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Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

Bolton, UK
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Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

We have just arrived back from a two week stay in Naxos. We went with Kosmar staying at the Antonina Studios in Agia Anna. A seperate review of the studios will be put up shortly.

We always go to Greece and with Kosmar staying in small traditional resorts that are unspoilt, to an extent of course. As such we were promised this with Naxos and read nearly every review on the net I think, as well as being encouraged by the Kosmar brochure. All in all we were fairly disappointed.

Naxos is bizarre. I'm just not entirely sure what it is trying to be at all - it's as if there is a struggle between a traditional local vibe and the need to be more like Mykonos with its expensive bars blasting out R&B music. I dont know where to start really so I'll just take it on a place by place basis.

Agia Anna is really just based on and around the main beach. The beach is partly unorganised but its best strip is filled with various parasols from the bars and tavernas lining it. The beach is said to be quite quiet but it was seriously crowded in all parts while we were there between 9am and around 7pm. It is a very pretentious place, filled with groups of beach babe teenagers mostly American and European. There are also a lot of local teenagers who think they own the beach. The bars along the main strip are awful and expensive. It's like they want to be in St. Tropez or Marbella, the waiters serving you topless to show off their six packs and the waitresses serving you in tiny bikinis in bars such as Santana, Banana and Island wth R&B and rap music blaring out onto the beach. This stretch of bars and tavernas was probably the most unfriendly and unwelcoming that I've ever been to in all of greece. The beach here is highly regarded but overrated. I've seen better in places such as Thassos and the Halkidiki peninsulas. The place attracts a vain crowd who strut around in bikinis and sunglasses even at night. You do feel out of place and awkward going into a bar.

Pokopios is a little better. Still the same pretentious crowd of American and Greek teenagers but the bars are a little more low key. The food quality in the tavernas is poor compared to Naxos town but there a few good places, like Golden Beach cafe and Picanto Snack Bar. The beach is small and is always packed but the place is just a little more grown up.

Plaka is overrated. The tavernas which line the beach are expensive and poor quality. The beach itself is the best on the island by far. You can always find a bit of space to stick your brolly but it's still packed beyond belief at this time of year and its dirty and dusty. Not at all comparable with the carribean or Indian Ocean like some people say.

Naxos Town was the only place we enjoyed going. After a few days we were fed up with Agia Anna and Prokopios and ended up getting the bus to Naxos Town nightly. It's a 1.20 euro for a single trip which is good. Naxos Town is just brilliant. A harbour town bustling with traditional vibrance and local fisherman going about their business. The flow of life here is great and there are some brilliant bars and tavernas in the town. The main square is always very busy, but still good quality. Better tavernas can be found in the back streets and even on the main drag at the harbour. It's really great to walk around and through the winding streets, there are so many ways in which to turn you never know what you're going to come across. Fantastic place. If I ever went back I'd stay close to the town. Probably the best harbour town I've ever been to in Greece and that's saying something. You just leave all that pretentious vibe about plaka and agia anna behind.

We rented a car for a few days but I really would not recommend this. If you want to see the island get a moped or motorbike. The villages you pass through are not suitable for a car at all and as the main road passes through these villages there are no signs so it really can be quite scary at times when you are trying to navigate a maze of streets with a inch on either side of the car. At least with a bike you can turn around.

Beware of the trendy bars in Agia Anna. They were putting their prices up on drinks after a certain time of night. Banana Bar put their cocktails up from 6 euro to 8 euro after 8pm. Best cocktails can be found in Naxos Town at 4 euros each at places like Jam.

Generally the food in Naxos was good. Especially in the town. Recommended places:

Golden Beach, Prokopios - Nice little cafe serving the cheapest breakfasts on the islands and cakes and coffee etc.

Picanto Snack Bar, Prokopios - Best Gyros we have ever had in greece. They also do Souvlaki and other greek grill foods. Very inexpensive.

Palatia, Agia Anna - Only place worth going to in Agia Anna. Limited Menu but the food is spectacular. The Pasticio is especially good.

Scirocco, Naxos Town - Great food if a little expensive. Massive Menu of greek specialities. Never saw locals eat here which says something. It was packed EVERY night full of english and american tourists. Not a bad thing though, its just a popular place.

