SELF-GUIDED WALKING (HIKING)
• 1-week holidays: 8 days, 7 nights, starting any Wed, Thurs or Fri between early April and mid June, or 1st September until mid October.
• Combine with the Walking Plus programme on Naxos, Amorgos or Tinos for a holiday of two weeks or more.
• Or stay in the Walking Plus country villa (see VILLA TO LET/B&B) or a recommended hotel (see LINKS)
TAILOR-MADE GUIDED WALKING (HIKING)
• For your own party of family of friends
• Start any day between 15 April and 16 June, or 1st September and 16 October
• 1-week walking programme: 8 days, 7 nights
• Combine with the Walking Plus programmes on Naxos, Amorgos, Tinos, and the Minor Cyclades, or a stay in the Walking Plus villa to extend your holiday
Paros is the geometric centre of the Cycladic archipelago, and it's only by exploring well off the tourist-beaten track that you get a sense of its commanding location. 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 islands 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 monasteries (an island speciality). Heading south, steep medieval paths, perfectly paved and preserved, lead to a sheltered coastline.
WALKING PLUS routes reveal the island's rich cultural history (with moments of impressive prosperity), and the present-day blend of wild beauty, farming life, and an artistic tradition that dates back to when the island's light-filled marble inspired the greatest sculptors of ancient Greece.
Day 1: Travel to Paros; you will be met and taken to your accommodation in Paroikia, the main town and port.
Day 2: ALONG THE NW COAST TO A STONE AGE SETTLEMENT
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, Palistiras Bay.
Day 3: COASTAL PLAIN TO FARMING HEART
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.
Day 4: MARBLE & MONASTERIES
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 sculpture 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 country to the fortress-like Ag. Thapsana Monastery, then wind high above it, looking down to a landscape tapestry of texture and colour. Over the mountain to a network of paved paths leading to the old capital village of Lefkes. Accommodation, village rooms, Lefkes.
Day 5: FREE DAY
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.
Day 6: IN THE STEPS OF ECHO AND THE BYZANTINES
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.
Day 7: BYZANTINE PATH TO THE SEA
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.
Day 8: Departure.