Category: Top Naxos posts

Why Naxos is setting tourism records this summer

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 

Enchanting views of Naxos

Naxos: The island that will enchant you is a mesmerizing 4-minute area film by Naxos Times

 

Here’s an intriguing video of Naxos that’s unlike any I’ve seen before. Released just this week by Naxos Times, the 4-minute film features breathtaking aerial views of Naxos Town as well as Cape Agios Prokopios in the Stelida district of the island’s northwest coast. 

What’s unusual is that the film captures Naxos in the golden light of daybreak and sunset, when the seas are smooth as glass and barely a soul is in sight anywhere in the town. There’s an eerie and almost haunting, mysterious atmosphere to the video, but that’s what makes it even more captivating and fascinating.

Naxos: The quietly traditional heart of the Cyclades

Mike Andrew photo of a lane in Naxos Town

Shops line a narrow lane in the historic Old Market district of Naxos Town. Photo by Mike Andrew.

 

Sitting at the heart of the Aegean, can the unassuming and traditionally minded Naxos hold its own against its cosmopolitan neighbours?

 

Guest post by James Andrew

The shutters bang and clatter against the window. The howling, whistling noises coming from outside are more than a little disconcerting. The meltemi, the strong warming wind that blows constantly through the Aegean at this time of year, is definitely strong today.

Looking out of our villa window at the large, agriculturally rich fields, curious, twisted rock formations and, in the distance, the somewhat foreboding Mount Zas silhouetted against the dusk skyline, this all feels slightly alien. Certainly it’s a world away from the cosmopolitan and touristy island of Santorini from which we caught the ferry earlier in the day. No, this is very different. This is the much less visited and certainly less known island of Naxos.

 

 

Positioned at the heart of the Cycladic (or White) Islands, Naxos sits somewhat oddly next to its much-lauded neighbours Santorini, Mykonos and Paros. Whilst the island has gradually been building a fan base amongst Greece afficionados in the know, it still remains defiantly off the main cruise routes. Its main port in Naxos Town sees the arrival of daily ferries but no towering cruise ship behemoths like the ones that anchor in Santorini’s caldera.

The highest peak in the Cyclades, Mount Zas dominates the island. Breaking from the image of barren, volcanic lunar landscapes one most associates with this area of Greece, Naxos is blessed by nature. Green and verdant throughout, it defies convention. So, how would this island that lacks Santorini’s chic, polished veneer and Mykonos’ cool, hipster vibe reveal itself? Can it compete with its upmarket neighbours? We cracked the rattling shutters open and stepped into the wind to find out.

 

Fish Olive Creations Facebook page photo of Mount Zas on Naxos

A view of Mount Zas, Filoti village and Halki village (bottom). Photo by the Fish & Olive Creations art gallery and shop in Halki.

 

Please click on the link below to continue reading and view more photos.

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In photos: Two weeks on Naxos

Filoti village Naxos

Approaching Filoti, one of more than two dozen fascinating mountain villages on Naxos. This image is one of just 600 photos from the Two Weeks on Naxos album on the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr pageClick here to open the album and view the photo highlights from our Naxos vacation last October.

 

Naxos captures 6th place on TripAdvisor traveller ranking of the top 10 islands in the world

Tsikalario and Himmaros. two of the scenic mountain villages on Naxos

A view toward Tsikalario and Himmaros, just two of many scenic mountain villages on Naxos island

 

Visitor favourite: Looks like we have plenty of company in recommending Naxos as an outstanding Greek Island holiday destination — it has been rated the Number 6 island in the world in TripAdvisor’s 2014 Traveler’s Choice Awards.

Naxos is the only Greek island to crack the Top 10 list of the world’s best islands, a ranking based on reviews posted by the tens of millions of travellers who participate on TripAdvisor.com each year.

Basking in the glory of the #1 ranking is Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize, which also took first place last year. Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos islands claimed the #2 spot, while Bora Bora in the Society Islands came 3rd.

We have been to Providenciales and, though we enjoyed it, we can’t understand how it ranked higher than Naxos in the Top 10 list. Although it does boast spectacular white sand beaches, superb restaurants and some incredible luxury resorts and rental accommodations, it doesn’t have a fraction of the attractions and activities awaiting visitors to Naxos.

Only seven weeks ago, MyGreeceTravelBlog named Naxos as our Destination of the Year for 2013, based on two fantastic visits to the island in May and October of last year. See our January 16 post, Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos, for dozens of photos and a wealth of information explaining why Naxos is a must-see destination.

