Last updated on March 8, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Cyclades Islands

10 key DIFFERENCES – Naxos or Paros – The best and worst

Are you looking for the ultimate answer? Naxos or Paros, which one is better?

They are similar islands, just 40 minutes by boat from each other.

In saying that, they do have some key differences that make one a better option than the other, based on the type of trip you are planning to have, of course.

I would not, for example, suggest Naxos for nightlife, clubbing or partying. But I prefer Naxos over Paros if I travel with my small kid.

In this post, I have gone through the 10 key differences between a stay in Naxos and Paros.

But let’s dive into it.

Hidden beaches of Agia Anna
Hidden beaches of Agia Anna

Naxos or Paros for couples

Naxos is a lovely hidden gem that manages to remain relatively quiet and peaceful even during peak tourist seasons like July and August (especially the Southern-west beaches).

It is therefore ideal for couples looking for a more laid-back getaway.

The island has a lot to offer in this case with secluded and picturesque beaches like Plaka Beach and Aliko Beach.

You could take a charming stroll on the golden sand, have a picnic or just enjoy the sunset together.

It doesn’t get more romantic than that.

Paros, on the other hand, is a little livelier and would be the best option for couples who do not want to be too far from the action.

The night scene, in particular, has a lot to offer whether you want a wild night out partying or a casual, romantic dinner date.

Both Naoussa and Parikia are amazing towns, although with their own differences.

The picturesque Naoussa, in particular, would be the perfect destination, with plenty of beautiful waterfront restaurants, chillout bars and clubs to finish off the night.

These include bars like Sommaripa Consolato and restaurants like To Takimi.

And during the day? Look forward to amazing beaches that you can reach with a quick bus ride or a more charming boat.

Overall, Paros is my favourite destination for a trip with my partner. I love the wide choice of possibilities, from a romantic secluded holiday to a crazy party stay.

Fishermen boats still working in Naoussa
Fishermen boats still working in Naoussa, Paros

Naxos or Paros for families and kids

Naxos is quite a relaxed island, once you leave the Old Town, where most of the night action is.

With minimal crowding on beaches and streets, you and your family could easily explore all that the island has to offer.

The beaches here are also ideal for travelling with children.

You have several long and shallow options in areas like Agia Anna which is ideal for younger kids.

For older children, Agios Georgios Beach may be better, with several water sports options.

For windsurfing and kitesurfing, walk down to Laguna Beach for the perfect beginner conditions: calm water and the total absence of waves.

When you are not hanging out on the beach or exploring the town, Naxos has several attractions for you to check off your bucket list.

These include archeologic sites like the iconic Apollo Temple or fun spots like the Aqua Fun water park.

Paros is a definitely less relaxed island. Of course, you can always find chilled-out destinations also in Paros, but generally speaking, the main towns are quite busy.

Both Parikia and Naoussa have their own pros and cons for a family stay, being the first town a practical quieter base next to the ferry port and Naoussa better working for the young crowd, especially in July and August.

The west coast of Paros can be really windy in summer, in fact, it’s one of the world’s hot spots for wind-related sports. A great place only if the entire family is into windsurfing, kitesurfing, or why not foil surfing?

Naxos takes the cake here and more than lives up to its reputation for being the ideal destination for family holidays.

Walking along Agia Anna - A paradise for families and children
Walking along Agia Anna – A paradise for families and children

Where to stay in Naxos and Paros

Understanding where to stay in Naxos and what are the best areas is not that easy because Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades.

On the positive side, it offers the perfect mix of beaches, history, and culture.

The main town, Chora, has a beautiful Old Centre with a maze of narrow streets, white houses, and colourful flowers.

If you want to be close to the island’s attractions, Chora is a great option, being also the main hub of the bus network.

But if you prefer a beach holiday, head to Agios Prokopios, a popular long sandy beach. The nearby Agia Ana is also another great option that works better for families.

If you want a quieter beach experience, Plaka is also perfect for you.

There are so many options and that is why I wrote a full guide of the best places to stay in Naxos with a few suggested beach resorts.

Paros is smaller than Naxos but is just as charming.

The main town, Parikia, has a similar vibe to Naxos Chora, and it is the best option if you want to be close to the island’s attractions.

