Naxos, Greece 2021: Where I Stayed, Where I Ate (and Partied)

If you read my post on Paros, you’ll know that this was my first time in Naxos. I feel weird calling these posts a “travel guide” when I’ve only visited once, ya know? Feels like not nearly enough visits to call myself an expert. So instead, I’m saying “here’s what I did, if you want to try it out and trust my opinion, go for it.”

Now let’s get down to business. First off, I had a different hotel upon my arrival in Naxos, and while it may be totally fine for some, I wanted a bit more “luxury”, so I switched to a different one. Both are located in the Agia Anna beach area.

The first hotel is called Something Else, and it is VERY bare bones. Like, no soap kind of bare bones. The bed was very low to the ground and stiff, and the shower head was the kind that you have to hold in one hand and scrub yourself with the other. Clean and good location (close to the beach, supermarket, restaurants and a bus stop that takes you right into town), but it was just TOO bare bones for me. If I was 25 and on a budget, 1000% would stay there. But at 37 with a bad back/neck and the means to stay somewhere nicer, I’m going to do that. Call me high maintenance, I don’t care. I want a comfy bed, working AC and good wifi.

With that in mind, I switched to the Iria Beach Art Hotel, which is a stone’s throw from the other one. They had a room available at a discounted rate, and it’s right on the beach, much more modern (with amenities like soap and a shower door), and overall just…nicer. And bigger.

The staff was incredibly friendly too, which I find hard to come by in Greece, and they had an amazing free breakfast spread every morning. I dream of those spanakopitas; seriously I had 3 every morning. They also didn’t technically have frappe (the whipped Greek coffee that everyone lost their shit over on TikTok last summer), but they would make me one every day anyway. So sweet! I miss them so much.

But I digress. Let’s just say I plan on going back to Naxos next year with my mom, and I’m definitely going to try staying there. It’s also right next to this wonderful restaurant, Palatia, which I ate at probably 3-4 times during my stay. Great food, affordable, and only 10 euros for a chair on the beach!

Sidenote: Honestly, everything in both Paros and Naxos was pretty cheap. Mykonos and Santorini were the only places I remember visiting in Greece that were expensive. Ok back to the good stuff.

Since I was in Naxos for an entire week, I won’t break this down for you day by day like I did with Paros, because that will be too aggressive. So here’s a little list of the places I really liked, with some extra information about the food/drinks/overall experience. You’ll notice the “activities” section is a little short. I like to prioritize for food & drink.

Once again, links below are usually to the Google search, since a lot of places don’t have websites, only FB pages. And FB is terrible for research purposes.

Activities:

Portara – a little touristy thing to do! It’s really cool though, I promise (and perfect for the gram). This is “The Great Door” at The Temple of Apollo, which is a large marble doorway that still stands right on the islet of Palatia, near the Port of Naxos. Read more about the history here. Go at sunset for photos, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I got this sick Medusa-looking pic too because the wind was out of control that day.

Live Bouzouki at Art Cafe – if you didn’t watch live bouzouki, did you even go to Greece? We stopped here after dinner one night in Prokopios, and it was a perfect little reset before hitting the town to party. You know you’re old when you say things like “hitting the town to party”. No fee to get in, but I believe there was a one drink minimum per person. The drinks weren’t great though, so maybe stick with a beer or vodka/club soda if you’re a basic bitch like me.

Restaurants:

Banana Beach Bar – the first place we ate, and then we came back, not totally on purpose, but we were not disappointed either time. The space is beautiful, and the cocktails were shockingly good. Though on my last visit I had a Red Bull and Vodka, so that probably doesn’t count. Great pasta, saganaki, and the fry basket was delicious. Fried shrimp, fries, and calamari. I didn’t get a pic, but it was perfect for a hangover.

Leftos Souvlaki & Kabab House – probably my favorite gyro of the entire trip, this little spot is just a short walk down the beach from the Iria hotel in Agios Prokopios. I think I paid 2.80 for a big pork gyro loaded with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions and of course, FRIES. And I ate it in my bikini. Should also mention that the surrounding area has a bunch of other restaurants, cafes, and gift shops. Cute spot to walk around!

Palatia – as I mentioned, right outside my hotel in Agia Anna and a perfect standby for any meal. I’ve had breakfast/lunch and dinner there. The chicken souvlaki and fries were delicious and just what I needed after an evening of being sick thanks to the “sunset cruise” (or in my case “panic attack/vomit cruise”). The staff was super friendly too, and did I mention Naxos is known for its potatoes?? Yea, don’t sleep on the fries or the Naxos omelette (it’s heavy, you’ve been warned).

Doukato – easily one of my favorite meals of the trip! This restaurant is in the Port of Naxos (where our ferry came in), which is about 20 mins from the Iria hotel. We took the bus (1.70 euro) but most times we called cabs. No Lyfts or Ubers here though, be aware. The ambiance of the restaurant was lovely, open air space in the back, with tons of flowers cascading down the walls. The service was attentive and shockingly fast, even by my hasty New York standards. Good wine selection too. I don’t remember the name of my dish, but I’m finding out so will update asap, and they were like delicious meatballs. Sorry. But not sorry for more stray cats that look like Bobo, RIP. </3

Taverna Akrogiali – we loved this place so much, we ate here twice. A few restaurants down from Palatia, you’ll find Akrogiali. Try the Kleftiko, which is a slow cooked lamb dish with potatoes, peas, onions, and cheese all wrapped up in parchment paper. It’s like opening a really fragrant, wonderful present. The lemon potatoes here were absolutely incredible too, and don’t sleep on the beet salad! It sounds weird, but it’s delicious, just trust me (if you like beets). Beets, yogurt, walnuts, herbs…it works.

