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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Paros Paradise

In August, we explored Greece and island hopped across the Cyclades. Our trip began in Santorini, continued in Paros, Naxos, Antiparos and concluded in Athens. This week, we are excited to share our Twinspirational Travels in Paros, Naxos and Antiparos with you.
Paros is the second largest island of the Cyclades and is centrally located near Naxos, Ios, Sifnos and Syros. Paros is a short ferry ride from Santorini and Mykonos. We highly recommend a visit to this whitewashed paradise with golden sand beaches and clear blue seas. The villages in Paros are known for their beautiful Cycladic architecture featuring white sugar houses, paved streets and blue-domed churches.

We boarded Hellenic Seaways' 90 minute ferry from Santorini to Paros. We recommend booking ferries early to guarantee assigned seating.

when to go
Like Santorini, high season in Paros begins in late June and concludes in early September. During this time, you can expect excellent beach weather, exciting nightlife and trips to nearby islands. After the third week of September, many hotels and restaurants shut down for the off-season.
how long to stay
We recommend at least 3 days to view the top attractions in Paros. You'll want to spend a few days exploring the beaches, the wineries and the traditional villages. Depending on how much time you have, we recommend visiting nearby islands including Antiparos and Naxos. We visited both islands as day trips, but we would have preferred staying in Naxos overnight.
where to stay
Paros has several charming villages but the main towns are Parikia and Naoussa. Smaller villages include Lefkes, Marpissa, Piso Livadi, Drios and Aliki.
Parikia, the capital and main port of Paros, is a colorful village on the western part of the island. Our ferry docked here. When we walked off the dock, we past a beautiful windmill. You don't need a car in Parikia because this village is also the largest hub for the Paros bus system and many hotels, like ours, offer shuttle service. However if you do rent a car, you'll be able to see more of the island and explore more beaches.
Naoussa is a picturesque old fishing village on the northeast part of the island, about 10 miles from Parikia. Naoussa is known for its golden beaches, including Kolymbithres, Agios Ioannis, Agioi Anargyroi and Monastiri.
Best Views: Parikia
Best Nightlife: Parikia, Naoussa 
Most Romantic: Naoussa
Best Beaches: Kolimbithres, Santa Maria, Golden Beach
Most Budget Friendly: Parikia 
We stayed at Paros Palace in Parikia in a beautiful 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom villa. The hotel provided complimentary cocktails the first night and the staff kindly transported us around Parikia. We also enjoyed a complimentary buffet breakfast. We looked forward to the freshly baked croissants and Greek Yogurt with Nutella  every morning.
things to do
Relax at the one of the gorgeous beaches including Kolymbithres, Santa Maria and Golden Beach. You can visit the beaches by car or bus.
Kolimbithres beach is located in Plaster Bay in Naoussa and is known for its spectacular rock formations around its sandy beaches. 
Santa Maria is another beach in Plaster Bay. Santa Maria caters to adventure seekers with a variety of watersports. You can also relax and sip cocktails at the beach bar all while enjoying the view of Naxos.
Golden Beach, located southeast of Parikia, is another lovely beach. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time for this beach that is known for its windsurfing activities.
Party at the Beach Club. Punda Beach is a picturesque beach club with a swimming pool, restaurants, bars and water activities. Although it is a tourist trap, we had a fabulous time lounging on the chairs and sipping cocktails by the pool.
Visit Panagia Ekatontapyliani or The Church of 100 Doors. This church is the oldest Byzantine church in Greece. According to legend, this church was built by Saint Helen during her pilgrimage to find the Cross in the 4th century. If she found the Cross in Jerusalem, she vowed to build a bigger church. 
Experience Wine Tasting at the Moraitis Winery in Naoussa. This family winery started in 1910 and currently serves several varietals including: Mantilaria, Aidani, Kokkino, Karabraimi, Monemvasia, Assyrtiko, Malagouzia, White Aidani, Malvasia, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. We enjoyed a flight of wines. The white and dessert wines were our favorites and of course we brought some back to NY for our next Greek dinner party.
