Category: Greek Island villages and towns (page 1 of 42)

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.

Much ado about Milos

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Travel magazine articles about Milos

Two top travel magazines profiled Milos island this summer.  The article Milos’ Moment appeared in the May edition of the American Conde Nast Traveler, while Orange Crush was published in the UK’s Conde Nast Traveller in June.

 

Media darling: If you’re considering a visit to Milos in 2018, you might be wise to start making your holiday plans and hotel reservations ASAP — especially if you have your heart set on staying in any of the island’s upscale accommodations (which are in rather limited supply), or if you wish to spend time in the Skinopi village area, in particular.

The reason? Milos has been profiled numerous times this year by leading international publications and travel websites, some of which have hailed it as an “undiscovered” and “secret” Greek island “paradise.” With all the positive publicity — boosted by scores of shared posts on social media — I suspect there could be a surge in tourist traffic to Milos next year, and likely for summers to follow.

As for Skinopi, its favourable mention in three highly influential publications could turn the little-known settlement into a trendy new Greek Island getaway destination for upmarket travellers seeking seclusion, style and scenery.

 

 

I can’t explain why so many media have developed such keen sudden interest in Milos, or why some of the magazines think they have just stumbled upon a fabulous place few people know about. I first read about Milos in Greek Islands travel guidebooks back in 2004, and my partner and I went there in 2007, the same year another major travel magazine, Islands, published Milos Rocks, a cover story heralding the so-called “undiscovered” isle in the western Cyclades. Has Milos remained a hidden hideaway for the 10 years since Islands “discovered” it? Hardly. 

We went back for a second visit in 2011, while numerous friends and acquaintances have also made one or more trips there during the last seven years.  I have seen Milos included in Greek Island travel guides published since at least 2009 by major British publications, including The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and even Conde Nast Traveller, which that year highlighted Milos in a two-page “Best Beaches” write-up. Meanwhile, I have noticed steadily increasing interest in Milos on TripAdvisor and other travel forum sites in the last few years and, for my own part, I have published half a dozen posts about Milos here on the blog since 2012.

Although I won’t further debate whether Milos is indeed “secret” or “untouched,” I do believe it’s a remarkable Greek Island in many respects, and well-deserving of greater attention from travellers.  I could explain why by repeating some of my previous blog posts, but instead will let some extremely well-travelled writers describe why you should visit Milos yourself. Please click on the link below to continue reading on page 2.

 

Kleftiko coast on Milos

Sailboats at Kleftiko, one of the most popular coastal stops for round-the-island tours of Milos

 

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A timely Greece travel guide

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Sunday Times Travel Magazine May 2017 cover

Greece gets cover treatment in the May 2017 issue of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

 

Cover glory:  It may have been an omen, or simply serendipity, but whatever it was certainly happened at a good time.

When I popped into a local newsstand the other day to browse reading material for our upcoming flight to Greece, a photo of a beautiful Greek island beach instantly caught my eye.

At first glance I thought it was a picture of Zakynthos island’s world-famous Navagio beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach) that graces the cover of the May 2017 edition of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. But after taking a closer look once I got home, I realized it’s a different beach altogether. Surprisingly, the magazine’s editorial page doesn’t identify the location — the photo states only that the image was photographed by Giovanni Simeone of SIME/4 Corners.  But after a few minutes of Google searching, I discovered that the picture captures a small cove a short distance down the coast from Navagio. 

With that little mystery solved, I took a quick peek through the magazine’s cover feature — a 24-page “Total Guide” to Greece. 

 

 

“Whether you’re after a jam-packed family trip, an indulgent break with friends, or a romantic laze on a step-back-in-time island, we’ve got your Greece right here,” the guide’s introduction pledges. And it certainly seems to fulfill its promises. 

Among the guide’s dozens of destination profiles, tips and suggestions are articles describing:

♦  The ideal island-hopping break (to the Argo-Saronic islands)

♦  3 ways to feel remote

♦  The ideal active holiday

♦  5 ways to get off-season summer sun

♦  A girly break on Santorini

♦  The ideal crowd-free Athens break

♦  Our favourite scrummy seaside lunches

♦  The ideal family-friendly resort holiday

♦  Our favourite epic historic sites

♦  Our favourite beaches only the locals know

♦  2 ways to visit a great little city

♦  The ideal timewarp trip (to Kythira), and

♦  Our favourite white sand beaches (Navagio ranks #2 on the list, right after Crete’s Balos beach, which I profiled in two blog posts  last year: Escape to Crete’s exotic Balos beaches and lagoons, and Escape to Balos Part 2).

