Last updated on September 13th, 2021 at 01:33 pm
In the past few years, Naxos has become quite popular with travellers from all over the world and we’re sure you’re wondering what to do in Naxos to make the most of your time on this incredibly diverse Greek Island. That’s where we come in. We published the only Naxos travel guide you’ll ever need to read.
Unlike other Greek Islands that have been spoilt to some extent as a result of their popularity, Naxos remains authentic to its core. The first time we visited Naxos was back in 2012. Therefore, we expected it to be a lot different when we went back in 2021.
However, apart from minor changes for the worse – which you can easily avoid if you read this Naxos guide – we were glad to realise that Naxos never stopped being an authentic, value-for-money and fascinating Greek Island. So, without further ado, here’s what to do in Naxos for a trip you’ll never forget!
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Where Is Naxos
Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades Islands. It’s situated between the islands of Paros and Amorgos, north of Ios and south of Mykonos. The Municipality of Naxos & The Small Cyclades comprises the islands of Naxos, Iraklia, Donoussa, Koufonisia and Schinoussa.
Who Is Naxos Island For
Everyone. That’s the short answer, which happens to be the only correct one, too. However, more often than not, Naxos is regarded as a primarily family-oriented island. We feel the need to dismantle this myth. Thanks to its sandy beaches with shallow waters, spacious accommodation and a remarkable multitude of activities and dining options, the island is indeed ideal for families travelling with kids.
Yet Naxos Island is so diverse that it literally has something for everyone. For instance, couples in love who want nothing but to walk hand in hand in dimly lit alleys, adventurous solo travellers who want to explore natural wonders and ancient ruins or groups of friends who want to dance the night away after a day spent doing water sports, all of these people are sure to absolutely love Naxos.
Why Visit Naxos
But why choose Naxos over any other island in the Cyclades, you may wonder. One of the main reasons to visit Naxos is that it’s the perfect island for exploration. Therefore, it’s ideal if you, like us, have itchy feet and your idea of a fantastic vacation always includes a bit – or more – of hiking, discovering hidden gems or learning history.
Apart from the obvious things to do in Naxos, such as swimming in crystal clear waters, eating delicious Greek food and sipping cocktails at seaside bars, Naxos has some unique characteristics that you won’t easily find on other Greek Islands. First of all, Naxos is dotted with gorgeous mountain villages that scream authenticity and quaintness.
To get from one village to the next, you witness the natural beauty of Naxos as you walk or drive through forests, streams, waterfalls and beautiful dry-stone walls, slowly taking in the charm of one of the most fertile islands in Greece.
Moreover, the island of Naxos is renowned for its special architecture that’s strongly influenced by Venetian culture. Naxos is abundant in impressive mansions, towers and churches built in the Middle Ages by the Venetian lords that ruled the island. Nowadays, these masterpieces, either abandoned or restored, are implemented in the island’s gorgeous scenery.
Last but not least, Naxos is an island rich in history that spans many centuries, from ancient times to this day. Ancient relics, medieval gems and remnants of 20th-century industrial wonders await to stun visitors who are willing to embark on an exciting trip through the island’s past.
But let’s go over all the incredible things to see in Naxos in more detail, shall we?
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Top 35 Things To Do in Naxos Greece
1. Walk To The Temple of Apollo (Portara)
The indisputable highlight of Naxos is Portara, the imposing marble gate that stands in the centre of Palatia Islet near the island’s port, defying the winds for centuries on end and tirelessly welcoming visitors who arrive in Naxos by ferry.
Portara is the very symbol of Naxos. The gate is the only remaining part of the unfinished Temple of Apollo that used to be in this location in ancient times. You can get to Portara via a lovely paved path from Chora. Once there, don’t forget to look back towards Chora because the view is breathtaking.
Although Portara is considered the top sunset spot in Naxos – more on that further down – you can also visit Portara early in the morning and then enjoy a dip in the sea that’s right below the archaeological site. Portara has no entrance fee and it’s open to visitors all day long.
2. Get Acquainted With Chora
Naxos Town or Chora is where the heart of the island beats. It comprises the promenade that leads to the port and Portara, the Old Town, the Castle of Naxos, the Grotta area, the modern part of Naxos Town and Agios Georgios Beach.
If you can look past a handful of ugly buildings that line the promenade, Naxos Town or Chora is generally very charming. We don’t mean to say that the promenade is not worth visiting, of course. In fact, the promenade is the place to be in the evening when all you want to do is people-watch with an ice-cream cone in (each) hand.
The Old Town of Naxos or Bourgos is built outside the walls of the Venetian Castle of Naxos. Getting lost in its maze-like alleys is one of the best things to do in Naxos. It’s there that you will find the Old Market of Naxos that’s home not only to souvenir and jewellery shops but also to the bakery and grocery store where locals do their shopping since forever. It’s a habit of ours to do the same every time we travel to Naxos.
The Grotta neighbourhood is worth a visit for a walk along its picture-perfect beach. Moreover, in Grotta you can visit the Orthodox Cathedral of Naxos and the Archaeological Site of Grotta with its display of findings that date back to the Bronze Age. Last but not least, don’t miss an evening stroll around the vibrant modern part of Naxos Town which extends to Agios Georgios, one of the best beaches in Naxos.
