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Far smaller than Naxos, Paros has a sizeable mountain in its centre but is otherwise a gentle, rolling landscape. Its harbour-front fully rivals Naxos with a busy stream of ferry traffic on the wet side and taverna tables on the dry side. Just a few metres from the water’s edge the enchanting white-swashed houses and shops of the capital, Paroikia, shelter behind a church-infested cliff-face which acts as a useful wind-break against the meltemi. Paros is as enchanting a place in which to wander as Mykonos, but it lacks the latter’s noise and bustle and is comparatively less crowded, making it more attractive to many travellers. There are many restaurants, some of which are rather good, and quite enough night-life –though hardly matching that of Mykonos.
Using the excellent bus services you can visit most parts of the island such as the tiny harbour of Naoussa in the north, standing on a wide bay with lovely beaches on its far side. Sadly, the worst over-development on the island has taken place on the outskirts of Naoussa, making it a better place to visit than to stay in. The east and south coasts however have escaped a similar fate so far, and in the SE corner of the island there is the wonderful long sandy Golden Beach with great windsurfing and other water-sports. There are small coves along the coast beside the small resort village of Dryos.
There is a Valley of the Butterflies beside a monastery on the slopes of the island’s mountain which is worth a visit (though the butterflies are seasonal – telephone them first). Driving round the whole island on its coastal road is easy and rewarding and the odd foray into the interior allows you to see the charming old capital, Lefkes, in the middle of the island where you will find a tiny restaurant up a flight of stone steps run by two elderly ladies which is quite the best place for lunch or dinner. The monastery overhanging Paroikia can be reached on foot or by car and gives a breathtaking panorama of Paroikia bay and the straits across to Antiparos.
Paros is on the main ferry route from Piraeus and has good connections with the other main Cycladic islands of Mykonos, Naxos and Santorini, with any of which it (and of course Antiparos) may be combined.