Tag: Portara

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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2014 Greek holiday report Part 6: Off to Syros

Naxos Town

This was one of our final views of Naxos Town on May 24 2014, as we departed Naxos on the Aqua Jewel ferry

Ermoupoli Syros

bound for Ermoupoli, the port and capital city of Syros island

 Parikia town on Paros

with a brief stop en route at Parikia. the main port and town on Paros

 

[Editor’s note: This is the sixth instalment in an ongoing series of photo reports about our 2014 spring vacation in the Cyclades and Athens. The previous posts reviewed our 5 days on Naxos. To see any or all of the earlier reports, click on the following underlined links:  Part 1 ; Part 2 ; Part 3 ; Part 4 and Part 5 .]

 

Saturday May 24

Moving on: It was another sunny morning, but we wouldn’t get to enjoy the beautiful weather. After breakfast, we had to pack, take a taxi to the port, and ride a ferry to Syros for the next leg of our 2014 Greek holiday.

We didn’t want to leave Naxos. After three consecutive visits here in the past 12 months (and three others in previous years), it almost feels like a second home, and the island has become our favourite holiday destination. And why wouldn’t it be? Naxos has everything we want for a vacation — Wonderful scenery, unpretentious attitude and laid-back ambience, friendly and hospitable local residents, delicious food, reasonable prices, and plenty of things to see and do. 

But it was time to move on and, much as we love Naxos, we were equally eager to visit Syros. We have heard countless good things about it during the past 10 years — including lavish praise from people who live on Naxos, as well as from other regular Naxos visitors. In fact, I can’t recall ever hearing anything bad about Syros. By all accounts, Syros could well be another island we would fall in love with and want to revisit again and again. And if, for some reason, Syros didn’t strike our fancy, Naxos would still be there for us.

Please click on the link below to continue reading the report on our journey from Naxos to Syros.

 

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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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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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Cool pools: Splash and dive through the ancient Portara monument at the Naxos Beach II Hotel

Naxos Beach II hotel swimming pool

The bottom of the oval swimming pool at the Naxos Beach II Hotel is decorated with a large illustration of the Portara, the island’s most famous monument

 

Good swims: Our all-time favourite swimming pool in the Greek Islands is the only one in which we actually got to  spend quite a bit of time splashing around without feeling like we were going to freeze. As I’ve mentioned before, we usually find the water in hotel swimming pools too chilly for swimming when we travel to Greece in the spring. We’ve found some pools to be too cold to our liking even in late September, too! But we didn’t have any complaints about water temperature in 2005 when we stayed at the Naxos Beach II Hotel during our first visit to Naxos.

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Greece is: Spectacular scenery. Beautiful beaches. Charming villages. Stunning sunsets. Historic ruins. Picturesque churches. Amazing Athens. And more…

 

Chora village on Astipalea Island

The imposing Kastro (castle) towers above whitewashed mountainside houses in Chora, the main village on Astipalea island

 

A blue domed Church in Firostefani village on Santorini

Look familiar? This blue-domed Church in Firostefani village on Santorini has been pictured on countless postcards, posters, travel brochures and websites.

 

Elia Beach Mykonos

Sunbeds at popular Elia Beach on Mykonos overlook the sparkling Aegean Sea

 

Folegandros island

Spectacular cliff scenery on the north side of Folegandros island

 

The Panagia Church on Folegandros

The Panagia Church on Folegandros sits high above the island`s main village, Chora

 

Seaside fishermen`s houses in Klima Milos

Syrmata (fishermens houses) in the seaside village of Klima on Milos

 

A Cycladic style house on Naxos

A Cycladic-style house overlooking Agios Prokopios beach on Naxos

 

Venetian Fortress at Iraklion harbour

The Venetian fortress next to the old harbour at Iraklion on Crete

 

Sunbeds on a rocky point near Kalithea Bay

No sandy beach? No worries! In the Greek Islands, there’s literally thousands of miles of coastline with secluded coves and inlets…

 

beach chairs and umbrellas near Kalithea on Rhodes

…and countless more great spots to relax in the sun, fish, play or swim in the sea, like this rocky point near Kalithea Bay on Rhodes