3. Wander Around The Castle of Naxos
Although the Castle of Naxos is part of Chora, we believe it deserves its very own place on our list of the best things to see in Naxos. The Venetian Marco Sanudo built the Castle of Naxos in 1207. The fortified settlement has never stopped being inhabited ever since. Just taking in all this medieval beauty while wandering around the Castle and admiring glorious mansions and enchanting courtyards would suffice. But here’s a bit more on what to do in Naxos Castle.
One of the best places to visit in Naxos Castle is the Roman Cathedral, a gorgeous marble church that stands at the Castle’s main square. Near the Roman Cathedral, you can visit the Archaeological Museum of Naxos, the Della Rocca Barozzi Venetian Museum and the Church of Panagia Theoskepasti, probably the oldest building inside the Castle of Naxos.
Yet what dominates the Castle of Naxos is the former complex of the Ursuline Nuns School. It comprises many buildings, most of which are now renovated and used as cultural and educational centres.
One of them houses Avaton, a rooftop bar which is worth a visit not only for a glass of wine with the best view but also because there you can have a look at what the Ursuline School must have looked like back in the day when it was filled with young girls’ laughter.
To get the most of your visit to the Castle of Naxos, you can join a walking tour run by a knowledgeable guide who will let you in on the secrets of the island’s past.
4. Admire The Unique Kouros Statues
Throughout its long history, Naxos Island has been known for its excellent marble quarries. Nowadays, the island’s shiny and durable marble is extracted at the modern quarries near Kinidaros Village. As you drive around the inland of Naxos, you catch fleeting glimpses of the modern marble quarries. They shine so bright under the Greek sun you’ll have to look twice to make sure that what you saw wasn’t an apparition.
In ancient times, the island’s top-quality marble was used in sculpture and architecture. Local craftsmen of the time would give the sculptures their rough shape on-site at the quarries. The final details would be carved after each work of art had reached its final destination. This was done to prevent damaging the sculpture during its transfer from the quarry to its final destination.
Accidents during the transfer weren’t uncommon. Therefore, whenever a sculpture was damaged, it was abandoned at the quarry. Other reasons that led to the sculptures being left at the quarries were order cancellations or various political events. Among the most interesting attractions in Naxos are the statues that were abandoned at the island’s ancient quarries.
Kouros is the Ancient Greek word for the statue of a standing, often naked, young man. There are three Kouros statues scattered across Naxos. Two of them are in the greater area of Flerio, near Melanes Village.
Each of these two statues depicts a young man of supernatural size (5.5m tall). Both Kouros statues were shaped at the same quarry and later abandoned because the legs broke during transfer. The two Kouros statues of Flerio lie within short walking distance from one another.
The third and probably most impressive of all three Kouros statues in Naxos is the one at the ancient quarry near Apollonas Village. The Kouros of Apollonas is the statue of an old man who’s more than 10m tall. Scientists disagree as to which Ancient God it depicts. Is it Apollo or Dionysus?
The Ancient Quarry of Apollonas is a site of great significance. That’s because it was the main source of marble for the Holy Sanctuary of Delos. However, the Greek state doesn’t do much to protect it.
The site is free to visit all day long and there isn’t even a rope to keep avid Instagrammers from stepping on the ancient Kouros statue for a selfie that will be gone in 24 hours. Please, don’t be these guys. Refrain from stepping or lying or sitting on the statue when you visit the Kouros of Apollonas.
5. Don’t Miss The Sanctuary of The Springs
When you visit the Kouros statues of Flerio, don’t miss the chance to drop by the nearby Sanctuary of The Springs. It’s free to visit and it provides great insight into the importance of this area in ancient times. Situated in the lush Flerio area, the sanctuary was dedicated to a female deity connected to the fertility of the soil. It was also a favourite place of worship for the workers at the nearby ancient quarries.
6. Enjoy Pristine Beaches
There are many beaches in Naxos. So many that it would take an entire article to talk about all of them. Therefore, here’s just a small selection of the best Naxos beaches.
Most beaches in Naxos are sandy with turquoise waters. Agios Georgios is a sandy beach in Chora with beach bars, restaurants, sunbeds and umbrellas. It’s the perfect option if you’re staying in Chora and don’t feel like driving or taking the bus to go to the beach.
The most popular beach in Naxos is Agios Prokopios on the island’s western coast. You can get to Agios Prokopios from Chora after a short drive or ride on the public bus. With crystal clear waters, golden sand and three pink salt lakes that give the beach an exotic touch, there’s no doubt that Agios Prokopios is graced with utter natural beauty.
Yet humans haven’t been equally kind to Agios Prokopios. Sunbeds and umbrellas have taken over the beach and it’s unbearably crowded during peak season – which you should avoid anyway, more on that further down. Of course, you can’t just skip Agios Prokopios because it really is an amazing beach. Just make sure you pick a spot on the beach that’s as far from the village as possible. To be more precise, the closest to Agios Prokopios Chapel you are, the better.
Other Naxos beaches you can enjoy on the island’s western coast include Agia Anna, Plaka, Mikri Vigla and Kastraki. For a more exotic beach, head to Psili Ammos on the eastern coast of Naxos in the village of Kanaki. If you long for seclusion, Kalandos and Panormos (or Panermos) are two remote beaches in southern Naxos, while Abram is a peaceful beach in northern Naxos.
Last but not least, a beach you should definitely check out is Aliko. This area is renowned for its natural beauty. Aliko is home to the largest cedar forest in Greece. It comprises several small bays with turquoise waters and impressive sand dunes. Next to Aliko Beach, you can enjoy the more exotic-sounding (and looking) Hawaii Beach.
