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15 Fantastic Things to do in Naxos

March 4, 2019
Things to do in Naxos

Spending three months in Naxos, Greece gives you plenty of time to explore all the things to do in Naxos. Since Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, you need more than three months to do all there is to do in Naxos.

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I made a good effort in trying to do as many things in Naxos as I could without sacrificing my need to relax on a Naxos beach. Here are the things I recommend doing on your Naxos holiday.

1. Naxos Castle (Kastro)

Naxos Old Town

Sitting on the hill above Naxos town is the castle. You may hear the locals call it the Kastro. Built in 1207 by the Venetians, the Kastro is still used today. You can wander inside and explore the Archaeological Museum that is housed inside. Some people still live in the castle.

The castle is easy to reach from Naxos town by following the signs or look for the white arrows on the ground. Once there you get an amazing view of Naxos and on a clear day, you can see Paros. The Kastro is a great place to watch the sunset as well.

2. Domus Festival

From April to October, the Domus Festival puts on several shows a week in the Catholic Church located in the Kastro. The festival features music, film and dancing. Most of the activities are Naxos or Greece related. There are posters all over town telling you what will be on that week.

I went one night to see the Traditional Naxos Singing and Dancing, which was excellent. During the show, someone would come on and explain the meanings of the songs and the dances. The host did this in both English and Greek. Included in the €20 cost was wine and other drinks.

3. Visit the Beach

Since Naxos is so large, there are tons of amazing beaches located all over the island. Agios Georgios is one of my favorite beaches on Naxos and is located right in town. It is less than a ten-minute walk from Naxos Old Town to the beach. To reach the beaches further away from town you can take the public bus. The bus leaves from the bus terminal that is near the ferry terminal. During the summer the buses run often. You should purchase both your tickets to go and return on the bus at this station.

4. Check out some Street Art

Things to do in Naxos

At Alyko Beach, there is a hotel that was never finished or torn down. For several years, an Indonesian street artist has been visiting Greece to do some street art. In this case, some beach art. He has used the abandoned hotel as his canvas and his work is stunning. In several cases, the piece covers several walls making it important to stand in the right spot and has marked the best spot to stand in for you!

Things to do in Naxos

5. Go to the Olive Press Museum

Things to do in Naxos

This tiny museum is worth the trip to Eggares village. It shows the traditional olive press and they will tell you how it operates. There is also a demonstration. They also have a shop that has so many unique homemade products. My favorites were the olive jam, it is way better than it sounds, and the fig jam. They also have non-food products for sale if you are only taking a carry-on bag on your flight.

6. Visit the Portara

Things to do in Naxos
 

You can’t miss this ancient Greek temple if you are in Naxos. It sits at the entrance of the port. The temple is not in ruins, it was just never finished. The part you see, the Portara is the door to the temple. In Greek, Portara means large door. This is one of the best places to catch the sunset in Naxos! Get there early to score a good spot.

7. Take a day sail to the Small Cyclades

While Naxos has plenty to do, you would be missing some incredible smaller islands if you didn’t take a trip to the Small Cyclades. There are many sailboats in the harbor that will take you on a day sail to these islands.

The best thing about these is they can take you to caves on these islands that are not reachable by land. The Small Cyclades are not touristy at all so you will be getting an authentic look at Greek life on a small island.

8. Wander through Naxos Old Town

Things to do in Naxos

Naxos Old Town is the historic part of Naxos. If you arrive by ferry, the Old Town is just steps away. Here you can shop, get lost or just enjoy the traditional Greek architecture in the Old Town. I recommend exploring both during the day and night. It has a totally different feel at different times of the day. I also recommend you explore it a few times during your trip to Naxos as you will discover something new every time.

9. Visit the Archaeological Museum

Nestled in the Kastro is the Archaeological Museum of Naxos. All of the artifacts at the museum were found on Naxos or surrounding islands and date back to 5300 BC. The collection of Early Cycladic marble figurines is second only to the collection in Athens. Be sure to check out the kouros torso that dates back to the 6th century BC.

10. Take a trip to the Temple of Demeter

Things to do in Naxos

The Temple of Demeter is located near the village of Sangri in Naxos. The temple has been restored to some degree but you can still see the original marble in some parts of the temple. It was built around 530 BC.

Not only is the temple a beautiful sight to behold but it sits in the middle of Naxos farmland and offers great views of the countryside.

11. Go to the village of Halki

Things to do in Naxos

Not all of the things to do in Naxos are in Naxos town. One of the best villages to visit is Halki, the original capital of Naxos. You can reach Halki by taking the public bus from the port. In Halki, you will discover a quiet but fun village.

You can visit the Kitron distillery there, which is a popular Naxianliquorr. There is a wonderful pottery shop that produces some amazing pieces of art, called Fish and Olive. Take a ten-minute walk to visit the Byzantine church of St. Georges. It was built in the 11th century. If you want to go inside, you will need to go in July and August as it is closed for the rest of the year.

