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Paros vs. Sifnos?

This will be my third visit to the Greek islands and I'm looking for one that is closer to the mainland (been to Patmos twice and have been to Chios, Samos, Ikaria and Santorini). My interests are leisurely solo hiking, quiet accomodations close to the Port, minimum tourists crowds and more exposure to the locals (I'm going in late Sept/Oct), sandy vs rocky beaches (not crowded with loungers), and local public transportation. Paros and Sifnos look pretty good and are small enough to make daily forays around the island either by bus or walks. Hotel and restaurant recommendations are appreciated! And maybe some off-the-beaten-track historical sites or shops. Thanks!

Posted by
2054 posts

Both Sifnos and Paros have options that can meet your expectations, but in my opinion not all of your expectations at the same time.

hiking

Sifnos is better for hiking. See:

https://sifnostrails.com/

Paros has a few trails including the famous Byzantine road (easy level).

https://www.paros.gr/en/what-to-do/body/hiking.html

There are also some less official and not really marked trails that you can take

quiet accommodations close to the Port

In Paros, Parikia the port is also the capital, it's not really a "quiet place but" as it is the bus hub it could be a base.

In Sifnos the port is Kamares, but it is not the best place to stay to visit the island since it's geographically eccentric. Apollonia, the capital is more representative of Sifnos and is also the bus hub.

minimum tourist crowds and more exposure to the locals.

In Paros The minimum tourist crowds is mostly in small villages like Prodomos, Marmara, Marpissa, Drios or in the ancient capital Lefkes. The "maximum crowds" being in Naoussa, a small fishing village transformed in recent years into a "Greek Disneyland" (loved by honeymoon organizers).

In Sifnos the port, Kamares as well as Vathy and Platis Gialos are quite busy places (there are sandy beaches)

Apollonia the capital and Artemonas the neighboring village are quieter, but not by the sea.

The quietest is undoubtedly Kastro (my favorite place), but again, no beach and few buses.

sandy beaches not crowded with loungers

In Paros there are some beautiful beaches on the east coast starting from Molos Beach and going south to Drios.
Along this east coast Piso Livadi, a small village with a port could be a choice. Or Drios provided you are prepared to walk a few minutes.

Aliki to the south is another rather quiet village with a small port and a beach.

Without a car, in Sifnos, apart from the places already mentioned above you will have difficulty staying somewhere without being stuck.

local public transportation

Paros and Sifnos have a good bus network, but reduced from mid-September.

Paros bus timetable late September:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NeF84HRdn_uxK02R6FALwcKT5nSATEe0/view?usp=sharing

Sifnos bus timetable late September:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zLuMTFhKxGFI8IO1WHTRKHcU358V9F4Q/view?usp=sharing

Paros bus lines map:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1284vUrKZTfpNhX6tg_1IYL8sk2OJGfr8/view?usp=sharing

Sifnos bus lines map (with the june timetable)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pGZ5IL7v-SRwF_1tKrqdNCWwB14fMMtX/view?usp=sharing

off-the-beaten-track historical sites:

In Sifnos, the towers, which were a kind of Internet for the inhabitants around the 6th century BC:

https://www.sifnos-towers.gr/en.html

In Paros the old marble quarry:

https://parianmarble.com/

It's no longer really "off the beaten track" since it has been officially open to visitors for 2 years, before you had to go into its underground passages at your own risk.

There is a very local (grill) tavern that I love not far away, but I won't give the name. Lol

Posted by
35 posts

Thanks so much for your very informative answer! I'm also considering Milos -- maybe do a bit of island hopping which I generally don't do. I'm open to suggestions for other islands that don't require a long ferry ride from the mainland. I do like the slower ferries -- preferably no longer than 4 hrs though.

Lots of flights to Athens are already filling up!! At least for the decent seats.

Posted by
2054 posts

Be careful with island hopping, if Sifnos and Milos are on the same ferry routes (Western Cyclades), Paros is not.

To my knowledge, with a conventional ferry only the Artemis of Hellenic Seaways could connect Paros with Sifnos or Milos, provided that it keeps the same route as that planned until the end of August. (September schedules have not yet been published)

See its schedules until late August:

Paros → Milos:

http://www.openseas.gr/PAS/MLO/2024-08-14/2024-08-14/itineraries

or Paros → Sifnos

http://www.openseas.gr/PAS/SIF/2024-08-14/2024-08-14/itineraries

Or it will be the small Seajets catamarans (SuperJet or SuperJet 2) at €60 or €70 per seat !

Some islands that you can relatively easily associate with Sifnos or Milos in the Western Cyclades are Serifos, Kimolos or Kythnos.
(subject to ferry schedules on your dates)

Zante ferries with its traditional Dionisios Solomos travels these islands all year round.
Its timetable from September is not yet published

https://zanteferries.gr/en/timetables-from-piraeus-to-western-cyclades/

From Milos you can also go to Kimolos (from the port of Pollonia, in the north of Milos) with the Osia Methodia, it's a 30 minutes journey.

https://kimolos-link.gr/en/