7. Be Amazed By The Island’s Street Art
Since we’re talking about Aliko Beach, there’s yet another reason you should go there. Right above Aliko Beach, there’s a large hotel complex that was never completed and has been abandoned for decades. As of late, the abandoned hotel has become a favourite with street artists who have turned its grey walls into masterpieces.
Among the drawings, you can find some signed by WD (Wild Drawing), such as The Third Eye, probably the most impressive piece of street art in Aliko.
⚠ While walking around the area of the abandoned hotel in Aliko, we know it’s hard to keep your eyes off of the wonderful murals.
Yet make sure you watch your step because there are many holes in the floor.
Also, don’t spend too much time inside the building as there’s always the risk of falling parts.
If you think that Aliko Beach is the only place in Naxos where you can admire superb street art, you’re wrong. It seems that street artists are inspired by the island’s charms and they’ve created little wonders in various places, such as Chora and Filoti Village. Therefore, while strolling around, make sure you keep an eye out for fantastic street art.
8. Visit The Temple of Demeter
The myth of the ancient goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone is among the most heartbreaking stories in Greek mythology. Demeter was antiquity’s goddess of agriculture and the fertility of the earth. Her beautiful daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld. When her mother found out, she got furious and demanded that her daughter was brought back to her on earth. Zeus, the king of all gods, was called to find a solution.
Zeus decided that Persephone would spend six months in the underworld with Hades and six months on earth with her mother. When Persephone was with her mother, Demeter was happy and the land was fertile. But when Persephone returned to the underworld, Demeter’s grief was so great that no crops could grow and the land was barren. And that’s how Ancient Greeks explained the cycle of the seasons.
Naxos has always been a very fertile island. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Demeter was widely worshipped in Naxos. In the beginning, Demeter and Persephone were worshipped in the open air. However, around 530 BC, a splendid marble temple was built in the heart of the fertile Sangri Valley. The temple was discovered by archaeologists in 1960. For less than 5€ per adult, visiting the Temple of Demeter and the small on-site museum is one of the best things to do in Naxos.
9. Try Arseniko Cheese
All this history must have made you feel hungry, right? Agriculture and farming lie at the core of the local economy of Naxos. Therefore, it’s no wonder that Naxos produces exquisite cheese, among other products. The island’s most famous cheese is arseniko, a PDO cheese that’s produced only in Naxos. Arseniko is the Greek word for male. This type of cheese got this name because of its harsh texture and intense taste and flavour.
Naxos also produces thiliko cheese. You guessed it right. Thiliko is the Greek word for female. This cheese is more often called anthotiro and it’s soft and light with a delicate taste. Hence, female. Sexist references aside, both cheese types are to die for. Another cheese you should try is the PDO graviera of Naxos. Graviera is the Greek word for gruyere cheese and it’s produced all over Greece. However, Naxos graviera is among the best in the country.
10. Don’t Stop There, Eat All The Food in Naxos
Now that we’ve got your attention, it makes sense to stay on the subject of Naxos food. First of all, you must know that Naxos produces the best potatoes in Greece. Seriously, potatoes in Naxos taste nothing like potatoes elsewhere. Fried potatoes should be part of each and every meal you enjoy in Naxos. It’s also wise to try any other potato-based dishes on the menu, such as fried potato balls or oven-baked potatoes.
Another delicious dish to try in Naxos is hortopita or sefoukloti, a savoury pie with greens and herbs. Of course, in Naxos, you can also try all the typical dishes of Greek cuisine.
What’s important to remember is that food-wise, Naxos is probably the most value-for-money place to visit in Greece. Every time we visit Naxos and no matter which restaurants we choose, we’re taken aback by the huge portions and the top quality of ingredients used. At the same time, the island remains ridiculously affordable when it comes to eating out. So, food-lovers of the world unite and take over Naxos.
Food tastes better when you sprinkle it with a pinch of sense of accomplishment. Join a cooking class with dinner at a locals’ home at one of the prettiest villages in Naxos.
11. Drink Citron Liqueur
Did you think that an island as special as Naxos wouldn’t have its very own signature drink? Of course, it does. Citron liqueur is produced by the leaves of the citron tree. It comes in three colours. The yellow version is the driest and strongest. The green is the sweetest and the white (transparent) is the lightest with the most balanced taste. It’s also the one we like best.
You can try citron liqueur or citron-based cocktails at many bars in Naxos. It goes without saying that a bottle of citron liqueur is probably the best gift you can bring back home as a souvenir.
12. Stroll Around Chalki Village
It’s hard to believe there are so many fantastic things to see and do in Chalki considering it’s a tiny village tucked away in the inland of Naxos. However, due to its location in the heart of Naxos, Chalki has always been a major administrative centre. The village’s architecture testifies to its past grandeur and wealth. Chalki is home to marvellous neoclassical mansions, quaint alleys and picturesque squares.
While strolling around Chalki, you can see the 9th-century Church of Panagia Protothroni and the 17th-century Barozzi-Gratsia Tower. Moreover, you can visit Vallindras Distillery, one of the island’s oldest citron liqueur distilleries, established in 1896 and housed in an 1870 building in the heart of the village. Also, you must sit at Kafeneio Galani for a piece of the most mouthwatering galaktoboureko. If you can stop at one piece.