Drive to the Mycenaean Acropolis. Paros has its own mini acropolis that was built in 1200 BC. While it pales in comparison to the one in Athens, we recommend a quick stop before or after Kolymbithres beach.
Visit the Venetian Fortress that was originally constructed in the 15th century. This fortress was a watchtower for pirate and enemy attacks. This location was convenient for overseeing the Aegean Sea. Due to its architecture, it was difficult for enemy ships to approach the port. We walked through the fortress on our way to dinner in Naoussa.
Experience the Nightlife.
Naoussa is great for dining and enjoying a night out. There are many rooftop bars and clubs in the area. We had drinks at Agosta and Barbarossa.
The Frankish Castle was built in the 1200s by Venetians using an assortment of materials from the ancient Temple of Demeter. We didn't have a chance to see this castle but it showcases many elements of 4th century architecture. The temple ruins date back to 530 BC. 
day trips
Naxos is usually a 30 minute long ferry ride from Paros. We visited this island on a day trip, but if we had to do it all over we would have stayed overnight. This island is less touristy and where the locals go on vacation. When you land at the Naxos port you immediately see the "Great Door" or the Portara. We rented a car and drove to Halki. We saw the church of Agios Georgics Diasoritis in the  mountainous valley of Tragaia. This beautiful church dates back to the 11th Century and its beautiful architectural style is quite rare in Naxos.
Antiparos is a short 10 minute ferry from Pounda port (or 30 minutes from Parikia port). This small island was a major attraction to pirates in the Aegean Sea. In 1440, the Venetians built the Venetian Castle to protect the residents. The castle is walking distance from the port and is located near the Church of Agios Nikolaus and the Cycladic Art Museum. The ticket to the museum also provides entry to the Cave, which is the most famous attraction on Antiparos. The Cave is a short bus ride from the port and was initially used as a refuge and then as a worship place. There are 411 steps that lead to the bottom of the cave, which is approximately 100 meters deep. We also highly recommend the beaches, Panagia Beach, Psaraliki, Glifa, Levadia, Agios Spiridonas Beach and Sunset Beach. You can walk from the port to the some of the beaches or hop on the bus.
what to eat 
The food in Paros was spectacular! Make sure to visit sites in the morning and afternoon and eat lunch around 2, which is the Greek fiesta. Below is our cheat sheet on what to order for lunch and dinner. The house wine is very inexpensive so feel free to order a liter or two with both lunch and dinner.
Grape Leaves (Dolmathakiaare stuffed with rice and occasionally meat.
Greek Salad (Horiatiki) is a ubiquitous dish that can be served as an appetizer or a side dish. This salad is made with fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumber and purple onions and topped with feta cheese, black olives, olive oil and oregano.
Tzatziki is a classic Greek appetizer that goes great with meat, vegetables and/or pita. This dip is made with thick yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil and fresh dill.
Tirokafteribut is a dip made with feta and other soft, white cheese plus hot peppers, roasted peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, yogurt and oregano.
Okra cooked in a Mediterranean stew.
Naxos Salad with quinoa, cranberries and roasted red peppers.
Souvlaki is a popular Greek street food and means meat-on-a-skewer. You can also ask for it to be served in a pita and eat it like a sandwich. Of course it's stuffed with fries too!
Revithokeftedes are chickpea fritters and similar to falafel.
Seafood is fresh in Greece. We dined on red snapper, sea bass, octopus and calamari.
Lamb is very fatty in Greece. We actually preferred chicken and seafood.
Moussaka (not pictured) combines fried sliced aubergines with a tomato and minced meat sauce and topped with b├ęchamel and grated cheese. It is delicious, but very rich so we recommend ordering one and sharing it family style with the table.

Loukoumades are crispy dough balls or Greek mini-donuts and sprinkled with chopped nuts, cinnamon or chocolate syrup.
Baklava is the quintessential Greek dessert that is made with crispy layers of phyllo, nuts, butter and sugar. It is very sweet, so a bite is all you need.
Kataifi Halva is another sweet dessert made of thin layers of phyllo pastry, filled with walnuts and sweetened with syrup.

"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." - Martin Buber

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