• carolinestratos

The Ultimate Guide to Paros, Naxos, and Milos

Updated: Sep 3

As they say, it's better late than never!


At the end of May I had the incredible opportunity to island-hop around Greece for an entire month. I've always wanted to live in Greece for a period of time, and I'm so glad that I finally had the chance to do so. I met the best people, visited three stunning islands (+ a bonus island!), and savored the Aegean sea all while doing it.


If you're planning a trip to the Cyclades islands of Greece in the near future, I hope that you can use this blog as a resource to plan your trip and have a better feel of the islands that you will be visiting before actually going to them. I'm by no means a Greek island expert (I'll leave that job to the locals!), but I did learn a thing or two about island life during my time in Greece that I'm excited to share with you.


Yassas, and enjoy.


PAROS

Paros - where do I even begin! I spent a week and a half in Paros, and let me tell you, it was an adventure! Every day was full of new bus trips, villages, and beaches to see, and just about everything in between. I really like how Paros is large enough to where you can explore a different area of the island each day and not get bored. Without further ado, here's what I got up to during my time on Paros:


WHERE I STAYED


STRATOS APARTMENTS AND STUDIOS

Stratos Apartments and Studios is such a great, affordable option for young travelers, couples, and even families during a stay in Paros. Located in the port city of Parikia, Stratos Apartments and Studios is in proximity to plenty of restaurants that line the sea, the Old Town of Parikia, and you can take the local bus to the points of interest on the island. The staff will happily pick you up from the port after you arrive on the ferry, and they even offer breakfast where you can admire the gorgeous sea view from the breakfast room.


You surely get a lot of bang for your buck here, as the rates are pretty cheap! Also, the staff at Stratos Apartments is a reason to come here in itself. Stratos Apartments is a family affair, and that's what I love about it. I've honestly never met a better group of people who genuinely care about getting to know their guests on a personal level and providing them the best service you can possibly find. There's a reason why the apartments have guests who come here year after year!


(Special shoutout to Lisa, Giannis, Stratos, Panos, Dimitris, and the rest of the gang! I miss you guys.)

My view from Stratos Apartments

WHERE I ATE

To be completely honest, I tried to save the most money on food during this trip. I would only go out for one big meal a day, and got some groceries to suffice for the other remaining meals.

I did enjoy some great breakfasts along the way, and I ate too many crossaints to count!

Here are some of my favorite breakfast places to go to if you find yourself in Paros:

  1. Yaya (Parikia) - I didn't go here but I heard that it's a good place to try out.

  2. Tserki (Parikia) - A patisserie and cafe all in one! Stop by for some delectable Greek pastries and a coffee while enjoying the hustle and bustle of Parikia on their front patio.

  3. Calypso (Naoussa) - This upscale restaurant & bar has stunning boho-inspired decor and you can't go wrong with their yogurt bowl for brunch.


A true masterpiece.

4. Ramnos café (Lefkes) - When visiting the charming village of Lefkes, make sure to pop by Ramnos and take in the stunning views of the whitewashed village out back. The wait staff is fantastic, and you will be well taken care of. (Pro trip: their waffles are served with a scoop of ice cream on top!)


And for dinner....

  1. Restaurant Aromas (Parikia) - I loved the yellow accents and the greenery that the ambience of Restaurant Aromas offers. You feel like you're in a crossover between a jungle/winery/Mamma Mia set! And they do the Greek classics so well - order the Greek salad and calamari to start.


The charm of Restaurant Aromas

WHERE I PLAYED

  1. Parasporos Beach - Parasporos is my favorite beach on Paros. When I visited in late May, the beach was quiet, peaceful, and nearly empty. In the summer season, this beach is more crowded with tourists due to its proximity to Parikia. There's parking at the bottom of the hill, and a beach club & restaurant where you can grab some refreshments. I recommend bringing your own towel to lay out on instead of paying for a sun lounger. The beach also has some trees where you can relax in the shade and take a break from the sun.

