Naxos Vs. Crete – How To Choose Between Crete Or Naxos

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Post author Drita

Written by our local expert Drita

Drita is a shy Albanian girl. Her Mom is from Kosovo, her Dad from Serbia. She loves to travel & share travel trips to help first-time travelers exploring Albania & the Balkans.

Here is your guide on how to choose between Crete or Naxos. It’s hard weighing up Naxos Vs. Crete, and we hope we’ve made it easier to choose. 

In a rush and just want to know how to choose between Naxos or Crete? Here is what we think you should know:

Naxos Crete
Easier to get around once there Bigger, so many more connections to get there
Laidback nightlife (sunset cocktails) Vibrant nightlife with loads of clubs
Locally grown food, relaxed beaches UNESCO & historical powerhouse

Choosing between two beautiful Greek islands is no easy task. After all, they’re all beautiful, and even if you whittle it down to two, how do you figure out which one is best?

The bottom line is that every Greek island has a slightly different set of traditions, local cuisine, types of nightlife, and beauty. They may look very similar, but they’re not. So, it would be best to know what you’re looking for before you begin. 

You’ve come here because you’re stuck between Crete and Naxos. You’ve got a hard decision to make because they’re both stunning in their own right. However, there are a few things that set them apart. 

So, let’s work out which is best for you and probably conclude that they’re both fantastic! 

Keep reading below for our in-depth analysis on weighing up Naxos vs. Crete.

About Crete

Rethimno, Crete Island, Greece

Crete is a large and most populated Greek island. Located around 160km south of the mainland, it has its own international airport. 

During the summer months, Crete is packed with visitors checking out the beaches and enjoying their summer fun. However, this island isn’t all about partying. There are many ancient ruins, natural sights, and local traditions to check out. 

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About Naxos 

Naxos Island, Greece - Port on the island of Naxos, Greece_Depositphotos_45231899_s-2019
Naxos Island, Greece

Located in the south Aegean region, Naxos is part of the Cyclades chain, and it’s the largest island in the group. Slightly different from Crete, Naxos is a little less commercial. However, its natural landscapes and chilled-out vibes still make it a real pull for tourists during summer. 

Naxos also has its fair share of beautiful beaches and natural landscapes to check out, with plenty of history to boot. 

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From those short descriptions, you are probably wondering what is really that different between the two. Well, let’s break it down a bit more. 

Getting To & From Naxos & Crete

Greece Travel Blog_Naxos Vs Crete_How To Choose Between Crete and Naxos

Getting To & From Crete

If you’re looking for an easy option, then it has to be Crete because it has an international airport with regular direct flights from many European cities during the summer months. There are also many domestic connections, with plenty from Athens. 

However, once you’re on Crete, you’ll find it harder to get around than you would Naxos. Naxos is much smaller, and things are closer together. Crete is large and sprawling. 

Getting To & From Naxos

On the other hand, Naxos doesn’t have an international terminal and only has a domestic option. But that means you can get flights from Athens or take the ferry from the capital, which would take around 4 hours. 

Nightlife & Gastronomy On Crete Vs. Naxos

Food in Greece - greek gyros with tzatziki sauce and fries on parchment

Crete Vs. Naxos Nightlife

Crete is packed with the vibrant nightlife of all different types, especially in Malia, which is where people go to PARTY! The main strip in the middle of the town is packed with bars and clubs, and it’s loud until the sun comes up. Chania and Heraklion also have plenty of nightlife to enjoy. 

Naxos Vs. Crete Nightlife

That doesn’t mean Naxos sends people to bed at 11 pm! There are still plenty of nightlife options, especially in Naxos Town, where you’ll find the marina packed with bars and tavernas. There are a couple of clubs too. 

The main difference is that Naxos’ nightlife is a little more laid-back, preferring cocktails at sunset to shots at 3 am. 

Which Has Better Gastronomy, Crete Or Naxos

As for food, they both take the win. Greek food, as we know, is pretty amazing, and both islands have plenty of it. You’ll find international choices too if you prefer.

Naxos is known for its agriculture, and many of the fresh ingredients you find in Greek food are grown locally on the island. For that reason, you may find food tastes a little bit fresher in Naxos. 

History Of Naxos & Crete

History Of Crete

Archaeological Sites In Greece - Knossos Palace
Knossos Palace

Both islands have a good amount of history to explore, but Crete is a bit of powerhouse. Knossos is an archaeological site that was once the capital of the Minoan civilization, and here you’ll find stories and ruins related to Theseus and Minotaur. The Palace of Phaistos is another must-visit as the Heraklion Archaeological museum. 

Crete is home to the former Spinalonga leper colony. There’s plenty of history to explore there, including Heraklion’s Venetian walls and Rethymnon, a Roman fortress dating back to the 16th century.

History Of Naxos

Locals will be happy to tell you all about the mythology linked to the island, and there are plenty of stories to learn about! As for Naxos, there’s plenty there too. Packed with stories related to Greek mythology, Portara is a must-visit, which is linked to the ruins of the Temple of Apollo – a temple that was never quite finished. 

The Temple For Dementer is another must-visit, built for the goddess of earth fertility. 

Beaches On Crete & Naxos

Of course, you want to know about the beaches. Well, these are Greek islands, so you know they will be good! 

Beaches On Crete

Best Chania Beaches - Aerial view of beautiful tropical Elafonissi Beach
Aerial view of beautiful tropical Elafonissi Beach

Crete has Elafonissi beach, which is famous for its pink-hued sand, created by coral and shells crushed by the sea. It is also home to Aspen with its black sand and Xi with its orange clay sand. However, if you want a regular golden sand beach, there are more than enough to suit your needs – there are 300!

Beaches On Naxos

Naxos Island Guide - A beautiful beach with turquoise water on the coast of Naxos Island
Naxos Island

But Naxos packs a punch too. The island’s beaches are mainly golden or white sand, and the waters are as clear as can be. Ideal for families, Naxos’ beaches are calm and shallow, and Plaka is a beach often considered one of the best in the whole of Greece. If you want a party beach, head to Agia Anna, and if you want to windsurf, it has to be Mikri Vigla. 

So, Which One Wins – Naxos Or Crete

In all honesty, we’re calling it a draw. It really depends on what you’re looking for, but if it all comes down to how easy it is to get there, perhaps Crete just shades it by a hairs-width. 

We know that choosing between Crete or Naxos is hard, so we hope that we’ve made it easier how to decide on Naxos over Crete.

Comments (5)

  1. “Crete is a large island and the fifth most populated of all the Greek islands.”
    I think you meant the fifth most populous of all the Mediterranean islands :).

    1. Oh God, what an error – it should just said “most populated” why on earth we added “fifth” is beyond me. Thanks Tony for the correction.

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