The Cyclades are an island group in the Agean Sea south east of mainland Greece. There are around 220 islands and the main town is Ermoupoli on Syros. The islands can be reached in some cases by plane but mainly by ferry from Piraeus or occasionally Rafina.
Naxos is a gem of an island. Naxos town is lovely, full of tiny little streets and with a town beach that is very pleasant and in easy walking distance from the old part. You can explore the inland mountain villages easily by bus. The ferry port is a five minute walk from the heart of the town.
Mykonos was the original celebrity island and still has an upmarket clientele but also now a much younger, louder, crowd. The prices reflect its popularity and it is on the cruise ship circuit.
There are two ports, old and new and you should find out which one you will arrive at as transport is in short supply and you should arrange this with your hotel. The old port is a good fifteen to twenty minute walk.
As usual check the web sites www.booking.com and www.venere.com and look at information on line and in guide books. It is important to know where the ferry port is and travel around the islands before settling on where to stay.
We stayed at the Chateau Zevgoli, it is up the hill slightly above the old town but easily accessible and is a gem. The rooms are lovely, splash out and get the suite on the top floor with a terrace next door and brilliant views. The staff are great, the lady who serves the breakfast and the receptionist who starts at 1pm each day could not have been more helpful and the rates include the lovely breakfast.
The owner also has two other places the Hotel Apollon nearer the port and Castro Apartment further up the hill.
The Zorzis Hotel, 30 Kalogera Street, is a lovely, locally owned hotel in a traditional building in the heart of the old town but very peaceful. Breakfast served in the garden is excellent and the owners had recommendations for eating at all price levels.
Lucullus, Old Market Street, is great, probably two of the best meals on the whole holiday and the value for money is incredible. The rabbit is just wonderful as are the lamb chops in an olives and thyme sauce. The owner, cook and waiting staff are lovely.
Meze2, Paralia, the waterfront, is excellent, the fish and seafood top notch, the word is the local fishermen come here to eat. Very reasonably priced and again very pleasant owner and staff, it is very popular particularly at night.
Labyrinth, Old Town, follow the Old Market Street and look out for the signs, this is very smart and has a lovely garden but the food was not quite as good as the hype, however it was still an enjoyable experience, booking definitely recommended.
There are loads of places to eat in the town along the waterfront and in the old town streets behind, you would never go hungry here.
Naxos Café, opposite Labyrinth above is a great place for an evening drink, very pleasant owner, great music and a gem for people watching in the narrow street.
The Paralia is full of cafes and bars with lovely sofas where you can sit and watch the people and the boats, along at the end furthest from the port there are a couple of more trendy young bars doing cocktails and with a louder volume of music.
Koursaros, Meletopolou, is without a doubt the best fish restaurant in the town, the design, service and food is all top notch as is the clientele but it comes at a price and it is very expensive, particularly if you have the whole fish sold by the kilo.
Nisa, 10 Kalogera Street, is excellent, either get a table on the terrace, best for people watching, or the garden. The food is excellent but the prices put it in the expensive category.
To Maereio, 16 Kalogera Street, is very highly rated and is reasonably priced but it does not take bookings therefore we never managed to try it out but it was always packed and queues of people waiting.
Kalita, 31 Kalogera Street is attached to the Fresh Hotel but run separately, has a good reputation and the menu looks good and reasonably priced but very popular so did not get a chance to try it, definitely book in advance.
Kadena, on the harbour is a smart modern bar and café with good food on our visit, the seafood linguine was excellent and reasonably priced.
Bubbles Bar Gallery, Agios Vlassis, what more can you ask for, a lovely bar doing great cocktails, wines etc. that is also a chocolate shop and has brilliant music and is run be a lovely lady called Despina who is an excellent host. Cushions on the church steps for the younger ones, more comfortable seats for the older ones, it is a gem !
Katerina’s is a bar restaurant in Little Venice and is a great waterside terrace for pre dinner drinks with and a restaurant downstairs which has a good reputation. All the bars in this area get a bit younger and rowdier later at night !
Toro Loco; is a wine bar that specialises in Spanish wines in one of the streets running of the waterfront. It is very nice but at night very noisy mainly from the bar opposite.
White Bar, Matogianni Street, which is in one of the three main streets, is great to sit outside and watch the people, it also does food.
There a loads of bars and cafes on the harbour front, some very local and cheap some upmarket and very expensive you can take your choice.
Ouzo is of course probably the best known Greek drink and while still seen being drunk with meze it has apparently lost popularity presumably as people change their drinking habits and more cocktail type bars open up.
Cocktails are popular both in the cities and on the islands, and many of the island waterfront bars are great for happy hour drinks.
Lager type beer such as Mythos is very commonly drunk but there is increasingly bars focusing on small craft breweries with more ale type beers such as IPA’s.
Lastly wine, and in more informal eating places house wine by the litre is both cheap and drinkable, white, rose and red are usually available. If you are going to try more upmarket wine then it is worth doing some homework before you go to learn about grape types. Greek wines are gaining more and more admirers so check out some of the wine bars that have opened in recent years.
Wandering through the town, going up to the top of the hill where there is a museum and some fascinating buildings, the whole town is just lovely and the beach is a nice change with loads of places to eat.
The bus office is just by the port and they have a timetable that shows the services to some lovely beaches around the island and inland to the mountain villages of Filoti, Halki and the lovely Apiranthos.
Wandering the streets, getting lost, everyone does, see the windmills, photograph the pelican. There is also a small town beach but buses go to the various other main beaches on the island.
Another island with a good reputation, we only stopped on route between islands at the port town of Parikia which has a lovely old part. The town of Naoussa to the north is gaining a reputation as a trendy and smart destination.