Where do the urbanites of Athens go on vacation? We sat down with Lena Philippou-Korres to create the local’s guide to Naxos, Greece.
Lena Philippou, President of skincare brand Korres, is no stranger to Naxos. George Korres, the brand’s founder and Lena’s spouse, was raised here and the family often returns for pleasure trips. The largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos is mountainous and rugged, with storybook villages throughout. Despite all its perks, Naxos is often overlooked by guide books—this paradise is reserved for Greek locals in-the-know. So take it from Philippou, who knows the island like the back of her hand: here is how to spend the perfect day in Naxos, Greece.
The Local’s Guide to Naxos
5 a.m. – Morning hike on Mt. Zas
Mt. Zas (as in ‘Zeus’) is the highest mountain in the Cyclades and the perfect early morning hike. The hike is short, but make sure you have trekking shoes as much of the trail is an ascent up the mountainside. Adventurous travelers should leave an hour before sunrise for an incredible view by the time you reach the top.
11 a.m. – Lie-in and breakfast in Chalki
Having worked up a huge appetite from an early morning hike, fill up on breakfast before a full day at the beach. In Chalki village, you can easily find traditional Greek tavern breakfasts using high-quality ingredients like fresh cheese, eggs, and local produce like capers. You can also head to a glykopoleio (sweets shop) for coffee and a bite of orange pie, a specialty. Chalki is known for Vallindras Distillery which produces Kitron, a citron liqueur that Naxos is famous for. “Besides the distillery, you can buy a lot of antiques in Chalki; there’s a lot of local craftsmanship.”
Noon – Beach day, all day
Beach lovers, choose your adventure! For those who want a serviced, luxury beach experience with recliners and refreshments, go to Plaka. For something more casual, climb down to Alyko, and don’t forget to pack your own lunch and plenty of water. This is Philippou’s favorite secluded beach. “You have to climb down a little bit to access the beach, but it’s magical. You’re completely isolated from civilization here.”
Adventurous beachgoers and families might prefer Mikri Vigla for its water sports and huge boulders that are great for climbing and parkour. Finally, Psili Ammos is a stunning superfine sand beach with opportunities to dive from the rocks above. Wherever you go, don’t leave the beach before 8 p.m. “Take advantage of the full day and don’t go back to the hotel.”
7 p.m. – Dinner
After a long day of beach lounging, you’re sure to work up an appetite. An hour or so before sunset, drive up the mountainside to Apeiranthos village, where you will find “some of the best food on any Greek island” at Lefteris Tavern.
If you prefer to stay in Chora, or Naxos’ main town, go to Boulamatsis for no-frills, authentic Greek home cooking. With a mom and pop vibe and delicious local ingredients, it’s sure to impress. Or, head to Axiotissa, located close to the beaches.
8 p.m. – Bar-hopping in Naxos Chora
Spend your evening visiting any of the small bars and taverns in Naxos Chora. “It’s not a party island like Mykonos but there’s plenty of places to enjoy live music.”
11 p.m. – Cheeky souvlaki
For the perfect snack after bar-hopping, head to Naxos Grill for some affordable souvlaki to satisfy those midnight cravings.
Know Before You Go
Be prepared to be blown away by the iconic Portara when you arrive. “Your first view of the island is an enormous marble stone door at the entrance. The minute you see that view, you know you’re in Naxos.”
The best time to visit? “Between May and September. We actually have winters, so don’t come in January! It will be cold and deserted.” If you time your trip right, you can experience the summer Naxos Festival, featuring art exhibitions and film screenings hosted in the impressive Bazeos Tower built in the 17th century.
Where To Stay
Finikas Hotel: “My favorite! It’s a little further out, and the beauty is that you wake up and Psili Ammos beach is right there. You can walk to most of the other beaches, too. I love the hotel—the staff is so hospitable. Plus, every morning they catch and prepare fresh fish for you.”
Polis Boutique Hotel: With its modern aesthetic and central location in Naxos Chora, Polis is perfect for those who want a more intimate stay.
Nissaki Beach Hotel: Also located in Naxos Chora, Nissaki is a 5-star luxury hotel right on the beach.