Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 04:24 pm

If you’re wondering what to do in Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades, you’re at the right place. After visiting Naxos several times during the last couple of decades, we curated a list of the 35 best things to do in Naxos, a diverse Greek Island like no other.

An island that manages to remain authentic to its core regardless of its high popularity in recent years, Naxos is known for its delicious food, rich ancient history, beautiful beaches and insanely picturesque villages. Keep reading to find out what to do in Naxos for a trip you’ll never forget.

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This image shows Chora Naxos and the castle. The photo is taken from Portara, the ultimate symbol of Naxos Greece.
View of Chora from Portara

Why Visit Naxos & What To Do in Naxos at a Glance

Probably the main reason to visit Naxos is that it’s the perfect island if your ideal vacation is all about exploring, hiking, discovering hidden gems or learning history.

Apart from the most popular 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.

This image shows three flower pots in Koronos village. In the background, there is a traditional house with a blue door.
Quaint Koronos Village

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.

This image shows a panoramic view of Naxos landscape. There is a church in the foreground while Paros Island can be seen in the background.
Epic scenery in Naxos

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 stunning scenery.

This image shows the imposing Fragopoulos Tower in Kourounochori.
The beautiful Fragopoulos Della Rocka Tower in Kourounochori Village

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.

Before we go over all the incredible things to see in Naxos in more detail, why not have a sneak peek of some of them in our Naxos YouTube video?

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 stood there in ancient times. You can get to Portara via a lovely paved path from Chora.

Although Portara is considered the top sunset spot in Naxos, 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.

This image is taken from Portara in the morning. Portara is in the foreground and the castle of Naxos is in the background.
Portara in the morning

2. Get Acquainted With Chora

Naxos Town or Chora is where the heart of the island beats. The main town comprises the promenade that leads to the Ferry Port of Naxos and Portara, the Old Town, the Castle of Naxos, the Grotta area, the modern part of Naxos Town and Agios Georgios Beach.

If you overlook a handful of not-so-pretty buildings that line the promenade, the latter is very charming, especially in the evening, the best time to sit back and people-watch.

This image shows the promenade in Chora. If you're wondering what to do in Naxos Chora in the evening, people-watching at the promenade is a must.
Strolling along the promenade

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, home not only to souvenir shops but also to the bakery and grocery store where locals have been doing their shopping since forever.

This image shows Maria shopping fruit and vegetables from a grocery in the old market.
Maria sorting lunch

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.

This image shows the Orthodox Cathedral of Naxos.
The Orthodox Cathedral of Naxos

3. Wander Around The Castle of Naxos

Although the Castle of Naxos is part of Chora, 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 since then, its medieval beauty reflected in glorious mansions and enchanting courtyards.

This image shows an alley in the Castle.
One of many romantic alleys in the Castle of Naxos

One of the best places to visit in Naxos Castle is the Roman Cathedral, a splendid 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.

This image shows a closeup of the Roman cathedral's main entrance.
The Roman Cathedral of Naxos, built in the 13th century

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 local 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 out 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.

This image shows the interior of Avaton which used to be the Ursulines school in the past. The photo shows the school's kitchen.
The old kitchen inside the former Ursuline Nuns School

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 inland Naxos, you catch fleeting glimpses of the modern marble quarries that shine so brightly under the Greek sun you’ll have to look twice to make sure it’s not an apparition.

This image shows the modern marble quarries from a distance.
The modern marble quarries

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, though. Therefore, whenever a sculpture was damaged, it was abandoned at the quarry. Other reasons why sculptures were left at the quarries were order cancellations or various political events. Among the most interesting attractions in Naxos are the Kouros 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.

This image shows the first Kouros of Flerio. It's a large statue that lies on the ground.
The first Kouros statue you come across in Flerio

Each of these two statues depicts a young man of supernatural size (5.5 metres 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.

This image shows the second Kouros in Flerio. It's a large statue that lies on the ground. The Kouros statues are among the best things to see in Naxos.
The second Kouros statue in Flerio takes a tiny bit of an uphill walk to visit

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 10 metres 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.