One of the best things to do in Chalki is to walk along the circular hiking path 4 that starts and ends in the village. During this walk, you can admire gorgeous Byzantine churches amid a lush green area that feels as though it could only exist in a dream. If you don’t feel like walking the entire length of the path, you can just enjoy the short walk to the 11th-century church of Agios Georgios Diasoritis and back.
13. Savour The Magic of Apeiranthos Village
We made it clear right from the start that the island’s mountain villages are among the best things to see in Naxos. The most famous village in the mountains in Naxos is Apeiranthos – also spelt Apiranthos, Aperathos or Aperathou. Apeiranthos is the second largest village in Naxos and it was built in the 10th century by Cretans. If you’re familiar with the distinct dialect of Crete Island, you’ll find that the local dialect in Apeiranthos sounds a lot like it.
Often called The Marble Village, Apeiranthos feels like an open-air museum of beauty and quaintness with its marble mansions, streets and squares. When you visit Apeiranthos, make time not only to stroll around the village but also to sit at one of its picturesque restaurants and cafés.
Apeiranthos is famous throughout Greece for being the birthplace of Manolis Glezos, a WW2 hero of the Greek Resistance, known for taking down the Nazi flag from the Acropolis in 1941.
Even though Apeiranthos is a small village, it’s home to six museums, which is quite impressive. While in Apeiranthos, you can visit the Archaeological Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Geological Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Library of N.N. Glezos.
However, the most striking thing to see in Apeiranthos is the Tower of Zevgolis that stands in all its grandeur at the entrance of the village. You can admire the tower from the outside alone, as it’s privately owned and inhabited.
14. Feel The Laid-Back Vibes of Koronos Village
One of the lesser-known mountain villages in Naxos is Koronos. Contrary to glorious Apeiranthos with its impeccable looks, Koronos has a rugged quality that renders it beyond words charming.
Koronos is one of the oldest settlements in Naxos. It’s built on the slopes of a dramatic ravine. This whitewashed dream of a village used to be the capital of the mountainous region of Naxos. It’s divided into seven neighbourhoods, each of which has its own square and old water fountain. The village’s main square is called The Platsa.
We can’t recommend a visit to Koronos enough. However, keep in mind that walking around the village means going up and down far too many flights of stairs and uphill alleys.
15. Try To Resist The Charm of Moutsouna
Moutsouna is located on the island’s east coast and it’s one of our favourite places in Naxos. It’s a small seaside village with a large history that’s related to the island’s abundance in emery, yet another valuable raw material produced in Naxos alongside marble.
Moutsouna is home to the island’s only natural port. From there, the emery was shipped from Naxos to the world when the island’s emery mining activity was at its peak and until the early 1980s. Nowadays, you can see the impressive old loading ladder while sitting in the shade at one of Moutsouna’s cafés and restaurants or while swimming in the incredible waters of the village’s small beach.
16. Embark On a Scenic Road Trip
Driving in Naxos is a unique experience in its own right. With its landscape alternating from high mountains to fields of gold to long stretches of fine sand, a road trip in Naxos can never be boring. There’s one particular route that’s indescribably scenic. Driving from Apollonas to Moutsouna, past the villages of Koronos and Apeiranthos, is the best way to appreciate the raw beauty of the northeastern part of Naxos.
The most fascinating thing to see along this route is the aerial cableway. The latter was used to facilitate the transport of emery from the mines to the port of Moutsouna. The aerial cableway was constructed between 1926 and 1929 to replace the poor donkeys that were literally burdened with the task to carry the emery up and down steep slopes under the scorching sun.
The old aerial cableway is considered an engineering wonder of its time and it changed the landscape of northeastern Naxos forever. The most impressive remnants of the old emery aerial cableway are located towards the end of the route, near Moutsouna.
17. Find The Most Picturesque Café in Naxos
One of the things we love about Naxos is that the island’s cafés, bars, restaurants and hotel rooms are among the most smartly decorated and tasteful we’ve seen. There are exceptions of course, but overall most Naxos businesses are utterly pleasing to the eye.
Probably the most picturesque café in Naxos is situated in Mili, a small village in the mountains. The traditional café enjoys an idyllic location amid lush greenery and running streams. It’s open from 19:00 onwards and you can get there either by car or via a hiking path.
18. Go Hiking, One of The Best Activities in Naxos
It’s no surprise that an island graced with such natural beauty is one of the best hiking destinations in Greece. Sadly, information about hiking in Naxos that you can find online is scarce. Therefore, it’s not as easy as it should be to plan your hiking trip to Naxos.
Furthermore, once in Naxos, you realise that the signposting of the hiking trails is inadequate. Especially compared to other Greek Islands, such as Andros, where signposting is excellent. We do hope that this will change in the future and Naxos will become the hiking-friendly destination it deserves to be.
There are many hiking trails in Naxos. All of them offer hikers the chance to enjoy the magnificent scenery. The best part is that you can combine hiking with sightseeing. Many trails can get you to major attractions in Naxos.
For example, hiking trail number 6 will take you to amazing points of interest in the lush Melanes Valley. These include the two Kouros statues of Flerio, the medieval Fragopoulos Tower in the heart of the gorgeous Kourounochori Village and the remnants of the island’s ancient aqueduct. Another interesting route is hiking trail number 1 from Apeiranthos to Moutsouna, past the old emery mines.
19. Drink Water At Aries Spring Before Climbing The Highest Mountain in The Cyclades
Just two kilometres outside of Filoti Village, you can visit the scenic Aries Spring. Situated in a dreamy setting, under the shade of a century-old plane tree, Aries Spring is where you can refill your thermal bottle with freshwater that’s perfectly safe to drink, as it comes straight from the surrounding mountains.
