7 Reasons Naxos Greece is the Best Greek Island (for Everything)

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Naxos Chora Best Greek Islands

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Inside: Looking for a Greek island that has it all? Here’s why Naxos Greece is a solid contender for Best. Greek. Island. Ever.

When it comes to choosing the perfect Greek island for your next vacation, the options are overwhelming. Beyond the more famous destinations like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, the Greek archipelago has nearly 2,000 islands of varying sizes and accessibility.

So how do you choose the best one?

After more than a dozen visits to the Greek islands over the years, I can certainly understand the dilemma. They’re all fabulous!

Read More: The 7 Best Greek Islands to Visit This Summer (2024)

But if you had asked me a few weeks ago, “What’s the best Greek island to visit?

I would have confidently answered, “Crete. Hands down.”

Crete has it all. Incredible beaches, charming seaside fishing villages, delicious food, and fascinating historical sites (like Knossos).

I mean, what more could you ask for? It’s the Greek Islands straight out of central casting.

And Crete is fabulous for sure. But it’s also HUGE.

The largest of the Greek islands, in fact. That makes it difficult to see all the best of Crete without spending hours in the car. And you’ll certainly need at least 5 days to try.

Read More: Things to Do in Crete Greece: The Ideal Itinerary for 5 Perfect Days

This begs the question, “Is there a Greek island with all the fabulous qualities of Crete in a smaller package?”

The answer is yes.

Enter…NAXOS.

What is Naxos Island known for?

While it’s best known for its abundant beaches and beautiful scenery, the island of Naxos is also home to plenty of fascinating ancient sites to explore. Not to mention fantastic food – much of it grown locally right here on the island.

Ready for adventure? Naxos has lots of options including scuba diving, windsurfing, cycling to different villages, or just finding a hidden beach to enjoy all to yourself.

Naxos Sunset Greece
Sunset views on Naxos

Of course, if you prefer a less adventurous holiday in Greece Naxos is one of the best Greek islands to visit for pure relaxation at a gorgeous spa resort. With a cocktail in hand, naturally.

So, is Naxos worth visiting? You bet it is.

And that’s why it’s my current pick for the best Greek island to visit this summer (my husband Dave and I can’t get enough of this gorgeous island!).

Dave and Jenny in Naxos Greece
With Dave in Naxos

But before I dive into all the wonders of Naxos, let’s quickly talk about the logistics of visiting the Greek islands this summer.

Traveling to Greece in 2024

Thankfully, travel restrictions are finally in the rearview mirror after several tough seasons. So there’s no better time to pack your bags and head for the Greek Islands!

But before you do, read this:

Ultimate Greek Islands Travel Guide

Planning a trip to Greece in 2024?

From the most spectacular beaches to the tastiest treats to try, here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip to the Greek Islands!

It’s every little thing you need to know about traveling around the Greek Islands. And it’s essential reading for anyone planning a trip to Greece this summer.

Where is Naxos Greece?

Located in the heart of the Cyclades island group, Naxos is just 98 nautical miles from the main port in Athens (Piraeus). The islands of the Cyclades enjoy an enviable location in the southern portion of the Aegean Sea and Naxos is the largest island in the group.

Shops in Naxos Town

Which Greek island is better, Naxos or Paros?

The question of Naxos vs Paros is often an impossible choice. They are so close together and similar in size that many people find themselves trying to decide between the two. We visited both Paros and Naxos on our most recent trip and I loved them both!

Read More: 5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Paros Greece in 2024

Paros has a bit more nightlife and I found it to be a little more romantic than Naxos. So if you’re looking for nightlife or romance, I might lean toward Paros.

Naxos is known for its long, uncrowded beautiful beaches and is slightly more family-friendly. So if you’re traveling with the whole family, I’d recommend Naxos.

Naxos Town Port Greece
Naxos Port

But hey, they’re only 40 minutes apart by ferry, so you don’t have to decide between Paros or Naxos. Why not do what we did and visit both? Three or four days on each island is a terrific vacation in the Greek Islands!

So, is Naxos better than Paros?

Only you can decide…I vote for visiting BOTH islands to find out!

If you’re still having trouble choosing between Naxos and Paros, this will help:

Greek Island Showdown: Naxos or Paros – Which one is BEST for You?

