One of the questions I am most frequently asked is from people wanting to visit the Greek islands, often for the first time, and can’t decide between Paros or Naxos.
These islands are right next door to each other and are very similar in many ways. They are both situated in the Cyclades Islands group and therefore both have the white sugar cube architecture that these islands are famous for.
It is always a difficult question to answer and we love them both, a lot! If you have time I recommend you try and spent a bit of time on both.
Our personal favourite is Paros but only by a small margin. It captured our hearts before we had visited Naxos so perhaps things would be different if it was the other way around or if our children were younger.
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Key similarities and differences between Naxos and Paros
1. Paros is smaller and you can explore it by car in less than a day by doing a loop around the island. It takes about 6 hours with various stops along the way.
2. Naxos is much bigger which means road trips have to go either north and back or south and back again from Chora.
3. From Paros you can catch the car ferry over to Antiparos which takes just 9 minutes.
5. Both have excellent beaches but Naxos has a lot of big, wide ones that have shallow water and are generally safer and better suited to families with small children.
7. Paros has a livelier bar and nightlife scene, especially in Naoussa,so if your kids are older or you yourself like a late night and a fun party scene that suits all ages then you may prefer it there.
9. They both have excellent restaurants and Tavernas and you would be hard picked to find a bad one on either island.
10. Naxos is quite mountainous whilst Paros is more ‘hilly’.
11. Paros often has better ferry connections as it is the first port of call from Athens for many ferries to the Cyclades and connects with both the Western Cyclades islands and those in the East.
12. Paros has a good bus service which services the whole circumference of the island whereas Naxos has no service to the Eastern side.
13. You can do a boat trip to Antiparos and the Small Cyclades from both islands. From Paros you can catch the public vehicular ferry to Antiparos from Pounda or the small public ferry from Parikia. There are sailing tours that you can charter from both islands to sail around the other and it will depend on the weather and the wind on the day as to where you may go.
How to get from Paros to Naxos or Naxos to Paros
There are several ferries each day between Paros and Naxos. The journey time is between 25 and 35 minutes.
At time of publication there are 4 crossings per day with Blue Stay ferries, 5 a day with the faster Seajets and 14 a week with Golden Star Ferries. Given the frequency and the distance it is quite possible therefore to do a day trip to Paros from Naxos or vice-versa.