds to the quality. For example, a favored dish on both islands is mizithropitakia – small mizithra pies – while in many places especially on Paros, Greek salad is served with local xinomizithra instead of feta cheese. Chick-peas dishes, especially the traditional slow-cooked in a clay oven, are a favorite dish on Paros, while gouna fish, dried in the sun is a favored in Naxos among other great seafood.

Accommodation

On both islands there are many different types of accommodation, from camp sites to rooms to let, to mid-ranged hotel to very expensive hotels. There are a couple of large all-inclusive hotels such as Naxos Imperial or Porto Paros, but in general there are not very large complexes, so be aware. Furthermore, no matter how some hotels advertise themselves, there are not super-luxurious hotels of American standards like the ones you may find on parts of Crete, Santorini or Mykonos. Accommodation in general is more down to earth on Cyclades. On Paros, some form of accommodation is to be found in most areas though, while on Naxos you will mainly find accommodation on the western part of the island. Upper-class accommodation on Paros is mostly located on Parasporos beach near Parikia and on Kolibithres/Monastiri beach near Naoussa. On Naxos upper-class accommodation is mainly located around St George beach, Stelida area and Agios Prokopios. Budget accommodation such as studios, rooms to let and small B&Bs are to be found in both islands, especially Parikia on Paros and St George beach on Naxos, but not only. My own very personal opinion is that Naxos is slightly more budget-friendly, with better value for money on those types of accommodation. Studios with a kitchenette are more common on Naxos too. Seasonal house rentals and villas rentals are more common on Paros, but they are the type of villas that are addressed to rich celebrities mostly. A private house rental in Myti near Farangas, can cost up to 25000 euros/week, with daily maid service and some champagne included of course.

Self Catering – Eating Out

Both islands have a large year around population. So there are brunches of large chain supermarkets on both, which in general are cheaper than the local ones. DIA and Atlantic are to be found on both islands, on Paros there is Carrefour Marinopoulos too. On Naxos, local chain Koutelieris offer decent prices and very decent variety of products too.

In terms of quality, of course it worth to purchase cheese, wine, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables from the local stores.

For breakfast, most hotels will welcome non-residents, but there are many places in both islands offering breakfast, especially in seafront locations – I’ll just mention the great Rendez-Vous Cafe on Naxos Town.

Restaurant and Taverns serving food of very high quality is to be found everywhere on both islands, even the smaller village will have at least one tavern. On my personal experience, on Naxos, portions seem to be huge and bill seem to be small, while on Paros usually it is the other way around. Of course there are some hidden gems on Paros, and some not so decent places on Naxos, so… My opinion is that Paros is a bit more pricey island in general.

On both islands there are the ever-present souvlaki/gyros places, some creperies, pizzerias, places offering sandwiches etc. In Parikia town there is a Goody’s eatery too. For those who don’t know what I am talking about, Goody’s is the strongest Greek fast food brand name, something like a Greek McDonalds, just a bit healthier. I hear there was a Goody’s on Naxos Town a few years ago, but it closed down. It must be the only Goody’s ever that opened somewhere but didn’t make it!

On both islands there are other cuisines to be found. Except for the popular pizzeria/trattoria places that are to be found almost everywhere in Greece anyway, there is a Mexican and an Asian restaurant on Naxos, while there is a very good TAI on Paros.

Last but not least, when talking about food, lets not forget the popular bakery/pastry shops in both islands for a quick snack. And for desserts, I strongly suggest a visit to Waffle House on Naxos Town and a visit to Hamilothoris Zaharoplastio on Naoussa or some honey puffs-loukoumades from “Paradosiako” in Naoussa’s back lanes again.

Nightlife

Both islands have a very decent nightlife. Naxos is more low-key with most of bars, a few nightclubs and a bouzoukia place located in Naxos Town. Parikia in Paros is considered the most lively spot of the island all year, with Naoussa a close second. Actually, although foreign visitors consider Parikia the center of the night activity, Greeks consider Naoussa the hot spot of the island! Punda Beach – a complex of shopping, restaurants, beach bars and swimming pool, often hosts various DJ sets and events. There are a few bars staying open until late especially in high season in most places, eg Piso Livadi, Druos, Aliki, even Lefkes. On Naxos the same applies to Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Plaka, Apollonas. Both islands get very busy after middle July till 20th of August and although there are some party goers on both islands, Naxos is more oriented to families and couples, while Paros welcomes a large amount of young people. So things on Paros get a bit wilder.

