Our second stop of our „island hopping in the cyclades“ trip was Naxos, considerably more busy than Paros, but way less than Mykonos and Santorini. If you like almost perfect beaches, a lively town, historic places and a nice hilly back Country, this is the place to go.

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Destination Naxos, Greece
How and when I got there From Paros: Blue Star ferries; September 2018
Where I stayed Maragas Beach (Campground and rooms), http://www.maragasbeachnaxos.com/accommodation
Restaurants Rotonda, centre Island, https://rotondanaxos.gr/
Lithos, Naxos town, (no own Website)
Things to do
  • Rent a car, bike, quad or whatever and explore the centre and east coast
  • Sports that require water and wind (windsurfing, kite surfing…)
  • There is a bit of under-water-world, try snorkeling and have a look

check out more: https://www.tripadvisor.de/Attractions-g189431-Activities-Naxos_Cyclades_South_Aegean.html

Recommendations in a nutshell Great island for beaches, night life (Naxos town) and hiking.
Recipe Crispy Glazed Pork Belly (see bottom of the post)

Naxos is a quite busy place, even in September, at least the area around town of Naxos. Coming from Paros (-> link to Paros page), this was a really short trip, just 40 minutes by ferry. From the ferry terminal it was just a short walk to the Avis office.

I had booked a rental car (approx. 200 Euro for 6 days) for the whole stay via the “General German Automobile Club” (ADAC), which offers the VERY convenient “Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) with zero (!) excess/deductible. You return the car without worrying about any potential scratches – I love it!

We took over a funny little car called Fiat 500 – my mom used to have one in the 70ies, and Fiat revided the model (with some facelift) about 10 years ago. Cute, but probably ambitious for a group of 4.

Our tiny companion on Naxos

Maragas Beach

The rental car turned out to be a good idea, as our accommodation (Maragas Beach, rooms “Dimitra”, was nicely seated on a gorgeous beach, but pretty far away from Naxos town. The rooms were nice and really cheap: 35 Euro per room per night, including a fantastic breakfast. The place features a restaurant as well, nicely located on the beach, food being OK but not extraordinarily.

The rental car turned out to be a good idea, as our accommodation (Maragas Beach, rooms “Dimitra”, was nicely seated on a gorgeous beach, but pretty far away from Naxos town. The rooms were nice and really cheap: 35 Euro per room per night, including a fantastic breakfast. The place features a restaurant as well, nicely located on the beach, food being OK but not extraordinarily.

Maragas Beach Restaurant, sunset view of Paros
Maragas Beach Restaurant, sunset view of Paros

sunbeds at Maragas Beach
Maragas Beach

We had 6 days on Naxos – so what to do? It turned out that the eastern side of Naxos is a windy place – great, if you like windsurfing. So, 30 years after having had a short introduction into that kind of sport, I decided to try again and booked a 1-hour lesson at the surf school, 500 m down the beach. Good decision, I had a lot of fun, and probably my teacher and all the other people watching me as well…anyway, that could have been a nice daily occupation – if the wind had not increased to a level that even my adventurous Surf instructor considered as “unsafe”. Instead, I used my snorkeling gear and had a look at the under-water-world, which is of course not really spectacular, but there’s some fish and algae, sometimes even smaller shoals.

Ancient Temples

So, what else to see and do on Naxos? As we had the car anyway, we opted for seeing the inner parts of the island and the western coast. There are some ancient temple ruins (not much left of the buildings, but still nice to visit); everything can easily be found by google maps. My recommendations are: Panagia Drosiani church, the temples of Dionysus and of Demeter, and – of course – the Portara, the famous temple of Apollo in Naxos town (see below).

