This summer I visited the Cycladic island of Naxos for the first time. I was impressed by its diverse architecture, farm-to-table food as well as its unique and storied landscape.
I am already looking forward to my next visit there, when I can revisit some of my favorite spots listed below.
We made the hike up to the Portara, or Temple of Apollo, one evening to watch the sunset alongside many other tourists.
It was a calming experience, and felt like we were witnessing something special.
Apostolis quickly became our favorite restaurant in the Chora. We first visited for lunch and later returned for dinner (twice). We tried just about every dish, and everything was delicious. Their Greek salad with Naxian cheese in a bread bowl was an absolute showstopper and left me wondering, why hadn't I thought of that?
Tip: Traveling to Naxos in August? You will need to book your dinner reservation at Apostolis one day in advance.
520 Bar is named for the country of origin code for products from Greece, so they won me over before I even stepped foot in the place. It's a great spot to watch the sunset and their cocktails are delicious. The 520 Spritz, their take on an Aperol Spritz, was a light and refreshing aperitivo that kept me coming back each night.
Tip: The bar has two levels, be sure to head upstairs for the best view and relaxing lounge area.
I know what our American readers are thinking, "Waffle House"? Let me tell you there is absolutely no relation to the American restaurant chain. This Waffle House serves up, I can confidently say, the best ice cream I've ever had in Greece, if not anywhere. They use only ingredients produced in Greece (woo!) and offer the typical flavors you'd find at an ice cream parlor as well as homages to traditional Greek flavors. The Greek yogurt and vissino (sour cherry) flavor was my absolute favorite.
They also have a location on Plaka Beach. You're welcome.
Macao Beach Project
Our first beach day we headed to Macao Beach Project on Agios Prokopios Beach. This beach is filled with rows and rows of lounge chairs and umbrellas, which is ideal for anyone who’s looking to be in the center of all the action.
We spent a day at Tortuga Beach Bar & Restaurant on Plaka Beach, where the upscale yet laidback atmosphere took us back to many of our favorite spots in Mykonos. We soaked up the sun on the quiet beach under a lux canopy, and when it was time for lunch we headed to their restaurant. During my time in Naxos I ate Naxian cheese prepared many different ways, but none can be outdone by Tortuga’s offering (shown above). When slightly salty and soft Naxian cheese is wrapped in kataifi, then fried, and then drizzled with honey and pistachios, something truly magical happens.
Early one morning we decided to visit the village of Apeiranthos (a 45 minute drive from the Chora). I was curious to explore this small town since it was featured by the late Anthony Bourdain on his show Parts Unknown.
Walking through Apeiranthos gives you sense of what life is truly like a traditional Cycladic village.
The village of Halki, which once served as the capitol of Naxos, is a 25 minute drive from the Chora and was an absolute pleasure to visit. The old villas and Venetian towers are now filled with tavernas, coffee shops and stores.
We had a delicious lunch at Giannis Taverna where we ordered a traditional Greek salad, briam (mix vegetables baked in tomato sauce) and kontosouvli (chunks of seasoned pork cooked on a rotisserie over a grill).
Fish and Olive - A beautiful art gallery who’s porcelain vases and dishware (that are made in-house) are almost too pretty to put to use.
Church of Saint George Diasoritis - This Byzantine church which was constructed and decorated in the 11th century and is situated in an olive grove a short walk from the center of the village.
If you’d like to see video from our time in Naxos, head over to Hellenic Aesthetic’s Instagram and click the “Travel” story highlight