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The Amazing Beaches of Ios

September 17, 2018
Ios Beaches

Many people come to Greece to enjoy the fantastic beaches, and the beaches on Ios are not to be missed! Unlike Naxos beaches, many of the beaches in Ios are remote and so are only accessible by boat or hiking. However, they are worth visiting. Here are a few of my favorite Ios beaches.

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Gialos

Ios Beaches

Gialos beach is the closest beach to the port of Ios. It isn’t a huge beach but has plenty of space not to feel crowded. The beach is an organized beach, and many places will let you use an umbrella and chairs for free if you make a buy something. There are a few small hotels and pensions to stay at on Gialos beach.

You can walk to the beach from the port in less than five minutes, and if you are in the Chora (village), you can take the bus to the port and walk from there. The water is shallow making it suitable for kids. The only thing to be aware of is that the ferries often arrive in the summer and will cause small waves.

Mylopotas

Ios Beaches

Reachable by bus from the port and village, Mylopotas is one of the most popular beaches on Ios. It can get crowded in the summer. The beach is organized with many options for umbrellas and chairs. You can also go paddleboarding, windsurfing, wakeboard and many other watersports offered by Meltemi Water Sports.

The sand at Mylopotas beach is soft golden sand. There are rocks in the water, but the water is deep enough that you can swim over them. The beach is large, so you can choose which section of the beach you want to be on.

The choice of accommodation at Mylopotas is large. It ranges from hostels to luxury hotels and apartments. Be aware that the hostel at the further end of the beach has a club outside and is very popular at night. If that isn’t your scene, then you should stay closer to the beginning of the beach.

Valmas

Ios Beaches

If you are up for a hike to get to a secluded beach, then I recommend going to Valmas beach. To hike to Valmas beach, you head to the port and walk up to the large church that sits on the hill above the harbor. The path starts before the metal gate to the church on the left. There are several paths once you get past the church and we got on the wrong track a few times, but sometimes the wrong path offered terrific views!

Valmas beach is not organized and is small. Go early in the day to get a good spot and possibly some shade. Make sure you bring water and food. The water is deep once you get past the rocks. There is a small cave to swim to as well. If you plan to swim to it, you might need flippers as the waves can be strong here.

Manganari

Ios Beaches

One of the most beautiful beaches in Ios is Manganari beach. It is remote but is reachable by bus. The online bus schedule doesn’t indicate the schedule, but once you arrive on Ios, there should be a schedule posted at the bus stops. Also, there is a private bus that will take you as well that leaves from the port and the village.

There are a few restaurants and hotels here. If you decide to stay at Manganari, you should rent a car as the bus service isn’t frequent. The beach is a large beach with soft golden sand and it less crowded than Mylopotas because of its location. Only some of the beach is organized so you might want to bring a towel to lay on just in case all the sunbeds are taken. The beach is protected from the winds and offers calm water for swimming.

Image via Flickr by Kostas Limitsios

Koumbara

Ios Beaches

This small organized beach is a short bus ride away from the port. While it is small, it offers shallow water for swimming. There are also caves nearby to explore via a short swim. Koumbara is a great spot to watch the stunning Ios sunset from.

There are a few restaurants and places to stay at Koumbara and is a great quiet alternative to Mylopotas beach. If you are feeling like a walk, you can walk to Koumbara from the port. Follow the road past Gialos beach up the hill and eventually, you will reach it.

Loretzena

Ios Beaches

To reach Loretzena beach, you will need a car as the Ios bus does not go here. The advantage is that is less popular. Given its location, it is not organized, and you will need to bring everything you will need with you.

The cove is small and surrounded by rocks. However, the sand is soft, and there is a rock free spot in the middle of the beach to swim from. Loretzena is an excellent place for snorkeling. It is also a great spot to watch the sunset as well.

Psathi

Psathi beach is located on the eastern side of Ios. While it is remote, the bus does go here in summer. There are only a handful of beach umbrellas here. The restaurant in Psathi is not on the beach so you may also want to bring your own snacks and drinks.

The sand is golden and very soft. The surrounding landscape is beautiful, and you may never want to leave! If you seek tranquility and peace, there a small hotel here with five rooms. There is a small uninhabited island off the north part of the beach that you can swim to if the water is calm.

Agia Theodoti

Ios Beaches

Agia Theodoti is another remote beach in Ios. Agia Theodoti is located on the eastern side of the Ios. You will need a car to get here as the bus does not go here. There are a few hotels and restaurants but not on the beach. The beach is not organized so come prepared. There are some trees to see shade under though.

