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Naxos or Crete for a week

My 20ish three children. my partner and I are sailing for a week around Lefkata and then driving the Peloponnese. We have one more week and are choosing between Crete and Naxos. We are an active family so we value hiking, swimming, biking, the beach, etc but are most interested in finding a spot in more of a unspoiled Greek village. We don't want to be in tourist-ville but recognize that much of what we value will attract tourists....we just want to avoid cruise ships, rows of tourist condos, etc. A villa near or on the sea in a quiet beautiful setting is our style. Would like to find an experience that compliments rather than duplicates the Peloponnese and Leftkata. We are traveling to Greece this June to experience the natural beauty of Greece and the culture, food and customs of the Greek people. We can sit on a tourist beach in Naples or Mexico so we want something more Greek in Greece. Specific village or area recommendations are welcome. I assume a car would be helpful. Thanks for your advice.

Posted by
3257 posts

A villa on the sea in a quiet setting will not be "In more of an unspoiled Greek Village." Villas are available in islands that have a significant tourist presence. Islands like Kythnos or Sikinos are much less visited, but they will not have the lodgings you seek. Reminds me of the time someone asked me where to find a peaceful little-used beach, walkable to excellent dining & lively nightlife. I said where? In your dreams! As with everything, compromises are essential, especially as your time edges close to High Season, (July-August).

In Naxos, there are indeed mountain villages where life goes on much as it has for 50 years or more ... but they are far from the beach, and have no overnight facilities, much less a villa. Naxos itself actually has very few villas that are walkable to the beaches ... villas are inland and you tend to need a car, to reach beaches, tavernas, groceries or nightlife. . That's because this island was developed 30-40 years ago, attracting modest-budget individual vacationers ( NOT package tourism). Thus the beachfronts were built up with smaller family-owned accomodations (10-20 units) most without pools. In the past 10-15 years, more upmarket people discovered Naxos, and villas started being constructed ... with large Livingrooms & kitchens, and many with pools. But by then the areas on/near the beaches were taken.

Naxos IS free of cruise ships (harbor too shallow, and they've refused offers to dredge), and airport will only accommodate small turboprops (thank heaven). Thus no daily influx of package-tour throngs. You can drive a few miles inland, through farms, sheep & goat herds, potato crops, vineyards. It has one of the largest permanent populations of any Cycladic islands because it has such a major agricultural component.

Of Course, crete is the BEST place to immers yourself in Greece... but you'll have to stay on the Move. Fly in to Chania, spend a day or so enjoying Old Town, then just hit the road ... West to Falassarna, south to Sougia, then up through the fertile midsection thru the wine Country (Dafnes & surroundings). End in Heraklion for 1 night then either fly to Athens or take Overnight Knossos Palace ferry.

Posted by
2061 posts

If you can get rooms at Tania's in Pollonia on the island of Milos, I think this is just what you are looking for. Spectacular settimg, gorgeous rooms with views, great breakfasts, a private seaside swimming area, some nice seaside restaurants about a 10 minute walk, lots to see on the island. We are here right now ... Sitting on our huge balcony with a glass of wine and not a sound other than the sea. Perfect.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for the advice, all. Milos sounds intriguing. Can you help with suggestions as to how to get there from both Athens and Crete. I'm sure on line research would provide the answer but hands on experience is a better teacher. Thanks

Posted by
1113 posts

You can get to Milos and a lot of other islands from Piraeus, just outside Athens. Milos is a lovely island, still not overly developed toward tourism but does see a good number of them during High Season. Another excellent island is Sifnos, probably better than Milos, then again there is Naxos, one of the best of the Greek Islands that offer an excellent combination of Old & New World Greece. Don't forget Amorgos (yes!), Astyaplea, Ikaria, Lemnos, Thassos, Syros, Skyros, and a number of other smaller, less touristy islands that still retain a lot of their "Greekness"!

Posted by
3257 posts

rsj -- about getting to Milos etc:
Do you have a map? Maps are good. They clarify things. they help you to see what's realistic Here's a good online map (click to enlarge
also this map shows the usual Ferry Routes:
This shows that Santorini is a necessary "junction" for getting from Crete to Milos. The daily ferry from Crete to Santorini leaves 9:45 arrives around noon. Perhaps you can catch a ferry bound to Milos in the early afternoon.

I advise you to look at this comprehensive website: lists ALL available routes: Spend a little time with it and you'll see your various options. Yes I know you said "hands on experience" (offered by us) is a better teacher, but none of us has massive ferry timetables memorized ... so we'd have to go to and do the online research FOR you in order to give you details. Is that what you wish us to do?

As for MILOS, it has more beautiful beaches (about 22) than almost any other island... and it has a wonderful experience available; you can take a sail around the rim of the whole Island (or halfway round, my choice)... stopping at coves to swim or BBQ. Boats line up in port of Adamas before dinner & you vist them, compare & book for next day. From experience, the big catamaran (up to 14 passengers) was ideal choice... because it's so stable they can go under sail most of time, whereas the small day-sailors (4-5 pass) when it's windy were forced to go mainly by motor. Milos had volcano in ancient times outside of island, so has amazing rock formations visible only from water. Contrast w. Naxos: Naxos is green/fertile, Milos dry& Rocky. Naxos - great bus network. Milos - bus skeds really lame, you'd need car rental. We stayed in Pollonia & liked it ... but whatever nightlife exists is in Adamas.

Also, if you still are pining for a villa, it's not that kind of island. Small family-run lodgings (10-20 rooms) all with great balcony views but not at all fancy.

Posted by
2061 posts

In addition to ferries, you can also fly to Milos from Athens if you can find seats available.

Tania's actually is a rather upscale place, especially the upper floor suites, but again availability could be an issue. And I'm not familiar with other hotels here

. Adamas is much bigger and was not so appealing to me, but admittedly Pollonia would have little or no nightlife for the 20-somethings.

Earlier in this trip we stayed on St George Beach in Naxos, which we loved but it's a typical tourist beach -- blocks of hotels -- doesn't sound like what you're looking for. But there are other beach towns on Naxos that might be ... Appollonia and Agios Propopokios (? spelling) are worth some research. And Naxos is closer to Athens by ferry if the planes are sold out.

I'd suggest you make your decisions quickly!