Naxos: your Greek island home
An ideal destination for families, kids of all ages, going to the beach, kite surfing lovers - and above all, foodies
It's difficult to be objective when talking about Naxos, as it's such a huge favourite of ours. It's the perfect destination for a whole host of different travellers: great for families with kids of different ages, perfect for beach and kite surfing lovers and above all, foodies.
Naxos has been on the island-hopping trail for years but it's not as famous as some of its Cycladic neighbours, despite it having an airport and plenty of ferry links from Athens all year round. The season goes through until the end of October, and it's the perfect place to start your exploration of the less-developed Small Cyclades, which include hip Koufonissia but also places like Schinousa and Iraklia. In high season you have a choice for every budget, from daily ferry connections or a whole host of sailing trips from Naxos harbour.
If we had to name the two main reasons we fell in love with this island, the beaches would have to be reason number one. There are endless, beautiful, long sandy streches or small coves, all with clear blue waters. And when we say endless, we mean endless. The majority of them are only a short drive or bus ride from the main town (Chora). This is pure bliss whether you like your swimming costume on or off! Plaka is the longest beach, with plenty of restaurants and cafés nearby but without feeling like they take anything away from the sand dunes or the sound of the waves. Mikri Vigla, on the other hand, is the go-to destination for kite surfers. During the summer months the number of people taking advantage of the Cycladic winds is a sight to be enjoyed by all, even those who don't feel like being super sporty.
The size of this island provides a feeling of space, even in high season. You will find the space to place your towel even in August, and if you're willing to hire a car, you can escape the crowds altogether. Whether it's a smaller beach you're after or a bit of a wild and wonderful hike with goats as your guides, it's worth leaving the more popular strip.
The quaint mountain villages like Apiranthos, the hidden-away gem of Demeter's temple, Bellonia's castle, the 'sleeping' Kouros in Apollonas; there is a lot to see, and if you're willing to drive a little further away from the 'main strip', there are a number of accommodation options to choose from depending on the budget and type of holiday you're after. From villas to exclusive hideaways, basic rooms for the surfing crowd, family-friendly accommodation and everything in between, Naxos will provide an experience tailored to your needs.
Naxian hill-top villages have their own beauty and for many, they are the 'real Naxos'. Check out Halki and Filoti for a slice of real island living. In fact, skip the really popular beachfront options altogether in high season. Naxos is really beautiful and places like Agios Georgios or Agia Anna will make you feel claustrophobic during the peak summer months. Do give the Chora some of your time though, don't just ignore it on your way to and from the port. The sunset at the Portara is an Instagram dream and the old market alleyways are cuteness personified.
Ariadne by Wolf Broll.
Avoid the usual tourist traps and your visit to the main town can be a lot of fun, especially if you visit the amazing old-school groceries on the main shopping street. Koufopoulos cheeses and Mr Tziblakis' wonderful store showcase the best the island has to offer. Incredible cheese, the best potatoes in Greece and loads of other local products that will provide a taste of your holiday when you're back at home.
While on the subject of food, we have to admit that it is most definitely the second reason we come back to Naxos time and time again. There is nothing posh about the dining scene here, just great local products (meat, fish, dairy and vegetables), a lot of respect for Cycladic traditions and a nod to modern cooking techniques by younger chefs and restaurant owners. Prices remain reasonable and the welcome you'll receive is warm. There are so many places to choose from, but our absolute favourites would have to be Axiotissa in Kastraki, Petrino on Plaka beach and Giorgis in Melanes village, and they're only a small snapshot of the places you're going to discover yourselves.
Ariadne by Wolf Broll.
As in most Greek islands, heading away from the main port/town and other tourist settlements and driving towards the mountains is where foodie heaven is to be found. It's the places frequented by locals, run by families using produce they've reared or grown, lavished with love and attention.
This is definitely not Mykonos or Santorini. There are boutique options if that kind of hotel is what you're after and a number of more exclusive activities if you're willing to look for them. Naxos is more about relaxing and feeling free though, whether you're young and going on your first Greek island adventure or an experienced traveller who has clear priorities for their precious time off. It's an island which manages to offer all the amenities a developed tourist destination can provide, coupled with a feeling of being able to be part of an authentic island existence.
It's a difficult balancing act, but Naxos nails it, and will always leave you wanting more.
For more Greece travel tips and information visit www.facebook.com/everymatic
- Register Now
- Melbourne cafe inspired by 1950s Greek delicatessens
- Greek Jewish community hails citizenship decision
- Commemorating the 196th anniversary of the Greek Revolution
- Healthy Greek olive oil bottled and consumed like medicine
- Laskarina Bouboulina, the Lady of the Revolution
- Heritage Victoria gives green light for Evangelismos Church restoration
- €300 million investment in smoke-free product manufacturing facility in Greece
- WHO: Greece far exceeds normal rate of C-section births
- This March we march for endometriosis
- Greece faces Belgian roadblock on road to Russia
- Four dead in tragic accident on Greek highway
- Turkey threatens Greece and Cyprus
- Parthenon voted the most beautiful building in the world
- RIP George Hatzipanagiotis
- World's most beautiful street located in Greece
- Parthenon Marbles resurgence
- Healthy and delicious meals to carry us through Greek Orthodox Lent
- Brother of alleged Bourke Street murderer, Angelo Gargasoulas jailed for two months
- Greece looks to become top tourism destination in the world
- The best IGA in the world belongs to a Greek migrant from Ikaria
Mary Raphael, Stavros Messinis, Thalia Andrews, and Frixos Ioannides present their latest joint exhibition in Melbourne.
Players will be putting their best foot forward as they compete to make the final cut early next week.
Dr Heather Jackson will present a lecture on 'Images of Myth and Life: the University of Melbourne Collection of Greek Vases'.
Recommendations to EU and national leaders to end the disappearance, suffering and exploitation of children in migration.
But it is not the fault of Syriza.
John Vithoulkas explores what defines a modern Greek: Name? Blood? Or heart?
The head of Delphi Bank describes how Greek values influenced the financial institution's approach to banking and created strong relationships that continue in the digital age.
Senator Nick Xenophon is shaking up South Australian politics with the launch of new party SA Best and candidates who have real-life skills and experience.
John Griffin, Australia's ambassador to Greece, speaks to Neos Kosmos in an exclusive interview.
'I don't want it to be a man's world, but I don't want it to be a woman's world either'.
On 25 March 2017, women around the world living with a debilitating yet worryingly common disease, gather to raise awareness. Neos Kosmos shares a personal story.
Dean Kalimniou on the Hellenic origins of the twerk.
But donors choose how − and if − they'll be contacted by their offspring.
Theodore Kyriakou's awarded casual diner has brought King's Cross back to life.
Winning entries will be published in the 63rd issue of the annual bilingual periodical Antipodes.
The Greek Australian tennis star is back after upstaging second seed Novak Djokovic.
Nikos Fotakis imagines a world where Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act is abolished and nobody cares about being politically correct.
Dutch finance minister - and head of Eurogroup - makes incendiary statements