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What and Where to Eat in Naxos (2024 Guide)

Updated: Jan 3

Naxos is one of the largest Greek islands in the Cyclades complex, floating peacefully in the middle of the Aegean Sea. Once a classical centre of ancient Greece and Byzantium, nowadays a holidaymaker’s paradise and one of the best culinary destinations in one of the top countries to travel for food. Producing top-quality local foodie products and lacking the hordes of party junkies is what makes Naxos an attractive destination for families and foodies!

Naxos food guide things to eat in Naxos

As a devoted foodie, I am always on the hunt to eat at the best spots or find the ultimate ingredients anytime I travel somewhere new, Greece included.

In this food guide for Naxos, I have hunted down foods and products that are traditionally Naxian and a foodie (like me and you) should try while on this beautiful cycladic island. I am also listing some places where you can find the best of the best representative dishes!


Here is my Naxos top 5:



What makes Naxos a Foodie Destination?

Naxos is a little bit more fertile and kind of “greener” compared to its surrounding Cycladic siblings. Add this to the local micro-climate and you get a great variety of delicious crops. Olives, grapes, figs, corn, potatoes and of course the local citrus fruit (kitron), which is found only here and on one other island of the Mediterranean, Sicily. Exceptionally fresh seafood can also be savoured in almost all restaurants (ask for the catch of the day), but also worth mentioning that Naxos has spectacular mountainous arable land and picturesque villages where life is slow, full of joy, meaning you are in for some phenomenal meat, wine and cheese (Naxos being one of the largest producers of premium quality cheeses in Greece).

Undeniably, Naxos is a culinary destination with a long tradition, and rightly so. With its unique recipes, top-notch local products and fair pricing (despite the inflation pumping up all prices), Naxos can unite all traveller and foodie tribes without costing an arm and a leg.


Is Naxos any good for families?

Being a big island comes with certain advantages for families; there are a lot of accommodation options for every wallet and reasonable food prices compared to other islands in the area. The beaches are pristine, almost tropical and mostly organised. With soft white sand and shallow crystal-clear waters, kids of all ages will be enchanted. Not to mention the best beaches on the island are close to each other and are immensely protected from the northerly winds (called ‘meltemi’) that batter the Aegean islands in the summer months (especially in August). For families with small kids looking places with walking proximity to the beach, shallow waters and safe distance from the Naxos town buzz, Agios Prokopios or Agia Anna are certainly great options with good food and shopping options but at the expense of being quite crowded and packed with sunbeds for that very reason. But luckily a couple of miles further down south there is Plaka, which is quieter and cosier, it's close to Orkos surf paradise, and then there's Maragkas a long sandy beach with convenience stores, swanky boho bars and great restaurants. Maragkas and Plaka are both spacious and not as crowded as Agios Prokopios and Agia Anna and with the same quality of waters (highly recommended for a more relaxed holiday).


Naxos town (a.k.a Hora) has countless options for food, drink, bakeries, gelato and shopping for families so you can buy all your beach toys and snorkel sets from there. Hora is also sectioned into two parts, the ‘old market’ which is the classic narrow island-style alleyway with pretty little independent shops and souvenirs and the port area, which is flat, pedestrianised with car parks in good proximity so a family with babies and buggies can easily access, stroll and dine in peace. Having said all that, I must confess that I (personally) as a Greek was not entirely fascinated by Naxos Hora. Albeit sizeable for the Aegean standards, in my opinion, it lacks the beauty and charm of other smaller ‘Horas’ in the Cyclades. Luckily for the curious visitor, there are lots of picturesque villages like Apeiranthos, Filoti and Chalkio with unique Cycladic beauty and an authentic grandma and contemporary mixed-style food scene to even it out!


Last but not least, there are activities for families with the top being daily cruises around the island or to the nearby islands (Koufonisi being a great option) with amazing snorkelling spots along the way but also kitesurfing lessons at the Orkos bay📌 where the beach and wind conditions are simply world-class, there are sand dunes for playing and there is also Thalasea📌 beach bar-restaurant with laid-back surf attitude and great food, to add to the experience.


Naxos Kitesurfing
Lazy afternoons at Thalasea (Orkos Kitesurfing)

How to go to Naxos?

There is no international airport on the island so all flights run via Athens. The nearest big international airport is Mykonos from where you catch a 45-min ferry ride directly to Naxos.

For those seeking more thrill, there's a superfast catamaran ferry from the port of Piraeus or Rafina (3-hour sail). For me, there's no authentic Greek summer vacation not starting and ending with a ferry ride in the Aegean.

Naxos is a great destination for island hopping along the route with Andros, Tinos and maybe Paros although Paros is constantly battling to steal some glory of the nearby Mykonos and prices have been on the up side for the last few years.


