When heading to Greece, the number one bucket list for people is Island hopping. Typically you plan for the more popular islands of Santorini and Mykonos, then sprinkle in some of the lesser knowns. One of the lesser knowns that I LOVE, is Naxos. I did a ton of research to narrow down to which islands I wanted to visit, and am so so glad I chose Naxos. The perfect mix of history, culture, food, and the most beautiful beaches.
You can get to Naxos from Athens very easily by both ferry and plane. The plane ride is about a half hour and the ferry is about 3.5 hours of travel. I opted for the ferry this time, because the flight times didn’t work for my itinerary. I took an uber to Piraeus port and then the ferry from there (there are two ports out of Athens). Make sure you give yourself some time, because the traffic was so bad that I almost missed the ferry! No surprise, I always like to cut things close.
There are many ferry operators, but I booked with Seajet.
You can purchase your own Seajet ferry tickets here: https://www.seajets.gr/
ARRIVING IN NAXOS:
When you get to the Port in Naxos, you will walk off to find many taxis, cars for hire, or you may have hotel pickup depending on where you booked. You may even be walking distance if you booked a place near the port!
If you have read my other travel guides, getting hustled about transportation upon arrival is probably my least favourite thing in this world, so I always look into my options ahead of time and opt for the easiest way. In this case, it was the local bus, because it runs every 15 minutes and stops in all major areas of Naxos. This was the most hassle free option available, so the way to go for someone like me.
How to find the local bus? Don’t worry I did the leg work for you. Once you walk off the ferry, and go through the parking lot – walk all the way to the far left of the parking lot/car area. There will be a little shop there to buy bus tickets. You must purchase tickets before you get on, as you cannot pay on the bus. They are one or two euros each (a steal), and the bus will come right to you, load your luggage, and bring you to the area you are staying! Very easy, inexpensive, and convenient.
WHERE TO STAY:
As usual, I did tons of research before picking an area and place in Naxos. Naxos is a bit different because you first of all choose either the city center or the beaches (there are other areas, but these are the two main places to stay). THEN, once you narrow that down you have to pick which specific area in town or which specific beach. Needless to say, after several bookings and cancellations and review reading, I finally chose to stay in Agios Prokopios, which is one of the beach side locations. And what do you know? Another winner!
When we did get there, we were so happy we chose the beachside, and also very happy to pick a central location like Agios Prokopios. Close to the city if needed, and close to all other beaches and areas if we wanted to explore the other way.
TIP: If you are heading to Naxos in the summer, stay on the beach. MUCH nicer to go splash in the ocean whenever you want, rather than take a bus ride first. Instead, take the local bus or taxi to town at night – but even better, there are tons of bars and restaurants along the beach, so you don’t even need to leave the beachside if you don’t want to.
You can get around Naxos by taxi, local bus, or by renting an ATV. We took the local bus in and out, but rented an ATV for the duration of our days in Naxos. We bargained for 45 euros a day, and I’m sure we could’ve found a little cheaper if we did more walking around or paid cash.
TIP: If you are taking the local bus to and from town, you must purchase tickets before hand. You can get them at most convenience stores.
THINGS TO DO:
1. Rent an ATV
The best method of transportation in my opinion, because you are on your own schedule, and you can create the BEST road trip adventure. We did a full day trip around the island, and it is debatably the best day on our three week Eurotrip. Grab a map, put some gas in your tank, and take off. Just don’t let the tank run out, like I did. Oops.
2. Walk around the Naxos Chora
The Naxos Chora is what they call the main town side of the island. This is where you arrive and depart from and is also the busiest part of the island. You will find cobblestone alleyways with shops and there is a cute strip along the water with lots of bars and restos!
3. Rotonda Restaurant
This should be part of your ATV trip. Located at the top of a mountainside village, Rotonda boasts the most amazing views. Come here for lunch/dinner/anytime really. We ordered the Risotto and Greek Salad for lunch and were thrilled with both the view and the food.
4. Beach hop
There are many, many beaches in Naxos. Busy beaches with kiddos, nude beaches, calmer beaches, really something for everyone. And did I mention these are some of the most beautiful beaches in both Naxos and the world?
TIP: Find a place where your sunbeds are included in your purchase of food/drinks. Some places charge $10-20 euros for a sunbed, and some beach “clubs” are reservation only with a price to book. We found a few that had amazing loungers including in our lunch, so although not a big difference, save about 40 euros a day that way, and treated ourselves to more wine instead of just paying for a sunbed.
There are so many amazing sunset spots in Naxos. If you are staying on the beach side, the sun sets right over the water, so it is beautiful! If you are staying in the city/Chora, make sure you head to the Portara for sunset. Famous historical landmark meets amazing sunset view. Cannot go wrong.
6. Traditional Greek Tavern Giannoulis
This is a restaurant in Agios Prokopios, and one of the best dining experiences I have had in my entire life. It is not the fanciest place in the world, rather homey, cozy, mommas home cooking type vibe. There will ALWAYS be a line, but it is also ALWAYS worth the wait. Three brothers run the joint, and you will be greeted with a smile, a glass of wine, and on the house Greek appetizers. Worth every minute in line, and every dollar spent (not pricey BTW). We went over and over and over again, because the food was amazing, and the staff was so welcoming.
- Traditional Greek Tavern Giannoulis (went over this already, but WOW)
- Rotonda Restaurant (also featured)
- Banana Beach Bar
- Yazoo Summer Bliss (sunbeds included with lunch)
What I’d do differently next time:
Only change I would’ve made is to stay longer! And I would’ve spent more time in the city, I stuck to the beach side most often because it was hot, hot, hot.
- It gets really windy and chilly at night! Not chilly by Canadian standards, but more colder comparable to the sunny day. This was the only Greece destination I wore long sleeves and pants in August at night.
- If you rent an ATV, and then going to dinner, weird tip, but put your hair up. I tried to look chic and stylish, but with the wind + the ATV, I looked like a disaster when we got to dinner.
- If you are staying on the beach side you don’t need a pool. If you are staying in town during the summer, get a place with a pool.
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