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Naxos, Greece Like Santorini But Better!

A trip around the famous Greek islands is high up on most people's bucket lists. While many people dream of watching a scenic sunset in Santorini or partying it up in Mykonos, for those seeking a more serene escape, Naxos is the perfect island for all the Greek charm. I spent two weeks with a dear friend relaxing and romping around the island of Naxos and fell absolutely in love with the kind locals, beautiful beaches, and Naxian charm. Today, I’m diving into how to plan the perfect adventure to the island of Naxos. Let’s get started!

Why Naxos Is My Favorite Greek Island

While Santorini may steal the spotlight with its iconic blue-domed churches and stunning sunsets, Naxos offers a more authentic and laid-back experience. The island boasts a perfect blend of historical charm, natural beauty, and a vibrant local culture. From ancient ruins to quaint villages, there is so much to explore in Naxos. I fell in love with the friendly locals who went out of their way to make me feel at home on their island. To me, Naxos has the perfect blend of charm and beautiful beaches to relax on, and fewer crowds than popular spots like Santorini and Mykonos.

Jessi's Journey in Naxos port
I could not get over how clear the water was in Naxos!

How Many Days In Naxos Is Enough?

A lot of blogs say you only need a day or two to visit Naxos, but I disagree. While you can spend just a day or two in the port area while island hopping, to truly immerse yourself in the essence of Naxos, I recommend spending at least five days on the island. This allows you to explore the main port, rent a car for two days to explore the whole island (see road trip guide below!), and get in some relaxing beach time.

What To Do In The Port Of Naxos

You’ll either arrive in Naxo via plane to the smallest airport I’ve ever seen or on a ferry to the port. If you arrive by plane, the port is just a short drive from the airport. The port itself has many fun things to see and do so you can easily spend a few days eating through, wandering about, and relaxing in the port, just make sure to add the following things to your itinerary!

Boats in the port of Naxos, Greece
I spent many mornings enjoying a coffee while watching boats in Naxos port.

Watch The Sunset At The Temple Of Apollo

One of the first things you’ll see when you arrive in the port is the towering Temple of Apollo watching out over the town. This huge marble gate is the last remaining part of an unfinished temple of Apollo that was built in 530 BC. At the base of the hill that the temple is built on there is an amazing gyro shop with 3 euro gyros. My personal favorite was the halloumi mushroom gyro. Grab one to go and bring it up to the top of the Temple of Apollo to enjoy while watching the sunset.

Apollo's Temple in Naxos
Time your trek up to Apollo's Temple right before sunrise for the best views.

Buy A Used Book At Papyrus

We were thrilled to find this used book store in Naxos. Papyrus has affordable used books in just about every language. Plus, they offer book exchanges where you can swap out your old books for something new to read.

Fuel Up At Doukato

This restaurant was right next to the Airbnb we were staying at during our time in Naxos, and is one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. When we arrived, the family who owns the restaurant was sitting together enjoying a meal and they welcomed us in. The charming outdoor seating feels right out of a movie scene and the food was mouthwatering good! I highly recommend the fava dip and the specialty saganaki which isn’t your traditional fried cheese. This is a warm melted cheese with pastry flakes on top and homemade jam for the perfect savory and sweet combo.

Doukato restaurant in Naxos, Greece
My mouth is watering just thinking about my meal in Doukato.

Get Fresh Bread Made Daily At The Old Bakery

We were thrilled when our Airbnb host gave us the inside scoop on the traditional Greek bakery tucked away in the winding alleyways of Naxos. The Old Bakery produces Greek bread in a traditional wood fire oven and typically makes one other sweet bread daily. We stopped in almost every morning to try what they had to offer and loved the brioche and stuffed raisin bread. Make sure to bring cash though as they do not accept cards!

Sip On Wine With A View At Oniro Wine Bar

I was traveling Greece because I was working on my master's thesis about Greek wine, so of course, I had to seek out all the best wine spots on the island. This wine bar and restaurant was built in 1844 on the side of the steep hill that Naxos is built on. Because of its placement, it offers the opportunity to enjoy a glass of wine with a panoramic view of Naxos town. My favorite Greek white wine is a Moschofilero and red is an Agioritiko and I highly recommend trying these and other Greek wines in Oniro.

