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Without a doubt, Greece is one of the top travel destinations in the world. It is home to hundreds of enchanting islands, of which Crete and Paros are some of the most fascinating. Each destination has its share of natural beauty, stunning beaches, ancient ruins, and cultural delights, so choosing between them for your next vacation can present a challenge.
Crete is better if you want to see amazing archeological sites, rich culture, and mesmerizing natural landscapes. Paros combines magical beaches with verdant mountains, food, and excellent fun life. If you’re looking for a dreamy romantic paradise, Paros is your best option.
|Cost of Stay: Weekly (USD)||$445 per person||$647 per person|
|Transportation||Taxis, public transport (KTEL buses and urban buses), car and motorcycle rentals, and Uber.||Taxis, public buses, car and motorcycle rentals, boat rides (between islands)|
|Notable Attractions||Koules Fortress, Chania Venetian Lighthouse, Firkas Fortress, Palace of Knossos, Samaria Park, Agios Nikolaos, Elafonissi, Arkadi Monastery||Panagia Ekatontapiliani, Lefkes, Naoussa Old Port, Marcello Beach, Golden Beach, Paros park, Drios, Kolombithres Beach, Piso Livado|
|Weather and Season||Mostly warm weather year-round but the heat cools down in September and October||Very hot in the summer months and mild temperatures in the winter|
|Food and Drink||Cretan cheese, Barley rusks (Dakos), fried snails, Gamopilafo, mountain bulbs, smoked pork, Cretan brandy (raki). Several restaurants and cafes||Deep-fried dough, grilled octopus, roasted mackerel, giant snails, baked chickpeas, fish soup, Paros wine, local raki. Several restaurants and bars|
|Activities for Kids||Bay of Afrata in Chania, Nikolos Reef in Lasithi, Loutro, Sfakia, Vai, Paleochora, Agia Roumeli, Sougia, Agia Marina, Elafonisi, and Spinalonga Island||Aqua Paros, Yacht club of Paros, Kolombithres Beach, Golden Beach, Piso Aliki Beach, Martselo Beach, Santa Maria Beach,|
|Nature Attractions||Elafonissi Beach, Lake of Preveli, Dikteon Cave, Via Palm Beach, Rouvas Forest, Anopolis Plateau, Kournas Lake, Almiros Wetland River, Gorge of Aradena||Old Port of Naoussa, Lageri Beach, Golden Beach, Frankish Castle, Valley of Butterflies, Mycenaean Acropolis, Ancient Cemetery of Paros, Kalogeros Beach|
To make your decision easier, we’ll go into more detail about these two stunning Greek islands and explore their main attractions, weather, means of transportation, food and drinks, and the cost of your stay.
Cost of Stay
While prices may vary, your daily spend in Crete can be around $63. So, staying in Crete for a week can cost you up to $450. Hotel prices are lower around April, May, early June, late September, and early October. In the summer months, prices are at their peak, but there is always buzz and activities, so you have to weigh the pros and cons.
Best Affordable Hotels
There are several affordable hotels in Greek’s largest island. One of the most popular, convenient, and affordable places to stay in Crete is the Rethymno Youth Hostel located in Rethymno. The Iliana Hotel, Palmera Beach Hotel, and Porto Veneziano Hotel are other options for you if you’re on a budget.
In Paros, most of the hotels are filled in the summer, but the prices aren’t much higher. However, based on other expenses, your weekly spend on average can be around $650. Hotels in Paros are relatively cheap, and you can find one from $29 a night. Some affordable options are Hotel Christina, Atlantis Hotel, Arian Hotel, and Hotel Panorama.
Both Crete and Paros are beautiful island gems in Greece. The capital of Crete, Heraklion, has several historical and cultural attractions for every visitor. If you want to immerse yourself in Crete’s history and mystery, the Palace of Knossos is the best place to visit. If you enjoy hiking, Samaria Gorge is the perfect hiking spot in Crete.
There are other wonderful sights in Crete, such as the Koules Fortress, Chania Venetian Lighthouse, and the Firkas Fortress.
If you enjoy water sports, windsurfing, and scuba diving, Paros is for you. Some of the best places to visit in Paros are Parikia, where the Church of a Hundred Doors is located, the Fishing village of Naousa located at the North of the island, the Golden Beach, Paros park, Drios, and the Kolymbithres Beach.