How to Get to Naxos– Flight vs. Ferry

There are two ways to get to Naxos:

  • A flight or ferry from Athens.
  • Or, a ferry from a neighboring island like Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Ios, or Paros.

Flights from Athens to Naxos

Olympic Airlines operates up to 5 flights a day from Athens (ATH) to Naxos (JNX) during the peak summer season. Olympic is 100% owned by Aegean Airlines and you can book your flights on either website (schedules and pricing are the same).

Flight time is a quick and painless 40 minutes and flights are often priced well under EUR 100 one-way when booked far enough in advance. Tip: With Aegean and Olympic, the earlier you book the cheaper the flights.

But before you depart Athens…

If this is your first trip to Greece, you absolutely must spend at least a few days exploring the city’s incredible historic sights. I know, I know, the Greek Islands are enticing. But Athens is literally the birthplace of Western civilization. And that’s pretty darn impressive. If time is short, here’s a foolproof one-day itinerary:

How to Spend 24 Hours in Athens

Ferries from Athens to Naxos

Ferries to Naxos depart from two ports in Athens – Piraeus and Rafina:

  • Piraeus – This is the largest port in Athens and offers the most ferry connections to the islands. It’s approximately 7 miles from downtown Athens (a 20-minute drive by taxi) and 31 miles from the airport (a 40-minute drive by taxi, cost EUR 50-70). There are also frequent bus connections from the airport (cost EUR 6, travel time is at least an hour). Piraeus is the best option if you’re already in the city.
  • Rafina – The second largest port in Athens, Rafina is further from the city but only 10 miles from the airport. So it’s the most convenient port if you’re transferring directly from the airport to a ferry. A taxi from the airport costs EUR 25-35 and takes about 20 minutes. Or there’s a public bus (KTEL) that runs approximately every hour for EUR 3. The ride takes about 40 minutes.
Blue Star Delos Ferry Athens Paros
The Blue Star Delos Car Ferry

The journey takes as little as 3h 20m on the Seajets high-speed ferry from Rafina. Or it can take as long as 5h 30m on the larger car ferries like Blue Star. There are also a few other options in between.

Why I avoid the Seajets Ferries

Yes, the Seajets high-speed ferry is the fastest choice from Athens. But I avoid the Seajets ferries whenever possible. There are 3 reasons why:

  1. These fast ferries are the roughest ride to the islands (take your Dramamine!).
  2. They are the first to be canceled due to high seas (this is very common).
  3. And finally, they are the most expensive.

Not to mention, they don’t save you all that much time.

My Pick for the Best Ferry from Athens to Naxos

Instead, my top ferry pick from Athens to Naxos is the Blue Star Ferry (either “Delos” or “Naxos”) from the Piraeus Port. They are larger and more stable (more like a cruise ship). They are also cheaper, rarely canceled, and the difference in travel time is less than 2 hours.

And a comfortable 5-hour ferry ride beats a 3-hour seasick ride all day long in my book.

Tip: I’m also a big fan of upgrading to business class on all ferries. It’s inexpensive and much more comfortable.

Ferry connections to Naxos from other islands

Naxos is well-connected to the rest of the Cyclades by ferry. So, if you’re island-hopping, you’ll find frequent connections from Santorini, Paros, Milos, Ios, and Mykonos.

Tip: The absolute best site for booking ferries in Greece is FerryHopper.com.

So why is Naxos the best Greek Island?

Now that we’ve covered all the logistics of getting to Naxos, let’s talk about why it’s the perfect island for your Greek Islands vacation!

While it’s true that Crete may well be the best overall island in Greece, Naxos has all the same wonderful assets in a smaller, easy-to-explore island package.

Let’s break it down in more detail. Starting with the one thing most people look for when choosing a Greek island:

1. Amazing Beaches

Naxos is the best Greek island for sandy, uncrowded beaches.

While almost all Greek islands have a few lovely beaches, Naxos is blessed with some real beauties. And most are actually sandy, not pebbly like many Greek beaches. The island’s location in the Aegean Sea also makes it an ideal place to enjoy water sports, like scuba diving or sailing.

Most of the best beaches on Naxos Island are located south of Naxos Town along the island’s western coast. Here are some of the best beaches in Naxos to spend a lazy afternoon:

Plaka Beach

There’s plenty of room to find a quiet spot to call your own on this 4 km-long beach. Parts of the beach are well-organized with sunbeds and tavernas and other parts are without facilities.