The guide provides plenty of additional information and helpful advice, and is packed with photos of beautiful and inspiring sights and scenes.  See if you can pick up a copy at your local news outlet. Sorry, but you can’t borrow mine — I’m not letting it  out of my hands!

New luxury hotels opening on Mykonos for summer 2017

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Branco Mykonos Hotel

An artistic illustration of the luxurious loungers and sunbeds that the new 5-star Branco Mykonos Hotel will offer its guests on Platis Gialos beach

 

More luxury: Visitors will have more choices of upscale accommodations for their Mykonos holidays as several brand-new luxury properties prepare to open for the 2017 tourist season.

But the arrival of some of the high-end hotels means fewer options for budget travellers, since at least two of the properties previously were mid-range hotels that have been thoroughly renovated and converted into first-class accommodations.

Gone are the Golden Star Hotel in Mykonos Town, which has been replaced by Absolut Mykonos Suites & More, and the Hotel Lady Anna at Platis Gialos beach, which has been upgraded and  rebranded as the 5-star Branco Mykonos Hotel.

 

 

The Mykonos Bay Hotel at Megali Ammos beach also has rebranded and is now named Mykonos Bay Resort & Villas. Its social media pages recently referred to “art design” and “new premises,” and its online booking page mentions the hotel was renovated in December, but no further details of changes since last season are available yet.

Meanwhile, a noteworthy newcomer is Adel Private Suites, which will welcome guests to a quiet hilltop location with panoramic views of Mykonos Town, the New Port and beyond.

 

Absolut Mykonos Suites & More hotel

A promotional image showing the logo for Absolut Mykonos Suites & More

 

You can expect to see additional upscale hotels launching on Mykonos in the foreseeable future.

The Mitsis Hotels group, which operates the Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel, is planning a 100-bed complex of apartments and suites, for instance, while other premier chains like Four Seasons and W Hotels apparently have been eyeing and acquiring locations at some of the island’s major south coast beach resorts.

 

Adel Private Suites Mykonos

An Adel Private Suites promotional image showing the jacuzzi-equipped seaview terrace of one of its Cozy Suites

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading and see more of the new hotels making their debut this year.

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First-time island hopping in the Cyclades: How to do it, and what you’ll see when you get there

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Cyclades hopping, an animated video published by g travel, shows how to arrange a simple island hopping holiday in the north and central Cyclades

 

Island itineraries: If you haven’t been to Greece before but dream about taking an island hopping holiday there, you’re probably wondering where to go, and how to get from one island to the next. With dozens of destination options in six distinct island chains, plus an array of ferry schedules to sift through, it can seem intimidating to set up a vacation. That’s one of the main reasons why many travellers take a Greek Isles cruise or a package tour, or ask a travel agent to arrange everything for them. There’s nothing wrong with any of those approaches if you’re more comfortable with them or you simply don’t have the time to do your own planning. But it’s not that daunting and difficult to do it yourself.

The video at the top of this post, Cyclades hopping, shows how to arrange a simple do-it-yourself trip to one of the most popular island chains in Greece.

The animated film focusses on a few of the Cyclades, the islands instantly recognizable for their “sugar cube” white houses and blue-domed chapels perched on rocky slopes high above gorgeous golden sand beaches and the stunning turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea.

Home to Mykonos and Santorini, two of the most world-famous and popular places in Greece, the Cyclades is where the majority of first-timers get introduced to the island hopping experience. Many get hooked and keep going back, or instead venture off to hop around the other island chains — the Sporades, Saronic, Dodecanese, Northeastern Aegean, and Ionian.

Crete, the biggest island in Greece, isn’t part of a distinct island chain, and is so vast that visitors are typically advised to devote a full two- or-three week holiday there to explore its incredibly wide variety of beaches, historic sites and attractions.  

 

When you watch Cyclades hopping, you’ll gain insights into travelling to Andros, Mykonos, Paros, Antiparos, Naxos, Ios and Santorini. I have posted several videos that highlight travel to those particular destinations on page 2 of this article, so you can see what each of those islands looks like, and get an overview of some of the top attractions and activities they offer. Additional videos offer peeks at other Cycladic island gems, including Sifnos, Folegandros, Syros, Amorgos, Tinos, Milos, Serifos and Kea.

 

Express Skopelitis ferry passenger

A passenger enjoys early morning views from the upper deck of the Express Skopelitis ferry as it departs Egali port on Amorgos en route to Naxos

 

Please turn to page 2 to continue reading and to view videos of islands in the Cyclades chain.

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