Last updated on March 17, 2023 by Wandering our World
If you’re planning a Greek island getaway, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from. There are the big, touristic islands like Rhodes and Santorini with their beautiful beaches and historical landmarks. But there are also the smaller, quieter islands, like Paros and Naxos, that often throw up some wonderful surprises.
These two islands have several things in common, and they’re located side-by-side in the Aegean Sea, making it quite easy to visit both places on the same trip with just a 40-minute ferry ride separating them.
However, you might only have time in your itinerary for either Paros or Naxos. So, which one should you choose? Well, even though they’re close neighbors and may appear similar from afar, there are some significant differences between these islands.
Naxos is the larger of the two, boasting more mountainous land, longer beaches, and a range of rustic villages and cute craft markets to explore.
Meanwhile, Paros is smaller, but livelier, with a more vibrant nightlife scene and trendy vibe in its chic towns, like Parikia and Naoussa.
But that’s just the very beginning when it comes to how similar and different these two Greek islands are!
Luckily, down below we’ll be taking an in-depth look at Paros vs Naxos, examining the beaches, activities, food, showing which is best for a honeymoon, family trip, and even more!
By the end of this guide we’re sure you’ll know which is the best one for you. Let’s get started!
- A Quick Overview
- Which Is Easier To Get To?
- Which Is Better For Beaches?
- Which Is Best For Activities?
- Which Is Better For Nightlife?
- Which Is Best For A Honeymoon?
- Where You Should Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Better For A Family Trip?
- Which Has The Best Food?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Which Is Better?
A Quick Overview Of Paros vs Naxos
Paros: A Quick Overview
Situated in the Aegean Sea, Paros is one of the Cyclades Islands. Once known for its marble mines – many of which can still be seen dotted around the island – Paros is now a touristic hotspot, drawing in travelers from around the globe.
The Municipality of Paros covers just over 75 square miles of land (around 196 square kilometers), and its capital city, Parikia – which also serves as the island’s main port – is located on the north-west side.
Along with Parikia, Paros has another main town, Naoussa, for visitors to explore, along with some small, traditional villages, like Lefkes.
The island has many distinctive features that are typical of the Cyclades, like whitewash homes and ancient ruins, but is also known for its modern and trendy vibe, with fine dining restaurants and boutique hotels.
Naxos: A Quick Overview
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades group and was once the commercial hub of Cycladic culture, with a fascinating past dating back thousands of years. The island even has significance in Greek mythology, as it was said to be the place where the Greek god Zeus was raised!
Covering 170 square miles (430 square km) of land, Naxos is significantly larger than Paros, and the two islands are separated by a channel that runs approximately five miles wide.
The capital city of Naxos is Chora, and it has many charming villages dotted around its long coastline, like Apollonas and Moutsona, as well as other, more central villages among its more mountainous territory, including Apeiranthos, Filoti, and Koronos.
With its laid-back vibe and rustic feel, Naxos provides a quintessential Greek island experience. Visitors can enjoy local craft markets, roam around the quiet villages, partake in various activities, and visit a range of ancient ruins and old churches.
Which Is Easier To Get To?
One of the first things you might want to know about Paros and Naxos is how to access them.
Since these islands are located very close to one another and are both increasingly popular destinations, they both have good links with other areas of Greece.
Paros has its own domestic airport, with flights from Athens and Thessaloniki. The airport is a short drive away from the main city of Parikia, and flights from Athens take around 45 minutes, on average.
You can also access Paros by ferry, with routes from Athens and various Cyclades islands, such as Santorini and Mykonos.
Naxos also has an airport, but it only receives flights from Athens. Just like with Paros, flights take around 45 minutes, in total.
If you prefer to travel by sea, you can hop on a ferry from places like Athens, Santorini, and Amorgos. Some voyages will take just a few hours, while others can last around nine hours.
Overall, both Naxos and Paros has similar connections with the Greek mainland and major islands, and it takes a similar amount of time to reach each one using either a flight or a ferry.
There’s not too much to separate them in terms of accessibility. However, it’s worth noting that, due to their respective locations, Paros has better connections with the western Cycladic islands, while Naxos provides easier access to the eastern islands.
So, if you’re planning an island hopping trip, you may want to think about which other islands you intend to visit to help you decide which of Paros or Naxos best-suits your plans.
