The next leg of my journey continues in Naxos. Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades island group. Its fertile landscape and mountainous villages are hosts to long stretches of beach and ancient ruins. In fact, Naxos has many important archaeological sites and there is even an archaeological museum that displays its vast history.
We arrived in Naxos in the early afternoon by ferry, flowing with the crowd of other tourists, seeking out our cab driver. A handsome young man holds up a sign with our last name and greets us at the ferry port. Alth0ugh he does not speak English, we manage to communicate through a series of hand gestures, smiles and exaggerated pointing throughout our drive until we reach the bed and breakfast. Walking up to the front steps, we are met by a jovial man who greets us warmly in the front reception. He immediately brings us to the courtyard and presents us with plates of watermelon.
“These are from our own garden. My family grows watermelon!” He informs us.
The watermelon is a welcome reprieve from the humidity that envelopes us in Greece. It is sweet and juicy, and the gesture is so thoughtful, further adding to the close and familial ambiance of the B&B. The rest of our time in Naxos continues to embody that same sense of community.
Although Naxos is not a popular tourist destination, it is the island where I created some incredible memories and met fantastic people. The island is the embodiment of Greek hospitality. It is a place where people open their doors with welcoming arms and make you feel part of the community. The beauty of Naxos is in its people, and I guarantee you will feel at home on this island. Here is the Naxos Travel Guide.
This family run B&B felt like one big family, so much so that in the morning, our apartment overlooked the family’s part of the villa, so in the mornings when our shutters were open, we were greeted by the squealing faces of little children, and the gentle admonishments of their grandmas. Adding to “family spirit” many guests even hung their laundry outside to dry, while they sat in the courtyard sipping Greek coffee.
The apartments are clean and spacious, and they offer a small kitchenette. The bathrooms, in all honesty, are quite tiny. So be prepared for that! Birikos also has a large outdoor pool that is open well into the night. This is nice because in the evenings you are more than welcome to take a swim. Furthermore, the B&B is located right across the bus stop that takes you into the main town of Chora and is a 10-minute walk to the agios prokopios beach, as well as the best bakery in town.
This place is by far the best bakery and breakfast place in all of Greece. We were lucky enough to chance upon the shop as we walked towards Agios Prokopios beach.
Although the place advertises itself as a bakery, Glikofournismata offers delicious breakfast that is handmade from the items grown on their farm. When we entered the shop, we were greeted by a beautiful girl at the counter who introduced herself as Anastasia. She is the daughter of the owners.
“My family owns the bakery and I work here during the summers!” she tells us, as she hands us multiple different cookies from the display case, eager for us to try them all.
We ask her if they offer breakfast (in between bites of delicious homemade cookies), she responds “Tell me what you want, and we can make it for you!” The next morning we return to the bakery for breakfast and we are presented with a meal fit for a king. Fresh omelets with onions and cheese, small almond and chocolate cookies, a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with honey the colour of gold, watermelon from her family’s farm, and to end it all, a cafe Freddo. Cafe Freddo is the Greek equivalent to an iced coffee – only 10 times better. It is mixed with condensed milk, espresso powder, and ice and was as our drink of choice while at the beach.
Throughout our 3 days in Naxos, we developed a wonderful relationship with Anastasia and had the best breakfast in town. Her warm personality and generosity is something that continues to stick with me today as my mind wanders off to my travels in Greece. If you ever visit Naxos, be sure to stop by her bakery – you will not be disappointed.
After passing by this restaurant five times, we eventually decided this would be our best bet for dinner. The food is a mix of Italian and Greek food (your pizzas, pastas, greek salads, calamari etc.) Although tasty, there are other restaurants on the island with more “authentic” food. In all honesty, the highlight of this place are the workers. They are kind and friendly and made us feel like we were regulars. In fact, our servers Nektarios and Staumadis were so awesome they actually took us clubbing on our last night in Naxos.
The way we were treated at this restaurant made us return back for another meal. The restaurant stays true to its namesake, the people who work here have a good heart and I am sure if you eat here, you will see that too.
I know, I know, this place is a huge American chain. I actually did not know this until I googled the place up for this post. When we were in Naxos, we had to kill a few hours before Staumadis and Nektarios (the servers at I Kali Kardia) got off work. Being the ice cream aficionado that I am, my nose (and taste buds) were drawn to this place. To be fair, the ice cream shop was packed and was filled with tourists and locals alike so I figured it was a local business. I hardly saw any American chains in the islands – so this startling revelation is still news to me LOL.
