Oh, Naxos… the most glorious welcome to the Greek islands I ever could have hoped for. When you’re planning your trip to the Cycladic Islands of Greece you’re probably imagining the crystal blue water, seaside towns, fresh seafood and the classic white homes that the islands are best known for. I know I did, and to be perfectly honest… Naxos far exceeded my expectations!
When planning your Greek Islands trip, I highly recommend starting in Naxos for at least a few days. There is so much to do and see so you definitely want to be here when your energy and vacation giddiness is high. While Naxos is probably my favorite island overall, I don’t know if I would have appreciated it as much if I went to Santorini or Mykonos first. Those islands have that WOW factor that you just don’t get anywhere else in the world.
Naxos has that something special that’s hard to explain. You’ll just have to experience it to feel it! Here are my recommendations for where to stay, what to do and where to eat in Naxos, Greece:
Where to Stay: I’d recommend staying somewhere in Ag. Anna. I stayed at Iris Studios, it was minimal but walking distance to everything and very affordable. This area had the best beaches for relaxing, swimming and paddle ball but still had plenty going on and great restaurants on the water.
- Lagos Mare: If you’re looking for luxury in Naxos, look no further than Lagos Mare. This boutique hotel is absolutely beautiful from the inside out. Luxurious oceanfront rooms, impeccable design, a crystal blue pool and a restaurant, fitness center and spa onsite.
- Price: Ranges from 130 euros to 450 euros a night.
- Iria Beach Art Hotel: Another luxurious option for accommodation in Naxos. The Iria Beach Art Hotel is right on the water and a close walk to all the best restaurants in town. Amenities include an onsite fitness center and spa, as well as a restaurant of their own. Some of their rooms also offer sea views and private balconies, perfect for the beautiful sunsets.
- Price: Ranges from 80 euros to 450 euros a night.
- Hotel Semeli: If a hotel’s interior design is important to you when booking accommodation I recommend Hotel Semeli, a charming and trendy hotel only 300m from the beach. While most Naxos rooms are basic and a little outdated, Hotel Semeli makes a solid effort with their sleek modern design. There is a beautiful pool on the property, aircon and breakfast each morning.
- Price: Ranges from 45 euros to 120 euros a night.
- Studios Agathina: The Junior Sea View Suite is exceptionally lovely and exquisitely decorated. The private balcony offers a dining area and views of the sea and sunsets. The room also offers more amenities than one may expect from a small boutique hotel on a quiet Greek island such as a Nespresso Machine, LCD TV, and iPhone dock. Studios Agathina also has a lovely pool and is a short walk to the beach.
- Price: Ranges from 110 euros to 140 euros a night.
- Aggeliki’s Diamond: This hotel is another wonderful option. Each room is different by design but all offer access to the crystal blue pool, and most rooms include a small kitchenette. The Thetis room is especially well decorated in my opinion, although I must say the best part of Aggeliki’s Diamond is the proximity to the sea… it’s a short one minute walk!
- Price: 65 euros and up.
Where to Eat:
- Akrogiali Restaurant – I loved this place SO much it was hard to get beyond it and try anywhere else. Akrogiali is a sweet, family owned place on the beach with homemade, authentic Greek food. Their baklava is to die for and they offer 2 euro wine with a view of the sunset, right on the water.
- Banana Beach Bar– This is an amazing lunch spot. The design is gorgeous and it’s right on the beach. I couldn’t get enough of their signature coffee!
- Santana Beach – This cocktail bar is actually part of a really beautiful hotel I would recommend. It’s right on the beach and the front patio is a beach club with party vibes and a late night scene and DJ.
- Naxos Island Hotel Rooftop – Another hotel restaurant but a very special one. This restaurant is located on their roof with a beautiful pool and view of the sea and sunset. Go for the drinks and the view, not necessarily the food.
What to Do:
- Cine Naxos – Experience an outdoor movie under the stars any night of the week. Cine Naxos offers popcorn, wine etc. This is a great experience whether you’re with a group of girls or with your partner. What’s better than wine, good company and a movie under the stars? (If you don’t make it to this theater there are outdoor theaters in Mykonos and Santorini as well.)
- Rent a quad: I rented a quad from Naxos Rent Car in Ag. Anna for 20 euros a day. Most places require an international license so I recommend getting that sorted beforehand. Once you have your rental there’s so much to explore:
- Drive up to the top of the mountain visible from Ag. Anna (I think it’s called Filoti) for sunset. There’s a restaurant up there with the most beautiful view. Make sure to time it so that you’re leaving a little before sunset. The quad ride down that road as the large sun disappeared into the sea on the way into town was one of my top 3 favorite experiences in Greece.
- Drive up to Temple of Demeter – The temple itself is not all that thrilling in my opinion, but the drive is nice and it’s along the way to Chalkio from Ag. Anna.
- Drive up to Chalkio – This is a cute little artist’s town in the hills. Make sure to get a photo with the VW buggy parked under the pink bougainvillea flowers in the side alley in the center of town. It’s starting to become well known and is just the most precious scene. Melanes and Kinidaros are also nice towns to drive through as well.
- Walk from Naxos town to The Temple of Apollo, a great place to watch the sunrise.
- Pack a little mezze plate or a takeaway meal and watch the sunset at Shark Paint of the Stone.
- Get lost in Naxos town’s labyrinth, and visit the Castle of Naxos. There are so many great places to eat in town with a view and beautiful little boutiques to shop in.
- There are a ton of watersport options here like waterskiing, SUP, and windsurfing. Flisvos Sport Club is a great reliable place to rent from or take lessons. Even if you’re not into watersports I’d recommend going for their fabulous beach cafe & restaurant.
- Hike the Seven Villages – Naxos is a great island for hikers, and hiking is a great way to see Naxos. The Seven Villages hike allows you to explore the sweet villages of the island and learn about the history and culture.
There’s something truly magical about Naxos that will leave you daydreaming about it even years after you’ve left. While each Greek Island holds something special and unique, Naxos really felt like home. The white sand beaches, beautiful restaurants and people, epic sunsets, outdoor sports and water activities make Naxos an absolute must visit Cycladic escape.