Naxos, the largest among the Cycladic group of islands, boasts a rich history intertwined with its strategic location. The island’s nearly circular shape encompasses a sizable area of 429 square kilometers, with a coastline stretching 150 km and encompassing both sandy and rocky beaches.
Home to approximately 20,000 inhabitants, most of whom reside in the charming main town of Chora, Naxos enjoys moderate temperatures throughout the year. Its close proximity to the sea gives rise to humid conditions, while summers and winters remain pleasantly mild.
During the summer months, the Meltemi wind sweeps across the island from the north, reaching its peak strength from mid-July to mid-August. This makes Naxos an ideal destination for kitesurfers and windsurfers, thanks to its strategic location in the heart of the Cyclades.
One of Naxos’ defining features is its diverse landscape. Majestic mountain ranges contrast with lush valleys, which gradually descend to reveal picturesque white and golden sandy beaches adorned with crystal-clear azure waters. The island’s fertile soil yields high-quality products year after year.
Standing tall at an impressive 1003 meters above sea level, Mount Zas claims the title of the highest point in the Cyclades. Naxos’ geomorphology is characterized by its extensive western coastline, adorned with sandy beaches, while the eastern shores offer a more secluded ambiance with their rugged cliffs.
Nestled within fertile valleys, the villages of Halki, Tripodes, Melanes, Sangri, and Egares thrive, with the islanders primarily engaged in the tourism industry, agriculture, and cattle breeding.
Naxos truly captivates with its captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality.
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Little Bit of History
Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades, is renowned for its rich history and exquisite architecture. According to mythology, Naxos was a sanctuary for Zeus, the mighty king of the Olympian gods, who sought refuge from the wrath of his father, Cronus.
Dionysus, the god of wine, held Naxos in such high regard that he blessed its land with fertility, gracing it with vineyards that produced exceptional wine of unparalleled taste and quality. The locals, filled with gratitude, erected a grand temple in honor of Dionysus.
Naxos also holds significance as the place where Theseus found solace in the company of Ariadne, who aided him in navigating the treacherous labyrinth that housed the ferocious Minotaur. It was here that their paths diverged, as Ariadne captured the heart of Dionysus.
The god spirited the young maiden away to the enchanting Mount Drios, where they bore three children – Oinopion, the connoisseur of wine, Staphylos, the symbol of the grape, and Evanthi, the embodiment of beauty and grace.
In the annals of time, Naxos, as described by the venerable historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC, emerged as the most prosperous among the Greek islands. Its dominance in trade throughout the 8th and 7th centuries BC solidified its economic prowess in the Cyclades, a legacy that endures to this day.
Best Time to Visit Naxos
Naxos truly has it all. It seamlessly blends the allure of the sea with the majesty of mountains, tranquility with liveliness, and tradition with modernity. Regardless of the season you choose to explore this captivating island, you will undoubtedly create cherished memories that are unparalleled. Take a moment to immerse yourself in the essence of Naxos throughout the year.
In summary, June and September emerge as the prime months for venturing to Naxos! These months offer warm days while avoiding the crowds of the peak season.
The finest hotels operate at full capacity, providing exceptional services at the most favorable rates. Similarly, all restaurants are open, ready to delight you with their culinary offerings.
Naxos is primarily a summer destination for several compelling reasons. The summer season commences in June and extends until mid-September, reaching its pinnacle from mid-July to early September.
One of the most significant advantages of visiting Naxos during this time is the delightful Mediterranean climate, offering warm and sunny weather with temperatures often exceeding 30°C. Throughout the high season, Naxos maintains excellent connectivity with Athens and other renowned islands through approximately ten daily ferry crossings. These include Paros, Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, and more.
The vibrant atmosphere of Naxos is evident in its bustling hotels, apartments, restaurants, and local facilities, along with a plethora of cultural events and festivals. While June is the least crowded month, it is considered an ideal time to visit the island since it strikes a balance between liveliness and overcrowding.
However, it’s important to note that during the peak season, hotel prices surge, and availability becomes limited due to the high demand. If you plan to visit during this time, it is advisable to book your accommodation three to four months in advance to ensure suitable lodging.
For those passionate about kitesurfing and windsurfing, the prime period to indulge in these activities is from mid-July until the end of August when the summer wind known as Meltemi blows strongly across the Aegean Sea. To fully relish this experience, it is recommended to plan a trip of at least seven days.
Spring & Easter Time
The week of Orthodox Easter, typically falling in April or May, is an enchanting time to explore Naxos and the surrounding Greek islands and countryside. During this festive period, the island comes alive with religious celebrations, offering a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local customs and traditions.