This Ios beach is large and not crowded. The sand is soft, and the water is excellent for swimming. I loved exploring the area behind the beach as well. There are rocks on the northern side if you want to get an amazing view of the whole beach.

Kolitsani

Ios Beaches

Kolitsani is a small beach that is not too far from the Ios port. However, it is hard to get to. I arrived here on a boat, but there is a footpath to hike down to it. It is not organized, and sometimes there are nudists on this beach!

The water is very clear here and great for swimming. Because of its location, it is less popular and not so crowded. Boats come here occasionally but will not come close to the beach as it is too shallow for them. It is a great beach to escape the crowds of Ios.

Are you ready to go to Ios to check out the beaches now? Check out rates for hotels on Ios here. You will need to eat as well, so check out my recommendations for restaurants in Ios.

Europe, Greece, Travel

Exploring Naxos Old Town

September 10, 2018
Naxos Old Town

 

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Exploring the winding streets of the Naxos Old Town is a wonderful way to spend a day in Naxos especially after spending the day at the beach. It is the classic white village of Greece, and many locals still live in the Old Town making for an authentic Greek experience.

When you first enter the Old Town, you are entering the Bourgos area. The Bourgos area is where the Old Market is located. The Old Market is the place to shop and eat in the Chora, the village. You will find a variety of shops and restaurants here.

As you go further into the Chora, you will enter the Kastro area. The Kastro is the area that is still occupied by much of the 13th century Venetian Castle. As you get closer to one of the three entrances, look for signs on the ground or walls that say Kastro.

Things to do in Naxos Old Town

Besides getting lost and finding hidden gems, there are lots to explore inside the Old Town of Naxos.

Naxos Old Town

Shop till You Drop 

Shopping is easy to do in Naxos Old Town and there is something for everyone. There are the typical tourist shops with souvenirs such as magnets and t-shirts and then there are clothing stores, jewelry stores, craft stores and more.

Naxos Old Town

Some of my favorite shops include:

– Papyrus Jewelry and Used Books have a huge selection of used books in many languages and some beautiful jewelry as well. I have never found a used bookstore on a Greek Island before.

Pocket Gallery has some stunning crafts and sells bags made from old sails and they can tell you what boat they came from.

– Morfes Ceramic Workshop makes beautiful and functional pieces. Ask them to show you the magic salt and pepper shaker!

Argilos is the best place to get quality Turkish and Greek towels which are essential when visiting Greek beaches as most hotels will not let you take their towels to the beach. The Greek towels are made in Crete of bamboo.

Jubilee is the place to go if you want really unique gifts such as handmade candles and stone lamps. They also had some Greek made notebooks.

Explore the History of Naxos 

Naxos Old Town is full of history and you can easily see most of the historic sites in this area in a day.

– Of course, the Kastro should be your first stop. If you want to avoid all the climbing, you can take the elevator. Finding the elevator can be tricky, so here is a link to the Google Map. There is a small fee to take it but in the heat of the summer, you would pay anything not to climb the stairs. I recommend catching the sunset from the Kastro!

Naxos Old Town

– The Archeological Museum of Naxos is located in the Kastro area. It is housed in a 17th-century Venetian building and has 5 floors of artifacts.

– Right the edge of the Old Town is the Mitropolis Museum. This museum is the ancient site of Naxos town. It is an open air museum but you must go down some stairs to get to it as it is below street level.

– The Folk Museum Collection is another treasure to discover in the alleys of Naxos Old Town. The collection is of modern pieces from 1975 to the present and represents the folk art of Naxos.

Eat All the Food

As mentioned earlier, some of the best restaurants can be found in Naxos Old Town. Most of these places serve Greek food at reasonable prices. However, you cannot get the atmosphere of eating at a table in the alley with people passing you by other than in the Old Town.

Metaxi Mas is a beautiful restaurant spread between two buildings with tables in the alleyways. The food is traditional Greek food and everything I have eaten here has been excellent. If you have a large party, make a reservation and you might want to eat earlier than the traditional Greek dinner here as I went at 9 the other night and much of what I wanted was already finished.

– Located right next to Metaxi Mas is Apostolis. The charm of this restaurant will make you want to sit down and the flavors will make you want to eat there every day!

