We arrived in the Port of Parikia on the island of Paros aboard Speed Runner Five, a huge Hellenic ferry. After disembarking we jumped into a taxi (which we prearranged through our hotel) for the 20 minute drive to Naoussa at the bottom end of Paros, the cost 17€. Naoussa is the much favoured place to stay on Paros. Known as a castle town set around a small port, the tiny streets are built in a fashion as to totally confuse tourists of the twenty-first century but historically protected the citizens of Naoussa from pirates in the 13th century. Today there are many tavernas and smart bars on the water front, as well as dozens of fine eating places in the small whitewashed alleyways.
We would like to mention three restaurants in what is known as Gourmet Street, Naoussa. Le Sud, French cuisine, served very delicious food with refined service and good French wine. We had the foie gras with ginger bread and red currant jelly, outstanding. The duck breast cooked ‘rosé‘ was perfect for main, with a subtle orange sauce. The hosts Jean-Luc and Jean-Jacques made sure our evening of dining was a huge success. This was a wonderful change from Greek food (even though we absolutely love it) which we had been eating for a while during our time here.
Soso restaurant, modern Greek, has a sign featuring a purple heart and is just along from Le Sud in the same street. This place displays a rainbow flag on the door. The food here was some of the best we have eaten in Greece. Lemon lamb shank so tender when touched it and it fell off the bone. The pork medallions in honey and mustard were even better. We had the mixedsalads for two. Cold fish salad ‘to die for’, beat root in yoghurt, perfect with the pork, zucchini with anchovies, sounds a little strange but the taste was an excellent combination and the tzatziki complemented the lamb well. An almost perfect meal but unfortunately we were not advised prior to eating that credit cards were not accepted, only cash. This was the only problem with this restaurant but we had the same problem with some others on the island as well.
Ydroussa is a wonderful restaurant with a beautiful garden setting, excellent food and service. The seafood spaghetti was super fresh and very al dente. Valeria, the host, ensures everything is perfect and they take credit cards.
Another night we had excellent Greek style pizza at the Mediterranean Sea Greek and Italian restaurant located more or less on the main square of the town. Cheap and cheerful.
We stayed at Adonis Apartments on the hill just above Piperi Beach, a ten minute walk from Naoussa. The apartments were clean and reasonably large with good views of the sea and the owner Dimitri was extremely obliging. There is a wealth of accommodation all over the island however being in walking distance from Naoussa is a big bonus as in summer the town has thousands of people at night and parking can be a nightmare.
Having a car is almost essential as most of the beaches and tourist spots on the island are out of the two main towns of Naoussa and Parikia. We visited Santa Maria Beach, very beautiful but very straight. Isolated Lageri beach is the most gay beach on the island and is a Greek holiday dream come true. Very few people, crystal clear, blue, flat water and a few gay guys around. The southern end has nude swimming and sunbathing. There are also sand hills at the back for those feeling playful. You can also get to Lageri from Naoussa by ferry. To find the beach by car drive slightly past Santa Maria Beach Club entrance and turn left and go up the bumpy dirt road. Go through a gate, up a hill to the big power pole, wind down the hill for a couple of hundred metres until you see a few cars parked. Very much worth the effort as the beach is quite protected on windy days. After the beach we ate at a lovelybeach taverna called To Sixty further on from Santa Maria Beach Club. Eating our Greek salad, homemade Greek meatballs and fried calamari on the taverna’s big veranda was very relaxing after the beach.
One lunchtime we drove to the ancient village of Lefkes in central Paros about a twenty minutes from Naoussa. This small, charming, historically significant village was once the capital of Paros during the Middle Ages. Today, it still has traditional white washed houses, tiny winding streets, Venetian architecture and churches dating from the 15th century. Lefkes is totally a walking town. We parked at the top and walked down to the Church of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) in the main village square. The church is from the Byzantine period and made of fine white marble. Lefkes streets twist and turn to reveal small boutique shops, many selling hand made items like jewellery, clothes, jams and biscuits. The local bakery almost knocks you out with the aroma of freshly baked bread and cinnamon biscuits.
We stopped at Agnadio, a 90 year old taverna at the top of the ridge below the car park where we had local home made spinach pie, freshly made yoghurt cake and excellent expresso coffee. The taverna is well known for its meats and in the evening from this vantage point it is possible to see the lights of Naxos. At lunchtime we enjoyed the summer breeze, the crickets singing and the splendour of the view with the hills in the background and whitewashed houses decorated with purple flowering bougainvillaea.
Naoussa has many small bars around the port. Some so close to the water that the tables get wet from the waves. At night the bars light up the ocean front and it is gorgeous sitting almost in the sea having a drink. The closest you get to a gay bar is Fosit. Beautifully decorated in all white with low slungchairs by the sea, the bar attracts a mixed crowd with a good number of gay guys. The DJ plays excellent music, service is very attentive and the manager is vigilant in ensuring things are right. Definitely worth finding.
Another day we drove around the whole island of Paros. The highlight without a doubt was our visit to Antiparos. We took the car ferry from Paros to Antiparos which takes only about five minutes. We left the car ferry and drove around stunning coastline to find a host of magical small beaches and at Ages Annis we stopped for frappes. We took in the vista and watched the octopus and salted fish drying on the racks above the water. Antiparos is a place where beauty is almost excessive. The turquoise water, the islands isolation, white-washed housesand stark hillside scenery create an enchanting atmosphere. We saw the largest collection of kite surfers we have ever seen enjoying fantastic runs just off the island. If staying on Antiparos there are plenty of hotels and studios. Hiking, cycling, scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and kite surfing are all popular things to do. Getting back to Paros is easy as the car ferry leaves every half hour.
Tips for Paros
- You need your own transport and we suggest a car, (approx. 60€ per day in high season) quad bike or motorbike if you are game.
- Some places don’t take credit cards on the island. Ask before you buy.
- Stay in Naoussa rather than Parika, the town is prettier and there is more to do in the evening.
- Stay in walking distance of Naoussa town to avoid driving to dinner at night.
- Eat in the back streets of Naoussa rather than at the touristy places at the front of the port.
- Make the effort and find Lageri Beach. It is protected from the wind and much less crowded.
- Have lunch in the shade of the outdoor terrace at To Sixty taverna after a stunning (hot) day at Lageri Beach.
- Have a drink at Fosit Bar on the water, lovely bar and the closest you are going to get to a gay bar in Naoussa.
- Find Gourmet street for good restaurants (eg. Le Sud, Soso, Ydroussa and others)
- Take a trip to Antiparos for the day via the car ferry.
- Drive to Lefkes for lunch and sightseeing in a traditional Greek village