Category: Ios (page 1 of 5)

Party events on Ios, Naxos, Santorini & other Cyclades islands during summer 2017

Buddha-Bar Beach Santorini party event

The new Buddha-Bar Beach club on Santorini celebrates its grand opening on Friday May 26 with a party featuring DJ Ravin. The new restaurant and bar complex is located in the luxurious La Maltese hotel and villa resort in Imerovigli village.

 

~ Updated on Monday June 26 ~

 

More than Mykonos:  This roundup of top parties and special events on select islands in the Cyclades is a supplement to my popular Mykonos party scene 2017 post. 

This listing includes major events taking place on Ios, Naxos and Santorini — places which many Mykonos partygoers visit during island hopping holidays in Greece. I have added this party listing in response to numerous requests from readers who were wondering where they could find good parties while touring the Cyclades.

 

The Ocean Club Naxos party event

DJ Steve Gerakaris will be on the decks at The Ocean Club on Naxos on Saturday June 17

 

Catch Bar Oia Santorini party event

Catch Bar Restaurant in Oia village on Santorini presents DJ Miro and saxophone player Stefanos Lazarinos on Thursday June 22

 

Far Out Beach Club on Ios party event

Friday June 23 is the annual Swedish Midsummer Party at Far Out Beach Club on Ios, featuring Ace2Ace

 

Far Out Beach Club on Ios  party event

On Saturday June 24, Far Out Beach Club on Ios presents the Ios Ultra Experience, “a non stop back2back session of all our favorite DJs” including  Hardson, Steve  Diaz, G.N.C., DJ Oddy, Zyrak, Mel Ody and DJ TVB.

 

 

Bonfires of St John event on Naxos

The Bonfires of St. John event takes place on Saturday June 24 at Agios Prokopios beach on Naxos. There will be music, free drinks and meze dishes. The event gets underway at 9 p.m. on the beach in front of Kahlua Beach Bar.

 

The Ocean Club Naxos party event

DJ Steve Gerakaris is back on the decks at The Ocean Club in Naxos Town on Saturday June 24

 

Demilmar Cafe Santorini party event

Parfe+ will perform at Demilmar Restaurant Bar at Perissa beach on Santorini on Sunday June 25

 

JoJo Summer Beach Bar Santorini party event

The No Good event organization is throwing a party at Santorini’s JoJo Summer Beach-Bar on Sunday June 25. Odysseas Papachristos will be on decks to provide the music while Georgia Lianeri will give a dance performance. JoJo is located on the road to Perivolas beach.

 

MoMix Bar Santorini party event

Ms. Lefki will be on the decks at MoMix Bar Santorini on Tuesday June 27

 

LikeHome Bar Naxos party event

Like Home Bar in Naxos Town presents CJ Jeff on Wednesday June 28

 

MoMix Bar Santorini party event

MoMix Bar in Santorini’s main town, Fira, presents No Rabbitz on Thursday June 29

 

Dolly's Restaurant & Bar Andros Town on Andros island

Dolly’s Restaurant & Bar on Andros is throwing an 80s Party on Thursday June 29. Dolly’s is located in the Micra Anglia Boutique Hotel in Chora (Andros Town).

 

MoMix Bar Santorini party event

DJ Panos Vog spins at MoMix Bar Santorini on Friday June 30

 

Please turn to page 1 of this post to see events taking place during July and August.

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

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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How to travel to Greece on a student’s budget

 Oia village on Santorini

Hotel buildings and infinity swimming pools cling to the sides of the imposing caldera cliffs in Oia village on Santorini island

  

Guest post by Lisa Griffin

Greece is a Eurozone country, and this fact often keeps travelers with a student budget at bay from taking a trip there. Many people think they will require loads of money to travel to Greek resorts. It is a common prejudice which is closely connected to myths that only tycoons and other financial demi-gods  can afford the resorts .

The truth is different. Times of Aristotle Onassis have passed, and now any student can afford cheap holidays to Greece, either taking a trip to a sunny island like Santorini or feeling the antique air of Athens without paying much.

 

 

Students’ leisure shouldn`t be expensive!

Cheap Greece vacations are not a dream anymore. Greece is a highly underestimated budget travel destination. Just follow the simple rule – if you are not a millionaire, don`t pretend to be one. Don`t book expensive hotels; eat out in small traditional restaurants, and use low-cost airfare and transport.  Otherwise, you can turn the pleasure of your vacation into endless money wasting.