Events

Both islands enjoy a variety of cultural venues. In Chora, the privately owned Venetian Castle organizes concerts, recitals and traditional Greek night. In the countryside, in Bazeos Tower there are many exhibitions all summer, and often concerts are taking place there too. Of course there are many festivals with live greek music and dance all around the island on various dates, such as the 17th July Agia Marina festival in Koronos or the Agios Ioannis 29th August festival on Apiranthos. Usually, around the end of June, a Beach Volleyball Tournament takes place on St George beach.

On Paros, there are many many events and local festivities organized by the local authorities all summer. For example the Fish & Wine Fair the first Sunday of July in Naoussa, the 15th August Panayia Ekatodapyliani celebrations and the famous pirate night on 23rd August in Naousa. There are various events and recitals organized at the Paros Cultural Park Ai Giannis Detis too. The Aegean Sailing Rally passes Paros. Both islands are often visited by famous Greek and foreign artists, maybe Paros slightly more. Both islands are well-known for their local musicians, especially Naxos with its great violin players.

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49 Questions and Comments

  1. Island Hopping in Greek Islands

    Hi Dave,
    Thank you for this fabulous site, so much invaluable information. My husband and I are flying into Santorini from Rome mid September for 3 nights then we have 14 more nights to island hop before needing to be in Athens October 2 for an October 3 flight. We’re thinking of splitting our time equally between Naxos and Paros with day trips to Mykonos and Antiparos. We were thinking of flying from Paros back to Athens the day before our international flight home but I read in one of your posts that you think it’s better to catch the ferry? Do you think there’s another island we should consider as well. Additionally what weather should we expect mid to late September and do we need to pre-book accommodation and ferries? This is the tale end of a six week trip that will have been full on so we were not wanting to arrive home totally exhausted!
    Thanks so much for all your great advice.

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Sounds almost perfect. Weather should be good to great. You could have some coolish non-beach days as you get into October but beautiful sunny weather is more likely. Only change I’d recommend is to add a night or two for Mykonos at the end of your island itinerary. A day trip to Mykonos is not worth the time or effort and it probably wouldn’t workout with ferry times anyways. Better to make an overnight trip and it’s on the route back to Athens so will shorten your final ferry leg as well. (Day trip to Antiparos is well worth it though.) And yes, I’d rather ferry than experience the hassle of another flight. And it’s quicker/easier to get from the ferry port to central Athens than from the airport to central Athens.

  2. Itinerary for Santorini, Naxos, Athens

    Hi Dave! I am really enjoying your website. I am writing for your advice. My husband and I are two active people who enjoy hiking, swimming, boating, wine and food, and beautiful scenery, and art and history. As far as Athens, my husband really just wants to see some of the archaeological sights. I want to take a photography tour on Santorini. I have been dreaming of going there for a long time. We tend to seek out the local restaurants when we travel to see what the people really eat in a location. We are arriving in Athens May 7, 2018 and flying back out early May 20th. We are coming from Texas, so it will be a considerable travel distance. This is what I am considering:

    May 7: continue travel with flight Athens to Santorini, arrive around 5pm local time
    May 7-May 14: Santorini (7 days, 8 nights)
    May 15: Leave in am and travel to Naxos (ferry??flight??)
    May 15-17 Naxos (3 days, 3 nights)
    May 18 Fly from Naxos to Athens in am
    May 18, and 19 Athens (2 days, 2 nights)
    May 20 fly out for home

    My concern is with jamming too much into a trip. We don’t want to have a tight schedule and be super tired when we get home. We are considering just staying on Santorini and really exploring and spending one more day in Athens and cutting out the Naxos portion. Any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

    Kind Regards,
    Alyse

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      That sounds like a great itinerary. The good news is that either way you do it (with Naxos or without) it will feel like the perfect decision. “Oh, I’m so glad we got to see Naxos – it was so different than Santorini,” or “I’m so glad we spent those extra days on Santorini – I wouldn’t have wanted an hour less.” That’s not much help, I know, but there’s no right answer. Naxos has some great beaches (better than Santorini) and amazing inland villages and hikes. You won’t be sorry if you go. Also, some really incredible local restaurants. One thing I would do if it were my trip is to ferry from Naxos to Athens instead of fly. It does cost you a few extra hours (depending on whether you go Blue Star or the smaller/faster/rougher Sea Jet) but to fly you have to taxi to the airport, lineup for baggage ticketing, lineup for security, wait some more, fly, taxi into the city when you get to Athens. Whereas if you’re staying in Naxos Town you can walk to the ferry port 10 minutes before your ferry is set to arrive. I find it much more relaxing.

