Last updated on March 11, 2023 by Wandering our World
Greece is known for its stunning islands stretching into the Ionian and Aegean seas, each offering a unique and enjoyable experience depending on the type of traveller you are.
Corfu and Naxos are two of the best, but each is distinct in its own way which makes them very different holiday destinations…
For example, Corfu has the bigger tourist sector and subsequently it has more things to do. It’s also well set up for families – thanks in part to its many kid-friendly hotels – but also has one of Greece’s best nightlife scenes as well.
Naxos is more rugged and wild. It’s less popular with tourists, but that makes it the better destination for outdoor activities and adventures. The nightlife is laid-back, the scenery striking, and the vibe almost romantic feeling.
But that’s just the beginning when it comes to how similar and different these two Greek islands are!
Luckily, right here we’ll be using our knowledge to show which has the better beaches, activities, food, which is better for families, couples, and even more!
So before booking your flights, dip your toes in the crystalline waters with us as we take an honest, in-depth look at Corfu vs Naxos.
- A Quick Overview
- Which Has The Better Beaches?
- Which Has The Better Nature?
- Which Has The Better Activities?
- Which Has The Better Nightlife?
- Which Is Better For Families?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
- Which Is Better For Backpacking?
- Which Is The Better Choice?
Corfu vs Naxos: A Quick Overview
Corfu: A Quick Overview
Also known as Kerkyra in Greek, Corfu is a beautiful island in the Ionian Sea off the coast of northwestern Greece. The island has a long and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years.
It was home to many great empires, including the Byzantines and Venetians, who left remnants of their eras in Corfu’s much-beloved Venetian Architecture.
After all, Corfu was a critical commerce centre known for its exports of Olive Oil and Wine which were prized in the ancient world.
According to mythology, the island earned its Greek name from the daughter of the River God Apsos, a love interest of the great Poseidon. This love story is what is rumoured to have resulted in the Phaeacians, noble fishermen, who were once a thriving civilization on the island days past.
In the 19th century, Corfu became part of the modern Greek state, which played an essential role in the country’s struggle for independence from Ottoman rule.
Today, the island is known for its breathtaking landscapes, beautiful beaches, and rich history, and it remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece.
Naxos: A Quick Overview
Naxos is one of the most historically significant islands in the Cyclades archipelago of Greece. The island’s long and rich history dates back to ancient times.
It was once inhabited by the great Mycenaean civilization, which was a starting point for the island’s pinnacle reputation as a civil trade centre in later years.
When the Byzantine Era took hold, Naxos became a religious centre, and the island still holds this history in the numerous churches and monasteries that still stand today.
The island is also a critical feature in one of Greek Mythology’s most reprised love stories, Dionysus and Ariadne, who were said to have met on the dreamy shores.
Throughout its long history, Naxos has been known for its beautiful landscapes, stunning beaches, and rich culture.
Today, it remains one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting visitors from all over the world who come to experience its natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. It’s quieter than Corfu, but has plenty to do.
Which Has The Better Beaches?
Corfu: The Beaches
Corfu beaches are worthy of the Gods, with the entire length of their shoreline met with gorgeous, crystalline waters.
The coastline is versatile, with each stretch offering something enchanting. So whether you’re looking for a secluded cove, a scenic bay or a sweeping beach for a romantic walk, the Island of Corfu has a beach for you. On top of that, we think the beaches in Corfu are probably more picturesque than the ones on Naxos too…
And as Corfu is busier than Naxos you can find plenty of beaches with lots of facilities and amenities for a fun, fully-packed, day at the beach.
Paleokastritsa Beach is as close to paradise as you could possibly experience. A popular tourist beach, it is often bustling with activity, and is surrounded by lush hills and cliff faces that frame the bay and gives a feeling of VIP Luxury.
This beach is especially popular amongst snorkellers who take full advantage of the crystal-clear waters to spot some local marine life.
Sidari Beach is a monument amongst the sea, with stunning rock formations that were shaped by the waves themselves.
It offers a more serene escape on golden sands that overlook cliffsides and the famous Canal d’Amour, a natural tunnel that is said to bring good luck to those who swim through it.
The party is in Kavos Beach, attracting a far younger crowd who head to the sands for one of Corfu’s out-of-this-world beach parties.
This beach is always busy, with music pumping from the beach bars and clubs and water sports enthusiasts finding their way to the water to enjoy kite surfing, snorkelling and body boarding.