Platia, Naxos Town - Very friendly taverna. The Souvlaki here is really good as is the Lemon Lamb and Kleftiko.

Coffee Shop, Naxos Town - Opposite Jam Bar and On The Rocks, does amazing crepes both savoury and sweet also serves the best iced coffee on the island.

Waffle House, Naxos Town - As good as everyone says. Has waiter service for the waffles. Sit and watch the sickly looking kids slobbering over cones the size of Tubas. Nice. Seems to be overpowering the other local ice cream shops with is popularity. Shame. At 1.80euro a scoop it is pretty expensive but the ice cream is good.

Places I would not recommend:

Faros Taverna, Agia Anna - The worst place we have ever been in years of travelling Greece. Service was horrible and rude and the food was awful. My pasticio was burned black on the outside and ice cold on the inside. Very strange. They were more interested in big groups of people sitting down and not couples spending less money.

Santana Bar, Agia Anna - The most stuck up, pretentious place I've been. Not interested in you if you dont wear skimpy bikini or show off your muscles if you're a bloke. After having a 16 euro lunch there we asked to use the sunbeds, fine they said. A minute later they returned and charged us 6 euro for the privelage. A bizzare practice.

Banana Bar, Agia Anna - Put their prices up after 8pm a considerable amount. Wishes it was in Mykonos.

Basically we had a great time in naxos, by spending most of our good times in Naxos Town. Was very dissapointed with the beach villages. Not sleepy and traditional like the brochures say. Its a haven for noisy gangs of American and European Teenagers and according to some guys we met who had been there a few years on the run it is turning into a Mykonos sort of place. The bar owners aren't stupid. They know what type of crowd is seeping into the island and they are exploting that by putting things like beach parties on - "All Nite Beach Party - R&B / Rap" etc. If you want a great time where you can be yourself and speak to real locals and really feel the traditional aspect then go to Naxos Town or go to another island.

I wouldn't go back. Definately not for two weeks. I think at most it is a one week island and it is great for kids because of the shallow seas.

Kosmar were abysmal. The rep has to do two islands, paros and naxos which must be really hard. I felt for him. He didn't turn up to the welcome meeting and didn't ever come on time for the hotel visits which was pretty poor. But like I say, it's Kosmars fault for not investing in enough reps for that area.

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1. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

How sad (though not for the locals I suppose, earns them a decent living), long time since I've been there when it really was unspoiled, with almost deserted beaches in June. Will cross it off my list, maybe Paros instead, or just somewhere much more off the beaten track?

Makes Kamari in Santorini, which was very built up but grew on us after a while, sound quite laid back!

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

Wow! Your experience was very different than ours. We stayed at Kavos for a week beginning June 6. The beaches, especially Agios Prokopios, were not crowed and very low key. The end of the beach near Kavos does not have a bar scene, so maybe that adds to the more isolated and relaxed experience. We also enjoyed Naxos Town. There were people around, so it felt festive but not crowded. We had a cone at the Waffle House every night. For those of you who live in the southern US, you know how much we enjoyed finding a restaurant called Waffle House. We rented a car for the week and traveled all over the island. It is true that the island became noticably more crowded in the day or so before we left. Maybe it coincided with the start of school holidays. In the southern US, kids are out of school by mid to end of May. This was our first trip to Naxos, and we loved it. Maybe we would have felt differently had we gone a couple of weeks later. Sorry your experience was not as you had hoped.

Toronto
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3. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

davel48: I, too, was sorry to read your descriptions of the various disappointing experiences you had on Naxos, and particularly at the beach areas. What you encountered on the island sounds completely opposite to what we experienced during our week-long visit there last year in mid-May, and in 2005 during mid-June (our impressions were similar to those of Atlantatrekker). We're considering a return trip to Naxos in September, but are now wondering if we'll encounter the scenes you described (which would be a huge turn-off for us, too).

