Paros is sometimes called Mykonos' little brother. Despite the fact that thousands descend on Paros each summer, the island has managed to maintain an authentic Greek island atmosphere which makes it more relaxed than its neighbour. Not only that, but it has so much to offer. In this blog we’ll narrow Paros’s many delights into a top 5 of things to do and places to visit on the island.
How to get there
Paros does have an airport but you can’t fly directly into it from the UK as it is for domestic flights only, therefore you have to fly from Athens or in the summer, Thessaloniki and Heraklion. Flights from Athens only take around 40 mins. Alternatively you can take the ferry to get to Paros, not only is it one of the largest islands in the Cyclades but it is also one of the main ports and therefore is usually one of the first stops on the route. Its also great if you’re wanting to island hop as it has great links with other islands in the Cyclades.
1 - Parikia
The islands main port and capital town, Parikia should be high on your list of things to do when on Paros. Full of the typical whitewashed houses you expect from the Cyclades, it makes for stunning scenery. As well as these, there are the remains of the Kastro (castle) which was built by the Venetians in the 13th century. Parikia is filled with close streets bustling with cafes and tavernas that stretch all the way down, and along the waterfront providing a scenic spot for food. If you want to be in the middle of everything that is happening on the island Parikia is a good place to stay, and it is very accommodating to tourists with all the amenities you could need such as banks and supermarkets. Parikia is also home to one of the places you should definitely visit when on Paros, Panagia Ekatontapiliani, a church which is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in all of Greece. If you’re on the island on the 15th August then you’re in luck as it is the feast day for the Dormition of Our Lady, to which the church is dedicated and there is a huge celebration on the island.
Symi is an island in the Dodecanese just 24 miles from Rhodes. This makes it a popular destination for day trippers from the island, but the island has a lot more to offer for those wanting the stay longer as well and can be a good addition to an island hopping itinerary. We’re also seeing an increase in enquiries for those looking to do the majority of their stay on the island. This is because before and after the day trippers leave, and if you venture further from Symi Town the island takes on a whole new personality. In this blog we’ll take you through why Symi is much more than a day trip island if you’re staying on Rhodes.
Explore the town
Symi Town is not only the capital and largest settlement on the island, but is also the port of the island. The capital has two distinctive sections to it – Chorio (at the top) and Yialos (the bottom). They are linked by 400 steps called Kali Strata. They each have their own tavernas, shops and cafes as well as their own atmosphere. When you enter on the ferry you are immediately taken aback by the beauty of the port area, it looks like something only possible in your imagination. The many beautiful houses and buildings lining the port hint at the islands past as a commercial centre. Another reminder of its past is the Venetian castle which sits overlooking the town. The history of the island can be learned about in the Nautical and Archaeological museums in Symi Town.
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades islands and is slowly becoming more popular for tourists. With an airport for internal flights and excellent ferry links, its not a difficult place to get to and is great if you’re looking to stay on one island or as part of an island-hopping trip. In this blog we’re going to show you why, if you’re looking at the Cyclades, Naxos should be your first choice.
How to get there
As we mentioned earlier Naxos has a domestic airport and excellent ferry links. If you’re going to fly we recommend flying into Naxos via Athens, Mykonos or Santorini. As Naxos is on the main Cyclades ferry line, boats are regular and so it is not difficult to get to, no matter where you are coming from. We will sort ferry times to line up with flights at the time of enquiry.
Come for the beaches
Many people come to Greece for the beaches and Naxos can certainly deliver on that front. Being the largest island in the group, it has plenty of beaches (over 90kms). It has several organised beaches but there are many which aren’t and can be a lot more private. Most of these organised beaches are in Naxos Town or the nearby Agios Prokopios. Those looking for the smaller, more quiet beaches can travel around the island, either via public transport, excursion or hire car. Most of Naxos’s beaches have fine white sand, there are however some pebble beaches and rocky ones as well. Its many beaches make it perfect for a number of water sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing.
The Peloponnese is the name given to the southern part of the Greek mainland, from the Corinth Canal downwards. This is where Greece shines through – the food is amongst the best in the country, the regions vineyards provide some of the new guard of Greek wines that are winning awards but most importantly the ‘filoxenia’ or hospitality really is visible here. The area has so much to visit as well, such as beautiful beaches and lovely towns, however it is also home to many of Greece’s historical landmarks, especially from the classical period. Unless you want to stay in one place for the majority of your holiday, you will need to rent a car and this opens up opportunities. In this article we’ll take you through how to do a 7 day road trip across the Peloponnese, starting and ending at the areas airport of Kalamata, in which you can take in most of the historical landmarks of the area. At the Greek Specialist, we can all the stress out of it and organise the whole thing from flights to accommodation and car hire, it can all be discussed at the time of enquiry.
How to get there
Kalamata is the airport to fly into for the Peloponnese. You can fly into Kalamata from London Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham, Stansted, Bristol and Manchester. For most of these destinations there is only one or two flights a week, giving us our timeframe for a 7 day road trip. Flights into Kalamata for 2022 go on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, although most tend to be at a weekend.
After landing in Kalamata, you can either spend the day exploring all the city has to offer and stay the night there or you can drive to Sparta, which takes just over an hour, from which you can then explore the next day. If you’re staying in Kalamata, there’s plenty to explore, whether it be museums or churches such as the Church of Agioi Apostoloi or relaxing on any one of the beaches on the cities coast. If you drive straight to Sparta, there’s many places to get some food whilst you walk around the city and take in the sights and sounds.
Once you’re in Sparta, the two main historical sites are the remains of Ancient Sparta and Mystras. The archaeological site of the famous ancient Sparta is in the north of the town. Here you can explore the fascinating area and see the sites of the Acropolis, Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia and the theatre amongst others. These sites which remain date back as far as nearly 3000 years ago. Think about the history they have seen, walking through you can imagine what it was like in its heyday. Not far out of the town is Mystras, a Byzantine settlement dating back to the 13th century. Built around a large hill, although ruined much of the settlement is still standing and one of the churches hosts a museum holding various items from the city. Not only has this settlement still got many of its original buildings, all of which give a good idea of the importance of the city in the region, but also it has a wonderful panoramic view across the surrounding landscape.
From Sparta you then drive north towards Nafplion, if you want to however, you can detour to Monemvasia. Known as the Gibraltar of the East, Monemvasia’s main town is on the easternmost of the Peloponnese’s peninsulas. The castle and part of the town is located on a small outcrop which is attached to the mainland by a 200m long causeway. The settlement dates back to the 6th century AD and is another example of the Byzantine era of the region. Much of the town keeps its original rustic appearance and many of the buildings have been restored to keep up the appearance of the town. It should be visited if you have the time.
Greece is a love affair for The Greek Specialist. Our first visit to the country came in 1997 and since then