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Greece

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.

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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!

Driving, Greece, Travel

Tips for Driving on the Greek Islands

July 9, 2018

Tips for Driving on the Greek Islands

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Driving on the Greek Islands might be daunting for some, it certainly was the first time I drove on Santorini. I had been warned about the turns and traffic. I was prepared for the worst, but it wasn’t bad at all. This last year I rented a car on Ios and had a different experience, so here are my tips for driving on the Greek Islands with confidence and ease.

Renting a Car

Most of the time, I like to rent cars in advance. This is for two reasons, usually, the rate is better and I need an automatic transmission. On some islands, renting a car in advance might not be an option though. Ios is not listed on several car rental sites I checked. However, if the island has an airport, you will most likely be able to book in advance online.

When booking rental cars in Europe, I prefer to use AutoEurope, click here for rates. Picking up the car is pretty straightforward and is similar to picking up a rental in any country. If you have a driver’s license from outside the EU, you will need an international driver’s license to rent a car. Some companies will not ask you, but you and the company can receive a fine if you are pulled over. The rule on this is being more strictly enforced since the beginning of the 2018 season.

Driving

Tips for Driving on the Greek Islands

Before I rented a car on Santorini, I had done some research on driving there. People warned the drive from the ferry to Oia could be scary. The drive was twisty and some the curves were next to cliffs, but the roads were well maintained and there were guard rails.

Ios was different. The island of Ios is not as popular as Santorini and many of the tourists do not drive. The roads were steep and many did not have guard rails. The rural roads were not well maintained. I am also deathly afraid of heights.

My tips are to do your research on the island you are going to. Find out about the geography of the island. Go on travel forums and ask about the road conditions.

Another tip for driving on a Greek island is to make sure you rent a car with enough horsepower. I had a two door smart car on Ios and it was barely enough for the steep Ios hills. This is also something to consider if you are going to rent an ATV instead of a car.

There are not many stop lights or stop signs on many of the islands, so proceed through intersections with caution. Greek drivers have been driving on these roads all their lives, so they tend to drive faster and what seems more erratically than you are. My advice is to drive in the right lane if possible and let them pass you.

You might see a Greek driver come up behind you and flash their lights. Basically, this means get out of my way. If you can’t, do so as quickly and safely as you can. As in many European companies, honking is common.

Parking

Tips for Driving on the Greek Islands

If you are renting a car, check that your hotel has parking. Finding a parking spot in small or crowded villages can be hard. The lots are often full, especially during the high season, from May to September.

Some parking lots are for use for patrons of a specific business, so check before you walk away. There should be a sign and they are usually in English and Greek. I only saw a few paid parking lots in Greece, so that isn’t as big an issue. It may even be worth paying so you can park in a real spot.

You will see some people get creative about making a parking spot. However, in a rental car, I would avoid this since your car will easily be spotted by the local police.

Purchasing Gas

Tips for Driving on the Greek Islands

Gas stations are few and far between on many islands or they are all in the main village. If you are going for a long drive, fill up before you head out and check to see if there are gas stations on your route.

Another thing to note is that most gas stations in Greece only take cash. They also will most likely pump the gas for you. If they do, I tip a euro or two to the attended.

Taking a Car on the Ferry

My tip is to not do this if at all possible. Driving on and off the ferry is done so quickly and many times you are expected to park your car in reverse once inside the ferry in a tight spot.

Renting a car on the islands is so easy and many car rental places have cars at the port, so you can pick up a car right there.

If you do decide to do it, you need to make sure you pay the fee for it when you book your tickets. There is also a place at the port to line up the cars for driving onto the ferry. Check with the port police when you arrive. They are wearing navy blue uniforms that look like military uniforms.

Driving in Greece doesn’t have to be scary if you are prepared and know your limits. Enjoy the scenery and the places you can only reach by car. Have you driven in Greece? Give us your tips in the comments!

Food, Greece, Travel

Best Places to Eat in Ios, Greece

May 22, 2018
Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

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Despite having a kitchen while living in Ios, I did eat out many times. Discovering that Ios had quiet the food scene, I decided to try as many places as financially possible! I always forget to take pictures of my food so I don’t have pictures of it all, sorry. (This is list is in no particular order.)