This is the island’s most popular beach with good reason. My favorite hotel options nearby are Seaside Naxos Holiday Villas (more on that one below!) and, if you’re traveling on a budget, it’s hard to beat the Amodari Studios on the Beach.

Plaka Beach Naxos Greece
Plaka Beach

Agios Prokopios Beach

Located about an hour from Naxos Town, this is the island’s most famous beach. Agios Prokopios has white sand, crystal-clear calm water, and a long promenade that leads all the way to the Naxos port passing some of Naxos’s best restaurants along the way!

Looking for a hotel splurge? Try the beachfront, impeccably designed Virtu Suites. For a more budget-friendly beachfront option, try the Liana Beach Hotel & Spa.

Agios Prokopios Beach Naxos Greece
Agios Prokopios Beach, Naxos

Mikri Vigla Beach

A haven for wind and kite surfers, this beach is a great choice for water sports. But with golden sands lapped by clear waters, it’s also the perfect quiet spot to relax and unwind.

And luckily, if you want to stay awhile, you’ll find a number of great accommodations nearby like the Oasis Studios and Crystal Naxos Studios.

Aliko Beach

Aliko is actually a cluster of 4 separate beaches fringed by a cedar forest on the southwest coast of Naxos. Nearby, there’s an old abandoned hotel that was never finished and it’s become a bit of a graffiti gallery. And honestly, it’s worth the trip alone! But the beaches are pretty stunning, too.

There are no hotels directly on Aliko beach (which is part of its charm) but the best options close by are Faros Villa and Romanzza Studios.

Aliko Beach Naxos Greece
Aliko Beach

Agia Anna

This spectacular beach on the west coast of Naxos is the perfect place to take a dip in calm, clear turquoise waters. If you’re feeling daring, explore the sea caves that line one side of the beach. If not, there’s no shortage of lively tavernas and lovely resorts nearby to unwind after a day at the beach.

Two of my favorite Agia Anna resorts are Manios Suites and Kalia Studios.

For a deep dive on the subject of beaches in Naxos…

Read More: The 5 Best Naxos Beaches for Pure Greece Perfection

2. Charming Towns

Naxos is the best Greek Island for beautiful white-washed towns.

Like on Crete, the towns of Naxos don’t shut down during the winter months. Naxos Town (Chora) is the commercial center of the island so it’s not entirely dependent on tourism. Here are the best towns to visit on Naxos:

Naxos Town (Chora)

It’s the first town you’ll see from the ferry as you arrive and it’s one of the best port towns in all the Greek Islands. Naxos Town is a lively island capital with oodles to see and do.

Explore the Naxos Archaeological Museum, the catholic cathedral, and Naxos Castle (Kastro) for panoramic views of the town.

Chalki (Halki)

Just 10 miles from Naxos Town, a visit to the village of Chalki (also written as Halki) is a must. Once the island’s capital as well as its main trade center, it was the center of wealth and power on Naxos.

Today, well-preserved Neoclassical homes and Venetian-style towers offer a glimpse into the grandeur of Chalki’s past.

Don’t miss a stop by the Vallindra Kitron Distillery in the heart of the village. Entry is free and includes a tour of the site where the famous local Kitron liqueur is made and (most importantly) free samples at the end.

Koronos

This traditional Naxian village is located less than 20 miles from Naxos Town. The village’s dramatic mountaintop setting and delightfully shabby steep narrow streets offer a peek into traditional Naxian life.

Don’t miss a visit to the Church of Panagia Agrokiliotissa. The locals are friendly and welcoming but expect English speakers to be sparse. If you’re looking for an authentic village experience away from hotels and tourists, Koronos is a perfect choice.

3. Fabulous (Affordable!) Hotels

Naxos is the best Greek Island for affordable luxury hotels and villas.

Where to stay in Naxos?

Splurge on a room with a view at Naxos Rock Villas. Each villa here has a full kitchen and a huge terrace with a generous-sized private pool. For a real treat (or if you’re traveling with the whole family), book the 2-bedroom Supreme Sea View Villa.

Seaside Naxos Holiday Villas – Located a short walk from Plaka Beach, this is a complex of 4 holiday villas with 3 or 4 bedrooms each. Two have their own private pools and are perfect for a large family or two families traveling together.

