[Photos at the bottom of the page] We are back from Greek paradise and I wanted to leave these memories & tips here before forgetting. Apart from a temporary medical issue for a few days during my trip which limited my activities, I had a wonderful stay. We spent most of the time in Naxos which is a more relaxed, budget and family / couple oriented place, with a day visit to Koufonisia island. In the last 1.5 days we were in Mykonos, as our flight was from there (this island has a reputation for being an expensive party place for rich people, smth like Ibiza; we did enjoy the beaches, the music and old windmills while there). From the 7 Greek islands I visited so far (Zakynthos, Crete, Milos, Santorini, Naxos, Koufonisia, and Mykonos), I liked Naxos the most, for the relaxed atmosphere, great food choices, beautiful crystal clear water beaches and friendly people. We promised ourselves to come back one day with our future kids, as it is very child friendly.
PS Special thanks to Vaggelis, my former Masters classmate from business school in the Netherlands, for some nice tips about Naxos, as he is from there. It was very nice to reconnect after years!
Greece is cheaper than many Western European countries. These are the prices we experienced in Naxos (Mykonos is more expensive):
- Food: 6-15eur pp per meal
- Accommodation: 45-90eur / night 2 pp
- Car/scooter/ATV rental: NA
- Sunbeds: NA (we invested 72 eur on a Strandwerk Germany outdoor tent, but prices for 2 sunbeds & 1 umbrella were 15eur+ total)
- Activities: boat ride – 50eur pp per day; massage: 45eur – 1hour
- Ferryboat: 35 eur one way /pp Mykonos – Naxos; 35 eur return / pp Naxos – Koufonisia
Side note: Since more than a year ago, we started travelling on a budget, we rent the cheapest car, we aim to spend no more than 50 eur/night/2pp for hotel and we don’t go for luxury holidays or restaurants, as we want to be financially independent in a few years (we practice the FIRE movement). That requires living on a budget and investing almost all savings. We still spend money on experiences, activities and things we want, but the decisions are well calculated.
When should I visit?
For beach holidays, June or September are probably perfect. We went during high season August when most tourists go, so hotel prices were inflated.
We usually use booking.com for our hotels 8+/10 review score and under 50 eur/2p/night. Because we went at the end of August during high season and we booked last minute, it was hard to find good hotel deals, under 75eur/night. Towards the last days of August and early September, prices went down significantly and there were more offers to choose from. Keep in mind that if you call the hotel directly as per their Google maps contacts, you might be able to get better deals. One of the accommodations we enjoyed staying at in Naxos, is a family owned small hotel called hotel Elizabeth, where we felt welcomed and like at home. In both Naxos & Mykonos, I recommend booking the hotel in the “chora” / capital of the island. For reference see the location of hotel Elizabeth in Naxos and the location of Rochari Hotel in Mykonos to find places nearby.
Naxos: To this island, there are only flights from Athens. Alternatively you can fly to Mykonos and take a 45min / 1.5hours ferry ride (we did this). We took a bus from Mykonos airport to the ferry port and bought ferry tickets on arrival. Once in the island you can take buses from Chora for day trips to the mountain villages or to the beaches, see bus schedules here: http://naxosbuses.com/ (prices are roughly 1.6 eur).
Mykonos: There are international flights from many countries to Mykonos island directly. Similarly to Naxos you can take buses from Chora to various beaches: https://mykonosbus.com/index.en.html (prices are roughly 1.6 eur).
Koufonisia: Kerry (I believe) ferries do daily trips for 35 eur return to this island and the trip is 60-90min each way. You can buy tickets at any travel agency in Naxos.
Places of interest/Beaches/Activities
- Beaches: Agios Prokopios / Agia Anna, Maragkas/Plaka; beaches we did not have time to visit: Alyko , Mikri Vigla; if you feel lazy the town has it’s own beach too: Agios Giorgios
- Activities: mountain villages Chalkio, Filoti and Apeiranthos; boat trip from Agia Anna or Naxos Chora to the south west of the island (prices from Agia Anna were 50 eur pp/day, while from Naxos Chora 100+ eur pp/day); Music & Movie Domus July & August festival at the Venetian castle (top of the Chora), we went to a Jazz & Blues outdoor small live performance and we were really impressed (20 eur pp); Sunset at Portera monument
- Beaches: Platis Gialos; Kalo Livadi (unfortunately early Sept there was no public bus to get there)
- Beaches: Ammos, Italida (the best!), Fanos, Finika
Food and drinks
- Naxos: Apeiranthos village – Platanos; Gianoulis (Agios Prokopios beach); Meze 2 restaurant (Greek – specialty is seafood; Gouna and Salatouri are specialities), Oasis restaurant (Greek), Avaton wine rooftop bar (great views), Su e Giu (Italian), Pizza bit (pizza & juices), To Elliniko (Greek)
- Tip: Try Dakos Cretan / Naxos salad!
- Mykonos: Veneti bakery
- Koufonisia: “Giorgoula coffee – pastry” bakery (best bakery I ever tried)
- Mykonos, together with Santorini are one of the most expensive Greek islands, as opposed to Naxos and others, so have a higher budget in mind if you decide to go there.
- Bring your own beach tent like Standwerk Germany so that you don’t depend on sunbed availability, explore some more wild beaches and save some bucks.
- Spend a couple nights in Koufonisia island
Places I wish I saw but didn’t have time
- Naxos: Alyko and Mikri Vigla beaches; hike from
- Mykonos: Kalo Livadi beach