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Four Greek Islands in Four Weeks

After six trips to Greece, and 17 islands, we had seen a lot of monasteries and archeological sites and beautiful scenery. But what we loved most was just being surrounded by Greekness ... the food, the people, and OK, yes, the scenery. So when a knee injury last spring threatened to cancel our upcoming, ambitious 7-island trip, we instead decided to slow WAY down and visit just four islands in four weeks: Naxos, Amorgos, Antiparos and Milos. This trip may be too slow for some, but these four islands would also make a good 2 1/2 or 3-week trip, as they are well-connected. They are all very different, but each offered a wonderful experience.

Some brief notes about restaurants on these islands. Most open for dinner by 6:30 or 7:00 pm (although some are open all day). And almost all of them have some outdoor seating (usually covered by an awning). If you eat at 7 (as we did early in our trip) you could be eating alone. Greeks eat late. By the end of our trip, we were dining at 9 or 10, surrounded by people, eating under the stars. Way more fun. And almost every night, our restaurant gave us a free dessert or after-dinner drink ... another example of the famous Greek hospitality.

Greeks seem to be addicted to frappes -- a foam-covered iced coffee drink. People walk around drinking them from to-go cups. If you order one in a cafe, it is often served with a small piece of cake or cookie. We spent many hours sitting with our frappes, watching the world go by.

In Naxos and Antiparos, we found traditional Greek restaurants where they cook daily specials ... big pans of food (moussaka, pastitsio, stifado) that they display near the kitchen. You can walk over and see what looks good. Some of our most interesting dinners were in these restaurants, where we would ask them to put together a platter of small portions of 4 or 5 dishes for us to sample. At To Elliniko in Naxos, the owner walked by our table, looked at our plates and said, "You are eating like Greeks!"

For a good, light dinner in a taverna, order a salad along with 4 or 5 types of mezes, or appetizers ... sardines, zucchini balls, sagnaki (fried cheese), etc. And ouzo, of course.

Now some details about the trip:

We arrived in Athens in late afternoon on May 11, so we spent the night at St. Thomas B&B near the airport. They picked us up at the airport, welcomed us with an ouzo by the pool at the B&B, and we walked down the street to a taverna for dinner. Great place to stay near the airport. Easy, effortless.

NAXOS: The next morning (May 12) we flew to the island of Naxos for a week at Studios Kalergis, right on St. George Beach. We made the great choice of a ground floor studio with a private patio. Maybe 20 steps from the sand and free sunbeds belonging to the restaurant next door (I think they charge for sunbeds later in the season). Breakfast was not included but we had a kitchenette so we got supplies at the market and ate on our lovely patio. We loved Naxos. Large island with lots to do and see, both in town and around the island. Weather was hazy & windy at the beginning of our week, then a day of rain, and ended with perfect blue skies and 80 degrees. The sea was a bit chilly for swimming, but no crowds anywhere. Favorite restaurants: To Elliniko and Scirroco, both near the "Square", and Boulamatsis, at the far end of downtown from our beach. On our last night, we walked down the beach and found Flisvos Sportscenter. We had passed it on our morning walks and it looked deserted. But we discovered it has a hotel, restaurant and bar, with a front "porch" with "couches" where you can enjoy an ouzo and watch the sunset! They have big pillows on the sand, instead of beach chairs, and rent jet skis and windsurfers.

Posted by
11507 posts

I enjoyed your trip report.. and we were in Naxos about same time as you ( May 16th-21) and we swam in the sea almost every day.. lol .. we come from a place that has truly cold this was great for us!

We would love to head back to Naxos.. ( we flew into Mykonos from London) , and did not find Mykonos to our liking.. so like your other island ideas for next time.. !

Posted by
2144 posts

AMORGOS: Our next stop was the island of Amorgos, via the Express Skopelitis ferry. Amorgos has two ports -- Katapola and Aegialis. Aegialis is empty this early in the season (May 19-24). So we were glad we chose to stay in Katapola, a busy yacht harbor with lots of activity. We loved our room at Porto Katapola, a great little pension just a few steps from the ferry where our friendly host, Giannis, met us. We had a small kitchen/sitting area, a large bedroom, and a fabulous big balcony overlooking the port. This island is much smaller than Naxos. Its main attraction is the spectacular Hozoviotissa Monastery, built into the side of a cliff. We took a bus there and walked the 300 steps up (and down). You can't see much inside the monastery but it was still an great experience (with a strict dress code: skirts for women, long pants for men). We also visited Hora, and took many walks around Katapola. The town flows around a horseshoe-shaped bay with restaurants, a church and a beach on the other side. But our favorite entertainment was to watch the boats come into the harbor to dock in late afternoon, many of them rental sailboats with inexperienced captains. All the shopkeepers along the harbor came out one day when there was a collision (no damage but a very upset harbormaster). Great restaurants. On our first day, we went to the Corner Taverna next door and were told that fresh sea bass was coming in 30 minutes. So we waited, and for 17 euros we had the best fish we have ever eaten. Giannis did not serve breakfast, so he had arranged for his guests to have an amazing breakfast at a nearby cafe for just 5 euros a person ... toast, croissant, coffee/cappucino, juice, plus either bacon & eggs or yogurt & honey! Another example of how well he takes care of his guests. We loved Amorgos.

