Why You Should Consider Naxos for Your Greek Island Getaway

Naxos, the largest of the Cycladic Islands, hasn’t gained the same tourist following as some of its neighbors. But the reason why remains unknown, for Naxos has it all: white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, charming little villages, impressive ancient ruins, high mountain peaks, vistas that go on for miles, and a happening local food and wine scene. But other travelers’ loss is your gain, for the lack of crowds on the island make it feel like an undiscovered paradise.

Chora, Naxos, Greece

While most of the Cyclades don’t have much farming and resort to getting most of their produce from the mainland, Naxos is large enough to house a fertile valley with a rich agricultural history. The island is known for its cheeses, potatoes, wine, kitron liqueur, olives, and more.  The locals are proud of their culinary history, and it shows in the incredible restaurant scene.

While the dining scene may be what sets Naxos apart from its neighbors, there is so much more that makes it a memorable destination.

What to Do

The best way to experience the island is by car. Speak with your hotel about reserving a rental, and take a day to drive the winding roads of the island. Starting from Chora, drive up through the mountains and stop off at the picture-perfect towns of Chalki, Filoti, and Apeiranthos. It’s hard to choose which one is the most beautiful, between their stunning plazas, quaint restaurants and cafes, and breathtaking views. While in Chalki, be sure to visit the kitron distillery, where they create a traditional liquor that is only made in Naxos and is a product of the citron fruit. On your way back down, make a stop at the Temple of Demeter in Sangri, a well-preserved structure dating back to 530 BC. Then spend some time driving along the coast, stopping off at any of the many beautiful beaches along the way.

Naxos Mountain Towns

Take a day to enjoy Chora (main town). With so many winding streets, the best way to get to know the old town is to leave your map at home and just wander. Exploring the beautiful alleys you’ll find charming wine bars and cafes and plenty of great shopping. Be sure to make your way up to 1739, a terrace cafe in the castle with arguably the best views in town.

A must-do while in Naxos is watching the sunset from the Portara. This doorway to the unfinished Temple of Apollo sits high upon a hill just outside of Chora and is the signature viewpoint of the island. Depending on the month you visit, you may be able to watch the sun go down framed by this ancient window. But get there early–it can get crowded with everyone vying for the best vantage point.

Where to Stay

Medusa Resort & Suites Naxos

For an unforgettable beach vacation, choose Medusa Resort & Suites. Located on Plaka Beach, about 10 minutes from the airport and less than 20 from Chora and the port, Plaka is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Medusa was one of the first resort built here more than 20 years ago which means that they were lucky enough to snag some of the most prime real estate. This family run, beach-front property has a warm and welcoming staff, an incredible al fresco restaurant, and beautiful gardens spread throughout the property (including an organic vegetable garden, where the restaurant sources some of its produce). Take part in morning yoga or ask the staff to help you arrange kite surfing, kayaking, or any other activities that may interest you.

For an in-town experience, consider Hotel Anixis. Located in the heart of the old town, where there are no cars and only winding pedestrian walkways, you’ll get a feel for the local island lifestyle. The rooftop garden, where you can enjoy your morning breakfast  or an evening drink, has incredible views of the sea and the town. Staying here, you’re just a few minutes’ walk from some of the best dining and shopping the island has to offer.

Where to Eat

Apostolis Naxos Greece

Located in the heart of the old town, Apostolis is not to be missed. Set in a beautiful courtyard adorned with colorful hanging lanterns, the location is half the appeal, but luckily, the food isn’t half bad, either. Dine on traditional Greek dishes and fresh, locally caught seafood, paired with Naxian wine. This is sure to be one of the most memorable meals of your trip.

When visiting the high mountain towns of the island, be sure to make time to stop for a meal at Taverna Platanos in Apeiranthos. This simple, traditional restaurant serves up fresh salads, homemade cheeses, and local meats. Try grilled rooster, their specialty. And besides the food, the views from the terrace looking down to the valley below are simply stunning.

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