A day trip to the Aegean island of Antiparos

The stalactite above Kim’s head looked like a giant engraved baseball bat

Just a short ferry ride from Paros is the much smaller island of Antiparos. An island with a lot of history for its size, Antiparos was mentioned by Pliny the Elder and Virgil in their writings. During our short stay in Paros we decided to go across and visit it’s much smaller neighbour as the locals in Paros recommended it.

The only way to get there is by boat, so we drove our rental to the ferry terminal in Pounda (a town south of the main terminal in Paros) to take us across. We waited in line and drove onto the ferry. It was a quick seven minute trip across to the island.

We took the ferry from Pounda in the north across to the town of Antiparos.

We arrived in the main town of Antiparos, which shares it’s name with the island. Since our itinerary gave us time to see it later we immediately drove south along the main road. We passed a few beaches along the way but saved continued on. It was a pleasant journey seeing the small farmhouses and windmills scattered on the rolling hills.

Some windmills near the southern coast

Once we were near the south of the island we turned and made our way higher towards the hills. Our first destination was the Cave of Antiparos. Used in ancient times and rediscovered by the French more than 300 years ago, the cave wasn’t too large but was really attractive.

The entrance on the left with a small chapel on the right. There’s a stalagmite at the entrance that is 45 million years old, one of the oldest in Europe

We made our way down. Visitors originally had to lower themselves with ropes but we had strong stairs and good lighting to help us. It was not a wide cave so we were on the stairs much of the way, with stops at a couple levels where things opened up before descending further. There was a total of 411 steps taking us 100 metres (328 feet) deep.

One of the most interesting features was the old graffiti in the came, much of it in French and dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The carefully written French script in large letters on the stalactites was strange to see.

Outside again
The view from outside the cave entrance

We continued along the south coast until we reached Vathos Volos beach, located across from the island of Despotiko. Geographically located in the centre of the Cyclades, Despotiko is significant for its archaeological excavations and biodiversity. We didn’t have the time to take a separate boat across to Despotiko, but it sounds like a great place for a day trip if you are staying on Antiparos.

Because the coastal road doesn’t ring all the way around the island we turned around and headed back toward the main town. We parked near the water and made our way into town.

Just behind the town of Antiparos

In 1207 a Venetian nobleman took over Antiparos, and the controlled the island for the next 300 years. It fell to the Ottomans in 1537 and at one point in the 1700’s pirates ransacked the town. It finally went back into Greek hands in 1821.

Dating from the 15th century, the Castle (Kastro) of Antiparos was a small Venetian fort. The original shape and walls of the fort are still in the centre of town, and the rest of the town has organically grown around it.

The “Camara” (entrance to the Kastro)
Next to the centre of the original castle
Information about the original walls and castle design

As we walked around the remains of the castle there were homes all around, but almost no signs of life. A British expat came out looking for her cats and we had a brief chat. She had been coming to the island for years and really enjoyed life there, and she said that by October a lot of the expats head off the island. She was right as we hardly saw anyone else there.

We found her cats
The walls of the original castle with homes built right next to them

With the afternoon passing by we had to get a ferry back to the main island. But we had enough time to visit one of the beaches so we chose Glyfa beach located a bit south of the town. There were only a few people around and we had a nice spot all to ourselves. It was a pleasant swim in clear water with Paros as the background.

The water was nice and clear
Looking back at Paros
One last photo with Paros as the background

We quickly discovered that Antiparos was even more laid back than its larger neighbour There were few people around when we visited in early October, and it was an easy island to navigate.

While we were there one of the locals told us that Tom Hanks and his family had a home on the island. I wasn’t sure whether it was true or not but upon checking the news recently I see it was confirmed he’s been there for years. After visiting Antiparos I could understand why.

For anyone who wants peace and quiet along with some nice beaches an a bit of history, and doesn’t need access to too may modern conveniences, this is the place to be.

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