  3. Where To Eat in Paros

    Hi Dave, fabulous website! Do you have any restaurant recommendations in Naoussa, Paros?

    Orso

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Taverna Glafkos.

  4. Naxos or Paros in October

    Hi, thank you for this very useful piece. We just came back from a week in Santorini and I’m planning to go again in October for school break, just two moms and a couple of kids. We’ll have a car. Which would be better in October, Naxos or Paros? I’m leaning towards Naxos but open to both. You mentioned that both islands are year-round ones. Thanks, Andrea

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Perhaps a slight recommendation for Naxos but both would be great in October. (Early October should still have beach weather, late October will likely be too chilly to swim but fine for hikes and sightseeing.)

  5. Best Ferry to Naxos from Athens

    Hi Dave
    Great guide to both islands. I’m staying in Naxos with family in late August. Our plan is to catch an early ferry from Rafina and get into Naxos by noon. It’s a fast ferry (Sea Jet), and I’m wondering if we’re better off taking a Blue Star ferry from Pireaus instead. I’ve read varying opinions about the ferries, with some saying the fast ferries are terrible, you can’t see anything, etc. I’d prefer to spend the night in Rafina and catch an early ferry as opposed to staying in Athens and rushing to get to Pireaus in the am. Any advice for a newcomer to Greece?
    Thanks
    Peter

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      The (SeaJet) Champion Jet1 that does the Rafina to Naxos route in August is a good ferry (better than the smaller SeaJet). Staying in Athens is far more interesting than staying in Rafina but the ferry itself from Rafina is a fine choice.

  6. Greek Island with Best Beaches

    Hi Dave,

    My husband and I have 3.5 days in Greece, quick getaway. We have never been and want to go on an island with the best sand beaches. We will be spending the day on the beach and night eating out. What is your suggestion? Thanks!
    Galina

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Both Paros and Naxos have great beaches. In Naxos the beaches are close to little beach towns with tavernas and restaurants. In Paros beaches are away from the towns. Both are wonderful islands.

  7. Family-friendly Beach on Paros

    Hi Dave
    Very helpful thank you.
    Many years ago we frequented Myconos and stayed on Ornos beach in the small studios which we loved.
    My family of 4 and my mum who is well but elderly are travelling from afar back to Greece after many years.
    I tried to book the same studios on Ornos but no luck and can’t seem to find anything close by that’s affordable.
    I am thinking of going to Paros and I hope you can help us with which beach will be our Ornos. We need an organised family beach with preferably BnB studio or hotel on the beach or at least close easy access. I loved the bus from Ornos to town and the vibe after a day in the sun. Where would you recommend we will find something similar on Paros or any other close island? I’m struggling to work out the sandy organised less windy easy access beach and close accommodation. Also on a budget due to our sadly week currency. Thanks a mill spent hours searching!

    Dimitra

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      The days when you could lodge economically are long gone, let alone sleep for free on a beach for two weeks as many who are old enough to remember Mykonos in the 70s did! With upwards of $300 for a night of sleep on what is undoubtedly an attractive island, a trip to Mykonos these days requires a sturdy and well-filled wallet. That said, Ornos Beach is still – in theory – offering reasonably priced lodgings but as you seem to have done the homework and calculations, it may be time to move on. That may be a good move as it can be hard to capture the memories of the past by coming back to try to relive them.

      Paros is a good option and it shares with Mykonos that Cycladic style and look – rocks, sandy beaches, white walled houses and cosy tavernas that beckon you in invitingly. It is a larger island; it has an airport and a busy boat port so getting there is easy. So far so good. Now taking into account your age logistics – young and old and somewhere in between, it sounds as though you need a modicum of facilities, and you won’t want that dastardly Meltemi (northern) wind that can play havoc on many of the Cycladic islands.

