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You’ve heard everyone boasting about their unforgettable summer holidays in the sunny Greek Islands and you decided it is high time you planned your own! Picturesque villages, whitewashed cubic houses, shimmering shores and delicious seafood are among the first thoughts when Greek summer is mentioned. While holding a piece of truth, such cliches can be confusing when choosing the very destination for your holidays; one of the most common dilemmas occurring, is deciding between two beauties of the Cyclades, Naxos and Paros.
Here in Greeka we help you better pinpoint the unique characteristics of each alternative, find the best ways to fill your itineraries, book your trip and discover the Greek summer inside of you.
Wanting to book your ferry tickets with ease of mind? You can do so anytime at Ferries.Greeka.com.
These beautiful islands stand in close proximity, while ferry rides between them range from 30 minutes to an hour and allow for daily excursions to enrich your stay in the Aegean. While sharing weather, the wonderful Cycladic architecture and traditions as a result of their neighbouring, they have successfully established distinctive characteristics. Without further due, let’s dive into them!
Not to miss: Discover our available Greek Island Hopping packages for Naxos and Paros.
Paros or Naxos? Getting to know the islands
The island of Naxos is a great Cycladic destination of Greece! It stands as the largest one of the Cyclades, located in the middle of the complex and is blessed with an interesting mountainous landscape that gradiently flattens into open valleys and plateaus, only to top it all with a vast shimmering coastline and sandy beaches. Naxos is adored both by thrill-seekers for its windsurfing, kitesurfing and hiking options as well as by travellers who aim for peaceful, seashore family time. It can be reached via numerous ferry routes, as well as via air through domestic flights from Athens International Airport. Having looked into some info for Naxos, it is time to talk about the equally fascinating island of Paros.
Paros is one of the popular islands of the Cyclades complex, especially well-known among young people thanks to its vivid nightlife. It is easily accessible both via air, as its airport hosts domestic and some European flights, as well as via numerous ferry routes. Paros hosts many stylish cocktail bars to lounge at, charming boutiques abundant with handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs, all adorned with the traditional Cycladic architecture. It features an eccentric variety of beaches, with some of them being sandy and lengthy and others being more secluded within sea-carved rock formations. It is a great destination for couples and groups of friends, although it is not the primary option for families with young children.
Arriving at Paros or Naxos; the available routes
Travellers can reach the beautiful Cycladic islands via air or sea routes. As aforementioned, Naxos hosts domestic flights from the capital of Athens, making for very short transportation. There are also plentiful ferry boat routes connecting the island with Athens on a daily basis and with the neighbouring Cyclades islands. The journey from Athens lasts approximately 5 hours and the pricing starts from as low as 35 euros per individual. Take a more detailed look at travelling options for Naxos.
Furthermore, Paros island’s airport hosts both domestic and international flights, allowing tourists from abroad a more direct route. The numerous ferry boat routes available from Athens and the Cyclades are a great option for getting to enjoy the Aegean Sea during the journey. The ferry trip can last from approximately 4 to 4.5 hours, depending on the type of vessel you choose. The prices are also very similar to the Naxos route, with pricing starting from as low as 30 euros. Take a more detailed look at travelling options for Paros.
Important Note: When departing from Piraeus port in Athens, Paros and Naxos are on the same ferry route. The first stop is Paros and the next one is Naxos. The boat after Naxis can take different directions, toward Ios and Santorini or Amorgos.
Book the ferry tickets for your desired destination.
Optimal vacation length for Paros or Naxos; spotting the differences
If you are planning a lengthy stay in the Cyclades of around 10 days, you can combine both Paros and Naxos in your itinerary successfully and without feeling overwhelmed from exploring them. Ideally, if your stay consists of less than 5 days, we suggest you visit the island of Paros; it is relatively smaller which allows you to discover it in fewer days effectively.
On the other hand, Naxos being the biggest island of the Cyclades with plenty of locations to visit and equally as many activities and festivals to partake into, a week or more would be ideal. Read our post: “What to do in Naxos: 10 special things“.
Getting to know the beaches on Paros and Naxos; a brief guide
The astonishing seashores of both islands are sure to captivate your hearts! Paros is adorned with golden, sandy beaches that feature beautiful rock formations and well-equipped beach bars for your convenience and entertainment, such as Kolympithres, Golden Beach, Marcello and Santa Maria. They tend to get crowded during high season, as a result of the island’s popularity amongst young people. Learn more about the delightful beaches of Paros.
On Naxos, one can experience some of the top-rated beaches in the Cyclades; unfolding as far as the eye can see, shimmering shores endlessly kissed by the turquoise waters of the Aegean are a sight one should definitely indulge in; with organized ones such as Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna or Plaka, or secluded options such as Alyko, Little Paradise and Panermos to enjoy with your significant other away from the crowd. The Naxian shores rarely get too packed with tourists, not because they lack in popularity, but thanks to their considerable sizes there is room for everyone. Learn more about the exquisite beaches of Naxos.
Getting around the islands; Transportation and car rentals
Vehicle rentals are usually the go-to option when travellers want to discover the island on their own time and with peace of mind. If you are visiting Paros for its nightlife, then a car will not be necessary and you can use public buses (Ktel). The island offers rather frequent bus transportation with low-priced tickets that can serve you adequately. One thing to keep in mind is that the buses may get crowded at peak hours, usually around noon and dusk by young people to and from the beaches, as well as towards the party hotspots of the island. If you want to be more flexible and move around the island at ease, a motorcycle is a more preferable rental option, due to its convenience in narrow streets and village roads.