Moreover from Parikia, you can take a boat to the best places and beaches to visit and stay in Antiparos.

The second main destination, Naoussa is a picturesque town located on the north coast and is perfect if you prefer an upscale experience.

For a quieter experience, Piso Livadi is a great option, located on the east coast.

But this island offers much more so I highly suggest checking out my guide to where is best to stay in Paros.

Here is a quick list of suggested towns/areas to stay in both Naxos and Paros

Area
Town
Best forAvg. CostSuggested
Hotel
Km from
Old Town
BeachCharacterNightlife
Naxos/ChoraNightlife, Unique$-$$$$Zas Studios0NA55
Naxos/New TownBudget, Quiet$-$$Katerina Roza<1NA21
Naxos/Agios GeorgiosBeach, Couples
Families
$$$-$$$$$Prestige <1432
Naxos/Agios ProkopiosCouples,
Beach Clubs
$$-$$$$Anna Studios6Km543
Naxos/Agia AnnaBeach, Families$-$$$$Despina7Km532
Naxos/Aliko BeachBeach, Quiet$-$$$Skarmoutsos 20Km5Nature1
Paros/ParikiaFamilies, budget
couples, nightlife
$-$$$Sandom or
Bizas Rooms
0444
Paros/NoussaNightlife, beaches
couples
$$-$$$$Bocamviglies
or Despina
10Km555
Paros/Piso LivadiCouples, budget$-$$$Vrohaki17Km431
Paros/Golden BeachFoil Surfing
Wind/Kitesurfing
$$-$$$Hotel Poseidon
or Andria’s suites
20Km5
(windy)
31
Comparative table of the best areas to stay in Naxos

Scroll down to the maps for an overview of all the destinations

Naxos or Paros for beaches

Beaches in Naxos tend to be quieter and less crowded all year round.

These make them ideal if you want a secluded beach experience whether it is a solo trip, a family vacation or a couple’s getaway.

Here are five of the best beaches on the island and what they have to offer.

  1. Agia Anna: small beach with shallow water, ideal for families
  2. St. George Beach: close to several amenities including bars and restaurants
  3. Agio Prokopios: several beach clubs that start the day with some chilled-out notes to finish it with some dance music
  4. Kastraki: the hidden gem of the island that is ideal for beach picnics
  5. Plaka: beautiful paradise vibes with clear water and soft white sand

Moreover, Naxos is particularly famous for its beach resorts.

Paros, on the other hand, has more of a party island vibe and it is perfect for travellers seeking a livelier and more communal beach vibe.

The beaches in Paros are more popular but not uncomfortably overcrowded.

Here is a list of 5 of the most popular ones on the island.

  1. Kalimbithros: the most iconic beach on the island
  2. Pounda beach: the beach club party capital of the island
  3. Golden beach: ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing
  4. Lavidia: quiet, less crowded and ideal for families, next to the main town of Parikia
  5. Santa Maria Beach: perfect for quiet sunbathing

Here, we have a bit of a tie, as both islands have several beautiful beaches. It really all boils down to your preferences and expectations.

A drone view of Agios Prokopios
A drone view of Agios Prokopios

Naxos or Paros for nightlife and party

Naxos nightlife is mostly concentrated around the Old Town which can be actually quite noisy during the summer months of July and August.

Organise your drinks in front of the marina, the hot spot for sunset.

Then venture into the maze of small lanes for restaurants, a late drink and some dancing.

Do not expect any crazy party, Naxos is not the destination for that.

Paros delivers in both day and nightlife. 

Pounda Beach is the place to go during the day if you are after beach clubs.

It may be not as wild as the famous Paradise beach, one of the best places to stay in Mykonos, however, be sure, you will have great fun with the exciting lineup of local and international DJs.

During the night, make a point to be either in Naoussa or Parikia.

Naoussa gets somehow crazy during July and August with the Greek youngsters that fill up the clubs very late at night.

Monkey’s Cocktail Bar is a pretty popular place to start, and finish, the night, well known for awesome music and awesome drinks.

The village has also a few clubs, bars and late-night restaurants for you to explore.

These are ideal for different kinds of nights from club-hopping to casual evenings eating out.

Parikia, the other major town in Paros, has also some good nightlife, although it is better suited to an older age crowd, with chilled-out bars and late-night drinking holes.

