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