The site is free to visit all day long. Sadly, 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 those people. Refrain from stepping, lying or sitting on the statue when you visit the Kouros of Apollonas.

This image shows the Kouros of Apollonas Naxos. It's a huge statue of a man made of marble.
The Kouros of Apollonas

5. Don’t Miss The Sanctuary of The Springs

When you visit the Kouros statues of Flerio, 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.

This image shows the sanctuary of the springs in Flerio.
The ancient ruins nside the Sanctuary of the Springs

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.

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.

This image shows the beach in Agios Georgios Naxos.
Agios Georgios Beach

The most popular beach in Naxos is Agios Prokopios on the island’s west coast. You can get to Agios Prokopios from Chora after a short drive or ride on the public buses. With crystal clear shallow waters, golden sand and three pink salt lakes that give it an exotic touch, Agios Prokopios is graced with utter natural beauty.

Sadly, sunbeds and umbrellas have taken over the beach and it can get unbearably crowded during the high season – which you should avoid anyway. For fewer crowds, try to pick a spot on the beach that’s as far from the village as possible. As a rule of thumb, the closest to Agios Prokopios Chapel you are, the better.

This image shows Agios Prokopios Naxos.
Agios Prokopios Beach in late July

Other sandy beaches you can enjoy on the island’s western coast include Agia Anna, Plaka Beach, Mikri Vigla and Kastraki, all of which feature beach clubs. 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 – yet exposed to the north summer winds – beach in northern Naxos.

This image shows Panermos, one of the most exotic beaches of Naxos. Along the beach there is a line of palm trees.
The exotic Panormos Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Naxos

A beach you should definitely check out is Aliko. An area 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.

This image shows a church in the foreground and Aliko beach in the background.
Aliko Beach Naxos

7. Be Amazed At The Island’s Street Art

There’s yet another reason to visit Aliko. Right above the 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.

PRO TIP: While walking around the abandoned hotel in Aliko and the surrounding area, make sure you watch your step because there are many holes in the floor. Also, don’t spend too much time inside the buildings as there’s always the risk of falling parts.

This image shows a street art mural of WD at an abandoned hotel in Aliko Naxos. The mural's name is "The third eye" and it shows a man with an eye on his forehead. If you're wondering what to do in Naxos, checking out the amazing street art should be at the top of your list.
The Third Eye by WD in Aliko

Aliko Beach is a great place in Naxos to admire superb street art, but it’s not the only one. Street artists are inspired by the island’s charms, creating 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.

This image shows an artwork displayed on the facade of a house in Chora. On the left side there is a woman displayed on the door who is looking to an angel displayed on the window at the right side of the wall.
Street art in Naxos Chora

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, the god of the underworld. When her mother found out, she got furious and demanded that her daughter be 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, in close proximity to the modern-day village of Sangri. The temple was discovered by archaeologists in 1960. Visiting the Temple of Demeter and the small on-site museum is one of the best things to do in Naxos.

This image shows the temple of Demeter.
The Temple of Demeter, one of the best historical sites in Naxos

9. Try Arseniko Cheese

Agriculture and farming lie at the core of the local economy of Naxos. The island produces exquisite cheese, among other products. The 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 delicious. 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.

This is a closeup of a plate with arseniko cheese and other types of cheese.
Say cheese

10. Don’t Stop There, Eat All The Food in Naxos

Now that we’ve got your attention, let’s stay on the subject of Naxos food. The island boasts some of the best food in Greece, always prepared with local fresh produce and served in huge portions. Here are some of the top things you must eat in Naxos.

First of all, Naxos produces the best potatoes in Greece. Fried potatoes should be part of 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.

This image shows a portion of fried potatoes. Eating potatoes is one of the best things to do in Naxos.
Fried potatoes in Naxos are to die for

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 vegetarian dishes of Greek cuisine, such as briam, gemista and fava.

Food tastes better when you sprinkle it with a pinch of a sense of accomplishment. Join a cooking class with dinner at a locals’ home in one of the prettiest villages in Naxos.