Paros easily takes this one and has quite the reputation as a regional party hub. While the daytime scene does get pretty active, it is nothing compared to the great nightlife that goes down when the sun sets

Dancing at the beach
Dancing at the beach

Paros and Naxos on a budget: which one works better

The islands of Paros and Naxos are both great budget options, however, there are a few differences.

Naxos offers plenty of affordable accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to hostels.

You can easily find a room for around 30-50 euros per night, and some places even offer breakfast.

The island also has a lot of budget-friendly restaurants, cafes, and tavernas.

You can easily have a filling meal for under 20 euros, and some places even offer a full meal with a drink for under 10 euros.

Once in Naxos, you can spend your day on free beaches or take a public bus to some of the mountain villages for trekking.

I particularly loved exploring the interior of the island on my last trip there, something that can be done easily on the cheap, thanks to the good bus network

The island also has several museums and archaeological sites, and a few of them have free admission.

Paros is also a good option for budget travellers, especially if you avoid staying in Naoussa and Parikia, the two main towns and the most expensive (on average) places to stay.

Beaches are of course mostly free but keep in mind that, to reach them, you need to budget some form of transportation, usually private buses or small boats.

Food-wise, you can find some cheap options also in most of Paros. probably stay away from the waterfront restaurants of Naoussa, so beautiful and romantic, however, they do not come cheap.

Overall, both Paros and Naxos are great options for budget travellers, as most of the Greek islands are. Naxos may be slightly cheaper overall, especially if you stay in places like Agia Anna or any southern village.

Maragas Beach in the early morning during my daily jogging
Maragas Beach in the early morning during my daily jogging

Paros or Naxos for kitesurfing and windsurfing

I previously said that Paros is a much better option, however, this is true only if you are not a beginner.

If you plan to start practising any wind-related sport, you better go to Naxos

The wind may be not as fantastic and strong as in Paros, but you will not need it as a beginner.

The most important thing you need is in fact calm water, with almost no waves, and this is what you will find in laguna park at the end of Agios Georgios Beach

Vice versa, if you are already confident on your board, then Paros is a better option. 

This island is world-famous for its wind. The Professional Tour used to go in Paros every single year (till the Greek sponsors could support it).

Golden Beach is where it all started. A great place to be even if you just want to lie down at the beach, as the beach itself is repaired by the wind

Another great place is New Golden Beach. This is where you get possibly the best wind in Paros, clean and not patchy. The Meltemi wind has no obstacles and arrives straight to the beach. Of course, not a good beach to lie down.

Overall, it is a tie on this subject, because it all depends on your level of skills

Windsurfing in Golden Beach
Windsurfing in Golden Beach

Paros Vx Naxos for public transportation

Naxos has a good bus network covering most of the island. You can reach towns on the coast and inside the island where you can do some hiking.

On my last trip, one of my highlights was actually the trek to Zeus’ Childhood Cave that you can start from the small mountain town of Filoti, connected by bus to the Naxos Harbour.

The busiest route is the one connecting the Harbour/Old Town to the Airport, Agia Anna and Agios Prokopios Beach where there are buses planned every 20-30 minutes at a very affordable price.

You can find more information about transportation in Naxos here.

The public network in Paros has fantastic coverage and frequent runs, especially between the two most popular destinations of Parikia and Naoussa.

You can find more information about buses in Paros here.

If you decide to stay in Paros you may also consider visiting Antiparos on a day trip by boat from Parikia or by ferry from Pounta.

The sea trip is really short (15 minutes) and you will be on another picturesque and much quieter island in no time.

Actually, Antiparos has some great places to stay, and for this reason, I personally suggest spending at least a couple of nights there.

Overall, you will have an easier time exploring Paros by bus. You can also think to rent a car for a day or two. The scooter may not work so well because of the size of both islands. 

Is Paros or Naxos bigger?

Paros, with a land area of 196 square kilometres (76 square miles), is smaller than Naxos, which spans 429 square kilometres (166 square miles).

However, don’t let the smaller size of Paros fool you; it is still a substantial island with plenty of exciting things to see and do as you may already find out in this post.

Naxos is a larger island that offers more opportunities for exploration.

