Thursday 26th August 2021
Getting Out and About
I’ve seen quite a few of the most famous sights on Naxos already (click here to see previous posts), so my first task of the day was planning an itinerary of where to go once I picked up the hire car. I decided it would be fun to visit the three Kouros statues, one of which is north of the island just outside Apollonas, and the other two are near Melanes in the centre of Naxos. I also chose to visit Moutsouna on the eastern coastline as well as Alkyo Beach on the southwestern coast.
Putting all these together, my plan was to start off heading north to Apollonas, then follow the road south and take the turning to Moutsouna, before crossing back west to Melanes and finally south-west to Alkyo. Depending on the time, I would have dinner in Agia Anna or, hopefully, Naxos Town before returning the car later in the evening.
I left the hotel just after 9 a.m., having been told the car would be available from 9:30. I knew I’d arrive early but was hopeful I could take the car sooner if it was already waiting. Motopower is located on the corner of the main road through Agia Anna at the southern end, parallel with the small port where the day boats depart.
By the time I’d completed the usual paperwork, it was nearly 9:30 anyway, but the car was there, so I managed to get going a few minutes early. One bonus I hadn’t realised when I reserved the vehicle yesterday is that I was told I could return it tomorrow morning. This meant I could definitely use it this evening to have dinner and explore Naxos Town.
The drive to Apollonas takes about an hour from Agia Anna and isn’t the most exciting of journeys. Once you pass Naxos Town, the road across the north of the island is rather twisty and not very picturesque. The first Kouros statue is just outside Apollonas, on the main road as you head south. There is no parking except on the side of the road, but when I arrived, there was only one other car, so I doubt it gets that busy – there is nothing to see here besides the statue itself.
It is impressively large, as you can see in the above photo – featuring me so you get a sense of scale!
As for Apollonas itself, I could have stopped in the village, but I had visited a few years ago with my friend Ed and wasn’t that impressed. Things might have changed now, but at the time it was just a small village with a little harbour and a few waterfront tavernas. I decided to get back on the road and push on to Moutsouna.
The road south between Apollonas and Moutsouna is slightly more impressive than the first part of my drive, quite twisty in places as you pass through the hilly terrain. It takes about an hour, so it was nearly lunchtime when I arrived.
I didn’t actually realise until I got there, but Moutsouna is famous for being the site of an important emery transportation system between the mines and the port where it could be offloaded onto ships. Several elements of the cable system still remain as a monument to the trade, including the statue pictured above and some of the loading cranes at the dock pictured below.
The resort is small, with just a few tavernas behind the small port and several lodgings. The beach is compact but sandy and with very clear water making it ideal for swimming and sunbathing.
After taking some photos and videos, I decided to stop here for lunch, knowing that I might not have the opportunity to eat again until later in the day. I can’t remember the name of the taverna (I forgot to write it down!), but it was the one directly behind the beach, just to the left of the port. I had a club sandwich and a glass of white wine, both delicious!
Once I’d finished my lunch, I returned to the car and headed inland to see the remaining two Kouros statues at Melanes. Once again, the drive took about an hour, passing through the pretty village of Apeiranthos, which is well worth a visit if you’ve never been.
Finding the entrance to the Kouros statues was more difficult than I expected – I missed the turning on the first attempt as it’s on a sharp bend as you head towards Melanes, but I found it after turning around and driving more slowly! There is a small amount of parking at the end of a dirt road, but again, it wasn’t busy when I arrived, so I had no issues finding a space to stop.
The first of the two Kouros – known as the Flerio Melanes Kouros – was just a couple of minute’s walk from the car. The statue is much smaller than the one at Apollonas, but still quite impressive, given how old it is.
The second statue is much further and took about 10-15 minutes. It’s also not shaded, unlike the first one, so I got sweaty trying to find it!
After a quick stop for photos and video, I headed back to the car and fired up the air conditioning to cool off before continuing my journey.
My final sightseeing stop was to the southwest of Naxos at Alkyo Beach. Though I’ve visited the western side of Naxos several times, I’ve never made it this far south, so it was another place to check off my list. This time, the drive only took 40 minutes, and a lot of it was on an excellent straight road, so it was pretty easy to reach.
Besides the beach itself (pictured above), which is a relatively large expanse of soft sand and primarily clear water (it’s rockier at the western end where this photo was taken), the area is famous for the ruins of a large hotel complex that sits abandoned on the headland. Some bare walls have been covered with graffiti, much of which is impressively designed.
After walking around the ruins and getting some video footage for my Naxos YouTube video (see the end of this post), I got back in the car and drove north back to Agia Anna. It was about 4 p.m. when I arrived at my hotel, giving me time to rest and shower before dinner.
I was grateful that I wouldn’t have to return the car until tomorrow morning; I could take my time this evening visiting Naxos Town to walk around and have a nice meal. Naxos Town is one of my favourite places in Greece, with a pretty harbour area, many shops, cafes and tavernas and just the right amount of people to give it some atmosphere without feeling overcrowded. [2023 update: I’m told Naxos is much busier now, so beware during July-August of crowds.]
On my way from the car, I passed Creparea, one of my favourite places to stop for a sweet treat – I skipped it this time, though, as I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for dinner, but I’m sure I’ll be back again soon! I then continued along the harbour to Apollo’s Gate, the island’s most famous and recognisable tourist attraction.
Before heading back down the harbourfront, I stopped at a ticket office and purchased my ferry ticket for tomorrow morning’s crossing to Ios. For dinner, I returned to a previously visited restaurant called Dal Professore at the south end of the harbour, where I enjoyed a nice pasta meal with fantastic sunset views.
Feeling suitably stuffed, I strolled back to the car and then drove to the hotel, thankful I didn’t have the usual long walk from Agia Anna Centre to get back to my accommodation.
Most of the things I discuss in this post can be seen in the YouTube video below.