It’s absolutely possible to have a great time in Naxos without a car. But hiring one certainly allows you to explore much further and on your own schedule. For accommodation outside of the Chora, Stelida, Agios Georgios, Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Plaka areas it’s probably necessary to hire a car.
If you’re staying in Chora or one of the touristy places listed above then the bus could serve you well. There are buses that go out to the traditional villages so you could definitely see some of them that way. The bus company also runs day tours of the island which might fit your needs. You can find out more about the bus timetables on the Naxos general travel information page.
Car, moped or ATV to explore?
In Naxos, you’re unlikely to be able to hire a moped unless you’re an experienced moped/bike rider. You’ll be able to hire an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) more easily. However, my personal opinion is that for Naxos, a car is much safer.
You might decide that if you’re just driving an ATV along from the sands at Plaka to town, for example, that’s the best option for you. But car accidents are very common in Greece and usually, they involve motorbikes/mopeds or ATVs. Motorbike fatalities are higher in Greece than just about anywhere else in the EU. Proportionately they happen more in the summer months and in tourist areas.
You’re pretty vulnerable on two wheels and even on the ATVs. They might feel sturdy with their four wheels but if you find yourself in an uphill or very uneven situation they can tip.
Naxos is a relatively big island and is pretty hilly. Even ATVs can struggle despite the speeds they get up to. Plus with the mountains, there are a lot of bends, some without any type of guardrail. Cars (and larger vehicles) come pelting round these corners without much care so you really do have much more protection in a car.
What type of car should I hire in Naxos?
Many of the hire cars available in Naxos are small economy models like Fiat Pandas and Citroen Spark or a couple of classes up. Bear in mind that most of the island roads are narrow. They pass through villages that weren’t built to accommodate cars. Something small is appropriate for driving village to village.
If you want something more fun you still have options. But bear in mind the state of the road. If you’re staying down a dirt track or want to visit the hinterland and harder-to-reach beaches then don’t book a small car or something fancy like an Audi TT!
You need something like a Jeep Wrangler. It’ll cope better with the loose scree you’re driving on plus the extra height will help prevent the stones from damaging the sides. It’s probably going to be in your car hire contract that you can’t take the small cars on unmaintained/dirt roads. And the insurance won’t cover stone damage to the tires or underside of the car.
How do I book a car rental?
Some places do offer online booking. That’s my preferred way as it saves a call. But note that even if you reserve a car online your booking isn’t usually confirmed until someone from the office contacts you. It’s common for them to contact you by email, phone or WhatsApp to check all the details and then confirm the booking on their end.
Some websites have a general enquiry form or email that you need to fill out with what you want and then they’ll come back to you with availability and prices.
If you want to just book something after you arrive then walk along the port as you’ll see plenty of places. I wouldn’t advise trying that in July or August as everything will probably be booked already. Similarly, cars could be limited during other Greek national holidays.
Having said all that, if you’re travelling to Naxos in the winter and want a car then be aware a lot of places will be closed. Many touristy places don’t run through the winter as the owners head back to Athens. See below for rental places open throughout the year.
Where can I collect a hire car from in Naxos?
There’s a small area at the port that’s dedicated to rental cars. If you’re arriving by boat then your chosen rental company will give you the port as a collection point option. Many of the car hire offices are based at the port anyway.
As Naxos also has an airport it goes without saying that you’ll be able to collect your car from there, too. Because it’s not a huge island, it’s unlikely that you’ll get charged for collecting from one of these points and returning to another if you needed to.
Some car hire places are based at other points around the island so for these, you may need to go to their location to collect. That probably works best if your accommodation is closer to them and you can get some kind of transfer to your hotel first.
Having said that, it’s common for car hire companies to give you the option of coming to your hotel in the car. In my experience, they bring the paperwork with them and leave you the car. However, some places might pick you up to go back to the office to do the forms.
Best car hire companies in Naxos
I’ve personally had good customer service experiences with the following car hire companies.
However, I don’t think there’s too much difference between availability and prices across the island.
Wheels4U – book online, really amenable with pick off and drop off, good price
Naxos Akrogiali Rent A Car & Moto – opposite Zas Travel, helpful, friendly service
AutoTour/NaxosRentACar.com – recommended by Wheels4U for a winter booking they couldn’t help me with, good service
Winter car hire on Naxos
I booked a car through Avance in November but accidentally booked it for Paros instead of Naxos. They changed the booking no problem and got me a car through Alpha Rentals who is open all winter: +302285400500
I also noticed that Akrogiali that I’ve mentioned above were also still open in late November.
What kind of licence do I need to rent a car in Naxos?
You’ll need either an EU licence (still includes UK in 2021) or an International Drivers Permit which you’ll need to collect before you arrive in Greece. There are more specific details about what you need to hire a car in Greece generally here and about driving in Greece here.