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Paros or Naxos: Which Island to Choose?

Paros or Naxos: Which Island to Choose?

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If you are trying to decide Paros or Naxos, this article should help guide you to the best island for you.

I spent more than a week on each island and I fell in love with both. I think there are a few distinct differences that may sway you towards one over the other, but to be totally honest, you can easily spend time on both.

There are ferries between the two islands several times a day and it only takes about 30-minutes to get from Naxos to Paros. So you can spend a few days on each island and then you can decide whether it’s all about Naxos or Paros for yourself!

If you don’t have a week to explore them both and you are splitting time between a few days in Athens (check out our full guide to that amazing city here!) and then you have time to choose only one island, well then you don’t want to get it wrong! 

Please keep in mind that these are simply my opinions after spending time on both islands. I will include plenty of photos and videos to help you make the decision for yourself.

Naxos or Paros at a Glance

A few pieces of general information about the island to help you see them at a glance.

white building with colorful flowers and blue doors in naxos greece

Naxos, Greece.

Naxos

  • There are a lot of families here and therefore a lot of hotels that cater to families.
  • There are also a lot of couples on Naxos.
  • It is slightly cheaper than Paros for almost everything, but particularly hotels and restaurants.
  • The beaches are exceptional.
  • In general, it feels slightly less touristy around the island than Paros (although it still receives plenty of tourists). But if you get away from the main port town, you can easily find small villages all over the place.
  • You can easily get between the main towns by bus, but anywhere past Plaka requires your own transportation. Away from the main roads, driving in Naxos is somewhat confusing (the roads are very windy and Google Maps doesn’t always know the right way).
views of Livadia bay in Paros Greece

Paros, Greece.

Paros

  • Paros tends to have more couples than families traveling. That makes it feel like it has a little bit more of a romantic vibe when compared to Naxos. It’s also a popular spot for groups of friends.
  • Paros has tons of boutique hotels and high-end hotels which may explain why in general, prices are higher here than in Naxos.
  • It is particularly popular amongst French tourists which means you can find some really fantastic bakeries around the island for great bread.
  • The island is well-serviced by bus, but the bus timetable isn’t as regular as Naxos. Having a car or quad bike makes getting around a lot easier and quicker. It’s very easy to drive in Paros.

Paros or Naxos in Video

If you would like to view a video of what these two beautiful Greek islands look like, you can see them here.

Paros Vs Naxos: Beaches

Beaches are hotly debated in any country in the world. Do you want waves or calm bays with shallow water? Do you want fine sand or pebbles that won’t blow into your sandwich? Warm water or cool refreshing seas?

There’s no denying both Paros and Naxos have some of the most beautiful beaches in the Aegean. However, one island does trump the other in terms of cleanliness, ease of reaching the best beaches, and overall amenities at each of the beaches.

I personally prefer the beaches in Naxos. 

From the main town of Naxos, you can hop on the bus or in your rental car, and in 10 minutes, you’re at the most spectacular beach on the island, Agios Prokopios.

Agios Prokopios is full of fantastic beach clubs as well as having plenty of space to lay on the sand completely free of charge. The water is refreshing, the sand is a little bit pebbly, but still relatively fine and nice and soft to walk on. 

Just another few minutes down the road you have the quiet Agia Anna and then another 10 minutes down the road, the island’s most famous (and incredibly beautiful) Plaka Beach.

Plaka is an enormous beach and a fantastic spot for wind or kite surfing as well as relaxing away from the crowds of the other beach towns. 

There are several more small and stunning beaches to discover in Naxos, you can find the full list of the best beaches on the island here.

beach in the background with white greek church in the foreground.

Beaches in Naxos, Greece.

Paros has nice beaches as well, with some of the best located in the north near Naoussa as well as the stunning Santa Maria Beach.

I also love everything around Piso Livadi and Golden Beach is popular and beautiful, but the beaches just weren’t quite as fabulous as the beaches in Naxos. Check out all of the Paros beaches not to miss in this article.

small church at the edge of the shore with sea behind it.

Paros, Greece.

Naxos Vs Paros: Restaurants

Naxos wins on the restaurant front for a few reasons.

The number one reason is that you don’t have to travel far to find the best restaurants in Naxos. They are almost all located in the main town next to the port. You can head behind the main street in Naxos and almost every restaurant you stop into is serving incredible food.

