Paros was one of those places where as soon as I arrived, I wondered where it had been all my life. Like seriously, what had I been doing in Mykonos for so long?! No offense to Mykonos, but Paros was just *chef’s kiss*. The island was everything I needed after the chaotic craziness of Mykonos. It was calmer, cheaper, and had no shortage of beautiful scenery. And that’s not to say that there isn’t a party scene, because we definitely had a couple of excellent nights out here taking over Saloon D’or and The Dubliner.
Paros was an island that had it all. As a backpacker, you couldn’t ask for much more. It definitely has more of the backpacker vibe than what you’ll find in the more touristy islands of Mykonos and Santorini. If you have a chance to make it to Paros, do not hesitate. This place is paradise.
How To Get To Paros
Paros is a popular destination for national and international travelers alike. Ferries from all over Greece stop at Paros, and unless you’re on some really remote island, they’ll likely be running every day. You shouldn’t have a problem getting to Paros from any of the other main islands. I stopped by Paros after Mykonos. It was only a 45-minute ferry ride, although a pricy 36 euros for such a short journey.
You can also fly to Paros with a direct flight from the larger cities in Greece. If you’re coming from a smaller destination, you’ll likely have a transfer in Athens or elsewhere.
Just a heads-up during the COVID-19 pandemic, you do need to either have your vaccination card or a negative test when going from the mainland to the islands. If you’re coming straight from Athens or elsewhere on mainland Greece, you’ll need to make sure you have these forms handy. When I booked my ferry, they sent me everything I needed to fill out. If you’re already on the islands, you don’t have to do this. It’s only necessary for the first island you go to from mainland Greece, which in my case was Mykonos.
Where To Stay in Paros for Backpackers
I won’t beat around the bush right here. The place to be in Paros is Paros Backpackers. It’s a short walk from the port, so you can head on over as soon as you get off the boat. Where Paros Backpackers truly shines is with its social scene. As soon as you arrive at the hostel, you’ll get added to the hostel’s WhatsApp group. There, George gives you the down low on everything you need to know about Paros. He’ll tell you what events are happening, such as sunset hikes and epic boat trips around Paros. You can coordinate with your fellow travelers about where the party’s going to be that night and of course, send embarrassing pictures of the night’s shenanigans.
The hostel itself is fantastic. After a cruel hungover journey from Mykonos to get to Paros, I felt blessed by the grace of God when my room had air conditioning. I passed out for a good few hours before getting up to explore the island. The hostel’s rooftop terrace is the place to be around sunset, where you can bring up your dinner and your own booze to sip on while watching the sun set over the Mediterranean. You’ve got a beautiful view of the water from up here, and before long, all your hostel mates will come up to join for a few drinks before heading out to the bars.
The hostel has all the fixings, including a common kitchen which was a welcome change after subsisting entirely off of chips and gyros in Mykonos. There’s also a pool shared with the hotel next door, which is perfect for the sweltering midday heat, especially when you’re hungover. Did I mention air conditioning? I know I already did, but again, air conditioning. Each roof has comfy beds, their own bathroom, a refrigerator, and a balcony. But again, come to the hostel for the amazing social atmosphere. It’s impossible not to make a ton of friends here, especially if you end up on the boat ride with Captain Ben.
How To Get Around Paros
Paros isn’t a huge island, but it definitely helps to have your own mode of transportation to get around. There are buses that go all over the island, but they are relatively infrequent and really restrict your adventures to work around their schedule. Renting a scooter is cheap, starting at about 10 euros a day if you’re just booking for yourself. If you can get together a bigger group, you might get a group discount. ATVs are another option, for around 30 euros a day. They also have bigger buggies for around 70 euros a day. You can also rent a car, but like, buggies, yo.
If you do rent a moped, ATV, or car, make sure to have travel insurance handy. I use SafetyWing which is a combination of travel and health insurance with some incredibly low rates.
If you don’t feel like adventuring around the island too much, I’d recommend using Parikia as your home base. You’ll find plenty of ways to fill your time in this part of the island. The other main villages I’d recommend hanging out in would be Naoussa, Lefkes, and maybe Marpissa. You can get to all these villages by bus, although buses usually only come every 2-3 hours. Here’s the full bus schedule for the island of Paros.
Both Parikia and Naoussa are great home bases to use. You could even do both. A few nights in Parikia and a few nights in Naoussa will give you a great handle on this wonderful island.
The Best Things To Do in Paros
Paros is cool because it’s an island with several different parts to it. It’s not huge by any means, but you’ve got a good mix of hiking, beaches, cute villages, and archaeological sites to explore. I’d recommending spending around four days in Paros, maybe longer if you prefer to take it slow. I saw myself settling down in Paros for a couple of weeks, but decided it was too early in my trip to fall in love with a place and continued island hopping throughout Greece. You could knock out most of the top things to do in two or three days if you really wanted to, but like I said, life is slow here. It’s easy to get sucked in.
