The most famous sight of Naxos, the Portara, because it can be from the ferry as you arrive on Naxos
We’ve just had a fantastic stay in Naxos! A big part of what made it so fantastic was Nikoletta and her family at Hotel Grotta.
Anna and the amazing Nikoletta
Our hotel which overlooks Naxos from the top of a hill
We were picked up from the port and greeted by the always happy, energetic, smiling Nikoletta. She invited us into her hotel and gave us a drink and some of her mother’s homemade cake while we perused a giant binder of pictures and things to do in Naxos. Then she helped us plan what we should do for our next few days. I can’t imagine a better welcome and greeting than that.
Since we arrived late, we decided to enjoy what was left of the day by going to the beach. That’s one thing that’s so great about Greece – you can go to the beach at 4:00 pm and still have 3 hours to enjoy it!
After the beach we stopped for ice cream. I was really excited because they had mastic ice cream with cinnamon. Mastic comes from the Mastic trees which only grow on the island of Chios – that’s one island in the whole world that has these trees. It’s a real Greek specialty. Dave and I LOVE this flavour so I was extra happy to find it!
The next day we woke up to the most amazing breakfasts I have ever seen. There was about 6 plates of fruit, 15 different kinds of cakes made by Nikoletta’s mom, local cheeses, Greek yogurt, cereal, eggs, omelettes, Greek pies (like spanakopita, and tiropita), and so much more. It was disappointing that our stomachs were so small because we couldn’t try everything. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
This day we decided to take a tour of the island. It was perfect. We had a great tour guide who spoke English, Italian, and Greek and explained everything as we went along. Naxos is actually the most green and fertile island of the Cylcades. Even though it was August and dry, you can still see how lush it is for Greece.
Our first stop on the tour was to see one of the kouros on the island. A kouros is a giant statue of a young male that were often made in Naxos and then shipped across Greece and to other countries. They were typically made out of marble and Naxos is known for its marble quarries. The one we saw was unfinished and broken (hence why it never left the island) and just over 6 m tall.
Kouros of Melanes
One of the marble quarries
Next we went to the village of Apiranthos. It is known as the “marble village” since all the streets and most of the houses are made of marble. It was really pretty.
Then we went to see “Panagia Drosiani”. This is allegedly the oldest church in the Balkans. It is actually four really tiny churches all combined with a central dome.
Our second last stop was at the Temple of Dememter. Demeter was the goddess of grain and they built the temple close to fertile areas.
Temple of Demeter
A chapel next to the temple
Our very last stop was spent relaxing in the beach and eating a delicious lunch at a nearby tavern. The beach was actually our favourite one on Naxos. It was too bad that we couldn’t spend more time there.
Mikri Vigla beach
Mikri Vigla beach
Our Naxos salad which is the same as a Greek salad but instead of feta cheese, they put three different kinds of Naxian cheeses. Mmmm!
Overall the tour was great. It had everything we wanted to see on the island except one village. So the next morning we got up and took the bus to the village of Halki. It is a picturesque tiny village known for its art galleries and kitron distillery. Kitron is a liqueur made only on Naxos from the leaves of the citron tree. The very first kitron distillery is Vallindras which we visited and tasted and bought some of the liqueurs. I really liked this town. It’s small (you can see the whole main area in 5 – 10 min) but so pretty. Everywhere you looked was like a postcard.
We of course, headed to the beach after that. Where else would you want to go? Since it was our last night in Naxos, we stopped for some cocktails after the beach. I had the best Mojito I have ever had! It was funny because we had two drinks and my mom was drunk! She could barely walk straight!!
Naxos was my favourite island so far. It has lots to do and see (ruins, villages, countryside, beaches), unique foods and drinks (Naxian cheeses, kitron), and it has the BEST hotel I’ve ever stayed at (Hotel Grotta – Thanks Nikoletta for such a great stay!). I definitely recommend visiting it if you are heading to Greece.