You’ve probably heard of Mykonos and Santorini, two dazzling Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. These islands tend to get the most attention—and for good reason; they’re breathtaking and offer some of the world’s best photo ops.

But Santorini and Mykonos are definitely not your only choices when it comes to Greek islands. Greece has over 6,000 islands and islets, around 200 of which are inhabited. Some offer mind-bogglingly beautiful beaches and coves, some offer amazing archeological sites, and some offer fantastic nightlife. And if you want to experience all of these things, you can hit more than one island on your trip.

One island that you should not overlook is Paros. This gem lies in the central Aegean Sea and is part of the Cyclades, one of several island clusters around Greece. Paros is a short ferry ride from Santorini, has stunning beaches, a great nightlife, good public transportation, lovely traditional villages, and beautiful cultural sights.

Here are 5 reasons to visit Paros.

Dozens of gorgeous beaches

Kolymbithres BeachCC Image Courtesy of Kostas Limitsios on Flickr

Crystal clear water, golden sand, and beach bars? Yes, please.

There are numerous beaches on Paros, with each offering something a bit different. The most famous beach on the island may be Kolymbithres, known for its strange granite rock formations. Santa Maria offers water sports, beach bars, restaurants, and tavernas. Ai Yannis, also known as Monastiri, has a laid-back vibe and beautiful green waters, and every summer there are moonlight concerts and outdoor cinema events there—just steps from the beach.

Moving around
It’s relatively easy to travel around Paros. The island has many buses which depart from the capital of Parikia and the town of Naoussa and travel to most parts of the island, particularly during high season. Car and motorbike rental is also widely available, and the island has a good road system.

Traditional villages

Paros villagesPhoto Courtesy of Photox0906 on tumblr.com

Many of Paros’ villages are found along the sea, and because of the island’s good transportation network, most of them are tourist-friendly. Some of the most popular villages include Punda Beach, Pounda Antiparou, and Piso Livadi. Drios and Aliki are more low-key, less touristy options.

One of Paros’ most beautiful villages is Lefkes, located in the central part of the island, 11 kilometers southeast of Parikia. This tiny town is built on a hill covered with olive and pine trees and is filled with traditional whitewashed houses and windmills. Lefkes also has churches dating back to the 15th century and features elements of Venetian architecture. From Lefkes visitors can take the Byzantine Road, a paved footpath from the Byzantine period, to the small village of Prodromos.

Fun nightlife

Paros nightlifeCC Image Courtesy of A_Peach on Flickr

There are plenty of places to drink and dance on Paros. Most of the nightlife is centered around Parikia, with some options in Naoussa, as well; locals tend to go out more in Naoussa. You can find everything from beach bars to clubs, and with all kinds of music.

Be sure to try some of the island’s local wines and spirits, too. Moratis is a fairly strong wine, and Souma is a local spirit similar to Raki (an anise-flavored alcohol popular in Turkey, Greece, and Iran) and Tsipouro (a pomace brandy from Greece). Yamas (Γεια μας), or “cheers”!

Cultural activities

ParosPhoto Courtesy of www.paros.gr

After you’ve recovered from your Souma hangover, consider visiting one of Paros’ churches, museums, castles, and baptisteries. Make sure to visit Panagia Ekatontapyliani, also called the Church of 100 Doors, a historic Byzantine church complex in Parikia town which dates to 326. Parikia has a 13th-century Venetian castle that offers an amazing view of the city.

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