Naxos or Paros: Which Greek Island to Visit?

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by Lizzie Fitzgerald

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Despite only being separated by an hour’s ferry ride, many tourists to the Cyclades often feel obliged to pick just one of Naxos or Paros to visit due to the lack of time they have available. While the best solution would be to see them both, there are 227 Greek Islands so tough decisions need to be made!

While Naxos might be your choice if you’re after a very affordable and diverse Greek island holiday, Paros is an excellent choice for couples looking for the ultimate romantic escape. However, there is a lot more to unpack about each destination and which may suit you better than the other.


Nestled within the South Aegean, Naxos is the largest of all the islands in the Cyclades.

It is a fascinating place to visit and boasts a verdant topography of ancient ruins, rustic mountain villages and magnificent stretches of pristine beach.

Aside from its charming port town capital, the major attraction is Kastro. A historic, 13th-century ‘must-visit’ castle that lords over the island from high upon a hilltop. 

Portara Gate on Naxos
Portara Gate on Naxos


Naxos is an easily accessible island both from Mainland Greece and from other Cycladic isles. Home to its own airport, visitors can opt to hop on a flight from Athens or to take a ferry. There are ferries connecting Naxos with islands like Santorini, Mykonos and even Paros and you can also take a ferry from Athens. You can view ferry schedules here.

Is the ease of travelling around the island a key consideration for you when contemplating Naxos vs Paros? If so, you will be pleased to read that Naxos offers plenty of transportation options for the visitor.

As the largest island in the Cyclades, it has good infrastructure overall. This includes a well-maintained and convenient road network.

If you want to hire a vehicle to go off exploring, you will find several major car-hire companies on the island. The likes of Avis, Alamo, Europcar, Enterprise, Dollar and Thrifty all have offices on Naxos. You can compare prices here.

Those who would rather not drive can always hire a taxi or private transfer. These tend to congregate near the airport, marina and several prominent spots in the capital. You can also book them in advance here.

Taxis are much more expensive than buses. So, you might want to travel around on public transport whilst visiting the island. Aside from being cheaper, they will also take you to most of the island’s harder to get to parts. This includes places like Tripodes, Halki, Koronos, Apollonas, Agios Prokopios and Filoti. All of which you can get to and from Chora.

Other options to get around the island include water taxis from Volakas. A small port nestled within its south-eastern region or even private boat transfers on a luxury vessel.

Failing that, you can always book yourself onto an organised day trip such as this full-day tour or this full-day cruise. This gives you the additional benefit of fascinating commentary on the island by a knowledgeable guide. You may even make a friend or two on the tour as well!

Village of Filoti in Naxos Island
Village of Filoti


As a rule, Naxos is much cheaper than Paros for pretty much everything.

One reason for this is that Paros is renowned for being a destination for couples to visit. Therefore hotels, restaurants and shops tend to set prices lower in Naxos to attract families.

Naxos is also still off the tourist radar. So, a family of four should be able to budget about €150 per day when you are there. This could include accommodation at a private Airbnb, eating out at a restaurant for dinner, enjoying a couple of drinks in the evening and hiring a car.

You can enjoy a more luxurious experience where you can eat out two to three meals a day, go on organised tours and stay at a hotel for around €225 a day.

If you’re trying to choose between Naxos or Paros for families as a holiday destination, it is important to note that the former offers plenty of cost-saving opportunities. This includes excellent street food where you can buy gyros and other street food for only a few euros.

You can also buy excellent wines from the local store for around €5, which is much cheaper than you can purchase in bars.

You should avoid using taxis as they are costly. Public transport is a much better and cheaper option for Naxos. However, you can also hire a car for as little as €20 a day, not including petrol. 

Halki village
Halki village on Naxos

Things To Do In Naxos

Debating between Naxos and Paros as a holiday destination is very hard as both possess a plethora of attractions.

If you are looking to spend much of your time on the beach, then Naxos should score some points as it has several gorgeous, sandy family-friendly places to head to.

The best sandy beach In Naxos is probably Agios Prokopios, a beautiful golden-white 1 km stretch that is regarded as one of Europe’s best. Also, Agia Anna is a terrific place to lie under a beach umbrella, while Plaka is a very good spot for kitesurfing and windsurfing on its sparkling crystal-clear waters.

The capital of Naxos is Chora, a lovely historic centre that sprawls out from its iconic ‘Kastro’ (castle). It features quaint cubed houses, replete with brightly coloured shutters and doors, vibrant bougainvillaea and plenty of arches.

