Antiparos: low-key, indie, calm
The name Antiparos, one of the smallest inhabited Cycladic islands and just a stone’s throw away from Paros, the third largest in the group, could not be more descriptive of the contrast in holiday styles with its trendier neighbor. Nightlife, for a start, is not Antiparos’s strongest point. Not that Paros on the whole rivals Mykonos in terms of hordes of reveling, raving wannabes (although a couple of its nightspots do), but, quite simply, Antiparos can be described as the alternative, indie Greek scene. Here, you won’t meet or hear about celebrities and you can pay reasonable prices for drinks; you’re more likely to run into old hippies or the kite surfers whose colorful sails cloud the air like parachutes over the seven-minute crossing from Pounta beach on Paros.
This low-key island of 37 square kilometers retains the archetypal Cycladic atmosphere – a sedate and idyllic coastline, including golden beaches, scattered chapels, farm dwellings and white houses. But this is being eroded rather fast. Recent years have seen the proliferation of private villas – many of which, stringed along ‘privileged’ stretches of the coastline, block access to swimmers – as well as commercial accommodation facilities. Architectural specifications, however, have prevented unsightly developments. Antiparos has diehard fans who love the ambience of the self-contained, laid-back and yet bustling port village of Hora, with 1,000 permanent inhabitants, where you are likely to bump into most of the people you met the night before.
Low Key Location:
You won't meet or hear about celebrities; you’re more likely to run into old hippies or kitesurfers
Where to Eat
Kapetan Pipinos, Aghios Georgios (tel 21823), is an excellent fish taverna, supplied by a family-owned boat; for meat dishes go to Giorgis (tel 61362) in Hora, or Peramataki (tel 61211) in Soros, which also has good Greek dishes and pies; the traditional dishes at Pavlo’s Place, at the Galini hotel, are probably the island’s best-kept secret; Kappari (tel 61616) on the main street, has good Mediterranean cuisine made with local produce and serves breakfast.
Antiparos on the Map
A stone-paved alleyway leads from the port to Kastro – a Venetian fort built in 1440 to protect against pirate raids. Today, only parts of the central tower and the base of the walls remain. The entrance to Kastro, which is out of bounds to vehicles, is on the central square, next to the Cathedral of Aghios Nikolaos. Stroll around the whitewashed alleyways with geraniums and hanging bougainvillas, and continue along the pedestrian way to Sifneikos Yalos to watch the sunset. Antiparos has been inhabited since prehistoric times and its ancient name was Oliaros – meaning ‘forested mountain.’ Significant finds are housed in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Work in recent years on the adjacent uninhabited islet of Despotiko (8 sq.km) has revealed an ancient complex built around a temple to Apollo and much earlier Cycladic remains. Despotiko, a small island reached by boat from the scenic beach of Aghios Georgios, has some lovely beaches of its own and can be explored by boat. However, Antiparos’s main highlight is its famous cave; located 9 km south of Hora, at an elevation of 175 meters. The island’s beaches are mostly on the western coast. The only one with organized facilities is Psaralyki – the nearest to Hora, with shade-providing trees, beach bars and some sports facilities. The most scenic is Soros, on the southeastern coast.
Another option well worth considering is sailing around the island, with a stop on the southern side of Despotiko for swimming and a lunch of barbecued octopus and souvlaki. It’s also an ideal way to see the impressive rugged southern promontory of Antiparos. Other beach options are Aghios Sostis, with turquoise waters, as well as pristine Glyfa and the small but sandy Livadi, with juniper trees, on the western side. There is another beach called Livadi next to Aghios Sostis. The shoreline next to the popular campsite on the edge of Hora is nudist-friendly. Evening options on laid-back Antiparos include an open-air cinema. Alternatively, the more energetic can head to the legendary La Luna disco, near the campsite, which may still dispel the view that Antiparos’s nightlife leaves something to be desired: Closing time is around 8 a.m.