Oh Paros, how we love you and miss you. You are officially deemed our “happy place” and we will definitely be back to see you again! Paros is the third largest island in the Cyclades (behind Crete and Naxos), has a ton of beaches to frequent during the day, and cute towns that aren’t overly packed with tourists compared to Athens and Mykonos. The food is fabulous and less expensive which was an added bonus. We chose to stay in Naoussa on the northeastern tip of the island, a twenty minute drive from the main port town of Parikia and are very happy we did! We fell in love with its local charm, beautiful scenery and accessibility to other areas of the island. Naoussa reminded us of Mykonos Town but it’s a bit smaller with a lot less people. The whitewashed narrow streets were lined with small restaurants, cocktail bars, and adorable shops and the small port was always filled with both local fishing boats and private yachts.
Our week in Paros was made even better because of where we stayed. Instead of renting another Airbnb apartment, we chose to stay at Kallisti Rooms & Apartments, a B&B that was a quick ten minute walk into the town of Naoussa. The apartment complex was adorable and fit with an awesome pool and pool bar where we quickly became friendly with Thanos who made the best cocktails – especially Negroni’s! Upon arrival, we were greeted by Joanna the owner, shown our comfy room overlooking the pool and given a detailed overview of Paros including many beaches, restaurants, and sightseeing recommendations. Joanna also helped us rent a car so we could explore the island the way we wanted without having to rely on buses and taxis, which allowed us to see a lot more during our stay. We got another Fiat but this time it was a 4-door silver Panda that suited us perfectly for our Paros adventures. Conveniently, we were able to drop it off at the port when we left Paros, which made it easy to catch the ferry.
(click on pictures to enlarge)
Since we got in relatively early our first day, we took a ride on a fishing boat from the port in Naoussa to Monastiri beach to hike to the Korakas Lighthouse. The trek took us a little over an hour and was well worth it as the views were incredible. We took a few wrong turns since there were a few different paths and some of the trail wasn’t clearly marked but we eventually found our way, and the more calories burned is A-okay at this point in our journey!
The next day we got our rental car and took our first trip back to Parikia which had the best sunset due to its location on the western side of the island. We managed to get there just in time to see the rainbow skyline and snap some pictures followed by a post-sunset cocktail at Bebop, a really cute rooftop bar and another recommendation by Joanna (this will be a common theme). For dinner we went with Mira, a family owned and operated authentic Greek restaurant and had a nice, quiet meal on the water. Everything was really tasty but the Shrimp Saganaki was a standout. I mean, how can you go wrong with perfectly grilled, jumbo head-on shrimp in a fresh tomato sauce with barely melted feta?
The next morning we drove down to Pounta (another of Joanna’s recommendations), a small port where you can catch a short ferry ride to over to Antiparos. We drove our little fiat on the vessel and parked it next to dozens of other cars to make the 10 minute ride over for around $10. Antiparos is a small island that houses the oldest cave in Greece which was thought to have been used as early as the 4th century B.C. and the walk down the 345 steps (Jenn counted on the way back up) was astonishing. It was crazy to imagine people inhabiting the cave with no stairs and that level of steepness. Apparently people roped up and down and used candles for light – the pictures just don’t do it justice. The stalagmite at the entrance of the cave is the oldest in Europe and is estimated to be forty-five million years old (yes, we touched it). There are also original inscriptions and names with dates that go back as far as the 1600’s – pretty wild. On the way out we chatted with a nice guy who worked at the cave and learned that he was born and raised on Antiparos so naturally we asked where to grab lunch and he was spot on! We drove down the mountain into the small town of Agios Georgios to eat at Captain Pipinos, a sweet little seafood restaurant right on the water where we could see fish, boats, and a massive yacht (that Jesse was very interested in) from our table. Lunch included a tasty seaweed salad that was nothing like what you get in a sushi place. The texture was tender with no trace of the sea in its flavor, just the lovely olive oil and lemon seasoning found everywhere in Greece. We had to order the grilled octopus since it was hanging directly in front of us in the sun to tenderize. It was simple, clean and the same can be said for the grilled dorade. Since we hadn’t yet had baklava in Greece, it was decided that this place would be our first sample. Assuming they would bring out two small squares (like we are used to in the States), we were wowed at the massive piece and quietly told each other that we didn’t have to finish it… that was until we had our first bite… and OH.EM.GEE!! Baked pistachio, honey, butter, crunchy phyllo heaven. The thick layers of phyllo amongst the equally thick layers of nuts and honey that slowly oozed as you bit down – just perfect, we couldn’t shovel it in fast enough! It was the best we’ve ever had. Ever.