  2. Kolymbithres Beach - I didn't get to visit this beach due to transportation constraints, but this is one of the most popular beaches on Paros, known for its granite rock formations that have been carved by the elements over the centuries. The name Kolimbithres means swimming pools, and it speaks to the small sandy coves that the beach has. This beach is located in the bay of Naoussa.

  3. Naoussa - Naoussa is THE village to visit on Paros. It's a chic fishing village that has a very upscale feel to it with all of the high-end shopping, restaurant, and nightlife options located there. However, you can still find areas of Naoussa that are reminiscent of its humble fishing village character, but even those areas seem like they are becoming harder to find due to the increasing cosmopolitan-like atmosphere that the village has, similar to the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. My favorite part of Naoussa by far was the stunning view of the sunset over the harbor. It doesn't get much better than that.

Here are some of my Naoussa recommendations:

  • Kastelli - This Venetian fortress is right on the harbor and is a staple to Naoussa's charm and picturesque views. This structure dates back to the 15th century, and was originally used as a watchtower to monitor attacks on the bay of Naoussa. Today, its half-sunken, and if you venture inside the fortress, you're able to peer out of the peepholes to either the surrounding sea or the village of Naoussa.


View from one of the peepholes of Kastelli
  • Church of Agios Nikolaos - This small church faces the Venetian castle and attracts sailors who leave ex-votos (or objects and paintings left as a sign of gratitude for protection at sea). Agios Nikolaos is the patron saint of sailors in the Greek Orthodox religion.

  • Kimisis Theotokou - Don't forget to make the trek up to visit Kimisis Theotokou. It's the third largest church on Paros and it stands majestically on a small hill where you have to climb 16 marble steps to get to it. You're able to get a bird's-eye view of Naoussa and the surrounding bay.

4. Lefkes - Lefkes is a charming, mountainous village located on the east side of Paros island. The village is a must-see due to its gorgeous stone alleyways, olive trees, tavernas, and 1,000-year-old Byzantine road. I would recommend visiting the Church of Agia Triada and admiring the Greek/Byzantine architecture, especially the church's intricate marble bell towers. This church can be seen from just about every vantage point of the village.


Agia Triada

5. Panagia Ekakatontapiliani - Panagia Ekatontapiliani, or the Church of 100 Doors, is a historic Byzantine church located in the capital city of Parikia. It is considered to be one of the best preserved Orthodox churches in Greece, and according to Greek tradition, the church actually has 99 doors and one "secret" door that will open when the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople will become Orthodox again. The church has a reverent atmosphere with Greek Orthodox Christians paying their respects to the saints on the icons (or religious works of art) that fill the sanctuary. The complex of Ekatontapyliani is also composed of small chapels, two-storey monk cells, early Christian sculptures, as well as a souvenir shop and museum.


(Pro tip: Say hi to the priest if you see him on the premises)


Inside the Church of 100 Doors

6. Paros Archaeological Museum - Perfect for history lovers / Greek artifact connoisseurs! I researched Greek vase-painting in college, so this was right down my alley. It's definitely worth the couple of euros for admission!


Large amphora on display at the Paros Archaeological Museum

NAXOS


Naxos was undoubtedly my favorite island that I visited on this trip, which is great because it wasn't in my original plan! I decided to squeeze in Naxos after coming to the conclusion that I'd explored everything that I wanted to in Paros while still having a week remaining. In my eyes, Naxos has a more traditional feel than the others, and it's home to one of the best beaches that I visited on my trip, Alyko Beach.


WHERE I STAYED


HOTEL FRANCESA

If you want to stay in a fantastic beach town in Naxos where you can easily get to the port city, Hotel Francesca is the way to go. Not only is the hotel a short walk away from both Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna beaches, but it has a guitar-shaped pool to take a dip in at the end of the day (I'm a big fan of pools, and I kind of geeked out when I saw this one lit up at night, not going to lie!)


This hotel attracts tons of different people from all over the world and it's owned by the nicest family whose hospitality was unmatched. As a solo traveler with an excessive amount of luggage, I really appreciated the owner's husband taking me to the port free of charge.