Naxos: The Beaches
Naxos is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. But, much like Corfu, there’s plenty of versatility that will allow travellers of all kinds to find their perfect match.
From tranquil coves to bustling watersports hubs, Naxos has something for everyone, which makes it a fantastic all-around destination for beach fanatics of all types.
For a quieter beach experience, consider looking at Agios Georgios Beach. This long, golden stretch is tucked against shallow waters, perfect for sunbathing and swimming.
There’s plenty of room for the kids to play and gorgeous scenery that’ll take the words out of your mouth. Surrounded by rocky cliffs and olive groves, you are in for a serenity you won’t soon forget.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a Naxos beach packed with action, Mikri Vigla Beach would be the spot. It’s usually quite windy, but that makes for an ideal destination for tourists looking to taste adrenaline through water sports activities.
Or you could just immerse yourself in the usual tourist crowds by going down to Agia Anna Beach. This well-sheltered area of the Naxos coastline has been an attractive destination for families who want something safe and busy for their little ones.
With plenty of amenities lining the beach, there’s enough to keep you preoccupied well into the afternoon, where you can relax and watch a beautiful Greek sunset.
Overall, both islands offer unique beaches well-suited to all types of visitors. In this category, picking a winner is definitely a difficult task, so we’ll just leave it for you to decide. Ultimately they’re both excellent destinations for a beach vacation.
Which Has The Better Nature?
Corfu: The Nature
Corfu is home to stunning landscapes, dense forests, rolling hills, and sparkling lakes. And the island is home to many endemic species, including the Corfu Pine, which grows on the slopes of Mount Pantokrator.
Mount Pantokrator is the highest peak on the island and has a hiking trail for those who want to hit the dirt and enjoy a day out in mother nature.
Otherwise, the huge long-distance Corfu trail stretches 220km around the island and passes through villages and natural terrain for an all-around experience.
The island has an incredibly versatile wildlife population too, mainly hanging around the wetland areas of the Ropa Valley.
You might be lucky enough to see one of their rare and colourful birds or a Stone Marten, an adorable member of the weasel family.
Naxos: The Nature
But Naxos is also a natural wonderland, and while not as green as Corfu, it feels more untamed.
The island’s size is handy, and considering most of the human population tends to keep to the shoreline, the rest of the island has been left to nature.
Naxos has a rugged landscape with soaring mountains, deep gorges, and pristine beaches. There’s plenty of hiking trails, and most of them are quieter than the ones on Corfu.
However, its most popular natural hotspots sit in the Naxos Wetlands, a haven for migratory birds, including flamingos, herons, and some small mammals. These naturally occurring estuaries are easily accessible by foot and kayak.
The most outstanding natural feature of Naxos is Mount Zas (Zeus). It sits as the highest peak in the Cyclades and offers gorgeous panoramic views of the Aegean sea to anyone brave enough to hike its trails.
Ultimately, both Corfu and Naxos have diverse natural environments, making them ideal destinations for eco-tourists.
But in this case, Naxos simply offers more diversity and more untamed expanse for nature lovers and hikers to explore to their heart’s content.
Which Has The Best Activities?
Corfu: The Activities
Corfu’s well-developed tourist infrastructure makes finding activities to suit all travellers easy. And in that sense, it has lots more to offer activity-wise than Naxos.
The island is rich in culture, history, gorgeous coastal towns, and untouched wilderness, and we won’t negate the beaches, which offer plenty of unique activities of their own.
Here are some of the best activities you can do on Corfu:
- Visit Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Explore the Venetian Architecture.
- Visit Archeological sites like Angelokastro and Achilleion Palace.
- Explore the Corfu Trail.
- Head to the beach for snorkelling, kite surfing and scuba diving.
- Dance your way through Corfu’s lively beach parties.
- Join a group activity like a boat tour or cruise around the coastline.
Naxos: The Activities
Naxos is less built-up, and most activities centre around its attractive natural features and beaches, rather than anything created specifically with tourists in mind.
The island still thrives with a vibrant history and attractive list of activities for indoorsy-types, with stunning historical architecture, ancient towns and bubbly villages.
Looking for what to do on Naxos, here are some ideas:
- Take advantage of the winds on the beach with kitesurfing and windsurfing.
- Hike up Mount Zas
- Go birding
- Take a kayak tour
- Explore the old churches
- Visit archeological sites like the Temple of Demeter and Portara.