Which Is Better For Beaches?
Many of the Greek islands are famed for their beautiful sandy beaches, and Paros and Naxos are no exception. Both of these islands are some of the prettiest in Greece, have some fabulous coastal spots, with super soft sand and clear waters.
Whether you want to soak up the sun, relax with a good book, swim around in the sea, or simply stroll along the sands and admire the scenery, you can have a wonderful time on the beaches of either island.
However, there are some clear differences to see when comparing the beaches of Paros and Naxos; Naxos’ beaches, for instance, tend to be significantly longer and larger, stretching out for several kilometers. Meanwhile, the beaches of Paros are smaller and a little more varied.
The lengthier beaches of Naxos, with their sandy expanses and shallow waters, may offer greater appeal to families with children. They provide plenty of space for you to stretch out, stroll along the water’s edge, or splash around in the sea.
Over on Paros, the smaller beaches may give you a more secluded and cozy vibe, and some of them are quite special, like Kolymbithres Beach, which stands out due to its extraordinary rock formations.
Paros: The Beaches
Paros has a long list of impressive and intriguing beaches all around its coast. They’re often quite small, especially when compared with the expansive options over on Naxos, but each one feels special and different, and many visitors have their own particular favorites.
The aforementioned Kolympithres Beach is one of the most striking, with its granite formations and fabulous views, while Paros’ Golden Beach is a more traditional option, with golden sands and great windsurfing conditions – there’s even an annual competition here each summer.
If you’re staying in Parikia, Parasporos is a popular beach to visit, with plenty of great beach bars and a lively vibe, and Pounda is even more active, drawing in lots of young crowds and party goers with its Mykonos-style atmosphere.
There are beaches that feel tropical, like Agia Irini, as well as rough and rocky bays, like Monastiri and Katholiko. And with so many options to choose from, you’re almost guaranteed to find a beach you like somewhere around the island.
Naxos: The Beaches
While great beaches can be found all around Paros, a lot of the best beaches on Naxos are clumped together in and around the main town of Chora. And, as stated above, the beaches here tend to be quite long and large, providing plenty of room for travelers.
As the longest beach on the island, Plaka Beach is arguably one of the best examples of what Naros has to offer. The sand seems to stretch on almost endlessly here, with several beach bars and restaurants situated towards the northern end, and a quieter section to the south.
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Other popular beaches on Naxos include Agios Prokopios, which is one of the easiest beaches to access directly from Chora, as well as Agia Anna, which is just a little further south. These beaches are nicely situated within walking distance of several hotels and eateries, and they offer the gold sands and shallow waters that typify the area.
Aliko Beach – which is slightly further away from Chora – offers something a little different, backing onto a stunning cedar forest, making it a great spot for photos.
If you decide to pay Aliko a visit, you might like to head to the beach’s northern side to admire some beautiful street art and murals decorating the walls of an abandoned hotel.
Overall, the beaches of Naxos offer a more laid-back and traditional feel when compared to those of Paros. And with more space and shallower waters, the conditions on Naxos are arguably better for families with children.
Which Is Best For Activities?
When you’re not spending time sunbathing on the beach, you might like to enjoy various activities during your trip to Paros or Naxos, and both of these islands offer an interesting mixture of things to do.
Overall, while Paros boasts better shopping and urban amenities, like bars and restaurants, Naxos has a wider range of activities for visitors to enjoy. This may make it more appealing to families, as well as travelers who like to pack lots of activities into their travel itineraries.
Below we look at the activities available in each island in more detail so you can see which suits you best!
Paros: The Activities
If you’re heading to Paros, you’ll probably want to spend most of your time in and around the main two towns of Parikia and Naoussa, as this is where most of the island’s main attractions can be found.
Parikia, for instance, boasts beautiful narrow streets with fun bars and great places to eat, along with the open-air Cine Rex movie theater.
In Naoussa, tourists can wander around the Old Port, hang out in hip clubs and bars, or buy souvenirs from the town’s fancy boutiques, which are more numerous and varied than those on Naxos.
Wine lovers might like to take a tour of Paros’ Moraitis Winery, while history buffs can enjoy the artifacts of the Archaeology Museum. You can also take tours of the island’s villages, like Lefkes and Marpissa, or enjoy a short boat ride over to the neighboring island of Antiparos.