Some that need to be visited include Maro’s Taverna (the lamb!), Metaxi Mas, Doukato Restaurant, and Meze 2.

There are also fantastic restaurants in the smaller villages, especially around Agios Prokopios. And despite the fact that the food is fresh and delicious and close to the tourist areas, the prices remain very reasonable. 

While Paros also has some spectacular restaurants (check out our list of all of the best here), it felt so much harder to find a good meal in Paros than it did in Naxos. There are few if any really spectacular restaurants in the main town of Parikia. 

Naoussa has some very highly-rated restaurants and we sampled some of them, but the prices there are absolutely insane compared to pretty much anywhere else I ate during my entire three and a half weeks in Greece.

There are also some great restaurants in Paros on the east side of the island around Lefkes and Piso Livadi as well as to the northeast along the coast. 

Great restaurants exist on both islands, but it’s easier and more affordable to eat well on Naxos.

small town in greek island of Paros

Lefkes village restaurants in Paros, Greece.

Paros or Naxos: Things to Do

This is a tough call. Both islands have so much to see and do.

Although Paros is significantly smaller than Naxos, I found that there is a little bit more to see and do on the island during the hot summer months.

Paros has tons of bays to explore, mountain towns to wander, hiking trails, and ancient ruins galore. There are beaches with special healing mud and old marble quarries that were used by the ancient Greeks.

Naxos has many of these things as well, but they are a little bit harder to get to, especially if you don’t rent a vehicle for your time on the island. With the exception of the Temple of Apollo, which is located right at the port when you arrive and is completely free to visit.

Naxos has some wonderful places to go hiking, including some incredible mountains to explore. But if you are visiting in July or August, it is simply too hot to head out into the mountains, and getting to these places is slightly difficult unless you go with a tour.

Paros is also very close (5 minutes on a ferry) to the beautiful island of Antiparos. On this island, you’ll find an incredible cave, stunning beaches, more ancient ruins, and some seriously great restaurants.

Whichever island you choose, both have enough to keep you busy for a few days, but if you are looking for a bit more of an action-packed trip, Paros just wins out for me.

mountains and blue skies in naxos greece

Driving into the mountains in Naxos with ancient ruins (squint to see them beneath the mountains!).

temple of apollo in naxos greece

Temple of Apollo in downtown Naxos town.

Naxos or Paros: Nightlife

If you are looking for places to party, you’d be better off on Mykonos or Ios. They have much bigger nightlife than you’ll find on either of these islands.

That being said, if you want to find cute rooftop or garden bars, you want to be able to get souvlaki after midnight, and you want to enjoy some dancing or great music, I would say Paros wins out on the nightlife scene over Naxos.

Paros, especially the main towns of Parikia and Naoussa, are open late. You can sit down at a restaurant at 11pm and order dinner. You can enjoy drinks by the water for hours.

You’ll find craft beer, cute cocktail bars, and hidden restaurants along the backstreets of the different towns where you can listen to jazz or a live DJ in the evenings.

man and woman in front of the harbor with sunset behind them.

The sunsets in Naxos are pretty special.

Paros or Naxos: Which to Choose?

If you are visiting with friends and want a place that’s easy to get around with by quad bike, with great nightlife and cute boutique hotels, then I would choose Paros.

If you are a family and looking for a safe and beautiful beach spot to spend a few days, I would recommend Naxos. In particular, staying around Agios Prokopios or Agia Anna. 

If you are a couple, both islands are fantastic. I visited both of these islands with my boyfriend and we had a great time on both Naxos and Paros.

They both have plenty of activities to keep you busy, nice beaches to relax on, plenty of options for self-catering including affordable grocery stores, and lots of nice restaurants.

Both have a bit of a romantic vibe if you look for it with Paros perhaps edging Naxos when it comes to romantic restaurants and hotels on offer. 

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either island. They both have plenty of things to love about them and that make them worth your vacation time.

town with cycladic tiles on the ground and white buildings with flowers on them.

Tons of boutiques in Paros for great (but sometimes expensive) shopping.

views of the sea between cyprus trees and mountains.

Paros has plenty of beautiful hills to get views over the Aegean.

shops on a greek island with clothing outisde

Shopping in Naxos is excellent.

views of naxos town in greece

Views of Naxos town from the Temple of Apollo