First things first; summer is for seaside fun, and Naxos offers just the beaches for it!
As aforementioned, Naxos is a big island, resulting in an extended coastline. The most well-known beaches lie on its west side.
Famous locations one has probably heard of before their initial visit to the island are Plaka, Agios Prokopios, Aliko, and Sahara (Limanakia). Those location names are linked to long, pure white, sandy beaches with crystal clear waters and should be rated top on your bucket list.
They are regarded as some of the most beautiful beaches in the Aegean sea, so it is advisable to spend a considerable part of your holiday there.
After all, both the organized ones with beach bars and sunbeds, as well as the unorganized, secluded ones, offer a great tan that visitors are sure to be complimented on back home!
Worrying about transportation? No need to; just book your car with us and get the best rates.
Note: You can now rent your sunbeds online!
Naxos Things to Do
We have compiled a list of the Best Things to Do in Naxos, which includes the absolute must-sees and must-dos on the traditional Cycladic island: places to visit, attractions, where to swim, activities, tours, where to eat, and more.
In brief, the top things to do are to spend your days on the beautiful sandy beaches, visit some of the historical sites, stroll in Chora (the main town) and the many traditional villages, and, dine in nice restaurants.
Open the table of contents to see our proposals at a glance.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Click on a section below to be directed there.
1. Swim at the best beaches
2. Gaze at the Sunset from Portara
3. Explore the Castle "Kastro"
4. Stroll around Chora, the Town
5. Stay at the best hotels
6. Explore the island with your car
7. Visit the most important sites
8. Explore the gastronomy scene
9. Learn to cook like a local
10. Wander around Halki village
12. Learn to Kitesurf in Mikri Vigla
13. Visit nearby islands & hidden beaches
13. Visit the marble village of Apiranthos
14. Visit the cedar forest at Aliko
15. Off-the-beaten track places
16. Hiking on the mainland
17. Visit the Naxos Animal Welfare Society
18. More / By Type
First things first; summer is for seaside fun, and Naxos offers just the beaches for it!
Naxos in Greece hosts a significant historical and compelling cultural heritage. Among the first things that you gaze upon while entering the port are the ancient monument of Portara on your left and the old castle of Chora on your right.
Portara is the most well-known landmark on the island.
It constitutes a huge, centuries-old marble doorway standing on a small islet. When you see it for the first time, its elegance will leave you speechless.
For the romantic souls, the best time to visit this site is during sunset when the sky turns to gold!
Kastro is one of the most well-preserved castles built by the Venetians in the Cyclades. It is located in Chora, the capital of the island.
After entering the Castle through its enormous, centuries-old wooden doors, you will find yourself among whitewashed churches, Catholic monasteries and schools, the Archaeological Museum of Naxos, some of the oldest houses on the island, antique shops, and beautiful cafes.
The 1739 Avaton is a place where you can enjoy a coffee or drink while feasting upon a panoramic view of Naxos. The cafe can be considered an open museum since it is part of the Ursuline Monastery Boarding School which was situated in the Castle of Naxos and used to educate girls of wealthy Catholic families.
Chora is the capital of Naxos and expands from the port to Kastro. Anything you know about Cycladic architecture, you will find it there. Whitewashed, sugar cube houses with blue doors and windows, chapels, arches, and endless narrow paved alleys, make that labyrinth so charming.
The old citadel is the center of life on the island. It is lively, with numerous restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars, and shops.
Jazz & Blues Bar is strongly recommended if you want to enjoy a drink and unwinding music. The Pocket Gallery is your place for tasteful souvenir shopping, whereas, at Pagonis Greek Sandals, you can buy the finest hand-made sandals in the Cyclades. Lastly, at the old grocery market of Tziblakis, you can purchase olive oil, cheese, honey, and other Naxian delicacies to bring home.
Let yourself get lost in Chora and experience the true Greek island ambiance!
Finding lodging suited to your needs will not be a draining task, since the island provides quite a variety. However, attention to distances and amenities provided by each facility can go a long way in arranging a smoother stay, especially for first-time visitors.
Some of our favorite hotels in Naxos are 18 Grapes in Agios Prokopios, Ayiopetra in Sangri and Ploes seaside houses in Plaka.
