I am an islo-addict since birth – with a father from Reunion Island and a mother from Madeira Island (Portugal), I can’t deny the obvious. As a result, I am demanding and I like isolated and adventurous islands but without overdoing it. The first time I visited the Cyclades islands – I followed the tourist triogy: Mykonos, Delos and Santorini, spending a few nights in the bars and on the crowded beaches of Mykonos, a day walking around the sacred ruins of Delos and a few more lounging by the infinity pool overlooking the caldera and the dizzying tangle of cliffs of Santorini. All three were islands whose charms, in my opinion, revealed themselves rather quickly – and perhaps a little too generously now.
But this summer I made my first trip to the lesser-known central Cyclades, which include Paros, Antiparos, Naxos and Pano Koufonisi. Here are islands that have delivered much more slowly with endless whitewashed hillside towns and hidden swimming caves to discover and explore. Each island is a paradise and of infinite variety with its own particularities – but my favorite – so this article will be dedicated to the sublime Antiparos. For me, the little sister of Paros is taking off.
Antiparos is a place for those who seek and need no other society than their own. In Antiparos, old men sit under old oak trees and play backgammon, while the hippies who washed up here in the 1970s still run nudist campsites. You might run into Bruce Springsteen at the Doors, a local bar where the owner offers free ouzo to anyone who can sing all the words to Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane.” And in summertime Greece, that’s the rarest and most valuable thing of all. The other particularity of the island is its accessibility. Everything is easy and fast with a good means of transportation. Choose a car, a quad or a vehicle with a good engine. As a result, I discovered some incredible roads. In general, the destination guides the traveler. In Antiparos, it is the road that guided me. Here is a collection of the most beautiful things I saw in Antiparos.
Where is Antiparos?
Antiparos is nestled in the Aegean Sea between the islands of Paros and Sifnos. It is a typical Cycladic island, located only 15 minutes by boat to the west of Paros, and has a warm Aegean climate. Because of its proximity to the islands of Paros, Naxos, Ios and Mykonos, it is an excellent complement to an island-hopping trip in the Cyclades. As on all the beautiful Greek islands, there are beautiful beaches, rugged hiking trails and typical taverns serving tasty local specialties.
Although Antiparos is a great destination for those who are looking for a place to relax and get off the beaten track, those who like to have fun on day trips will not be left out. The following lines will show you the most fun activities to do on Antiparos and its surroundings in order to better plan your trip.
How to get to Antiparos?
The only way to get to Antiparos is to take a ferry from Paros which is the nearest larger island. Fortunately, there are plenty of shuttles in the summer and the trip takes only 10 to 15 minutes. It is difficult to make it easier. To get to Paros, you have the choice between ferry and plane and it is from the port of Pounda that you will find the ferries to Antiparos. All the ferries offer boarding for cars and motorcycles if needed.
Click here for ferry schedules or to book your tickets
The best time to visit
Antiparos being located in the heart of the Aegean Sea, the best time to visit is between May and October. May and October have mild temperatures and sunny days, with daily averages of about 20-21C while the peak summer months of June to September are characterized by even hotter days and almost no rain.
Where to sleep at Antiparos?
The Rooster is a haven of peace dedicated to relaxation and reconnection with oneself. On the island of Antiparos, a jewel of Greek greenery, the hotel blends into the natural environment with an elegant and minimalist architectural ambiance that reflects the local island lifestyle… Continue reading
What to do?
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of things to do on Antiparos are of course the beaches. Antiparos has beautiful beaches including those of the port of Kaloudia, and the two beaches of Psaralyki. These are both close to the main tourist facilities while offering soft sand, warm shallow waters and many bars, restaurants and stores nearby.
The island has several beautiful beaches. Going south out of the chora, the two sandy beaches of Psaraliki with their tamarisk trees for shade are organized but remain much more pleasant than Sifniïko on the other side towards the camping. Villas are developing along the road that runs south but it is still controlled. We arrive at Glyfa, another good beach but we must continue to Soros, one of the most beautiful beaches of the island in my opinion. Further down the deserted Agios Sostis of white sand and its beautiful sea bed. Finally Faneromeni [360° view], in the south, more difficult to access and overhung by the chapel of Panagia Faneromeni [360° view] celebrated on September 7 (boats ensure the journey from the port of Antiparos) is protected and sheltered. Continuing towards the west we arrive at Agios Giorgos, a small hamlet from where the boat leaves for Despotiko. There are a few beaches bordered by sand dunes and off the islet of Tsimindiri, small caves and hidden beaches accessible only by sea (are the Eptihafio). Going back north, the 2 beaches of Monastiria [360° view] are sheltered with clear waters ideal for snorkeling. They are also among our favorites. Finally, in the north, next to the camping, the beach of Theologos (also called the camping beach) is a very nice and lively beach with a nudist part.
