Hiking the “real Naxos”, and multiple views of the Portara

Our second last island stop on our Greece trip was Naxos, where we spent three days. We hopped on a ferry from Mykonos, and I was honestly pretty glad to leave because I was getting bored.

It was a short walk to our Airbnb, and our host, Maria, met us in front of the apartment building. The Airbnb was on the top level and had a rooftop balcony area. I’ll be honest, I had initially shortlisted this Airbnb based on the lovely balcony view alone. Our host left us homemade banoffee pudding (I dislike banana, but wow it was amazing) and a the kitchen was well equipped with a bunch of snacks. Our host also sat down with us for ten minutes with a map, indicating places she recommended, and places she suggested visiting around the island of Naxos if we had time.

A rooftop terrace with wooden furniture, including a sungbed, table, chairs, table, and an outdoor covered sofa. In the background is a cloudy sky and a view of part of Naxos island, Greece.
The view from Hevelion, our Airbnb, which we highly recommend!

Naxos was a lot more laid back than Mykonos, feeling a lot more like a “real” Greek island, with a lot less tourists. We got a little bit of rain while we were there, but nothing that bothered us too much. We spent quite a bit of time relaxing in our Airbnb as well.

We had quite a big lunch on our first day in Naxos. We shared a giant plate of different meats and breads. Then we spent some time walking along the beach. We didn’t end up going to Plaka, mainly because we weren’t that keen on swimming or hanging out at the beach. Nick said it would have been nice if we at least checked it out, and he may be right, but I definitely wasn’t all that interested, and it would have felt like I was just ticking a box. We enjoyed exploring for a little bit before having a break, and then we headed out in the afternoon again. I’m telling you, we really lived like the locals when we took naps or had breaks in the afternoon when it was really too hot to do anything! It was nice that the sun didn’t set until very late, which made going out in the afternoon and evening very pleasant.

A large plate of different kinds of meat, including sausages and chicken, served with some bread, dip, and cut lemons.
Big lunch because we were really hungry!
An ocean view with the water rippling slightly. The barren headland is to the left, and a small island is in the distance. The sky is blue with some clouds.
Going for a wander
A rectangular arch monument on a peninsula, seen from a distance, as the sun is close to setting. A cobblestone path by the water leads up to it.
The Naxos Portara
A view of the sun almost setting on a sea horizon. In the foreground is a rocky outcrop with a couple to the left, sitting and watching the sunset.
Just happened to capture this lovely shot.

We went to the famous Portara, the remains of an unfinished Temple of Apollo, which is on a bit of headland. This is an icon of Naxos and you can see it as you come in on the ferry, and it’s visible from other parts of town. This was our first time seeing it, as the sun set, but it was not our last. 😆 We ended up getting a view of it at different times of day, over the course of our visit.

The sun setting, seen through the view of the arch from the previous photos. The picture is a little dark, and there are silhouettes of people on either side of the arch.
Nick thought it was going to be a great idea to get this shot, but I didn’t think it was anything special! 🙈
A view of Naxos town, Greece, with many white buildings, seen from a peninsula. Stone steps lead slightly downwards between areas of grass, and then to a small walkway going across the water and to the mainland. It is dusk.
Looking back on Naxos town
A white round bowl of scoops of two different coloured ice creams, in caramel colour and light blue. In the background is the setting of outdoor restaurant seating.
They weren’t dairy-free… my lactose intolerance left me in pain lol

We basically had dessert for dinner that night because we were too full from our lunch!

The following day we went to get coffee at what eventually became our favourite cafe in Naxos: Honey and Cinnamon cafe. It turned into a bar at night – lovely! We didn’t end up actually eating there, but the coffee was so good. The outdoor seating was lovely and cosy, and there was some shade so it wasn’t too hot.

An outdoor cafe setting, with blue cushioned bench seating to the left, and a round wooden table in centre of frame, with some wooden chairs with colourful fabric upholstery. The cafe in the background has a white exterior and windows and doors painted blue.
The outdoor setting of Honey and Cinnamon cafe
Me, Georgie, an Asian woman with short dark hair, and Nick, a white man with short dark hair, smiling. We are both wearing blue tops and I have aviator style sunglasses on my head. The background is a wooden straw wall.
We just both hapepned to wear blue, haha!
Me, wearing a blue camisole and white and black checkered shorts, sitting on a stone bench outside a white painted building with a blue boarded-up window and blue door. There are a couple of plants around the building. Next to the door is a giant white and blue ring, like a sailor’s floating ring, pinned on the wall.
I also didn’t intend to match the decor, but blue is one of my favourite colours and this is one of the summer tops I brought!
Me, wearing the same outfit as in the previous photo, with sunglases over my eyes. I am standing on some stone steps in a walkway between two buildings, that are painted with a white cobblestone pattern. On either side of the walkway are bright blue pots with flowers.
A candid photo Nick took because I matched all the blue!
Two cocktails on a wooden table in an outdoor setting. Both are red-brown in colour. One is in a big round glass and the other is in a wider, shallower glass.
Great cocktails! I don’t quite remember what was in them 🍹

We explored the town of Naxos and its shops, and also got a little closer to the Portara. I snapped another photo. Most of the day we took it easy, to make sure we had enough energy for the next day. We were doing a hike, and it was the major “event” we had planned for our stay.