Aries Spring is worth a visit in its own right. That said, don’t forget that it’s also near the starting point of a fascinating hiking trail that leads to Zas Cave and the summit of Mount Zas.
Zas is another name for Zeus, the ancient king of gods. Legend has it that Zeus was raised in a cave in the mountains of Naxos. In his honour, the cave became an important sanctuary where Zeus was worshipped and the locals named the highest mountain in the Cyclades after him.
20. Step Inside an Abandoned Jesuit Monastery, One of The Most Special Things To Do in Naxos
Well hidden and absent from most lists of the best things to do on Naxos Island, the abandoned Jesuit Monastery in Kalamitsia is probably the most atmospheric and awe-inspiring attraction in Naxos. Built in the 17th century as a summer resort for Jesuit monks, it’s an intricate complex of buildings that were characterised by their luxury and sophisticated architecture. Nowadays, it stands in absolute yet enchanting neglect.
You can step inside the abandoned monastery. However, tread carefully as Time hasn’t been too kind with the building and there’s always the danger of falling parts. You can get to the Jesuit Monastery in Kalamitsia via a dirt road that needs a bit of extra attention.
21. Stand in Awe Before a Gorgeous Fortified Monastery
One of the most impressive and beautiful things to see in Naxos is the Monastery of Fotodotis, the oldest fortified monastery in Naxos. Built in a location of rare natural beauty, the monastery reminds more of a fortress when you look at it from the outside. However, when you step inside, the peacefulness of the shady courtyard that leads to the church leaves no room for doubt. It is indeed a monastery, not to mention one of the prettiest you’ve ever seen.
The church itself is a sight to behold. Its most striking features are the colourful marble templon and the gorgeous chapel of Saint Nicholas on the right side of the church. The upper floor is dominated by the church’s dome which is surrounded by the cells of the monks.
The tale of how the monastery was built in this location is exciting. Legend has it that a queen that had sailed from Istanbul was caught in a terrible storm in the Aegean Sea. She prayed for a sign of land and she made a vow to build a magnificent monastery at the very spot that she would see some light.
Finally, she saw light coming from this spot in the countryside of Naxos. She kept her promise and built this monastery to thank God for saving her life. She even named it Fotodotis which translates to Light Giver.
⚠ Keep in mind that the dirt road that leads to the Monastery of Fotodotis is in a rather terrible condition.
Therefore, be extra careful not to damage your (rental) car.
22. Spend Time at Bazeos Tower
As we’ve already mentioned, there are countless imposing towers in Naxos. Like with beaches, we’d need to write a different article to talk about all of them. This architectural style was developed in Naxos between the 13th and the 18th century when certain historical and social conditions encouraged the construction of such buildings.
Sometimes, a tower would be built in the heart of a village. Yet most towers are located in the stunning countryside of Naxos. Among the numerous towers in Naxos, some are abandoned while others are restored to their former glory and function either as museums or as private homes.
A perfect example of a restored tower is Bazeos Tower, a 17th-century masterpiece that dominates the surrounding landscape. Bazeos Tower used to be a monastery, the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) Monastery. After the last remaining monks abandoned it in the early 19th century, Bazeos Tower hosted several families of potters.
Nowadays, you can visit the tower for a small fee (5€ in 2021) to see what the interior of a Naxian tower looks like. In the summer, Bazeos Tower hosts the renowned Naxos Festival, one of the greatest cultural events on the island.
23. Catch Splendid Views From Agia Tower
Visiting a restored tower is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, uncovering the secrets of an abandoned one isn’t bad either. Probably the most eye-catching of all abandoned towers in Naxos is the wuthering Agia Tower. Not only because of its splendid architecture, but also thanks to its unique position that boasts unobstructed views of the Aegean Sea.
It’s easy to walk to the tower from the main road via a few stone steps. The tower was largely destroyed by a fire in 1992. Yet you can still sense how grand it must have looked like in its heyday.
24. Check Out Chimaros Tower
Unlike the other towers in Naxos that date back to the Middle Ages and were mostly used as the residences and holiday homes of Venetian lords, Chimaros Tower is a masterpiece of ancient defensive architecture. Built in the late 4th century BC and standing at a height of 15m, Chimaros Tower was initially 20m tall.
There are round towers of this type in some of the other Cyclades Islands, too. A fine example is the Tower of Agios Petros in Andros, which can be reached via one of the best hiking paths in Andros. Apart from architectural elements, Chimaros Tower in Naxos and Agios Petros Tower in Andros share yet another thing in common. Their exact function remains a mystery to this day.
As of the time of writing these lines, you can’t enter Chimaros Tower. You can simply admire it from the outside.
25. Walk Inside Panagia Drossiani, One of The Oldest Churches in Naxos
Dating back to the 6th century and home to some of the oldest frescoes in the Balkans, the Church of Panagia Drossiani is one of the prettiest attractions in Naxos. The church features a gorgeous interior and a quaint courtyard. If you stumble upon a lady or two selling handmade table linen and other loom-woven items outside the church, don’t hesitate to buy something as a souvenir. In doing so, you help preserve a local craft.
