Category: 2013 destination of the year (page 1 of 3)

Why Naxos is setting tourism records this summer

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Naxos: The Land for a Young God is a professionally-produced video that shows some of the island’s top attractions, including its gorgeous beaches, scenic mountain villages and historic monuments

 

Good press: “Naxos is breaking every record on tourist arrivals this year,” declares the headline of an article published August 12 on naxos.gr, the website for the municipality of Naxos and the Small Cyclades.

In July alone, the news report says, more than 99,000 people arrived at Naxos by ship, easily smashing the previous record of 97,498 set back in 2001. Notably, that total didn’t include passengers who arrived either on Sea Jets ferries, or on Olympic Air flights from Athens, which would have pushed the July tourist numbers far north of 100,000.  

Although I cringed slightly when I read that July saw “27% more trucks, 28% more motorcycles and 48% (!!) more cars” arrive on Naxos than than a year ago, I wasn’t surprised at all by the news that tourism is booming on Naxos. 

Two visits to the island in 2013 prompted me to call it our destination of the year and to write what has continued to be one of the most popular posts on my blog — Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos.  After returning for our sixth time in 2014, I got a strong sense that Naxos was at a tipping point, on the cusp of attracting wide international attention as an all-around great Greek island destination.

Sure enough, during 2015 I noticed that Naxos was being mentioned regularly by newspapers, blogs and travel guides. This year, Naxos has been an even bigger media darling, spotlighted around the world by major newspapers and travel blogs as well as the popular CNN television show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With all that good press over the past two years, it’s really no wonder that Naxos is expecting to draw record numbers of tourists this month. In fact, occupancy rates for August are virtually 100%, according to the naxos.gr report, and visitor traffic for the month should easily exceed the record numbers for July.

If you haven’t yet been to Naxos and want to see why it has become such a popular holiday destination, check out the links I have posted below to some of the reports that have appeared in news and travel media  this year alone: 

 

Naxos articles in major newspapers

♦ In its February 16 article The 50 best beaches in the world,  the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper ranked St George’s Beach at Naxos Town at #13 and rated it the “Best in Europe for families.” 

♦ On May 5, CNN published Naxos: Lush Greek island delivers the good life, an article by Athens-based blogger and travel writer Marissa Tejada

♦ On June 4 , the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper published Seeking out the summer in Naxos: Dancing waiters and empty beaches – it can only be glorious, happy Greece by Kyle Staib

♦ On July 6, the U,K.’s Telegraph newspaper published Sally Peck’s article Is Naxos the most family-friendly island in Greece? 

♦ On July 7, Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, profiled Naxos in the article Hellenic Happiness: Explore Greece’s beauty in these often-overlooked regions by Elizabeth Warkentin.

 

Naxos on television:

♦ On May 8, CNN released the Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown episode The Greek Islands, which was filmed on Naxos

 

Naxos profiles on travel and lifestyle blogs:

Why Naxos is the best of the Greek islands, published on Compass & Fork.

Trip in Greece: Les Cyclades — Naxos published January 14 2016 by Days of Camille

Naxos Island, Greece post published April 17 2016 by welltraveledwife.com

The local guide to Naxos, Greece post published June 1 2016 by Bon Traveler

Naxos: The quietly traditional heart of the Cyclades, a guest article by Mike Andrew that I published here on MyGreeceTravelBlog in March.

 

More scenes from Naxos in a 3.5-minute video by Eleni Giorgiafandis 

Fall foliage & autumn colours on Naxos

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flower on Naxos

A flowering plant — possibly an artichoke — basks in afternoon sunshine in a field near Chalki village on Naxos on October 8 last year

 

 

Falling back a year: It’s unmistakably autumn here in Toronto. A week of sunshine and summer-like warm temperatures ended abruptly when Mother Nature sent us some cool wind and rain last Friday afternoon to remind us that the calendar says it’s October. Tuesday night she drenched us with heavy downpours, and Wednesday she blasted us with strong, cold winds that swept ominous dark stormclouds across the sky throughout the day. They didn’t pour rain, but the unceasing gusts of wind made walking outdoors unpleasant even during sunny breaks.

The weather made me wish I were somewhere else, of course — like on Naxos, where we spent the first two weeks of October last year. So when I got home from an uncomfortable walk in the chilly wind, I looked through the photos we had shot on Naxos on October 8 2013 to remind myself how autumn there compared.

 

Abundant greenery with hints of autumn

We had spent much of that day visiting several mountain villages, including Chalki, Kerami and Filoti. Although there was still abundant greenery everywhere, there were many signs of autumn in many places, too. Leaves on some trees were starting to change colour, while a few trees were completely bare already. Tall grasses in yards and fields had dried out, turning brown and crunchy. There was a definite fall look and feel, but it was warm and gloriously sunny, and it stayed that way for the duration of our trip.