This image is a closeup of fava, a traditional Greek dish. Food in Naxos is delicious and comes in huge portions.
Delicious fava at Matina’s restaurant in Koronos

11. Drink Citron Liqueur

The signature alcoholic drink of Naxos, 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.

You can try citron liqueur or citron-based cocktails at many bars in Naxos, while a bottle of citron liqueur is probably the best gift you can bring back home as a souvenir.

This image shows three bottles of citrus liqueur at Vallindras distillery in Chalki.
Citron Liqueur at Vallindras Distillery in Chalki

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 heart of Naxos. However, due to its location, 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.

This image shows Chalki Naxos. There's an abandoned building in the foreground and a restaurant in the background.
Wandering around Chalki

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, second only to the one we tried in Kalamata perhaps.

This image shows the galaktoboureko at kafenio Galani in Chalki.
Don’t leave Chalki without trying this galaktoboureko

One of our favourite 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 scattered across a lush green area. 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.

This image shows the church of Agios Georgios Diasoritis in Chalki.
The Church of Agios Georgios Diasoritis

13. Savour The Magic of Apeiranthos Village

As already mentioned, the island’s mountain villages are among the best things to see in Naxos. The most famous village is Apeiranthos – also spelt Apiranthos, Aperathos or Aperathou. Apeiranthos is the second-largest village in Naxos, 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 with its marble mansions, streets and squares. Moreover, 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.

This image shows the main square in Apeiranthos. It's made of marble, there's an old plane tree in the middle and traditional chairs and tables everywhere. There's also a shop.
Charming Apeiranthos

Even though Apeiranthos is a small village, it’s home to six museums, which is quite impressive. These are 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.

Probably the most striking thing to see in Apeiranthos is the Tower of Zevgolis which 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 not open to the public.

This image shows the Zevgolis Tower in Apeiranthos.
The Tower of Zevgolis in Apeiranthos

14. Feel The Laid-Back Vibes of Koronos Village

One of the lesser-known mountain villages in Naxos is Koronos. Contrary to the 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, 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.

Keep in mind that walking around the village involves going up and down several flights of stairs and uphill alleys.

This image shows an alley in Koronos village.
Koronos Village

15. Try To Resist The Charm of Moutsouna

One of our favourite places in Naxos, Moutsouna is located on the island’s east coast. It’s a small seaside village with a large history, related to the island’s abundance of 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 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 swimming in the incredible waters of the village’s small beach.

This image shows abandoned wagons from the emery mines in Moutsouna.
Remnants of the old emery mines in Moutsouna

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.

This image shows a panoramic view of Naxos mountains the way we saw it during our roadtrip from Apollonas to Koronos. Driving is one of the best things to do in Naxos.
Driving from Apollonas to Moutsouna

The most fascinating thing to see along this route is the old 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 burdened with the task of carrying 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.

This photo shows the aerial cableway in Moutsouna.
The aerial cableway

17. Find The Most Picturesque Café in Naxos

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 7 PM onwards and you can get there either by car or via a hiking path.

This image shows Maria standing at the door of the most picturesque cafe in Mili village.
The gods of Instagram taking over Maria in Mili Village

18. Go Hiking, One of The Best Activities in Naxos

An island graced with great natural beauty, Naxos is one of the best hiking destinations in Greece. However, online information about hiking in Naxos is scarce while signposting of the hiking trails is inadequate compared to other Greek Islands, such as Andros. We do hope that this will change in the future and Naxos will become the hiking-friendly destination it deserves to be.

This image shows a cluster of prickly pears on a hiking trail.
Stumbling upon this forest of prickly pears was a pleasant surprise during one of our hikes in Naxos

There are many hiking trails in Naxos, all of which boast magnificent scenery. Some trails can get you to major attractions in Naxos, thus combining hiking with sightseeing.

For example, hiking trail number 6 takes you to amazing points of interest in the lush Melanes Valley, such as the two Kouros statues of Flerio, the medieval Fragopoulos Tower in 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.

This image shows a sign showing the way to hiking trail 6.
Trail 6 is one of the best hikes in Naxos

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.