Oniro wine bar in Naxos
Greek wine is truly divine!

Get A Takeaway Souvlaki From Kozi

Souvlaki is a classic staple of Greek cuisine. Souvlaki is essentially meat on a stick and Kozi has a walk-up window where you can get a hefty meal to go for just a few euros. While I don’t eat meat, my friend I was traveling with stopped here multiple times for their delicious souvlaki, which we would often take to go and enjoy by the water.

Grab A Bite At Apostolis

Apostolis was located directly below my Airbnb and was owned and operated by my Airbnb hosts. When walking to this restaurant, you’ll likely pass by a mural of a little boy peeking around the corner with a cake. This is actually the Airbnb and restaurant owner's son! Apostolis has a cozy and lively atmosphere and delicious, authentic Greek food.

Mural in Naxos
Make sure to check around the corners of Naxos so you don't get cake in the face!

Grab A Citron Cocktail At Kitron

Kitron is located along the main strip of restaurants in the port and specializes in the specialty Naxos liquor citron. This aperitif is made by distilling the leaves of a citron fruit and tastes similar to limoncello. You can taste test the liquor here, or better yet, get a cocktail that uses citron.

Get Your Shop On For Artisanal Products

Naxos has many cute shops tucked throughout the winding white walled and stone alleys. From shops with jewelry and clothes to product stores with different herbs, olive oils, and treats, there are many great places to shop. These were some of my favorite stores:

  • Jubilee - Handmade Greek accessories and home decor

  • K Tziblakis Local Products - An old traditional store that sells artisanal food products and handmade homeware

  • Ventus Handmade - Beautiful jewelry and souvenirs

Artisanal store in Naxos island
I stocked up on Greek honey, olive oil, and oregano to bring home for friends and family.

Learn About Greek Wine At Oinochoros

Oinochoros is a wine bar a short walk outside of the main port area that has a very impressive wine list and an amazing team of wine experts who will guide you through the wine menu so you get the perfect pour. They also offer specialized tastings, but we found them a little too pricey for what we were looking for. We ended up just ordering glasses of different wines to do a tasting of our own.

White church in Naxos.
I could spend hours strolling through the stunning streets of Naxos, Greece.

The Ultimate Road Trip Around Naxos Island

While I could have easily spent my entire trip relaxing in the port, the island of Naxo is full of so many unique and historical spots. You’ll want to add on a day just for road-tripping around the island. If you don’t like driving, you can always book a bus tour to get about. However, the friend I was traveling with and I agreed that the rigorous bus tour schedule wouldn’t provide enough time at each spot. We opted to get a rental car for two days (it costs only $45 with insurance!) so that we could travel at our leisure. The following route took us all around the island and was such a unique experience.

✈️ Pro Tip: Most of the little villages were cash only. Make sure to stop at the ATM before you leave, because you will definitely want to buy souvenirs on this road trip!

Demeter’s Temple, Sangri

This ancient, ruined temple in Sangri offers a glimpse into Naxos's rich history. Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and home to a museum, this is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and those seeking a serene setting for contemplation. We left early in the morning for our road trip and had the whole place to ourselves to peacefully explore.

Jessi's Journey at Demeter's Temple in Sangri
As a big fan of Greek mythology, I loved getting to see Demeter's Temple in Sangri.


Damalas is a charming village that’s known for its traditional olive press and famous ceramics. Make sure to stop by Pottery Limpertas Manolis for a demonstration workshop by the potter who has been making ceramics for decades. Here you can learn about the island's history of making the Pythagorean wine cup, designed by Pythagorus himself. It is a piece of pottery that was designed to play a practical joke on selfish drinkers. The cup is designed so that if you fill it too full, a siphon is triggered which pours all the liquid out of the bottom onto the drinker. You can buy one of these cups and other beautiful pottery at this stop.

Pottery workshop at Pottery Limpertas Manolis
Buy a Pythagorean wine cup at Pottery Limpertas Manolis.


