Cape Korakas Lighthouse
Cape Korakas, Paros
Spending early mornings or late evenings on long, meandering hikes around Paros is one of the most memorable parts of a visit. Cape Korakas lighthouse, built in 1887, is at the end of one of these trails and acts as a visual reward for your cardiovascular labors. The trail leading up to it is framed by spectacular rock formations, as well as steep slopes leading down to hidden beaches and coves. Image courtesy of paroshikes.com.
Marble Quarries of Marathi
Epar.Od. Parikias-Marpissas, Paros
For some reason, you’ll rarely hear the Marathi quarries mentioned, despite the fact that the marble used to sculpt the Venus di Milo came from this very site, and it’s known as possibly the most ancient marble mines in the world. Wear comfortable shoes and bring a flashlight to properly explore the mine shafts. It’s isn’t really set up as a tourist destination; in fact, there is no signage or explanatory material. But given its history and significance as the primary source of material in building the Parthenon and many other Greek landmarks, it’s certainly worth a look.
Big, loud, and lively, Barbarossa is the place to come for first-rate people-watching, and the religiously observed sunset cocktail hour is the time to do it. Settle in beneath the strings of small twinkling lights strung above the tables for big platters of fish and pasta. Sure, there are better restaurants on Paros, but the buzzing ambiance and cosmopolitan feel at Barbarossa sets it apart, and the setting, alongside the old Venetian port, where you can watch the last of the boats come in is something special.
Malvasia is the grape varietal grown on Paros for hundreds of years and makes for a crisp, dry white; no matter where you dine on the island, you'll find it on the menu. This family-run winery is the main grower of Malvasia and has about sixty acres of vineyard across the island. It's an entirely organic production, and on those too-hot-for-the-beach days, an afternoon in Moraitis’s cool, all-stone tasting room feels like an oasis.
The original structure of this church was reportedly founded by Roman emperor Constantine the Great’s mother, Helena, while en route to the Holy Land, and it dates back to 326. But the church was rebuilt during the Justinian period, in the 500s, and to this day it's full of Byzantine frescoes and icons clad in silver and gold. Its columns are made of Parian marble, which comes from the same quarry as the marble used to build the Pantheon in Rome.
Fotis Art Cafe
Aghios Dimitris, Naousa, Paros
Beach bars in the Cyclades are a dime a dozen, but Fotis is more like a living room on the shore, complete with comfy white sofas and small tables right on the sand. Sinking into one of the sofas as the sun dips, cocktail in hand, you realize exactly why you decided to come here—and why you never want to leave. Despite the allure of the outdoor setting, the owners haven’t slacked on the décor inside, either. A collaboration with local gallery Medusa means there is always a rotating cast of local artists’ work on display.
We love the easygoing vibe of bars and restaurants that occupy former family homes, as the feeling of comfort is immediate. Somaripa Consolato is just such a place, especially because of its cast of regulars, who’ve been visiting Paros summer after summer and wouldn’t dream of stopping anywhere else for their first round of cocktails. During the day, visitors stop by for pastries and rich, rich Greek coffee. But Somaripa Consolato is primarily a bar, and the specialty is cocktails infused with Parian ingredients and homemade island liquors like souma, made of fermented, boiled figs, similar in strength to ouzo and raki.
All the wines here are made entirely by Greek producers and are organic or biodynamic. So half the pleasure of dinner at Open Garden is working your way down the list and trying a few glasses of something you’re unlikely to taste elsewhere. As for the food, start with the tarama, tzatziki, and eggplant dip, scooped up with wedges of warm pita. Follow with a plate of oily sardines flecked with fresh basil before a grilled fish and salad. Though if you’re starting to tire of seafood, the burger is excellent.
French chef Fred Chesneau decided to bring something that teeters on fine dining to the island—a departure from the more classic Greek tavernas that fill Paros. Set within a small garden full of flowers, trees, and ivy, Stou Fred's menu changes weekly, but the format—five courses of French-influenced dishes—remains the same. The well-curated wine list (of mostly smaller French producers) draws a loyal crowd, as does the beautiful garden setting.
When the owner is also the in-house sommelier, you know the Agiorgitiko is going to be top-notch. Nikos Kouroumlis does indeed have an expansive wine cellar (and his own wine club), but Thea is just as renowned for its food. The cuisine is vegetable-forward Greek and Turkish fusion, like zucchini noodles simmered in tomato sauce and marinated eggplant with yogurt. Meat eaters, however will not be disappointed with the lamb, slow-cooked for hours until it’s falling-apart tender with sweet, stewed apricots. The entrance looks like a porch, filled with sofas and small tables, and you can sip a pre- or post-dinner drink looking over the water and Antiparos, across the bay.