 

Delos Island

Historic archaeological ruins on the hillside and seaside below Mt Kynthos on sacred Delos island

 

Little Venice on Mykonos Town

The “Little Venice” area of Mykonos Town is a perenially popular spot for tourists to enjoy a cocktail while watching a spectacular sunset…

 

A sunset viewed from the Little Venice area of Mykonos Town

…like this one, viewed from the Little Venice seaside

 

The Temple of Apollo on Naxos

The Portara (Temple of Apollo) is one of the symbols of Naxos island…

 

The Portara at the Temple of Apollo on Naxos

…and a popular spot for tourists to visit for sunset viewing

 

Knossos Palace on Crete

A tourist sketches at the Knossos Palace ruins on Crete

 

A view from Santorini at sunset

A view over the volcano island (Nea Kameni) off Santorini at sunset

 

Mikri Vigla beach

Not a soul in sight on the soft sands of Mikri Vigla beach on Naxos…

 

Achivadolimni Beach on Milos

or on the soft sands of Achivadolimni Beach on Milos…

 

Mikri Vigla beach on Naxos island

…or at Mikri Vigla beach on Naxos…

 

sparkling blue water in a bay on Milos island

…while the people in this boat have the sparkling waters of this entire quiet bay all to themselves on Milos

 

Fira village on Santorini

Fira, the bustling main town on the immensely popular island of Santorini

 

Kleftiko on Milos

The white cliffs at Kleftiko on Milos

 

the beach at Ammoudara Crete

Part of the long sandy beach at Ammoudara near Iraklion on Crete…

 

the beach at Ammoudara Crete

…and looking to the right along the same stretch of Ammoudara beach

 

Mykonos Town viewed from the northwest

Looking toward Mykonos Town from the northwest tip of Mykonos island

 

Mykonos Town

Some of the hillside hotels and houses overlooking Mykonos Town

 

Elia beach on Mykonos

Elia beach on Mykonos island

 

Elia beach Mykonos

Beach chairs and umbrellas on Elia Beach at Mykonos

 

Windmills at Chora on Astipalea

Windmills in the village of Chora on Astipalea island

 

The medieval castle in Rhodes Town

The medieval castle in Rhodes Town on Rhodes

 

Filoti village on Naxos

The mountainside village of Filoti on Naxos island

 

sailing at Milos

Going for an early morning sail on calm seas off Milos island

 

Chora on Astipalea

Chora, the mountaintop village on Astipalea island

 

Mountains in the distance off Vathi Bay on Samos

Mountains in the distance off Vathi Bay on Samos

 

Naxos Town on Naxos island

Naxos Town, the bustling main port town on Naxos Island

 

A rock formation in the sea off Milos

A rabbit shaped rock formation in the sea off Milos island

 

Platis Gialos beach on Mykonos

Platis Gialos beach on Mykonos

 

Temple of Apollo at the Asklepieion on Kos

Temple of Apollo at the Asklepieion on Kos

 

Super  Paradise beach Mykonos

Looking down on Super Paradise Beach on Mykonos

 

The Chapel of Seven Martyrs below Kastro on Sifnos

Waves crash against the rugged coast below the Chapel of Seven Martyrs on Sifnos


Amoudi Bay on Santorini

Amoudi Bay below the village of Oia on Santorini

 

Gorgeous Agriolivadi Bay on Patmos

Beautiful Agriolivadi Bay on Patmos

 

pelicans at Nikos taverna in Mykonos Town

Pelicans, like these two seen waiting for a fish dinner at ever-popular Niko’s Taverna in Mykonos Town, are famous mascots of Mykonos island…

 

Paraportiani Church in Mykonos Town

…while the incomparable Paraportiani Church is another Mykonos landmark

 

a fishing boat returning to port at Egali on Amorgos

Seagulls trail a fishing boat as it returns to port at Egali on Amorgos

 

The village of Kastro on Sifnos

The village of Kastro on Sifnos

 

The Chozoviotissa Monastery on Amorgos

On Amorgos, the spectacular 900-year-old Chozoviotissa Monastery is carved into the face of a cliff, 300 meters above the sea