12. Eat in the village of Melanes

Some of the best food I had in Naxos was eaten in Melanes at Giorgis. This family-run restaurant overlooks the valley below and has wonderful food. Unlike many restaurants in Naxos, they only close briefly after the season in October and reopen in December just in time for the holidays. If you are with other people, I recommend everyone ordering one or two things and sharing it. This way you get to try many different things.

13. Take home some of Naxos

Things to do in Naxos

One of my favorite shops in Naxos is Aegean Blue. While I am not a big shopper when traveling but when I find a place where I can buy a souvenir that is useful or practical, I am a fan. I actually discovered Aegean Blue before I went to Naxos on Instagram. I couldn’t wait to check out the shop.

I purchased a beautiful purse that has a distinctly Greek feel and I used it for the rest of my time in Naxos. They have clothes, home decor and jewelry. Some pieces are more expensive but they have something for everyone. You can even make a day of it since it is located on Plaka Beach and right in front is the wonderful Picasso on the Beach restaurant.

14. Climb Mount Zas

Mount Zas is the highest peak in the Cyclades. It is a popular place to hike for a variety of reasons. The legend is that this is where Zeus was born. There are several routes you can take to get to the summit. One route takes you past the Cave of Zeus but is the most difficult route. No matter which route you choose to take you will be rewarded with stunning views of Naxos at the top. Just be sure to leave early and take plenty of water with you.

15. Explore Ancient Naxos

Located underground is the Metropolis Museum. This museum is the remains of ancient Naxos. The settlement was built in the 11th century BC. The museum contains the remnants of the Mycenean settlement.

It is believed the settlement was abandoned due to the fear of sea flooding. You can see the settlement through glass panes that cover the artifacts

As you can see there are plenty of things to do in Naxos and there is something for everybody. Have you been to Naxos? What was your favorite thing to do?

Getting from Athens to Naxos

You can reach Naxos by ferry or plane. The ferry leaves from Piraeus port near Athens. You can find the ferry schedule and book tickets at Ferry Hopper. Flights are direct from Athens airport and only takes about 25 minutes.

Hotels in Naxos

There are tons of hotels in Naxos to choose from. There are hotels by the many beaches and there are hotels in the Old Town of Naxos. Hotels range from budget to luxury. My recommendations are the Galaxy Hotel and Plaza Beach Hotel.

Naxos Greece
Travel

The Amazing Beaches of Ios

September 17, 2018

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.

Ios Beaches
Europe, Greece, Travel

Exploring Naxos Old Town

September 10, 2018

Exploring the winding streets of the Naxos Old Town is a wonderful way to spend a day in Naxos, Greece 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.

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.

When you first enter the Naxos 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 island. Here are all the things to do in Naxos Old Town.

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 five 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 nine 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 Old Town Naxos by clicking here.

Want to download this article with a walking tour? Check it out on GPSmyCity.

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Things to do in Naxos, Greece
Europe, Greece, Travel

5 Alternatives to Santorini

June 18, 2018
Ios, Greece

After I wrote my post, Why I Didn’t Love Santorini, many people ask what islands they should visit instead. So I am giving you my five alternatives to 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.

A few of these islands are close to Santorini and a few are closer to Athens. Each of them has comparisons to Santorini in some way and all of them are less expensive than Santorini, Greece. You could visit one of these islands or go island hopping between a few of them.

1. Paros

Alternatives to Santorini

Paros is one of the larger Cycladic Islands and is accessible by ferry daily from Piraeus port in Athens. Do not confuse it with Poros, which is an island close to Athens.

There is something for everyone on Paros. You can visit historic sites, get a tan on the beach or go windsurfing! It is a great alternative to Santorini because the villages have a similar style and since the main village, Parikia, is flat it is more accessible than Oia on Santorini.

Things to See and Do on Paros

  • Visit Panayia Ekatondapiliani Cathedral – This is also known as the church with 100 doors. It is very beautiful and there are tons to see.
  • Old Port of Naoussa – This is one of those iconic Greek places where cafe tables meet the sea!
  • Wander Parikia Town – This is one of the most beautiful towns on the islands I have seen. Tons of shops and restaurants to see as well.
  • Go Windsurfing – For the more adventurous, Paros has lots of wind making it a top spot for windsurfing.
  • Visit Golden Beach – One of the most beautiful beaches on the island and it is large. You might even be able to see the windsurfers from here.

Paros Hotel Recommendations

Parikia – Check out the Argonauta Hotel right in the center of town with great access to everything.  Click here to check prices.

Naousa – Hotel Liprando lovely hotel is in the center of Naousa and is comfortable and convenient. Click here to check prices.

2. Naxos

Right next to Paros is Naxos, the largest of the Cycladic Islands. Naxos has tons of beautiful beaches. It is also extremely family-friendly. You can fly to Naxos as well as take the ferry.

Book a day trip to Paros from Naxos here.

I like Naxos better than Santorini as it is also flat at the port and the Chora is right next to a great beach. It means you don’t have to walk far for dinner or rent a car.