Activities For Kids
Crete offers more than Paros when it comes to family and kids’ activities. In fact, it has been voted as one of the best destinations for family holidays. You can find several scuba diving centers on the island. Some of the most popular are the Bay of Afrata in Chania, Hersonissos Cape in Heraklion, and Panormos Village in Rethymnon.
To experience the history of Crete with your kids, visit the Natural History Museum in Heraklion. You kids will love the Stavros Niarchos Discovery Center in the museum. There are also several surfing opportunities in Elafonisi, Agia Marina, Plakias, Falassarna, and Amoudara.
You can also go with your kids to the Cretaquarium, one of the biggest and most popular aquariums in Europe. If your kids love hiking, the Samaria Gorge is the first place that comes to mind. Other places your kids can visit are the Dinosauria Park in Heraklion, the ancient Minoan Palace in Knossos, and the Cretan Caves. Crete is essentially a family and kids paradise.
There are also a few recreation spots and activities for kids. You can take your kids horse riding at the Thanassis Farm or Kokou Horse Riding Center in the Ampelas Village. The Aqua Paros Water Park in Naoussa is another location where you want to take your kids to. You can also visit the Paros Tennis Association in Parikia if your kids are tennis enthusiasts.
Other activities such as guided dives, snorkeling, music, dance, and yoga are available in Paros. The most family-friendly beaches in Paros are the Golden Beach, Faragas, Logaras Beach, Martselo Beach, and Santa Maria Beach.
Food and Drinks
After spending time in the blue waters and under the sun, you can try several Mediterranean delicacies in Crete and Paros. One of Crete’s most common meals is dakos, a refreshing salad based on dried bread or barley rusks topped with fresh tomatoes, Cretan cheese, mizithra, oregano, and virgin oil.
Crete’s other common foods are Gamopilafo, Cretan traditional wedding rice, Saganaki – a Greek cuisine made of deep-fried slices of cheese, and Apaki – a smoked and salted pork meat. The list wouldn’t be complete without the raki, a strong spirit made from grapes.
Paros also has its share of delicacies, with the Loukoumades – deep-fried crispy balls of dough drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon being one of the most sought after by most visitors. Also, there’s no shortage of seafood, and you’ll find grilled octopus, roasted mackerel, and fresh fish cooked with natural ingredients. You can pair your meal with the local raki (souma) or the Paros wine.
Both Crete and Paros have a well-earned reputation for their party vibes. They offer a wide range of wild nightlife spots for all tastes and ages. You’ll find a lot of night clubs and bars in Chania Town in Chania. There are also plenty of nightlife spots in Rethymnon, Malia, and Stalis.
There’s no shortage of bars and clubs in Paros as well. Some of the best nightlife spots are in Parikia and Naoussa.
The weather in Paros is completely Mediterranean. This means that the summers are very hot and dry, and the winters are mild with more rainfall. The best time of the year to visit Paros is July and August when the temperatures are high, and the beaches are filled with excitement.
Crete enjoys typically warm weather year-round, and you can visit any time. However, if you prefer warmer weather and enjoy swimming, it’s best to visit mid-May and October. The temperatures are highest between June and August but cool down in early September.
Paros, Crete, and other Greek islands are generally safe for solo travelers, couples, and groups. However, it is wise to stay alert and be prepared. Keep your accommodation details and travel plans to yourself and avoid hitchhiking. Stay out of deserted places at night or completely avoid traveling once it gets dark.
If a fight, riot, or civil disturbance starts in an area you’re exploring, leave immediately. Always be aware of your surroundings and seek help or move if you notice someone taking more than a passing interest.
The cheapest way to get around the main towns and beaches in Paros is by public transportation. A taxi might be easier and faster, but it is a more expensive option. You can also rent a car or motorcycle to experience the island at your own pace. There are no trains or railway systems.
Crete offers more transportation options than Paros. KTEL buses are the main public transport buses in Crete and connect travelers to Crete’s four major cities (Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, and Agios Nikolaos). You can rent a car or motorbike in almost any town in Crete. Taxis are also available, and you can find them almost everywhere, although they are more expensive than public buses.
Both Crete and Paros are great options, whether planning a vacation, cruise, or villa holiday. If you prefer a great warm-weather vacation, or you’re traveling with your kids or family, Crete is definitely the better option.
Paros is a beautiful and cultural island, so it is the better option if you’re going on a romantic getaway. Crete has the best to offer if you’re looking for archeological sites, rich culture, and history.