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Syros or Paros


My husband and I and our 12 year old son are going to Greece June 20th. Would you recommend going to Syros or Paros if you had to pick one? I'm trying to decide which one to go to before we head to Naxos and then Santorini. A friend of mine really enjoyed Syros, but I have also read great things about Paros. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!


Posted by
2812 posts

I've visited all the places you mention, some of them multiple times, and hope my insights will be useful.

We could help you maximize your time for island fun, and minimize wasted travel time, if you can add a few key details -- for example, how many days will you be in Greece, total? How much time do you wnat to spend sightseeing in Athens? Have you already locked in no-refund accommodations on the other 2 isles you mention? Depending upon answers (i.e., visit of 2 weeks or less, flexible, no ironclad room contracts) -- I would suggest perhaps that the most efficient sequence, involving the least time in transit might as follows: Upon arrival, fly immediately to Santorini (it has the most scheduled flights, & you can get there in 50 mins vs. 8-9 hours on ferry). After 2 days in Santorini (there's Not much there for kids), take a 2 hour ferry to Naxos, then a 1 - 2 hour ferry to your 3rd island. From Paros or Naxos its a 40 minute flight back to ATH airport -- and a flat-fee €37 taxi gets you to any central Athens hotel near sightseeing. (Ferry from Paros to Piraeus is 4+ hours -- either 11- 3:15 pm or 7-11:30pm)

Of the 2 choices would recommend actually the tag-on to Paros -- ANTIPAROS, because it's actually a "two-fer." If u look at the map, it's almost touching Paros, zip across on one of 2 short ferries... one takes 10minutes, the other 30 minutes. Here's the reason why: you can walk right from the tiny port to a gorgeous beach or 2, unspoiled (sunbeds but no tavernas) ... easy to explore the attractive little port town and around the island. It's great for families. AND you can explore PAROS on a day trip -- take that little ferry back to Parikia, the Port T own of Paros, and have a full day wander the town, sightsee then either take the local busses, or rent a car for half a day. In event, when Paros turns night-clubby, you pop back to peaceful Antiparos.

I'd be interested to learn of your friend's situation in Syros -- was he/she solo, or part of a group, or visiting someone with a house there? I went to Syros after 5-6 extended trips to Greece, because of hearing so much about the Port town's remarkable Town Square, and view from the sea. That part was certainly interesting, and some of the old elaborate captain's houses dating from Syro's 19th century affluence. However IMHO the beaches were not up to other cycladic islands... and importantly about 90% of residents & vacationers were Greek. It's very much a place for Greeks, and in my experience, unless you hava a connection, you may feel like an outsider looking in... and I've never felt that in any other of the 20+ greek isles i've stayed in. I grant that other's experiences may be very different.

Posted by
82 posts

Hi Janet,

Thank you for your email. We arrive on June 20th and depart July 5th. (15 nights) I've thought about going straight to an island, but we have a very long trip to get to Athens and my husband really wants to see Athens first. I've booked all of my accommodations, but they can all be cancelled as of right now. The more I research the more ideas come to my head. I could certainly rearrange the itinerary. I like your suggestion about staying on Anti Paros.

This is what I have planned so far:

3 nights in Athens (2 full days in Athens)
3 nights in ? Paros ?
3 nights in Naxos
4 nights in Santorini
2 nights in Athens (last full day we want to visit Hydra)


Posted by
82 posts

Hi Janet,

Have you been to Andros? That looks like another great island. I'm just reading about it now. That might be another option for our first island.


Posted by
1299 posts

I’ve never been to Paros, so can’t make the comparison, but we’ve been to Syros several times and really like it. We’ve always stayed in Ermoupoli, the main town, and Janet’s right that the town beach is somewhere for a dip rather than a day out.

She’s also right that the majority of visitors are Greek. Because it’s the capital of the Cyclades a lot of Greeks need to visit for business reasons. This makes it very much a working Greek small town rather than a resort, but that’s precisely what we like about it. Especially in Ano Syros, the old upper town, being a tourist is still a bit unusual: walking on a path down from the town one day we heard a child shout ‘mama come and look, there are tourists coming’.

As always it’s a matter of taste. It’s worth a visit if you want somewhere a bit unusual with some great architecture and views. Less so if you want a more laid back beach experience.

We’re also big fans of Andros, which is now our go to island. Chorio, the capital, is pedestrianised with a main street which stretches out onto the headland. It has an old fashioned feel and is again a working town with comparatively few tourists. There are two really nice big beaches and very good walking.

The problem might be combining it with the other islands you mention. As the most northerly Cycladic it’s slightly off the main ferry routes. The easiest way to reach it is from Rafina, but you might have problems connecting onwards.


Posted by
2812 posts

Cindy you are going to have a wonderful trip. I'm a notorious Naxos fan, though not because I'm unfamiliar with other islands (I've visited more than 20 of them, some of them multiple times), but because Naxos truly has it all. I've steered SO many people there, and they all want to return, and hands-down, youngsters & teens call it their favorite. My day is busy today so cannot spend time now on Naxos 101, but just click my name & you'll finds dozens of posts describing beaches, activities, etc etc. It's a hiking paradise .. great for water sports, your son will find plenty of kids to consort with on St. George Beach.... and it's easy to bus or drive out to amazing Plaka beach too. The town has a castle on top! a winding maze to get lost in, a huge archway out on a causeway ... mountains made of marble. What's not to love?