A statement like this applies to every country in the world – you can say that any city is expensive unless you’re willing to change your habits and try to look for ways to economize. 

In Greece,  don’t always go for the most popular places. Local people are usually trying to earn money on tourists not caring if they will be satisfied with their expensive services  – tomorrow the flux of tourists will be all the same.  Check Greek island vacation packages for bargains. Often these packages include delightful spots that aren’t as popular as the mainstream destinations, so you can enjoy low-cost services while having all you need for a good rest and entertainment.

Yet even the more expensive Islands like Santorini are accessible to everyone, since you can usually find hostel accommodation for as little as 15 per night. it might be a bed in a tent, but do you need more? People travel to Greek Isles not to sit in a hotel, but to see as much as possible and spend time somewhere on a distant beach. The main thing is to have a shower, a kitchen to cook fresh products bought in local markets, wifi, a place to put your stuff, and a bed to sleep.

Fira the capital of Santorini

Fira, the main commercial center on Santorini. Although it’s one of the most expensive places to visit in Greece, Santorini still offers hostel and other cheap accommodations that suit a student budget.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading page 2 of Lisa Griffin’s article.

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Greece’s best destinations for budget travellers

Chora on Astipalia island

A Venetian castle towers above Chora village on Astipalea island. The quiet and unassuming Dodecanese island boasts beautiful scenery, some of which you can see in the video featured in my post Aspects of Astipalea.  

 

Budget friendly: Are you considering a trip to Greece this summer, but wondering where you can go to avoid draining your bank account paying for food and accommodations at expensive destinations like Mykonos and Santorini? Although it’s possible to holiday on a tight budget on both those islands. as well as other high-profile destinations, there are numerous alternatives that offer great Greek holiday experiences at considerably cheaper prices. You’ll find some excellent suggestions in the article Best low budget summer destinations in Greece, published by the informative and insightful travel website  HIP GREECE.

The article lists more than a dozen islands plus one mainland Greece resort area that won’t break the bank, and offers brief descriptions of highlight attractions at each place, with links to additional in-depth articles about some of the destinations.

The spotlighted destinations include:

♦ The Small Cyclades islands of Iraklia, Koufonissia (Pano and Kato Koufonissi), Donousa and Schinoussa

♦ Kythira

♦ Serifos

♦ Tinos

♦ Ios

♦ Ikaria

♦ Astipalea

♦ Lefkada

♦ Skopelos, and

♦ Parga, a picturesque coastal resort area near the town of Preveza in western Greece.

You can read the complete HIP GREECE article by clicking here.

 

 

We’ve been to three of the recommended islands — Astipalea, Ios and Tinos — and have had brief peeks at the Small Cyclades during port stops on a ride from Amorgos to Naxos on the Express Skopelitis ferry. We would agree that all are good choices for travellers visiting Greece on a budget. We haven’t yet been to the other destinations cited by HIP GREECE, but several friends have told us Kythira, Serifos and Ikaria are wallet-friendly, while others have said the same for the Small Cyclades. However, we were surprised that Naxos wasn’t mentioned — we have found it to be the most reasonably priced island of all we have been to so far and it remains one of our favourite places to visit in large part for that reason. (See my article  Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos for further information about that wonderful island). 

Keep in mind that the main tourist period in Greece runs from late April until early October, with July and August being peak travel season. July and especially August also happen to be the most expensive months to visit, so if you’re on a limited budget, try to schedule your vacation for April, May, June, late September or early October, when prices tend to be much lower. Hotel rates usually skyrocket for August, and hostel, camping and cheaper basic accommodations typically tend to book up early in the year. If you can only travel during peak season, make arrangements for your accommodations as soon as possible to secure the lowest prices.

Chora village on Ios

Chora village on Ios is chock full of restaurants and bars, while the island is blessed with numerous gorgeous beaches including Mylopotas (which is walking distance from Chora) and Manganari.

 

Beguiling beaches on Ios

Visit inviting beaches on Ios in this 3.5-minute clip from luxurios.com

 

The first time I watched Ios Beaches, I instantly wanted to hop on a plane to Greece and catch the next available ferry to Ios. The second time I watched the video, I wanted to go to Ios even more. The urge to hit the beach on Ios felt even stronger after my third viewing.

I love Ios — I have been there twice, and absolutely will return  — yet this video made me feel a slight tinge of regret that I won’t be visiting the island on my upcoming trip to Greece.

