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Naxos or Santorini

I noticed several people saying Naxos over Mykonos. We will have 3 days for an island. Taking relatives who have not been to Greece at all and perhaps will not be back. I feel like if this is the only time they go to Greece then perhaps Santorini is a must. We have been there on a cruise only. Thoughts?

Posted by
1199 posts

I would choose Naxos. But then I dont understand the fascination with Santorini. Really enjoyed Naxos. Santorin was meh (postcard prettified, dripping with excess). But many seem to love it -- what did you think?

Posted by
11450 posts

I’ve been to Greece 5 times now - going again this June - have no desire to do Santorini - been to Naxos , Mykonos , and Paros .

I’d pick Naxos ! They’ll get all the narrow streets , whitewashed town , beautiful beaches , and half the crowds and expense !

Posted by
7976 posts

Santorini looks Greek but doesn’t feel Greek. It is overrun with tourists from ships, many of the employess you deal with in shops, hotels are not Greek. Look at the view of the caldera and that’s it. Been twice, never again. Go to Naxos or Paros if you want a real Greek Island experience.

Posted by
1780 posts

It just depends what you want. We were awe struck by santorini. But we enjoyed Naxos more.

Posted by
3448 posts

I've said this in other threads, but it bears repeating. I liked Santorini for it's stunning beauty and archeological sights, but I loved Naxos for being unpretentious, beautiful beaches, impressive mountain villages, fine cuisine, cultural venues, and great public transportation.

Posted by
973 posts

I've been to Greece many times including a lot of islands and part of the mainland. I've never been to Santorini and probably won't but I have been to Naxos and highly recommend it.

It's the largest of the Cyclades Islands and has something for everyone.

There are many Greek Islands that offer spectacular scenery, lovely villages, less touristy, less crowded and far less expensive.

Posted by
5998 posts

Many love Santorini, We hit it for one night, really enjoyed the view of the Caldera and Akrotiri, it was about right for us, no desire to go back.

For limited time, Naxos would be good, just have a plan. I would say that Naxos probably does not make the Top 10 of Greek things to see, maybe a side trip to Delos would rank up there, but it has some nice sights, decent beaches, and a Greek feel.

Posted by
973 posts

I have to disagree about Naxos not being one of the 10 ten things to see. I found it to be one of Greece's nicest islands with a nice blend of archeological and historic sites, some of the prettiest mountain villages, and a spectacular road from Naxos Town through the interior over the mountains all the way to the north of the island. Simply spectacular views, vistas, churches, sheep, and villages cascading down the hill sides. There are centuries-old Byzantine villages, nice beaches, excellent tavernas and lots more.

However, everyone has their own idea of what's top 10.

I don't feel you'll be disappointed by Naxos.

Posted by
1015 posts

In 2014 Naxos was named the second best island in Europ by Tripadviser based on travelers reviews and ratings. Looks like some people believe its worth going to.

Five Greek islands on TripAdvisor’s top 10 list for 2014 Feb 20, 2014
Five Greek islands, Naxos, Milos, Kefalonia, Santorini and Paros have been named among the 10 best islands in Europe for 2014 by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel review site. TripAdvisor’s top 10 list is based on opinions of travelers who have visited the islands.

Below are the descriptions given by TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor2014AwardsBest Islands in Europe – 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards – Tripadvisor
Lewis and Harris, Scotland
Naxos, Greece
Island of Gozo, Malta
Orkney Islands, Scotland
Milos, Greece
Kefalonia, Greece
Santorini, Greece
Island of Capri, Italy
Isle of Mull, Scotland
Paros, Greece
Here is why.
Naxos Town
Trip around Naxos
Naxos sunsets

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you so much to everyone who has replied (and please feel free to chime in if you haven't already). I really appreciate every response!

I am not too surprised that no one on this forum chose Santorini. It's probably obvious that I am second guessing myself. Someone asked what we thought of Santorini when we were there. We arrived by cruise and immediately took the bus to Oia where we spent an enjoyable afternoon doing a little shopping and a lot of eating at a family run taverna. If we go, we will stay in Oia, do some hiking, wine tasting, and a lot more eating. When we were going on our own, we were going to Naxos and Crete.

Other than the cruise which went to Santorini and Corfu, I have spent one week in the Athens area. My favorite moments were visiting a family run olive farm, going to the processing plant and getting fresh olive oil, and Nafplion.

Not sure one can go wrong visiting anywhere in Greece but it's nice to be away from the more touristy areas (imo).
Thanks again to all who responded!

Posted by
1 posts

Santorini hands down, for the following reasons:

  1. Like Crete, Santorini had a thriving Minoan culture. When this volcano island erupted, the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri was remarkably preserved, like Pompeii, but hundreds of years older. The Minoans were remarkably advanced traders and influenced the Egyptians artistically.

  2. Many of the buildings in Santorini are perched on the sides of the Caldera (the inside slope of the volcano), an archaeologically interesting and amazing adaptation to life after the eruption.

  3. Santorini is arguably has the most beautiful vistas of all of the Cyclades.

  4. Santorini has absolutely great wine.

  5. It's not too hard to hide from the crowds from cruises. Settle into your temp abode, relax, and soon the island is yours again. Opa!

Posted by
2353 posts

Seakat, my two cents: I have visited only 3 Greek islands, Hydra, Santorini and Naxos. Santorini was indeed scenic, but overwhelmingly crowded, very touristy along the caldera coast, and more expensive. On Santorini, I actually most enjoyed the small town of Megalochori away from the coastal area, stopped there briefly on a tour and then returned by public bus the next day to poke around, have a great lunch, and photograph. I really thoroughly enjoyed Naxos, the town with ancient sites and lots of good restaurants, a thriving local Greek community, touring the island and seeing other towns, ancient churches, craftspeople, marble quarries, etc. While it still has tourists in season, they are many fewer, in large part because Naxos has a small airport and a ferry port, but it has no cruise port, so those thousands of cruise passengers and Naxos rarely cross paths.

Posted by
5998 posts

RE: Top Ten

I did not mean that Naxos does not rank up there on many top 10 of Greece lists as a bad thing. It does show up if you restrict the list to islands, but in the big picture, it gets overlooked, though it is very popular.

My point is, you may have to do a bit more research and planning to fill out your days, consider transport options since everything is not in walking distance, and even where to stay on the island is a big decision

Posted by
29 posts

Seakat, when will you be travelling?

We visited both Islands last September.(My first trip to Greece).
On Santorini, we stayed in a small Airbnb in Imerovigli, with a jaw-dropping view of the caldera. We were a short walk to Skaros, for a worthwhile hike. The crowds in September were quite bearable, and the weather was perfect! There was plenty of good food available nearby, at reasonable prices. The crowds in Oia were a crunch, as others have said, and you experienced on your cruise.

We stayed in Naxos close to the castle in old town. The winding streets were charming, hilly, and not crowded. The food was phenomenal, and less expensive than Santorini. The beaches were easily reached by public bus, for 2€. The Portara site is an easy walk, and amazing at sunset.

In comparison, Naxos was more laid back, less expensive, with incredible cuisine. The scenery in Santorini (the Caldera, the blue-domed churches, the white-washed Cycladic homes) helped create an aura, a mood that, for my wife and I, was incredibly romantic, and one of the best travel experiences we’ve ever felt.

That being said, it’s a very subjective, and personal decision. If we ever get the chance to revisit Greece, we’re spending a few more days on Santorini. Naxos? Probably not.

Either way, really, you can’t go wrong. My (long-winded 😉) advice: commit whole-heartedly to one of the two, and make the most of it.