Discover the cave
Exploring the cave of Antiparos is also one of the most famous activities on the island. It is a spectacular natural wonder that is full of stalactites and stalagmites. This place, which is located in the southeastern part of the island, belongs to the fascinating places that played a role in the history of Antiparos. Indeed, from the Macedonian generals to the settlers of the stone age, everyone has experienced something in this cave! Inside, ancient vases were found with the names of the surviving Macedonian generals who fled and took refuge here after plotting against Alexander the Great. The cave, the main destination for cruisers along with the Kastro, is also known because the Marquis of Nointel, Louis XIV’s ambassador to Constantinople, celebrated Christmas mass here in 1673 surrounded by a procession of five hundred people. A small book recounts the event. If the electric light and the cement steps have somewhat diminished its mystery and grandeur, the cave remains impressive [360° view] for the stalactites and stalagmites, including a huge stalagmite of 8 meters high and 45 million years old, which would be the oldest in Europe, but also for the historical graffiti carved over the centuries.
The cave is home to a huge stalagmite known as the central column, which is thought to be 45 million years old (the oldest known stalagmite in Europe!). Here, one can only marvel at the power of nature and rejoice at witnessing such an imposing structure.
Getting lost in the alleys of Chora
The main village and port of the island, the chora of Antiparos, located on the northeast side opposite the port of Punta in Paros, is a beautiful and typically Cycladic village. The town grew up around the Kastro, the Venetian fortified village built around 1440 to shelter and protect the inhabitants from the frequent pirate raids. It is composed of 14 small houses that protect 3 small churches in the center. Take the time to stroll and get lost in the alleys full of bougainvillea that crisscross the whitewashed houses with blue doors and windows.
Whether you’re a shopaholic or just looking for a cool souvenir to take home, Chora is home to a wide range of stores selling everything from handmade jewelry to unique clothing, spirits and traditional spices to take home or give as gifts.
If you stay a few days, try to see a movie at the open-air cinema Oliaros, near the Kastro. Also on the north coast, less than a kilometer from the village, the municipal camping site of Antiparos is legendary, as is the discotheque La Luna, which is next to it. With its sandy beach and beautiful waters, it remains an ideal place for young people to spend the summer. Some images from the film Suntan by Argyris Papadimitropoulos, filmed partly in the campsite, give an amusing insight into this.
For the long term traveler
If you stay on Antiparos for a while (I stayed there for more than a week) and you feel like doing something else than lounging on the beautiful beaches, visiting the archeological site of the neighboring islet, Despotiko, might be a good idea. It dates back to the archaic period. Unlike some of the great Greek castles that still stand proudly on the hilltops of the country, the castle of Antiparos is an ancient Venetian building that nestles in and around the local houses. Although most of this building is in ruins or is part of the city’s infrastructure, the circular tower still stands and travelers will have the opportunity to visit it along with the nearby churches.
The island has excavations of a Doric temple, the remains of at least 12 buildings, precious stones, figurines and inscriptions dating back to the time of Apollo. The finds have been well preserved and documented and as such Despotiko is a fascinating site for those interested in Greek history. Every evening, the sun sets off the western side of the island of Antiparos. The best viewpoint to marvel at this golden horizon is the beach of Sifneiko. Here you can see the sunlight plunging into the sea in the distance while keeping an eye on the neighboring island of Sifnos.
Not to be missed
- The open air cinema Oliaros in the Chora for a movie under the stars
- Enjoy the Antiparos sunset from the Sifneiko Café in the chora or for the brave ones from the chapel of Prophet Elias at the top of Antiparos (301m)
- If you have children (or if you like ice cream) don’t miss to taste the artisanal ice cream of Vicky’s in the Kastro.
- In the evening, if you want to have a quick dinner, you can find the best souvlaki in Antiparos at the small Oikogeneiakon.
- In Agios Girogos, at the Captain Pipino’s tavern, you can taste delicious freshly caught fish.
- Take an excursion to the islet of Despotiko for its pristine beaches
- The gastronomy and the typical specialties of Antiparos. Octopus is one of the specialties of Antiparos (although I doubt that there are any wild ones left on the coast). They are eaten in all forms. Grilled in bbq, in vinegar or in sauce with potatoes or rice. We also like the snails, the Saliaki, which we eat in mezze or in a dish served with rice and sauce. The other specialty is the rabbit that is hunted from the end of August on the island.