Discover the best areas for your stay along with a selection of the most suitable hotels on the island depending on your plans: Best luxury hotels, best for a honeymoon, best hotels by the beach, best places to stay for kitesurfers and windsurfers, best for families and more!
Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades, so a car is almost mandatory. Booking a car rental in Naxos is strongly recommended if you want to explore the island. Although a public bus (KTEL) serves routes on the island, many remote beaches, mountainous villages, archaeological sites, and nice restaurants can only be reached by car.
In cooperation with the best local car rental agencies, we offer the best prices and our service is rated .
Some of the major sites of the island are located on the Naxian mainland:
Demeter temple, Kouros of Melanes and Kouros at Apollonas, Panagia Drossiani church, the monastery of Fotodotis, and Kalamitsia Monastery, should be on your visiting list.
Those monuments and statues comprise a great part of Naxian History and deserve to be toured and admired.
From day one of your holiday, you will fall in love with the culinary and tasteful uniqueness of the Naxian products.
Naxos is a very fertile land and maintains a thriving agricultural economy, producing some of the most delicious vegetables, cheese, meat, and last but not least, fresh fish and seafood in Greece.
Choosing a restaurant for your meal is never disappointing since most serve palatable, traditional food.
If we had to recommend only two not-to-miss restaurants on the island, those would be Axiotissa for the finest Greek cuisine with a twist in a lovely location (due to high demand, a reservation 4-5 days in advance is necessary) and Vassilis tavern for a local, more homelike touch.
Kontos Restaurant is also recommended for toothsome, traditional Greek dishes by the sea.
Due to its fresh products and delicious Mediterranean recipes, a new trend of cooking lessons has emerged in Naxos.
If you want to take the secrets of Naxian cuisine back home, you can attend a cooking workshop at Vassiliko or Vioma.
For wine lovers, a visit to the Saint Anna winery is strongly recommended! A tour and wine tasting at the pocket-size winery with the picturesque white chapel located in the small village of Kato Potamia is simply heart-warming!
In order to visit Naxos’s beaches and villages more freely, it is strongly recommended to rent a car. If booking one for your entire stay is not ideal, a rental for a few days is advisable in order to explore the island’s mainland and some rather remote places.
A short road trip crossing the island from West to East is definitely a must! Visiting the picturesque village of Halki is essential during your holidays on the island. Two-story houses with neoclassical architecture, small paved alleys, bougainvillea and jasmine trees, olive groves, and fine shops like Fish & Olive are only a few of the things to expect in this village; it is no wonder why it has become such a trend among travel bloggers and photographers!
After your stroll around the village, you should pay a visit to the Dolce Vita cafe, where the most delicious patisserie on the island is served.
Lastly, do not forget to pay a visit to the Vallindras Distillery to see how the local kitron liquor is being produced.
Among the sea sports community, Naxos Island is a very popular destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
The beach of Mikri Vigla is a place where perfect wind conditions are met, so people from all around the world come to enjoy their favorite sea activity. Another popular location with such clubs is Laguna, next to Naxos town. If you are a beginner or unfamiliar with those sports, you can take up lessons from the windsurfing and kitesurfing schools at the beach.
Naxos is located in the middle of the Cyclades complex and is ideal for island hopping or one-day trips to nearby islands such as Koufonisia, Paros, and Mykonos.
Other ideal single-day tours from Naxos are to the small Cyclades islands of Iraklia, Schinoussa, and Donoussa which are less than two hours away from Naxos. You can discover some of those islands with an organized day cruise or you can take a ferry independently. If your itinerary allows it, consider scheduling a full-day boat trip to Santorini!
Discover what islands are ideal for ferry day trips from Naxos.
Apiranthos is a well-preserved village with a strongly traditional ambiance, located only a few kilometers from Filoti. It comprises the highest village of the Cyclades altitude-wise and features old stone mansions.
It is famous for taverns serving local meat dishes. We highly recommend that you taste the rosto dish, a local recipe with pork.
Another beach that should be on your bucket list, is that of Aliko. It is a region that consists of many small secluded bays with soft white sand and pristine waters.
Above the beach of Aliko lies a unique cedar forest with enchanting sand dunes.
An abandoned hotel that has been repurposed into an open gallery for street artists also lies nearby the shore. Some of the most significant works of the renowned artist WD are hosted here.
