Naxos, Greece—Beaches, Pastries, and Dinner in Paradise

Our second day on the island of Naxos we explored several beaches, found delicious local fare, and finished the day with an idyllic al fresco dinner on the beach.

Day 2:

Naxos, Greece - Day 2 itinerary map

Day 2

The Mediterranean beckoned us with its mesmerizing turquoise waves, and we listened. A short walk from our AirBnB, we found the entrance to Plaka Beach. What started off as a nudist beach in the 60s and 70s, morphed into the island’s most popular family beaches. And it’s easy to see why: stretching almost 2.5 miles, it features sunbeds and thatched roof umbrellas. One can enjoy water sports or a cold beverage from one of the mini markets, bars, or cafes nearby. I personally enjoyed the secluded portion of the beach, complete with a terrace and wooden chairs, the perfect spot to sit and just take in the soothing woosh of the waves.

Waves at Plaka Beach

Our next target was one of the local bakeries. Whenever I’m in Europe, I always hunt for pastries. Just past Mikri Vigla Beach, we followed the road to the left and headed to Arto Viglismata Bakery. We filled up on freshly baked goodies, both savory (cheese and spinach) and sweet (peach), alongside a fresh cup of coffee—lunch of champions!

Refueled, we drove on to explore Alyko Beach. On the way, we took in the expansive views of the water and green pastures, dotted with white houses and grazing sheep. Alyko Beach is a peaceful peninsula, complete with a tiny blue-roof white church. Further to the right, the ruins of an old hotel dominate the rocky shores and provide a great canvas for graffiti artists.

For dinner, we treated ourselves to a quintessential Greek island dinner al fresco—or should I say éxō? (Greek for outside)—at Paradiso Taverna on Agia Anna beach, about 4 miles outside of the capital Chora. I credit David for finding this place: he got the idea from a book he was reading, Honey, Olives, Octopus: Adventures at the Greek Table by Christopher Bakken. We arrived at the taverna at the golden hour, the perfect setting for a relaxing dinner under the branches of a lone cedar tree, serenaded by a local musician.

We sampled the famed Naxian cheeses. The island is the perfect setting for cheese-making and the tradition has been carried on by families throughout the centuries with great pride. One of the most famous cheeses of Naxos is a version of Gruyere (Graviera), made with 80% cow’s milk alongside sheep or goat’s milk. The main course included things with tentacles and Naxian potatoes, and of course wine. It was truly a perfect evening (with the only inconvenience to us as always in Europe: the smokers).

At the end of the evening, we headed inside to pay our bill. As David was standing in line, I admired the different sea creatures in the display case, the source of delicious meals. A young waiter came in from the beachside dining carrying a tray the size of a table pilled skyscraper high with dirty dishes. Everyone stopped breathing and watched. The tower threatened to take a dive a couple of times, but the young waiter persevered and made it into the kitchen with all the pieces intact. Well-deserved applause erupted.

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