My answer was always the same – even though not what they were expecting to hear. Naxos Island: 428 sq km in the middle of Aegean Sea is the place where you will taste the Greek spirit in its finest. Naxos is the biggest island of Cyclades and this is why you are going to find in this island anything you desire. So whether you are looking for the ideal place to spend your romantic vacation with your other half, for a quiet island to enjoy the time with your family or for a place to party Naxos will outcome your expectations.
Take me back
From the old times, Naxos was the center of the Cyclades known for its rich history, its products that were traveling all over the world and its unique architecture that is a mixture of the different conquerors the island had during the years. According to mythology, Naxos was the place where Zeus – the father of all gods lived and this is why the highest point of the island is called Mountain Zeus. From the old times until today Naxos is really famous as a source of Emery and marble. Wondering around the island you will notice from the old temples to the traditional houses the outstanding use of marble and Emery. And as for Naxian residents, someone could only say that their love for this island and their kindness is something rare that makes this place even more unique.
How to get there to Naxos?
Whether you decide to arrive there by plane or boat the options are plenty. During the whole year Aegean Airlines is offering daily flights to Naxos Airport and of course, during the summer more companies are flying to this small airport not only from Athens Airport but from all over Europe. If on the other hand, you decide to enjoy the Aegean Sea on your way then every day you will find many ships departing not only from Piraeus port but also from many islands of Cyclades and making a stop in Naxos port. From Piraeus Port your trip will last approximately 5 hours, when trips from other islands like Mykonos, Santorini, Ios last even less.
A special Welcome from Naxos !
Arriving at the port of Naxos the first thing you will notice is the well-known <<Portara>> (which means big door in the Greek language) the most famous attraction of the island. It is believed that Portara is the only remaining of the ancient temple of the god Apollon that used to exist there. Of course, don’t forget to spend an evening there and enjoy one of the most beautiful and atmospherical sunsets of the Aegean Sea.
Exactly next to the port is Hora – the main town of the island. There you will find many hotels or rooms to let in very reasonable prices. I would recommend the place as you are in the center and really close to anything you may need. After your first walk in Hora, you will realize that every detail you ever saw in photos of the Greek islands will suddenly come true. White houses reflecting the hot sun every morning, narrow streets inviting you to get lost, colorful cafes waiting to satisfy your appetite and of course the old castle standing unconquerable all these years.
There you will always find many different options to spend your time day or night.
But…… there is no better way to start your day on this island than by trying the handmade cheese pies you will find in almost every bakery with one of the best products this island produces – Graviera cheese. You will find this local cheese in almost every market and restaurant being served in a different way but always so delicious. The place where you will find really good traditional products and taste them is Melimilon – for me the top traditional tasting experience on the island!
Time for some action
Full of energy with a breakfast like that it’s the perfect opportunity to explore the history and the culture of the island.
Stop Number 1: Kastro, the oldest part of Naxos Town where you will find yourself walking between stone houses, small paths and arches feeling the Venetian air left from the Medieval times. As you will notice even now most of the old houses are used like hotels, cafes with an amazing view, romantic restaurants or stores. If the sunset finds you there try to make it to one of the highest points to see the orange sun sinking in the blue of the Aegean Sea behind Portara.
Stop Number 2: Temple of Demeter – the goddess of grain. Close to a small village called Sagri you will meet the remainings of an all marble temple that was constructed around the 6th century. So for everyone into history, a ride with your car from Hora won’t take long but will definitely worth the visit.
Stop Number 3: Time for a drink!
The most famous product that Naxos produces is the unique liqueur Kitron. Only produced here Kitron is a liqueur coming from the local fruit Kitro – a blend of orange and lemon could someone say and of course a must-try in the island. In the Hora you will also find the Kitron bar creating cocktails with this liqueur in case you are open for something different. For me though what you should definitely experience is a tour of Vallindras Distillery of Kitron, located in the village Halki. Through this tour, you will have the chance to learn not only the distillation process of the liqueur and taste it but also take a look at Naxos’ history and traditions.
Final Stop: And of course you can skip all my previous recommendations because I know the reason you are choosing to travel to a Greek island is one: THE BEACHES!