Things to See and Do in Naxos

  • Visit the Kastro – Located right in the Chora, the 13th century Kastro is an ancient castle with three gates. Two of those gates are still in existence. The Kastro has several things to see inside including the Archaeological Museum.
  • See the Temple of Apollo – This is hard to miss as it sits at near the entrance of the port. Walking out to it is easy and offers great views of the sea.
  • Take a Dip at Agios Prokopios Beach – This great beach is right next to the Chora and has plenty of cafes and bars to hang out as well.
  • Go to the Eggares Olive Press Museum – The olive tree and oil are a very important part of Greek life. This covers the whole operation of the press operation.
  • Take a Day Sail – Spend the day on the water and visit places only reachable by boat. Book your day sail here!

Naxos Town – Galaxy Hotel in right on the beach and also offers easy access to Naxos Town. Click here to check prices.

Plaka Beach – Located at the quiet end of a stunning beach, Plaza Beach Hotel is a great option. Click here to check prices.

3. Ios

Alternatives to Santorini

Ios is close to Santorini and in my opinion, has the better sunset! The Chora is up on a hill just like Santorini but without the volcano.

Ios has 75km of beaches and is the island to visit if you are wanting to party or even if you are not. Given that parts of the activities are geared to young people, it makes much of the accommodation more affordable than Santorini.

Things to See and Do in Ios

  • Explore Skarkos – This is one of the best-preserved ancient sites in the Cyclades. You can see some artifacts from Skarkos in the Archaeology Museum in the Chora.
  • Visit Managanari Beach – One of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. You can take a bus for the day to the stunning beach.
  • Eat at Octopus Tree – This tiny port restaurant has some of the best Greek food on Ios. I recommend the fried zucchini fritters. Here is my list of all the best places to eat in Ios.
  • Watch the Sunset from the Liostasi Hotel – The sunset in Ios is stunning and due to its unobstructed views, the Liostatsi is one of the best places to see it. You don’t have to be staying there, just order a drink from their bar.
  •  Visit Homer’s Tomb – Homer the poet is supposedly buried on Ios. It is a drive, but worth visiting. The view from here is amazing.

Near the port – Kritkikakis Village Hotel is one of my favorite hotels in Greece. The staff are friendly and the room are comfortable. Click here to check prices.

Near the Chora – This luxury hotel offers amazing views of the sunset and a great pool. Click here to check prices.

4. Kea

Alternatives to Santorini

Kea is a great alternative to Santorini that is close to Athens. It is also great if you want a less touristy option as it is mostly Athenians that come here. You could come to Kea on a day trip if you wanted to as well.

The hilltop village is white and blue like Santorini and offers great views of the island.

Things to See and Do in Kea

  • See the Lion of Kea – Located in the hilltop village of Ioulis is a Lion sculpture. It was carved before 600 BC.
  • Visit the Archaeology Museum – Also in the village of Ioulis is the small but great museum. The pottery has feminine features and I have never seen anything like them before.
  • Go Scuba Diving – This is one of the few islands have seen with a dive shop. The waters here were calm making it a great place to dive.
  • Hike to Ancient Karthea – This is a long hike but worth it to see the site and go swimming after.
  • Eat at Bourkarion – This family-owned restaurant is located in the village of Vourkari, which is just down from the port of Korissa.

Kea does not have tons of hotel options but the ones they do have are wonderful, including the Porto Kea Suites. Click here to check prices.

5. Kythnos

Kythnos is also not far from Athens and is another great alternative to Santorini. The island is not too big, but if you really want to explore you will need a car as some of the best places to eat are not in the port. Kythnos still has some of the best food I have eaten in Greece.

It is also great as it is not crowded and much more affordable than Santorini.

Things to See and Do in Kythnos

  • Take a Dip in the Thermal Springs – In the village of Loutra right in the sea is a thermal spring.
  • Eat Mussels at Sofrano – Also in the village of Loutra is the great restaurant of Sofrano and has some of the best mussels I have ever had in my life.
  • Visit the hilltop Chora – This is one of the most charming white and blue villages and reminded me most of Oia in Santorini.
  • Swim at Kolona Bay – This two-sided bay offers great swimming and a stunning view of the surrounding island. There is a narrow strip of beach to relax on, but it is never crowded.
  • Visit Katafiki Cave – This is one of the largest caves in Greece. It was a mine and is now a tourist attraction.

Loutra – The beautiful Kythnos Bay Hotel is right on the beach! Click here to check prices.

At the port – Kontseta is right at the port and offers great access to restaurants. Click here to check prices.

Book an ancient trail hike on the island of Kythnos here.

I would never tell you not to visit Santorini, but it is expensive and is very crowded in the high season. If you are only going to Greece once, then visit Santorini for a day or two and then visit one of these great alternatives. There are over 200 islands in Greece, so you plenty to choose from!

Do you have favorite Greek islands that are alternatives to Santorini? Share with us in the comments!

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Places Like Santorini