Thanks to a New York Times article declaring Naxos, Greece “not to be missed“, travel heavyweights include it year after year on their roundups of must-see destinations within the Cyclades. Its low-key ambiance and quiet pace provide visitors with an authentic Greek island experience. Plus it’s only three and a half hours from bustling Athens.
Unlike its neighbors Santorini and Mykonos, Naxos remains relatively unfazed by the North American hype. Yet the picturesque island continues to surface on Greek island round-ups.
When to Go
The weather in Greece is warm from March/April onwards, with peak crowds in July and August. The ideal season to experience the island peaks around early September. By September, fewer tourists are packing the ferries and beaches, as children across Europe are back in school.
The easiest way to arrive to Naxos is by ferry from Athens. From the port of Piraeus (just outside of Athens) a highspeed ferry will deliver you to Naxos in roughly 3.5 hours, while other ferries offer a more scenic 5.5-hour journey. Purchase your tickets in advance to alleviate any headaches at the port and guarantee your arrival time. https://www.greekferries.gr/
What to Do
Eat. Simply arrive hungry, and don’t leave until you’ve eaten just about everything. Local Naxian cheese and olive oil are not to be missed, as is imbibing on a glass of island-made Kitron (a spirit made from citron trees, a relative of the lemon). There are plenty of restaurants directly across the street from the port. A short walk inland will often reveal restaurants aimed at locals instead of tourists. Get an authentic Greek island experience complete with more reasonable prices and genuine cuisine.
While it’s a drive nearly 45 minutes inland, a visit to Rotonda will deliver gourmet food with jaw-dropping views of the island and sea. Tip: Reserve a table for sunset, the views are some of the best on the island.
Visit one of Naxos’ oldest remaining olive mills, the Eggares Olive Press Museum. A brief complimentary tour showcases the history of the mill, including original production materials once used at the site. Don’t miss a tasting, I dare you to leave without buying some of their oil.
Naxos has no shortage of stunning beaches and beach bars. From the Chora (town center) the first beach is Agios Georgios, an easy 15-minute walk from the center of town. While there are ample oceanfront restaurants and beach bars, Agios Georgios is often the most crowded due to its proximity to the town center.
Outside of the town center, three well-known beaches dot the coast – Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, and Plaka. Each boasts crystal clear turquoise water, not unlike the Caribbean. Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna are within walking distance of each other. Easily access all three beaches by public transit that runs every half hour from the town center. To rent a sunbed for the day (highly recommended to find reprieve from the scorching Mediterranean sun) visit any number of the beach bars along the beach. Some will rent two beds and an umbrella for a flat fee, others will include them for ‘free’ with the purchase of food or drinks.
Where to Stay
Accommodation on Naxos ranges from luxurious private villas to basic room rentals.
Kavos Boutique Hotel is located a ten-minute walk from Agios Prokopios beach and offers guests their choice of villas, apartments, or suites overlooking the Aegean sea and nestled among the bougainvillea. With an outdoor pool, restaurant, and pool bar, guests will want for nothing. https://www.kavos-naxos.com/
Hotel Grotta The Greek hospitality is evident from the moment you arrive, welcomed with a snack and glass of white wine from the family’s vineyard. Hit the legendary breakfast spread, unforgettable. https://www.hotelgrotta.gr/
Interested in visiting Greece, or maybe island hopping for your next vacation? Contact me here, I’d love to curate your perfect Mediterranean escape!