The film shows several of the Ios beaches that I have seen in person, plus others that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit. The superb video photography of the island’s outstanding beach and coastal scenery has convinced me that I simply must get back to Ios to see all of the amazing places I missed.

(Ios has more than three dozen wonderful beaches, only some of which can be reached by local bus service or excursion boats. Both of my trips to Ios were in mid-May, before summer bus service and tour boat service to the island’s top beaches had begun, and since I didn’t have a rental vehicle at my disposal, I was limited to seeing beaches within walking distance of the ferry port and Chora, the main town).

Let me know if watching the video makes you want to book a trip to Ios, too (I’m pretty sure it will).

The film was produced by LuxurIOS Island Experience, a Greek-owned travel company that promotes responsible and environmentally sustainable tourism on Ios.

To see more of images from beautiful Ios, check out my Ios photo collection on Flickr.

Summer hotel prices skyrocket on Mykonos as rates rise less sharply or drop on other islands

Little Venice

The Little Venice seafront at Mykonos Town is a must-see attraction for hundreds of thousands of people who visit the island each year

 

Rising rates: Survey data from Trivago, the international hotel comparison website, has confirmed something I have been noticing for months — accommodation prices on Mykonos have risen sharply since last year.

In fact, the average nightly price for a Mykonos hotel room this month has climbed to a stunning €322 compared to €200 per night in July 2013 — a whopping 61% increase, Trivago’s research data indicates.

This news comes on the heels of a separate Trivago survey result released several days ago that ranked Mykonos as the 7th most expensive destination in the world in terms of hotel prices.

Many Mykonos hotels had frozen or even reduced their rates during the economic crisis that has devastated Greece for more than five years, with some properties losing money or barely breaking even each year as owners waited for the economy to improve. With Greek tourist traffic soaring to record levels this summer, it appears that hotels may be taking advantage of the increased demand for accommodation to try to recoup some of the losses they sustained.

 Parikia on Paros

Parikia is the biggest town and port on Paros.  Average hotel prices for Parikia have increased 10% this month from the same time last year.

 

Hotel prices rise at 16 other destinations

But Mykonos isn’t the only popular destination in Greece where hotel prices have increased since last year.

The Trivago survey shows that rates have climbed anywhere from 3% to 38% in 16 other island and mainland locations.

Places posting single-digit price increases include Corfu (+3%), Agios Nikolaos, Andros and Hydra (each +5%), plus Iraklio, Naxos and Rethymnon (up 8% each).

Locations with double-digit increases include Parikia (+10%), Rhodes (+15%), Chania (+16%), Hersonissos and Kos (each up 17%), Elounda (+18%), Ios (+19%), Zakynthos (+21%) and Lefkada (+38%).

 

Rates dropped on 11 islands

 Ermoupoli Syros

Trivago says room rates have dropped 13% at Ermoupoli on Syros

 Higher prices are not a trend throughout Greece, however, since nightly room rates actually have dropped significantly on some islands or, in the case of Rhodes, at one of its most popular tourist destinations (Lindos), Trivago data indicates.

On Folegandros, for example, the average price for a hotel room this month is €97, down a startling 27% from the €133 average rate in July 2013. Sharp price cuts also occurred at Koukounaries on Skiathos (-24%), Spetses (-23%), Argostoli (-15%), Astipalea (-14%), Ermoupoli on Syros (-13%), Lindos on Rhodes (-10%). Lower reductions were noted on Koufonissi and Tinos (both -4%)  and at Molyvos and Apollonia (both -3%).

Curiously, the Trivago survey didn’t mention prices on Santorini which, like Mykonos, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.

 Folegandros chora

Chora village on Folegandros. Average hotel room rates on this charming island dropped by 27% this month compared to July 2013, Trivago says.

 

Mykonos among Top 10 most expensive global destinations

Mykonos achieved notoriety for pricey hotel rooms on another Trivago report that made the news a few days ago. In a survey of summer 2014 trends for travellers from the United Kingdom, Trivago examined searches conducted between January 1 and June 15 for travel to take place during this month and August. (Trivago’s system compares rates from more than 700,000 hotels on more than 150 different booking sites around the world.)

