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Which Island and what time of year? Paros vs Naxos.


I have been trying to determine where and when to go on our Greek Holiday. We have been trying to decide between Paros and Naxos. Some background on us: It will be my wife and myself and we are in the 35-40 age bracket, are not blitz tourists (1-2 sights a day but if we spend the majority of it sitting in a cafe on a square that's fine as well). I am a history nut and she loves the beach (we both love the ocean - Marine Biologists).

So for us the major considerations are:
1) Aside from beaches will there be enough to occupy us for 4 days/5 nights we have allocated for one of these islands? Specifically aside from hiking, swimming, shopping and eating what else is there to do?
2) Travel to other parts of the island. Each of the islands has other locations/towns to visit. Is public transportation enough to allow a evening meal in a town away from the town in which your accommodation is located; does it run late? I don't really want to rent a car but would be willing to rent an ATV if I had to (I grew up on a tiny island on the east coast of Canada and am well versed in driving ATV's).
3) Will the water be warm enough to swim in? We are considering late May or early to mid Sept for our visit. Again we grew up with North Atlantic ocean temperatures so please consider that.
4) We are going to Santorini (my wife insists, I could care less) and so would like a place that's less touristy but not too out of the way.

5) We have traveled quite a bit and are firm believers in the DIY vacations so we don't require much hand holding on our trips.

Thanks everyone and if you have recommendations please feel free to comment.

Posted by
1645 posts

We debated between Naxos and Paros and went to Naxos. We loved it. We were there four nights and would have been delighted to spend a few more there.

We were there in the last week of May. We are from south Florida so basically wimps when it comes to cold water. We were fine with the temperature, although it clearly was cooler than what we have in the Atlantic at home. Frankly, at home I would not have gone in at the temperature the sea was but I was in Greece!! I did a lot of things I would not do at home. If you want warmer water , the fall would be a safer bet.

We stayed in St George which is the beach town that overflows from Naxos town. We did rent a car for 2.5 days. We never had dinner (only lunch) in the small towns around. Driving really isn’t that hard (easier than santorini) and would give you maximum flexibility.

We hiked to peak of Mt ZEus and visited small towns and historical sites. Our sons rented a vehicle and drove to the east (I think) of the island and saw a giant kouro (statue) laying on the ground. They somehow got themselves invited to someone’s home and had moon shine with them. They have pictures that look like they were from National Geographic. The rest of our party (there were 7 of us between 21-59) in the mean time explored the medieval core of Naxos town which they never saw.

Naxos has beautiful beaches and mountains. We all would love to go back!

Posted by
11450 posts

Beth aren't the greek people amazing , our car broke down on Naxos( in the mountains in middle of nowhere) and we were invited in to a isolated restaurant that wasn't even open for the season yet ( the fellow had been outside working on renovations) .. served food and beer.. not charged a cent.. guy came down hill to try and fix our car.. then used his phone called the rental agency and talked to them.. spent the hour waiting for the rental car agency with him and his mother.. the nicest people..

Norm thats a toughie.. we have down Naxos twice( in last 4 years) and love it.. I did visit Paros but decades ago.. so this May ( we are going late May ) we are going to BOTH..

I have been on Naxos ( and mykonos ) in both mid May , and late September. .weather was ideal for us both times.. but water was obviously a bit warmer in late September.. however, we are pacific north westers so found the water warm enough for us even in mid May.

One point is on Paros you are a 10 minute ferry ride away from Anti Paros( assuming you stay in or near Parikka ) .. so another island to explore easily..

Posted by
964 posts

Naxos and Paros are quite similar so you really can't go wrong with either choice. We have been going to Naxos regularly since 1996. The island just captured our hearts. While we like Paros we love Naxos.

In May the water is cool. People in the water are Scandinavians or Canadians. you know the old Canadian saying "come on in to the water; you'll get used to it," applies to Greece in May. In September the sea has had a all summer to get warm but its not Caribbean warm its still a bit on the cool side.

You made me laugh at your question. "Specifically aside from hiking, swimming, shopping and eating what else is there to do?" These activities seem to be just about perfect for a vacation. None the less I will take a shot at adding to that list.

Naxos has a lovely main town. Its full of back alleys that originally were meant to confuse Pirates. They certainly confuse tourists. We delight in wandering around the back alleys and up into the Venetian era Kastro. It will take you a day to figure where you been in the old town.

Naxos has several quaint mountain villages where you can wander around. Aparanthos in particular was build by Byzantines and the alleys are paved with marble slabs. Oh yes you can visit the marble quarries perhaps stop at the tile manufacturing plant. Most people get into the routine of wandering to the Naxos town waterfront promenade to watch the sunset over the Portera. The waterfront bars are all full for this spectacle.

Naxos has a smattering of Antiquities such as the portera. There are three 600 BC statues lying in marble quarries where they were damaged during the carving stage. They are called Kourus statues. Two are near Melenes where you can still find the outlet of the Roman underground aqueduct that brought water to Naxos town from the mountains. Naxos also has an excellent little museum high up in Naxos town.

The public bus system is quite good but primarily set up for locals. The bus system that is set up for tourists is from Naxos town to the west coast beaches at Prokopius, Agia Anna and Plaka. They run from early morning until past midnight so its easy to have dinner at one of the tavernas out there. Look for Patrino taverna at Plaka beach. It provides traditional Naxion cuisine which is different from Normal Greek. also Nostimon Hellas near fountain square near St George beach serves Greek with a sophisticated twist.

Did the island that you grew up in have high mountain roads with switchbacks, not a guide rail anywhere and hot sun. A car rental for a couple of days keeps that sun off.

If you have any spare days in your plan add them to Naxos. A week there will be better than 5 days and even in a week you will not have had an opportunity to see it all.
Welcome to Naxos
Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos
Naxos sunsets
A week in Naxos

Posted by
936 posts

I spent 9 days on Naxos and loved it. Even though it was early October the weather was sunny, mild and the Aegean still warm enough to take a dip. Since we both have the North Atlantic as a beach area I think it's safe to say a dip in the Aegean even in October is still heavenly.

There is a lot to do in Naxos so you won't be bored. There is something for everyone and for all ages.

Bus service is good to most of the island but you'll have to go by their schedule. Rent a vehicle even for a couple days to go to where buses don't and have more options for as long as you want to stay, not to mention stopping numerous times for photo ops.

Lots of mountain roads through the interior which is a must for vistas and scenery. An ATV may not be the safest but I guess will be OK. I doubt you'll find the driving conditions on Naxos like anything on a tiny Canadian Island.

If your wife needs to see Santorini there are day cruises from Naxos. That way you can see the sites without the high cost of staying there or lots of tourists.

I haven't been to Paros but from all accounts would be lovely also.

Posted by
492 posts

We stayed four nights each in Naxos and Paros first half of September 2018 and loved it. We are water babies and the sea was perfect. We swam and floated for hours daily. In Naxos we stayed in Naxos Town and there were plenty of restaurants and bars and a some history and a nice museum. We didn't have a car. Paros was more romantic and we stayed in Stelia Mare a lovely boutique hotel in Naoussa. It is above a beach but we preferred walking seven minutes into town and taking a quick boat ride to a perfect cove beach. Crystal clear water with two chaises and umbrella for 10euros. We did no trips other than the very nice winery, Moraitis Winery, a five minute walk from the hotel. I did note that after we left by mid September the weather wasn't as reliable for swimming. We usually go to Italy but found the beaches better and cleaner in Greece. The Greeks are wonderful and the value is great.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks everyone. I think I have settled on Naxos. I had done some research previous to posting and what you guys have provided confirmed my impressions. Time to start booking!!