This image shows the Aries spring.
Aries Spring and its blessed shade

Aries Spring is worth a visit in its own right. That said, it’s also near the starting point of a fascinating hiking trail that leads to Zas Cave and the summit of Mount Zas.

This image shows the sign and the starting point of the trail to Zas cave.
Hiking to Zas Cave and the summit of Mount Zeus, the highest point in the Cyclades

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.

We’d recommend hiking to the top of Mount Zas with an expert guide.

This image shows the summit of Mount Zeus, one of the best things to see in Naxos.
If you plan to climb to the top of Mount Zas in the summer, start early in the morning to avoid the heat

20. Step Inside an Abandoned Jesuit Monastery, One of The Most Special Things To Do in Naxos

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 with sophisticated architectural elements that now stand in absolute yet enchanting neglect.

PRO TIPS: Tread carefully as you step inside the abandoned monastery, as time hasn’t been too kind with the building and there’s always the danger of falling parts. Moreover, the dirt road that leads to the Jesuit Monastery in Kalamitsia requires a bit of extra attention.

This image shows the abandoned Jesuit monastery in Kalamitsia.
The abandoned summer resort of the Jesuit monks in Kalamitsia

21. Stand in Awe Before a Gorgeous Fortified Monastery

One of the most 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 looks like 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.

This image shows the courtyard of the monastery of Fotodotis. There are two chairs and a makeshift table.
The shady courtyard of the Monastery of Fotodotis

The church itself is a sight to behold. Its most striking features are the colourful marble templon and the 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 an exciting one. Legend has it that a queen who 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 where 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.

PRO TIP: 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.

This image shows the monastery of Fotodotis, which looks like a fortress from the outside.
The impressive Monastery of Fotodotis

22. Spend Time in a Restored Medieval Tower

Naxos is dotted with countless imposing towers. This architectural style was developed in Naxos between the 13th and 18th centuries. Sometimes, a tower would be built in the heart of a village. Yet most towers are located in the stunning countryside of Naxos. Some of them are abandoned while others are restored to their former glory, now housing museums or private homes.

This image shows a panoramic view of Bazeos Tower from a drone.
Bazeos Tower

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 to see what the interior of a Naxian tower looks like. In the summer months, Bazeos Tower hosts the renowned Naxos Festival, one of the greatest cultural events on the island.

This image shows the dining room in Bazeos Tower.
Inside Bazeos Tower

23. Catch Splendid Views From an Abandoned Medieval Tower

Probably the most eye-catching of all abandoned towers in Naxos is the windswept Agia Tower. It’s worth visiting for its splendid architecture but also for 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.

This image shows Agia Tower which looks to the Aegean Sea. Going on a quest to explore the island's towers is one of the best things to do in Naxos Greece.
Agia Tower

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 15 metres, Chimaros Tower was initially 20 metres tall. Its exact function remains a mystery to this day. You can’t enter Chimaros Tower. You can simply admire it from the outside.

This image shows Chimaros Tower which is covered with scaffolding.
Chimaros Tower

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 spectacular interior and a quaint courtyard.

Outside the church, local ladies sell handmade table linen and other loom-woven items. Don’t hesitate to buy something from them as a souvenir. In doing so, you help preserve a local craft.

This image shows Panagia Drosiani church in Moni Village, one of the oldest churches in Naxos Greece.
Panagia Drossiani Church

26. Discover The Prettiest Churches in The Cyclades

Countless churches are dotting the landscape of Naxos. 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.

This image shows an old small church next to a dirt road.
Falling in love with all the little churches in Naxos

27. Explore The Wild South

Southern Naxos is the wildest part of the island, known for its raw beauty and otherworldly scenery. Driving is one of the best ways to explore the 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 allows you to enjoy some of the most scenic routes on the island.

This image shows a panoramic view of the mountains and the scenic road with hairpin turns from our roadtrip to Kalandos beach.
Heading south

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 – during a half-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 tour. Also, if you get seasick, always keep your motion sickness meds handy.