As for Naxos, a car rental is strongly recommended; the mountainous parts of the island are not entirely connected with the bus routes, which are also less frequent than those of Paros. A vehicle is sure to assist you in creating a well-tailored time schedule for your adventures by significantly diminishing the transportation time from the beaches to Chora, as well as enabling you to discover the magnificent mainland with the traditional villages, Byzantine churches and Venetian Towers of Naxos.
Book your car rental with us today, easily and stress-free!
Accommodation options for Paros and Naxos; choosing your lodging
When it comes to rooms and hotels available, Paros and Naxos do not disappoint; with a wide spectrum of accommodations, they offer relaxation, quality and beautiful design while respecting the Cycladic architecture and colors. Paros features top-notch hotels with emphasis on the detail, as well as lavish villas for a more private and luxurious vacation. The pricing ranges depending on the selected lodging; from moderate prices in more minimal establishments to affordable luxury options that raise the budget, Paros appeals to everyone. You can take a more detailed look at Paros accommodation options.
Accordingly, Naxos features a spectrum of more affordable hotels and rooms available. Being a more family-oriented island, the luxury options are limited compared to Paros, without that stopping its accommodation from being elegant and comfortable. You can take a more detailed look at Naxos accommodation options as well as at our post with “Hotels in Naxos to fall in love with“.
Windsurfing and Kitesurfing options on Paros and Naxos
Not every island is blessed with the right winds to steadily accommodate watersports like windsurfing or kitesurfing; Paros and Naxos are among the lucky few. The strong, dry and seasonal wind known as Meltemi during summertime creates the optimal conditions these sports require to be executed. They are predominant in the Aegean region, especially during midsummer. In Paros, Pounda beach is the kitesurfing location and Golden beach the windsurfing hub.
For Naxos, Laguna beach is popular among the windsurfing enthusiasts, while Mikri Vigla hosts both windsurfing and kitesurfing sports. It is notable that schools for beginners and adepts can be found on both islands.
Paros or Naxos for family vacations? Picking the best option for your plans
Between the two islands, Naxos is the most befitting of the family destination title. That is because of the calm, peaceful pace of life the island holds; it is not as tourist developed as Paros and has a very moderate nightlife. The mesmerizing sandy shores with shallow waters create a safe environment for young children to play in; the numerous options in family hotels and private villas encourage travellers to bring their young offspring along for a stress-free stay.
Paros is also an acceptable option for families, as long as they don’t mind coexisting with the crowds of young people partying at the clubs of Parikia and Naoussa.
Nightlife options on Paros and Naxos; where to party until daybreak
It is undoubtedly Paros that takes the cake when it comes to having a robust nightlife to offer to its visitors; and that’s why young people choose it for their summer vacation every year. Parikia and Naoussa are the top picks for partying all night long, while Pounda beach is the daytime party hub of the island. Find more detailed options regarding bars and clubs of Paros.
Naxos, as aforementioned, has a more moderate nightlife, not as wild as Paros has. The bars and outing options are mostly gathered in the town of Chora and Agia Anna. Find more detailed options regarding bars and restaurants of Naxos.
Gastronomy options of Paros and Naxos; suiting your palate
As part of the Cyclades, both islands feature exquisite seafood and fresh fish taverns and restaurants, each with their own signature recipes. Paros offers a more varied culinary experience for its visitors, with locally inspired cuisine as well as international restaurants with their own unique menus. Upscale options in dining are also present for those who want to splurge when it comes to their savoring of delicacies. More information on restaurants in Paros.
Naxos is a proud quality agricultural producing region of Greece, with a great variety in locally grown and made produce adorning its restaurant dishes; from its famous potato to unique cheese and tasteful vegetables. Along with its locally and ethically produced meat, it is the epitome of Greek cuisine in the region. More details about restaurants in Naxos.
Day tours available from Paros and Naxos; broadening your horizons
As amazing as discovering a whole island can be, it is even more fascinating when it can be combined with more islands on a single vacation package! There are single-day trips available to nearby charming destinations.
From Naxos, there are more day trips options. The Small Cyclades complex is located on the west side of the island and in less than 2 hours by ferry from Naxos. The islands of Koufonisia, Iraklia, Sxoinousa and Donoussa, are great getaways for great pricing.
Traditional villages of Paros and Naxos; experiencing the Greek hospitality
While Paros is all about upscale touristic development in the last decades, in the heart of the island the traditional village of Lefkes is a beautiful link between the past and present of the island’s identity.
For Naxos, it is mostly the opposite that applies; tourist development can be felt mostly in the main town of Chora and at the western coastal part of it, like the seashores of Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna and Plaka. The rest of the island still nurtures its lively traditional colors and customs, especially on its mountainous villages of Apiranthos, Chalki and Filoti.
Holiday cost of Paros and Naxos; opting according to your budget
Lastly, we should address the overall cost of staying in Naxos or Paros for your summertime vacation and finding the one closest to your budget.
As regards the island of Paros, the accommodation, dining, entertainment options provided, along with the daily expenses, require higher budgetary planning than that of Naxos. Paros is cosmopolitan and thus more upscale inclined, with affordable luxury being one of its core aspects as a tourist location. This can be balanced out with a shorter stay on the island and the option of utilizing the available low fare bus routes for getting around.
Naxos on the other hand is more ideal for lower budgets or family holidays, where expenses are more carefully calculated prior to visiting the island. It offers moderate dining options, as well as lodging, that don’t vary greatly from one village to another. One should take into consideration that Naxos would need more days for a satisfying and thorough exploration of it, while a car rental should surely be included in the total expenses of the vacation.