I’m a huge fan of Naxos due to the fact that the main village of Chora ticks off all three boxes on my very short list of preferable amenities for a Greek Island stay. Convenient Port, traditional village and a nice beach all in one!
Naxos is on most of the main Cyclades ferry routes. It is a great stop over between Athens and Santorini if you don’t want to so the 8 hour trip to Santorini in one go. It is the largest of the Cyclade Islands and also the greenest, so it’s also a great all-around destination.
The busy port is in the main village of Chora Naxos/Χώρα Νάξου. Naxos is about 5.5 hours from Athens Port of Piraeus (varies by boat). I prefer to use the site Viva.gr to compare ferry routes and pricing. When booking your hotel, check which ones will pick you up at the port. Many offer a port/airport transfer and will be waiting when you arrive to take you to your room.
Upon arrival you will be greeted by the Portara/Πορτάρα or Temple of Apollo. Definitely climb up there at some point, preferably at sunset. Depending on the weather, you may get wet because you have to cross a causeway to get to the ruins. If it is windy and the waves are crashing up over the walkway, you may get a surprise!
The town is quite picturesque when are arriving by boat. The elevated central part of Chora is the old town which is called Kastro/Κάστρο. Spend some time getting lost in this medieval maze – flip flops not recommended!
Along the harbor you will find traditional restaurants, cafes, souvlaki joints, frozen greek yogurt- the usual fare. The thing I like about this harbor is that it is built up in layers, so there are many options in a small area.
Antamoma – Modern take on Greek classics. This place is very popular, so instead of fighting the crowds for dinner, we had lunch here. Twice.
Nostimon Hellas – Again, a modern twist on Greek food, slightly less trendy than Antamoma. We had great, personal service and lots of wine. It’s off the beaten path, so a bit more relaxing than the harbor side restaurants.
Irini’s – Near to the port, so a great place to chill while you enjoy one last meal in Naxos. Great seafood and traditional Greek cuisine. Their complimentary dessert is super good. Galatopita/Γαλατόπιτα, which when googled seems to be just a simple milk custard cake. At Irini’s it is something much different and different in a very good way!
Like Home Bar – If you want to be like the sweet dudes from the Bravo reality show “Below Deck“, hit up this place that was featured regularly on the show. Ok, even if you don’t want to be like them, you can still go and hang with the masses in this bar/club type place with loud music.
Flisvos Beach Cafe – Down at the end of Agios Georgio beach, this place is a restaurant/cafe/watersport rental/night-spot. Check their schedule and see if they have any parties planned while you are on the island. I love their decor and it is a good place to wind down in the evening after a meal in the bustling port area.
Swing Bar – On the second tier of the harbor, you’ll find this spot with chilled music playing and a nice atmosphere. They have some very interesting cocktails, so definitely opt for the cocktail menu instead of one of the basics.
Agios Georgios is walkable from Chora and plenty of hotels are closer to the beach than the harbor. It’s great because you can stay in a hotel that is a 10min walk from town and 5 min walk to the beach. This beach is busier as it is so close to town, but far enough away from the port that you don’t have to worry about icky water. Once you get to the beach, keep walking. Grab chairs at Trata Beach Bar and enjoy their coffees, food and adult beverages all day long.
You can take a bus (ask at your hotel how to get to the nearest bus stop) to Plaka beach, which is very nice and goes on forever, so never really busy. If you are here for the day and want to try something a bit different for lunch, definitely hit up Picasso’s Mexican Restaurant. Having nachos and margaritas on a Greek Island is my idea of heaven on earth.
Where to stay
As I just mentioned, you can find a place close to Agios Gerogios beach which is about a 10min walk into the main town/harbor.
Korali Boutique Hotel – The owners of this modern boutique (renovated in 2015) were so friendly and accommodating. It is very close to the beach, cafes, mini-markets, but on a quiet street.
Alkyoni Beach Hotel – This place is a bit more of a splurge and you are further from town as it is on the end of Agios Georgios beach. BUT it has a swimming pool, full service restaurant, modern rooms and you just feel a bit more ‘at one with nature’ outside of the town.
There are many things to do around the island, so definitely explore while you are on Naxos.