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Portara, the landmark of Naxos
The picturesque village of Halki
Hiking on Mount Zas, highest mountain of the Cyclades
Naxos is an island of Greece that can fulfill anyone's appetite. The bigger the island, the more things to do, right? And since Naxos is the biggest island of the Cyclades you will definitely need a whole week to cross out more than half of the things to see & do on your list.
We are here to give you reasons to visit Naxos and to help you organize your to-do list in order to enjoy the island at its fullest as well as obtain a thorough insight away from tourist traps.
We have gathered a list of the best 15 things to see & do while in Naxos. You will find below this list, all things to do in Naxos by category. Want to see more? View an exhaustive list with 39+1 Things to do in Naxos.
If it is not your first time in Naxos, we suggest you also read our article with 10 special things to do in Naxos.
First things, first. Summer is for beaches and Naxos has many! As mentioned already, Naxos is a big island resulting in a big coastline too. The most beautiful beaches of the island are found mainly on its west side. Before even setting foot on the island you will probably have already come across names such as Plaka, Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Mikri Vigla and Sahara (Limanakia). All these are names of long, pure white, sandy beaches with crystal clear waters and are top on the list of the things to do when visiting Naxos. They are considered some of the most beautiful beaches in the Aegean sea, so it’s inevitable not to spend a big part of your holiday there. Who can blame you? The beaches are huge and they are organised with sunbeds and beach bars but there are also less organised parts. How to get there? Just book your car with us!
Another beach that should be on your things-to-do list, is a visit to Alyko. It is basically a region that consists of many small secluded bays with soft white sand and crystal water. Above the beach of Aliko, there is a unique cedar forest with marvelous sand dunes. There is also an abandoned hotel that has turned into an open gallery for street artists. Some of the most significant works of the renowned artist, WD, are hosted here. This forest has been declared a protected natural area so the infrastructure is almost nonexistent. There are no sunbeds, only a few shops near the area and a delicious cantine where you can taste fast food with a twist, homemade ice-creams and cocktails.
Naxos in Greece has a very important history and an interesting cultural heritage. Among the first things that you will see while entering the port is the “Portara” on your left hand and the old castle of Chora on your right hand. The Portara is the landmark of the island and there is a good reason why. It is a huge marble door standing for centuries 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 literally turns into gold!
The Kastro is one of the most wel- preserved Castles built by the Venetians in the Cyclades. It is located in Chora, the capital of the island. Entering the Castle from its huge, centuries-old, wooden door, 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 Terrasse Cafe is a place where you can enjoy a coffee or drink while gazing at a panoramic view of Naxos. The cafe is an open museum itself since it is part of the Ursuline Monastery Boarding School that existed in the castle of Naxos and educated girls of wealthy Catholic families.
Chora is the Capital of Naxos and expands from the port to the Kastro. Anything you know about Cycladic Architecture, you will find it here. Whitewashed, sugar cube houses with painted blue doors and windows, small chapels, arches and endless narrow paved alleys, make this labyrinth so charming. This citadel is the center of life on the island. It is busy, with many restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars and shops. Jazz & Blues Bar is strongly recommended if you want to enjoy a drink and nice music whereas the Pocket Gallery is your place for tasteful souvenir shopping. Let yourself get lost in Chora and you will experience a true Greek island ambiance!
Among the sea sports community, Naxos in Greece is a very popular destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The beach of Mikri Vigla is a spot where the perfect conditions are met and people from all around the world come to enjoy their favourite sea activity. But even if you are not already familiar with these sports, you can take lessons from the windsurfing & kitesurfing schools at the beach.
Some of the most important sites of the island are located on the Naxian mainland: Demeter temple, Kouros of Melanes and Kouros at Apollonas, Panagia Drossiani church, Monastery of Fotodotis and, Kalamitsia Monastery, should definitely be on your program. These buildings and statues share a great part of the Naxian History and deserve to be visited and admired. Book your car with us and start exploring the island!
Finding a place to stay will not be very difficult since there is a large choice. BUT finding the right place to host your Greek Holidays might be a bit tricky, especially if it’s your first time on the island. Discover the best areas for your stay in Naxos but also a selection of the best hotels in Naxos: 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.
In order to visit Naxos beaches and villages, it is strongly recommended to rent a car. If not for your whole trip, at least for a few days in order to explore the island’s mainland and more remote places. A short road trip crossing the island from West to East is definitely a must! Visiting the picturesque village of Halki is mandatory during your holidays at the island. Two-storey houses with neoclassical architecture, small paved alleys, bougainvillea and Jasmine trees, olive groves and fine shops like Fish & Olive is what to expect in this village that has become a trend among travel bloggers and photographers! After your stroll around the village, you should pay a visit to Dolce Vita cafe where the most delicious patisserie on the island is served and don’t forget to visit the Vallindras Distillery, to see how the local liquor “Kitron” was produced.
From day one of your holiday, you will understand that gastronomy is synonymous to Naxos. Naxos is a very fertile land and a strong agricultural economy that produces some of the most delicious vegetables, cheeses, meat and not to mention fresh fish and seafood in Greece. Choosing a restaurant to have your lunch or dinner, can’t go very wrong since most of them serve delicious food. If we had to recommend only two not-to-miss restaurants on the island, then without a second thought these would be Axiotissa for the finest Greek cuisine with a twist in a lovely location (you will need a reservation 4-5 days in advance) and Vassilis tavern for a local touch. Kontos Restaurant is also recommended for some very classic Greek dishes. 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 gastronomy back home, you can attend a cooking workshop at Vioma.
Apeiranthos is very well preserved and with a strong traditional character village which is located only a few kilometers away from Filoti. It is the highest in terms of altitude village of the Cyclades with old stone mansions. It is very famous for tavernas serving local meat dishes and you should not leave without trying the “rosto” a local recipe with pork.
Last but not least, as Naxos is located in the middle of the Cyclades complex, it is ideal for island hopping or day visits to nearby small islands such as Koufonisia. Other islands that can be easily reached by ferry from Naxos are Paros, Donoussa, Iraklia, Schinoussa and Amorgos. If your program allows, you even have the option of a full-day boat trip to Santorini!
On the east side of the island, is the quaint small harbor of Moutsouna which is a lovely and calm spot to eat fresh fish. Since you are already there, you can continue an 18km coastal ride that leads to a small secluded bay called Panermos and discover a more off the beaten track region of Naxos. The clear and calm blue waters, the palm trees on the beach and the traditional “Gialitissa” fishing boat that takes you for a tour to hidden beaches and the “Rina” sea cave are definitely a bullet point on your things to-do list on Naxos.
A very popular activity in Naxos is hiking. The island has a very well organised hiking network. You can get a guided tour or go by yourself. If you like adventure and nature then a hike around Potamia village or trekking on the top of the highest Mount of the Cyclades, Mount Zas, is definitely something you won’t regret trading a day at the beach with!.
There is a lot more to do in Naxos! Amazing places for coffee and pastries, bars, open-air cinemas, waterparks, shops, sports activities, cooking workshops and more.
We invite you to explore more possibilities that the island has to offer and that will fulfill all visitors needs: Tours & Activities, Sports, Shopping, Wellness, Workshops & other.
You will find below all things to do in Naxos by category.