26. Discover The Prettiest Churches in The Cyclades
Countless churches are dotting the landscape of Naxos. They are so many that it’s next to impossible to try and remember their names. After all, what’s in a name? The most important thing is to make time to appreciate their beauty. Whether in the villages or perched on lonely slopes and hilltops, a quest to discover the prettiest churches in Naxos can give a whole new meaning to your trip to Naxos.
27. Explore The Wild South
Southern Naxos is the wildest part of the island. Its raw beauty and otherworldly scenery make you feel as though you’re suddenly teleported to a different island. Driving is one of the best ways to explore the wild south of Naxos. Whether it’s from Filoti to the peaceful Kalandos Beach or from Moutsouna to the exotic Panormos (Panermos) Beach, driving in Southern Naxos offers the chance to enjoy some of the most scenic routes on the island.
Alternatively, you can savour the magic of Southern Naxos with the bonus of exploring the jaw-dropping Rina Cave – that’s only accessible by boat – from the comfort of a traditional wooden boat during a full-day cruise that will make your Naxos holidays all the more memorable. For the optimal experience, make sure you pick a windless day for your boat trip. Also, if you get as seasick as I do, always keep your motion sickness meds handy.
28. Chase The Best Sunset in Naxos
If you’ve made it thus far on our list of things to do in Naxos, it means that you’ve set your minds to visiting Naxos. Therefore, you must already know that Portara is the ultimate sunset spot in Naxos. We can’t argue that. It really is a magical place from where to watch the sun kiss the world goodnight. However, it’s not the only one. We’re here to let you in on our secret locations from where to watch an equally – if not more – amazing sunset.
OK, next up is a not so secret location as it’s become as popular as Portara among sunset chasers. We’re talking about Rotonda, a bar-restaurant near Apeiranthos Village that enjoys unobstructed views for as far as the eye can see. Keep in mind that if you haven’t made a reservation well in advance you may skip the sunset drinks part and simply enjoy the stunning sunset itself from the adjacent parking lot. Which isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Back to Naxos Town, other fantastic sunset spots include Agios Georgios Beach and Grotta Beach. The latter is one of our favourite sunset spots in Naxos because it offers a unique vantage point of the sun setting behind Portara.
Yet our sunset spot of choice in Naxos is one that not many know. Therefore, it can be peaceful even during peak season. This is no other than the sandy Laguna Beach with the adjacent Manto Islet, a favourite spot of ours for strolls on the sand all day long. But it’s during sunset that nature puts on a unique show.
Although you don’t actually see the sun set from this location, the spectacle of Chora in the distance being painted in all hues of red, pink and gold is breathtaking.
29. Take a Day Trip To The Small Cyclades
During your Naxos holidays, it’s worth planning a day trip to one of the nearby Small Cyclades. You can choose among Iraklia, Donoussa, Koufonisia and Schinoussa. All four of these islands are little pieces of heaven with turquoise waters and laid-back vibes. You can easily spend the rest of your summer holidays on one or more of them. That said, if you don’t have enough time to do so, you should at least plan day trips from Naxos to one or two of them.
You can plan a day trip from Naxos to the Small Cyclades by the regular ferries that connect the islands. If the logistics sound too much of a hassle for you, there’s always the option of booking a full-day trip to one of the best islands in the Small Cyclades and enjoy the sea and the sun without worrying about catching the last ferry back to Naxos.
30. Tame the Wind
Or stand in awe watching while others do so. Mikri Vigla Beach is water sports heaven. It attracts windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts from all over the world. Even if you’re not brave enough to tame the wind (no judgement here, we’re not either), hanging out on Mikri Vigla Beach and admiring daredevils ride the huge waves is one of the best things to do in Naxos.
31. Snap a Selfie With The Windmills at Vivlos Village
Vivlos (also called Tripodes) is one of the largest and most densely populated villages in Naxos. You must have understood by now that Naxos is the island of picturesque villages and Vivlos is no exception. Whitewashed buildings and alleys, century-old churches and a quaint square in the shade of pretty eucalyptus trees are valid reasons to add Vivlos to your itineraries.
Yet Vivlos is famous for its three picture-perfect windmills that are located in a slightly elevated area, which adds to their overall wow factor. After all, what’s an island in the Cyclades without its windmills? So, if you’re on a quest to find the windmills of Naxos, head to Vivlos.
32. Mingle With Locals in Filoti Village
Filoti is the largest village in Naxos. Built on the slopes of two hills at the foot of Mount Zas, Filoti is a vibrant village with a lively square where locals and visitors alike hang out until late at night in the summer. Some of the best things to see in Filoti include the imposing Barozzi Tower and the gorgeous Church of Panagia Filotitissa that was built in 1710.
Filoti is also where the greatest traditional feast (panigiri) of Naxos takes place on August 15th every year, with dancing and singing going on for three consecutive days.
33. Pay a Visit To The Olive Press Museum in Eggares
When in Naxos Town, it’s worth taking the 15-minute trip to nearby Eggares Village to visit the local Olive Press Museum. The recently renovated olive press dates back to the 1800s. You can learn the secrets of traditional olive oil making during an enlightening guided tour. The tour is free of charge and it’s followed by an olive oil tasting that’s also free. After the tour, you can relax at the on-site café or drop by the museum shop to buy top-quality products.
34. Experience The Calm Naxos Nightlife
The keyword here is calm. If you want to know more about the island’s wild nightlife, well, these girls can’t contribute much. Long gone are the days when we’d stay in bars and clubs until – or after – the sunrise (except for Antiparos Island, where staying up late at the local disco is a must-do). Now we sleep early to wake up early to shoot the sunrise and then go hiking. Priorities.