- Indulge in local cuisine
- Visit local museums
As you can see, both Corfu and Naxos offer a wide range of activities that cater to different interests. Still, there are variations in the types of activities that you can experience on these two islands, and Corfu offers more versatility for thrill-seeking tourists looking for their next activity.
Which Has Better Nightlife?
For our younger travellers or even some vibey old-school ones, a good party is everything when choosing between destinations. Luckily, there really is no competition when it comes to the nightlife in Corfu vs. Naxos.
Corfu is an the better destination for night owls, and attracts an international scene of rabble-rousers and party animals.
One of the most popular spots for nightlife in Corfu is the Old Town, home to several bars and clubs. The streets are filled with people of all ages enjoying the lively atmosphere and music. But every village has its own personality.
Some like it low and slow, with one or two beach bars offering cocktails and sundowners, whereas others may prefer a wilder night out partying until dawn in one of the island’s many nightclubs.
Naxos might not have the same reputation for partying as Mykonos or Ios, but it still has plenty of options for those looking for a fun night out.
The island is more of a mellow retreat though, with restaurants, bars and scattered nightclubs. This is why we said there’s not really a competition. In essence, Naxos should be the number one choice for people who want a calmer and more peaceful nighttime environment.
But for anyone who is at all interested in getting stuck into a vibrant international nightlife scene, Corfu beats Naxos, hands-down.
Which Is Better For Families?
Corfu: For Families
Both islands are a far better choice than, let’s say, Mykonos for an overall family vacation, but one is definitely better than the other – and that’s Corfu.
With Corfu’s range of activities, safe, sandy beaches and thriving tourist industry with many family friendly activities and resorts, it offers a thrilling vacation destination for families looking for some rest and relaxation.
The island is safe and bustling with activity throughout the year that’ll keep you and the little ones entertained for days.
The resorts and hotels offer a great escape with private pools, facilities and kids’ clubs that’ll make it easier to keep the little ones at bay when you want a day in your hotel robe.
The versatile beaches also mean you can find a spot perfect for your kids to build sand castles or something more thrilling where they can take their first steps into the world of water sports.
All in all, Corfu makes for a fantastic family destination with friendly locals, internationally influenced culture (so your kids will find familiar food), kid-friendly hotels and much more.
Naxos: For Families
Naxos, on the other hand, may be more suited to active families, but isn’t a good all-rounder like Corfu.
There’s still plenty to do for the active family on Naxos, but that’s just the thing, not all families are into hiking and sports, and most prefer somewhere that’d cater to the needs of all their children.
Naxos has plenty of brilliant activities and offers a more serene experience than Corfu. However, any parent of a toddler knows that the last thing your chaotic three-year-old is interested in is keeping still and enjoying the tranquillity.
So for us, this definitely just means that Corfu offers a far more versatile and inclusive experience for all types of families.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: If you want to be based in the heart of the action rather than by the beach, then staying at New York Luxury Suites in Old Corfu Town could be perfect. The suites themselves are tastefully done, sit in a superb location, and come at a great price. See photos and rates here!
Luxury: With gorgeous sea views, fantastic amenities and a massive infinity pool perfect for photos and utter relaxation, staying at the five-star Angsana Resort & Spa is one of those things we should all do at least once in our lifetime. Luckily this is luxury at a price many can afford. See photos and rates here!
Budget: If you’re looking for luxury on a budget then Manios Suites, which is situated on Agia Anna beach, will be perfect. The private balconies with unobstructed beach and sea view are, of course, the highlight of a stay here. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Situated just steps from Agia Anna Beach, the incredible Avgoustos Suites Naxos is luxury embodied. With hot tub and even a romantic bed for sunbathing on your private terrace – complete with sea views – this has to be one of the best hotels for honeymooners in Greece. See photos and rates!
Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine.
And for lovers, there’s nothing more romantic than an island getaway together. So whether you’re still in that puppy-love stage or he’s put a ring on your finger, Corfu and Naxos provide an intimate getaway where you can simply fall deeper in love with one another.
After all, according to Greek Mythology, there’s a history of godly love flowing through both destinations. If you’re not taking that as a sign to visit for your next romantic getaway, we don’t know what will convince you!
But we do prefer one island for romance over the other…
Corfu: For Couples & Honeymoons
Corfu is a stunning island known for its romantic charm and enchanting atmosphere.