Prokopios Beach
Prokopios Beach

With both Chora and the castle, you will find plenty of historical points of interest. One of the most impressive is the Portara monument which is an ancient, symbolic marble doorway.

Several museums and galleries also showcase much of the island’s history and a good selection of tavernas, cafes, restaurants, bars and a couple of clubs.

Away from the Chora, there are several other places of interest to visit. This includes the stunning old town layout with narrow stone paths and the architecture of the neoclassic buildings of Halki (Chalki). This village is home to the traditional Valindras distillery that makes Kitron, a famous local liquor. It also boasts the wonderful 11th-century Byzantine Saint George Diasoritis church.

Another great place to visit is Apiranthos, a gorgeous mountain village with winding paths and streets and Venetian architecture. The village also boasts a stunning church (Panagia Apeiranthitissa) devoted to the Virgin Mary and cultural attractions like the Geological Museum and Museum of Folk Art

The village of Iria is home to the 14th-century Temple of Dionysus. You can also partake in some of the best scuba diving in the Aegean or enjoy ouzo tasting at one of the many distilleries on the island.

Elsewhere on Naxos, consider seeing the wonderful windmills at Vivlos, checking out the Panagia Drosiani Paleochristian Church and exploring Mount Zas and Zas Cave.

Hike up to Mount Zas
Hike up to Mount Zas

Where to Stay in Naxos

Hotel Grotta – Mid-range travellers to Naxos will love this clean and convenient place on Naxos. Well-located for exploring the island, they have several good rooms available along with amenities like a bar, swimming pool and other perks.

Nissaki Beach Hotel – This 5-star hotel is perfect for those looking for a luxury stay on this gorgeous Greek island. They have wonderful rooms to choose from along with plenty of other fantastic amenities for guests to enjoy.

Sunday Studios – These studios are an excellent choice for those after a self-catering option while on Naxos. They have different flats on offer and all come fully equipped with all you may need during your stay.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Naxos hotels!

Island of Naxos
Island of Naxos


Although a small island, Paros has a lot going for it.

For a start, the beaches are fantastic – perfect for sunbathing or walking. Then there is its quaint bayside capital of Parikia, which will captivate you with its charm.

The traditional villages are also endearing. Whilst its iconic Byzantine, 4th-century Panagia Ekatontapiliani church is a real knockout.


Is the ease of getting to and around Paros or Naxos a consideration for where you plan to go on holiday? Much like Naxos, Paros is easily accessed either by flight from Athens or via ferry from a host of destinations.

You can easily reach Paros on ferries from neighbouring islands like Naxos, Ios, Santorini or Mykonos. You can book ferries here.

You should also be aware of the excellent public transport system in Paros. Like with Naxos, this is the cheapest and easiest way to visit the small villages and different beaches located around the island. It is also a convenient way to get to the Pounta to catch the Antiparos ferry.

These buses are arguably a little more modern and comfortable than the ones on Naxos, and they are generally more frequent. They loop around the island’s perimeter and stop at some small inland villages. The price of the bus depends on where you go. But usually, it won’t cost more than three euros.

As the road network is so good, you might prefer to hire a car (browse for options). Most of the major car hire companies have offices around Paros and whilst the prices of renting them out for a day are reasonable, they are not as competitive as Naxos.

Private transfers, taxis and organised tours are other options. But they are even more expensive than in Naxos. However, sea buses are a very good alternative.

They will take you from Parikia to various beaches including Santa Maria, Krios, Monastiri, Langeri, Marchello and Kolympithres. You can also take a small boat to visit the island of Antiparos from Parikia. 

Port of Naoussa on Paros Island
Port of Naoussa on Paros


As a destination for a romantic holiday, Paros or Naxos for couples are both excellent options.

Generally, Paros receives more couples as visitors than Naxos, so for this reason, prices tend to be a bit more expensive there. That said, Paros is still much more affordable to visit than places like Mykonos and Santorini.

Although more expensive than Naxos, you can pick up a suite at a deluxe hotel for 50% of the price in Santorini.

While Naxos might be off the tourist radar, Paros is becoming an increasingly popular jet set destination from other parts of Europe. Therefore, couples should budget about €110 a day for those staying in mid-range accommodation, hiring a car, enjoying dinner at a restaurant and a couple of drinks at a bar.

For those wanting a more upscale experience, €200 a day will enable them to enjoy a hotel stay, two to three meals dining out and organised tours.

If hiring a car is a determination when evaluating the differences between Paros and Naxos as a holiday destination, then you should be aware it is more expensive to do that in Paros.

