Antiparos is a small island off the south-western coast of Paros. The island is one of the first –alongside Mykonos– which allowed nudism in the 1970s. What started as an off-the-beaten-track destination for rockers and camping lovers has in the last few years turned into a cosmopolitan, mainstream land of expensive property and loud nightlife. The whole island has two main streets, one leading to Agios Yorgis, the only other village on the island, and the other leading to Sifneiko, a beach to the north. Life on the island concentrates on the main village, also called Antiparos, which is basically an extension of the port.
What to do
The village has many cafés, small grocery stores, bars and tavernas scattered around. During the day, you could be excused for thinking Antiparos village is deserted, as there’s hardly anyone walking around. The village comes to life in the evening, when sunburned tourists amble along the cobbled streets, looking for a place to eat. Thankfully, cars are not allowed in the village.
Walking past the Church of Agios Nikolaos at the central square, you will see the Kastro (castle), the old fortified settlement, built in the 13th century by the usual suspect, Marco Sanudo, the Venetian Duke of Naxos. The flat roofed houses inside the kastro have been well preserved and they are typically built in a square. Watch for the emblem of the “Venetian Democracy” which has survived on a wall over the balcony of a house right behind the Church of Christ.
Atop the hill of Agios Yannis at the south-eastern part of the island is the Cave of Antiparos, where the stalactite and stalagmite formations make for an extraordinary sight. The staircase will lead you down the well-lit cave, where you will see a flat formation named “altar” after a Christmas mass that took place here in 1673 by French Ambassador Marquis de Nointel. To get there, take the bus or a boat from Antiparos village.
History buffs will love Despotiko Island, found off the south-western tip of Antiparos, where an ancient sanctuary of Apollo was discovered unharmed in the 19th century. The sanctuary was used from the 7th century until Roman times and its most significant find is a large female figurine, probably a goddess, as well a building complex of five rooms. The island was inhabited until the 17th century, when French pirates killed all the inhabitants. There are daily boat trips from Antiparos village. Back to Antiparos town, visit the small Folklore Museum (inside Kastro, Tel: +30 22840 61005, open daily 08:00-14:00, except Sat, Sun) for a look at traditional everyday objects and costumes, as well as Cycladic figurines.
The island may be small, but there is no shortage of beaches to swim.
Agios Sostis and Faneromeni are the prettiest, with turquoise waters. Faneromeni is divided in two very small bays; the one in the north is rocky and the other one is sandy. Close to the main village, Agios Spyridonas has shallow waters making it ideal for families with kids. The same applies for 1st Psaraliki, which has sun loungers and umbrellas. For those who like crowded beaches, head to 2nd Psaraliki, where you can play volley ball or do some people watching under the tamarisks. Livadi beach has sand but no shade, while Apantima is small with a rocky sea bottom, making it ideal for snorkelling.
Surfers will love Sifneiko, but regular swimmers usually avoid it because of the layer of seaweeds washed out on the beach and the constant winds. For those who prefer nudism, head to at the east of the island or the beach next to the camping site at Theologos (Camping Antiparos, Tel: +30 22840 61221), where it is officially allowed. The calm waters of the camping are filled with nudists from all walks of life – from old tanned hippies to young couples and kids.
The sea bottom around Antiparos’s coastline is rocky, making it ideal for scuba diving. Blue Island Divers (www.blueisland-divers.gr, Tel: +30 22840 61767) organise diving expeditions in several sites to observe schools of small colourful fish, reefs, tunas, canyons and shipwrecks. The diving site depends on the experience of the participants and is always headed by qualified instructors and dive masters.
Antiparos village also has a beautiful open air cinema, Oliaros, showing a different movie almost every night, at 21:30. To complete the experience, buy something to munch from the bar at the back.
