Food,  Life

Adventuring in Greece, Part 1: Naxos

Greece is one of those destinations that has been on my radar way long before we were hit with the pandemic. And even since then, the idea of going on this type of trip felt like a distant dream.

A couple of months ago, it hit me that we don’t spend enough time celebrating our accomplishments and milestones. Or to think of it, even overcoming some of the life challenges that we faced in the past year alone. Reaching that moment of wanting to celebrate life was almost euphoric. This trip is only the beginning, and I feel so grateful that my partner Matt (who also photographed all of the images in this post!) and I were able to go.

We spent a considerable amount of time planning for our trip and deciding which islands to visit. Naxos really piqued our interest as it is known for its agriculture, mountainous villages, ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, and more. It’s the largest island of the Cyclades, which includes some of the more known islands – Santorini and Mykonos.

Upon arriving at the airport, our rental car arrived. It was a short 15 minute drive to Chora, Old Town Naxos, where we stayed. Our Airbnb was within walking distance to the ferry port. This was important because we didn’t want to lug around our suitcases a long distance as we did take a ferry to Santorini, but more on this in another post!

Where we stayed in Chora had lantern lights strung above in an adorable courtyard. The charm of the island honestly hadn’t sunken in yet. As exhausted as we were from our long haul flight, we couldn’t help but start exploring.

In search of a dinner spot, we came across a taverna called To Kati Allo, roughly meaning ‘something different’. We sat outside and thoroughly enjoyed our first Greek meal. The Greek salad and sun-dried mackerel were excellent! It was interesting to hear others nearby speaking languages outside of the local language. There are so many different people of different nationalities that come to visit Greece.

We also grabbed a small dessert off one of the shops along the waterfront and called it a night. I had a rough time sleeping that night, as I usually do on the first night in a new environment.

The next day, we planned to visit some of the small villages further inland, Chalki and Apeiranthos. Filoti is another village we originally planned to visit but we ended up driving through and taking in the scenery instead. Matt grew more accustomed to driving in the area as we made our way up into the mountains. Each village had its own unique charm.

I enjoyed Chalki the most, as unassuming as it may seem. Walking through its narrow passageways, at every turn we were met with beauty and charm. We grabbed breakfast and coffee in the area in a modern cafe called Halki Cafe. Across the way was a school where the courtyard was bustling with vibrant youth.

We then made our way further out to Apeiranthos. We thought we would have lunch in the area but we were still too full from breakfast. It was a unique experience taking in the architecture and alleyways.

As we headed back towards Chora, we figured we would check out the Temple of Demeter. Not only do you get to see the remains but there is also a small museum that is easily missed. To think of it, this day was an incredibly full day. We still had so much time after visiting the villages that we thought we should also check out Plaka Beach. We did have the rental car afterall.

I admit, the beach was a bit underwhelming and not what I had expected. I thought the area would be more lively with restaurants open and loungers out. Most of the businesses in the area were closed for the season. Matt and I still had some fun picking rocks from the sand that stood out to us. Naxos is very known for their numerous long stretches of beaches.

We made our way back to town and ate at Taverna Naxos. It sits in a lively area amongst the many restaurants along the waterfront. We enjoyed watching the sun go down against the glistening water.

How could I also forget to mention, there are stray cats everywhere. They seem to be fairly friendly as well.

There is plenty of shopping in Chora as you walk through the winding pathways. Want to peruse a used bookshop or fancy some jewelry or souvenirs? Get ready to rack up plenty of steps.

Ok phew, the next day was our last full day in Naxos. Because we did so much the previous days, we decided to take this day extra slow. And taking it slow felt like a luxury. This trip is one of those “once in a lifetime” trips that I always envisioned I would one day experience. I initially found it challenging to let loose. Not knowing if we would ever be able to come back, I couldn’t help but want to squeeze in as many activities as possible. Reaching that state of relaxation was exactly what we needed.

Similarly to how the businesses around the beaches weren’t open, there were a few restaurants in town that we tried to go to that were closed for the season. Things worked out well as it led us to checking out Avaton, a rooftop restaurant/bar that sits atop the Venetian castle of Naxos (kastro). It was a bit difficult to find and there is an elevator that takes you up to the restaurant but it was totally worth visiting! It sports a panoramic view of the town and sea.

From the relaxing music, to the friendly Canadians we met sitting right by us, we enjoyed this experience so much that we came back later that evening for a drink and dessert. I highly recommend going earlier in the day for the views alone.

Before night fell, we tried a gyro plate at a place called To Souvlaki. We thought we were getting wraps but oh boy was the plate a ton of food. We took it back for leftovers late in the night.

A memorable moment while sitting outside and enjoying our gyro plates was when a flight of tractors and cars drove past us down the road honking in celebration of a marriage! It was such a joyous and unexpected moment.

Another highlight of our entire time at Naxos was visiting Portara, the Temple of Apollo, during sunset. The experience was magical as the location oversees the island with the gate in view. It was a great way to close out our time in Naxos.


  • Do explore the more quaint parts of Chora (Old Town Naxos) as well. Keep your time in the more touristy areas and shops to a minimum. The hustle and bustle can take away from the charm especially if you are trying to relax.
  • Don’t skip out on going to Portara. And if you are able to get a rental car, go visit other villages and ruins for a more well-rounded experience.
  • If you are looking to experience a more lively beach scene, go before the end of the season.
  • Avaton is a great rooftop restaurant to visit for the views and ambience. It’s the highest rooftop in the area.
  • A lot of restaurants will sell you bottles of water when you ask for water. It isn’t a bad idea to buy additional bottles of water to have on hand as you wander about.
  • I also wasn’t sure about how the locals dress; the attire is very casual. I rarely felt the need to really dress up or dress too differently from how I would at home. You can’t go wrong with keeping it more lightweight and in neutral tones. Bringing light layers is also ideal. 

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the first leg of our trip to Greece! Next up, Santorini!


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