Moreover, the forest has been declared a protected natural area, so the modern infrastructure is almost nonexistent. No sunbeds or umbrellas are available, but guests may encounter a few shops near the area and a delicious canteen where you can taste fast food with a twist, homemade ice-creams, and cocktails.
On the east side of the island lies the quaint small harbor of Moutsouna, which is a lovely and peaceful spot to eat fresh fish and seafood.
Once you get there, you can also take a 16 km coastal ride that leads to a small secluded bay called Panermos and discover more of the pristine region of Naxos.
The clear and calm blue waters, the palm trees on the beach, and the traditional boat taking you for a tour to hidden beaches, as well as Rina sea cave, are worthy of a spot on your bucket list of Naxos.
A very popular activity in Naxos is hiking. The island boasts a very well-organized hiking network.
You can get a guided tour or go by yourself. If you hanker for adventure and nature, a hike around Potamia village or trekking on the top of the highest Mount of the Cyclades, Mount Zas, is surely something you won’t regret trading a day at the beach with!
Naxos Animal Welfare Society is a group of people who care about the welfare of stray and maltreated animals on Naxos.
The organization was established in 2005 and offers first aid to animals, vaccination for strays, sterilizations, and hospitality to dogs and cats before they find a loving adopting family.
Visit their website: www.naws.gr
BEST THINGS TO DO IN NAXOS BY TRAVELLING TYPE
Naxos is the largest and most manifold island of the Cyclades, boasting an array of settings that can meet the needs of every kind of visitor. From cosmopolitan, well-organized sandy beaches to remote, traditional mountain villages, everyone can have the best holidays possible on the island!
We have gathered the best things to do in Naxos and sorted them by traveler type below:
Best things to do for families with kids
Picking Naxos for your family vacation is the best decision you can make! The island's plethora of sights, beaches and activities won’t let you run out of things to do during your holidays; to the contrary, you will probably plan on returning the coming year to do what you couldn’t fit into your itinerary time-wise!
- Rent a car to explore the island
The memories of the summer holidays are among the few that some people recall from their childhood. With Naxos being large in size and home to numerous attractions, a rental car will allow you and your family to explore many areas, taste the local flavors and take plenty of photos to capture the great moments of your vacation!
- Swim at the family-friendly beaches
Many of the enchanting beaches of Naxos are organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, shops and water sports facilities. These beaches are mainly located on the western side of the island close to Chora. Most are sandy beaches with shallow waters, so parents don't have to worry about their children spending time in the sea. The most renowned ones include Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Mikri Vigla Sahara and Agios Georgios.
- Visit the sights
The majestic Portara next to the port of Naxos will surely impress the whole family due to its size, with sunset being the best time to visit and take photos. Exploring the picturesque castle of Naxos is also something that should be included in your schedule! Museums combine knowledge with fun, with young visitors sure to be impressed by the dolphin skeletons at the Natural History Museum of Apiranthos.
- Go on an excursion to the neighboring islands
The convenient location of Naxos in the center of the Cyclades makes visiting other islands a breeze! In addition to the neighboring Paros, many small islands that are members of the archipelago are ideal for day trips, including Koufonisia, Donoussa, Amorgos and Schinoussa. These can be reached either by boat or on a sailing tour or a cruise. The Boat Tour to Koufonisia island is one of the best options for families since you won’t spend time much time on a boat but have the whole day to explore the island and enjoy its waters!
- Try watersports
The island is a preferred destination for fans of watersports, especially windsurfers and kitesurfers. You will find water sports centers in several parts of the island so that you can try some fun activities in the waters of Naxos. If your kids are relatively old, you should consider taking windsurfing or kitesurfing lessons, since the conditions are ideal and the instructors are experienced. You can book your windsurfing lesson in Laguna Beach, a designated area for enjoying watersports, or your kitesurfing lesson in Mikri Vigla, where the wind conditions are ideal for practicing!
Best things to do for couples
The large number of beaches, shops, villages and natural scenery that Naxos has throughout it can guarantee that you and your partner will never get bored - there are so many opportunities to create memories that will be engraved in your memory!
- Explore the Castle of Naxos
The Castle is the old fortified capital of the island and is located on a hill above Naxos Town. The Venetian architecture and picturesque alleys will make you feel like you are in another era, even though some lovely shops are housed in the streets. During your stroll, you will come across the Orthodox Cathedral, the Ursulines School and Merchant Academy and the Venetian Museum, among others.