Naxos Food Guide

Enough with the tour guide, I am sure other bloggers do better than me on that thing. My speciality is food. Before I start, a little disclaimer: the food on the island is GORGEOUS if you try to avoid tourist traps. Easier said than done, so save this guide to reduce your chances falling into these traps.

Press that little star on the map below to save it in your Google Maps. The map will then automatically appear on your Google maps app under "Saved" and then "Maps"


As a Greek, faithful to the tradition of hitting at least one Aegean island every summer, and as a devoted foodie getting always to try local delicacies, here’s my list of top 5 things one should try in Naxos:


It goes without saying that fish is something you will 100% enjoy on a Greek island. If something is widely available and caught daily fresh in islands, it’s fish. And the Aegean fish is unique: succulent, flavoursome and bursting with the fragrance of this blessed sea. For some (like me) fish is just the top reason to spend their summer holidays every year in the Greek islands.

Apart from the classics, sea bass, sea bream, red snapper, sardines etc, once in Naxos is worth trying Gouna and Salatouri, both local delicacies of the central Aegean (Naxos and Paros). Gouna is a traditional mezze made of oily fish (mackerel or bonito) which is dried on the sun for hours (or days) before being grilled over coal and served over olive oil, oregano and parsley. Salatouri is also a traditional local mezze made of stingray. Not the venomous tropical one, but its little harmless relative that lives in the Med. The fish is first boiled and then served shredded topped with a divine dressing made of olive oil, vinegar, mustard and honey. An absolutely sensational dish; it blew our minds away that we ordered it twice.

There are plenty of nice places to taste these dishes and you will find Gouna and Salatouri usually in the appetisers/mezze pages of the menu. If there was one place to recommend for an unforgettable sunset dining with tables on the sand eating seafood mezze and tsipouro (or ouzo) and all the trimmings, it would be Patatosporos📌 in Agia Anna. Not only the excellent food and location but there’s a lovely vibe about this place: rustic islandic aesthetic and art-deco, pleasant and polite service and the nostalgic music (for us Greeks) straight out of some old Greek movies of the 50s and 60s.


Patatosporos beach restaurant Naxos
Patatosporos beach restaurant


Another great place to savour fresh fish and creative Greek cuisine dishes is Psaraki📌 at Maragkas Beach. For me, the best-looking and tasting restaurant in an area with many tourist traps, serving fresh seafood in inspiring, Instagrammable dishes. Polite personnel and great service enhance the experience and the feel-good vibe of the venue. Ideal for midday meze after working up an appetite at the beach (showers are available on-site to dust off) or dinners with picture-perfect sunsets!



2. Meat

Naxos is rightfully famous for its high-quality meat. Animals are not just free to roam and eat directly what this fertile land produces (the traditional old way), but also well treated and living a good life under the Mediterranean sun. And there’s plenty of meat available and several different sorts of cooking styles on the island.

An excellent place to taste authentic Naxian meats is 'Stou Vasilarakiou'📌, a destination for insightful gourmets in the small mountain village of Kinidaros, just 25 min drive from Naxos downtown, not yet spoiled by tourist crowds. You will find a wide variety of meats that come from the owners' collocated butcher shop and are expertly barbecued on a huge outdoor grill, right in front of your reeling eyes! Juicy beef steaks (in professional cuts), pork and lamb ribs, homemade sausages and succulent kontosouvli (skewered meats) will be sizzling on that huge grill as you make your way in hearing the crackling sounds of burning charcoal—a true meat eater’s paradise (or a vegetarian’s living hell). Add to your order local fried potatoes, greens, and country salad dolloped with Feta or Touloumotyri (a local soft cheese variety), and you are set for a meal to remember! Simple, authentic and best value for money!

Just the basics... at Vasilarakiou


Rosto is one of the local dishes you should try and involves a garlic-filled pork slowly braised for hours in wine and spices, served with pasta and potatoes. Last but not least, there’s one more local recipe that you should definitely try: kalogeros (monk in Greek). This is a very tender piece of veal cooked with eggplant and local gruyere cheese, absolutely divine! If there’s one place only to visit on the island to get an uplifted version of these two magnificent dishes, Rotonda📌 is the place to go. Rotonda is around a 45-minute uphill drive from Hora towards the slopes of the mountains, at Apeiranthos village, and offers the best sunset view of the island (book in advance – it’s popular among the Greek holidaymakers). Both Apeiranthos (as a village) and Rotonda as a restaurant were the highlights of our holidays and not to be missed for anyone looking to experience the original Greek-style island itinerary.