The tavernas and bars are conveniently gathered at the main square of Antiparos village, so you will not need to do much walking. For breakfast, head to Margarita (Tel: +30 22840 61491) for one of her fresh chicken sandwiches with curry, or next door to Papagalos for scrambled eggs with tomato – and eat them at the garden at the back. Argo (Tel: +30 22840 61419) is a family restaurant five minutes from the port, serving excellent Greek fare, and good quality tsipouro at reasonable prices. Captain P (Tel: +30 22840 21823) is known for the good seafood and the excellent views over the harbour of Agios Yiorgios, the quiet village at the southern tip of the island. Statheros (Tel: +30 22840 61127) cooks delicious oven cooked specials down at the port whereas Oikogeniako (+30 22840 61328) makes the best souvlakia in town. Further out to Sifneiko beach, you will find Sunset Deseo (Tel: +30 22840 61719), a beautiful open air restaurant of the namesake hotel. The minimal white furniture spreads out into the garden and all the way to the beach. It serves Mediterranean cuisine and is rather expensive, but the location and the sunset are worth it. Lollo’s pizzeria (Tel: +30 22840 61215) is owned by two Italians who serve the real thing.
The island’s nightlife is more intense than you might expect. Bars stay open usually until 3am. The older bars in the village still play classic rock tunes (Bob Dylan, Doors etc.) to an ever-diminishing number of grey-haired customers. Interestingly, the other type of music that never went out of fashion here is disco. La Luna, located near the Camping Antiparos, is a classic outdoor disco untouched by the passage of time – for better or for worse. The venue comes complete with strobo lights and bad drinks and is packed until the sun comes up. It is frequented by those old enough to remember the disco songs. Milos disco is housed in an old windmill with an adjacent area for dancing and staring at the stars through the glass roof. Smile is a regular hangout joint right on the square playing mainly rock and funk music to its many loyal customers. Tzitzikas is the mainstream hotspot for the younger generation which doesn’t go to bed before sunrise. Boogaloo cocktail bar attempts a more urban chick atmosphere, with wooden benches and minimal aesthetics. The music is really loud, so dancing is the only option. Tabula Rasa next door is frequented by 30-somethings and is just as crowded. In the 2nd Psaraliki beach is Time Marine beach bar, where you can stock up on salads and fruit juices after your swim.
To relieve your aching body from all the swimming and boozing surrender yourself to the capable hands of Roula Papathanasiou, a therapist practising Reiki and Thai massage. Roula is in Antiparos in July and August and can be contacted at: [email protected] and at her mobile: +30 6945 104810.
Before you leave, make sure you try the following delicious local foods: xinomizithra cheese (Sinioris restaurant at Antiparos village has the best), rabbit casserole and mizithra cheese.
Camping Antiparos (Tel: +30 22840 61221), right next to the beach, covers a very large area and has plenty of trees for shade. In late July and August it can get pretty noisy. Hotel Chrysoula (Tel: +30 22840 61451) is located on a quiet alley at the port, 200 metres from Psaraliki beaches. Galini (Tel: +30 22840 61420) is a clean, simple hotel with fully equipped rooms. Korali hotel has beautiful, well-furnished white rooms, at a quiet street of Antiparos Village.
There are no direct ferry services from Athens to Antiparos. You take a ferry to Paros and from there it is a short boat ride to the island. Boats leave from the main port of Paros (Parikia) every half hour during high season and are timed to coincide with the arrival of the large ferries from Athens. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Parikia to Pounta and from there the open ferry to Antiparos which takes about five minutes. During high season, the open ferry runs every half hour until 15:00 and afterwards every one hour.
Tel: +30 22840 61221, www.camping-antiparos.gr
Comfortable, clean camping site located in an area of lush vegetation right next to one of the most beautiful beaches of Antiparos. The camping site includes a mini market and a self-service restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine.
KooKoo Antiparos Summer Club
Hora, Tel: +30 6974 902781, facebook: Kookoo Antiparos
In the heart of Hora, very close to the central square, you will find for a second year in a row KooKoo Antiparos Summer Club. The evening starts with mellow music and picks up tempo in the evening offering a real clubbing experience until the sun comes up.
Marina, Tel: +30 22840 61204
The oldest restaurant and hotel in Antiparos. Anargyros is an all-day venue with authentic Cycladic architecture that offers breakfast and dinner based on traditional and international cuisine with quality ingredients of his own production. The walls are decorated with pictures from the Greek movie Mandalena which was filmed `here.