I had a great time in Santorini, but it really took me by surprise when I fell head-over-heels for the lesser-known island of Naxos. The largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos is best known for its incredible beaches…but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. From the moment I laid eyes on the iconic view of Portara (all that remains of an ancient temple of Apollo) I had a feeling I was in for a treat.
I was immediately blown away by the kindness and hospitality of the people in Naxos. Never in my life had I received such a warm welcome as I did at our hotel, Kymata Hotel. I cannot talk that place up enough. They offered to pick us up at the port for free, and as soon as we arrived, everyone at the reception got up to greet us and thrust huge, homemade loukoumis (the Greek equivalent of a Turkish Delight) into our hands, along with a shot of Raki! It was amazing. I should also mention that it is conveniently located right on St. George Beach and has an incredible breakfast buffet. If you’re staying in Naxos, this is where you should be!
The adventure didn’t end there. We soon learned that in addition to having incredible people and beautiful beaches, Naxos is also home to a fantastic food scene. All of the best Greek food we ate on our entire trip was in Naxos.The best part? Every single restaurant was eager to give us something to try on the house, whether it was a dessert, glass of wine, or an appetizer. We trudged back to our hotel every night with full stomachs and happy hearts.
Another highlight for us on this wonderful island was our day trip into the tiny mountain village of Halki. The bus ride through the mountains was nothing short of extraordinary and the postcard-perfect views of the village were only made more amazing by the tantalizing scent of spring flowers.
We stopped by the local citron distillery, which has been a specialty of the village for centuries. The citrus-flavored liquor was delicious and we couldn’t resist buying a bottle to take home with us.
Before heading back to the main part of the island, we stopped for a nice lunch at a beautiful little cafe.
With each moment, I just kept falling more and more in love with the place. My heart was already heavy on our last night there at the thought of leaving.
If you are planning a trip to the Greek Islands, especially if you are going to the nearby Santorini, please do yourself a favor and check out Naxos! It’s a short ferry ride away and was my favorite part of our trip to Greece. It may not have the poetic views of Santorini, but it is plenty beautiful and has a soulfulness that Santorini simply doesn’t. I really hope to return someday.