Discover the Hidden Corners of Naxos by Moped
The Greek Islands aren’t photoshopped. The vivid whites and blues depicted in glossy brochures of Santorini, Mykonos, Naxos and Corfu are just as luminescent in person. The undulating topography of cliffs and beaches manages to house just as much history as sunbathing.
Look past the packaged holidays and cruises, though, and this sprinkling of Mediterranean islands hides an even more magical face.
A new perspective
If, like me, you live in a place where the only difference in elevation is between one apartment floor and the next, it will be Naxos’ mountainous terrain that captures your heart first.
The next thing you will realize is how difficult it is to travel across such a rugged landscape. Buses can take you only so far on Naxos, and only on the most well-travelled routes. This is usually as far as most package vacationers get.
What most people miss are the experiences beyond that. My unplanned trip to Naxos was one of the most unforgettable I’ve ever taken – and I’ve travelled to 19 countries. But it wasn’t the food or the beaches that took my breath away. The parts of my trip I most treasure took place on the seats of mopeds and ATVs.
With a smile and a bit of confidence, you don’t even need to have operated one before. Just make sure you know where the brake is!
How to hit the road
It is unnervingly easy to rent any kind of vehicle on the Greek Islands. Typically all you need is a convincing-enough piece of plastic that vaguely resembles a driver’s licence. You don’t need a Greek licence, you don’t need to be of any minimum age, and you don’t need a motorcycle licence to rent a moped. With a smile and a bit of confidence, you don’t even need to have operated one before. Just make sure you know where the brake is!
Before you set off, make sure you’ve got a map of the island’s gas stations and know how far a tank of gas will carry you. And another tip I learned the hard way: don’t go swimming with the keys in your pocket.
With your own set of wheels, you have the freedom to go exploring, when and as you like. You may also find yourself saving a significant amount of money by avoiding the overpriced taxis and buses waiting to scoop up tourists as they dock.
And another tip I learned the hard way: don’t go swimming with the keys in your pocket.
What you’ll find along the way
There is nothing that comes close to the exhilaration of zipping around a cliff-top bend and seeing a picture-perfect view even better than the ones you’ve just passed. Discover hidden villages of joyful locals who may invite you in to their family-run restaurants for heaps of bread, olives, lashings of oil, and a dance. Follow a pathway off the main road that leads you to an almost untouched Mycenean tomb, and later, a giant kouros statue carved of marble, abandoned by the ancient Greeks when it became too expensive to transport.
In the heat of midday, ditch the marked route, drive toward the coast and clamber your way down to your own private, pristine stretch of sand and sea.
When you hear from the ruddy-faced nomad that they live to travel, this is the kind of travel they’re talking about.
It’s in these hidden experiences where you will find the heart of Naxos; where you will find the soul of the Greek Islands. There’s more than an ounce of truth to the cliché “it’s about the journey, not the destination.”
Allow for some spontaneity in your trip and make the journey unforgettable. When you hear from the ruddy-faced nomad that they live to travel, this is the kind of travel they’re talking about.