Restaurant meals and drinks tend to be a few euros more expensive too. The cost of hiring sunbeds at the beach and booking a tour is generally higher priced than at Naxos.

Narrow street in Parikia
Narrow street in Parikia

Things To Do In Paros

When analysing Paros vs Naxos as a place to go on holiday you should note that Paros offers a wealth of attractions for the visitor.

Oozing Hellenic traditions, authenticity and charm, its main town of Parikia offers a quintessential Greek Island experience.

Prepare to be dazzled by blue-domed and white-walled buildings and a warren of narrow cobblestone walkways. Within this, you will find artisanal produce stores and workshops and a fabulous range of tavernas, bars and restaurants.

A lovely place to stroll around, you’ll see several notable landmarks of rich historical significance. This includes a stunning 4th-century CE Byzantine church known as the Church of 100 Doors (Panagia Ekatontapiliana). You will also see the captivating remains of a 13th-century Frankish castle the Venetians built.

Parikia’s bustling marina showcase exceptional sea views. It is also a wonderful place to people watch, as are the two terrific beaches of Livadia and Parasporos which flank it. Both are excellent destinations to swim, sunbathe, walk or relax.

Further afield Paros has several enchanting villages and seaside asides to visit. Chrissi Akti Beach, for example, is home to Golden Beach which is arguably the best beach in Paros. A haven for water sports and windsurfing, it boasts a wonderful collection of fish tavernas along its waterfront.

Ekatontapiliani Church in Parikia
Ekatontapiliani Church in Parikia

Piso Livadi is a quaint fishing village filled with bars and tavernas frequented by locals which provide a chance to make new friends with them. There are also spectacular beaches untouched by tourism or mass commercialisation.

The village of Naoussa is set within a breathtaking natural bay with enchanting pedestrianised laneways full of vibrant bougainvillaea.

There are plenty of historical points of interest including a Mycenaean Acropolis, Zoodochou Pigis Church and Venetian fortress. There’s also a trio of outstanding beaches and a wonderful winery.

Lefkes is a captivating mountain village with expansive views of the Naxos and the Aegean Sea. The Historic centre is known for its wonderful architecture and notable landmarks. Beautiful 3.5 km hiking trail that links to the Prodromos village.

Finally, little Aliki has a relaxed romantic vibe (a good place to propose!). It’s filled with delightful fish tavernas and bars and stunning beaches to relax and sunbathe on.

Cafe in Lefkes village
Cafe in Lefkes village

Where to Stay in Paros

Hotel Dina – Located in the town of Parikia, this hotel is a great option for mid-range visitors to Paros. They have many lovely rooms to choose from, parking available, and a perfect location for exploring the highlights of the island.

Paros Palace – Those looking for luxury while on Paros will love this swoon-worthy hotel in Parikia village. They have luxe and elegant rooms to choose from along with a beautiful pool and other amenities to enjoy.

Nautilus Apartments-Suites – Those looking for a self-catering option on Paros will love this aparthotel. Offering a range of fully-furnished flats, they can cater to different group sizes and all come equipped with all you may need during your visit.

Paros Backpackers – Those visiting Paros on a budget will love this hostel located in the village of Parikia. Offering both dorm beds and some private rooms they also have food common areas – including a swimming pool.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Paros hotels!

Sunset by the port of Naoussa
Sunset by the port of Naoussa

Naxos vs Paros: Which is Better to Visit

There is minimal difference between Naxos and Paros as a place to visit. In short, both of them will offer you a fantastic Greek Island holiday experience.

Where you should go will depend on what kind of holiday experience you are after. Paros offers delicious food, distinctive beaches and vibrant nightlife. It also has two fabulous villages in which to split your time.

By contrast, Naxos is perfect for those who want to relax or explore. It has a quaint main village, terrific stretches of golden beach and several hiking trails. Its remote mountain communities also provide a fascinating insight into Hellenic island life.

Those travelling on a tight budget in Greece may find Naxos to be a more affordable island to visit, making it a great choice for them. Conversely, though both islands are oozing with romance, Paros can cater more to couples so it may be the better choice for those after a romantic getaway.

Whether you choose to visit Naxos or the island of Paros, you’re sure to fall in love with these beautiful Cycladic islands and come home with memories to last a lifetime.

Are you trying to choose between visiting Naxos and Paros? Have any questions about either island? Let us know in the comments!

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Lizzie is a writer for The World Was Here First. She loves travelling and discovering new places but also often finds herself returning to her favourite destinations. She has a particular affinity for Greece where she has visited countless islands and destinations on the mainland.

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