Paros Park is another must-see location, stretching out across 800 acres of land and offering a range of walking trails, along with live music, theater performances, and other cultural events throughout the year.
And, of course, no visit to a Greek island could be complete without seeing some of the local historical sites – you can find castle ruins in Naoussa, along with 6th century temple remnants in Parikia, too, although you’ll find many more old churches and intriguing ruins on Naxos.
Naxos: The Activities
Over on Naxos, travelers can expect to find more of a traditional Greek island experience. The main town of Chora is quite well-developed and touristic, with various shops, bars, and restaurants, but the island’s other villages are much more rustic.
For instance, the mountainous village of Filoti – situated at the base of Mt. Zas, which is the highest peak on the island – is a peaceful and charming place where one can admire the stunning Panagia Filotitissa church and sample some locally-made goat and sheep milk cheeses, like kefalotyri and xynotyri.
While in the area, hiking enthusiasts might even like to take a trip to the top of Mount Zas to enjoy astonishing views across the island.
Or, if you’re looking for a slightly less strenuous walk, Naxos has many more wonderful hiking trails, many of which offer beautiful views of olive groves and Byzantine churches.
Speaking of churches, there are close to 200 of them all over the island, each one with its own story to tell. It’s certainly worth visiting a few during your stay, like Panagia Drossiani, which is one of the oldest churches on the island, and the fort-like Monastery of Fotodotis, which boasts impressive waterfront views.
You can even take bus and boat tours around the island, visit the famed Apollo Temple ruins, or enjoy more thrilling activities like windsurfing and waterskiing around the waters of Naxos.
Which Is Better For Nightlife?
If you like the idea of staying out after dark and enjoying beach bars and parties, there’s only one choice for you, and it’s Paros. Paros has far better nightlife than Naxos and is even regarded in some circles as a smaller, lighter version of Mykonos, because of its clubs and bars.
It’s not quite as raucous as Mykonos or some of the other party islands around Greece, but some spots around Naoussa can get quite lively in the evenings, and there are several cocktail bars that stay open until the early hours of the morning – examples include BeBop in Parikia or Agosta in Naoussa.
However, it’s important to note that nightlife in Paros, just like other Greek islands, will vary depending on what time of year you visit.
In the summer months, when the islands are densely-populated with tourists, the nightlife scene is quite active, but tends to die down for the rest of the year.
Over on Naxos, nightlife options are much more limited, even in the peak summer months. There are still some bars around Chora, along a couple of small clubs, but this isn’t the sort of place where you can expect to find loud parties and crowded nightclubs.
Which Is Best For A Honeymoon?
Greek islands like Paros and Naxos are ideal honeymoon destinations, offering beautiful beaches, relaxing atmospheres, great food, and a range of activities to enjoy with a special someone by your side, but which one is best?
Well, it all depends on what you and your partner enjoy the most. Couples who like lively places with nightlife, fancy hotels, and boutique shopping will certainly be drawn to Paros, which arguably has the most romantic restaurants, too, like Taverna Glafkos in Naoussa – just don’t forget to make a reservation, as this place is very popular.
On the other hand, if you and your spouse want a more authentic Greek island experience with a wider range of activities, Naxos might be the better option.
It may be less romantic, but it’s still a very pretty place, with historic sites, pleasant hikes, and plenty to keep you busy.
Overall, both options can work well for honeymooners. Paros is generally regarded as the more romantic destination, ideal for couples who crave fine dining and cozy beaches, but older couples or those with a diverse range of interests might prefer the variety on offer in Naxos.
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Where You Should Stay According To Your Budget
Shoestring: Situated close to the beach in Parikia, the 3-star Apollon Boutique Hotel has great facilities considering its price and is located close to all the action. See photos and rates!
Budget: Set in the gorgeous town of Naoussa with its authentic restaurants and picturesque narrow streets is Alexandros Apartments.
These self-contained studios are modern with everything you need, the shared cafe terrace is cosy, but it’s the private balconies with stunning sea views that really steal the show. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Every room at the five-star, adults-only, Mythic Paros Hotel has those stunning views of the Aegean Sea we all want on holiday.
Couple that with the romantic feel, exceptional service, and gorgeous outside pool, and you’ve got a holiday you’ll never forget. See photos and rates!
