In this comprehensive list of the top attractions and activities in Naxos, ensure you make the most out of your visit to this enchanting Cycladic island. Discover captivating places to explore, indulge in the crystal-clear waters of the sandy beaches, immerse yourself in the rich historical sites.
Take leisurely strolls through Chora (the main town) and the charming traditional villages, and savor delectable cuisine at the finest restaurants. Experience the essence of Naxos through these must-see sights and unforgettable experiences.
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1. Swim at the best beaches
First and foremost, summer calls for seaside fun, and Naxos provides the perfect beaches for such an experience! As previously mentioned, Naxos is a large island with an extensive coastline. The western side of the island is home to the most renowned beaches.
You might have already heard of Plaka, Agios Prokopios, Aliko, and Sahara (Limanakia) even before your first visit to the island. These names are synonymous with long stretches of pure white sandy beaches, boasting crystal clear waters that should be at the top of your bucket list.
These beaches are widely acclaimed as some of the most stunning in the Aegean Sea, so it would be wise to allocate a significant portion of your holiday to explore them. Whether you prefer organized beaches with beach bars and sunbeds or secluded, unspoiled ones, both options guarantee a beautiful tan that will earn you compliments back home!
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2. Gaze at the Sunset from Portara
Naxos, located in Greece, boasts a rich historical and captivating cultural heritage. As you enter the port, your eyes are drawn to the ancient monument of Portara on the left and the old castle of Chora on the right.
Portara, the most renowned landmark on the island, is a colossal marble doorway that has stood for centuries on a small islet. Its sheer elegance is enough to render you speechless upon first sight.
For those with a penchant for romance, the ideal time to visit this site is during sunset when the sky is bathed in a golden hue.
3. Explore the Castle “Kastro”
Kastro stands as one of the finest examples of well-preserved castles constructed by the Venetians in the Cyclades. Situated in Chora, the island’s capital, this magnificent fortress invites visitors to step inside through its grand, centuries-old wooden doors.
Once inside, you’ll be greeted by a captivating ensemble of whitewashed churches, Catholic monasteries, and schools. Explore further, and you’ll discover the Archaeological Museum of Naxos, alongside some of the oldest houses on the island, antique shops, and charming cafes.
A highlight not to be missed is the 1739 Avaton, a haven where you can relish a delightful cup of coffee or refreshing beverage while indulging in the breathtaking panoramic view of Naxos. This café holds the distinction of being an open museum, intricately intertwined with the history of the Ursuline Monastery Boarding School.
Previously nestled within the walls of the Castle of Naxos, the school catered to young girls from affluent Catholic families, offering them education and enlightenment.
4. Stroll around Chora, the Town
Chora, the capital of Naxos, stretches from the port to Kastro, encapsulating the essence of Cycladic architecture. Whitewashed sugar cube houses adorned with blue doors and windows, along with charming chapels, arches, and countless narrow paved alleys, create an enchanting labyrinth.
The heart of the island beats within the old citadel, a vibrant hub brimming with life. From a plethora of restaurants, taverns, and cafes to lively bars and shops, there is no shortage of options. For a delightful evening, Jazz & Blues Bar comes highly recommended, offering refreshing drinks and captivating music.
If you seek tasteful souvenirs, The Pocket Gallery is a haven for shopping. And at Pagonis Greek Sandals, you can acquire the finest handcrafted sandals in the Cyclades. Lastly, the old grocery market of Tziblakis beckons with its selection of olive oil, cheese, honey, and other delectable Naxian delicacies, perfect for bringing a piece of the island home.
Allow yourself to wander through the enchanting streets of Chora and immerse yourself in the authentic ambiance of a Greek island experience.
5. Stay at the best hotels
Finding suitable lodging on the island won’t be a tiresome task, as there is quite a variety to choose from. However, paying attention to distances and amenities offered by each facility can greatly enhance your stay, especially if you are a first-time visitor.
Discover the best areas for your stay, along with a selection of the most suitable hotels on the island depending on your plans. Whether you’re looking for luxurious accommodations, a honeymoon retreat, beachfront hotels, or the perfect spot for kitesurfers and windsurfers, there is something for everyone. Families will also find excellent options to ensure a memorable stay.
Explore Naxos and make the most of your visit with these recommendations!
6. Explore the island with your own car
Naxos, the largest island of the Cyclades, is best explored with a car. If you want to fully experience the island’s remote beaches, picturesque mountainous villages, archaeological sites, and charming restaurants, booking a car rental in Naxos is strongly recommended.
While there is a public bus service (KTEL) available, it may not reach all the hidden gems that can only be accessed by car.
For the best prices in car renting in Naxos check DiscoverCars.com.
7. Visit the most important sites
On the mainland of Naxos Island lie some notable sites that should definitely be on your visitation list. These include the Demeter temple, the Kouros of Melanes, the Kouros at Apollonas, the Panagia Drossiani church, the Fotodotis monastery, and the Kalamitsia Monastery.
These magnificent monuments and statues hold significant historical value and are certainly worthy of exploration and admiration.
8. Explore the gastronomy scene
From the very first day of your holiday, you will be enchanted by the culinary delights and exquisite flavors of Naxian products. Naxos, known for its fertile land, boasts a thriving agricultural economy that yields some of the most delectable vegetables, cheese, meat, and, of course, fresh fish and seafood in all of Greece.