The large arch monument from previous photos, seen from a short distance away with a dirt path and large bricks in the foreground. This photo is taken during the day but the sun is obscured by many white clouds, such that the photo appears slightly dark. The silhouettes of some people can be seen to the left of the arch.
I am pretty proud of how incredible this photo is.
An outdoor table setting with red and white checkered tablecloth, with a plate of meat skewers, chips, and bread in the foreground, and a plate of meat and chips behind it.
More food!
A view of the sky at sunset, from the balcony of a building, with some yellow and pink colours among the clouds streaking the sky. It’s a little dark and old white buildings are in the foreground.
A lovely view from our Airbnb

We booked the hike on a Monday with Stella from Naxos Hiking. I had heard that Naxos was very rewarding for people who love hikes and love nature, so I set out to find appropriate hikes to do, and places to visit. I came across Stella’s website and although I initially wasn’t sure how I’d feel about getting a hiking tour guide because I prefer to do things on my own, I was impressed by the testimonials that said that Stella was a fantastic guide with a lot of valuable knowledge about the island. She was born and raised in Naxos, as were her mother and grandmother, and she was really passionate about the history of Naxos.

Me, dressed in a red shirt and patterned leggings, and Nick, dressed in a blue checkered shirt and dark pants, with our arms around each other on a path in the bush with some dappled sunlight.
Stella was lovely enough to take this photo of us while standing on the path
A scenic view of wide green hills, with a town of white buildings on top of one of the hills.
That’s the town of Moni, which we walked through (it was quiet) and now see on our walk

There was only one day that Stella was available during our time in Naxos, so we were quick to book that date. The hike we chose was one that explored the area of Chalki (pronounced Halki), a town in the centre of the island, and its surrounds (link to that specific tour). Stella organised for a taxi to pick us up from near our Airbnb and drive us to the middle of the island. We started at about 8:30am and finished about four hours later. We ended up really enjoying our hike, and Stella took great care of us. We learned a lot about Greek history, customs, and traditions, as well as the history of Naxos. Stella knew a lot about the botanicals in the area, and pointed out and described specific plants and their roles in society. She even got us to grab some lemon myrtle leaves and add them to our bottles of water to add a refreshing taste to them. I really loved this! 🍋

A landscape of dry rock in the foreground, but green trees in the background, and several hills in close proximity. The sky is blue with a number of clouds.
An incredible landscape.
Me and Nick, dressed in the same outfits as the previous photo of us, standing on the path under some purple bougainvillea.
Another lovely photo taken by Stella

Nick and I are physically fit, and the hike was as tiring as you’d expect it to be, but it wasn’t too much of a challenge. Stella insisted on taking photos of us at different points during the journey, and she did take some nice photos indeed. We covered lots of different terrain, including some bush/scrub, grassy areas, rocky trails, areas that were slightly damp from recent rain, and then of course passing through the town of Chalki.

A quiet pedestrianised street in Naxos, Greece, with a building with a green door and blue windows. The path is a cobblestone style and some bunting is hanging above the patheway.
I didn’t take a lot of photos of Chalki, but this was one of them!
A rocky landscape in the middle of a sunny day. The rocks and the rocky path on the right are light coloured but there are grey coloured rocky formations further away.
The terrain changed a bit, but nothing we couldn’t handle.
A landscape of rocky open hills dotted with patches of green. The sky is blue with some clouds in it.
More incredible natural views in the middle of Naxos island
A rocky path to the left with a short rocky wall to the side of it, with a large and flat area of rocks joined together that appears centre of frame. A protruding part of rock resembles a creature’s head.
The large rock protruding from the rocky area looks a bit like the head of a lizard.

The three of us shared a meal at the main tavern in the town of Ano-Potamia. There was quite a lot of food and we did our best to finish it all. Despite working up an appetite and hiking for so long, the serving size was more than enough. 🥲

We took a break in the afternoon, and to finish off our last day in Naxos, we ate at Doukato, a restaurant recommended by our host Maria. She said it was her favourite! The entrance was a little bit tucked away on a small street just off the main road. The food was great! Afterwards, we had a drink at The Rum Bar (does what it says on the tin, I guess!) whilst watching the sunset.

A wide bowl of spaghetti pasta served with mussels and prawns.
Dinner at Doukato. I couldn’t go past some seafood on a Greek island!
A rooftop view of the sunset by a promenade. The sun is fully visible but very orange, and the sky is a dusty blue. There are some boats docked at the shore, and many people dining in the outdoor seating of the restaurants down below.
Nick took this photo of the sunset from the bar we visited called The Rum Bar.
A tall tiki style mug in black and white, with a skull and a face on top of the skull forming the shape of the mug. It is topped with pebbled ice and mint sprigs.
I went for a mai tai. I didn’t spot any other drinks on the menu that I fancied.

Keen for a bit of a walk afterwards, there was not much to discover that we hadn’t already seen yet. But we did walk a bit closer to see what the Portara looked like at night. I was tempted to walk all the way over, but we were getting a bit tired and wanted to head back.

A distant view of the arch from previous photos, lit up at night time.
Just sneaking a photo of it at night. It may not have looked much different up close!

The next morning we checked out of our Airbnb with enough time to have a coffee at Honey and Cinnamon cafe before catching our ferry to Santorini. ☕️

A selfie of me and Nick, wearing sunglases. We are both smiling and are sitting under a wooden straw cover with sheer white curtains. Nick is wearing a white shirt and I am wearing a black checkered top.
Our last coffee in Naxos and our last visit to Honey and Cinnamon cafe!

We had a lovely time in Naxos and were keen to see what Santorini would offer.

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