If you’re on a tight budget, Naxos Cave Suites is a beautiful property located near several of the island’s best beaches. The hotel offers free pickup from the port or airport and a wonderful breakfast each morning.

My favorite place to stay in Naxos Town

If you want close proximity to the restaurants and shops of Naxos Town, the Grotta Signore Apartment is my favorite choice. With a postcard-perfect view of the Portara and the sea from an enormous terrace (and every window), this 2-bedroom apartment is roomy and well-equipped. This is where Dave and I stayed on our most recent visit and we loved it!

Located just outside Naxos Town but still within walking distance of many restaurants, The Saint Vlassis hotel is one of the island’s best budget-friendly boutique hotels. Even the Penthouse Suite with its huge terrace and private outdoor jacuzzi is an affordable splurge.

Tip: Paros is another fantastic place to book Santorini-like hotels for half the price of actual Santorini hotels. We fell in love with this one on our recent trip.

4. Historic Sites

Naxos is the best Greek island for fascinating historic sites.

Naxos Greece has been inhabited since prehistoric times. As a result, there are many archaeological sites on the island that tell its historical tale from ancient times to the present day.

Tip: There are some terrific tours to do in Naxos, from food tours to historic sites, here are my top picks 7 Best Naxos Tours for Greek Island Perfection (2024)

Here are the top Naxos historic sites to add to your exploration itinerary:

The Portara

If you arrive in Naxos by ferry, you can’t miss this one. The island’s most iconic historic site, the Portara, will literally greet you in the harbor. Constructed in 530 BC, the Portara is a giant doorway to the never-finished Temple of Apollo.

It’s easy to explore the site via a manmade walkway from Naxos Town. It’s free to visit 24 hours a day and is also one of the island’s most popular spots to watch the sunset.

Portara  Naxos Greece
The Portara

The Temple of Demeter

Dating back to the 6th century BC, this once magnificent marble temple is dedicated to Demeter, the ancient goddess of grain. Note: This temple is closed on Tuesdays.

Naxos Kastro (Castle)

Perched above the whitewashed houses of Naxos Town, the “Kastro” was the seat of power in the Cyclades for 300 years. Originally, the castle had several towers but today only the Glexos Tower remains (it was restored in 1968). Don’t miss the Venetian Museum of Naxos.

The Statues of Kouros

These ancient sculptures dating back to the seventh century BC can be found in the villages of Apollonas and Melanes. The general consensus is that these statues were carved to hold a temple roof but were abandoned by ancient sculptors due to faults in the marble. Remains of ancient temples surround both statues.

5. Delicious Food & Great Restaurants

Naxos is the best Greek island for delicious, locally produced food.

Naxos Island is well known for its delicious food! Mouth-watering meats, vegetables (especially potatoes), and cheeses are some of the island’s best homegrown products. Naxos boasts a fertile interior and lush valleys making it the agricultural capital of the Greek Islands.

To sample all those locally produced delicacies, there are tons of great restaurants to choose from.

My favorite Naxos Restaurants

If you’re looking for a true Naxian experience, my favorite family-run taverna in Naxos Town is To Elliniko. There’s no sea view here (you won’t miss it) just a lovely outdoor patio and the best Naxian cuisine on the island. In the peak summer months, be sure to make a reservation.

A few of my other favorite Naxos restaurants are:

  • Boulamatsis – This classic Greek restaurant in Naxos Town has some of the best sunset and sea views on the island and mouth-watering Moussaka (it’s my all-time favorite).
  • Dal Professore Naxos – This Mediterranean restaurant falls heavily in the Italian camp versus Greek but it’s a true gem in Naxos Town. The sea views of the port are terrific but the pastas and pizzas are even better.
  • Oasis Naxos – For seafood, this traditional Greek taverna is my favorite restaurant on Naxos. Located near Agios Georgios, I love the relaxed vibe of the outdoor garden seating area. And the grilled calamari is a personal favorite.

Like many Greek islands, Naxos is also known for some pretty awesome wines. Be sure to sample xinomavro and moschofilero, to name just two. And, of course, as I mentioned earlier don’t miss the island-favorite Kitron liqueur.

Want to learn how to make some of those incredible Naxian dishes? This awesome 4-hour cooking class is perfect for foodies: Naxos: Half-day Cooking Class at Basiliko

And if you want to let someone else do all the cooking, try this 3-hour Naxos Town Food Tour. It’s the perfect sampling of the delicious food scene here on Naxos.

