In the US, the Memorial Day holiday marks the start of the summer travel season. In Greece, although we all start thinking about our summer holidays as soon as we get past Easter, the actual “start” of the summer holiday season begins with the Agiou Pneumatos holiday - 50 days after Easter, with the first three day weekend of the summer.
I always dreamed of exploring more of the Cyclades islands, and as I recently moved to Athens from the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki to join the Real Greece Travel team, it seems I’m closer to being about to fulfill that dream.
The Cycladic Islands, or as we Greeks call them the Cyclades,are a group of islands (33 in total!), southeast of the mainland in the Aegean sea. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos, the island in which the gods Apollo and Artemis were born. The Cyclades developed and prospered thanks to their abundant stone production, so do not expect to see a lot of green scenery. What I love about the Cyclades is the food, the white houses and the beautiful beaches.
So, as the official first three day weekend arrived, I decided to catch the ferry from Piraeus (the port of Athens) and head to the Cycladic island of Paros.
How easy was it to reach Paros? Super easy! I took the ferry from Piraeus port on a Saturday morning and in 4 hours I was there. The ferry started at 7:30am so this was the hardest part; waking up early. Nevertheless, all the streets were empty at that time and we reached the port very quickly - boarded, arrived on Paros at 11.30am so we had the whole day ahead to explore.
Paros has around 14.000 total permanent residents and what I loved about it is that it is quite a small island so you can drive pretty much from one side to another in one hour (I would advise you to use a car so you can be more independent). I loved the traditional Cycladic architecture, superb food, magical beaches and some rural villages that can win you over in a heartbeat!
Arriving in Paros main port of Parikia, we checked our one of the island’s highlights, Ekatonapyliani, The Church of 100 Doors. This is said to be the oldest church in continuous use in Greece, dating back to the 10th century.
As we were 7 people in total we stayed at a really nice villa close to Santa Maria beach, one of the nicest sandy beaches in the island. Settled in to our accommodation, we set out to explore a bit before finding ourselves a socially distantly spaced table at Ouzeri Taverna To Thalami, a seaside taverna with a great view overlooking the sea. We enjoyed gouna (which is something like a smoked mackerel) and reggosalata (a salty spread made out of a salted fish). We added some perfectly fried gampari, small pan fried shrimp, which we dipped into the salty, creamy reggosalata.
I rose early on our first morning. As I am a passionate open-water swimmer I was eager to enjoy a swim at Lageri beach (about 1.5km from Naoussa), a beautiful, quiet beach, set deep in a cove with fine sand and dunes.
Back in Naoussa, there were lots of options for refreshment - we started slow, with coffee at the all day cafe, Somaripa Consolato, where we were lucky enough to find a seat on their little balcony with an amazing view over the sea. Had we been looking for nightlife we would have headed to Kosmos Bar sa for some refreshing cocktails!
We took an afternoon ferry back to Athens, so we had time to stop at Vanilla Gelateria in Parikia - just across from the ferry port. I tried the cheesecake flavour and bueno flavour.
Whether you want to enjoy a more relaxing holiday or enjoy something more active Paros is an island that can offer all kinds of different experiences. Want to learn more about Paros and traveling in Cyclades? Give us a shout 🙂