This hotel also offers breakfast for a small charge, and my room had the best wrap-around porch where I was able to hang out and take in the sights and sounds in the morning and at night.


Hotel Francesca's guitar-shaped pool at night

WHERE I ATE

  1. Faros Tou Alykou (Alyko) - Wow. Just wow. This restaurant absolutely blew my mind. It was a recommendation from a German couple that I met during my journey (shoutout Alex and Corinna!) and I think that it's the best restaurant that I visited during my time in Greece. The setting is unbelievable: Faros is not only a short walk from Alyko beach, but the restaurant has a view of the crystal clear water framed by the mountains. They also have an indoor/outdoor concept where you'll find lemon trees near your table and windows covering the walls to give you that unbelievable view. You also can't go wrong with anything on their menu, but I made a good choice in ordering Grandma's meatballs with a side of Naxian potatoes (of course). I had to stay for the dessert, however I had limited time in order to catch one of the last busses out of the area for the day. I had to give myself a pat on the back for the choice that I made...chocolate cake. That's all I'll say for now, and you'll just have to admire the pictures of my meal below.



2. La Trattoria (Agios Prokopios) - La Trattoria is located on the premises of the Ostria Hotel in Agios Prokopios and serves stellar Greek and Italian cuisine. The service is amazing, and they make you feel very welcome (especially if you're a solo traveler).

3. Boulamatsis (Naxos Town) - A nice family-run tavern overlooking the harbor in Naxos! This place is definitely the opposite of a tourist trap. Make sure to sit on the terrace and watch the sunset as you feast on some fresh, homemade Naxian food. I ordered the fried Naxian potatoes and the lamb chops!


The view from the Boulamatsis terrace

WHERE I PLAYED

  1. Hawaii Beach (Alyko Beach) - Alyko Beach in Naxos is one of the most beautiful, secluded beaches that I've been to. The water is all shades of blue, from turquoise along the shoreline to a deeper blue as you head further out. The beach is surrounded by sand dunes and a dense forest of cedar trees. Alyko Beach is nearby both Kastraki and Glyfada beaches on the south western side of Naxos. You can reach Alyko through private options (like a transfer service, rental car, or taxi) or by the public bus which departs from the port of Naxos. You can even walk down the road from the beach to your reservation at Faros Tou Alykou.


The various shades of blue at Hawaii (Alyko) Beach

2. Naxos Town (Chora) - Out of the three main islands that I visited, Naxos Town (aka Chora) was my favorite port city. The capital city of Naxos is considered one of the most beautiful Cycladic villages for a reason. It has an almost timeless feel to it, and it seems to have maintained an authentic charm to it even though it brings in a massive amount of tourists in the summer season. I thoroughly enjoyed making my way through the winding alleyways that in Old Town that are filled with restaurants, shops, and boutiques (a lot fo them I found to be are family owned!) While you're visiting Naxos Town, be sure to hike up the hill to gaze out over the city while admiring the Naxos Portara (or Temple of Apollo). This marble doorway rests on the islet of Palatia near the port, and rumor has it that the Minoan princess Ariadne was abandoned there by her lover Theseus after he killed the minotaur on the island of Crete.

3. Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios - Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios are beaches that border each other (Agia Anna is a continuation of Agios Prokopios) on the southwestern coastline of Naxos. Located just 6 km from Naxos Town, these two beaches are popular beach destinations for tourists. Agios Prokopios offers a long coastline, as it's one of the largest beaches on the island, and you can find countless water sport options, sunbeds, umbrellas, and beach clubs to kick off your day at the beach. I like to think of Agia Anna as Agios Prokopios' little sister as it's smaller and quieter...it also offers lots of great cafés/ breakfast places!


MILOS


Milos is not only for adventure-seekers, but also for those that want to have a luxurious Cycladic escape in a chic hotel in the mountainous hills of the island. You really can have it all in Milos, and I'm glad that I gave this volcanic island a visit.