 

The Octopus Tree

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

This tiny restaurant sits on the edge of the Ios harbor. It is so small, I am not sure if there is inside seating. The only unfortunate thing is that I didn’t discover it until late in September and I wish I hadn’t waited!

 

The first time I ate there, I was with friends and we shared several plates. One of those items was an amazing salad that was huge. We also shared some small fried fish and french fries. The star of the evening was the fried zucchini balls. I really wish I had been brave enough to ask for the recipe. These things are what me back the second time and would have a third time if they hadn’t closed for the season!

 

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Grandma’s

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

This was the second time I had eaten at Grandma’s as I had eaten here the year before on my sailing trip. Grandma’s is located in the Liostasi Hotel, of course inside is not accurate since all the seating is outdoors. This makes it possible to enjoy the amazing sunset with cocktails by the pool and then dinner under the stars.

 

 

Everything here is good.  The menu had changed slightly from the year before as they had a new chef. This was the sea bass, which is always one of my favorites. For dessert, we had the Caraibe chocolate bar and it was chocolate-y without being too much chocolate. I say this because I am not a huge chocolate fan. The nuts helped offset the richness as well as the vanilla ice cream. I only went here once on this trip because the prices are on the higher end at Grandma’s.

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Hotel Corali

 

The bartender recommended this place to me as they have their own outdoor wood burning pizza oven. Yes, even in Greece sometimes you want pizza. And this wasn’t just plain pizza. Each pizza can be ordered with different crust thickness and the sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tart and they don’t skimp on the toppings. Not only that but they also have amazing salads. Amazing salads in Greece are definitely a thing I noticed last year on Kythnos.

 

 

Thai Me Up

 

Thai Me Up is where I spent most of my money on food, which is funny since I never took a single picture there. I love Thai food and discovered they have amazing Pad Thai. Plus it was one of the cheaper restaurants on the island. They were also one of the few places to get breakfast and no it isn’t Thai breakfast. They actually have a British woman who cooks breakfast and a Thai woman make the Thai food. Many nights I would go down there for Pad Thai and beer and watch the boats come in the harbor. Better than any TV show especially as many of the locals would come down and hang out at the port at night.

 

Salt

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Salt is located on Milopotas Beach. I had seen it several times when I had gone to the beach but was really there for the beach and not food. However, I had seen the food and knew I needed to try it. The service was terrible, but the food made up for it. It also could have been that it was late in the season and they might have had less staff. Above is an eggplant dish that was so big, it could have been my meal. I love eggplant and this did not disappoint. And yes, I think that is ketchup on top. My main was disappointing, but I think I ordered the wrong thing. As a thank you, they brought out this treat, which has to be a full dessert! I tried hard not to eat it all but I couldn’t resist. Salt also serves food and drinks on the beach in their loungers. You can see the sea from the sit-down restaurant as well. Go for the view and the dessert.

 

 

Lord Byron

 

On the sailing trip we were told about this place, but opt to eat at Grandma’s instead, so this year I was determined to go. It was one of the first places I went and for some reason only took pictures of my tzatziki! I ordered pasta with clams and it was perfect. It was light and the portion was a good size. Next time I would eat inside. There are many stray cats outside and it smelled a bit. During the high season, make a reservation.

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

Harmony

 

Want a little Mexican food while on your Greek vacation? I was very hesitant to try this place being from Texas, but the call for tacos eventually made me go. I ordered a fish taco and a pork taco. The fish taco was way too hot even for this Texan, but the pork taco was great and I would have eaten it again. Do not, however, order the guacamole. In order to keep it fresh, they had put lemon juice in it and that was all I could taste. During the day, the views from here are stunning and there is live music most nights. It does appeal to the younger set overall though. They also offer yoga on some mornings.

 

 

Sousana

 

This is another port favorite that is next to Thai Me Up. This is the best place for moussaka on Ios in my opinion. What makes it different is that they bake each one in its own clay pot. It is then served piping hot. The whole thing just melts in your mouth. I was scraping the pot to try to get all of it out. Again, I had a photography fail, so this photo is of regular moussaka from somewhere else. But trust me this is the place!