Shoestring: Located in Naxos Chora, close to many attractions yet still just a few hundred meters from the beach, Naxos Center Houses is an excellent base for holidaying on the island. It’s extremely well presented considering the price too. See photos and rates!
Budget: If you’re looking for luxury on a budget then Manios Suites, which is situated on Agia Anna beach, will be perfect. The private balconies with unobstructed beach and sea view are, of course, the highlight of a stay here. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Situated just steps from Agia Anna Beach, the incredible Avgoustos Suites Naxos is luxury embodied. With hot tub and even a romantic bed for sunbathing on your private terrace – complete with sea views – this has to be one of the best hotels for honeymooners in Greece. See photos and rates!
Which Is Better For A Family Trip?
So, how about if you’re planning a vacation with kids? Well, in this category, we’ve got to give the edge to Naxos.
As explained earlier on, Naxos has a wider range of activities for families. From its churches to its historic ruins, boat tours, caves, and hiking trails, there’s an almost endless list of things you can do, and it’s easy to find something to keep the kids entertained.
Visitors to both islands also tend to say that Naxos has more of a family-friendly vibe, and you can see travelers of all ages exploring the island’s villages and relaxing on its long beaches. With plenty of kids around, your little ones will be more likely to make new friends here.
Naxos’ long sandy expanses are great for families, as there’s plenty of room for you to spread out and play games with the kids.
Plus, the waters at the main beaches in Naxos are quite shallow, making them pretty safe for swimming and splashing around.
Paros is still a fine place to go with the family, and older kids or teens might prefer this island for its livelier towns and better shops.
However, you may find that smaller children have less to do here, while the beaches are generally less well-suited for family fun and games.
Which Has The Best Food?
For many travelers, food is one of the highlights of the Greek islands. Naturally, surrounded by the Aegean Sea, seafood is one of the specialties here, and you can find great seafood restaurants and bars on both islands, along with other local dishes and produce.
You’ll eat well no matter which island you visit, as both Paros and Naxos have some super eateries and tavernas. However, there are some clear differences between the two.
With its more developed towns and youthful vibe, Paros has a number of fine dining establishments and chic restaurants, with quite a wide range of culinary styles, from typical Greek fare in places like Ververas to Italian dishes in Cuore Rosso and Asian flavors at The Little Green Rocket in Parikia.
At Naxos, there are still some classy eateries, but most places are more casual and homely, focusing on traditional Greek dishes, often made with local ingredients sourced from the island’s agricultural communities.
Another highlight of the food on Naxos is the fact that you can tour various villages around the island to sample locally-made cheese and olive oil, as well as the traditional Naxos spirit, Kitron, a delicious citrus liqueur. Visit Chalki village to take a tour of one of the island’s distilleries, which dates all the way back to the 1890s.
Which Is Cheaper?
Cost is often one of the most important factors to consider when planning a vacation, and you might want to know which place is cheaper to visit between Paros and Naxos. In general, there’s not a huge difference between them, but Paros is a little more expensive.
Paros has more of a luxurious feel than Naxos, with gourmet restaurants, boutique hotels, and lots of shops selling all sorts of items. Because of this, travelers to this island will typically spend more on their accommodation, food, and day-to-day activities.
Despite the fact that it’s the smaller of the two islands, you might also spend more on getting around at Paros, as the beaches and villages are scattered all over the island. Whereas, over on Naxos, most of the best beaches and attractions are centered around Chora.
Naxos also has more casual dining options and a wider range of accommodation, so there are more budget-friendly ways to sleep and eat during your stay on this island.
Paros vs Naxos: Which Is Better?
Overall, both Paros and Naxos rank among some of the most beautiful and interesting of all the Greek islands, and if you have the time and budget, it’s a great idea to try to visit both of them.
However, if you have to choose only one, Naxos might just have the edge for most people. It’s a bigger place, with larger beaches, more villages and historical sites to uncover, and a wider range of activities to enjoy, from hiking to waterskiing.
At the same time, Paros still has plenty to offer. It’s a little livelier and has better shopping, as well as a more diverse culinary scene and relatively active nightlife. It can certainly appeal to groups of friends or young couples, for example.
Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on what you plan to do.
If you’d like to spend a week or two enjoying fine food and relaxing at a high-end hotel, choose Paros. If you want to immerse yourself in Greek island culture and tradition, enjoying long walks and village tours, opt for Naxos instead.