I took the early Monday morning ferry to travel to Paros. Many Greek families and couples spend their holidays in Paros, and I was about to join them. The ferry would be stopping at several Greek islands in the Cyclades region: Naxos, Mykonos, Santorini and my stop, Paros.
The decision to travel to Paros was not a straightforward one. I was inundated with ideas after speaking with several Greek locals at a Couchsurfing event. By the end, I’d decided on visiting Paros, and neighboring island, Antiparos.
Holidays to Paros on a budget
Paradise in Paros
Most travelers would define an island escapade as paradise, and Paros is no exception. It was a welcome sight to see the shore’s edge after a 4.5 hour ferry ride from Athens.
I visited at a good time of the year. The end of August into early September is the start of the low season, meaning it’s also far quieter. Still, you’ll find many people around the port in the island’s capital, Parikia.
Boutique hotels in Paros
Traveling at the end of the summer peak season provides many options for accommodation, especially boutique hotels. Staying at a 4-star hotel for holidays in Paros is possible, even on a budget.
Calme Boutique Hotel, Paros
I stayed at the beautiful Calme Boutique Hotel and enjoyed my time here. It’s in a quiet part of the island, with generous sized rooms and an outdoor swimming pool. You may prefer to book an Airbnb instead, but if you do, book in advance as the options can be limited.
Stelia Mare Boutique Hotel
Another equally budget friendly boutique hotel is the 4-star Stelia Mare Boutique Hotel. There are 14 rooms available, each with free Wi-Fi, plus an outdoor pool and gym. It’s also close to Parikia Town and local beaches.
Holidays in Paros – getting around the island
Paros is an island that caters to every traveler’s need. Sun worshippers are spoiled for choice with the many beaches and remote areas for bathing. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy jet skiing and also snorkeling. Getting to and from these areas is relatively easy with the transportation options available.
Walking in Paros
If you have a base in Parikia, it’s easy to walk to most places. Like most capitals, Parikia is a hub of convenience, with many restaurants, bars, cafes and also a supermarket.
Walking during the cooler parts of the day, ie early morning or late afternoon is advised. If this isn’t possible, always carry a bottle of water, stay in the shade and walk fast! As mentioned before, Parikia is also home to the port and the bus station.
Taking the bus around Paros
Traveling by bus may be the cheapest way to explore (€1.80 (£1.30/$2) one way*) the island, but it isn’t the quickest. I advise checking the bus schedule beforehand, rather than turning up at the bus station and hoping for the best.
Buses have around a 2-hour wait between services, so expect a little hanging around. It goes without saying you should be at the bus stop at least 15 minutes before the expected time. Greek time is usually a little behind schedule and it’s better to be early than wait for another 2 hours.
Boat rides in Paros
The port of Paros is great for connecting to neighbouring islands such as Naxos, Ios and Santorini. It’s also very easy to get to Paros from Mykonos. Ferries depart daily, but check the schedule or ask a tour operator about times and prices. Staying within Paros, I took boat trips to Antiparos, as well as to the secluded beaches of Krios and Martselo.
Visit Antiparos from Paros
Boat trips to Antiparos depart every hour from Parikia and cost €10 (£7.40/$11*) for a return ticket. The last boat from Antiparos to Parikia leaves at 6pm. If you want to stay longer, either take a later boat back to Pounda beach on Paros or spend the night on Antiparos.
Return tickets to Krios and Martselo costs €5 (£3.70/$5.60*). The boat for the latter advertises departures every 30 minutes. However, in reality I spent nearly 2 hours at Martselo! You have to love Greek timing.
Paros bike hire
Whether it was the time of year I traveled, the price to rent a bike/scooter was seriously cheap. My friend managed to hire a scooter for the budget friendly price of €15 (£11/$17) for the day. This also included a full tank of petrol. Other bikes including the motor and quad varieties are also available, but prices do vary.
Renting a car in Paros
Car rental places were the first establishments I saw when I arrived on Paros. A delay in the pickup from my Airbnb brought me to the helpdesk of In Paros. With my level of Greek non-existent, I’d asked the owner for help in contacting my host. Though I never actually hired a car, I did end up becoming friends with its owner George.
Super helpful and incredibly friendly, he is a long-time resident on Paros, with ancestral roots there too. When it comes to the level of service offered, the other well-known car rental places have nothing on In Paros.
George’s love and passion for his home is reflected in the level of in-depth, yet personal service. The service is bespoke – and from the telephone conversations I overheard, very reasonable in price too. It came as no surprise when I heard that they’re as popular with Greeks as well as with foreigners.
Taxis in Paros
Taxis are another way of getting around Paros, but can be quite expensive. The taxis don’t have meters, meaning you have to negotiate the price with the driver beforehand. And unless, your level of Greek is near proficient, the other transport options are more appealing — and cheaper too.
If money isn’t an issue, go ahead and book a taxi. If it is, I’d say to avoid them, unless you’re splitting the fare with someone else.
Holidays in Paros – food and drink
Greek food is delicious. Simple dishes and fresh ingredients packed with flavour, and pretty healthy too. Did I also mention it’s delicious? Though Greek food is incredibly tasty, the hot weather can lower an appetite. Some days, I was eating one big meal a day. Though probably not ideal for my metabolism, a smaller appetite did wonders for my budget.
The Mediterranean climate, however, did make me want to drink more – and not just alcohol. I was constantly dehydrated, and always wanted more water, coffee, frappes, soft drinks, and beer! While I’m not the biggest consumer of soft drinks or beer, in Paros, I couldn’t get enough.
Drinking on a budget in Paros
Supermarkets and local shops are the cheapest way to keep hydrated, and get a little merry if you wish. Cocktails and wine are the most expensive drink choices in Paros, so be mindful of this. In fact, I was also surprised to find some prices similar to those you find in London bars.
Eating on a budget
When my appetite did emerge, I would eat light throughout the day, and saved the pricier meals for the evening. Local bakeries (if there is one nearby) are an excellent budget option, with sandwiches/pastries great for day trips around the island.
Try the horta
One delicacy you have to try is Horta. It’s a Greek vegetable with a spinach-like taste and texture. It’s served with fresh beetroot, and sprinkled with rock salt, and extra virgin olive oil. A squeeze of lemon adds the finishing touch to this cheap yet satisfying side dish.
Eating fresh fish and seafood is a must in Paros, but it can be expensive. The good fish restaurants charge by the weight and the price can rise in a second. A tasty and cheaper alternative for me was choosing grilled octopus. Always fresh, it was tender and also affordable.
Holidays in Paros – speak to the locals
One big advantage of staying at a hotel is the connections they have with other local businesses. When asking about tours in Paros, the receptionist gave me discounts to several local places. This included having coffee at the Nautical Club, as well as a generous discount at a nearby souvlaki place. On top of that, making friends with the reception staff gives you insider information to the best local spots.
I highly encourage you to speak to the locals in Paros. For me, it was these experiences that made my time there really memorable. There’s no price tag when it comes to the possibility of building new friendships; something so possible in Paros. It’s the fortunate few that will get to see the real, un-touristy side of Paros. And if you’re lucky, it’ll be with someone you end up calling a friend.
Is Paros expensive?
The 6 days I stayed in Paros were some of the happiest I’ve ever spent abroad. Paros isn’t as expensive when you compare it to other Greek islands like Mykonos or Santorini.
The most expensive item was my hotel, but food, drink and day trips are reasonable. As long as you stick to a budget, you’ll have a great time and probably plan more holidays in Paros!
Above all, I guarantee, you’ll fall in love with Paros the second you disembark from the ferry.
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*prices correct at the time of publishing
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