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Tips & talk about Naxos: my interview with Hype Magazine

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Donny on Naxos

Enjoying the scenery on Naxos, one of my favourite Greek Islands

 

I love talking about Greece — that’s one of the main reasons why I write this blog, after all! — so I was delighted when Hype Magazine, the blog published by the U.K.-based Holiday Hypermarket, invited me to participate in a Q & A interview about one of my favourite islands.

I suggested talking about Naxos, since it’s not as well known as blockbuster destinations like Mykonos and Santorini, which receive the lion’s share of attention in the travel media.

Below is interview excerpt in which I describe  what I believe are three of the top places to see on Naxos. 

You can read the complete interview on the Hype Magazine site, where I answer questions and provide some personal “insider tips” about restaurants, cultural events, historic sites, beaches, island scenery, getting around Naxos, and more.

 

 

Hype Magazine: If a holidaymaker only has a few days on the island, what would you say is one thing he or she absolutely shouldn’t miss the chance to see and do in Naxos?

Me: Since it’s so big, Naxos can easily keep visitors entertained for a week or fortnight or even longer. But if you don’t have that much time available, aim to spend at least three full days and nights on Naxos. This is sufficient to comfortably explore what I think are the island’s top three ‘must see/must do’ features.

First is the port town, Chora, better known as Naxos Town. It has a bustling harbour-front promenade lined with dozens of stores, cafes and restaurants. Not to mention an Old Market district with cozy bars, coffee shops, stores and galleries nestled in a warren of narrow lanes. You can also expect an imposing castle which towers above the town. And St George’s beach, a long strand boasting soft brown sand and shallow clean waters – ideal for families with small children.

A short stroll from Chora’s harbour front is the Temple of Apollo monument. Also known as the Portara, this giant marble door frame is all that remains of a temple which was only partially constructed centuries ago. Since it’s on a hilltop overlooking the sea, it’s one of the best places on Naxos to watch a sunset, and to enjoy terrific views of Naxos Town.

The second must-see is one or more of the beautiful sandy beaches that extend, like a long chain, down the island’s western coast. Some, like Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna, have organized sections with rental sunbeds and umbrellas, as well as tavernas and bars close by.  At others, like Plaka, you’ll find some spots with sunbeds and restaurants nearby, but also incredibly long stretches of wide-open space and big dunes topped with tall grasses. All that space, and sand stretching for miles, are what draw many beachgoers to Naxos. St George’s and Mikri Vigla beaches also offer sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing and other watersports.

The third ‘must do’ is to visit one of the charming inland villages, including Chalki, and the picturesque mountain villages of Filoti, Apeiranthos and Koronos – no visit to the island would be complete without spending some time in at least one of them.

 

Plaka beach on Naxos

One of the things I love most about Naxos is being able to walk for miles along spacious, uncrowded beaches like Plaka (above), which extend one after the other down the isle’s western coast.

 

Want to read more about Naxos? Take a look at my popular article, Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos, as well as other top Naxos posts from my blog. 

To see more of the island, check out my Naxos photo collection on Flickr.

Discover more of Greece on my blog’s Facebook page

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MyGreeceTravelBlog Facebook page

I regularly share photos & videos, as well as links to Greece travel news and information, on the MyGreeceTravelBlog page on Facebook. You don’t have to be a Facebook member to see what I post there.

 

What’s there: I love blogging about Greece, but since this website is a personal hobby that I work on during my limited spare time  (it’s not a commercial travel site, as some people think), it’s just not possible for me to post new articles every day. But it’s a whole different story with the MyGreeceTravelBlog page on Facebook, where I can easily share news, information, pictures and videos with just a few quick clicks on my mouse or smartphone. And that’s exactly what I do almost every day when I check my Facebook news feed to see what’s happening in Greece.

 

 

You don’t have to be a registered Facebook user to see what I post on my page — although you will encounter one of those annoying popup windows that asks you to either login or sign up for an account to see more of the MyGreeceTravelBlog page. (You don’t have to do that — just click the “Not Now” button and the box will drop to the bottom of the page, letting you scroll through the various items I have posted.)

If you do have a Facebook account, simply “like” or “follow” my blog page (if you haven’t done so already) so you can see my posts in your daily news feed.

Check out my page regularly, and you’ll discover more of Greece to complement the articles I publish here on the blog.