That was our first-ever October visit to Greece, and we hope it won’t be our last. Early autumn usually is gorgeous there (though you can encounter some incredibly windy and wet weather on occasion), and if you don’t like tourist crowds, you’ll love the peace and calmness that prevails at this time. It’s an excellent time for hiking and sightseeing, and the sea is still warm for swimming.

To give you an idea of what autumn looks like on Naxos, here are some of the photos we shot last October 8. You can view full-size versions of each image, plus dozens more, in our Naxos October 8 2013 album on Flickr. Click here to view those photos.

 a house in Chalki

Tall brown grasses in a yard beside a stone house near Chalki

 

 fall foliage in Filoti

Scarlet leaves above a stone wall in Filoti

 

 a footpath near Chalki

A footpath passes a field full of olive trees near Chalki

 

 fall foliage in Chalki

Leaves changing colour on a plane tree next to a church in Chalki

 

 a road in Kerami village

A blue door at a building in Kerami, a hamlet between Chalki and Filoti

 

trees in Filoti

Leaves were still a verdant green on plane trees shading the strip of cafes and restaurants along the main road in Filoti

 

a flowerpot in Chalki

A flowerpot on a doorstep in Chalki village

 

 Church of Panagia Filotissa in Filoti

Fall foliage outside the Church of Panagia Filotitissa in Filoti

 

 hillside near Filoti

Olive trees on a hillside below Filoti village

 

 bougainvillea in Kerami village

A dazzling display of pink bougainvillea at a house in Kerami

 

 on the highway near Filoti

The highway on the outskirts of Filoti

 

 a church near Chalki

A blue-domed church near the highway between Chalki and Kerami

 

 a house in Chalki

Tall brown grasses outside a house in Chalki

  Please click on the 2 in the link below to continue viewing the fall photos.

 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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Going back for more of a good thing: Naxos

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Naxos Town at sunset

A view of Naxos Town during sunset on October 12 2013

 

Return trip: When a friend was asked why she travels to Greece every year, she replied: “Because you can never get enough of a really good thing.”

That’s exactly why we’re making a return trip to Naxos tomorrow — the island that we named our Destination of the Year for 2013 is calling us back to experience more of “a really good thing.”

This will be our sixth visit to Naxos so far, and we’re thrilled to be going back. We can’t wait to see some familiar faces and favourite places, and we’re looking forward to exploring parts of the island we haven’t yet seen (there are plenty, and we probably won’t even get to them all).

Want to see why we love Naxos so much? Click here to check out our Naxos photo collection on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page. The collection includes a whopping 37 albums from our October 2013 holiday, 8 from our visit in May 2013, 6 sets showing the hotels we have stayed at, and several more individual albums.

I hope you enjoy viewing the pics as much as we enjoyed taking them!

 

Stairclimbing in Koronos

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Koronos village on Naxos

Koronos is built on the horseshoe-shaped slopes of a mountainside 30 km east of Naxos Town. The village descends hundreds of feet into the valley, and most homes are accessible only on foot.

 

Stair masters: I have three very specific and vivid memories of our brief visit to the Naxos mountain village of Koronos last October: a taverna tout, a man with a gun, and stairs. Lots and lots of stairs.

I’ll tell you the stories about the restaurant promoter and the guy with the gun some other time. For now I’ll stick to the stairs to keep with a common theme I’ve been posting about this week — walking around mountain villages on Naxos.

In my May 15 post I published a videoclip from our visit to Filoti, while my May 13 report included film of our walkabout in Apeiranthos. We had to climb a lot of stairs in both villages, but the workouts we got there were nothing compared to the stairclimbing challenge that awaited us in Koronos.

 

Popular tavernas are located far down the hillside

This village is built in a horseshoe shape on a mountainside, and descends deep into the valley. Koronos has several cafes and restaurants that are popular with tourists — including Taverna Platsa Matina & Stavros (which friends and other travellers have urged us to visit) and Taverna Dalas. The “downside” to both of these places, no pun intended, is their location on lower levels of the village. To reach them, you must walk down dozens of stairs. That’s the easy part. Getting back up to your car or the bus stop after a meal or drink will require a lot more effort as you can probably imagine.

Below are several photos showing just a few of the many sets of stairs we encountered while walking around Koronos. Those are followed by three videos. I shot the first clip while walking along a lane that wasn’t as far down the valley as the two tavernas. I filmed the next video while walking up one “street” that was basically a long, steep staircase. Dan took the third video of me walking up the steps while I was filming my climb.