Lovers can stroll along the charming streets of Corfu Old Town, where they can explore the quaint shops and indulge in a romantic dinner at one of the many restaurants with a sea view.
There are also plenty of bars and cafes where couples can relax with a drink and enjoy the sunset.
For a more secluded experience, couples can take a boat tour to the smaller islands around Corfu, such as Paxos and Antipaxos, and enjoy a picnic on a secluded beach.
Not to mention the intimacy provided by the hotels that scatter across the island, many of which offer spectacular views and room service, so there’s no need for you to interact with anyone but your partner.
Explore the cultural and historical sites of Corfu, or take a bonding hike through the natural valleys on the hunt for rare birds, where perhaps you’ll spot Corfu’s blooming orchids.
That sounds about as Disney princess of a holiday as you can get outside of actual Disneyland!
Naxos: For Couples & Honeymoons
Naxos is a romantic paradise that offers everything a couple could desire in a dreamy getaway. This island has everything from stunning sandy beaches and turquoise waters to charming villages and exquisite cuisine.
Essentially it’s perfect for couples looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The island’s picturesque villages are a highlight for romantic strolls, with winding streets and charming architecture. In the evenings, couples can enjoy dinner at traditional tavernas with candlelit tables and delicious local cuisine.
Not to mention the gorgeous wineries, for which Naxos has been infamous even before becoming a tourist destination.
Couples can bask in the sun on secluded coves or dip in the warm Mediterranean Sea. And for the more adventurous couples, there are water sports activities available such as windsurfing, kiteboarding, and paddleboarding.
Overall, nothing says romance like peace, tranquillity and serenity. While Corfu does offer it to some extent, you won’t be able to top the beautiful atmosphere that Naxos hosts for couples in love and lust!
Which Is Better For Backpackers?
Budget travellers and backpackers don’t have to worry about the affordability of Naxos or Corfu. We can assure you they’re both pretty inexpensive and make for excellent budget holiday destinations.
However there are differences that may make one island better for backpackers than the other…
Corfu: For Backpackers
Corfu is a great destination for backpackers who are looking for a mix of adventure, culture, and nightlife.
For travellers on a shoestring, the island is a paradise on earth where almost every aspect of your journey won’t end up costing you an arm and a leg.
The island is relatively easy to traverse, with options to use cheap public transport systems to get you from one town to another.
However, if you’re fit and somewhat adventurous, nothing is stopping you from using the famous Corfu Trail to take in every aspect of the island as it passes through wilderness and villages.
Accommodation is cheap and easy to find, with numerous hotels, resorts and hostels available in every major town, and a few niche B&Bs in smaller villages, allowing you a cosy place to rest your head.
The local culture is vibrant, and the people are friendly, which makes it easy to make friends and immerse yourself in the spirit of Corfu without any problems.
After all, that’s what backpacking is all about!
Most of the must-see sites are easily accessible to the public, plus the vibrant nightlife will delight any young backpacker looking to mix in with an international crowd.
Naxos: For Backpackers
Naxos has a laid-back vibe, making it perfect for backpackers who want to take their time exploring without feeling rushed.
It is an excellent destination for backpackers as it offers a mix of affordable accommodations, stunning natural landscapes, and a range of activities that won’t break the bank.
Unlike Corfu, it has a smaller tourism industry, which bodes nicely for backpackers interested in delving into a destination’s cultural and historical scene without the influence of the Western world.
The friendly locals are more than accommodating and love to introduce strangers to their livelihood! The villages are far less focused on making themselves the perfect getaway, ironically making them attractive to backpackers and budget travellers.
The accommodation around the island is affordable, obviously with some limitations. However, there are plenty of hotels and hostels that won’t drain your wallet and still offer you a comfortable place to rest your head.
The natural scenery is breathtaking and easily accessible, allowing nature lovers to immerse themselves in the wilds of Naxos through hiking, kayaking and some simple exploration. There are plenty of hidden gems on Naxos waiting to be found.
Corfu vs Naxos: Which Is The Better Choice?
We’ll always stick to our guns and remind our readers that the overall verdict lies in the hands of the travellers themselves. But if we had to put it down to one destination, we’d probably have to lean more towards Naxos.
Yes, Corfu is a beautiful destination for families. It has plenty of charm, but at the end of the day, Naxos is a more intimate travel experience, with serene natural wilderness, stunning beaches, fun-filled activities and a historical and cultural vibrance we simply can’t resist.