9 August 2015

Suitcase. Naxos, Greek Islands - Travel Guide

When I told people I was heading off on a Greek Islands summer holiday the first thing they would ask me is which islands was I going to?

“Mykonos, Naxos and Santorini,” I would reply. To which I would get a nod, puzzled expression and a nod.

Most people hadn’t heard of Naxos and to be honest, until I did my research, neither had I. However as you’ll soon see it makes the perfect stop off point between the ever-popular Mykonos and Santorini and isn’t to be missed.

The first thing I discovered when I researched Naxos was that it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Greek Islands so it was an easy choice for me to stay by one of the little beachside villages rather than in Naxos Town.

Agios Prokopios was my home for a few days. And check. it. out. Amazinggggg…

The water was exactly how I imagine it to be in the Maldives or Tahiti (my other dream destinations). Crystal clear and the bluest blue. I was in heaven.

There’s plenty of coastline to explore and we ventured a little ways along it in a few days. Just past my beach you’ll find Plaka where you can do any water sport you wish. We went for a donut ride and still 2 weeks later my arms are aching from it. I was holding on for dear life!

Don't you love how synchronised we are getting on!

A little further along is a great point that is a favourite of windsurfers. It was an incredible sight to watch them coasting along. These guys were real pros.

Agios Prokopios is a quiet little neck of the woods, but the bonus is it’s only a 10 minute drive from the town so you can easily pop in to check it out and wander the streets. Not unlike Mykonos, Naxos Town is full of little streets and laneways. The castle district is particularly winding and you can easily lose yourself amongst the little markets and stores.

One very, very important fact I need to point out about Naxos is the people. They are truly the nicest and friendliest of anywhere I have ever come across in the world. From cheerful shop keepers to my generous hotel staff who gave me free breakfast, they’re all so happy to share their little island with you. It’s such a delight.

One evening we went to a traditional music performance in Naxos Castle. The performers were truly authentic people who obviously love their island. They explained their music and instruments and they danced their Greek movements in circles before getting us up to join them. It was a real pleasure…

And how can I not mention the infamous Naxos ruins. Infamous because they have quite a funny story. Rumour has it that way back in 500BC the ruler wanted to build a splendid temple, The Apollo Temple. They got going on the doorway and then apparently gave up! Where’s the work ethic guys? But I will say they did build the doorway well because it’s still standing 2,500 years later!

Rockin' double denim // shirt and shorts

My first experience with the transport in Naxos gave me reason to chuckle and showed just how friendly the locals are. I hopped in a taxi fresh off the ferry and asked to go to my hotel by the beach. Off we head through the town when the driver stops to toot his horn at this little old man, pulls over and proceeds to have a chat [entirely in Greek]. Next thing the little old man hops in, says something to me in Greek smiling and away we go. A few minutes later we’re at the little old man’s house, he smiles and waves at me again speaking Greek before hopping out of the car. Then we’re off to my hotel. Despite the detour my fare was still cheap as chips. That’s the other bonus about Naxos – it’s great for your budget!

In comparison to others, Naxos is a large island; it can take up to an hour to drive to the other side so it’s a good idea to get a small car or quad bike if you want to get around. Alternatively taxis are easily found around the place if you’re travelling short distances and, as I mentioned, very cheap.

The highlight of my Naxos food experience would have to be the lovely meal I had on the sand at Taverna Paradiso between Agios Prokopios and Plaka. You sit right on the beach – it’s fab! We had big fresh Greek salads (my fave) and roasted vegetables stuffed with rice. Just what I needed after a morning of water sports.

I also had a lovely meal at La Trattoria in Agios Prokopios where the waiters were exceptionally friendly. I had another Greek Salad (told you they’re my fave) and their traditional lamb in clay pot which simply falls apart in your mouth; I think it must be cooked for days!

Then I was especially happy when they brought me a mini limoncello daiquiri with my bill. Cheers.

The two things I will take away from Naxos will undoubtedly be the beautiful beaches and the equally beautiful people. I knew as soon as I arrived at my hotel that I was in for a treat. The manager took me aside and gave me a full history lesson on the island, then the next morning at breakfast they proceeded to tell me the cake was made by their grandma and the jams were all homemade. It’s such an authentic place and I left feeling truly humbled.

Next stop Santorini…

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Photos by Krissie.