As for Hydra, RickSteves god bless him always plugs Hydra because his tour mostly focusses on mainland & Pelopponese & Hydra is easy to tack onto at the end so tour-groupies can say they've been to an island. However, tho a v. pretty harbor etc, will be no biggie for people who've been to the Cyclades, and no beaches very accessible to day tourists. Rethink this. If u want a daysail out of Athens during the week (NOT on weekends), consider taking an open-deck ferry (NOT a hydrofoil) to Aegina... an hour's Mini-cruise for a fascinating seascape -- huge cruise ships, freighters, fast motor boats, yachts, dinghies, seagulls... maybe even a dolphin if u are lucky.

Posted by
935 posts

I highly recommend Tinos. It turned out to be a gem of a Greek Island and far better than I had hoped.

It has some of the most beautiful villages I've been to on the islands and spectacular mountain road on the west of the island.

It's a "can't miss" island for me.

Andros doesn't come close to what Tinos has to offer and if I had to do it again I'd combine Tinos with Syros.

Here are a list of the villages on the island of Tinos that are definitely "Greek"






Dio Horia--lovely



Tarambardos--lovely with best preserved dovecotes on island!

Volax--wow factor with unique geological features all around!

Lots more, in fact just about every village I went to was nice, but the best villages & scenary was the western 2/3 of the island.
Check out my photos here:

Or if you have time this videos:

Posted by
82 posts

Thank you for all the feedback. Much appreciated! I was all set to go to Andros, but unfortunately, the ferry connection is not very good. Now I'm looking at Milos. Does anyone prefer Milos over Paros?

Posted by
82 posts

Hi Alan,

Thank you for the link to Syros. I'm still trying to figure out what is the best island to go to first that has great ferry options.



Posted by
7496 posts

We loved staying in Naoussa on Paros but also enjoyed Syros. I recommend Paros for your special island stay. You will enjoy Naxos, Santorini not so much.

Posted by
2812 posts

I could vote for Milos as a good adventure for 3 days ... especially if you are fond of swimming and boating. Milos has a fascinating port town -- a huge HUMP right in the town I couldn't figure out... Learned later that Milos was a volcanic island, causing such odd protrusions. Do not miss the tiny but Fascinating Mining Museum... AND an unforgettable 30-minute documentary about the Milesians working in the mines ... for 2,000 years this islnad has mined, up to the present. Be aware, most of the cafes & nightlife are in the port town, but the beach there is well, meh. The island has I think 22 beaches, some are great fun, but the public bus system is lame so you'd have to rent a car for a day to explore.

Then on a 2nd day, sail around the rim of the island... the boats on hire line up at the harbor before dinner & you can visit, talk w. captains, and choose. Our options were a small 6 psgr sailboat doing full round-island, or a catamaran, large, doing half-round. 2 of us tried a smll boat, 3 of us tried the cat -- and latter had the BEST time... despite winds we were under sail 75% while small boat just motored... and our vessel had enough time to stop for swims & a barbeque, and rubber-boat rows thru a weird cave.

If yr husband mandates Athens first, he should face the higher cost & more transit time that results. If one arrives in Athens & then transfers quickly (a 2 hr window) to a domestic flight (40 - 50 minutes max) to the farthest island, then one can "hop" back with 2 - 3 short ferry trips. Athens 1st = precious time lost, maybe more money too. Here are options to isles if AFTER Athens --

• FERRY to Milos June 23 - the only DAILY ferries are at 7 or 7:30 and take 3+ hours with 2 stops. These are not the large Blue Star, with decks, but are all-reserved, all inside seats no decks, no walking around, not great with kids. Adult ticket is $70. Additional cost = $20-25 taxi from Central Athens - Pireaus. and Breakfast $ on board. The only other sailing on Wednesday is the ancient "lifeline" rustbucket, 7 stops 8 hours.

• FLIGHT from ATH - Milos June 23 == Earliest 8:40-arr 9:20 (40 mins) @ $103 adult fare. midday fares higher, the 6-6:30 flight is $92. Additional cost: €38 flat-fare taxi to airport.

• FERRY to Paros June 23 - the Blue Star leaves 7:30 - arrives Paros about 11:30. Economy fare only entitles you to seating on deck in plastic garden chairs. Reserved seating $50. Additinal cost: $20-25 taxi fare from Central Athens - Pireaus. + breakfast on board


The fact is, if you don't connect at beginning, straight from airport -- you don't find "great ferry options". The majority of daily sails start EARLY in the Morning & then again late afternoon (Note: this is mainly because ferry schedule to/from Athens is set up to serve the needs of Greek citizens who live on these islands, not the tourist preferences). So you have to "go with the Flow"

I know this doesn't solve your problems, but perhaps explains why trip planning & sequence strategy is an art. if your time or budget -- or both -- are limited.

Posted by
1645 posts

I was convinced by posters on this board to abandon my plan to be in Athens at the beginning and end of our trip in 2017. It was absolutely the right call. It is time consuming to get from the airport to Athens and back--about an hour each way. We arrived when there was a metro strike on the airport line and ended up taking the bus which was extremely crowded as a result. The line for taxis was insane. We were also there for a ferry strike. Greek transportation can be challenging and it is important to make it as simple as possible (and you can see from our experience, it still was not smooth, although we still had a fabulous trip).

The other thing is it really is nice to recover from jet lag on an island. Athens is great but to appreciate the sights you have to be higher functioning than to enjoy the view on an island.