And while you’re at it, check out TripAdvisor’s list of the top attractions on Naxos. Also based on traveller reviews, the list includes beaches, museums, monuments, churches, sports facilities and activities.

 

Greek Islands dominate list of Europe’s 10 best

Naxos ranked much higher on TripAdvisor’s list of the Top 10 islands in Europe, clinching 2nd place (behind Lewis & Harris in the Outer Hebrides). Four other Greek islands made the list and confirmed that, with five islands in the world’s best 10, Greece is indisputably the top island destination in Europe.

Milos took 5th place, followed by Kefalonia in 6th and Santorini in 7th. Paros picked up 10th place.

 

A sunset view of Thalassitra Church and the Gulf of Milos

An evening view of Thalassitra Church and the Gulf of Milos, as seen from a pathway leading to the kastro (castle) above Plaka village.  TripAdvisor has rated Milos as the #5 island in Europe.

 

Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos

The centuries-old Portara monument greets visitors arriving at Naxos by sea

The enormous marble entrance for the never-completed Temple of Apollo greets visitors arriving by sea at Naxos island in the Cyclades.  Also known as the Portara, the monument is an internationally-recognized symbol of Naxos island.

 

Something for everyone: If you’re trying to find a Greek holiday destination that ticks practically every box on even the pickiest traveller’s checklist of “must have’s” and “must see’s,” take a closer look at Naxos.

The largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos is equally big on the number of activities and attractions it offers visitors of all ages and lifestyles. From beautiful beaches to mountain villages; a vibrant port town with an historic castle and Old Market district; monuments, ruins and museums; excellent dining and nightlife; accommodations to suit any budget; walking trails, water sports and mountain biking; stunning scenery and sunsets; plus sightseeing excursions and tours both on and off the island, Naxos has it all.

Whether you’re planning to visit for three days or three weeks, you’ll never run out of things to do — if anything, you’ll probably wind up wishing you had more time to spend on the island.

 

What’s more, Naxos is surprisingly easy on the pocketbook, with reasonable prices for food, accommodations and entertainment.

All those are precisely the reasons why we named Naxos as our Greek Holiday Destination of the Year for 2013 (see our December 31 2013 post for more about that).

Click on the link to page 2 of this post (under the photo below) to continue reading and to see dozens of photos illustrating our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos. (Note: The reasons are listed randomly; there is no special significance to the numerical order in which each item is presented.)

 

Naxos beach towel

A souvenir beach towel featuring a map of Naxos hangs outside a minimarket in the island’s popular Agios Prokopios resort area

 

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Naxos: Our Destination of the Year for 2013

A view of St George's Bay and Naxos Town in the distance

This vantage point on Stelida mountain offers a breathtaking view toward Naxos Town and the rugged mountains rising behind it on the northeast side of St George’s Bay. Click on the photo to view a larger image.

 

 

Favourite destination: As 2013 draws to a close and the winter days and nights keep getting colder, we’re already thinking ahead to spring and trying to decide which places we might visit in Greece on our next vacation. We’re also thinking about the two holidays we took this past year. In fact, we’re still sorting out the thousands of photos and dozens of videos we shot on the trips. It might take me all winter to upload the pictures to the MyGreeceTravelBlog Flickr page!

Our 2-week May vacation took us to three islands —  Mykonos, Ios, and Naxos — as well as to Glyfada and the Apollo coast southeast of Athens on the Greek mainland. For our return holiday in October, we expected to visit two islands, but wound up spending 12 days on Naxos alone, followed by two days in Glyfada and Athens.

We had a terrific time everywhere we went, but we just can’t stop talking about how much we loved Naxos. We had enjoyed the island during holidays in 2005, 2006 and 2009, but this year were pleasantly surprised by the great extent to which Naxos won our hearts and admiration.

Family, friends and acquaintances have always asked which place in Greece we like the most, and until now we had to say that several islands shared that honour, since we didn’t have a hands-down favourite. But that has changed. After two fabulous trips to Naxos in 2013, we’ll be telling people it’s our #1 place to visit in Greece.

So why do we like Naxos so much, and why have we picked it as Destination of the Year for 2013?

 

So much to see and do

The main reason is that Naxos offers visitors an extensive variety of activities and attractions. Even though we have now been there five separate times, we feel like we’ve only just scratched the surface, leaving plenty more new things to see and do on future visits.