Demeter temple on Naxos
Demeter Temple

glass info-box in front of the Dionysus temple
Dionysus temple, from behind the glass info-box

The famous Portara of Naxos

Be aware that you will have to fight hard for a few minutes on that particular spot in front of the Portara where you can take the Picture of the sunset through the Portara. On the first evening, I did not manage at all, the second time I went there early and took the Picture…

sunset over Paros behind the Portara
sunset over Paros behind the Portara

Portara at Naxos city harbour
Portara again

Serene Moutsouna

Particularly nice was the small, rural village of Moutsouna, that used to be a port for export of minerals until the 1950ies, and you will still see some industrial monuments. Otherwise, it’s a most quiet place – perfect for people who hate bulks of tourists. Another cute small town is Apollonas, at the northern tip of Naxos. Close by, there’s the “Kouros Statue”, a huge marble statue lying on the ground and obviously not finished by the ancient Stonemason.

industrial remains at Moutsouna Beach
Moutsouna Beach

view of Apollonas from the mountains
Apollonas

Kouros near Appolonas
Kouros

Another nice place in the mountains is…

Koronos:

nestled between two hills, it’s a steep climb up and down, and a real treat in the middle: the restaurant “Taverna Platsa” (no website, but can be found on tripadvisor), tasty food, tables just everywhere on the place, everything covered by lots of greens:

view of the village of Koronos
Koronos from above

Stairways in Koronos
Stairways in Koronos

On the way back to the eastern side we passed a restaurant (Rotonda, https://rotondanaxos.gr/) high up in the mountains. We realized that is was just 30 minutes before sunset – and this was the perfect place! Spontaneously we stopped for a sundowner on the terrace that turned out to be so gorgeous that we decided to stay and have dinner inside (after sunset, it’s getting fresh in the mountains). Good choice! Excellent cocktails and food! And – although we had been spoilt by many great sunsets before on Naxos and Paros – this was a very special one. The sun sets over Paros, with Naxos and the Sea below your feet:

View from the Rotonda Terrace

 

Dinner at Naxos

Generally, the place to go for night life, drinks, dinner and shopping is – quite obviously – Naxos town, and we headed there almost every night. There are hundreds of places – just check out tripadvisor. I will list here our favorite ones: for dinner it was the Restaurant Lithos (https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Restaurant_Review-g189431-d10179627-Reviews-Lithos-anNaxos_Cyclades_South_Aegean.html), a tiny place with tables on the stairs to the Castle. Yes, we sat there at the small niche (see below) and watched all the people passing by while enjoying the excellent food. Another favourite was the Restaurant Meze2, at the bottom of the castle hill, close to the harbor, always crowded, really good food.

small table on stairs, Restaurant Lithos
Restaurant Lithos, small table on the stairs

Naxos Town, from the 1739 Terrace Café
Naxos Town, from the 1739 Terrace Café

We also enjoyed the 1739 Terrace Café, located in the castle – nice view over the town (but you won’t see the sunset from there). And finally a shopping tip: the museum shop in the castle – good quality, many different souvenirs, from jewelry to bags, small statues or T-Shirts with funny slogans about Greece.

Overall, Naxos is a very nice Island: almost perfect beaches, a vibrant town, good variety of landscapes, ancient temples and the right size to get to any place during a day trip.

My Naxos Recipe: Crispy Glazed Pork Belly

Ingredients for a main course (4 persons)

  • 1 kg pork belly, completely dry outside
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 l chicken or vegetable stock

Marinade:

  • 30 ml soy sauce
  • 50 ml rice wine (or sherry, port wine, honey…up to you!)
  • 30 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
  • Salt, pepper
  • Glaze: take the remaining marinade and add 2 tablespoons honey

Place pork belly in a bowl and add marinade until the meat (but not the skin!) is drowned, salt the skin and keep for 1 day in the fridge. Take meat out (keep the marinade for the glaze) and place it in 1 l of hot chicken or vegetable stock, slow-cook for at least 2 hours – the meat has to be very tender. Drain the pork, slice it into sticks or bites, fry the meat with vegetable oil in a pan until crispy. Then add the glaze and fry in the pan or place it in the oven until the pork gets dark and sticky.

Serve with mashed potatoes and mixed salad.

 

Greetings from Paros

Related trips:

Santorini Paros

 

*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.

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