- Gaze at the sunset from Rotonda
Just outside the traditional settlement of Apiranthos lies the Rotonda cafe-restaurant. With a spacious terrace on the edge of the cliff and surrounded by vegetation, this shop offers an unrivaled panoramic view of the western side of the island, from the green valley of Tragaia to the Aegean Sea. A visit in the evening will give you the opportunity to admire a truly magnificent sunset.
- Stay at a lodging with lovely views
One of the main purposes of a vacation is to have a change of scenery and relax with your partner. An accommodation that can provide you with several amenities and great views contributes to those. If you're not adamant about staying in a central location, many beautiful accommodations lie just outside the cosmopolitan areas and can offer you privacy and a quiet environment. Ayiopetra in Sagri with a superb sunset view is among our favorites for couples.
- Go on a boat trip and have lunch on board
Several sailing cruises are available for booking for those who want to explore areas of the island away from the main points or visit neighboring islands. With the Day Cruise on a Catamaran with Lunch tour you have the opportunity to visit wonderful hidden beaches of the coastline and try local delicacies on deck, while with the Full-day Small Cyclades sailing cruise, you can pass by islands of the Small Cyclades before stopping at secluded beaches for swimming and snorkeling.
- Rent a car and discover the mountain villages
Naxos is home to many mountain villages that remain off the beaten track and retain their authenticity. By visiting them, you will be able to stroll around the picturesque alleys and discover historical buildings, beautiful churches, taverns serving traditional homemade food and much more. The marble village of Apiranthos is perhaps the most picturesque of all, while Halki, Sangri and Filoti are also captivating. Because Naxos is a large island and the villages are scattered, the distances between them can be long. It is recommended to rent a car to discover the villages at your own pace without being limited by the KTEL bus routes.
- Enjoy a cocktail by the sea
The Town, Plaka and Agia Anna are among the most lively areas of the island. That is because they boast various bars that are filled every night with visitors who want to enjoy a refreshing drink while enjoying the sunset or the starlit sky. There's no better way to end the day than enjoying a tasty cocktail with your loved one by candlelight!
- Visit Santorini for a day trip
Santorini is (deservedly) the most praised island in Greece. A couple’s favorite destination due to its magical sunset and awe-inspiring landscape, Santorini constitutes the ideal option for a day trip when it comes to lovebirds! The Santorini from Naxos island tour includes a boat trip to the island, a bus tour from the port to the renowned settlements of Oia and Fira, and a 6-hour stay to spend your time as you wish!
Best things to do for single travelers
Naxos is also one of the best options for those who plan to take a solo vacation in the summer (or any other season). Aside from the fact that people are welcoming and will try to make you feel like you are home, the things you can enjoy alone are endless.
- Visit the historical sights
Naxos is full of historical points of interest, with the Portara, the Castle and the Temple of Demeter being the most noted. Apart from the well-known sights, however, there are several additional interesting places to visit. Joining the Full Day Historical Bus Tour will allow you to visit several of them, such as Apollo's kouros and old emery mines. The tour is ideal for single travelers since it covers both transport and company!
- Go hiking
The island has several paths that start inland and, during their crossing, hikers come across hidden points of interest, while the surrounding landscape is enchanting, either because of the view it offers or because of the green surroundings.
⇒ Learn more about hiking in Naxos
- Try windsurfing, kitesurfing, or scuba diving
Naxos is famous for the excellent weather conditions it offers for water sports. Many water sports centers are located on the beaches (mainly on the western coastline), while in Stelida lies Laguna - a beach with shallow waters, that is used as a practice area and for windsurfing lessons. Scuba diving is also available in Naxos along with kitesurfing lessons and rentals that promise endless fun in the waters of Parthena beach in Mikri Vigla.
- Explore the quaint villages
Apiranthos, Halki, Sangri and Filoti are just some of the numerous traditional villages that are hosted on the slopes of the mountains of Naxos. In addition to the captivating architecture that takes you back in time as if you are in another era, you can also admire perspectives of the authentic Greek way of life by observing or spending time with the locals.