Click on the link below to turn to page 2 where you’ll see examples of the types of posts you’ll find on my Facebook page.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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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 

Athens nightlife: Where to party with the locals

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Millenium GAZI club in Athens

Scenes from Millenium GAZI, one of dozens of clubs, bars, restaurants and cafes within walking distance of the Karameikos metro station in the buzzing Gazi entertainment district of Athens

 

After dark: Wondering where to find a great party scene while you’re visiting Athens? Check out the article Athens nightlife: where do locals go? published recently on the Odiporikon travel tips website.

Written by an Athens-born blogger, the article notes that Athens offers “a very rich variety” of places to enjoy a night on the town. “Avoid the tourist traps and try out places a little further from the usual path,” the article advises.

To that end, it describes the top Athens party districts and how to reach them using the local public transit system and taxis.

Areas listed in the blog post include:

♦ Thissio

♦ Ag. Eirini Square

♦ Kolokotroni Street

♦ Gazi

♦ Psirri

♦ Exarcheia

♦ Chalandri

♦ Glyfada, and

♦ Mikrolimano

Be sure to bookmark the guide to keep on hand for your trip to Athens.

OPUS Inner Pleasure Glyfada

OPUS Inner Pleasure is one of many hot hangouts in the Glyfada coastal suburb of Athens. It’s a restaurant-cafe by day and a party club at night.

 

Top smoke-free Athens bars and restaurants for non-smokers

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Mama Roux Athens

The open-air terrace at Mama Roux is shown in a  photo from the restaurant’s Facebook page. Mama Roux is among 10 top Athens cocktail bars & restaurants that expressly forbid smoking on their premises, according to an article from the Greece Is culture and gastronomy website.

 

Breathe better: From a visitor’s point of view, there are very few negative things I can say about Greece. I love going there, and wouldn’t publish this website if I didn’t. But like any place on Earth, it’s not a perfect paradise and it does have some drawbacks. The biggest, from my personal perspective, is the wide prevalence of smoking — not just by locals, but by tourists, too.

I’m seriously allergic to tobacco smoke — it makes me intensely nauseous, and it hinders my breathing. It also stings my eyes and sticks to my contact lenses, leaving them scratchy and uncomfortable. And it doesn’t matter if I’m inside a building or outdoors — if someone lights up nearby, the impact of their smoke is just as severe.

It seems I have plenty of company: I’ve received messages from other people with smoke allergies, and I’ve spoken to numerous travellers (mainly from the USA and Canada) who have commented on the pervasiveness of smoking even in places where it’s supposed to be illegal. 

Happily, I have found cigarette smoke less of a nuisance in recent years than it was during each of our Greek holidays prior to 2009. That was the year Greece enacted legislation to ban smoking in many public places, and though the law has often been ignored since it took effect, I have encountered far fewer people puffing in places where I can’t easily escape their smoke, such as in shops, restaurants and hotels, or on public transit. I still have occasional problems, but I breathe much easier in Greece now than I did up to 2009.

Nevertheless, a meal in a restaurant or a coffee break in a cafe can be ruined for me if another customer or someone on staff lights up. No matter how far away I sit from a smoker (and I actually have changed tables to avoid some), their smoke will waft in my direction and give me grief. 

 

Since I’ve often wondered if there’s anywhere I could go where I could be guaranteed someone wouldn’t be smoking at the table beside me, I was glad to find an article entitled Athenian Hangouts Without Smoke, which was published at the end of March on the excellent Greece Is culture and gastronomy.

Written by Maria Coveou, the article profiles 10 Athens restaurants and cocktail bars “which are smoke-free in theory and in practice, and where exceptions are never made.”

I haven’t been to any of the establishments yet (though I have walked past one — the legendary Zonars restaurant and lounge), but I have bookmarked the article to keep on hand for my next trip to Athens.

If you’re planning to visit Athens and you’re a non-smoker yourself, click here to read Maria’s article and save it for future reference. 

And if you happen to know of other bars and restaurants in Athens (or anywhere else in Greece) that steadfastly forbid tobacco smoking on their premises, please let me and my non-smoking readers know by adding a comment to this post (simply click on the word “comments” under the headline at the top of this article, and write your response in the “Leave a Reply” box.) Those of us with cigarette smoke allergies will be immensely grateful for the information!

 

Zonars restaurant Athens Greece

One of the city’s most famous restaurants and lounge bars, Zonars is another establishment where non-smokers can enjoy a drink or meal in an environment free of tobacco smoke. This street-view photo of Zonars was shared on Facebook by Aspasia Taka Architects.

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