Naxos is the ideal island for all of you kindred spirits who want to enjoy a drink or two in a perfect setting without staying up TOO late. The best bars in Naxos for calm nightlife are hidden in the maze-like alleys of Chora.
Two of our favourite bars in Naxos are Notos, a rooftop bar under the shade of the Castle of Naxos with romantic decoration and cocktails based on citron liqueur and Naxos Café, a cosy bar with a local feel in a whitewashed alley in the Old Market that’s also open all day long for coffee, sweets etc.
35. Plan The Best Island-Hopping Adventure
Right in the heart of the Cyclades Islands, Naxos enjoys the ideal location from where to set out on an amazing island-hopping trip. Therefore, if you plan to continue your Greek Island holidays after visiting Naxos, the world – or the Aegean Sea if you may – is your oyster.
Apart from islands close to Naxos, such as Paros or the Small Cyclades, Naxos connects by ferry to the lesser-known islands of Amorgos, Milos, Folegandros and Sifnos, to the super popular islands of Mykonos, Ios and Santorini and to islands outside the Cyclades group, such as Astypalaia or even Crete. Of course, which islands connect to Naxos depends on seasonality so make sure you check ferry schedules in advance.
If you’re travelling on a tight schedule, consider booking this full-day trip to Paros from Naxos.
The Ultimate Naxos Travel Guide
How Many Days in Naxos
Now that you’re done reading what to do in Naxos and had many looks at the map of Naxos along the way, it must be clear that it’s not a weekend break destination. Far from that. To experience everything on our list of fantastic things to do in Naxos and still have time to relax and enjoy the island, a minimum of 6 full days in Naxos is mandatory. Of course, if you have more time to spend in Naxos, by all means, do so. You can’t get bored in Naxos.
Best Time To Visit Naxos
As we’ll never get tired of saying, avoid travelling to the Greek Islands during peak season (mid-July to end of August). Visiting Naxos during peak season means crowded beaches, time wasted looking for free parking spots and never being able to dine at the best Naxos restaurants without a reservation.
Furthermore, visiting Naxos when everyone else does so too, makes locals’ lives difficult in many ways. For instance, the increased need for water during peak season leads to a shortage of water and some villages may be left without tap water for hours on some occasions.
Therefore, if you decide to visit Naxos outside of the peak season, apart from having it all to yourselves (sort of), it also means that you help the island stay sustainable and support the local economy when it needs you the most.
The best time to visit Naxos is late May, June, September and maybe early July if you can’t help it. These are the perfect months if you want to experience real island life, swim in the warm sea and go hiking without the risk of suffering from the excessive heat. If you don’t mind the sea being a bit cold, October isn’t a bad idea either. That said, some of the bars, restaurants and attractions you’d like to visit may be closed in October. Therefore, make sure you double-check in advance.
How To Get To Naxos
Flights To Naxos
You can catch a flight from Athens to Naxos as there are no direct flights to Naxos from abroad. Journey time on flights from Athens to Naxos is less than an hour. Once on the island, It’s super easy to get from Naxos Airport to Naxos Town as it’s a mere 10-minute drive between the two.
Ferries To Naxos
You can get to Naxos by ferry from Athens all year long via Piraeus Port. From May to October, there are ferries to Naxos from Rafina Port, too. In this case, you can combine the islands of Naxos and Andros on the same trip
. Journey times vary depending on the ferry type. It takes about 3.5 to 4.5 hours on a high-speed ferry or five to six hours on a regular ferry. Of course, as we said above, you can get to Naxos from many other islands, too. Click here to check ferry schedules and book your tickets to Naxos.
How To Get Around Naxos
For an island the size of Naxos, with so many things to do and see in all directions, the wisest option is to rent a car. That’s the best way to enjoy your time in Naxos without worrying about public bus schedules. Driving in Naxos is generally easy. Some roads could definitely be in better condition, though. Therefore, you’d be better off renting a car that’s as higher off the ground as possible. Also, don’t forget to buy Full Coverage, just to be on the safe side.
If driving isn’t an option, don’t miss the chance to check some of the best things to do in Naxos off of your list by booking this high-rated bus tour of the island. It will take you to the Temple of Demeter, Chalki Village, the Kouros of Apollonas and several other attractions in Naxos in one day.
Where To Stay in Naxos
Naxos Island is abundant in top-quality accommodation options that range from boutique hotels to fully serviced apartments. Deciding where to stay in Naxos has to do with your preferences and what it is you’re expecting from your trip to Naxos. One of the best places to stay in Naxos is Chora, especially the area on and around Agios Georgios Beach.
Have a look at some of the best hotels in Naxos Chora:
Galini Hotel on Agios Georgios Beach – Conveniently situated right next to one of the largest parking lots in Chora, Galini Hotel offers impeccably clean, smartly decorated rooms, some of which enjoy views of the sea or the quaint chapel of Agios Georgios.
Naxian Spirit Inn in Naxos Town– One of the best hotels in Naxos Town, Naxian Spirit Inn offers smartly decorated and affordable rooms in the heart of the modern part of Naxos Town.
Naxos Center Houses in the Old Town – Beautiful home-like apartments that offer the unique opportunity to stay in the Old Town of Naxos.
Cyano Suites in Grotta – Elegance and affordable luxury with splendid views of Portara.
