Paros Cyclades Greece
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Naxos or Paros: Which Island To Choose In 2024

When we were planning our recent family holiday, we only had a short amount of time for a Greek island getaway before we needed to be in the United Kingdom. With fairly young children, we quickly worked out that basing ourselves on one island would be best – and that we should choose an island that was fairly close to Athens. We narrowed it down to two: Naxos and Paros.

That meant we had a choice to make: which Greek island – Paros or Naxos – would be best for us? And it seems many others have to make the same choice!

While only a very short (45 minute) ferry ride away from each other, Paros and Naxos offer very different experiences. So if you’re wondering which Greek island to choose between Naxos and Paros, here’s what you need to know to decide.

Holiday with Young Children

Both Naxos and Paros offer family-friendly getaways, but Naxos takes the top spot for this. First of all, Naxos seems to be slightly cheaper so you’ll get more for your money, especially if you’re travelling as a large family with several children. 

This island also offers more of a laid-back vibe, and there are various activities available for the little ones (as well as the adults). You can take them on an educational trip to Portara, or there’s Aqua Fun Water Park is a great option for a day with smaller children, while Laguna Beach Park is fantastic for family windsurfing lessons.

Not to mention, you’ll have the choice of affordable guesthouses, spacious apartments, and large hotels, so there’s no shortage of accommodation options.

Although Paros is suitable for families too, it offers more of a lively atmosphere and excellent nightlife which isn’t so great for families trying to get their young children to sleep (this won’t be as much of an issue if you have older children).

We’ll talk more about the beaches later, but Naxos also offers more child-friendly beaches, as the waters are relatively calm and shallow. This makes it the perfect destination for enjoying a relaxing beach day (or several) as a family! 

Verdict: Naxos

Luxury Holidays

Paros is the more developed of the two islands and boasts more of an ‘up-scale’ vibe. As such, you’ll find more luxurious hotels here, compared to Naxos.

Summer Senses Luxury Resort is one of my top picks for luxury getaways on Paros. This hotel offers beautiful suites, various swimming pools, and plenty of amenities, such as an on-site spa, bars, restaurants, and a fitness centre. 

Those who don’t mind splashing the cash can even stay in one of the resort’s private pool suites, many of which offer spectacular sea views. 

Paros Agnanti Resort & Spa is another top-rated option. The highlight of staying at this hotel has to be the gorgeous suites, some of which offer a private pool or outdoor hot tub. This way, you can relax on your terrace, while admiring the sea views.

Both islands have fantastic dining options too, but Paros is known for its selection of fine-dining restaurants. Those after a luxury getaway can indulge in delicious cuisine and sample wines in a sea-view establishment. What’s not to like?

Naxos does have a few luxury hotel options such as Nissaki Beach Hotel, but Paros is the easy winner for this one! 

Verdict: Paros

Romantic Getaways + Honeymoons

Naxos is certainly the best option for families, whereas Paros is perfect for couples who are looking to spend some quality time together, whether that be on a holiday or honeymoon.

If you’re after a romantic getaway, Mythic Paros is a fabulous option as it’s an adults-only hotel. This luxurious resort offers beautiful suites, some of which feature a private pool or jacuzzi with sea views. It doesn’t get much more romantic than that! 

Mythic Paros also boasts fantastic wellness facilities that you can enjoy as a couple, as well as a relaxing infinity pool, fitness centre, and sea-view restaurant. 

It’s important to note that both Naxos and Paros offer a variety of activities that are perfect for a romantic getaway. This includes catamaran cruises, horse riding on the beach, and gastronomy tours, so in that regard, it doesn’t matter which island you choose.

However, Paros takes the overall top spot because of its variety of luxury hotels, elegant cocktail bars, and fabulous restaurants. Naoussa is one of the most popular spots on the island for couples, thanks to its picturesque setting and various hotel options.

Verdict: Paros

History and Culture 

Those interested in history and culture should prioritise visiting Naxos. This island was the Cyclades’s most important centre of civilisation during the ancient period (between 4000-1000 BC).

Throughout history, the Thracians, Carians, Ionians, Athenians, and Spartans have all lived here, and the island later fell under various authorities, so as you can imagine, there are plenty of historical sites to visit. 

Portara (the Temple of Apollo) is one of the most popular sites. It dates back to the 6th century BC and would have been one of Greece’s most spectacular temples. Unfortunately, it was never finished due to war but it’s certainly still worth the visit.

Other impressive historical attractions on Naxos include the Temple of Demeter, the Kouros of Apollonas, and the Yria Sanctuary of Dionysus. (Click through to read more on Naxos historical sites.)