Naxos is one of those rare places that has wide appeal for virtually every kind of traveller — singles, couples or families, the young and old alike, food lovers, history and nature buffs, and outdoor sports enthusiasts.

The island is easy to reach on direct Olympic Air flights from Athens, and is connected to the city and to other islands in the Cyclades by regular car and passenger ferry service. Once you’re there, an array of accommodations await, from camping and basic rooms to self-catering studios, luxury villas, hotels and resorts. There’s an equally diverse selection of cafés, restaurants and shopping, plus bars, clubs and concert performances for visitors seeking nightlife and cultural entertainment. 

For those fascinated by history and archaeology, the island boasts numerous museums and scores of monuments and ruins. Sightseers can easily spend days exploring vibrant and historic Naxos Town, visiting the island’s many charming mountain villages and settlements, or photographing the stunning Naxian scenery and sunsets.

Active travellers can hike dozens of footpaths and trails or go mountain biking (either on their own, or on organized group excursions), while water sports enthusiasts can swim, snorkel, windsurf, kitesurf, sail or dive to their hearts’ content at the island’s many outstanding beaches.

And for tourists who want to see how other Greek islands compare, daytrips are available to Delos, Mykonos, Santorini, Paros, Amorgos, Koufonissi and Iraklia, while private boat tours, sunset cruises and fishing expeditions can be arranged as well.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be telling you a lot more about Naxos, and will be posting hundreds of photos of this beautiful and amazing island. Keep checking back to see why MyGreeceTravelBlog.com has selected Naxos as Destination of the Year for 2013!

 

The medieval kastro (castle) dominates the skyline of Naxos Town

The medieval-era kastro (castle) dominates the skyline of Naxos Town, seen here from a wide sandy beach on the south side of Agios Georgios Bay

  

Solitude & scenery at Stelida beach on Naxos

Hohlakas beach Naxos

A view of Stelida beach, also known as Hohlakas beach (right), and St George’s Bay (upper left) on Naxos

 

 

Hohlakas beach Naxos

This sweeping view from a slope on Stelida mountain takes in Hohlakas beach (right) and Naxos Town on the far side of St George’s Bay

 

 

 Stelida mountain

Naxos port quay view of 151-meter-tall Stelida mountain. Construction of the Dream View Hotel is visible halfway up the mountainside.

 

 

Hohlakas beach Naxos

This Google satellite image shows Hohlakas beach (circled) and the Stelida district of Naxos on the southwest side of St George’s Bay, directly opposite Naxos Town. The island’s popular Agios Prokopios beach stands out at lower left.

 

 

Scruffy and secluded: Greece is abundant in beaches, and many Greek islands are justifiably world-famous for their beautiful beaches and stunning coastal scenery.

One of them is Naxos, which boasts a variety of excellent beaches that cater to specific traveller tastes and needs. For instance, families enjoy St George’s beach next to Naxos Town as well as Agia Anna on the island’s southwest coast. Windsurfers flock to Mikri Vigla and to St George’s, which also attracts scores of sailboat and catamaran enthusiasts. The long sandy strand at Agios Prokopios and the grassy dunes at Plaka are popular with sunbathers — especially travellers who like to tan au naturel. And people who prefer secluded quiet coves or isolated coastal swimming spots can find those in spades.

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Favourite tavernas: Fotis at Agios Prokopios, our first choice for food, service and sunsets on Naxos

Fotis Taverna at Agios Prokopios Naxos

Fotis Taverna sits beside a sharp bend in the road between Agios Prokopios beach and Agia Anna beach on the west coast of Naxos …

 

Fotis Taverna at Agios Prokopios Naxos

… and has three tree-shaded tables offering beach and sunset views just across the road — our favourite spot for drinks and dining

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Monumental sunsets at the Portara on Naxos

The Portara on Naxos at sunset

The Portara monument is a superb sunset viewing spot at Naxos Town

 

Golden globes: On Naxos, it’s easy to combine history and culture with a bit of sightseeing and sunset viewing all in one free self-guided excursion just a few minutes’ walk from Naxos Town.

All you have to do is take an evening stroll along the short causeway leading to the peninsula on the edge of town (an area known as the Palatia district). Climb the hillside, and you’ll find yourself on one of the island’s best sunset viewing spots, right next to one of the most famous monuments on the island — the giant stone door frame known as the Portara. (If you arrive at Naxos by ferry, you will probably see the Portara as your boat approaches the port.)

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