With that being said, I highly recommend you take a scoop (or two) from this place and walk about the pier at night. Nothing is better than sitting on a bench breathing in the fresh sea breeze and watching the people go by.
Nightlife in Greece is something else. It is vastly different from what I am used to in Canada. For starters, the nightlife doesn’t start till 1:00 AM just like in Santorini. So if you aren’t used to the night owl lifestyle, keep that in mind when it comes to partying in Greece 😉 ha ha. Another distinct feature of clubbing in Greece is that smoking is actually allowed in the clubs (even if the clubs are indoors). If you have asthma or cannot handle the smell of smoke, I recommend avoiding these places! With that in mind, here are the two places we checked out in Naxos.
This place is actually both a club and a lounge! The club portion is indoors and the lounge is outdoors. As its namesake mentions, Ocean Club is situated right on the sea front which means as you sip on your cocktail or wine, you get a stunning view of the Meditteranean Sea. The outdoor/patio lounge of Ocean Club is super beautiful (as the picture shows) and it is also super classy. I loved the aesthetic of the club because it’s the perfect place to dress to impress. But the actual club portion wasn’t my favorite. First, there were bar tables situated all across the “dance floor” which meant people milled around and drank. Second, the smoke was incredibly cloying and made it hard to breathe. Finally, for some odd reason, everyone had these whistles that they blew into for every. single. song. It was so irritating LOL!
Bottom line – go check out the lounge section of the Ocean Club and bring ear plugs for the club part 😉
Based on the suggestion of Staumadis, we ended our night at Like Home Bar. At first, I felt incredibly awkward because people were just standing around drinking and talking. When I go out, I love to dance. It was my sister who encouraged me to loosen up. “We are in Greece. Nobody knows us. Let’s just dance!” And so we danced. And everyone else started to dance. Soon we had the whole club dancing and partying that time flew by. When Staumadis mentioned that our curfew was fast approaching, I told him we had to stay longer (it would be a travesty if we left right as the place picked up!). To be fair my mother did threaten his life if we didn’t make curfew, but he eventually relented to my pleas to stay longer.
We pulled up to the B&B at 3 am, we had a ferry to catch in 4 hours. I managed to catch 2 hours of sleep. It was the Best. Night. Ever.
As I mentioned in my Quick Guide to Santorini, shortly after arriving back from Greece my phone was stolen :(. A lot of the photos of my trip were on my phone – in particular, photos of Naxos. Luckily I was able to capture this beautiful photo of the sunset at Agio Prokopios beach, however, the rest of my photos are lost. Hopefully, the sunset is enough to convince you to see this island!
Agios Prokopios is considered one of the beautiful beaches in Greece. In my opinion, it isn’t the most breathtaking beach in Greece but it is very nice. The water is as warm and calm as ever. The sea is a green-blue, almost like an emerald. And you can swim very far out without needing to worry about unexpected currents.
This beach has approximately 5 km worth of shoreline which means you can walk pretty far along the beach to find a spot that is perfect for you. The location of the beach is super convenient, as there are restaurants and stores a few hundred meters behind the beach. While there are beach chairs available, you have to pay abour 2 euros to rent them. The money goes to an old lady who stands there and hounds people to pay for the chairs. I am not sure if its a Greek law, but it sure is a common sight, so be prepared for that 🙂
Once you find your perfect spot, sit down and relax. We would grab a bag of cookies from Glikofournismata along with a cafe freddo, and spent the rest of our day at the beach.
Sunsets in Greece are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful things one could ever see. It doesn’t matter where you are, the setting sun casts a warm glow over everything. It turns small back alley’s and inner town pathways into stunning, inviting and cozy scenes, much like the photo below!
The old town of Naxos and the other surrounding towns are so beautiful and picturesque. Take some time in the evening to stroll around the town, take in the sights and admire the quaint architecture. What I love about Greece during the summer are the number of flowers that are in bloom. Nothing is better than taking the time to stop and smell the roses (or bougenvillas) and then work up an appetite for dinner!
Even the walk from our B&B towards the beach of Agios Prokopios had a charming quality to it. We witnessed the humdrum of daily life, families walking about, tourists getting lost in the excitement and scooters whizzing past the pedestrians.
Without a doubt, Naxos island is the epitome of Greek Hospitality. It is a vibrant island, with wonderful beaches, good food, and great people. Although Naxos may appear to be a sleepy island, you have to look closely to uncover the excitement. If you are looking for an island that offers a sense of “home away from home,” Naxos is the place for you.
Until next time!
p.s. Keep your eyes peeled for the next Greece 101 Guide – Paros