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Portara, the landmark of Naxos
The picturesque village of Halki
Hiking on Mount Zas, highest mountain of the Cyclades
What to do in Naxos, Greece: So you came across the island of Naxos in your endeavor of a holiday destination. That’s great! It is only natural to wonder about the activities one can be occupied with as a visitor and about the unique characteristics of the island. Naxos is a Cycladic island of Greece that can accommodate every visitor’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 be able to fill a whole week crossing out most of the things on your bucket list!
We are thrilled to guide you through the possibilities you can pick from while visiting Naxos and to help you organize your to-do list in order to enjoy the island at its fullest. Any possible tourist pitfalls will also be addressed for your ease of mind. Let’s dive in the wonders of Naxos then!
Not to miss! Our selection of best hotels in Naxos.
We have gathered a list of the best 15 things to see and do while in Naxos. We have sorted every activity by category right below this selection for your convenience. And if you would like to discover even more Naxian attractions and ventures, here is our bucket list with 39+1 Things to do in Naxos!
If it is not your first time visiting the island, we suggest you take a look at our article with 10 special things to do in Naxos.
First thing’s first; summer is for seaside fun and Naxos offers just the beaches for it! As aforementioned, Naxos is a big island, resulting in a big coastline as well. The most well-known beaches of the island are found mainly on its west side. Popular locations that one has probably heard of even before their initial visit of the island are Plaka, Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna and Sahara (Limanakia). These location names are linked with long, pure white, sandy beaches with crystal clear waters and are rated top on the list of the things to do when visiting Naxos. 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 organised ones with beach bars and sunbeds as well as the unorganized, secluded ones offer the great tan that visitors are sure to be complimented on back home! Wondering about the transportation? No need to; just book your car with us and get the best rates.
Note: You can now rent your sunbeds online!
Another beach that should be on your bucket list, is that of Alyko. It is a region that consists of many small secluded bays with soft white sand and pristine waters. Above the beach of Aliko, there is a unique cedar forest with marvelous sand dunes. There is also an abandoned hotel that has been repurposed into an open gallery for street artists. Some of the most significant works of the renowned artist WD, are hosted here. Moreover, this forest has been declared a protected natural area, so modern infrastructure is almost nonexistent. There are no sunbeds, only a few shops near the area and a delicious canteen where you can taste fast food with a twist, homemade ice-creams and cocktails.
Naxos in Greece hosts very important historical and compelling cultural heritage. Among the first things that you gaze upon while entering the port is the ancient monument of Portara on your left and the old castle of Chora on your right. Portara is the most well-known landmark of the island and justifiably so. It consists of a huge, centuries-old marble door 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 into gold! Do not miss: Naxos castle walking tour and sunset at the Portara.
Not to miss!: Naxos castle walking tour and sunset at the Portara.
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. Entering the Castle through its enormous, 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 feasting upon 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.
Not to miss!: Naxos island full day historical bus tour.
Chora is the capital of Naxos and expands all the way from the port to 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 lively, with many restaurants, taverns, cafes, bars and shops. Jazz & Blues Bar is strongly recommended if you want to enjoy a drink and unwinding music, whereas the Pocket Gallery is your place for tasteful souvenir shopping. Let yourself get lost in Chora and you will experience true Greek island ambience!
Among the sea sports community, Naxos island is a very popular destination windsurfing and kitesurfing. The beach of Mikri Vigla is a place 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 a beginner or unfamiliar with these sports, you can take up lessons from the windsurfing & kitesurfing schools at the beach.
Not to miss!: Book your kitesurfing lessons with Petros at KiteLife. Due to the popularity of these courses, it is advisable to book in advance.
Some of the major sites of the island are located in 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 visiting list. These buildings and statues hold a great part of Naxian History and deserve to be toured and admired. Book your car rental with us and start exploring the island!
Finding lodging suited to your needs will not be a draining task, since the island provides quite the variety, although some attention to distances and amenities provided by each facility can go a long way in arranging a smoother stay, especially for first-time visitors. Discover the best areas for your stay in Naxos along with a selection of the most suitable hotels of 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!
Read also: 7 Hotels in Naxos to fall in love with.
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: Iraklia, Schinoussa and Donoussa that 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 time schedule allows it, you even have the option of a full-day boat trip to Santorini!
Discover what islands are ideal for day-trips from Naxos.
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 for you, a rental for a selected 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 at the island. Two-storey 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 of the island is served. Lastly, let’s not forget to pay a visit to the Vallindras Distillery, to see how the local liquor “Kitron” is being produced.
From day one of your holiday, you will come to love the culinary and tasteful uniqueness of the naxian products. Naxos is a very fertile land and maintains a thriving agricultural economy, producer to some of the most delicious vegetables, cheeses, meat and last but not least, fresh fish and seafood in Greece. Choosing a restaurant for your daily meals is never disappointing, since most of them serve delicious, traditional 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 (but 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 adored, traditionally 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 cuisine back home, you can attend a cooking workshop at Vioma.
Apeiranthos is a very well preserved village with a strongly traditional ambience, located only a few kilometers away from Filoti. It stands as the highest altitude-wise village of the Cyclades with old stone mansions. It is very famous for taverns serving local meat dishes and we highly recommend that you taste the “rosto” dish, a local recipe with pork.
On the east side of the island, is the quaint small harbor of Moutsouna which is a lovely and peaceful spot to eat fresh fish. Once you get there, you can also take 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 taking you for a tour to hidden beaches as well as Rina sea cave are definitely worthy of a spot in your bucket list of 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 surely something you won’t regret trading a day at the beach with!
But that’s not all! There are a lot more things to do in Naxos; from amazing places for coffee and pastries, bars, open-air cinemas, waterparks, shops, sports activities, to cooking workshops and more. We invite you to explore even more options that the island has to offer and which will fulfill all visitors’ needs: Tours & Activities, Sports, Shopping, Wellness, Workshops and more.
You will find below all things to do in Naxos by category.
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