The data showed that the average online price for a hotel in Mykonos Town was €244 Euros. This gave Mykonos the #7 spot on Trivago’s list of the Top 10 Most Expensive Global Destinations, behind #1 Velden, Austria; #2 Belek, Turkey, #3 Ascona, Switzerland, #4 Porto Vecchio, Corsica, #5 Montreux, Switzerland, and #6, Boston, USA.  Rounding out the top 10 behind Mykonos were #8 New York, USA, #9 Locarno, Switzerland, and #10 Lugano, Switzerland.

The results of the two Trivago surveys will cement Mykonos’s reputation as one of the most expensive places to visit in Greece — something that shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering that the island was put on the map by the jet set in the first place, and remains a popular getaway destination for the world’s rich and famous.

Still, a 61% increase in prices is startling, even for a place frequented by affluent travellers.

 Mykonos Town

Rooftops on buildings in Mykonos Town. Hotel rates on the island are practically going through the roof this year, rising 61% over prices for July 2013.

 

Complaints raised in emails seeking hotel advice

I noticed that Mykonos hotel prices were on the rise early this year when I was checking hotel rates to answer accommodation questions posted in the Mykonos travel forum on TripAdvisor.com. Prices seemed marginally higher than I remembered them being in 2013. As winter moved into spring, I received numerous private messages on TripAdvisor, and emails to my blog, from people seeking suggestions for cheaper accommodation because they were finding summer prices too high.

Many of the people complaining about high hotel rates were travellers from the United Kingdom who wanted to stay on Mykonos only one night. They were flying to Mykonos on EasyJet or British Airways direct flights, but immediately transferring to another island — usually Naxos, Paros or somewhere in the Small Cyclades. Because of awkward ferry schedules, many of these travellers would have to spend a night on Mykonos in order to catch their return flights home. Many were astounded not only by the high room rates on Mykonos, but also by the fact many hotels impose a minimum stay requirement of 3 nights or longer during peak travel season, which limited their accommodation options even further.

My advice for travellers seeking summer bargains is to shop around on Trivago and other online sites, and to compare prices found there to rates listed on hotel websites. Booking directly with a hotel can sometimes achieve either significant price savings or extras like complimentary shuttle service to and from the Mykonos ferry ports or airports.

If you still find Mykonos hotels too expensive for your budget, consider visiting nearby islands like Naxos or Syros instead, or one of the places where the Trivago survey showed that prices have dropped this year. There are many other islands where budget-minded tourists will get more bang for their buck. But if you’re looking for glitz, glamour and glitter, there’s only one Mykonos — and going there this summer could put a bigger dent in your wallet than you’re anticipating.

 Kos Town harbour

Tour boats in the harbour at Kos Town. Trivago found that average hotel rates for Kos have gone up 17% for this month compared to the same time last year.

 

Greek islands take spring weather woes in stride

Stormclouds at Mykonos

Dark stormclouds hover overhead as rain falls on Mykonos and nearby islands. I shot this photo from the swimming pool deck at Hotel Tagoo on the morning of May 18 2012. Many Greek islands and parts of mainland Greece have been experiencing similar stormy weather conditions this week.

 

Be prepared: If you’re planning to travel to Greece in May or early June next year, be sure to pack an umbrella or waterproof windbreaker in your suitcase — there’s a good chance you might need to use them for a day or two.

Occasional bad weather used to be something you could expect to encounter in early spring — especially while travelling during April or the first two weeks of May in the Cyclades, Dodecanese, East Aegean and Sporades island groups. But once the middle of May had passed, rainstorms and completely overcast skies would be rare — visitors typically could expect one day after another of warm, dry and mainly sunny weather until the fall.

Climate patterns seem to have changed in recent years, however, and travellers have been encountering sporadic stormy conditions later in May and into early June too, as bad weather across much of Greece this week has shown.

 We didn’t need rainwear or umbrellas until 2010

On our trips to Athens and various Greek islands between 2004 and 2009, we didn’t encounter any major rainstorms or other inclement weather bad enough to put a damper on a day of sightseeing, hiking or beach activities. We would pack travel umbrellas in our suitcases, but never have to take them out. In fact, we recall only three instances of rain — all in early May 2006, the time of month when unsettled weather still could be expected.

That year, there was some overnight rain on May 11 and 12 while we were visiting Mykonos, but the clouds cleared by the time we got up for breakfast. One week later (on May 18) we were at Maragas beach on Naxos when a late afternoon thunderstorm suddenly blew in from the west. Rain began to sprinkle so we hurried over to the Gorgona Taverna at Agia Anna beach, where we had an early dinner while waiting for the precipitation to stop. Within 90 minutes the sun came back out and gave us a beautiful sunset that evening.

