With plentiful, safe, clean, sporty and fun beaches, Paros is a dream summer destination. Yet this postcard-perfect, white-coated Cycladic island is actually much more than its sands and sun.
Basking in the season’s soft light; with ever-changing -from cerulean, sun-kissed to thunder clad, grey- skies; surrounded by sometimes sparkling, others, darkening seas, Paros’ winter scenery is nothing short of spectacular. And if you thought that the only time to visit this archetypal whitewashed, Cycladic island is in the summer, perhaps you should reconsider. Not only thanks to its dramatically alluring beauty; but also because winter Paros holidays actually offer a wealth of enchanting experiences: Conceivably more free and authentic than those encompassed in the all-time classic (and surely delightful!) sun, sea, sand triptych; undoubtedly captivating and unique.
Why it is a good idea to go on Paros holidays in the winter
Think impossibly picturesque villages and towns all to yourselves, with not even a selfie stick in sight. Imagine long -leisurely or brisker- walks on ancient footpaths lined up with historical monuments, amidst virgin nature. Picture cozy afternoons in traditional kafeneion philosophizing with locals over a glass of local wine or souma. Going horseback riding against the backdrop of a spectacular winter sunset. Or even kitesurfing between wavy seas and volatile skies.
If this is starting to whet your appetite for an offseason escapade in Paros, read on for more:
Winter Paros holidays: Drink in the sights, without the tourists
Just 3 km from the stunning Yria Boutique Hotel & Spa in beautiful Parasporos bay, the island’s capital, Paroikia, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. At the heart of this Cycladic settlement lies the Venetian fortress built in the 13th century with parts of the ancient temple of Demeter. The Kastro is surrounded by narrow, maze-like streets thus created for protection from the strong winds, but also to deflect the pirates, at the time plaguing the Aegean. Nowadays these winding alleys are lined up with typical whitewashed houses but also splendid neoclassical mansions. They also host traditional and modern cafes, restaurants and tavernas as well as the main market: Designer boutiques abound in the summer, but some of them remain open in the winter, should you wish to engage in some shopping therapy! In fact, Paroikia, bustling with life -albeit often on the overcrowded side- in the summer, remains quite animated in the winter, as it is the island’s main administrative and commercial hub. Which, simply put, means you get to enjoy the best of both worlds on your winter Paros holidays: The famous sights, sans the crowds.
Get a glimpse of times bygone at the Archaeological Museum featuring exhibits and artifacts dating back to the neolithic period. Make sure to explore the imposing Byzantine church of Panagia Ekatontapyliani: Boasting 100 doors and a fascinating backstory this is Paros’ most powerful trademark: Legend has it, it was built by Saint Helen, mother of Emperor Konstantine, on the 4th century, and that only 99 of its openings have been identified until now. Thence when the last one is found, the Greeks will own Constantinople again.
Whilst in the capital, visit the ancient cemetery and the 13th-century Frankish castle to admire the views from the top. Amazing vistas over neighboring Sífnos, Sérifos and Kýthnos, are on offer also from the 17th century, eyrie, monastery of Ágii Anárgyri, east of the town. Bring a bottle to collect holy water from the subterranean holy spring dating from 1779. It is supposed to work wonders!
Winter Paros holidays: Immerse yourselves in nature
Paros boasts numerous walking paths and hiking trails, which are best enjoyed in the Cycladic winter’s reasonably mild weather. Options abound – a great idea is to venture into the mainland to hike along the Byzantine Road, the ancient marble footpath that connects the quaint, must-visit, village of Lefkes with Prodromos, a small, fortified, old Cycladic settlement.
Built more than one thousand years ago as part of the main passage across the island, from Paroikia to Piso Livadi, when the Aegean was tormented by pirates, and the Parian capital was on the protected inland village of Lefkes, the Byzantine Road consists of a network of cobblestone streets, once trodden by farmers, tradesmen, and shepherds. Little has changed ever since. Nowadays the 6-7 km paved, scenic, mildly strenuous route, starting from Lefkes, takes you through olive groves and fields of myrtle, wildflowers, sage, thyme and oregano. You’ll also pass from a dry stream bed over a little bridge, before ascending to the large (but very doable) hilltop to admire the sweeping views and then go down again to Prodromos for a bite to eat in the tavernas.
Nature enthusiasts will also love Paros Park: With its unspoiled rock formations exemplifying Cycladic beauty and three, quite easy for beginners even, walking paths, in fact, it is one of the island’s main attractions, equally captivating throughout the year. Depending on which trail you choose you will pass by a prehistoric settlement, the Pro-Byzantine Monastery of Agios Ioannis Detis, the Russian fleet’s headquarters during the “Orlofika” when the Greeks sided with the Russians in their war with Turkey, and the lighthouse of Cape Corakas, one of the 120 stone lighthouses in Greece. All paths are suitable for any age and physical ability level; clearly signposted – even if you go “off-piste”, you won’t get lost; with several recommended stops sporting outstanding views and abundant natural beauty.
Paros holidays in the winter allows you to be active in all sorts of ways. From exploring iconic towns and historical landmarks, basking in true Parian hospitality or hiking through stunningly beautiful sites, to kite surfing, horseback riding or practicing your Om’s against the dramatic seascape, you’ll get plenty of excitement and not even a moment’s boredom. The list is by no means exhaustive; stay tuned for more on the immersive adventures in store should you choose to visit Paros in the winter!