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Questions re: Santorini, Naxos, Paros

Hi RS Forum,

My wife and I will be in Santorini (staying at Armeni Village in Oia for 3 nights), Paros (staying at Kanele's Room and suites in Naousa for 3 nights, and Naxos (staying at the Galaxy Hotel in Saint George's Beach for 5 nights).

I have a few questions:

  1. Does anyone have any restaurant recommendations in those areas? We are going to want to eat at authentic restaurants that focus on seafood.

  2. We love to hike. What are some good hikes on those islands? We plan on having a rental car most of the time which leads me to my next question.

  3. What are good places to rent cars in those areas and what kind of cars should we rent? I can drive Manual, so no issues there.

  4. Is there anything that is a "must see" on any of those places?

  5. What is the weather like at night? We will be there at the beginning of September.

Thank you!

Posted by
2976 posts

For Santorini

  1. Your hotel is in Oia. The closest fish taverna is Petros but very close by are two traditional Greek restaurants, Thalami and Skala. I prefer Skala. Below Oia in Amoudi Bay are 4 Fish Tavernas. They're all basically the same quality. Be advised that fresh grilled fish is sold by weight, so be sure to ask the price before you order your meal.

  2. There is a 3-hour hike between Oia and Fira along the cliff overlooking the caldera. There's nothing but nature on that hike, no shops, shade, nothing but lava rock, so be sure to bring water, sunscreen, a shade hat and a snack. It's actually best if you take the early-morning bus into Fira and hike back to Oia, instead of the other way around, so you have the sun at your back and not in your face the whole way. You can actually get off that bus in Imerovigli to shorten the hike by about 30 minutes.

  3. In Oia I recommend Vazeos. They're honest and the cars are reliable. If you live outside the EU be sure to bring an International Driving Permit with you. If you live in No. America you can get one at your local AAA/CAA office, no test or membership required. Greek law requires it even if a car rental agency will give you a car without it. Bring 2 passport photos with you to save a few dollars.

  4. Be sure to see the archaeological site of Akrotiri and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira. If you like hiking you can also hike up the mountain to see Ancient Thera, either from the Kamari side or the Perissa side.

  5. The evenings will be cool and there will be some wind but overall the Early September weather is excellent. The sea is still nice and warm for swimming.

Posted by
2963 posts

For Naxos:

HIKING - the best-known online guide to hikes - - by a Belgian who's spent a lifetime trying & describing hikes & walks in all the Cycladic islands, calls Naxos "a paradise for hikers." There's 1 hike in Santorini that everyone takes, the Belgian hikemaster lists 37 in Naxos that he recommends.

MUST-SEES - I always dislike this term, because it calls up an image of a to-do list which one can check off, and then say "There! That's done!" Naxos is a treasure-house of Must-sees ... ancient ruins on hilltops, statues lying in orchards, Mountains with whole sides open to show that they are MARBLE ... mountain villages still living very traditionally ... a port town with a maze of winding lanes to get lost in ... discoveries everwhere (the Cathedral decided to repave its courtyard, and found a 4,500-year-old Mycenaean burial ground, with the ritual dishes still in place!) ... a string of golden sand beaches about 15 miles long, served by a great bus route. What MUST one see? Well, one May, we drove a couple of miles inland and found a man shearing his sheep. We decided we must stop and watch for half-and hour. In early September, the villages around the vineyards have wine festivals -- you may decide you want to drive up there and share the sipping. Sunsets? Every night you can sit on the beach, or at a portside taverna and watch a sunset, with NO maddening crowds ... or go out to the Causeway, and photo the setting sun through the famous arch. There is no Famous Sights checklist ... make your own!

RESTAURANTS - Greeks don't call them that; they are called tavernas (meaning they have authentic food, checked tablecloths, informal welcome, and VERY low prices). A few to try in Naxos Town: To Kastro (High above on a terrace overlooking port), several port-side favorites are "The Good Heart" and "Smyrna" and "Popi's" ... a new place in town, Nostrimon Hellas, modern twist on authentic dishes ... Maros, off the town square, VERY local, you order what they've made for that night, as long as it lasts. All the restaurants feature some seafood; be aware that fish is scarce, and costly all over GReece (aside from smaller fish like sardines, and 'arides, and seafood like calamari & grilled octopus). In most of authentic places, your tastiest options are whatever is "fourno" (oven-baked) ... cooked low & slow, full of flavour. Baked chicken & lamb, veal stews (Stifado), stuffed vegetables. Yummmm.

WEATHER -- the old joke is that on the 1st Day of Creation, God went around passing out weather, but He overlooked Greece, and looked in the Weather-bag & He had run out. So He had to give Greece the weather He had been saving for Paradise. Diuring the day in Early September it can get up to 85°F, but by sundown it will be 70. and you'll want a light sweater over your shoulders, and by the time u get back to your room it will be 63 - 67. Perfect sleeping weather. PS: if you like your windows open, a tip to avoid Mosquitos (there are no screens in Greece). Close windows AND shutters before you go out to dinner. When coming back, leave them closed until u are in bed. Turn out lights THEN open windows ...

CAR RENTAL -- There are half-a-dozen good places, several on the town seafront, and 3 on the Town Square (circle). Lots of models available in Sept. TIP: if you want to make an early start, say 8:30 or 9 for driving around the island, it's handy to rent the car the night before ... then u will have it bright & early. Agencies are sluggish in the AM, sometimes if u go to their office at 9, you don't get a car for 45 minutes or so. (Greek internal clocks differ from super-hyper US ones).

Posted by
1065 posts

You are doing Santorini, Paros then Naxos. I would have chosen to do Naxos then Paros simply because that means you don't have to backtrack and Paros is an hour shorter ferry trip back to Athens. No real problem though.
I would think that renting a car for your whole stay on Naxos is probably going to find you wandering around Naxos town with the car parked at Galaxy parking lot. Galax is only a 10 minute walk to Naxos town. There is no need nor much parking for you to drive inot town. Besides which you will probably end up with a complimentary Raki after dinner and you don't want to be driving after Raki. Think moonshine. If it were me I would check out a few rental agencies the day before you want to start exploring other beaches and the mountainous interior. That way you can compare prices and you probably only need the car for two or three days.

Here is what Naxos is like
Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos

Posted by
966 posts

It is at the opposite end of Santorini, but I also recommend Akrotiri- it is a covered site, so you will not broil, and there is Red Beach nearby. Lots of young people were using rented 4 wheelers for transportation.

Posted by
2976 posts

Red Beach has been posted as a serious hazard zone because of all the loose boulders that can fall onto the beach without any warning from the cliff above.

Posted by
1960 posts

Paros: If you like boat trips, there's an all-day trip around Antiparos that picks people up at Pounta, on Paros. It's called "Lazy Day with Captain Ben." Costs 40 euros per person which includes drinks all day and a good lunch. You'll see gorgeous rock formations and the most amazing turquoise sea. The boat makes at least 4 stops for swimming. Check out reviews on Trip Advisor, and I think you could email Captain Ben to set it up. They'll pick you up at Pounta around 10 and drop you back there around 3 or 4. It was a highlight of our trip to Greece last May.