 Stormclouds over Naxos

After the storm: Thunderclouds begin to break up over Paros island  (top) and Naxos following a late afternoon downpour on May 18 2006. We shot this photo from Agia Anna beach on Naxos.

 

Of course, the weather wasn’t perfect the rest of the time during our first five Greek holidays. We did encounter a few days when it was extremely cloudy, like on June 8 2005, when we arrived at Santorini to find the island shrouded in thick, low-hanging clouds that obscured sunset views and lingered into the next morning before dissipating. We also experienced several exceptionally windy days, as well as some very chilly mornings and nights that forced us to wear sweaters and jackets to keep warm. But there wasn’t any horribly bad weather, and the adverse conditions didn’t stop us from fully enjoying the islands.

 Santorini caldera clouds

When we arrived at Santorini on June 8 2005, the island was surrounded by thick clouds that obscured caldera and sunset views that evening. There was no rain, but the clouds hung around until morning. We shot this photo from our terrace at the Phenix Hotel in Imerovigli during a brief break in the clouds.

  Please click the number 2 in the link below to continue reading this report.

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Louis Cruises adds Samos, Symi, Syros, Ios, Milos, Kos & Chios to Greek island destinations for 2014

Louis Cristal cruise ship

I shot this photo of passengers an upper deck of the Louis Cristal as the ship (below) approached Mykonos for a port stop a couple years ago

 

Louis Cristal cruise ship

 

 

New ports & themes: Louis Cruises has added seven new Greek islands to the roster of destinations travellers will be able to visit on tour itineraries being offered this year by the Cyprus-based cruise operator.

Louis Cruises has long offered popular 3- to 8-day tour packages that take travellers to Istanbul and Kusadasi in Turkey as well as to the Greek islands Mykonos, Santorini, Patmos, Rhodes and Crete.

For 2014, the company has expanded its roster of destinations to include two more ports in Turkey — Bodrum and Cesme — along with seven new Greek island stops: Syros, Ios and Milos in the Cyclades island group, Kos and Symi in the Dodecanese, and Samos and Chios in the East Aegean.

 

New themed cruises available

Besides the new ports of call, Louis will be offering 60 specially-themed cruises with itineraries based on: gastronomy, wine & spirits; culture & heritage; history & archaeology; and music.

Representatives of the cruise line told a recent press conference in Athens that bookings for its cruises are up significantly so far this year — over 20% higher than in 2013.  The company is expecting to carry 820,000 passengers during 2014 on its ships the Cristal, Olympia and Aura.

Full details about itinerary themes and destinations, as well as the ships, are available on the Louis Cruises website.

 

Passengers enjoy the cruises & island itineraries

Although we haven’t yet taken a Louis cruise ourselves, we have spoken to dozens of people who have. Almost all of our flights to and from Greece have been on Air Transat, whose sister company, Transat Holidays, offers Louis cruises in many of its organized island hopping vacation packages. Dozens of the passengers on each of our flights have taken the cruises, and their feedback about the experience has been overwhelmingly positive, with everyone reporting that they fully enjoyed the ships and the islands they visited.

And while we were in Athens last October, we spoke with two friends who had just taken a Louis Cruise that included stops at Kusadasi, Patmos, Crete and Santorini. Both are very well-travelled in Greece, and raved about how much they enjoyed their cruise. They told us their rooms were comfortable, the crew were friendly and helpful, and the food was delicious. They highly recommended the cruise and, in fact, urged us to take one on a future trip to Greece. It’s a suggestion we will seriously consider in light of their comments.

 

Symi island Greece

This photo of a waterfront scene on Symi is from The Symi Visitor website, an online guide that’s packed with pictures and travel information about the island

 

Our best food & drink experiences of 2013

 Greek salad and Mythos beer

A Mythos beer and Greek salad … part of our afternoon “snack” at Paradiso Taverna during one of our Naxos beach walks in October 2013

 

 

Good eats: In my recent post Our best hotel experiences of 2013, I described the various places we stayed at in Mykonos, Ios, Naxos and Glyfada during our two trips to Greece last year. Today it’s time to talk about the food we ate while we were there.

We love to eat, and one of the reasons we keep going back to Greece is that we immensely enjoy the food there, whether it’s traditional Greek cooking, salads or vegetarian fare, grilled meats or fish, seafood or international cuisine.