Naxos Old Town

– Living up to its name of Labyrinth Wine Restaurant you may get a little lost trying to find this wonderful garden restaurant but it is worth it. This restaurant is only open for dinner and takes only cash.

All three restaurants appear in the video clip!

Have I convinced you to explore the Naxos Old Town yet? Find a place to stay in Naxos by clicking here.

Travel

Volunteering on Vacation

September 3, 2018

Volunteering on vacation

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Volunteering on vacation has become more popular in recent years. There are even vacations where you pay to volunteer! However, you don’t need to pay to volunteer while on vacation. You can find your volunteer opportunities on your own.

Picking a Charity

Depending on your vacation destination your volunteer options may be limited, or they may be ample. There are two things to consider when choosing a charity to volunteer with. One is to find a charity in which you have a personal interest in the cause. For me, I have decided to volunteer with the Naxos Animal Welfare Society to help with the cats. I love animals and it made since help something I love.

volunteering on vacation

The other factor is to consider which charities are actually in need of volunteers. Some may only be able to have volunteers at certain times of the year or volunteers that have their own transportation. When I lived in the Turks and Caicos and volunteered at the museum, we needed volunteers to help run the museum shop when the cruise ship was in port. They had to be available during those times because much of the other times the museum was closed.

Research in Advance

Do some research about what charities are accepting volunteers at your destination. Contact them before you arrive to ensure they need your help. I was lucky that the Naxos Animal Welfare Society needed help and had someone who could drive me to the shelter to help. Have a backup charity if the first charity you pick isn’t accepting volunteers.

Scheduling

volunteering on vacation

 

You will need to commit specific time to the charity. Many charities operate on a volunteer basis and do not have any staff. This makes it difficult, sometimes, to coordinate temporary volunteers. Arrange a schedule with them and stick to it! If you’re plans change, let them know as soon as possible.

This is still your vacation so be sure to not over commit yourself as well. If you are only going to be at a place for a week, you may want to only volunteer for a half day. If you are there longer you can commit to a day or two.

Bring Supplies

Is your vacation too short to volunteer on? See what supplies the charity needs and bring them with you or purchase them when you arrive. The donations are just as important as the time. In some places, things are not as widely available so bringing them with you is helpful. Recently, the library on Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos burned down so people were bringing books to donate as there is no bookstore on the island.

As long as your volunteering or donation is well thought out, it will be greatly appreciated.  Have you volunteered on vacation? What was your experience?

Naxos Animal Welfare Society

volunteering on vacation

As I mentioned before, I am volunteering with the Naxos Animal Welfare Society. They are in need of so many things. Most of the cats and dogs they take in have medical issues. We are currently caring for many sick and injured cats and dogs. Just in the week I have been with them, I have been to the vet four times with different cats. They work hard to find fosters and forever homes and they sent animals to Germany just last week. As you can imagine this all costs lots of money. If you can find it in your heart, please consider donating to them or volunteering some time if you come to Naxos. They operate on volunteers and donations entirely. Here is a link to their donation page.

Beach, Greece, Travel

The Best Naxos Beaches

August 27, 2018
Naxos Beaches

Many people say that Naxos has the best beaches in Greece and I would have to agree with them. Not only are the Naxos beaches amazingly beautiful but there are many to choose from. Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades and is accessible by ferry and plane. It is an excellent alternative to the more popular Santorini.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Beaches in Greece can be either organized or unorganized. Organized usually means they are maintained and have umbrellas, chairs, and sometimes restrooms. Most of them have several tavernas or bars serving food and drinks. Unorganized means there are no facilities. Unorganized ones are usually further out of town but are usually less crowded. A few of the unorganized ones will still have a taverna or two but not always.

Agios Georgios

Agios Georgios beach is the beach right in the central town. You can walk there from the center in about 15 minutes or stay right next to the beach and walk there in less than 2 minutes. The beach is a good size and has plenty of options for tavernas and bars. The umbrellas and chairs are usually run by one of the restaurants or bars. Prices vary, and some will let you use them for free if you purchase something.

The water is shallow closer to town, and it gets deeper further down the beach. The section that is shallow is shallow for quite a ways out, and you can walk out far before the water gets above your waist. Given that it is so close to town, the beach is more crowded than some others. The sand is also packed down until you get further away from town.

Agios Prokopios

Naxos Beaches

Agios Prokopios beach is the first beach out of town. The water here is stunning. It is the perfect shade of turquoise that reminds me of the Caribbean. The sand is golden and soft although not fine sand. The beach is organized and is long, so there are lots of choices of places to sun yourself all day.