This half-day guided sightseeing tour is a fantastic option for those who want to learn more about the island. The tour lasts for 4 hours and you’ll have an experienced guide (Greek/English-speaking), who will detail the history of Naxos.

Paros does have a few historical attractions worth visiting, including Paros Park, the Ancient Cemetery of Parikia, and Panagia Ekatontapiliani. However, Naxos undeniably outshines Paros when it comes to history and culture. 

Verdict: Naxos

Nightlife 

If you’re looking for a lively nightlife scene then Paros is the place to be! Along with Ios and Mykonos, this island is one of the best locations in the Cyclades for partying. 

The capital of Parikia is one of the top destinations on Paros for nightlife. Here, you’ll find various bars and clubs. Many of these are located along the promenade and offer a variety of music and sea views. Popular bars include The Dubliner, Evinos, and Secret Cafe Bar. Of course, there are some more upbeat options on offer too!

Naoussa (sometimes spelt Naousa) is another popular spot on the island. Although this village seems more quaint and charming, it boasts a fantastic party scene. Many of the bars here offer DJs, where you can enjoy various mainstream music.

Popular venues in Naoussa include Sante Cocktail Bar, Fotis All Day Bar, and Agosta Bar.

Naxos offers more laid-back evening entertainment, which is why it’s such a popular destination with families. You’ll find no shortage of cocktail bars, restaurants, and local tavernas open late into the evenings, some of which offer live music. However, there aren’t many clubs on the island.

Verdict: Paros

Foodie Experiences

Both Paros and Naxos offer a variety of fantastic dining options, ranging from affordable tavernas to more upscale eateries. 

Paros is more well-known for its trendy restaurants and fine-dining eateries, while Naxos offers a variety of dining options (including an excellent selection of Greek tavernas). Therefore, those looking to sample the local cuisine should prioritise visiting Naxos! 

Some of the most popular restaurants on the island include To Elliniko Restaurant, Maro’s Taverna, Yasouvlaki!, and Meze Meze.

Not only does Naxos offer some excellent restaurants but there are some fantastic foodie experiences available too.

This half-day cooking class takes place at Basiliko Family Tavern. You’ll learn all about the island’s traditional cuisine and how to make local dishes. In this cooking class, you’ll collect the ingredients from the garden and then enjoy the meal you’ve made with wine.

There’s also this Naxos town food tour, which includes wine and food tastings. You’ll head through a local market with a guide, who will teach you all about the island’s cuisine, culture, and history. 

Paros does have some excellent restaurants and foodie experiences too, but there’s just so much choice on the island of Naxos.

Verdict: Naxos

Beaches

When it comes to the best beaches, it’s a close call between Paros and Naxos. Both islands are famous for their pristine shorelines and crystal-clear waters, and there’s no shortage of beaches to relax on.

Kolymbithres Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Paros, thanks to its golden sandy coves, watersports opportunities, and unique rocky formations. Chrissi Akti Beach (also known as Golden Beach) is another top spot. As well as having a Blue Flag certificate, it’s one of the island’s most popular windsurfing destinations.

Nevertheless, Naxos wins the beach aspect in our opinion, even if it is a close win. This island has some spectacular beaches, which offer various tourist amenities. Many of these are popular with families thanks to their clear and calm shallow waters too!

Agios Prokopios Beach is one of the island’s most famous beaches. Not only is it beautiful, but it offers plenty of amenities, including lots of dining options. Agia Anna Beach is another fantastic option and is favoured by young travellers and couples, due to its cosmopolitan vibe.

Other popular beaches on Naxos include Plaka Beach, Mikri Vigla Beach, and Aliko Beach.

Verdict: Naxos

Public Transport 

Finally, it’s time to evaluate how easy it is to get around the islands on public transport. Both Paros and Naxos offer car rentals and that’s typically the easiest and most convenient way to get around. But, what about those who aren’t confident drivers?

Luckily, both islands offer a public transport system. However, Paros offers one of the most extensive bus systems in the Cyclades, making it the perfect destination for those who don’t wish to hire a car. 

The island’s KTEL bus service operates a variety of routes, meaning all villages are linked to each other and the two largest towns of Naxos; Parikia and Naoussa. Public transport is available all year round, with services being more frequent during the summer.

Although you can still travel around Naxos by bus, the island is larger, and there are many places that public transport just can’t reach. This is a real shame for those who wish to explore the less-touristy areas of Naxos as bus tickets are very affordable.

Of course, this won’t matter for travellers who do wish to hire their own vehicle. Just make sure you book this in advance if you’re visiting during the peak season.

Verdict: Paros

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How to choose between Naxos and Paros in the Cyclades Islands, Greece

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