Last year's visit was before peak season, so the beaches were practically empty most times and a lot of the bars and restaurants at Prokopios and Anna were just getting ready to open for the summer. The loudest group of partiers we encountered at Agia Anna was at a beachside taverna packed with Greek women and girls singing and dancing (there seemed to be a bridal or baby shower, or perhaps a birthday party, underway). Apart from that, the beaches were very relaxed and quiet and there were no crowds of pretentious teenagers and no loud music blasting on the beach. Some bars were playing music, but the volume wasn't obnoxious or disturbing. We walked or bicycled the stretch of beaches from Prokopios to Anna to Plaka nearly every day of our visit and happily didn't once encounter any beach party scenes like you described. We couldn't get over how laid-back and peaceful the beach areas were.

Our 2005 visit was in mid-June and though the beaches were much busier (Agia Anna was the most crowded of all), they were packed predominantly with families and definitely didn't draw a dance club / party crowd like we had seen at Mykonos beaches. The only loud party area we discovered in 2005 was a very busy street near the harbour in Naxos Town that was packed with young people hopping from one loud bar/taverna to another on weekend nights. In fact, it was the overall peacefulness and laid-back quality of the island that drew us back to Naxos last year for a longer second visit.

I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that the island may now be attracting a younger party crowd since accommodation, meals and drinks cost significantly less on Naxos than on Mykonos, which is a big plus for young travellers with limited budgets. Nevertheless, I hope it's not like that throughout the entire tourist season. I'd be keen to hear from anyone who regularly travels to Naxos in September whether the island gets back to the quiet atmosphere we loved on our previous trips. If not, perhaps we'll consider another island if we do return to Greece this fall.

Bolton, UK
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4. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

Hey Donny,

From talking to a lot of people who were repeat travellers to Naxos the island definately is changing its image, bar owners are seeking the pretensious mykonos and ios traveller. Just as we were leaving bars were starting to put up signs advertising all night R&B beach parties and there were plans to lay decking on the beaches for outdoor dance floors. that sort of thing was not what we expected, and I dont think anyone else did.

Still think if you go in the complete off season it will be very quiet, dont know how long it will be like that for. The English youngsters haven't got hold of the place yet as it still holds that travellers appeal. If or when they do, be prepared for them to ruin it

I suppose it depends on what you have experienced before and what you are expecting and that has an impact on your impression of the place. We have had the pleasure of staying in some fantastic authentic remote resorts in Greece and sadly didn't get that this time.

Dont want to say we didnt have a great time though, we did. We have some amazing memories. Just wish we didn't rent the car and got bikes instead to tour the island to see a bit more.

When I have kids, I would take them back, for sure, but maybe for only a few days. I would have like to have done a few days at Paros as well to compare but maybe next time.

Next year, we're looking at either Paxos or Ithaca for a true island off the beaten track.

I think what you said about naxos town being lively on that little strip is now not true. Most of the local crowd seem to go down to the beaches to party at night. The town was heaving in mid June by about 9pm but with mostly locals enjoying a quiet meal or with couples strolling around. The once-trendy bars in Naxos Town such as Jam and On The Rocks seem to be having their business stolen by places in Agia anna.

Oslo, Norway
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5. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

Hi DonnyB and others,

I always go to Naxos in April\May and September\October. I have done so for quite some years now, and can assure you that in September the beaches and life in general is much more laid back and quiet compared to Dave's report. Donny - you have seen some of my photos and I can't offer you better proof than that (the last ones are from September last year).

I have only been to Naxos once in July\August (7 years ago), and it is a different experience.

Molaoi, Greece
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6. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

Dave48 has summed up why I always stay at the south end of Plaka beach, take the bus up to town and never travel to Greece in high season.

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7. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

Oh my heart sank when I started to read your report.

I have been to Naxos now probably four times, this September being the fifth. We either go early/middle June or early September and its fairly calm at that time of year usually.

Every year we simply can't wait to get back - its like going home for us so you can imagine how dismayed I was as I read on.

However, I cheered up massively as I realised you weren't talking about Naxos Town and the St. George area which is where we go. I would hate for this to change - I love staying at the quiet end of St. George, (near Trata) enjoying the beach during the day and then walking into town at night for great food, atmosphere and bars (did you get to Naxos Cafe on your trip - up in the old streets behind the harbour - now thats a place!).