Rest assured, when it comes to choosing a restaurant for your meal, you will never be disappointed as most establishments serve mouthwatering, traditional cuisine.
9. Cooking workshops & Wineries
With its fresh products and delectable Mediterranean recipes, Naxos has sparked a new trend in cooking lessons. For those eager to bring the secrets of Naxian cuisine to their own kitchens, attending a cooking workshop at either Vassiliko or Vioma is highly recommended.
Wine enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to the charming Saint Anna winery. Embark on a tour and indulge in wine tasting at this quaint, pocket-size winery, complete with a picturesque white chapel nestled in the quaint village of Kato Potamia. It’s an experience that warms the heart!
10. Wander around Halki village
To fully enjoy Naxos’s beautiful beaches and charming villages, renting a car is highly recommended. Even if you can’t have one for your entire stay, getting a rental for a few days is a smart move to explore the island’s mainland and discover some hidden gems.
Don’t miss the chance to embark on a short road trip that takes you from the West to the East of the island – it’s an absolute must! And while you’re there, make sure to visit the picturesque village of Halki.
With its two-story houses boasting neoclassical architecture, quaint paved alleys, vibrant bougainvillea and fragrant jasmine trees, enchanting olive groves, and charming shops like Fish & Olive, this village has captured the hearts of travel bloggers and photographers alike.
After wandering around the village, treat yourself to the delights of the Dolce Vita cafe, known for serving the most delicious pastries on the island. And before you leave, don’t forget to stop by the Vallindras Distillery to witness the fascinating production process of the local kitron liquor.
Experience the best of Naxos – from its captivating beaches to its captivating villages – and create unforgettable memories.
11. Learn to Kitesurf in Mikri Vigla
Nos island is renowned among the sea sports community as a prime destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The beach of Mikri Vigla is particularly favored for its optimal wind conditions, attracting enthusiasts from all corners of the globe to indulge in their beloved aquatic pursuits.
Another sought-after spot, Laguna, lies adjacent to Naxos town and boasts similar clubs. For novices or those unfamiliar with these exhilarating sports, the beach offers windsurfing and kitesurfing schools where lessons can be readily obtained.
12. Visit nearby islands & hidden beaches
Naxos, situated in the heart of the Cyclades archipelago, offers a perfect base for exploring neighboring islands like Koufonisia, Paros, and Mykonos. Additionally, you can embark on delightful day trips to the charming small Cyclades islands of Iraklia, Schinoussa, and Donoussa, which are conveniently less than two hours away from Naxos.
You have the option to join an organized day cruise or independently hop on a ferry to these captivating destinations. If your schedule permits, I highly recommend dedicating a full day to a boat trip to the mesmerizing Santorini. Make the most of your time in Naxos by discovering the ideal islands for unforgettable ferry day trips!
13. Visit the marble village of Apiranthos
Apiranthos, situated just a few kilometers from Filoti, is a charming village that exudes a strong sense of tradition. With its well-preserved architecture and elevated location, it claims the title of the highest village in the Cyclades. The village is adorned with ancient stone mansions, adding to its allure.
One of the highlights of Apiranthos is its renowned taverns, which specialize in serving delectable local meat dishes. For a truly unforgettable culinary experience, it is highly recommended trying the rosto dish, a local pork recipe that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.
14. Visit the cedar forest at Aliko
Aliko beach is a must-visit destination that should be on your bucket list. This captivating region is adorned with numerous small secluded bays, boasting soft white sand and pristine waters.
Nestled above the beach of Aliko, you will discover a mesmerizing cedar forest, accompanied by enchanting sand dunes. The allure continues with an abandoned hotel, creatively repurposed into an open gallery for street artists. This haven proudly showcases the remarkable works of the renowned artist WD.
Furthermore, the forest has been designated as a protected natural area, resulting in minimal modern infrastructure. While sunbeds and umbrellas are absent, guests can explore a few charming shops in the vicinity. Additionally, a delightful canteen awaits, offering delectable fast food with a twist, homemade ice-creams, and refreshing cocktails.
15. Off-the-beaten-track places
Nestled on the eastern side of the island, you’ll find the charming and picturesque harbor of Moutsouna. This tranquil haven is the perfect spot to savor delectable, freshly caught fish and seafood while immersing yourself in a serene ambiance.
Once you arrive, don’t miss the opportunity to embark on a scenic 16 km coastal ride. This captivating journey will lead you to the secluded and idyllic bay known as Panermos, allowing you to uncover more of Naxos’ unspoiled beauty.
Prepare to be captivated by crystal-clear turquoise waters, the gentle rustle of palm trees on pristine beaches, and the allure of a traditional boat beckoning you to explore hidden shores. Make sure to include a visit to the enchanting Rina sea cave, an experience that deserves a coveted spot on your Naxos bucket list.
16. Hiking on the mainland
Hiking is an incredibly popular activity on the enchanting island of Naxos. With its well-organized hiking trails, the island offers a plethora of options for both guided tours and independent exploration.
If you yearn for adventure and a deep connection with nature, embarking on a hike around Potamia village or conquering the majestic Mount Zas, the highest peak in the Cyclades, is an experience that will undoubtedly surpass a day spent at the beach. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to trade the shores for the awe-inspiring landscapes and memories that await you!
Check our suggested hikes in Naxos from GetYourGuide.