Greece: what to see and do on the island of Naxos

by Destination(s) Europe
Published: Last Updated on

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You have listed the Greek islands you want to visit for your next trip. Paros, Mykonos, Santorini, you know the drill. But what is there to do on the island of Naxos, you ask? First, know that Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades. There is a beautiful diversity of landscapes, which is what makes it special. Even if the island of Naxos is less highly rated than some of its neighbours, it has no reason to envy them. It has white sandy beaches stretching for miles and magnificent mountains in the centre. The people there are warm and welcoming. Naxos also has a rich cultural and historical heritage, supported by numerous archaeological sites. To make it easier for you to plan your trip, we have concocted a small list of things to do and places to during your stay on Naxos.

Before starting our list of essential things to do on the island of Naxos, here are some tips for your next trip.

How do you get to Naxos?

The cheapest and easiest way to get to Naxos is by ferry. From the ports of Piraeus and Rafina, Athens, you can make the crossing in three and six hours– depending on the speed of the boat and number of stops on the way. It is also possible to reach Naxos from other Cyclades islands such as Santorini and Mykonos. Moreover, it is possible to go to Naxos by plane in just three quarters of an hour. The airport is located a few kilometres south of Chora.

How can you get around Naxos?

As on the other islands of the Cyclades, we advise you to rent a car, a scooter. or a quad. Unlike Paros it is difficult to go around Naxos in one day because of its size, especially perched on a two-wheeler. But no matter: in Greece, the important thing is taking your time. Plus, renting a quad or a scooter is really cheap – from around 20 euros a day.

Of course, it is also possible to travel by bus. Several routes crisscross Naxos and allow you to reach its many beaches. Remember to buy your tickets and booklets in Chora. This is not possible on the buses.

Which hotel should you choose on the island of Naxos?

The island of Naxos does not lack in relatively inexpensive accommodation. We recommend will two for different budgets.

Are you anticipating a long trip and want to find a good, inexpensive hotel in Chora, the capital? Then the Blue Sky Summer is for you. It is a small establishment located less than 1 kilometre from the beach and featuring a beautiful terrace with a hot tub on its roof. Perfect for a rest after a long crossing.

If you want your own private terrace overlooking the sea, as well as top-of-the-range services, you will be staying in the same area.  The Avgoustos Suites Naxos offers a real moment of intimacy in huge, elegantly decorated rooms.

Let’s come to your schedule. Without further ado, here is our selection of unmissable things to do in Naxos.

Enjoy the large white sand beaches

We have talked about the fact that the island of Naxos stands out from the other surrounding islands. Well, its immense fine sandy beaches have a lot to do with it. What better place to stroll, sunbathe or simply sit in the shade, sipping a good cocktail? These beaches are well-equipped with showers, car parks, and bars. The majority are on the west coast:

  • Agia Anna: located after Agios Prokopios, this is the liveliest beach in Naxos.
  • Agios Georgios: closest to Chora, it is certainly the best possibility for people staying there.
  • Kastraki: the wild and remote beach of Chora. It is quiet and offers a very nice view of the island of Paros.
  • Plaka: a large sandy beach, with plenty of options for accommodation nearby.
  • Agios Prokopios: crowded in summer but still one of the prettiest beaches on the island. The water is shallow.
  • Mikri Vigla: much less accessible than the other beaches, so this one is more the prerogative of kite-surfers and sailors.
Exploring the beaches is a must in Naxos.

Visit the town of Chora

We can’t talk about Naxos without mentioning the town of Chora, which some still call Hora or Naxos, like the island. Chora is the main town on the island and its large seafront hosts a variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. If you go to the end of the seafront, you can admire the famous Portara, the most famous monument of Naxos, located on the islet of Palatia. La Portara is the remains of an unfinished Temple of Apollo which dates from the 6th century BC. According to legend, it was here that Ariadne, abandoned by the victor over the Minotaur, was kidnapped by Dionysus. Enjoy the view as you pass.

Then, head to the Kastro district to take a look at the Venetian houses and the remains of the castle. Finally, you could visit one of the city’s museums:

  • The Mitropolis Museum to contemplate the foundations of an ancient Mycenaean city.
  • The Folklore Museum to immerse yourself in the history of Naxos.
  • The Venetian Della Rocca-Barozzi Museum with furniture and clothes which belonged to the noble Italian families of yesteryear.
The town of Chora is a must in Naxos.

Contemplating the Kouros

Once in Apollonas, in the north of Naxos, you will be able to observe this unfinished kouros, measuring 10.7 meters and weighing almost 80 tons. Despite dating from the 6th century BC, one can still clearly distinguish the body of a bearded man. In Melanes, there are two more Kouros to admire. These are much less imposing (around 5 meters) and less well preserved than that of Apollonas.

A Kouros is a marble sculpture representing a young ephebe. This kind of work was commonly commissioned by noble families and served as decoration in temples or tombs. For their creation, the artists worked in marble quarries, which still exist elsewhere. Given the imposing size of these works, they frequently broke during sculpting and transportation. This explains the remains found in the north of the island.

Do not miss the Kouros of Naxos.

Climb the mountain of Zeus

Discover the highest point of Naxos, Mount Zas – or “Zeus” in French – which peaks at 1004 meters above sea level. It bears this name because Greek mythology designates it as the birthplace of the most powerful and famous of the gods of Olympus. Put on some sturdy shows, and pack some water and your camera. It will take about two hours to reach the summit, starting from the village of Filoti.

Mount Zeus in Naxos.

Take a boat trip

Renting a boat in Naxos will allow you to discover new landscapes and make some very beautiful memories. Some go to the islands of Koufonissia, Iraklia, Schinoussa and Donoussa, an archipelago nicknamed “the Little Cyclade”. Other cruises allow you to discover the south of the island of Naxos. Meet at the port of Agia Anna, not far from Aliko Beach, for departure. Stories, swimming, and traditional Greek barbecue are also on the program.

Try windsurfing

The beaches of Naxos are not only popular for their fine sand; sports enthusiasts can also find happiness there, especially lovers of windsurfing. The conditions are perfect for this activity: shallow lagoons, wind, and beautiful turquoise water. Thus, people come from all walks of life to enjoy these beautiful waves, surfing, paddling, or kitesurfing. It is quite simply an island of paradise for water sports.

Windsurfing is a must in Naxos.

Discover the street art in Naxos

You didn’t expect that, did you? The island of Naxos is full of talent and, on the peninsula of Aliko above the beach of Micro Limano, stand the walls of an unfinished luxury hotel. This site has inspired many artists who have posted their works there. This is a very charming place to visit when visiting Naxos.

We hope that our selection of things to do in Naxos has helped you plan your stay. If you have any other ideas, feel free to share them in the comments.

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