      Paros’ main tourism infrastructure is focussed in and around its two main towns: the port of Parikia and the former fishing village (and now traveller magnet) of Naoussa. They are both perceptibly bigger than Mykonos’s Ornos, so you may still be looking for that touch of coziness that you remembered from Ornos. A little smaller, but a village no less is Piso Livadi on Paros east coast you can rent a place literally on the beach if you desire. It’s compact yet cosy and has that ‘just for me’ atmosphere.

      A little more out on a ledge but on a better (and more sheltered) beach is the rather scattered community of Chrysi Akti or Golden Beach. This is really patchwork of agricultural roads all leading to a beach that really does sparkle like gold on a sunny day with an equally scattered community of rooms, villas and apartments. This place comes into its own when the north wind blows with barely a ripple flecking its crystalline waters. The Golden Beach Hotel at the west end is more of family place with a restaurant attached from which you can literally step out and onto the sand. Louridis Golden Beach Hotel is a little more organised and has nice sea-facing studios for up to five persons.

  8. Day Trip to Paros

    Hi there,

    Have read your site avidly – so much more helpful than anything I can find on the net or in guidebooks. My family of 4 are staying on Mykonos from 19th July to 2nd August. I’ve already booked us a ferry trip and short stay on Santorini as wanted to make sure we don’t miss out on tickets, but would really appreciate your advice on a day trip from Mykonos to Paros (would particularly like to see Naoussa if possible). Are there any boat excursions we can book from Mykonos (haven’t found any yet) or is doing it ourselves the best option? If the latter, 1) what ferry company is best, 2) is there any preferred day of the week to go on? 3) is it necessary to book ferry tickets this far in advance as I have for Santorini? Would really appreciate your expert advice as I want to make the most of the time we have on these beautiful islands. Thanks so much!!

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      It’s easy to take the regular ferries to get to Paros (and any day trip excursion that you bough would use the same ferries). On most days there are a couple boats that will get you to Paros by 10:30. The last ferry from Paros back to Mykonos leaves at 6pm – so that will give you 6+ hours on Paros. Plenty enough to wander around Parikia and then get to Naoussa for a look around and late lunch/early dinner. The bus from Parikia to Naoussa leaves from the “bus station” directly beside the ferry port, so it’s very convenient. No need to book these tickets in advance. Wait until after you arrive and retain your flexibility to change your dates or mind.

  9. Surest Way to Buy Naxos Ferry Tickets

    I am going to Naxos in July. I am wondering what the best way is to handle the ferry tickets from Athens to Naxos and back again. I want to take an early ferry to Naxos and then back again to Athens and there are 5 in our party. I am a nervous sort so I’d like to know the surest way to get the tickets with the least stress and bother.

    Kakia Hall

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      If you want to leave nothing to chance then buy in advance on the Blue Star website then pickup from kiosk at Piraeus ferry port (close to the metro station and easy to find – just get there at least 45 minute before your ferry).

  10. Paros and Naxos on a Budget

    Thanks so much for the article! My sister and I are planning on visiting Greece in early October of this year. We are trying to figure out the cheapest options since we are traveling on a budget. Is there a big price difference between Paros and Naxos? Would we still be able to take a day trip to Santorini in October? Or would we need to plan an overnight in Santorini because it is off season? Thanks so much for your help!

    Bonnie Smith

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Paros and Naxos are both good for budget travelers – plenty of nice, family run hotels with small clean rooms. Many include some sort of free breakfast, though nothing elaborate. I’d definitely recommend staying overnight in Santorini for at least one night. In October you should be able to find some fairly inexpensive accommodations. A day trip to Santorini is hard to make work even in high season. (One reason for this is that the port at Santorini is a good distance from the main towns so just getting to and from the port can eat up one hour each way – and the bus returns to the ferry port well in advance of departing ferries so that’s more like 90 minutes.)

  11. Santorini, Sifnos, Naxos, and Athens

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you for this very helpful guide. I was hoping to get your advice on what you think of this following itinerary: we’re arriving in Greece on May 31st and will leave in mid-June. We are planning 5 nights in Santorini, 4 nights in Sifnos, 4 nights in Naxos, and 2 nights in Athens. Do you think 4 nights in Sifnos is too long? What do you think of the island? If we were to reduce it to 3 nights in Sifnos, we would extend our # of nights in Athens to 3 instead of 2. Thanks so much for your help!