Chalki's tiny yet gorgeous village is home to the last citron distillery on the island. This is the perfect spot to learn about how citron is made and try the different varieties produced on the island. We also loved all the local handmade products in this village. Naxos is known for its handmade textiles and we visited a shop where you could see how the textiles were hand-woven on a loom, a tradition passed down for centuries. Make sure to bring cash because you will want to buy your souvenirs in this village.

Kitron Distillery sign
I love trying local liquors and Kitron is unique just to Naxos.

Panagia Drosiani

Panagia Drosiani is an old church that stands as a serene retreat with a Greek flag outside. We didn’t stop here for long but stopped to get a cute photograph of this historic site.


Known as the marble village, Apiranthos combines history and gastronomy. We stopped here for lunch and loved the view and the food at Taverna Platanos. Walk off your meal by wandering through the marble-lined streets.

Marble Village of Apiranthos
Stroll through the marble streets of Apiranthos.

Other Unique Road

Trip Stops

Since we had limited time with our rental car we didn’t get to see all the spots we wanted to see. However, if you have a few spare days with your wheels, check out these places:

Hike Mount Zas

Embark on the exhilarating hike up Mount Zas, the highest peak in the Cyclades and a place steeped in Greek mythology. Named after Zeus, the king of the gods, Mount Zas is said to be the birthplace of the ancient deity. The summit, also known as Zeus's Cave, is believed to be where the god was raised by nymphs. Make sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes and pack plenty of water!

Hotel Ruins Murals In Alkyo

Nestled away from the bustling tourist spots, Alkyo offers a quiet escape, allowing visitors to experience the everyday rhythm of a Naxian village. What is unique about the town is that it is home to the ruins of an old abandoned hotel. Along the hotel walls are intricate murals that are a unique site to explore.

Book A Winery Tour At Saint Anna Winery

During my time in Naxos, I was writing my master's thesis on Greek wine tourism, so naturally, a stop at a local winery was a must. Saint Anna Winery is the only winery on the island and is run by Petrakis Emmanuel. Though we were visiting during the off-season, he welcomed us with open arms and showed us his stunning winery where he makes his wines. He gave us a tasting of each of his wines, pulling some straight from the tanks for us to compare the old and new vintages. Even if you’re not a big wine drinker, the owner’s enthusiasm will make you fall in love with the land of Naxos and the beauty it creates.

Wines from Saint Anna Winery
Not only did Saint Anna Winery have amazing wines, but the friendly owner made us feel like we were family.

What Islands Can You Visit From Naxos

While I could easily waste my days away on the island of Naxos, its proximity to other Greek islands makes it a great spot to island hop from. Once you’ve explored all that Naxos has to offer, book a ferry to these spots:

  • Paros - A short ferry ride from Naxos, Paros entices visitors with its charming blend of traditional Cycladic architecture, vibrant nightlife, and golden sandy beaches. The ferry journey takes around one to two hours, making it an easily accessible escape. Paros is renowned for its historic Parikia with its iconic windmill and the quaint village of Naoussa. The island offers a perfect balance of cultural exploration and leisure, making it an ideal continuation of your Greek island adventure.

  • Koufonisia - The ferry journey to Koufonisia from Naxos is a scenic two to three hours, revealing the unspoiled beauty of these hidden gems. Known for their pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and laid-back atmosphere, Koufonisia provides a serene contrast to the larger islands.

  • Santorini - A ferry ride from Naxos to Santorini takes approximately two to three hours, transporting you to a world of captivating sunsets, white-washed architecture, and dramatic volcanic landscapes. Santorini's iconic villages of Oia and Fira, perched on cliffs overlooking the Aegean Sea, are postcard-worthy.

Enjoy Island Life In Naxos, Greece

My time in Naxos, Greece was peaceful while still being packed full of epic adventures. I look forward to the day when I can return again to the island sitting in crystal clear blue water and bursting with charm. While it is not hard to find beauty in the Greek Islands, Naxos holds a special spot in my heart.

Is Naxos on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments down below!


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