In the classical age, the great sculptor Praxiteles prized the incomparably snowy marble that came from the quarries at Paros; his chief rival was the Parian Scopas. Between them they developed the first true female nude, and gentle voluptuousness seems a good description of this historic island. Today, Paros is favored by people for its cafés by the sea, golden sandy beaches, and charming fishing villages. It may lack the chic of Mykonos and have fewer top-class hotels, but at the height of the season it often gets Mykonos's tired and detrending—Madonna (the singer, not Our Lady, who is always here) shows up every summer. The island is large enough to accommodate the traveler in search of peace and quiet, yet the lovely port towns of Paroikía (Paros town), the capital, and Naousa also have an active nightlife (overactive in August). Paros is a focal point of the Cyclades ferry network, and many people stay here for a night or two while waiting for a connection. Paros town has a good share of bars and discos, though Naousa has a more-chic island atmosphere. And none of the islands has a richer cultural life, with concerts, exhibitions, and readings, than does Paros. For this, check the English monthly, Paros Life, available everywhere (www.paroslife.gr).
Like all the bigger islands, Paros is developing too fast. Since the mid-1990s, more than 2,000 new homes have been built on the island, which has a population of 14,000. More are underway—and this equals the total number of homes ever built here. You'll understand why: you're likely to want to build a little house here yourself. The overflow of visitors is such that it has now washed up on Paros's sister, Antiparos: this island "forgetaway" still has an off-the-beaten-track vibe, even though the rich and famous—Tom Hanks is most prominent of them—have discovered it.