So in this point, I will be totally honest with you by saying that the Naxian coastline will definitely blow your mind. Being the biggest island of Cyclades, Naxos can offer you many different options that for sure won’t let you down. Very important note here is the following: Whether you are visiting the island with a car or not this is not something you will have to worry about as most of the beaches are reachable on foot or by the buses that are departing from Hora every 30 minutes all day.
So the first beach that you can reach even on foot from Hora is the Saint George beach. A sandy beach with clean and shallow waters (too shallow for me) is the perfect spot for families with young children or for you who don’t want to waste any more minute of your holidays moving around the island.
In the western side of Naxos, a bit further from Hora you can find more choices that you can either reach by car or by bus. From Agios Prokopios beach down to Mikri Vigla you will enjoy the golden beaches with the crystal waters that you have been dreaming about. Many beaches one next to the other can offer you whatever you are looking for. So if you are ready to feel the beat of the island Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna are the places for you to party. In these organized beaches, the choices of beach bars and restaurants are plenty. My favorite one the old but always crowded Santana beach bar-restaurant. Exactly next to these beaches a more quiet one is Plaka beach where you can also find the camping of the island. Once you are there don’t forget to try the amazing food and cocktails of Yazoo Summer Bliss – a beach bar that organizes the best full moon parties of the island! In case, on the other hand, you are a fan of nudism then you can definitely free yourself in Maragas Beach together with many other tourists!
You may not expect that but Naxos has become the last years a famous destination for kite surfers. So if you are one of them or just ready for a new hobby like kite surfing or windsurfing, then the ideal beach for you is Mikri Vigla. In case on the other hand you want to meet the locals and feel like one of them then you need to drive a bit further and arrive on the other side of the island where you can dive in the wavy waters of Apollonas beach, where you will then eat the best fish on the island or a bit further to Lionas beach in case you are bored of the sandy beaches (trust me you won’t!). And last but definitely not least my favorite ones – two beaches you can only reach by car but once you do you will wish to stay there for ever. Alyko and Kastraki beaches are barely known between the tourists and not really organized but they will reward you with the beauty you will outface there. I could only describe it like a tropical heaven on earth.
And when it comes to food in this island you have one specific problem. You never know what to choose! I actually believe that in Naxos I have tasted the best traditional Greek food. And this happened because in Naxos people serve you salad with vegetables being collected from their garden, sea food that was fishing during the night, cheese that they traditionally produced on their own and meat they were breeding. Don’t leave the island if you don’t taste the most delicious potatoes you have ever try and also the Greek salad with another local cheese, Mizithra.
The choices are plenty so I will just let you with the places I tasted the best plates of the whole Aegean Sea. No 1 Maro’s Tavern in Hora is one of the things I wanna go back to this island. Don’t let the queue scare you. It is definitely worth the time. And please go there with your stomach totally empty. The portions are H-U-G-E. No2 Matina’s Tavern in Korono Village far from Hora you will eat in the most beautiful courtyard of the island the tastiest cooked dishes. No3 and time for THE DESSERT. Waffle House, a place you will find by the smell of the most delicious fresh-baked waffles that you will remember for years!
Let’s get this party started
And of course after the dinner is time for sleep…. Kidding! Nobody goes to bed so early as you will notice in a Greek island like Naxos! And this is because in every corner and small street you will find from trendy bars to enjoy your cocktails, traditional taverns with Greek music to practice your syrtaki movies and clubs to dance until the sun rises again in the beautiful harbor of Hora. In order to feel the fantastic vibe of Naxian nightlife try to find in the Old Market Street ”Naxos Cafe”, a cozy cafe with traditional decoration that you will enjoy from amazing coffee to special cocktails in the most friendly atmosphere you ever met! In the harbor, you will find ”Like Home Bar” and ”520” bars – where you will have the best view of the island in a modern environment! I promise you you will be unable to choose the cocktail you will order! And for the party animals ”Ocean club” is the place where the whole island is dancing after midnight! Don’t lose it! One of my favorites also ”Swing Bar” with nice music and amazing people is one of the most famous bars on the island!
For me, Naxos is always a place full of surprises. A place that even though I have visited already 3 times, every time I discover unique places, new small beautiful corners, and tastes. The largest and lushest island in the Cyclades will fulfill every expectation and desire of its visitor and make you smile as you will finally realize how ”live well” feels.