Greetings! My wife and I, both 66, will spend July 2017 on a Greek island. (Yes, spring or fall would be better, but circumstances conspire to limit us to July.) We want a place to r-e-l-a-x (my wife has quite a stressful job), swim in a pool and in the ocean, stare at the water from our lodging (i.e., an ocean view is a requirement), relax, walk around villages, read, eat local food, see beautiful nature, relax, soak up local culture, hike in beautiful places, and, of course, relax. My wife was in Santorini 20 years ago, loved it, and wants to return, so we thought we'd stay in a VRBO condo in Akrotiri . . . and then I read the Santorini-related posts in this forum from the past year, and now I'm thinking that Naxos would be better: from what I've read (both here and in guidebooks), it seems to have just about everything Santorini has except the caldera, at half the price (e.g., lodging that meets our requirements for around $75/night versus around $150), and with easy ferry access for a side trip or two to Santorini (and perhaps Crete, to see Knossos). What do you folks think? And if you vote for Naxos, what do you think about staying in Moutsouna, which is on the east side, versus the main village on the west side -- or somewhere else? (I want to acknowledge to the Universe how fortunate we are to have these truly first-world "problems".) Thanks for your help!
Perhaps you could spend a few nights in Santorini and the bulk of your time in Naxos? Naxos is a bigger island than you might think, with lots to do. Ferry/plane connections might be better from Santorini, so that's a reason to spend s little time there. But I don't think you will regret choosing Naxos.
Check weather stats. I think you'll find that Naxos averages a bit cooler than Santorini in July, which can only help.
I'd be cautious about this plan. A month seems a long time to spend on a single hot island in the middle of summer. There probably won't be a lot of air-conditioned activities available. I'm rather heat-tolerant, but this doesn't sound relaxing to me. I'm not a beach person, though; perhaps that makes all the difference.
I also have the same suggestion as Zoe. Spend the bulk of your time on Naxos but take a few days to visit Santorini to see how it's changed since your last visit. Naxos may be a bit "quieter" in July, while I suspect that Santorini will be dreadfully crowded and busy (especially on cruise ship days). Having fewer crowds will be better for your wife to relax from her stressful job.
I stayed at http://www.hotelgrotta.gr/ in Naxos and would absolutely recommend it. It's a short distance from the main part of town so a bit quieter, but not a difficult walk. I found that was a good location to stay as there was a good choice of restaurants not too far from the hotel. I'm not familiar with Moutsouna but I'm sure one of the others can help with that.
This website will provide all the information you'll need to plan your trip to Naxos - http://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/naxos/
We have been to Naxos 12 times with a minumum of 7 days and a maximum of 17. We are still finding things we havce not seen before.
Moutsouna is very remote. If you want a get away from everything vacation then this may be the place. Be warned though you have to drive down a mountain road with at least 20 switchbacks and no guard rails. Every time you want to do anything other than sit at your hotel you have to drive up that road which takes a good half hour.
Perhaps you might want to consider Plaka beach. It is a long stretch of beach that is serviced by a string of hotels and about 8 tavernas over about 3km. The further out you go the fewer people. It also has two buses to Naxos town hourly in July.
Another option would be St George beach. It is the beach that is part of Naxos town. You get a beach vacation with all the activities of town. The island bus transportation system starts from Naxos port so you can visit the whole island by bus from this area.
St George Beach Hotels Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632162394787/
St George Beach Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632113170279/
Plaka beach tavernas hotels https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157655106193251
Naxos Town http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157632094558042/
Trip around Naxos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157634605629689/
There are a few pictures of Moutsouna in the trip around Naxos album. There are no pictures of the switchback road I was afraid to stop.
Choose Naxos with a few days on Santorini as others have suggested. We booked four nights on Santorini, too many, and could not wait to leave there. Loved Naxos, Paros, Crete, Peolponnesean Pen., everywhere in Greece except Santorini.
If you want a more traditional and "Greek" experience then Naxos would be my recommendation. I haven't been to Santorini for a number of reasons but find Naxos the perfect combination of Old & New World Greece. If you really want to see Santorini there are day trips or just go for a couple days and see what's happening. However, July will be High Season, crowded, touristy and expensive.
In addition there are day trips from Naxos to Delos/Mykonos and if you really want a more traditional vibe there are ferrys to the Small Cyclades which no one really knows about and will be as relaxing as you can get for July.
Naxos is more family oriented, more options and cheaper.
You folks are great. Thanks so much!
If you have an entire month, I would recommend staying on at least three -- maybe four -- islands.
Last May, we spent a week each on Naxos, Amorgos, Antiparos and Milos. You could substitute Santorini for Milos and have a wonderful trip. There are easy ferry connections ... you could start in Santorini for 3 or 4 nights, then ferry to Naxos for 10 nights, then ferry to Amorgos for a week, then ferry to Antiparos for a week, and fly or ferry back to Athens from Paros.
These changes of scenery were fascinating and not at all stressful. This was one the loveliest, most relaxing vacations we have ever had.
You're not that much older than me. If I had the opportunity you have of staying a month (yes I'm jealous) I would build an itinerary that allows me to move around and see many of the islands. Stay in each place 3-4 nights and do some day trips. We spent 3 nights in Santorini last Spring (the remainder of our trip was in the Athens area, Italy and the UK). We stayed in Oia did visit Akrotiri and the Red Beach. I wanted to move on to Rhodes (and maybe dip into Turkey) but it was too far away for our timeframe (but not yours)!
Charlene has sketched out a very enjoyable itinerary ... stay flexible, pay attention to ferry schedules. particularly pay attention to StanBr ... he (and spouse) are about your age, and have spent 20+ "budgeteer" years discovering the Cycladic islands and, like me, realiszd that Naxos has it all... Yes, we all want to see the wondefrul Santorini "Caldera VIew" -- and it's worth getting a hotel with that balcony view, just for that... but then -- move on! (to Naxos, of course).
Naxos, even in high season, is an island of such diversity -- farms, vineyards, all kinds of villages -- that it can never be overcome by tourists. Yes, you and I visit -- but its airport will not accommodate Jumbo jets (YAY!) and its harbor cannot accommodate MEGA-Cruisers .... in fact, in recent years, Naxian residents in local democratic meetings decided against accepting $$$ for harbor dredging that would enable Monster-Cruisers -- YAYYY!! So... go see Naxos before capitali$tic considerations prevail.
Stanbr is totally right, in that Naxos has SO much to offer: if your wife has nostalgia about Santorini, NAXOS offers a way to "Have your cake & eat it too." A company offers TWO day-trips to Santorini; (I would advise the one that uses MV ALexandros, larger boat = smoother ride) -- you arrive 10:30, bus to OIA for photos & scenic views, bus to FIRA Town for free time, museum, views... then back to pier, to dock 5 pm Naxos before dinner.