Santorini, Naxos and Mykonos – Cyclades islands
My passion for Greece is as strong as ever, and I never thought I could become any more in love with the country, but its enchanting ways have hooked me in once again…
This time we had 1 week to spare, well 8 nights actually, so I thought I would see as much as I could in that amount of time. Now that I have done this, I know where I want to go back to and explore further and where I would not.
We started our Journey with a flight from Gatwick to Santorini. (Flights were booked with Easy Jet and accommodation booked with Booking.com). We arrived to a small set of apartments called the Pansion Zahoroula, which fitted the bill for our one night stay. The highlight for me and the reason I so desperately wanted to visit Santorini were the stunning views from the caldera and the famous sunsets. So as soon as we landed we head straight into Thira (Fira) and I was immediately blown away!
The breath taking views that you come across as soon as you reach the top of the caldera are mind blowing! You feel on top of the world looking out onto a seemingly never endless sea. The pretty white buildings dotted all the way down the cliff face are a typical scene from a postcard. There are exclusive boutique hotels and swimming pools with candle lit bars and restaurants which make for a perfect romantic evening. It is a place that you have to see to believe and I promise you won’t be disappointed. I have seen some fantastic locations in Greece, but this is by far the most enchanting!
Beaches in Santorini are dark sand as it’s a volcanic island, and you will need to hire a car or catch a local bus to get to them if you stay in one of the beautiful caldera towns (which I recommend for nightlife!) like Fira or Oia.
Prices here are quite high as you are paying for the views so be prepared to take a lot of spending money if you are visiting for more than one or two nights. To save money I recommend you go further back in to the winding pretty Grecian streets as you will save money on food and drink that way.
The following morning we took a taxi (about 10 minutes ride) to the port and caught our Sea Jets ferry to Naxos. This was a smooth process, you just left your suitcase on the bottom deck in an allocated area and then you went upstairs to your reserved seat. The Journey took around 1 hour 20 minutes, there is a coffee shop/bar on board also if you fancied a snack etc.
Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades and in my opinion my most favourite destination of the whole trip! The beaches were beautiful, white and sandy with gentle clear shallow water, so ideal for the kids! There are also a number to choose from if you fancied hiring a car or hopping on the local bus which is what we did.
We chose to base ourselves in Naxos Town as you have all the nightlife on hand, but also a great beach on your doorstep. We stayed at the Summer Memories apartments, and as it was the beginning of the season, it seemed we were the only ones staying there, as we didn’t see another holidaymaker in sight! This suited us for a relaxing holiday as we almost felt that we hired out own villa! See pic below for our balcony, it was quite a treat…………
It didn’t have a pool on site, but this didn’t bother us, I am a bit of a beach bum and the beach was only a 5 minute walk away anyway! The roads are a little bit hair raising in Greece generally so watch yourself on those bends, as they won’t slow down!
Naxos Town has the wonderful Greek charm of winding cobbled alleyways, with a treat around every corner, have fun getting lost in the many pretty streets and stumbling across beautiful hidden bars and restaurants! Naxos is a very reasonable priced town, so look out for offers like happy hours in the cocktail bars, which we of course enjoyed immensely! My personal advice, is hunt down a bar called Naxos Café, I promise you won’t be disappointed, I think it has to be one of the most beautiful charming bars I have ever been in and I can assure you I’ve been in a few!!
The nightlife in Naxos is fabulous for couples, with a real nice laid back atmosphere, although this was start of the season so August maybe quite different! There are a few nightclubs and late night bars however, where I noticed a lot of the locals came out around midnight. It has more than enough to keep you entertained that’s for sure! It really does suit all age groups.
Naxos is a very beautiful stunning island with lots to see and do if you fancy some culture from mountain villages to ancient ruins. In Naxos town itself you can explore Kastro, a hilltop castle dating to the 13th century, which also houses an archaeological museum. It also has traditional music evenings where you can listen to bouzouki players whilst drinking local spirits and watch the sun go down.
As you arrive into Naxos you will notice The Portara. It is the symbol of Naxos and the first thing to see as the ferry approaches the island. This is a marble gate standing on top of a small island that is connected to Naxos Town through a small passageway. This gate is the only remains from a 6th century BC temple of Apollo.
Our final stop was Mykonos, and again we took the sea jets ferry from Naxos port which took around 1 hour 15 mins. Mykonos in my opinion has the whitest buildings and streets I have ever seen, which are almost blinding. Breathtakingly beautiful, the town is out of this world in terms of picturesque scenery! You literally won’t put your camera away, so you may as well leave it out at all times! The wonderful windmills and little Venice area are a real treat for photo opportunities especially as the sun goes down, you can grab a cocktail along many of the waterfront bars, but be warned, this is one of the most EXPENSIVE places I have been which is up there with the likes of Iceland and Paris! I advise anyone to come and take a visit to Mykonos but come with plenty of money as a glass of wine will cost you £15 along with a cocktail which is £20 plus!
There are designer shops around every corner from Prada to Gucci, there are nightclubs and champagne bars that wouldn’t look out of place in some exclusive parts of London with scantily clad models and security adorning every doorway. Not because they need security due to the clientele, just because it looks exclusive and chic.
Chic……… now there’s a word I would use to describe Mykonos, beautifully traditional but also has that upmarket chic feel. It really is Kim Kardashian’s playground…..
So would I go back to each of these destinations?
Santorini – Yes, I would spend longer than one night and explore more of the volcanic beaches and take in the beautiful town of Oia.
Naxos – Absolutely! By far my favourite, a traditional and welcoming feel from the locals, beautiful beaches and pretty villages, also very reasonable in terms of your spends!
Mykonos – Probably, If I won the lottery or had lots of money to spend to enjoy it in all it’s expensive glory! As drinking cider walking the streets from the local shop doesn’t quite do the place justice……
What an adventure I’ve had! I loved travelling from one island to the next and even the husband enjoyed it, and he gets very set in his ways!
It gives you an insight to how the islands differ and it was so much fun not being stuck in just the one place. Don’t be afraid to hop on and off ferries, they are quick, easy, cheap and everyone else is doing the same transporting their luggage from one island to the next! I would suggest you arrange your accommodation beforehand, as we did, as it takes the hassle and time out of trying to find accommodation when you are there…. then you have more time to explore!
So don’t be afraid to do a bit of Island hopping, it’s so much more fun than visiting just one place on holiday! I’m already planning my next one…..
Have you had a Greek Island hopping adventure? I would love to hear about it…