Naxos Island Guide

Naxos Island Overview

If I listed my favourite Greek island destinations, Naxos would be in the top 3. It has just the right mix of essential ingredients for the ideal holiday destination: an abundance of fabulous beaches; numerous cafes, bars and tavernas; hotels to suit every budget; and plenty of culture, hiking and sightseeing opportunities.

Naxos is undeniably Greek in both look and feel. From the narrow Venetian streets of Naxos Town, with its bustling harbour area, to the long, sandy beaches that adorn much of the western coastline, you immediately feel at peace here. As the largest island in the popular Cyclades group, it has something to offer everyone.

Naxos Town from Apollo’s Gate

Getting to Naxos

By Ferry

Arriving by ferry, as I’ve always done, Apollo’s Gate sits in full view to the west. As you approach the harbour, it immediately puts the island’s rich culture and history in view. I’ve visited Naxos five times since 2017, and each subsequent trip evokes a sense of familiarity and excitement to explore new areas.

Check out available ferry connections using the search box below. Be aware that many Greek ferry operators don’t confirm their routes until January-March of each year. So, it’s worth checking back later if you don’t see availability for your chosen dates.

By Plane

You can also fly to Naxos from Athens via its small regional airport, making it easily accessible for those visiting from outside Europe if you don’t fancy the 3 to 5-hour ferry from the mainland. From within Europe, the quickest option is an international arrival to neighbouring Mykonos, followed by a 40-minute ferry ride.

The impressive sight of Apollo’s Gate to the north of Naxos Town

Where to Stay on Naxos

Most tourist resorts, including the capital, are located on the island’s western side, closest to Paros. There are several destinations to choose from, each with their own advantages:

Naxos Town

If you prefer to be in the heart of the island’s activity, Naxos Town is the place to stay. The port and main bus station are here, making it a convenient base and easy to get around. The town is a vibrant, active settlement with plenty of shops, bars and tavernas. Despite its size, it still has a welcoming feel, and the harbourfront, in particular, is a great place to relax in the evening. Taking a pre-dinner stroll north to watch the sunset at Apollo’s Gate is one of the highlights of Naxos and not to be missed.

St George beach

Unlike many Greek island capitals, Naxos Town has a superb beach, Agios Georgios (Saint George), situated just south of the main settlement, with plenty of nice hotels nearby. In 2019, we stayed at Naxos Resort Beach Hotel and found it an ideal location. Towards the south end of the beach, you’ll find Flisvos Watersports and the area is popular with surfers due to the often gusty onshore breeze. The beach’s northern end is more sheltered and shallow, making it family-friendly.

Agios Prokopios

Located southwest of Naxos Town, past the small airport on the island’s western coastline, Agios Prokopios is the most popular tourist resort, with many hotels dotted around the headland stretching north into Stelida. While large, the beach gets crowded in high season, so it’s not the best area if you prefer a quieter base. A regular bus service links the village with Naxos Town, making it easy to get to and from the capital in 10-15 minutes.

Agia Anna

Just a stone’s throw south of Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna is a smaller beach resort offering a similar vibe but with slightly fewer tourists jostling for space on the narrower but sandy beach. The village’s location makes it ideal for accessing the much larger beach to the south, with over 4km of golden sand that stretches from Maragas to Plaka.

In 2018, we stayed at Naxos Mare and in 2021, at Birbas Hotel. Both are situated on the outskirts of Agia Anna and provide good access to the nearby beaches and amenities.

Maragas, Plaka and Mikri Vigla

As you journey south along the western coastline from Agia Anna, the remaining coastal villages offer progressively more peaceful accommodation at the expense of being further from Naxos Town. The beach becomes less crowded the further south you venture. The regular bus service that connects with Naxos Town only goes as far as the south end of Maragas, so if you stay further south, it’s useful to have your own transportation.

Plaka Beach

Other

There are other settlements on Naxos, many of which offer tourist accommodation. However, they are less accessible and likely to suit seasoned visitors who know what to expect from a more isolated base.

Naxos Highlights

Naxos has a little bit of everything a Greek tourist could wish for. A capital with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants, plus a historic fortress and the aforementioned Apollo’s Gate to serve as a reminder of its long history.

Then there are the golden sandy beaches, most of which can be found along the western coastline: St. George’s beach, just south of Naxos Town, offers soft sand with shallow and calm waters, making it an ideal family-friendly location. Further south, the beaches of Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna and Plaka cover over 5 kilometres of coastline. Though increasingly popular and prone to some crowds in high season at the northern end, if you venture further south along Plaka, there are plenty of undeveloped sections of beach with tons of space for everyone.

Head inland to find several pretty villages: Filoti and Apeiranthos are worth visiting. Combine this with a relatively comfortable hike to the top of Mount Zas for unrivalled panoramic views of the Cyclades from its highest point:

View towards Paros from the summit of Mount Zas

Naxos: Conclusion and Alternatives

In short, Naxos is one of those rare gems that does have it all. Prices are reasonable, though each year, it feels like its proximity to Mykonos nudges costs ever higher. It gets busy between July and early September in high season, but never to Santorini or Mykonos levels. Plus, being a much bigger island with plentiful and spacious beaches, there is ample room for everyone.

If you’ve seen enough of Naxos already, or – for whatever reason – it doesn’t sound appealing, the most obvious alternative is its neighbour, Paros. Both islands are often recommended in equal measure online and are pretty similar. I visited Paros briefly in 2017, then again in 2022 for two weeks, and while I had a great time, I still feel that Naxos has the edge: it’s less crowded, has more extensive and excellent beaches and more sightseeing opportunities.

Another island to consider if you like Naxos is Crete. Though considerably bigger, it shares the theme of having something for everyone, benefiting from two international airports and an excellent road system. In my extensive experience, Crete is also cheaper, so well worth considering if you’re travelling on a budget.

Naxos Map of Hotels, Beaches and Attractions

The interactive map below shows some of our favourite hotels, restaurants, beaches and places of interest on Naxos. Click on the map markers to see more details.

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