We eat well on our holidays, and we always come home wishing we could recreate some of the most memorable meals in our own kitchen. We try, but the recipes either never turn out right or we simply can’t replicate the wonderful tastes and flavours we enjoyed so much in Greece. And, of course, that’s largely because we can’t possibly reproduce the unique charm and character or the extraordinary locations of the places where we had dinners or drinks — or even just a cup of coffee.

Last year, we had remarkable meals or drinks at dozens of different restaurants, bars and cafés. Individual dishes at certain places were outstanding, while in other instances it was the physical premises or scenic location of a particular restaurant that gave us a dining experience we won’t soon forget.

Below are descriptions of the restaurants, bars meals and drinks that impressed us the most — our best food and drink experiences of 2013.

 

 

Best beach taverna

Nikolas Taverna on Mykonos and Paradiso Taverna on Naxos (Tie)

 

Paradiso Taverna Naxos

Paradiso Taverna has over a dozen tables grouped around a tree on Maragas beach on Naxos. This is one of the most-photographed sights on the island, and this scene has even been featured on Naxos postcards.

 

 

Nikolas Taverna Mykonos

Nikolas Taverna also has tables on the sand, in this case at little Agia Anna beach between Platis Gialos and Paraga on Mykonos. The trees shade the tables part of the day, but there are more seats on the sheltered outdoor terrace (left) for people who don’t want to sit in the sun.

 

 

One of the things we like most about Greece, and especially its islands, is the opportunity to have a “Shirley Valentine” moment — that is, enjoy a drink or meal right next to the sea, at a table either on a sandy beach or on a terrace mere inches from the water. It’s something we can never do at home, where strict government liquor laws and rigid municipal licensing regulations require restaurants serving alcohol to keep their dining areas enclosed by fences or waist-high barriers — and well away from the water’s edge.

So we’re thrilled when we find tavernas that have open seating close to the water — especially if those tables offer views of marvellous scenery or striking sunsets. And if the restaurant kitchens happen to serve delicious food, too, we will feel like we’re in paradise.

 

Superb food and good service

Two remarkable places that we have particularly enjoyed on past vacations are Nikolas Taverna at Agia Anna/Paraga on Mykonos, and Paradiso Taverna at Maragas beach on Naxos. Both have provided consistently good service and superb food, as well as exquisite settings, and both lived up to our high expectations for more of the same when we paid them repeat visits during our holidays in 2013.

The family-run Nikolas Taverna is situated on a small, quiet strand between Platis Gialos and Paraga, two of the most popular beaches on Mykonos. Our favourite place to sit is at one of the tables on the sand, under the row of trees in front of the restaurant. There are nice views toward Platis Gialos, and the setting is profoundly serene and relaxed … it’s a pleasant spot to mellow out while enjoying the fabulous home-cooked Greek cuisine or fresh seafood.

Paradiso Taverna is situated at Maragas, in between two of the most popular beaches on Naxos — Plaka and Agia Anna. Paradiso has a large, tree-sheltered dining terrace in front of the restaurant building, and more tables directly across the road, under a distinctive, eye-catching tree right on the beach. Both spots offer excellent views of the beach, sea and nearby Paros island, and both are good places to watch a sunset, too. The food is as delicious as the scenery.

If you get the chance to visit either Nikolas or Paradiso for a meal, don’t just order off the printed menu — take a few minutes to go inside the kitchen to see the various vegetable, meat and seafood dishes that have been specially prepared for that day. Everything will look appealing, so don’t be surprised if you have trouble deciding what to order!

 

 

Two new beach tavernas we discovered

 

Mikri Vigla Taverna

 Mikri Vigla Taverna at Parthenos beach on Naxos

 

 

Honourable mention goes to two beach tavernas we discovered for the first time in 2013 and hope to revisit in the near future.

We stopped into Mikri Vigla Taverna just for a cold drink and a snack while mountain biking down the southwest coast of Naxos on October 6. We ordered only a Greek salad since we weren’t very hungry, but when we saw the food in the kitchen — as well as what people at the tables next to ours were being served — we regretted that we didn’t have bigger appetites. Everything looked tasty, portions appeared to be quite generous, and all the customers kept commenting on how good their meals were. It was the last day the taverna was open for the season, and the staff kept apologizing for having only a “small” selection of items to choose from. However, we were impressed with the large number of dishes that actually were available — we would have been spoiled for choice had we wanted a more substantial meal.