With a land area of over twice that of Paros, Naxos has plenty of natural beauty to discover.

The island has some impressive landscapes, including Mount Zas, the highest mountain in the Cyclades, and the stunning Portara, the iconic marble doorway that is a remnant of a temple of Apollo.

Overall Naxos has more opportunities for trekking and walks, even on those coolish days of Autumn and Spring.

These are the two maps of the islands with the most popular destinations

Best places to stay in Paros
Best places to stay in Paros – Check & Download the full resolution map
Best areas to stay in Naxos
Best areas to stay in Naxos – Check and download the full resolution map

Paros vs Naxos in photos

Here below is a subset of the photos of both islands

Paros photos

Naoussa is a popular destination with a fishing village feel still existing
Naoussa is a popular destination with a fishing village feel still existing
View of Naoussa from the boat
View of Naoussa from the boat
The little pier of Piso Livadi
The little pier of Piso Livadi
Walking through the white lanes of Naoussa
Walking through the white lanes of Naoussa
Whitewashed houses in Naoussa
Whitewashed houses in Naoussa
A family lunch by the beach
A family lunch by the beach
Exloring the small lanes in Parikia
Exploring the small lanes in Parikia

Naxos photos

Lovely niche beaches south of Naxos Island
Lovely niche beaches south of Naxos Island
Naxos Old Town harbour
Naxos Old Town harbour
The maze of lanes in the old town of Naxos
The maze of lanes in the old town of Naxos
Restaurants on Agios Georgios Beach
Restaurants on Agios Georgios Beach
Old shops of Naxos Island
Old shops of Naxos Island
Lovely and secluded beach south of Naxos Island
Lovely and secluded beach south of Naxos Island
Hidden corners of Naxos Island
Hidden corners of Naxos Island
The Apollo Temple's entrance, right in front of the old town
The Apollo Temple’s entrance, right in front of the old town

Frequently Asked Questions on Naxos and Paros

Naxos or Paros for couples?

Both. For a quiet and secluded stay, Naxos works better for couples. If you prefer to have more restaurant options, with nice bars for a chill-out drink and also some nightlife then Paros is a better option.

Is Naxos or Paros cheaper?

Prices in both islands are very similar, probably slightly cheaper in Naxos. If you are more on a budget, Antiparos may be a better choice.

Does Naxos or Paros work better with families and kids?

Naxos is more family-friendly. It’s quieter with wider and longer shallow beaches, ideal for kids.

Where are the best beaches? in Naxos or Paros?

It’s a hard call, they both have great beaches. Naxos tends to be less busy and Paros more popular. Overall the Paros beaches, especially in the north, are more stunning.

Naxos or Paros for nightlife?

Paros has most definitely a better nightlife. The towns of Parikia and Naoussa are the centres.

What about a Honeymoon holiday on the two islands?

For a secluded stay, I believe Aliko Beach in Naxos is really unbeatable

Who has the best Old town?

Paros has two lovely old towns, Parikia and Naoussa, so beautiful but also so different. Both of them are more picturesque than the Naxos Old Town, especially Naoussa

Paros or Naxos for kitesurfing, Foil Surfing and windsurfing?

Based on my experience with both islands I think Paros is a better choice, except if you are a beginner.

Where is the best trekking, Naxos or Paros?

Both islands are good, Naxos tends to be more challenging with higher mountains.

Is Paros or Naxos easier to explore without a car?

Both islands have a public bus network, however, Paros is better served.

Naxos or Paros or both?

This is a question I get quite often. The two islands are so close to each other, just 40 to 60 minutes by boat, based on the service you book. If you are planning a two weeks stay I would definitely suggest splitting your holiday between the two islands. With a 5-7 days breakaway, you may be in a bit of a rush, but definitely doable. Consider also that the busses between Parikia and Naoussa in Paros are more common and quick (20 minutes) than you may think.

Paros or Naxos in September/October

The weather on both islands is exactly the same. September is my favourite month to visit the Cyclades, still with consistently warm weather. Naoussa in Paros is quite lively in the first 2 weeks of the month, but it gets very quiet after that with the closure of the boat service to the nearby beaches. Unless you really want a secluded stay, I would suggest staying in Parikia (Paros) and Naxos Town.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

Leave a Comment