    Carolyn

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Sifnos has great beaches and a slower pace than both Santorini and Naxos. With that much island time, yeah, I’d probably trade another island day for a day in Athens but I wouldn’t say 4 nights on Sifnos was “too much”.

  12. Paros or Naxos with Kids in Early May

    Hi Dave,

    Really useful post, thanks a mill. My wife and I have done a good bit of travelling around the Greek Isles back in our ‘youth’, working in Paros as university students for a few summers, travelling latter years when gainfully employed around Paros, Naxos, Santorini, Serifos, Sifnos, Milos and Amorgos (over the course of a few trips/years). We got engaged in 2007 in Santorini! We are looking this year for first two weeks in May to introduce our two kids (5 & 3) to the delights of the Greek Isles.

    Paros feels like our spiritual home, I always loved Naxos too. I know both will be pretty quiet in early May. Just wondering if you have any thoughts on what might be a better fit for us/the kids? I presume weather wise, there is little to choose; it seems, given its bigger population that Naxos might have a bit more ‘buzz’ about it at that time. I’m all for a quiet holiday, but don’t want a ghost town/beach feel.. Santorini feels like a bridge too far as regards ferry times from Pireaus for the small ones and (as we are on a tight budget) beach time is our option, rather than somewhere swanky with a pool.

    Any insight on this would be gratefully received!

    ευχαριστώ!

    Niall Manley

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I think Naxos has a little more to see and explore, and a little more history and culture – so it makes a better fit for the quieter months. Since it is shoulder season you’ll want to stay in one of the larger towns so it’s not completely dead and Naxos Town has a better beach than either Parikia or Naoussa. But be prepared for weather that is not completely beach-friendly. And the sea is chilly (even with nice weather) until mid-June.

  13. Athens, Santorini, Naxos, Paros, and Mykonos

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you so much for providing all of this information. My husband and I are planning a trip arriving to Athens at 9 am 8/26. I was thinking to take a flight straight to Santorini stay for 3 nights in Oia then ferry to Naxos for 3 nights then ferry to Paros for 2 nights. From Paros we would go to Mykonos for 2 nights then ferry to Athens for 2 nights. Do you believe this possible. My husband and I love beaches and exploring towns do you believe this is a good mix? Should I cut an island out? Thanks so much!

    Maria

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Sounds busy but very doable and a great mix of islands. There always a trade off between days in one place and how many islands you see. Invariably, they’ll be something that in hindsight you’d tweak – I wish we stayed longer there and skipped that place – but you don’t know until after you’ve been there.

      They’re all great islands.

  14. Milos or Naxos?

    Hi! My boyfriend and I are planning on visiting the start of Sept so far the plan is Santorini > Milos or Naxos by ferry > Mykonos by ferry > Athens by plane. I need help picking between Milos or Naxos? Or is there another island you would suggest? How many nights would you recommend on each island? We only have 10 days so don’t want to spend too much time travelling! Thanks!
    Terri Smith

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Both Milos and Naxos are great islands but Naxos has much better ferry connections with Mykonos. From Milos to Mykonos there are 6 ferries per week in early September and they take 5 to 6 hours. From Naxos to Mykonos there are several ferries per day and they take about 40 minutes. If you’re on a limited time frame the choice is clear.

  15. Golden Beach on Paros

    Hi Dave!

    I am planning a trip in mid-August with my boyfriend to Paros and we are staying on Golden Beach. I was wondering if you could tell me if this is a good location to stay and what are some fun activities to do in this area? We are in our mid-20’s so we are looking to do more than just bum at the beach!

    Angie

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Great beach and a good spot for learning how to windsurf. But there’s not much around here beyond a few hotels and restaurants. Certainly no nightlife. If you wanted shopping and a restaurant scene then stay closer to Parikia or Naoussa – or at the very least, rent a car.

  16. Fastest Ferries between Greek Islands

    Hi Dave
    My partner and I will be in Santorini in early June for a wedding. Below is a rough idea of our plans. We plan on catching the fastest ferry between islands. Are there any days the ferry companies don’t operate and are there any luggage restrictions? I went on the Blue Star Ferries website and it seems they haven’t updated their timetable yet. Is there a ferry company you highly recommend based on our itinerary?