- Visit Delos and Mykonos for a day trip
Delos, the sacred island of Apollo, is a now-uninhabited island but used to be an important religious and commercial center in antiquity. Mykonos, on the other hand, has been one of the busiest destinations in Greece in recent decades. With the Tour to Delos & Mykonos, you can combine a visit to both!
- Go island-hopping
Island-hopping from Naxos is very easy due to its location and frequent routes to other islands. Santorini, Mykonos, Paros and Milos are the top choices of travelers as they all offer wonderful beaches and scenery just a few hours away from Naxos.
Best things to do for friend groups
Whether you and your friends come to Naxos to relax and have a good time or to discover its known and unknown parts, one thing is for sure - your expectations will be exceeded!
- Visit the cosmopolitan resorts
The Town is the most lively area of Naxos, hosting the port, many attractions, hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna and Plaka are the most famous and busiest seaside resorts, also offering a wealth of accommodation, dining and shopping options. The beaches of the same name are excellent, as they are sandy with crystal clear waters.
- Participate in a cooking workshop
Half-Day Cooking Class at Basiliko Family Tavern allows you to learn more about Naxian cuisine interactively. Participants collect the required fruit and vegetables on their own from the establishment's garden and by the end of the lesson taste the fruit of their labor. Hosts can also walk you along the regional stream to admire the beautiful landscape of Potamia village.
- Rent a car to explore the island
Renting a car allows your friend group to move wherever you want based on your own schedule, even to places that are not part of the KTEL routes. Hence, you will be able to visit the remote villages and wild beaches in your comfort creating memories of both the places and the road trip!
- Go on a sailing cruise
By booking the Catamaran Sailing Cruise with Lunch you will have the chance to board a luxurious catamaran and visit numerous fairy-tale pristine beaches of Naxos, Paros and the Small Cyclades. You and your friends will enjoy a full 7 hours of sailing, swimming and snorkeling, while a traditional lunch will also be prepared for you on board.
- Try Naxian flavors and shop local products
Naxos is blessed with an abundance of water which makes its land very fertile. Fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy, wine and honey are just some of the products of Naxos and, of course, are of the best quality. The trademark product of Naxos is kitron, a liqueur produced from a fruit of the same name. One can also find lovely jewelry and souvenirs, while Fish and Olive in Halki is the perfect place for purchasing ceramics in unique designs.
Best things to do for backpackers
Backpacking is preferred because it saves you money, but that doesn't have to mean that you need to deprive yourself of things to have a great time! On the contrary, there are plenty of things to do in Naxos while staying on budget.
- Book an affordable hotel
Finding budget accommodation in Naxos is actually quite easy. Although it has 5-star hotels and luxurious suites, many low-budget accommodations are available along the island, mostly studios and apartments.
- Rent an ATV to visit the remote regions
By having your means of transport you can discover many hidden beaches and remote areas that will enchant you! Although the car offers more comfort and safety, many visitors choose to rent an ATV for moving, since it is the most economical - and maybe the most fun - alternative.
- Go sightseeing
The number of landmarks that Naxos boasts seems endless. Monuments, castles, churches and museums are abundant on the island. The imposing Portara is the trademark attraction and most photographed spot, while Naxos Castle is the most quaint square of western Naxos. The Town hosts several points of interest, yet many others are found scattered across the island, including the temple of Demeter, the Kouroi statues in Apollonas, Melanes and Flerio, the Monastery of Fotodotis in Danakos and the Folklore Museum in Kaloxylos.
- Hike the inland
With various paths crossing the green valley of Tragaia and beyond, Naxos is ideal for hiking. Depending on the route you choose, you will encounter impressive sights such as the temple of Demeter, the cave of Za, the church of Agios Georgios Diasoritis, an ancient cemetery dating back to the geometric period and many others. Make sure you have comfortable shoes with you!
⇒ Learn more about hiking
- Spend time with the locals at the mountain villages
The inhabitants of the mountain villages largely preserve their ancestral attitudes and habits. Being welcoming and cheerful, some may offer to share stories with you (if they understand and speak English to some extent) or offer you traditional delicacies. Apiranthos is the most picturesque village of all, with Halki, Sagri and Filoti succeeding.
- Go island-hopping
Island hopping is a piece of cake when you are in Naxos. The island is adjacent to several beguiling and quiet islands such as Koufonisia, Donoussa and Amorgos, while livelier destinations such as Mykonos, Santorini and Paros also lie nearby.