Greek food Naxos guide
Sunset feast at Rotonda - Apeiranthos

APEIRANTHOS RECOMMENDED ITINERARY: plan for a half-day visit to Apeiranthos Village📌. Head there before sunset -temperatures are cooler up there- to stroll the alleys slowly and stress-free without the crowds of Naxos town, shop in small local artisanal shops, and enjoy your coffee with Greek spoon sweets in one of the village's squares. The village is quite uphill so wear comfortable shoes. 1-1.5 hrs should be enough for a stroll and coffee. Then head to Rotonda for dinner (suggested to book well in advance - around 6:30 to 7 pm is the best time).




If you are staying at Naxos town (Hora) and do not plan to drive to the Naxian highlands, there is a cute little family-owned restaurant at the far end of the old town (towards the port), Apostolis📌 squeezed between a chapel and someone's whitewashed backyard with a fairytale-like atmosphere that will blow your senses. Apostolis is famous for the Greek salad served inside a hollow bread loaf but also the homemade meat dishes (like Kleftiko). The menu also offers cheese platters (with local cheeses) and has plenty of delicious vegetarian options. As it's central in Hora and scores high on reviews, expect crowds so better book ahead.



3. Cheese

Naxos is hands down Greece’s top quality dairy producer; thousands of milk-producing animals (goats, sheep and cows) are raised in the mountains and the semi-mountainous areas of the island, producing nutritious and flavoursome milk for the production of cheese. Naxos Gruyere is the island’s most-known product and has many awards and distinctions under its belt. In all parts of the island, you will find authentic local gruyere to try. Arseniko is the more mature version of gruyere which resembles the Italian parmesan with salty, tangy and mellow notes alike. Undeniably the king of Naxian cheeses. Other cheeses worth trying are xynomyzithra (imagine something like cottage cheese) and touloumotyri which has a slightly creamier texture and sour taste. Both are perfect for the traditional dakos salad served in most of the islands. All restaurants offer some variety of the local cheeses so you will get to try a lot while eating your way on the island.


If you are looking to buy cheese before departure, great news, there is a fantastic deli quite close to the port that you can pop into for some last-minute shopping. Just under a 10-minute walk from the Port is Koufopoulos Deli📌, one of the oldest and top producers and exporters on the island. The personnel are super friendly and they will happily offer you free samples before you buy. If you have time and want to get a full-blown cheese-tasting experience, they can book you in their special cheese-tasting area behind the store. Koufopoulos is of exceptional quality so it comes with a price. For locals who know what they want, there are tens of remarkable cheeses that the cheese cooperative of Naxos sells to supermarkets, which are slightly cheaper and packaged ready to go.

Naxos cheese Koufopoulos
The best Naxian cheese at Koufopoulos Deli

4. Potatoes

Greece is famous for its Greek salad, and Naxos for its potato salad. Naxian potato is more than a plain, humble potato. It has a very long history that dates back to the 1950s when Naxos was the official potato seed producer of Greece due to its fertile land and microclimate conditions. Research says that potato has been cultivated and evolved on Naxos since the 1700s so there’s no wonder Naxians are very proud and consider their local potato variety gold.

Suppose you happen to be in Naxos in late August/beginning of September. In that case, you will have the added advantage of seeing the potato festival where visitors taste the delicious Naxos potato in various versions and recipes with passion and imagination. The best vegetarian dishes you’ve ever dreamed of will be offered at that very festival. The Festival is organized by the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Naxos and includes plenty of food, wine, and feasting until the early morning in honour of the local potato.

Potatoes are widely available year-round and served everywhere in Naxos and I recommend not missing the traditional potato salad with capers, olives, fresh onions and the divine sweet and sour olive oil dressing, a recipe straight from the Olympian gods.



5. Walnut (Melahrino) and Orange (Portokalopita) Cakes

And something for the sweet tooth out there. I have extensively written about my all-time favourite Greek orange cake (portokalopita), one that brings childhood memories from my grandma’s kitchen in a small village in Northern Greece and one that luckily is very popular on the island of Naxos. Foreigners usually get overwhelmed by the amount of sugar syrup this cake is soaked in, but the zesty flavour of the fresh orange satisfies even the most demanding foodie out there.

Naxos food guide
Portokalopita by the beach from Lagogianni

One other thing to try and is unique on this island is 'Melahrino' (brunette in Greek). It's a moist walnut cake made with olive oil and infused with Kitron at Naxos. Quite unusual and unique.

Usually these cakes can be offered as a post-meal dessert in several taverns and restaurants but you can buy them freshly made in the Naxian family chain bakery Lagogianni at Plaka📌. There's also one store in Hora but the former is just the perfect stopover to stuff your face with breakfast treats, coffee and pastries or sink your teeth into the juicy and fragrant orange cake on your way to the beach. You can dine in the outdoor patio seating area overlooking the rugged landscape (reminding Mexico or Arizona) or take it away for picnic on your way to Plaka, Orkos, Hawaii or Mikri Vigla beaches.


Want to bake the authentic Greek Orange Cake at home? Check my take of the recipe right here: Portokalopita


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