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Things to Do in Naxos, Greece

by Krista
Things to Do in Naxos: Hike Up to the Portara

Things to Do in Naxos: Hike Up to the Portara

Things to Do in Naxos Island, Greece

While I was in Koufonisia, I was devastated to hear that Anthony Bourdain had passed away. I mean, I don’t even know the guy and I shed more than a few tears that day. (And the next.) And oddly, one of the reasons why I was in the Cyclades was because of Bourdain’s Naxos episode, where I think he asks at one point “Is Naxos the most chill Greek island?”

I was surprised to learn that Naxos is actually bigger than Mykonos. Once you’re on Naxos, you’ll notice that it’s a real working island — a little industrial almost. But then there are some great restaurants and beaches. So while I didn’t find Naxos as chill as Paros or certainly Koufonisia, it has a certain charm and is worth a visit if you are in the area. Here’s what I got up to while I was in town:

Where to Stay in Naxos: Hotel Xenia

Where to Stay in Naxos: Hotel Xenia

Where to Stay in Naxos

While I was in Naxos, I stayed at the very centrally located Hotel Xenia in the old town, or chora. This was my first hotel that was really smack-dab in the middle of everything and I was reminded once again how much I love a central location. Don’t get me wrong, I liked my other hotels in Greece too, but there’s something to be said for wandering out the front door of your hotel and having all the shops and restaurants you could ever want right there in front of you. This is a small hotel with small rooms, but whoever designed them really knew what they were doing. Everything was perfectly laid out, with plenty of storage and good lighting. Also, the shower had the water pressure I had had in all of Greece. The only downside was the internet router on my hotel room’s ceiling — it blinked all night. They had tried to cover it up with cardboard, but you could still see the lights flashing off and on. (I just did a quick Google of “how to turn off lights on router” and found lots of instructions. So Hotel Xenia, LMGTFY.) All this being said, this was a reminder for me that a nice, clean hotel doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  Book the Hotel Xenia.

Where to Eat in Naxos: Strofili on the waterfront

Where to Eat in Naxos: Strofili on the waterfront

Where to Eat in Naxos

I swear I am not normally such a creature of habit but in the Cyclades, I kept finding these restaurants that were so good, I couldn’t possibly go elsewhere and risk finding myself at a restaurant that wasn’t as good. In Naxos, my go-to spot was Strofili, on the edge of the old town in the direction of St. George’s beach. (Agios Giorgios.) At one point, I ordered the fish of the day which was grilled. I expected it to be like every other fish I had had in Greece by then — there would be some bones that I would have to pluck out. Not a lot but enough that I would have to be careful. But no!!! No bones!! i commented on this to my server and he explained that the kitchen staff uses tweezers to make sure every last bone is gone. Honestly, great food, great service, and amazing sunsets.

Where to Drink (and Watch the Sunset) on Naxos: The Ocean Club

Where to Drink (and Watch the Sunset) on Naxos: The Ocean Club

Where to Drink in Naxos

The Ocean Club: My first evening in Naxos, I asked my server where to catch the best sunset. He laughed and said, “Right here! If you want a cocktail, go to our cocktail bar next door.” So for two of my three nights, I dropped by The Ocean Club around 8 pm and had cocktail and wait for the sun to set. Amazing.

Where to Drink in Naxos: Check out the sunset from the roof bar at 520.

Where to Drink in Naxos: Check out the sunset from the roof bar at 520.

520: On my second night in Naxos, I figured I should do something different so I wandered through the streets of the chora. Although the guy at my hotel told me I wouldn’t get lost, I totally did and found myself way on the other side of the port when I finally found my way out of the chora. I backtracked to 520, an upscale-looking bar and restaurant I had passed. The food menu didn’t excite me — not enough Greek stuff — but the view over the marina of the sunset in Naxos was ace.  Definitely worth a stop for a drink. (Although they are a bit on the pricier side and more in line with Mykonos pricing.) I also really liked the overall design and aesthetic — tres “industrial sailor.”

Hanging out at Agios Georgios.

Hanging out at Agios Georgios.

Beaches on Naxos

While I was on Naxos, I checked out two beaches: Agios Georgios and Agios Prokopios.

Agios Georgios: If you are looking for things to do in Naxos, this is a great beach if you are lazy (like me) because it is quite close to the old town. It was about a 10 minute walk from my hotel. It’s also a great beach for kids because the water is quite shallow. You have to walk out quite a ways to get the water up to your waist. This is a serviced beach so I rented a sun lounger and ordered drinks from one of the beach bars. This also seems to be a beach popular with walkers….I saw a number of the same people each day walking up and down the beach. This is quite a busy beach and even when I was there in the shoulder season, sun loungers filled up quickly. So definitely get there early (or late) and not at peak time.

View from under my palapa at Agios Prokopios.

View from under my palapa at Agios Prokopios.

Agios Prokopios: The guy at the front desk of my hotel suggested I check out Agios Prokopios, about a 20 minute bus ride from the port. Of course, I chose to do this during the windiest, grayest day of my trip. But first, getting there. You have to go to the bus office by the port and buy a ticket and man, do they not care about tourists. I could not get anyone to help me. Then finally, once I bought my ticket, I said, “And now what?” And the woman shouted a number at me and waved in no particular direction. I stepped back out into the bus parking lot and there were about 8 buses in the lot. I picked out the most touristy looking people I could find — an older German couple — and asked them which bus went to Prokopios. “This one! Hurry, get on or he will leave.” And seriously, we all got on this bus and the guy BOOKED out of the lot. It was pretty uneventful after this. The German couple let me know where to get off for Prokopios, and then I rented myself another lounger. I read my book and did some swimming — I liked the waves here much better than at Georgios. It was pretty windy though all in all so I went back into town a few hours later. To be honest, after my bus experience, I think I would try to take a taxi next time!!

The Old Town in Naxos

Exploring the chora or old town is one of the most fun things to do in Naxos. Especially if you have money! There are a ton of cute shops with nice things. I wanted to buy everything! But I’m on a budget so no shopping for me. I recommend hitting the chora in the evening when it’s not as hot.

Cooking Class in Naxos

I really believe that there’s no better way to get to know a location than through its food. That’s why this blog is called Passport Delicious after all! So in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Naxos that is really local and helps you meet local people, is this cooking class. Try one of these culinary experiences in Naxos! You’ll get a chance to cook and eat a typical Naxian menu with local wine together with local Greeks.

Check out The Kite Surfers and Windsurfers on Naxos

On the day I took the bus from the chora in Naxos to Agios Prokopios, I was surprised to see us pass this shallow beachy area full of windsurfers and kitesurfers. So if this is something you are into, definitely check out one of the kitesurfing and windsurfing schools on the island because as it turns out, Naxos is quite known for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Flisvos Kite Center is one of the more popular schools but there are definitely a few worth checking out if you are looking for sporty things to do in Naxos.

What to Bring with You to Naxos

I have three main recommendations:

  1. A nice hat. The sun is super intense.
  2. A Turkish towel. These are super lightweight and easy to carry around the island with you. Your hotel should hopefully have beach towels but you can use one of these as a beach blanket or subsitute beach towel.
  3. A waterproof phone case on a lanyard so you can keep your phone and money safe and also protect everything from water damage.

Summary of Things to Do in Naxos

There are so many things to do in Naxos and it’s really the type of place you could visit for an entire week. The beaches alone could probably keep you busy for a while. Definitely worth a return visit!

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