Paros, a little island 4 hours from Athens
After experiencing a pretty crap time in Athens I wanted to get the hell out of there. A little research showed me that Paros was pretty close and not as touristy as Mykonos and Santorini. Everyone goes to those islands. It was high season in July so I made a decision to go to the smaller island and keep my sanity. I’m so glad I did! Paros was the perfect week-long getaway with beautiful sunsets, plenty of vegan food options, and no huge crowds. Maybe I’ll go to the more popular islands during off season because I really do hate crowds of rowdy tourists.
I stayed in Parikia, which is right by the port when you get to the island. This is where the cheapest accommodations and food can be found so it made a good base. I stayed at Jimmi hostel in a room with only one other girl for a very cheap 12€ a night. It is super basic, but comfortable and has a kitchen inside the room and a bigger communal one for more elaborate meals. It’s here where I met a few gals to hang with and do some day trips.
The backpacker/cheap food around Greece (and many places in Europe) is a gyro or kebab. For a vegan that means falafel is our go-to cheap eat. You can get a big falafel pita sandwich/wrap for 2-3€. It has all the basics covered; protein in the falafel balls, salad inside, and carbs for the pita. So really you could sustain yourself on falafel alone if you really had to, but I splurged on some more expensive, yet still relatively cheap meals around the island.
As I said in my post about Athens, Greek food is very vegan-friendly and delicious. A common dish you can find on every menu is stuffed tomatoes and peppers called Gemista. Wendy’s blog has a whole list of traditional Greek dishes that happen to be vegan or easily converted. You can see that you will have no problem eating vegan in Greece. Other dishes I tried were dolmas, giant beans, fava bean dip, and tons of Greek salad without the feta. The flavors and spices are fairly subtle in Greek food and they use a TON of olive oil, so it’s probably not something everyone will enjoy but I was happy with it.
But eating the same Greek food over and over got pretty boring. On the search for other vegan food on the island I found a number of places that actually had the word vegan on the menu. The options on HappyCow didn’t really look that great except Distrato Cafe. They had a very tasty and beautiful beet and quinoa burger with avocado that filled my belly. A fresh juice and burger there cost 13€. The restaurant right next door called ManaMana had a nice quinoa avocado salad and wonderful fresh juices too. If you are high raw you won’t have any problems in Greece because fresh salads and juices are everywhere.
I went to a random place that had some veggie items listed on the menu, called Republic, where the chef happily made me a sandwich filled with grilled veggies and avocado. This was one of my cheapest meals next to falafel at 7€. Many cafes line the streets with tables along the shore where you have the best view of sunsets while you eat. It’s quite lovely.
A few times I headed to Naoussa on the northern part of the island. A bus easily goes there a few times a day for 1.80€ one way. This is the ritzy area of the island with more expensive accommodations and restaurants, little shops along winding foot paths, and way more people. Greek food and other vegan items can be found here it will just come with a higher price tag. We found a lovely beach to spend the day at for an easy 3€ for 2 sunbeds in front of Contaratos Beach Hotel. The water is perfectly clear. I highly recommend coming here if you want a nice beach to swim in.
One thing you can always find around Europe is vegan ice cream. Almost all gelato shops have fruit-based dairy-free choices and you luck out sometimes when you can find non-fruit choices like chocolate, hazelnut, and pistachio.
I want to tell you about 2 day trips I took while on Paros that I recommend if you are spending at least 3 or more days there. First was to Antiparos, which is a tiny island off Paros you get to with a ferry. Don’t worry about getting there early because when I was there the bus that tours around the island didn’t start till 11. So we walked around and stopped for a smoothie while waiting for that bus. There is a cave, which we skipped because it was hot and I really wanted to swim. Then we were dropped off at another location where you can do a boat tour for 25€ that included a stop at some ruins, a little time at a secret beach, and then a swim in sea caves (seen above). The beach had interesting black glitter sand and again crystal clear water. The sea caves were the highlight and I was glad I brought my goggles.
A half day trip is all you need to visit the traditional village of Lefkas. We got a workout hiking up the hilly streets to visit the beautiful church of Agias Trias and graveyard, and eat some delicious Greek food at a local taverna.
As always when I travel I cook my own food too but don’t usually show those meals in my blog post. I made a big pot of lentil stews and had that with fresh salad (and sometimes bread) for many meals. This has become my travel staple because it’s easy, cheap and healthy.
Have you been to any Greek islands? What did you think? Any favorites?