In Naxos Town, you’ll find lots of shops selling specialty Naxian food items and Kitron for sampling.

Tip: Don’t make the same mistake I did, buy some Kitron liqueur to take home with you. I thought it would be available on other islands, it wasn’t!

6. Value

Naxos is the best Greek island for an affordable holiday.

Naxos is a part of the Cyclades archipelago which includes other popular destinations like Santorini and Mykonos. Compared to those two islands, Naxos is a far more affordable Greek Island for tourists because it’s not as touristy or built up yet.

Naxos is, in fact, one of the most affordable Greek islands to visit. From affordable luxury hotels to inexpensive restaurants and tavernas, your vacation budget will stretch further on Naxos than on many other Greek islands.

7. Family-friendly

Naxos is the best Greek island for families.

Naxos is one of the most family-friendly islands in Greece. In Naxos Town, or “Naxos Chora” as it’s known, there are plenty of cafés with outdoor seating perfect for little ones. And just outside the Naxos port, you’ll find family-friendly shops to explore as well.

In Naxos town, head uphill to the Naxos Archeological Museum for kid-friendly, hands-on exhibits about Naxian history and culture,

naxos town greek islands
Naxos Harbor

The best beaches for families are Agios Georgios (St. George Beach), Agios Prokopios, and Plaka. These Naxos beaches have calm waters for swimming and good facilities

Want to learn a new sport as a family? The calm waters and low waves on Naxos make it the perfect family-friendly, safe place to try your hand at windsurfing. On the island’s west side, Laguna Beach Park is Naxos’s top windsurfing school.

In fact, they claim the park is the safest spot in the whole world for learning to windsurf. So what better place to give it a go?

Best Naxos Tour Options

If you want to get out and about and see the best of Naxos, you can certainly explore on your own with a rental car. When it comes to rental cars in Greece, DiscoverCars.com is my favorite booking site.

MY Pick
Milos Greek Island Car Rental

Discover Cars

My favorite rental car booking site to use all over the world. No hidden costs, free cancellation, and 24/7 customer support.

But if you like to let someone else do the driving, there are plenty of excellent tour options on Naxos. From guided tours of the historic sights to catamaran cruises, these are my favorite Naxos tours:

7 Best Naxos Tours for the Ultimate Greek Experience (2024)

Naxos Greek Islands
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Practical Money Tips for Visiting Naxos

  • Cash is King – While credit cards are widely accepted on Naxos, cash is still the preferred method of payment everywhere in the Greek Islands. Small businesses like shops and local tavernas appreciate customers who use cash so they save on credit card fees.
  • ATMs in Greece – Luckily, there’s no need to bring Euros with you if that’s not your home currency. ATMs are plentiful on Naxos and throughout the Greek Islands. Be sure you always have the payment go through your bank in Euros (not dollars!) to avoid ridiculous conversion fees. Tip: Avoid the stand-alone ATMs in front of stores and stick to those from international banks or Greek banks.
  • Credit Cards – If you need to use a credit card in Greece for a larger purchase or a hotel stay, make it a Master Card or Visa. Greek shop owners especially dislike American Express fees. And when paying with a credit card, always pay in Euros, not dollars (when given the option).

The Bottom Line?

It can be an impossible dilemma to choose the perfect Greek island for your next vacation. There are just too many incredible choices!

But if you have to settle for one (you don’t BTW, island-hopping is a thing!), Naxos tops my list as the most well-rounded island showcasing all of the best that Greece has to offer.

From incredible beaches and historical sites to gourmet restaurants and beautiful landscapes, Naxos truly has it all.

Best of all? It all comes in an affordable, easy-to-explore, compact package.

So start planning your Naxos Greek island escape today!

Looking for more fabulous Greek Islands to visit? Start here:

Must-See Milos: 5 Things You Can’t Miss on this Glorious Greek Island

Things to Do in Crete Greece: The Ideal Itinerary for 5 Perfect Days

Sparkling Symi is the Best Greek Island You’ve Never Heard Of

The Meaning of Mykonos: The Island that Inspired a Lifetime of Wanderlust

How to Plan the Perfect Santorini Honeymoon (on a budget!)

How to Make the Most of 24 Hours on the Greek Island of Rhodes

How to Visit Saranda & the Albanian Riviera from the Greek Island of Corfu