If you’d like to experience the local life of Naxos, wander around dimly lit cobblestone streets at night and stay at a central location that will facilitate either your hiking or driving trips in Naxos, you should consider staying at one of the island’s gorgeous villages.
Have a look at some hotels in the best villages in Naxos:
Dreamcatcher of Zeus in Filoti Village – Just outside the vibrant village of Filoti, Dreamcatcher of Zeus features the most home-away-from-home rooms in Naxos. Recently built but with traditional decoration, these rooms in Filoti will make you feel at home in Naxos.
Naxos Chalkion Beautiful Detsis House in Chalki Village – Feel like a local in this sunny and spacious apartment in the heart of picturesque Chalki Village.
Petra Home Heritage & Hospitality in Apeiranthos Village – Step inside and sleep within the walls of a gorgeous mansion dating back to 1936.
Last but not least, if you wish to stay as close to the beach as possible, there are several accommodation options on the beaches of Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, and Plaka. However, if you ask us, we’d prefer a quieter beach. This is why we’ve set our minds to stay in Moutsouna next time we travel to Naxos.
Have a look at some hotels on Naxos beaches:
Avali Deluxe Suites on Agios Prokopios Beach – Dreamy elegant rooms right at the seafront, located on the best part of Agios Prokopios Beach, near the chapel of Agios Prokopios.
Naxian Breeze on Agia Anna Beach – Elegant fully equipped apartments right on the sandy Agia Anna Beach.
Dream on Plaka on Plaka Beach – Beautiful fully equipped apartments just a stone’s throw from Plaka Beach.
Agerino in Moutsouna – Spend an authentic Greek summer at one of the quaintest beach hotels in Naxos.
Where To Eat in Naxos
There are so many amazing restaurants in Naxos that it’s next to impossible to try them all. That said, you know that we always do our best to try as many restaurants in the destinations we’re visiting as possible to be able to recommend only the best to you. It’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it (said no one ever).
Here’s our selection of the best places to eat in Naxos:
- Boulamatsis in Chora (promenade) – An unassuming yet not-to-miss traditional restaurant in Chora with delicious food that comes in large portions and reasonable prices.
- Maro in Chora (modern part of Naxos Town) – You know you’re in the right place when the friendly staff offer you wine (for free, of course) while you patiently wait for your table. Huge portions at super low prices.
- Apostolis in Chora (Old Town) – Probably the most picture-perfect restaurant in Naxos Chora. Great food and atmosphere with cute lampshades hanging over a gorgeous courtyard.
- Metaxi Mas in Chora (Old Town) – Delicious meze dishes in the heart of the buzzing Old Market.
- Velonis Bakery in Chora (Old Town) – Try to resist the flavour of freshly baked bread when you walk around the Old Market. You can’t. Actually, it’s this mesmerising aroma that will lead you to the bakery, which is not that easy to find in case you miss the only sign pointing in its direction. Once you do, step inside, grab a loaf and then go to the nearby grocery store for a chunk of arseniko cheese and half a kilo of local tomatoes. Lunch sorted. Thank us later.
- Kavouri in Chora (Agios Georgios Beach) – Dip your toes in the sand and feast on large portions at ridiculously low prices.
- Yialos in Chora (Agios Georgios Beach) – Another traditional restaurant right on the sand.
- Nissaki in Chora (Agios Georgios Beach) – One of the best restaurants in Naxos if you’re in the mood for high-end cuisine in a romantic setting.
- Matina in Koronos – Hands down the best food in Naxos and the most authentic culinary experience you could ever wish for in a fairytale-like setting like no other. Save room for the dessert, you simply can’t miss it (it’s on the house).
- Axiotissa in Kastraki – Probably the most famous restaurant in Naxos. It has managed to make its way to many of the lists of the best things to do in Naxos in its own right. Axiotissa serves Greek dishes with a twist and accepts by reservation only. Don’t miss the fried green tomatoes.
- Stou Koutoupa in Apeiranthos – Nibble on meze dishes while sitting at one of the prettiest streets in the Cyclades.
- Lefteris in Apeiranthos – A traditional Greek restaurant with superb views of the Naxos mountains.
- Amorginos in Apeiranthos – Loved by locals with equally stunning views of the Naxos mountains.
- Platanos in Filoti – Mouthwatering pizza and pasta, washed down with amazing cocktails.
- Waffle House in Chora (modern part of Naxos Town) – Probably the most famous ice-cream shop in the Cyclades, offering freshly made ice-cream that comes in many inspired flavours and, of course, delicious waffles. Size-wise, brace yourselves for large portions here, too.
- Kafeneio Galani in Chalki – Fresh galaktoboureko that sells out fast and for good reason.
- Dolce Vita in Chalki – Don’t leave Naxos without having at least one piece of portokalopita (orange pie) and another of chocolate pie.
What To Do in Naxos For a Greek Escape You Will Never Forget
Even if, for some reason, you don’t manage to tick off everything on your list of things to do in Naxos, it’s important to remember that what matters the most is to take your time and indulge in the unique sights, flavours and tastes this island has to offer. Also, try to stick to the off-the-beaten side of Naxos because that’s where all the magic happens.
Naxos is the perfect island to live the Greek Island escape you’ve always dreamt of. Therefore, make sure it’s an experience to cherish for life.
Travel Resources For Naxos Island
Now that you know what to do in Naxos, it’s time to start planning your trip to this island of wonders.
We hope you found our Naxos Travel Guide helpful and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts about Naxos in the comments!
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