Unlike its neighbors Santorini and Mykonos, Naxos remains relatively unfazed by the North American hype – despite the fact that the picturesque island continues to surface on Greek island round-ups. Its low-key ambiance and quiet pace provides visitors with an authentic Greek island experience. The biggest and the greenest island in Cyclades, Naxos has impressively high mountains, fertile valleys, lush green gorges, stunning seascapes and traditional villages perched high on mountain tops, where the inhabitants still wear their traditional dress and live off the fruits of the land. Naxos is also an island filled with beautiful old churches, monasteries and Venetian castles that coexist harmoniously with Cycladic cubic houses.
The weather in Greece is warm from March/April onwards, with peak crowds in July and August. Early September is an ideal time to experience the island. By September fewer tourists are packing the ferries and beaches, as children across Europe are back in school.
If you’re flying into Athens, the easiest way to arrive to Naxos is a quick 45 minute flight; though there are only a handful of flights daily, so you can also take a ferry from the nearby port of Piraeus (just outside of Athens). A high-speed 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 here in advance to alleviate any headaches at the port and guarantee your arrival time.
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, 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. 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.
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, 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. 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 the purchase of food or drinks.Unique to Naxos is the Eggares Olive Press Museum, one of Naxos’s oldest remaining olive mills. 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. You’ll be hooked.
There’s no shortage of accommodation options on Naxos, ranging from luxurious private villas to basic room rentals.
Experience island life in style at Naxian on the Beach, which was conceived exclusively for couples. Breakfast in bed, dinners by the beach bar, complimentary sun-beds and a warm welcome will greet you here in a boho-chic ambiance that is just perfect for couples who seek a quality beach vacation.
18 Grapes is a unique -all suites- boutique hotel, epitomizing the essence of Cycladic leisure. From the cosmopolitan swimming pool area and the sophisticated sea-view roof garden (with a pool bar), to the authentic breakfast area and breezy hotel gardens and terraces, the 18 Grapes hotel is a place where the outgoing Naxian rhythms blend wonderfully with the serenity of discretion, delivering an outstanding holiday experience.
The ultra-chic, minimalist suites and villas of Naxian Collection promise visitors an idyllic environment with views of Naxos town and its castles, an organic vegetable garden, a well-guarded wine cellar and sublime private or semi-private pools. The property artfully blends sophistication with a relaxed island hospitality.