Category: Greece holiday May 2013 (page 2 of 4)

Our best hotel experiences of 2013

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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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Athens Riviera coves offer secluded spots to swim, sunbathe & savor the Saronic Gulf scenery

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A quiet cove on the Apollo coast of Greece, southeast of Athens

One of many coves along the scenic Apollo coast, southeast of Athens, where locals and visitors can enjoy sun, sea and serenity

 

 

Beach alternatives: You don’t have to travel to an island to enjoy beautiful beaches and coastal swimming spots in Greece — you can find them in spades on the mainland, including the scenic Saronic Gulf coast a short drive from Athens.

Popularly known as the Apollo Coast and the Athens Riviera, the more than 70-kilometer-long stretch of seafront between Piraeus and Cape Sounion boasts scores of beaches and swimming spots, with an extensive variety of public and private beach facilities catering to all tastes, budgets and lifestyles.  Many are easy to reach from Athens either by car, by the city’s tram system, or by public bus.

And for those who prefer to avoid busy organized beaches, there are plenty of secluded coves and inlets offering places to swim or suntan in peace and quiet — or even in nothing at all.

When we visited Athens last year, we noticed that many beach clubs and public strands along the Apollo Coast were packed with people. We could only imagine how crowded they must get during the summer when practically everyone in the city would head to the seaside to beat the heat.

Both in May and again during our return trip to Greece in October, friends who live in Athens took us for drives along the Apollo Coast, stopping to show us some of the popular beach areas including public strands to which admission was free, as well as several private clubs that charge entry fees of around 5 or 7 Euros and up per person.

 

Apollo Coast  of Greece

A peninsula on the Apollo Coast just a short drive south of Vouliagmeni. The rocky shoreline is popular with sunbathers and swimmers — especially nudists — who want to avoid the crowded public and private beaches along the Athens Riviera.

 

 

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Our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos

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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 below to continue reading and to see dozens of photos illustrating our Top 15 reasons to visit Naxos. 

 

 

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Naxos: Our Destination of the Year for 2013

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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

  

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