 

Where to Eat in Ios, Greece

 

This list is by no means exhaustive as my budget really didn’t allow for me to eat out every day. I did have a hotel room with a kitchenette at the amazing Kritikakis Village Hotel. If you have been to Ios, what is your favorite place to eat at there?

Europe, Greece, Hotel/Accommodation, Travel

Kritikakis Village Hotel Ios, Greece

October 23, 2017
Kritikakis Village Hotel

When deciding where I was going to “live” for a month on the Greek island of Ios, I knew I wanted to be able to cook while I was there. This meant I needed to find a place with a kitchen and I was hoping for a place that had a monthly rate as well. I did lots of research trying to find the right place including Airbnbs and looking at smaller hotels. The Airbnbs were further away from my preferred location and some only had a shared kitchen. Finally, I found the amazing Kritikakis Village Hotel. Not only did each room have a small kitchen, I was able to ask for a monthly rate and they had two pools!

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.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Hotel

The hotel is set up like a small Greek Village and has all the lovely characteristics of that including whitewashed walls and blue doors. There are less than 50 rooms and it feels like even less. The reception area is located outside the village right on the road from the port. You can walk from the ferry to Kritikakis Village Hotel.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The two pools are located on two different levels. One has the pool bar and the other has built-in sunbeds and is smaller. The smaller pool is also more shallow. The pool offers great views of Yialos beach. Breakfast is served a few levels up with a small cold breakfast and offers traditional Greek yogurt and delicious local honey.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Rooms

There are many room options to choose from at Kritikakis Village Hotel. You can choose from a studio with many single beds or a double. You can also choose an apartment style room that has a separate living area. The great thing about these rooms is that it allows for groups of friends to split the cost of a room and each have their own bed. The apartments are great for couples or people with small children.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

I chose an apartment since I really didn’t want to look at the kitchen for a month! When I contacted them about a monthly rate, they offered me a double bed apartment at a discounted rate. This was something you definitely had to contact them about and it may not be available during the high season. It was more than I wanted to spend, but I was very happy that I chose to do this instead of the studio.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The benefits of staying in a hotel for a month was that I had daily maid service if I wanted. This meant no washing sheets and towels or mopping floors, which is definitely a plus while on vacation. It also meant I had help planning things or calling restaurants for reservations.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

Kritikakis Village Hotel

My apartment had a large terrace with a table and chairs and umbrella. Many mornings were spent here having my breakfast. The hotel also faces the west so you can catch a view of the amazing sunset on Ios. You are also close to the port and I could hear the ferries come and go, which I enjoyed. I preferred this location versus the village or the party beach of Myloplotas. I was close to the port, a grocery store, Yialos beach and many great restaurants. The bus stops right outside of reception and it takes you to the village or Mylopotas beach. You can also walk the path to the village if your legs are up for it. The path is also right next to Kritikakis Village Hotel.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Staff

By far the best thing about this hotel was the friendly hotel staff! They made my stay very memorable. Many times I would come back to my room to discover fruit or chocolates. One day I had a knock on the door only to be presented with a plate of fruit and loukoumades, Greek donuts!

Kritikakis Village Hotel

I chatted with the staff almost every day and made good friends with them. One night they even asked me to have dinner with them. It definitely made my time in Ios less lonely and I would have missed out on some great restaurants without their help. When I checked out they gave me a Kritikakis Village Hotel t-shirt! Which I have worn in Portugal a few times.

Kritikakis Village Hotel

The Location

As I mentioned before, Kritikakis Village Hotel is located not far from the port in Ios, Greece. There is also the bus stop right outside the reception door. The bus takes you directly to the Chora(village) and then onto one of the best beaches. In the port area is many restaurants, a grocery store and a bakery. Kritikakis is located in the best spot in Ios, Greece!

So if you are planning a trip to Ios, Greece, I highly recommend staying at the Kritikakis Village Hotel, check rates here. You will feel at home right away and be close to all that Ios, Greece has to offer!