To get to this beach take the bus from Naxos Town. The bus driver will announce the stops. You purchase your tickets from the bus station in Naxos town. You should buy a return ticket as well. If you have rented a car, there is public parking about a 10-minute walk from the beach. The parking is before the beach.

Agia Anna

Naxos Beaches

Not far from Agios Prokopios is Agia Anna. This beach is small, but the water is shallow making it a great place for kids and snorkeling. The beach is surrounded by cedar trees, so the unorganized part has shade. There is an organized section of the beach as well.

Agia Anna is also reachable by bus from Naxos Town. The public parking for this Naxos beach is near the end of the beach. The entrance is not easy to see due to the trees though.

Plaka

Naxos Beaches

Plaka beach is one of the longest beaches in Naxos. The sand is fine and soft. The water is deeper here and has incredible color. Most of Plaka beach is organized, and you have many options of where to sit. The umbrellas and chairs are usually run by restaurants behind the beach and offer their full menu on the beach. Plaka beach provides excellent views of Paros and the ferries running to and from Naxos.

The bus also runs to Plaka and offers several different stops along the way. If you drive you should know that after Agia Anna the road changes to a sand road. The road is compacted so any car can drive on it. The road gets more narrow here, and you may need to go one at a time through some sections. My advice is to drive slowly. A good place to park is behind Picasso on the Beach restaurant.

Orkos

Naxos Beaches

I hadn’t heard of Orkos beach and only spotted it on my road trip to discover all the Naxos beaches. I noticed it because it was so pretty. The beach is smaller than many of the other beaches, and it is unorganized, but it is worth visiting. Orkos has thick sand so you won’t have fine sand all over you.

There is no bus access to Orkos so you will have to rent a car to get here. You can walk from Plaka if it isn’t too hot.

Mikri Vigla

Mikri Vigla is known for being the spot for kitesurfer and windsurfers in Naxos. Of course, you don’t have to be a kitesurfer or windsurfer to enjoy this beautiful beach. The sand is fine white soft sand. The beach is organized, but the umbrellas and chairs are few, so arrive early if you want one.

The bus does go to Mikri Vigla from Naxos town. It is also accessible by car, and there is parking along the road.

Kastraki

Naxos Beaches

If you seek fewer crowds, then Kastraki beach is the beach for you! Due to its distance from town and the fact that it is a larger beach means there are fewer people and they are spread apart. The beach has beautiful soft white sand. While the beach is organized there are not many umbrellas and chairs. I recommend you bring your own so you can enjoy the quieter parts.

You can drive or take the bus to Kastraki. There is a large parking area that is unpaved right next to the beach. You will have to walk through some small dunes to get to the actual beach so make sure you have shoes on to protect your feet from the hot sand.

Pirgaki

Another beach that is less crowded due to its location is Pirgaki. Pirgaki might Although it isn’t any less beautiful than the other beaches. It can get windy on this beach, but offers great views and is frequented by windsurfers. The beach is organized but with a few umbrellas and chairs. There are a few cafes, but you might want to bring some drinks and snacks of your own just in case.

The bus from Naxos Town goes Pirgaki although not as often as the other buses. You can also reach Pirgaki by car.

Glyfada

This small beach is very pretty and very popular with the windsurfers and kitesurfers. There are few hotels nearby so you might find an umbrella or two to rent but best be prepared to bring your own. The sand is a nice fine white sand.

You will need a car to reach Glyfada beach as there is no bus service. There is a parking lot right by the beach.

Alyko

Alyko is an unorganized beach, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from visiting! It is one of the largest beaches on Naxos and is made up of three beach coves. It is less busy than other beaches and offers great views of the sunset. The rocks and cedar trees help shield this beach from the winds.

You can reach Alyko by bus. It will drop you at the second beach of Alyko, called Hawaii beach. You can also drive and park along the road or between the cedar trees.

Naxos Buses

As I have mentioned, many of the Naxos beaches are accessible by bus. However, the schedule is different for some seasons, and you should check the website for the most up to date timetables. If you are staying near the beaches and not in Naxos town, you can usually purchase your tickets at the mini-markets near the bus stop.

Naxos Hotels

I wish I had booked a week at the beach and then moved to town. Most of the beaches here have hotels or studios to stay in right across from the beach. Click here to check your options and rates.

Have I missed your favorite Naxos beach? Tell me which one in the comments!