This image shows Kalandos beach. There is a red boat in the foreground.
Kalandos Beach

28. Chase The Best Sunsets in Naxos

Early on this list of what to do in Naxos, we mentioned that Portara is the ultimate sunset spot in Naxos. However, it’s not the only one. We’re here to let you in on our favourite locations from where to watch an equally – if not more – amazing sunset.

A former secret yet now popular location is Rotonda, a bar restaurant near Apeiranthos Village that enjoys unobstructed views for as far as the eye can see. You need to make a reservation to eat or drink there. Alternatively, you can simply enjoy the stunning sunset from the adjacent parking lot.

This image shows sunset from Rotonda restaurant.
Watching the sun set from the parking lot next to Rotonda

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.

This image shows Portara during sunset. The photo is taken from Grotta and the sea is smooth and calm.
The sunset from Grotta

Yet if there’s one sunset spot we absolutely love is the sandy Laguna Beach with the adjacent Manto Islet, a favourite spot of ours for a relaxing stroll. Although you don’t 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.

This image shows two women admiring the view of Chora from Manto islet during sunset.
Speechless at the view

29. Take a Day Trip To The Small Cyclades

During your Naxos holidays, it’s worth planning a day trip to the nearby islands of the Small Cyclades. If you ask us, you can easily spend the rest of your summer holidays on the Small Cyclades. 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 choose among Iraklia, Donoussa, Koufonisia and Schinoussa.

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, a great option is to book a full-day trip to the Small Cyclades to enjoy the sea and the sun without worrying about catching the last ferry back to Naxos.

This image shows Kedros beach in Donoussa.
We left our hearts in Donoussa

30. Tame the Wind

Or stand in awe watching 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, admiring daredevils riding the huge waves in Mikri Vigla is a must if you’re wondering what to do in Naxos.

This image shows windsurfers and kitesurfers on Mikri Vigla beach on a windy day. Taming the wind is one of the best activities in Naxos.
Kitesurfers putting on a unique show on Mikri Vigla Beach

31. Snap a Selfie With The Windmills at Vivlos Village

What’s an island in the Cyclades without its windmills? If you’re on a quest to find the windmills of Naxos, head to Vivlos (or Tripodes), one of the largest and most densely populated villages in Naxos with whitewashed buildings and alleys, century-old churches and a quaint square in the shade of majestic eucalyptus trees.

This image shows three windmills in Vivlos village at sunset.
Vivlos and its windmills

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 features 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 which was built in 1710.

The village of 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.

This image shows Panagia Filotitissa church in Filoti Naxos.
The Church of Panagia Filotitissa in Filoti

33. Pay a Visit To The Olive Press Museum in Eggares

Α 15-minute drive from Naxos Town, in the nearby Eggares Village, the local Olive Press Museum awaits. 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 of the small museum, followed by an olive oil tasting. After the tour, you can relax at the on-site café or drop by the museum shop to buy top-quality local 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.

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.

One of our favourite bars in Naxos is Notos, a rooftop bar under the shade of the Castle of Naxos with a romantic decor, serving cocktails based on citron liqueur. Yet another is 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.

This image shows the Castle of Naxos from a drone.
After sunset, Chora is the perfect place to be

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.

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, the super popular islands of Mykonos, Ios and Santorini and 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 sailing cruise to Paros and other smaller islands from Naxos.

This is a panoramic shot of the Old Port in Naoussa at sunset. There are many traditional boats which reflect on the calm sea water. In the background, the whitewashed buildings of Naoussa. We believe that this photo is very characteristic of Paros and this is why we chose it as the featured image for our article on what to do in Paros Greece.
Paros Island is a stone’s throw from Naxos

Travel Resources For Naxos Island

This image shows the rural landscape of Naxos. There is a pile of hay and a tree.
Finding Tuscany in beautiful Naxos. Until we meet again.

Now that you know what to do in Naxos, it’s time to start planning your trip to this island of wonders, a Greek Island that is sure to give you memories to cherish for life.

WORDS & EDITING: Maria
IMAGES: Katerina

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