Posted by
2144 posts

Thanks Pat! I think you'd like ALL of these islands. Now, the next one --

ANTIPAROS: On May 25 we took the Blue Star Ferry from Amorgos to Paros. Sometimes a ferry to Antiparos is waiting at the port, but not this day, so we walked 200 yards to the bus station and bought a ticket to Pounta. There we bought tickets for the landing craft ferry to Antiparos, which runs every 30 minutes. Upon arrival we walked around the harbor to our hotel, Mike's Place. This is kind of a quirky little place, with no sign outside (I recognized it from photos of its dock). But it is absolutely calm and peaceful. The rooms have been recently remodeled and are spotless and very comfortable, with great beds (the beds in Naxos and Amorgos were a bit hard). We had a table and chairs right outside our door, with a great view, and there's a large deck facing the water at the front of the hotel, but they didn't have the deck furnishings out yet (we were just their second guests of the season). The owner, Lillian, is the sweetest, most helpful lady, always willing to give us restaurant suggestions or directions. We enjoyed dinners at Argo, Pavlo's Place and Taverna Yorgi. Most of our breakfasts (delicious and reasonably priced) were at nearby Argo. But one of our best meals of the entire trip was at the amazing Sale Rosso, an Italian (!) restaurant on the main street, run by a lady from Sicily and another from Lake Maggiore. They gave us limoncello at the end, along with their limoncello recipe! One day we visited the famous Cave of Antiparos; my husband climbed down (and up) the 400 narrow, steep stairs. Most interesting, to him, was all the old graffiti inside the cave! One of the most enjoyable days of our entire trip was a lovely full-day boat trip around Antiparos ("Lazy Day with Captain Ben"). Highly recommended. Large, well maintained boat. Very safety conscious. Antiparos is a tiny island, with tavernas and hotels lining the harbor, and one main street heading up from the harbor, with some interesting shops & good restaurants. A great little island. We met several repeat visitors who spend months there. We also met people on daytrips who were staying in Paros and regretted not staying on Antiparos instead. When we left, Lillian gave us a little souvenir of Antiparos and said she hoped we come back someday! I hope we do too.

MILOS: On May 31 we took the landing craft back to Pounta, where we had arranged a taxi to take us to the port for our ferry to Milos. Five hours later, after stops in Serifos, Sifnos and Kimolos, we arrived in the port of Adamas on Milos. We were happy we had arranged a transfer to our hotel, Tania Milos, in Pollonia. What a beautiful, gorgeous hotel, with a thoughtful, kind staff. This was our splurge, a suite with two balconies (one huge balcony for sunset, one for sunrise). Wonderful king-sized bed. Fabulous breakfasts. And a million-dollar view. Milos has some interesting sights. And it has gorgeous beaches and rock formations, which mostly require boat trips. But we were in one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen and had no desire to leave. So we gave up on tourist activities and perfected the fine art of doing nothing ... spending our days wandering, reading, swimming, admiring spectacular sunsets, and eating. Pollonia has a strip of restaurants along the harbor, each with a dining area right next to each other (Ammos and Captain Nikolas were our favorites). By now, totally relaxed, we were dining late, with long, leisurely dinners under the stars. On June 6 we regretfully packed, checked out (with a thank-you gift from Tania) and flew back to Athens. We were met at the Athens airport and spent the night at St. Thomas again. There we met a family from Alaska who I had corresponded with on this forum, and we all shared highlights of our trips. The next day, we flew back to reality.

Our next trip to Greece might be on one of those sailboats we saw in Amorgos ....

Posted by
244 posts

Thank you for sharing your trip with us. The Greek Islands are on my wish list. Your trip report was wonderful!

Posted by
11350 posts

Your report is so helpful for those of us who wish to visit more off the beaten path Greek islands on a return trip. It all sounds perfect!

Posted by
2144 posts

Thanks! I would love to see more Americans discover the lovely, lesser-known Greek islands, where tourists are treated like valued guests. And I didn't even mention how affordable little islands are. You can easily find air-conditioned hotels with great views under 50€/night (one of ours was 30€!) and delicious dinners with wine around 15€/person. Lunch is about 2-3€ for a tasty gyro or a shared Greek salad. Car rental for a day including insurance is about 35€, and on most islands you only need a car for one day.