As part of our honeymoon in Greece, we spent 4 days on the Cyclandic island of Naxos. There are so many Greek islands to choose from, so why did we choose Naxos? Well, first and foremost, proximity by ferry to Santorini. We didn’t want to spend a ton of time in transit while trying to enjoy our honeymoon. It took us only an afternoon to get from Santorini to Naxos by ferry, which was also shockingly affordable and comfortable.
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, and is known locally for its production of cheese, potatoes, olives, and citrus. This island is especially fertile. It boasts quaint mountain villages, ancient ruins, an old town, and beautiful sandy beaches.
We visited in October and found that Naxos was rather sleepy at this time! Most of the shops in the core area were shut down (end of the tourist season!), and things were generally very quiet. We still had a great time on Naxos, though!
You might be wondering, what can I do on Naxos?! The answer is—a lot. There is a surprising amount to do on Naxos and we only scratched the surface.
1. Rent a car and explore the traditional villages
Or rent an ATV at first and regret it… and then return it for a car. Yep, that’s how it went down for us. I had read that renting an ATV on Naxos was the thing to do, however, honestly, the landscape doesn’t really lend itself to the kind of ATV’s that are available for rent. If you want to explore the mountain villages you’ll need something with a little more power—cue car rental.
We basically drove the entire island, from the beautiful beaches, to the crisp mountain villages, to the barren landscapes you’ll find on the east of the island. Our favourite mountain village was called Filoti, with Keramoti being a close second. These villages are stunning, and really interesting to explore. I highly recommend taking a day to explore these traditional villages. You won’t regret it!
2. Take a traditional cooking class
We love taking cooking classes when we travel. It’s not always easy due to our vegan diet, but we make it work. We love seeing how traditional dishes can be veganized, and we love learning about ingredients that are local to a specific area. On Naxos we took a cooking class with Platia, which was conveniently located very close to our Airbnb.
They were accommodating to our vegan lifestyle and the class also included a farm tour (if you know me, you know I’ll do anything for a market, a farm, and especially for good vegan food). They also have a farm nearby, and we found it interesting to learn about the local agriculture. This class was a little expensive for our tastes (about $80 CAD each), but ultimately it was a worthwhile experience. The hosts were a lot of fun!
3. Relax into the vibes of island life
This sounds a little funny coming from us, since we are from an island. However, Naxos is truly on island time. Nothing seems to be in a rush here, and I suggest that you slow down, too!
4. Walk around the Old Town
Perhaps one of my favourite things to do anywhere I go is explore the Old Town. The Old Town on Naxos is no exception! The cobblestone streets are dotted with plenty of interesting shops to explore, and Cycladic architecture to gaze at. Careful, though, it’s easy to lose yourself and an entire afternoon in the streets of the Old Town, taking in the sights, or having a meal at one of the many Taverns.
5. Soak up the sun at one of Naxos’ many beaches
Dan has an obsession with the Mediterranean, so naturally we had to go somewhere where he could dip his toes in the sea. Naxos boasts tons of beautiful, golden sand beaches. We checked out Agios Georgios, Agios Prokopios, and Agia Anna.
6. Visit the Apollo Temple
Perched on a scenic point near Naxos town, this temple, also known as Portara, or the Great Door, overlooks the sea and city. It’s a quick and easy climb/walk up to the gate, and is well worth it! We went during the morning, but this would also make a beautiful sunset spot.
7. Climb Mount Zas
The highest point in the Cyclades! Unfortunately we ran out of time to hike this mountain, but we would have loved to. Legend says that this is where Zeus was born and spent his childhood.
Locals told us this hike was short, but tough, and approximately 5km in distance, and starts from Aria Spring, which is near the village of Filoti (we loved this village!).
8. Take in a bit of history at the Eggares Olive Press Museum
Unfortunately we never made it to the Olive Press Museum, despite having it book marked for months before we were in Greece! The reviews state that this place is quite interesting and that the olive oil produced there is delicious! We love museums!
9. Taste some tradition spirits at the Vallindras Kitron Distillery
Established in 1896, this local Naxian distillery produces a traditional liquor known as kitron. This local liqeur has a lemony taste to it—it is , after all, distilled from a local variety of citrus tree.
10. Eat! When in Greece, right?
Naxos boats lots of fresh food—and even as vegans we didn’t have a problem finding healthy, delicious and filling food at an affordable price on Naxos. Our top three spots on Naxos: Platanos (in Filoti), Platia in Galini, and Grēgórēs near Portara! We stopped in at many local supermarkets and grocers and picked up staples to have at our Airbnb, too.
We were able to find things like: tea, coffee, fruit, veggies, nuts, some seeds, and locally baked bread. We do try to steer clear of gluten, but once again... When in Greece!
What did you do on your trip to Naxos? I’d love to hear about your experience on this idyllic island!