Πάρος – Cyclades

Paros offers some good walks, excellent ferry connections and some sightseeing. From ancient times it is known for its marble, and a visit to the old marble quarries is kind of obligatory. It is also known for its butterfly valley, but I think maybe we should let these poor creatures mate in peace, or they might just go extinct. Probably the best sightseeing you can do from Paros, however, is a visit to the small nearby island of Antiparos (with its famous cave, of course).

The main town of Parikia is rather quiet out of high season, but the ideal time to visit is now late May, when it is a bliss. Not a very inspiring look at first sight, but if you take the time to explore the labyrinth of streets you will start to understand that this is quite an underrated place (by most travel guides), it is actually very nice indeed. Hordes of island hoppers pass through the port, but the main tourist resorts are elsewhere on the island, keeping the atmosphere of the town pretty relaxed for most parts of the year, except that the harbour area from June and onward will be packed with people more or less in transit. I do not even want to think about how high season might look here.

The main resort village on Paros is the surprisingly nice Naoussa in the north of the island. Lots of tourists (what did you expect?) but still pretty and cozy, and the best thing: From the village itself you cannot see the ugly concrete factory building (a power station) that more or less destroys the looks of the otherwise pretty bay.

Generally, food is not supposed to be of the best on Paros, so pick your choices well. In Parikia, I had good Greek fare at “I Trata”. If you would like a change of diet, “Cactus” has excellent Mexican food. In Naoussa, I had a nice lunch at “Barbarossa”.

Places to stay in Parikia is abundant, and quality is generally very good, it seems. Water shortage may be a problem on Paros in summer, and it could be wise to check that your place has a pump for keeping the water pressure up. I have stayed at the very friendly “Pension Rena”, which is very nice and clean, and not at all expensive, and the very comfortable “Hotel Argonauta”, more up-market and much pricier of course, but extremely nice.

Selected walks: For walks on Paros take a look in Walking the Aegean Islands by Dieter Graf (referred to below as “/Graf/”) or his newer Amorgos, Naxos, Paros and the Eastern & Northern Cyclades (referred to below as “/Graf2/”), which should be more up-to-date.

The “Old Byzantine Road” (picture right) is the best known walk on the island, but is a tad short, so I selected a little bit more challenging one.

On the web visit Walking, hiking and trekking on PAROS by Raymond Verdoolaege and Paros Travel, Holiday and Walking Guides and Photos for the Greek Island of Paros by Foxy’s Island Walks.

•1 PARIKIA – NAOUSSA (VIA THE MARBLE QUARRIES) (my total time 4h13, including short stops and a peek down the quarries): This is walk 33 in /Graf/ (or walk 20 in /Graf2/).

The book(s) warns you that this is quite a strenuous hike, but I found it rather easy, so have no fear. There are also no big problems in finding the way at any time, so this is a hike that most people could do. Mind that the black arrows and signposts mentioned in the text of /Graf/ in the first part of the walk were now missing, although blue arrows and dots will guide you some of the way, later on. The text in /Graf2/ indicates further changes here.

I am not quite sure what is the best way ascending from the creek to the chapel just before the village of “Vounia” (1’50 mark in /Graf/). There are several options and the instructions are rather vague. If you take the path up from the ravine just by the cistern the path immediately dissolves, but you can cross the small fields straight ahead and pick up some traces of a path by a cable running directly to the chapel. /Graf2/ now uses a slightly different route here.

So far it has been a great walk, but unfortunately the river bed you must follow from the quarries (more or less) and towards Naoussa is now blocked by in total FIVE dams that you will have to negotiate (not VERY difficult though). Road building in the hill up to the right has also sent a mess of rocks and boulders down into the path at a couple of points. But this is soon forgotten as you enter the pretty village. This part of the walk is now optional (in /Graf2/) because of this destruction of the original path.

• Good starting points: • Parikia – frequent buses to all interesting destinations on the island, some walks can even be done right out of town

• How to get there: • By ferry from other islands • By ferry from the mainland • By air (domestic)

• More info: • The Paros Greece Online Guide • Walking, hiking and trekking on PAROS by Raymond Verdoolaege • Paros Travel, Holiday and Walking Guides and Photos for the Greek Island of Paros by Foxy’s Island Walks • Parikia Port webcam

This page was last modified at August 17, 2009.