Naxos Travel Guide: A Gem in the Cyclades
Naxos, one of the most beautiful Greek islands, is the largest of the Cyclades islands. Unlike its neighbors, Santorini and Mykonos, Naxos remains relatively unfazed by the North American hype. Even though the picturesque island continues to surface on Greek island round-ups, its low-key ambiance and quiet pace make it the perfect destination for visitors seeking an authentic Greek island experience. And only three and a half hours from bustling Athens. In our Naxos travel guide, find out more about this gem in the Cyclades.
When to go to Naxos
The weather in Greece is warm from March/April onwards, with peak crowds in July and August. Early September is an ideal time to travel to Naxos. By September, fewer tourists are packing the ferries and beaches as children across Europe are back in school.
The easiest way to arrive at Naxos is by ferry from Athens. A high-speed ferry from the port of Piraeus (just outside of Athens) 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. Check here for ferries: https://www.greekferries.gr/
What to Do
Eat. Be sure to arrive with a healthy appetite and eat plenty. Don’t miss the local Naxian cheeses and olive oils! 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. However, going inland (even if it’s a block or two) will often reveal restaurants aimed at locals instead of tourists, complete with more reasonable prices and authentic cuisine.
While it’s a drive nearly 45 minutes inland, a visit to Rotonda (located in the Apeiranthos region of Naxos) will deliver gourmet food with jaw-dropping views of the island and sea.
Pro Tip: Reserve a table for sunset; the views are some of the best on the island.
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.
Three well-known beaches dot the coast outside the town center – Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, and Plaka. Each boasts crystal clear turquoise water, not unlike the Caribbean, and Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna are within walking distance of each other. All three beaches are easily accessible by public transit that runs every half hour from the town center.
Pro Tip: If you want 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 food or drink purchases.
Unique to Naxos is the Eggares Olive Press Museum, one of Naxos’s oldest remaining olive mills. A brief complimentary tour showcases the mill’s history, 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. Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.
Photo: Eggares Olive Press
Where to Stay
There’s no shortage of accommodation options on Naxos, ranging from luxurious private villas to basic room rentals. Kavos Boutique Hotel is located a ten-minute walk from Agios Prokopios beach. It 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.
Hotel Grotta Is rated #1 on TripAdvisor for a good reason. The Greek hospitality is evident when you arrive, welcomed with a snack and glass of white wine from the family’s vineyard. Don’t miss the legendary breakfast spread; it’s dreamy.
Interested in visiting Naxos or maybe island hopping for your next vacation? Contact me here; I’d love to curate your perfect Mediterranean escape!