Away from the beaches, terraced hills climb up to the mountainous interior, where the island’s famous pure white marble is quarried. The Paros marble has been famous for millennia, used by the ancient Greek genius who carved the beautiful Venus de Milo and by the sculptors who adorned Napoleon’s tomb.
Your main base on the island is the port of Parikia, at the head of the bay on the northwest coast. There’s a labyrinthine old town to explore, a 13th-century Venetian fort and taverna-thronged waterfront for sunset drinks and seafood meals.
The Panagia Ekatontapyliani church is a highlight of the entire Cyclades, with an ornate interior dating from the year 326. Make sure to visit the Byzantine Museum while you’re in the church grounds, filled with icons and other artifacts from the early Christian era.
The roads are sealed on Paros, making getting around by scooter an easy option. Rent two wheels and you can circuit the island to east-coast beaches like Logaras and Golden Beach. Head north, and you can visit the little fishing village of Naoussa on Plastira Bay, and the nearby mini acropolis of ruins. There are scores of other villages to visit, with their lovely old churches and quiet leafy squares.
The neighboring island of Antiparos is even more laidback than Paros, and its beaches are a huge hit with divers and sun worshippers. Its awe-inspiring cave thrills avid spelunkers, its stalagmites and stalactites considered amongst the best in Europe.
Buses run around the island, and in summer you can catch a ferry to Antiparos off the island’s west coast.