    Mykonos – 2 nights (flying in from Athens in mid May)
    Paros – 3 nights
    Naxos – 3 nights
    Santorini – 6 nights
    Athens – 2 nights on the way back.
    Thanks!
    Georgina

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Lots of ferries running that route so shouldn’t be a problem in early June. No need to book in advance. Buy your tickets when you first arrive in Mykonos. But if you want to be certain then go to Seajets, Hellenic Seaways, and Blue Star to purchase directly (you’ll then pick up tickets on the islands). The only luggage restrictions are what you can carry on board.

  17. Naxos Delos Mykonos Tour

    Hi. Can I do the Naxos/Delos/Mykonos tour and get off on Mykonos to stay there?
    Linda

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Yes. Not sure what their allowances for luggage are. If you don’t have much you should be fine. The boat gets to Mykonos about 5pm and stops at the Old Port right by Mykonos Town.

  18. Paros and Naxos

    Hi Dave.

    My wife, my daughter and I are thinking of spending 7 nights in Paros in late June visiting Naxos on a day trip. Is this ok or should I spend 3 nights in Naxos and 4 in Paros? I have already visited Santorini and Mykonos.
    Robert Raniti

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      It’s much better to spend some time on Naxos than to do a day trip. When you do a day trip you don’t get to enjoy the towns in the early morning or evening – the two times when the island is at its best.

  19. Mykonos, Santorini, and Naxos

    Hey Dave,

    Great site! Love all the info. QQ for you, I’m heading to the Greek islands next May 19-30th. My initial itinerary looks like this, get into Athens morning of the 19th, head straight to Mykonos for 4 nights, then onto Santorini for 5 nights, then Athens for 2 nights and back to the States on the 30th. I’m going with my gf and we’re both in our late 20s. I’d really love to check out Naxos, but wasn’t sure if I had enough time. Do you think that I should cut out a day from both Mykonos and Santorini and do Naxos for a couple nights in between? Or stick to the original itinerary?

    Thanks in advance!
    Mike

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      It’s a tough call but yes I would probably make time for Naxos. You can even do Naxos for just one night. There’s an early morning ferry from Mykonos to Naxos which gets you there at 10:30. Then a late afternoon the next day at 15:25 or an evening ferry (but not on Fridays or Sundays) at 7:55pm so you could almost have 2 full days and only lose one night on Mykonos. (It’s nice to break up the trip from Mykonos to Santorini too as the only direct Myk-Santo ferry is a small high speed ferry that can be choppy.)

      1. Mike

        Awesome! Thanks so much for the reply. Yeah, after some more research I think 4 nights in Mykonos is more than needed anyway. We definitely want to check out the party scene for one night, but that’s really it. I’m going to look into going to Naxos for two nights.

  20. Santorini, Naxos, Paros, Milos

    Such a helpful comparison! I’m heading to the greek islands next August for my Honeymoon and thought id decided on Paros, Santorini than Milos before heading back to Athens, however now im thinking both Paros and Naxos then Santorini? Or do you think I should skip one to include Milos? We just really want to relax and swim. Not big drinkers but like good food.

    Candice

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      All are great islands so you can’t go wrong. Naxos and Paros are somewhat similar so if you wanted something different then Milos is a good candidate. To do Milos right you need to do a boat tour around the coast of the island – not sure if that’s appealing to you. Naxos and Paros are easier to explore on your own (either by bus or rented car) and they’re also easier to get to and from Santorini. Milos is a little out of the way (though in August there are so many ferries it should still be pretty easy to do Naxos – Milos – Santorini).

  21. Paros to Mykonos Day Trip

    This site rocks – thank you! Like a number of folks on here, it seems, we are planning a trip for late May and trying to decide the best itinerary. After doing some initial research, here is my thinking.

    Arrive Sunday May 22 and take flight straight to Santorini – arriving around 2PM Greece time
    Stay in Santorini 3-4 nights
    Ferry to Naxos and stay there 2-3 night
    Ferry to Paros and stay there 2-3 nights
    Ferry to Athens for rest of time (3-5 nights) before flying back on Fri June 3 – travel day.