Piperi – I left the club at 3 am by myself and got a gyro from here before finding a cab to take me back to the hotel, so I could eat it in bed, like a lady. They were out of the pork gyro meat, so they asked if I was ok with chicken souvlaki instead. As if I would have said no. Anyway, wouldn’t kick it out of bed – it was solid. Don’t remember the details outside of the drunk selfies I took while eating it.

Ya Souvlaki – another 4 am stop after a night of too much booze, but when in Greece, do as the Greeks do. Or perhaps it’s just how the tourists do? Either way, probably my second favorite to Leftos. And bonus: they have a shockingly clean public bathroom right around the corner for when you need to pee whilst waiting for your gyro.

Pizza Bit – far be it from me to mention pizza in Greece because most pizza I’ve had here tastes like Elio’s, but this was actually really tasty (and portable)! Nice and hot, crispy, thin crust and good sauce/cheese. Loved it and devoured within a few minutes whilst walking down the street.

Flamingo Cafe & Restaurant – ok, we didn’t eat here, so I guess I can’t report back on the food. We only stopped in to watch live Greek music and have a few drinks. But it was busy and everyone looked like they were full and loving life. Good vibes but definitely more mellow, so I wouldn’t recommend if you’re looking to turn UP.

Bars:

The Rum Bar – let me preface this by saying, it’s most definitely a bit of a tourist trap because of the prices. It was more expensive than anywhere else we went, BUT the cocktails are unique and very showy in terms of presentation (pls see photo of flaming skull drink, “Zombie”), and the music was awesome. I really liked the vibe here and had I not been so full from dinner, I probably would have enjoyed it even more.

Side note, while we’re on the topic of drinks! That was probably my biggest issue with Greece overall: the super sweet cocktails. Not a fan. I hate sugary drinks and 90% of the drinks anywhere we went, were either rum or gin based and tasted like jolly ranchers. Get it together, Greece! I love you but I don’t want a stomach ache/hangover after one beach cocktail. Ok moving on…

Swing Bar – I actually really liked the music here, but the drinks, once again, not my favorite. Also a little touristy like The Rum Bar with their “presentation”, but I didn’t like the flavors as much. Sorry I didn’t get any real bar/ambiance pics, it was so hot in there and my drink was so sweet I didn’t feel great. LOL I love being my age.

Likehome – this place made it sound like you were about to enter the world’s coolest bar, and had us make reservations days in advance, and…I didn’t love it. If you Google it, you’ll think I’m insane, but context is everything so maybe the fact that they put 6 people at a table for 4 FACING A FUCKING WALL had something to do with it? Idk. It had that “speakeasy vibe” to it, since you walk through a store of sorts to get up there, but maybe I’m just old and jaded? I didn’t get the hype. The drinks were not my speed (jolly ranchers, yet again), but some of my friends liked them. Ok, I’m done bitching now.

Babylonia Bar – so this is a gay bar, which explains why they had the BEST music. I was actually upset this place wasn’t more packed because I really loved the mix of 80s/90’s mixed with current pop/dance, but what can you do? Maybe it wasn’t a popular night. Also, check out the poster in the bathroom while you’re in there. Just trust me, because I absolutely cannot post a picture of it.

Island – I’m actually bummed that we didn’t get back here after the first night. We were all a bit shot after a long day of traveling, and we got there around 2 am. They played awesome house music (old school and new stuff) up until about 3 am, then it turned over to deep house. I have to be in the mood for that, and when I’m already falling asleep, a repetitive beat with no lyrics will basically lull me into a very zombie-like trance. I won’t be asleep, but I won’t be awake either. It’s not fun for me. But the music was great and people were dancing everywhere. MUCH FUN.

Beaches/Beach Bars:

Virtu Suites – this is a hotel (in Agios Prokopios), but you can make reservations for the beach/chairs. We made our reservations the day before and had no issue (we were even a few late). Loved the beds here, sooo comfy and the umbrellas were nice and big. The vibe here and the drinks were great (look at those fun straws!), and major plus: it was an easy walk from my hotel.

Nomad – LOVED this beach bar in Plaka. The Instagram/thirst trap opportunities were unparalleled. God, for anyone reading this who doesn’t know me, you probably hate me and everything I stand for. Please know I’m just mocking myself as an “influencer”, because the space IS TRULY STUNNING. I cannot stress this enough. See below, I couldn’t pick just 3 photos. Gorgeous boho-chic decor inside and comfy chairs/beds on the beach. Awesome food too; the tuna tostadas and chicken tacos were both delicious, and the Nomad Spritz was tart and refreshing.

Tortuga – Another beautiful beach bar in Plaka, but I have complaints about one thing: the wooden slats over the little cabana beds. I don’t want to lay out and get zebra striped tan lines?! WTF. I’m pale and I wasn’t going to risk this, so I laid my towel down on the sand next to the cabana. I went under it to eat though. Speaking of: AMAZING CLUB SANDWICH HERE. And actually some of the better cocktails I had on this trip too (I had the Detox Margarita with mezcal). It was a far walk from my hotel, so if you choose to walk like we did, wear sunblock and comfy shoes. I literally took a cab back.

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