WHERE I STAYED


KORINA'S ROOMS

Korina's Rooms is a good choice to consider when budget traveling to Milos. Located in the fishing village of Pollonia, Korina's Rooms is a short walk to the village's seaside restaurants and home beach, Pollonia Beach. You can even catch the bus to nearby beaches and the port city at the bottom of hill from Korina's Rooms. Pollonia really has so much charm, and I think it's the perfect place to stay when in Milos. Unless you're planning to stay at a resort in the middle of the island, I would suggest staying in Pollonia as opposed to the port city of Adamas.


Korina's Rooms has a view of the sea on either side, and Korina the owner is lovely. She will definitely take care of you while you're there!


While Korina's rooms doesn't offer breakfast, there are a couple of adorable bakeries/breakfast restaurants you can visit in Pollonia (listed down below!)


WHERE I ATE

  1. Kivotos ton Gefseon (Pollonia) - I went to this bakery twice during my four day stay in Pollonia, and that wasn't enough. Not only does this bakery/cafe serve all the traditional Greek pastries and goods that you could ever want, but it has a coffee bar if you want a quick fredo expresso fix or you could relax for a bit longer in their garden out back where they serve a delicious breakfast. I got their baklava and Oreo mousse and took it along for a snack on my beach day one day after eating a yummy breakfast of eggs and bacon in their garden, and I also got a chocolate crossaint on-the-go before hopping on the ferry to go back to Athens.


The selection of pastries...need I say more?

2. Deck Coffee, Brunch, & Cocktails (Pollonia) - This restaurant possibly has the best view of the water in Pollonia as it overlooks Pollonia Beach where you can enjoy breakfast and a coffee in the morning and a cocktail in the afternoon. I came for their pancakes and they did not disappoint.



3. Jordan's Meating (Pollonia) - This restaurant was very family-friendly and the service was amazing! If you're looking for some hearty meat-filled meals during your stay, this is the place to go.


4. Aggeliki Ice Cream Shop (Adamas) - By far the BEST gelato that I've ever had (and probably will have).


I opted for the caramel and Ferrero Rocher flavors.

WHERE I PLAYED

  1. Sarakiniko Beach - Sarakiniko Beach in Milos is hands down one of the most beautiful beaches in Milos. It's famous for a reason, as the water is encompassed by greyish-white volcanic rock formations that stand tall in unusual shapes and curves that have been carved by the northern winds of the island. The rocks literally look like they belong on the moon, which is why Sarakiniko's atmosphere is commonly referred to as a moonscape. It's by far one of the most popular spots on Milos (if not THE most popular spot), and I would avoid the flock of tourists by visiting in the shoulder season and/or the morning hours. Cliff jumping is a MUST here and you can bask in the sun and get a tan on the rocks afterwards.


Sarakiniko Beach

2. Papafragas Caves - Papafragas is a conglomeration of swimming holes, caves, and beaches where there are massive cliffs dominated by a rectangular-shaped cove where you can watch the water churn and clash into the sides of the cliffs. Papafragas is a short distance from both Adamas and Pollonia, and there is an unmarked parking area where you can park your cars and ATVs.


Papafragas Caves

3. Tripiti, Catacombs of Milos - Tripiti is the perfect place to go on Mediterranean geo-walks and explore ancient ruins. Tripiti is a small town near Plaka on Milos and it is famous for the Roman Theatre and the Catacombs of Milos being located at its foothills. The Catacombs of Milos and the Roman Theatre are perhaps the most historically significant sites on Milos as they shed light on early Christianity (Catacombs) and the Hellenistic period (Ancient Theatre). The group tour of the Catacombs is worthwhile and lasts no longer than 15 minutes.


(Oh, and: There's an almost hidden seafront fishing village at the very bottom of the hill from the Catacombs and Ancient Theatre called Klima which has only 20 permanent residents and is composed of rainbow-colored boat houses known as "syrmata". Make sure you don't miss it!)


Klima, Milos

Thanks for following along on my adventures throughout the Greek islands! Look out for a bonus blog about a bonus island that I visited during my trip, Antiparos!

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