    Your suggestion on the best mix of nights in each? I figure we will at least do a day trip to Mykonos on one of the days we are on Paros or Naxos (I think I saw that option). And I have read good things on Hyrda, which I think could be a day trip from Athens but that might be too much traveling. Any insight is appreciated. Upper 30s, no kids, looking for most relaxing on the islands with some wineries in Santorini and then doing the tourist thing seeing the sites in Athens. Thanks!

    Bob

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Your itinerary looks good. And smart to leave Athens to the end of your trip. You can do a day trip to Mykonos from Paros by taking the Seajet (leaves Paros at 10:50am and returns at 6:15pm giving you about 6 hours on Mykonos). Be sure to take the small Seajet as that will drop you at the Old Port – walking distance from Mykonos Town. The larger ferries use the New Port which then requires taking a bus to town.

  22. Athens and Greek Islands in January

    HI Dave,

    Thanks for doing this site! I have booked an 18 day stay in Greece mid – January. I am 40-something solo woman traveling and this is the time off I had! It is my dream to travel to Greece and so I thought to do it right away. I am thinking of sailing with BLUE STAR to Santorini, Paros, Naxos and wish to walk the trails, eat in local taverns and stay in small family run places, perhaps AirBNB. Looking forward to a 3/4 nights in Athens as well and tour the street art and local food and wine scene. I really welcome any of your suggestions as I am a bit nervous about traveling off season. Thanks alot Dave!
    Terra

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      I’m sure you know this but have a warm winter jacket. With the wind and rain it can be cold on the islands. That said, I’m sure you’ll have a great trip. The islands are great in the off season – especially if you get lucky with the weather. You’d be fine not booking accommodation in advance and waiting to find something on each island. If there’s no one at the boat to greet you ask around at the restaurants near the ferry port and they’ll invariably know someone who rents out there place.

  23. Itinerary for Greek Islands

    Hi Dave,

    Your site is great! I had no idea where to even start when thinking about visiting the islands but this is great!
    My husband and I are looking to travel to Greece late May/Early June. We are looking for a mainly relaxing trip with some exploring (we love hiking) and of course a lot of eating, we also Won’t say no to a few nights of partying. Here is what we are thinking:

    Saturday – Arrive Athens
    Sunday – Ferry to Naxos, stay 4 nights
    Thursday – Milos, 2 nights
    Saturday – Ios, 2 nights
    Monday – Santorini, 5 nights
    Saturday – Santorini to Athens
    Sunday – Fly home

    I’m not too bothered with essentially spending no time in Athens as I am more interested in the Islands. It has always been a dream of mine to visit Santorini – but is 5 nights too many? I know the beaches aren’t the best there, but our first week will be mostly beaches so I’m not bothered about that. More so looking to end the trip with a lot of romance and relaxation in Santorini.

    How does this itinerary look? Any advice is great! Thank you so much!!

    Alison

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      This sounds great. Santorini is wonderful and deserves 5 nights. 4 nights in Naxos is good too – lots to see and great beaches. Ios and Milos are both deserving of visits. I’d get an early morning flight from Santorini to Athens which will give you almost a full day in the city. Athens has lots to see but most of it is fairly close together and many of the top sights are open until 8pm, so if you got there mid-morning you could see a fair bit.

  24. Naxos and Paros with Kids

    Hi Dave,

    Just looking for your advice please if possible.

    We are a family of 6, looking at taking our 4 children aged between 2 and 6 to Naxos and Paros next August for 16 nights. We have found accommodation in Parikia and Agios Prokopios and flights via Athens both ways. Would you suggest we spend longer on one island than the other with us having young children? We just need a nice beach, possibly a local playground, a couple of excursions during our stay. We won’t be renting a car so will be relying on public transport/taxis.

    Thanks so much, any advice you can give would be great, I haven’t been to Paros and Naxos in years!

    Lindsay Cregan

    1. Santorini DaveSantorini Dave The Hotel Expert

      Those are 2 great places and a nice mix. Agios Prokopios has a great beach and is a fun beach town. Parikia is much larger with more places to eat and shop, lanes and streets to wander about, but lacks a really good beach – for that you’ll have to take a bus or one of the small boats that depart from the port every 30 minutes or so (it makes a fun outing). And from Parikia it’s also easy to take the boat to Antiparos which has wonderful beaches. As I say, I think it’s a good mix of beach (where after a week you’ll probably want a little more to do) and town (where after a week you’ll probably want to be steps from a beach instead of a bus or boat ride away).

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