Boat Trip with Captain Ben
This was my favorite thing that I did while in Paros. At first I was iffy about paying the 55 euros to get on the boat, but you really do get a pretty good value to go along with some incredible views and fun times. It comes with a lot of drinks included, snacks, and a hearty lunch to go with your adventures around the island. You’ll be cliff jumping and swimming in some absolutely breathtaking locations. Captain Ben takes you to a few different islands and scenic spots. It was my first time really experiencing just how stunning the Greek Isles could be. If you don’t mind shelling out the 50 euros, this is a can’t-miss activity in Paros. This is especially true if you’re staying at Paros Backpackers and have a good party crew for the day.
Wander Aimlessly Through Parikia’s Old Town
My first morning in Paros, I was hungover and in desperate need of water. I left for town to grab a water bottle, and ended up roaming around for hours around this dreamy village. It was a refreshing change from the crowds of Mykonos, and I had a wholesome morning to myself winding through the narrow alleyways and whitewashed labyrinths. There is a lot of history that you can stumble into in Parikia, with buildings dating back thousands of years.
Visit the Island of Antiparos
The small island of Antiparos can only be reached by ferry from Paros. Although I didn’t find Paros to be as touristy as Mykonos and Santorini, it is still possible to go even further off the radar. Antiparos is that island, and if you want a relaxing holiday right on the beach, Antiparos might be the place for you. There are plenty of secluded beaches to choose from. The town of Chora is the capital of Antiparos, and the main hub of the small island. I didn’t get a chance to visit, but apparently Antiparos Cave is one of the main attractions on the island.
Byzantine Route Hike
A hike that everyone should do in Paros is the Byzantine Route. It starts in the quaint village of Lefkes, which used to be the capital of the island of Paros. It’s a very picturesque village, and you weave through the narrow alleyways before starting the Byzantine Route, a trail which dates back over a thousand years. The hike takes about an hour and a half, depending on where you end up. Starting from Lefkes, you’ll wrap up the Byzantine Route at the small village of Prodromos. From there, you can catch a bus back to wherever, or continue down to the stunning Logaros Beach. You can also stop by the beautiful village of Marpissa along the way.
Take in Some Views from the Village of Lefkes
While you’ll be starting the Byzantine Route hike from Lefkes, it’s worth hanging around this quiet little town nestled in the mountains. Have a coffee at one of the cute cafes in the main plaza, or wander through its historic streets. Lefkes used to be the capital of the island of Paros due to its central location on the island. You’ll find quite a bit of history in this area, including Byzantine structures that are still standing. The views from up here are also gorgeous.
Roam Through the Alleyways and Coastline of Naoussa
Naoussa is another beautiful city on the island of Paros. It is similar to Parikia, but definitely has more of a coastal vibe to it. There are boats everywhere, and some of the houses are right on the water akin to Little Venice in Mykonos. I just roamed around while I was here, but I think it was a bit pricier and fancier than Parikia. It seemed like the wealthier vacationers prefer Naoussa while the backpackers and younger travelers prefer Parikia.
Honestly, just wandering through Paros and its little villages will give you an otherworldly experience. The history on this island is incredible. The civilizations that took over this island, roamed through its villages, and left their imprints on it are rich and diverse. Thousands of years of human history inhabit this island, from the Greeks to Byzantines to Ionians to Minoans and pirates.
Food and Nightlife in Paros
Greek food stole my heart immediately, and Paros was no different. Treat yourself to the seafood here, and of course, traditional Greek dishes like moussaka, pastitsio, imam, souvlaki, and a variety of salads and appetizers. I became addicted to olives, tomatoes, capers, and feta cheese in Paros. Best of all, it’s way more affordable to treat yourself to nice meals here than in neighboring Mykonos and Santorini.
And despite being quieter during the day, Paros definitely knows how to get down and party. Naoussa and Parikia are the two main neighborhoods for nightlife. Naoussa seemed more classy, where you’ll have a few drinks at a nice bar watching the sunset. There are definitely some places for a proper party, but in my opinion, they paled a little bit to the bars in Parikia. The clubs in Parikia are where you’ll want to go if you want to get rowdy. Saloon D’or was open every night of the week, so it’s your safest bet if you’re looking for a spot to drink. However, once the weekend rolls around, you’re going to want to head to The Dubliner. This is where the proper nightlife in Paros is. It’s the most poppin’ club on the island with a good mixed crowd of all types of travelers.
Like I said, Paros is an island that has it all. Stunning beaches, cute villages, island-hopping, great restaurants, a buzzing nightlife scene, and way more budget-friendly for my fellow backpackers. I really considered settling down here for a few weeks before deciding that there was much, much more to see in Greece. I have no doubt that I’ll be back to Paros again one day. It’s just one of those places where life simply felt better. If you’re island hopping around Greece, Paros is not an island to be overlooked.
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