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Paros is the geometric centre of the Cycladic archipelago and a favorite tourist destination because of its many sandy beaches and lace-like coastline. However, it’s only by exploring well off the beaten track that you get a sense of its commanding location and special ambiance. To be on a path high on the flanks of the island’s central massif is like looking down from the ‘gods’ of an opera house to an elaborate stage set, a layered landscape of accentuated light and shade, form and colour.
On the north-west coast, a landscape of ravaged granite plunges to inaccessible shores, but the eye soars over the ocean to the island figures of Tinos and Mykonos, and an ancient sanctuary is orientated towards the sacred island of Delos. The eastern flanks of the central massif overlook a band of sea with the splendid mountains of Naxos filling the horizon. Outcrops of weathered granite (which served as handy lookouts and defensive positions), curvaceous bays, and coastal plains on the north coast appealed to Neolithic and Bronze Age settlers 3,000 and more years ago.
Inland are hidden valleys, many with isolated fort-like monasteries (an island specialty), and traditional villages with white-washed cubic houses and neo-classical buildings. Heading south, steep medieval paths, perfectly paved and preserved, traverse the hillsides leading to a sheltered, golden-sanded coastline, with views of island silhouettes in the open sea.
WALKING PLUS routes reveal the island’s rich cultural history (with moments of great prosperity), and the present-day blend of gentle beauty, impressive seascapes, farming life, and artistic tradition that dates back to when the island’s light-filled marble inspired the greatest sculptors of ancient Greece.
Travel to Paros; you will be met and taken to your accommodation in Parikia, the main town and port.
A wild and windy walk high above the rugged coast of the NW, starting from an ancient sanctuary commanding views over the ocean to Delos, and over the island to its NE shores. There are great contrasts en route, taking in giant wind turbines and Stone-Age settlements, a quarry that slices through layers of metamorphic rock, naturally eroded limestone gulleys, remote farmsteads, curvaceous bays and a coastal plain delineated by granite headlands. Accommodation, village rooms, Livadhia beach, Parikia.
Rural lanes lead through low, rolling country of farmland and Mediterranean scrub, before climbing up and along a mountain flank from where a panorama opens out over the sea to the imposing outline of Naxos, filling the horizon. Traditional paved paths and dirt tracks lead through a surviving forest of juniper, then over the hills and along a dry stream-bed to a broad vale of farmland enclosed by mountains. Accommodation in village rooms, Marathi.
Explore the industrial past of ancient Greece in the quarries that produced the translucent marble that was used for some of Greece’s most famous sculptures in Athens and Delphi. The buttressed Ag. Minas Monastery looks over a landscape of rough pasture, rocky garigue, chapels and abandoned farm buildings. Strike across the country to the fortress-like Thapsana Monastery, then wind high above it, looking down to a landscape tapestry of texture and color. Over the mountain to a network of paved paths leading to the old capital village of Lefkes. Accommodation, village rooms, Lefkes.
Spend a leisurely day in the historic mountain village, with its Cycladic and neo-Classical buildings, museum and delightful squares, or use the reliable bus service for a trip into Parikia, to Naousa, or to the coast at the fishing village of Piso Livadhi.
A circular walk that takes you past a trio of windmills and over the hills to the monastery of Ag. Kyriaki nestling in a faraway valley. Up for some dramatic views of rock, sea and island, then over to a hidden well, and a small twin chapel with a large feasting area, and an oasis behind which water springs from tilting rocks. Descend to undulating farmland to join the sage-scented ‘Byzantine Way’, a well-restored, stone-paved traditional path. Accommodation, village rooms, Lefkes.
A stunning route via the hidden monastery of St Kaparos set in an orchard on its own little hill. A grassy track leads to a ridge where weathered rocks frame a coastal panorama, which continues as you head along the mountain flanks. Join a less-known and little-used ‘Byzantine Way’, laid with slabs of glinting schist and granite, and bordered with aromatic shrubs. It leads steeply to a pack-horse bridge over the stream-bed and gives way to an age-old ‘monopati’ leading to the southern coast. Accommodation, taverna rooms, Dhrios.