A thorough guide to Greek Island hopping.

Tired of the fast-paced, hectic city life, Jana Bassam (@jaybassam) decided to slow down, pack her bags, and seek comfort and peace on the enchanting Greek island of Naxos. By immersing herself in the local culture, she connected with a friendly and welcoming community and learnt about their traditions, cuisine, and way of life. And thanks to her journey, she has provided KHAMSA with a serene travel guide to the Greek Islands.

In Jana Bassam’s own words, “Greeks are known for their zest for life and their warm hospitality, making sure that everyone feels at home. It’s no coincidence that Dionysus, the god of wine and enjoyment, is revered in Greek culture. It is deeply ingrained in the Greek nature to make foreign visitors feel like they belong, and this sentiment is encapsulated in the word φιλοξενία ‘philoxenia,’ meaning the love of strangers.”

This travel guide is divided into three islands, Naxos, Paros, and Antiparos. Shall we begin?

Island ١: NAXOS

Naxos is a hidden gem for places to visit in Greece. Naxos invites you to immerse yourself in the essence of Greek island life with its stunning beaches, picturesque villages, vibrant culture, warm hospitality and delicious culinary offerings.

Must see beaches?

Agios Prokopios is one of the most famous and picturesque beaches on the island. Its long stretch of golden sand, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and beachfront tavernas make it a popular choice for visitors.

Plaka Beach is another spectacular beach. It stretches several kilometres, offering soft white sand, clear waters, beach bars and relaxed restaurants.

Mikri Vigla Beach is renowned for its strong winds and excellent conditions for wind and kite surfing. It attracts enthusiasts from around the world who come to enjoy the reliable winds and challenging waves.

Alyko Beach, situated on the southwest coast of Naxos, is a hidden gem known for its natural beauty. Surrounded by sand dunes and cedar trees, this secluded beach offers a tranquil setting away from the crowds. It is ideal for those seeking a more secluded beach experience.

Must-do activities?

Explore Naxos Town: Stroll through the charming streets of Naxos Town, also known as Chora. The town is a bit maze-like, with stone stairways and charming hole-in-the-wall shops.

Visit the impressive Portara: A massive marble gate that is the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo. Visit during sunset for breathtaking views of the town and the Aegean Sea.

Hike Mount Zas: Embark on a hike to the highest peak in the Cyclades, Mount Zas = Zeus – the god of the sky, the ruler, protector, and father of all gods and humans, was raised in a cave here on the Island.

Visit Traditional Villages: Explore the traditional villages of Naxos, such as Apiranthos, Filoti, and Halki. You will feel the real ‘Greece’ here in these villages; they’re a must-visit in Naxos.

Naxian Experience

Learn how to cook traditional Greek dishes with fresh organic products, taking place at the farm where Anthony Bourdain filmed for Parts Unknown. Mrs Juliana will guide you and share with you her delicious traditional Greek dishes while listening to Old Greek music and sipping on the best house wine. Naxian cooking experience offers a wonderful opportunity to delve into the island’s culinary traditions and savour the flavours of local cuisine.

Best places for shopping?

Erato Art Gallery: Paintings, sculptures, and contemporary-inspired jewellery from Greek designers.

Kiriakos Tziblakis: Tziblakis is a traditional shop selling a wide choice of cheese, olive oils, local wines, handicrafts and ceramics.

Hora: A small boutique that captivates fashion enthusiasts with its unique style and curated selection, all made by Greek designers.

Must-visit food spots?

One of the most notable aspects of Naxos is its delicious and varied cuisine. The island is famous for its fresh seafood, traditional Greek dishes, and locally grown produce.

Paradiso Taverna: Enjoy traditional Greek food, fresh fish and local wine while listening to Greek folk music.

Dal Professor: Best Italian place on the island! I advise you to try the Carbonara Romana!

Apanemi: This restaurant, by far, has the best seafood in all of Naxos. Highly recommend dining at sunset.

Where to stay?

When it comes to choosing a place to stay in Naxos, there are endless options that cater to different preferences and budgets, from beachfront boutique hotels to amazing villas on Airbnb.

A Home in Naxos would be the best as the island is a convenient starting point for exploring nearby islands. Consider taking the ferry to other islands, such as Paros and Antiparos.

Island ٢: Paros

Paros is one of the most charming islands known for its traditional white-washed houses, crystal-clear waters, vibrant bougainvillea-filled alleyways, and great restaurants and bars.

Paros is arguably one of the hubs of shopping in the Cyclades. In general, the shops are higher-end and unique. The boutique stores offer customers exquisite high-end fashion, as well as bespoke furniture and homewares.

Places to visit?

Naoussa: The elegant old fishing harbour of Naoussa is where you should spend most of your time, enjoying its lively restaurants and bars, and close by beaches. It’s also a great spot for nightlife!

Where to eat?

Barbarossa: One of the most popular restaurants on the island, with its delicious dishes and spectacular sea views

Stilvi: The ambience is great, and the food is exceptional.

Vavayia’s Cocktail Bar: this place has an incredible view and great cocktails Great spot for sundowners

Must-see beaches?

Santa Maria Beach: One of the more beautiful and clear beaches in the Paros, Situated 10 minutes from Naoussa. It’s super laid back here and the perfect place to spend the whole day by the sea.

Island ٣: Antiparos

Situated just 10 mins by ferry from Paros, Antiparos is a quiet and calm island ideal for anyone seeking a relaxing escape.

Where to eat?

Beach House: The restaurant at Beach House Antiparos serves meals that are incredibly delicious and beautifully presented. The beach itself is also incredibly beautiful.

Captain Pipinos: Located in Agios Giorgos, right by the sea, this place is the perfect spot to try authentic, fresh seafood.

La luna: Dance The Night Away at La Luna. You haven’t been to Antiparos if you haven’t spent a night at Disco La Luna. This famous disco has been open since 1981, and it feels like time hasn’t moved forward since then. Don’t miss the chance to visit this nostalgic venue that opens its doors every night at 2 AM.

Where to stay?

The Rooster Antiparos: One of the most beautiful resorts I have ever visited. With its earthy tones and air of exclusivity, this remarkable retreat allows you to escape from the outside world.

Dine in the Secret Garden: experience intimate dinners under the stars in the secret garden. This restaurant is driven by a passionate farm-to-table concept, ensuring every dish has the freshest and most flavorful ingredients.

Relaxation spot?

The House Of Healing (at The Rooster): I highly recommend visiting the spa, where you can discover various treatments, including facials, massages, sound healing, and yoga. Before each session, the House Of Healing experts will provide your personalised, in-depth wellness consultation.

Final Note:

Remember to savour the local cuisine, indulge in water sports activities, and immerse yourself in the laid-back island lifestyle as you explore Naxos, Paros, and Antiparos. Each island offers unique charm, from cultural attractions to stunning beaches, ensuring an unforgettable Greek island hopping experience.

P.S.: If you’re ever in Athens, please make sure to try BIRDMAN, my favourite restaurant ever!

Rand Al-Hadethi is an art, culture, and fashion writer who approaches all her creative endeavours with a penchant for storytelling. She explores the intersection of fashion, culture, and society and sheds light on talent and cultural movements across the Middle East and the world. Rand also publishes a bi-monthly themed substack newsletter called WebWeaver™. To reach Rand, email her at rand@khamsa5.com or follow her on social media @rundoozz.