Please don't let this put you off - Naxos Town is a fabulous place to have as a base.

I've had some great experiences there - one to note was the night when Greece won the football semi-finals . We were watching Troy at the open air cinema, and all of a sudden there were fireworks overhead and cheers - it was amazing. The streets afterwards were filled with very happy people - all smiling, shaking hands with everyone, hugging etc., We also saw the Olympic Flame the same year as it paraded through the streets near the harbour.

Thank Heaven it is the other beach villages you were talking about. We haven't been there - we do catch the bus to the very far end of Plaka sometimes, so we pass through them en-route, but we never stop.

We also rent quads to tour the island too - so hopefully we will be ok in September and the hoards of young americans/europeans etc., won't have infiltrated the town.

Im so sorry you had the time that you had. - We have friends who are going to Paros for the second time this year before joining us in Naxos, and they enjoy it there too - so definately give it a try.

Bolton, UK
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8. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

Think you will be ok anywhere in September.

High Season (late june - end aug) is when I think it changes totally from what it used to be.

In Ag. Anna and Plaka things were just starting to pick up on our second week and people were really piling onto the beaches and into the bars at night. I've never seen a beach so packed before in all my days of travelling through greece. it really was mental.

Off season, like anywhere (with the exception of malia and laganos etc) will always be quiet. I would only ever go back to naxos in the off season.

Oxford, England
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9. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

I have also just returned from a 10-day stay in Agia Anna, which was at the end of our 3 week holiday during which we visited Kos and Astypalea as well as Naxos.

I have to say that I think dave48's comments regarding Agia Anna are a bit harsh. Sure, the 'organised' end of the beach is pretty crowded - but this is the peak season, what do you expect? Once you get past Santana (posers paradise, I agree) you can stick your brolly anywhere - then instead of frequenting the beach bars he found so expensive and unfriendly, take lunch at a traditional taverna such as Trata (always full of Greeks as well as tourists). By the way if you think the beach here is crowded you should see some of the places in Kos (Kardamena, Paradise Beach) - literally no more than 6 inches between beds!!

I also missed the noisy gangs of American and European teenagers - sure there were a few Greek and Scandinavian kids having a bit of fun but nothing more. I'm afraid the description of Agia Anna as pretentious is laughable - just go to Mykonos or Santorini, then compare!

I wholeheartedly agree that Chora is a brilliant place to wander round, and eat, and shop etc. etc. but I would not want to stay there - it can be stiflingly hot, particularly if there is no wind.

To call Naxos a 'one-week' island is frankly a joke. Sure, if you just want to sit on the beach and wander around town at night maybe, but it is the largest island in the Cyclades and it needs to be explored. I've been going twice a year for many years now and there are still parts of the island I have not visited.

Why bother with Kosmar - you say you always go to Greece with Kosmar, then call them 'abysmal'.By always using tour operators you are severely restricting your alternatives. Get your rucksack on and jump on a ferry - that way you can sample 3 or 4 islands instead of being stuck in the same place for a fortnight, which was obviously too long for you in Naxos.

For example, we discovered Astypalea almost by accident - we need to spend a couple of days there to link up with a boat and it was stunning, but small enough that a couple of days was enough.

Finally with regard to Naxos trying to become like Mykonos - it will never happen as long as the airport stays as it is. My friends in Naxos say there are two camps politically - the younger set want to develop the airport whereas the older generation (who currently hold sway) are dead against it. I just pray they continue to hold out and I'll keep going back for sure.

And I can also confirm that in September Agia Anna is very quiet indeed!

Toronto
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10. Re: Naxos Trip Report - June 2007

Since we can travel only in off-peak season, it sounds like we shouldn't encounter the rowdy beach scenes that dave148 described. I was just a little concerned that the Naxos we loved so much on our last two trips had undergone a sudden metamorphosis and no longer sounded as appealing. We'll still try to get there this fall and see for ourselves how much the island has changed since our last holiday.

Greek-traveller: You're right; I don't recall seeing crowds in any of your photos -- the island scenes looked much like what we've encountered during our previous visits in May and early June. Glad to hear things should look pretty much the same in September if we're able to return to Naxos then as we are hoping.

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