One morning we took a ride to the Kalogeros Beach or the “Clay Beach” but didn’t end up staying because the tide was in but it was neat to see people completely covered in clay from the rocks that outline the area. Instead, we headed to Lolatonis Beach to lay out, swim and enjoy a really tasty lunch at The Cliff, a new restaurant that offered traditional Greek options with a middle eastern flare and great presentation. The all white restaurant had great music, good service and a really chill vibe and the octopus salad was different and one of the best we’ve had. The meat was exceptionally tender and the accompanying black eyed peas in a light lemon vinaigrette were great. We met the owner and enjoyed a rather large shot of Tsipouro on the house before heading down to the beach. This is a custom when dining out in Greece – you are typically given something at the end of your meal be it fruit, a small dessert, or an aperitif. We dig it.
Our last day trip was to Lefkes, a quiet and quaint town located at the highest point on the island that had cute shops and beautiful views. We got intentionally lost in the town for a bit and ended up at the Byzantine Church of Agia Triada, the main church of the small village. We also walked through the attached cemetery which was beautiful, filled with pine trees and fresh flowers.
The abundance of restaurants was a pleasant surprise after walking through Naoussa the first night – we simply weren’t expecting so many options! We had dinner every night there and were very happy with the places we chose, especially this cheap, super delicious recommendation from Thanos called Meat Bar. We ate there our last night and wished we had tried it sooner. The marinated chicken, souvlaki and garlicky tzatziki were the best we’ve had. Plus, our waiter kicked in a carafe of wine on the house! Our second night we went with another of Joanna’s recommendations and had dinner at Vitsadakis which was right on the water and known for their Moussaka. We obviously tried it and were blown away! The owner’s mother makes it and we are so, so happy to have tried it. The layers of oven-roasted eggplant (she doesn’t fry them like many others), perfectly seasoned meat sauce and bechamel were lovely and not the least bit heavy. So delish. We also managed to get a table at Taverna Glafkos one night without a reservation – the timing of our arrival was impeccable! It’s a small, intimate place located right on a private beach and very romantic. The shrimp and avocado salad and sea bass in lemon-saffron broth were fresh, light fulfilling and the complimentary brownie capped off another great seafood dinner.
Some of our favorite places to eat & drink include:
- Taverna Glafkos (Naoussa) – romantic spot with really fresh seafood.
- Vitsadakis (Naoussa) – the BEST Moussaka ever!
- Meat Bar (Naoussa) – fabulous and cheap chicken kebab & souvlaki.
- Bebop (Parikia) – adorable cocktail bar with an awesome view of the sunset.
- Mira (Parikia) – family run restaurant that serves fantastic Shrimp Saganaki.
- Captain Pipinos (Antiparos) – waterfront seafood restaurant with the most delicious Baklava ever!
- The Cliff (Lolatonis Beach) – fresh and clean middle eastern inspired dishes with a great octopus salad.
Some of our favorite places we visited include:
- Korakas Lighthouse – amazing hike with breathtaking views!
- Antiparos Cave – it was really cool checking out this natural formation – no claustrophobia here!
- Lolatonis Beach – beautiful, small and uncrowded with a great restaurant.
- Lefkes – small, quaint town and the highest point on the island with stunning views.
- Naoussa Village – adorable village on the water with shops, restaurant and cocktail bars galore!
The week we spent in Paros truly felt like vacation (or “holiday” as they say in Europe) and its certain we will come back to visit again. We are so thankful to have had wonderful hosts at Kallisti and really felt at home and comfortable being there. Joanna and team – we will be coming back sooner than you think!