The stunning Cyclades are a group of Greek islands famous for their unique architecture, cosmopolitan nightlife, impressive history, and rocky landscapes. You'll start in Paros, where golden sand beaches and charming villages are yours to explore. Then hop a ferry to neighboring Naxos for a tour of Chora, beautiful whitewashed villages, and countryside filled with churches, archaeological sites, and local distilleries.

Highlights

  • Visit golden beaches and charming villages in Paros
  • Tour Chora, the charming main town on Naxos
  • See famous archeological sites on Naxos

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paros Paros
Day 2 Explore Molos Beach & Naoussa Paros
Day 3 Explore Kolymbithres Beach Paros
Day 4 Explore Paros's Interior Paros
Day 5 Ferry from Paros to Naxos Naxos
Day 6 Explore Apiranthos Village Naxos
Day 7 Naxos Archaeological Tour Naxos
Day 8 Naxos to Athens and Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paros

Classic Greek island architecture
Classic Greek island architecture

Welcome to Greece! As you step off the plane on Paros, a private transfer will be waiting to take you to your seaside lodgingThis small island is frequently overlooked in favor of its more famous Cycladic neighbors, but you'll quickly learn that Paros has a special charm of its own. Settle in and explore the sandy beach surrounding your accommodation on the island's northeastern side. After you've freshened up, have a relaxed dinner at a neighboring taverna overlooking the cobalt blue Aegean Sea.

Day 2: Explore Molos Beach & Naoussa

Naoussa port
Naoussa port

After a healthy breakfast at your accommodation, you'll head to the sandy beach of Molos. Lounge on the shore or visit the neighboring St. Anthony's Monastery with a walk or drive. The hiking trail also takes you through the ruins of a former Venetian castle before you reach the top, where you'll find the double-domed monastery and scenic views of both Paros and neighboring Naxos.

In the afternoon, try some fresh local cuisine at a remote traditional village like Lefkes or head into the chic town of Naoussa. Its whitewashed cobblestone streets are home to a myriad of tiny shops, cafes, and bars and clubs that attract partiers all summer long.

Day 3: Explore Kolymbithres Beach

Beachgoers at Kolymbithres
Beachgoers at Kolymbithres

Begin your day with a relaxing breakfast before you hit the sea air and golden sands of popular Kolymbithres beach. The beach umbrellas are accented by towering granite rocks, resembling natural sculptures. Take in the sea breeze or take a coastal walk past the area's attractions. You'll spot antique chapels, island vines, and rustic farmhouses on your way to the hillside ruins of the Mycenean Acropolis, dating back to the 13th century BC, and the Monastery of St. John. You could also take a scenic day cruise that encircles the island. 

Stick with the al fresco theme for dinner and eat on the beach, or take your pick of the traditional tavernas along the main strip of town. Listen for the ones that have live music if you're in the mood for both dinner and a bit of a show.

Day 4: Explore Paros's Interior

The Agia Triada church and surrounding area
The Agia Triada church and surrounding area

Today is a good opportunity to take a break from the beach and delve into the island's interior instead. Check out some of these potential stops:

  • The village of Kostos, located toward the mountains, features a charming and quiet square that is ideal for coffee and some backgammon under the shade of its plane tree. 
  • Lefkes is recommended as the main destination for travelers heading inland. Head up all the way towards the Byzantine architecture of the Agia Triada church, located on one of the most beautiful squares in the Cyclades.
  • On your way back to the coast, visit the island's capital and main port of Paroikia, where Yria Ceramics offers both traditional and contemporary ceramic designs. The Panagia Ekatontapiliani church, also known as the Church of 100 Doors, is also worth a stop to see one of the best-preserved Christian churches in Greece.

Day 5: Ferry from Paros to Naxos

Parikia harbor in Paros
Parikia harbor in Paros

Say goodbye to Paros! After breakfast, you'll head straight to the main port to continue your adventure in Naxos. With an active main town where you can shop and admire the Venetian architecture, a historic Kastro (castle) area, and expansive beaches, the island offers opportunities for both laidback relaxation, as well as water or land activities. The rest of the day is yours to unwind as you choose.

If you prefer something a bit more pastoral, Naxos is also known for its rich agricultural industry. Pay a visit to a cheese-producing facility or a local distillery to sample the famous local kitron liquor. For dinner, wander up the hill through the streets of the Kastro neighborhood to pick out your favorite of the area's tavernas, where you can sample the island's fresh produce in its best forms.

Day 6: Explore Apiranthos Village

Aerial view over Naxos
Aerial view over Naxos

Today, you'll have an opportunity to travel to the village of Apiranthos. This fantastical spot is situated at the foot of the Fanari Mountain, the island's third-highest peak. Also known as the Marble Village, its winding streets and traditional architecture have been nearly untouched since the days of the Venetians, as has its language. The local dialect is believed to contain both ancient Greek and Byzantine elements.

Most of the village can only be accessed on foot. Have a coffee on the pedestrian-only main street and soak in a slower pace of life, and get lost in the village's winding pathways that crawl up and down the mountainside. Don't miss a visit to the nearby Agia Kyriaki church, located within hiking distance beyond the village. This former Byzantine church is best known for the remnants of its historic murals.

If you're looking for a break from Greek food in the evening, the seasonal Picasso Mexican restaurant on Plaka beach has been drawing loyal visitors to its fresh fajitas and margaritas for more than 20 summers.

Day 7: Naxos Archaeological Tour

Portara at sunset
Portara at sunset

This morning, you'll journey into the past with an excursion to the Gyroula archaeological site, close to the village of Sangri and an important Naxos landmark. Visit a sanctuary where deities of fertility were worshipped, particularly the goddess Demeter, or a two-aisled Ionic temple. The temple was constructed in 530 BC, during the tyranny of Lygdamis, and represents a precursor of classical Athenian architecture. 

You'll also visit the Portara, the entrance to the Temple of Apollo. Construction on the temple began in the 6th century BC but was never finished. The still-standing entranceway has become one of the hallmarks of the island. You can find it on the islet of Palatia, just over a causeway from the heart of Naxos Town (Chora).

After some beach time in the afternoon, don't miss sunset at the Portara! Walk back into town for dinner and take it easy at To Souvlaki tou Maki, one of the favorite souvlaki spots on the island.

Day 8: Naxos to Athens and Depart

Say farewell to the islands
Say farewell to the islands

It's time to wave goodbye to Naxos! After breakfast, you'll be transferred to either Naxos Port or the island's small airport to return to Athens in time for your departure.

Map

Map of Off the Beaten Path in the Cyclades: Paros & Naxos - 8 Days
Map of Off the Beaten Path in the Cyclades: Paros & Naxos - 8 Days