We’re physically active and do a lot of walking and stair climbing whenever we’re in Greece, but I felt more winded than I expected by the end of that uphill hike. I would not want to walk all those stairs after a big meal and a few glasses of wine!

 

Koronos village on Naxos

View of Koronos from the side of the highway where the Naxos bus dropped us off. This sloped road leads only part way into the village, perhaps 30 to 50 meters. Then the fun stair climbing begins!

 

 

Koronos village on Naxo

A tourist strolls down the road leading into Koronos. One series after another of thigh-burning stair climbs awaits him.

 

 

Koronos village

This was the first set of steps we walked down. We climbed back up a short time later after we finished exploring the left-hand side of the village.

 

 

Koronos village

A streak of sunlight illuminates a set of steps

 

 

Koronos village

Yet another flight of steps in Koronos

 

 

Koronos village

Several flights of steps were under renovation on the day we visited Koronos. Workers had closed off two lanes while they laid stones in place. Work on this particular staircase wasn’t complete, but it had been reopened to traffic.

 

 

stairs in Koronos village

Looking down a long, curving set of steps. This was the last staircase we climbed on our way to the Koronos bus stop to catch our ride back to Naxos Town.

 

 

Koronos village

These buildings were surrounded by stairs on two sides

 

 

I filmed this clip while walking along one of the streets in Koronos

 

 

I shot this clip while climbing a long flight of stairs. I counted 102 steps during the minute and 20 seconds it took me to walk up.

 

 

Dan filmed me going up the stairs while I was filming my climb. You don’t need to go to a gym to get exercise on Naxos … just visit a mountain village like Koronos and you’re guaranteed a rigorous cardio workout!

 

Footsteps in Filoti

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Filoti village on Naxos

A view of Filoti village, captured from a video I shot while we were riding a bus on Naxos last October. Click the image to see a larger-size photo.

 

 

Filoti on foot: There are more than 30 different mountain villages on Naxos, but Filoti makes a bigger and more memorable impression than most when you approach by bus, by car or on foot.

That’s not just because Filoti is the largest village on the island, but because of its dramatic amphitheatrical layout across the lower slopes of Mount Zas, the tallest mountain in the Cyclades.

The village looks quite impressive when it first comes into view as you approach on the road from Chalki. The first time I caught a glimpse of Filoti eight years ago, I was so fascinated by the sight that I had to stop the car so I could get out and take a better look.  Seeing it for the second time last October, while walking there from Chalki, was equally as breathtaking.

 

Mountain road offers spectacular views of the village

But the village is even more spectacular to see from numerous vantage points on the road that climbs the mountainside high above Filoti en route to Apeiranthos and other hamlets to the northeast. If you’re driving a vehicle, there are a few lookout points where you can pull over and get good views of Filoti. But if you’re riding on a bus, you’ll get to see the village much better and for longer periods of time. We saw Filoti on four bus rides to and from Apeiranthos and Koronos last fall, and I was blown away by the views each time.

Although Filoti is a predominantly residential area, the road that runs through it is lined with taverna and cafés, a few shops and fruit markets, banks, a post office and various local businesses and municipal service offices. Top tourist attractions include the Panagia Filotitissa (Our Lady Filotitissa Church) and the Venetian-era Barotsi Tower, as well as a café-lined main square shaded by a giant plane tree.

 

Panagia Filotitissa  on naxos

Panagia Filotitissa, the Our Lady of Filotitissa Church in Filoti

 

 

A memorable visit to Panagia Filotitissa

Our favourite moment in Filoti occurred while we were taking photos outside Panagia Filotitissa. As I was snapping a picture of the church’s beautiful belltower, an elderly woman, dressed head-to-toe in black, quietly emerged from one of the church’s front doors and beckoned us to approach. She could speak only a few words of English, and I could understand even less of her Greek, but her gestures made it clear we were being welcomed to the church and urged to take a look inside. The interior is marvellous … if you ever get to Filoti, be sure to have a look inside the Panagia if the church is open.

There are a few photos of the church interior, along with more than 200 pictures of the town, in my Filoti Village album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page.

Below is a video I filmed while we were walking through the village. The first minute of the clip shows the narrow lane that leads to Panagia Filotitissa, while the second half of the video shows part of a residential area we explored near the opposite end of the village. Although restaurants and shops are located along the flat (but slightly sloped) main road, the rest of the village is built on hillsides. That means you’ll have to do a lot of stair climbing if you want to wander around Filoti!

 

The first minute of this clip shows the walk to Panagia Filotitissa. The rest of the video shows some residential “streets” on the opposite side of the village.

 

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