On October 14, we went to Aperanto Galazio with two friends from the Athens area. The restaurant is located on the beach at Varkiza, a town on the Athens Riviera. We sat on the shaded outdoor dining terrace just steps from the sand, enjoying the beach and sea views while we dined on eight delicious items, including taramosalata (a fish roe dip), Greek salad, stuffed tomatoes, zucchini fritters, calamari, fried potatoes and red and white wine. The food was excellent, the service was great, and the total price was a very pleasant surprise: just €35. We had been expecting the lunch to cost considerably more given the substantial amount of food we had ordered.

 

Aperanto Galazio taverna Varkiza

Aperanto Galazio restaurant at Varkiza beach on the Athens Riviera

 

Please click on the link below to see dozens more photos and restaurant reviews on page 2 of this post.

 

 

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Picture yourself … warming up at a beach on Ios

Looking across the golden sand beach at Gialos, the port village on Ios island

Another polar vortex has brought biting cold weather to the northeastern USA and Canada this week, so I’ve been trying to distract myself from the chill by looking at photos and videos of beaches. Like these of the long, gently curving golden sand beach at Gialos, the port village area of Ios. It was sunny and a toasty 28 degrees Celsius (84 F) when I shot these pics — nearly 40 degrees warmer than it is outside my window at the moment. If only I could be enjoying that sun, heat and sand right now! Click on the photo to view a full-size image.

 

 

Gialos beach on Ios island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our best hotel experiences of 2013

Grotta area of Naxos Town on Naxos

Looking toward the Grotta district of Naxos Town from the Palatia peninsula at Naxos island. Naxos was our favourite Greek holiday destination in 2013.

 

 

Eclectic list: You could consider this a different sort of trip report. Rather than write a routine, day-by-day account of our two holidays in Greece in 2013, I have decided to mix things up and have a bit of fun compiling an eclectic “best of 2013” list instead.

In May, we island-hopped to Mykonos, Ios and Naxos before moving to the mainland for a weekend meet-up with friends in the Glyfada suburb of Athens. During a second holiday in October we spent two weeks on Naxos, then visited friends in Glyfada and Athens for two days. We had a great time at each place we visited during the two trips, but since Naxos was our overwhelming favourite, we named it our 2013 Destination of the Year, as regular readers will have noticed in my December 31 2013 post.

But there were special things we particularly enjoyed at each destination. Some, like features of the various hotels where we stayed and the restaurants where we dined, or attractions that we visited, were significant elements of our holidays. Others were interesting or quirky things we observed or encountered — minor aspects of our vacations, but still part of what made the two trips so much fun.

I thought that information about those various good things might provide useful insight into our destinations for people who haven’t been to them before, and perhaps even for people who have. So I have compiled the highlights into this “Best of 2013” holiday round-up. I have organized the “bests” into three categories: Hotels; Food & Drink; and Activities & Attractions. Today’s post profiles the best elements of our hotel accommodations, while separate posts about our best Food & Drink experiences, as well as our favourite Activities & Attractions, will follow soon.

 

 Katerina Hotel on Ios

Mylopotas beach, as seen from Katerina Hotel on Ios. This was just part of the marvellous view we enjoyed from the hotel during our May holiday. Turn to page 2 of this post to continue reading and see more photos of all the hotels we stayed at during our two trips to Greece in 2013.

 

 

 

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Warming up with a walk along Mylopotas beach

The golden sands of Mylopotas beach on Ios

An early evening view of Mylopotas beach on Ios

 

 

Warmer times: It’s bitterly cold outside right now and I’m huddling indoors, fighting a stubborn head cold and trying to keep myself warm.

But instead of wrapping myself in a thick woolly blanket, I’m making myself feel warmer by looking through photos and videos from our Greek Island holidays in May and October of this year.

And some images that really gave me a boost today were from Mylopotas beach on Ios back on May 19.

It had been a sunny and hot day, and we had already done a lot of walking around the island. But in early evening we were doing even more, taking a stroll on the golden sands of gorgeous Mylopotas beach, which was almost empty of people at the time. The sound of waves washing against the shore was incredibly soothing and relaxing.

Below is a brief videoclip I shot while I walked on the sand around 7 p.m. Remembering how warm it was at the time helped me forget about my cold for awhile. I hope it helps you warm up a bit if you’re in a cold part of the world right now, too.

 

 

 

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