Each village in Naxos has its own distinct way of celebrating, featuring exquisite traditions and locally prepared dishes that are truly unparalleled. Moreover, the pleasant spring weather, with temperatures around 20°C, creates the perfect atmosphere for leisurely hikes across the picturesque Naxian mainland.
While swimming in the sea may not be advisable due to the water temperature, the sunny days and blossoming Cycladic nature provide a captivating backdrop for your time on the island. It’s worth noting that prices during this season are considerably lower compared to the summer months, yet numerous hotels and restaurants remain open and eagerly await your arrival.
September and October are highly favored by visitors looking to avoid the peak season. With the weather still hot and the sea waters warm, these early autumn months channel the essence of late summer in Naxos.
Most hotels remain open until the end of October, offering significantly reduced room prices. As summer comes to a close, the island’s beaches become less crowded, providing a serene experience of the Cycladic landscape.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the stunning scenery through hiking, as this period offers the best conditions for it.
While not typically known as a winter destination, Naxos offers mild temperatures ranging from 7 to 15°C and minimal rainfall during the winter months. Although ferry connections to Athens operate daily, most hotels close for the season, leaving only a few accommodations available.
However, some restaurants and taverns remain open, particularly those frequented by locals. Although the number of tourists who choose Naxos as a winter destination is relatively small, it tends to increase during the carnival season when the island comes alive with folklore traditions.
How to Get to Naxos
Naxos, a frequented island in the Cyclades, is easily accessible by both plane and ferry from Athens and neighboring islands. Although there is a national airport in Naxos, the most popular mode of transportation is by ferry.
If you are traveling from other islands like Santorini or Mykonos, the ferry is your only option. Ensure you gather information about local transportation options to facilitate your transfer to your hotel and explore every corner of this beautiful island with ease
Naxos can be easily reached by boat from various islands in the Aegean Sea. To start with, there are regular ferry connections between Naxos and ports in Athens. Ferries depart from Piraeus, Rafina, and Lavrio ports. Rafina and Lavrio ports are closer to Eleftherios Venizelos airport, while Piraeus port is closer to the city center.
The duration of the trip varies from 4 to 9 hours, depending on the type of boat (conventional or high-speed) and the chosen route. Most travelers opt for the ferry from Piraeus. Naxos is also well-connected to many other Cyclades islands, such as Santorini, Paros, Mykonos, Amorgos, Tinos, and more.
Additionally, there is a local express ferry called Skopelitis that operates routes between Naxos, Amorgos, and the islands of Small Cyclades (Koufonisia, Donoussa, Schinoussa, and Iraklia) approximately six times per week. You can check ferry prices and availability at FerryHopper.com.
Naxos National Airport is conveniently connected to Athens International Airport with direct domestic flights, making the trip a swift and seamless 40 minutes. While the airport primarily accommodates pre-arranged charter flights served by small aircraft, international flights are not currently available. Situated in close proximity to Agios Prokopios, the airport is conveniently located just 3 km from Town.
Best Things to Do in Naxos
Immerse yourself in the enchanting Cycladic island of Naxos with this comprehensive list of top attractions and activities. Discover captivating places to explore, indulge in the crystal-clear waters of sandy beaches, and immerse yourself in the rich historical sites.
Take leisurely strolls through Chora, the main town, and the charming traditional villages. Treat your taste buds to delectable cuisine at the finest restaurants. Experience the essence of Naxos through these must-see sights and unforgettable experiences.
1. Gaze at the mesmerizing sunset from Portara.
Located in Greece, Naxos boasts a rich historical and captivating cultural heritage. As you enter the port, your eyes will be 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 will leave you speechless upon first sight. For a touch of romance, visit this site during sunset when the sky is bathed in a golden hue.
Check this guided tour at GetYourGuide for an awesome sunset at Portara.
2. Delve into gastronomy of Naxos.
From the very first day of your holiday, you will be enchanted by the culinary delights and exquisite flavors of Naxian products.
Known for its fertile land, Naxos boasts a thriving agricultural economy that yields some of the most delectable vegetables, cheese, meat, 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.
3. Experience the Best Beaches
First and foremost, summer beckons with seaside fun, and Naxos offers the perfect beaches for such an experience! As mentioned earlier, Naxos is a large island with an extensive coastline. The western side of the island is home to its most renowned beaches.
You may have already heard of Plaka, Agios Prokopios, Aliko, and Sahara (Limanakia) even before your first visit. 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.
Agios Georgios beach is particularly shallow for quite a distance into the water, with taverns just behind the beaches, making it a perfect place for families, especially those with young children.
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!
Concerned about transportation? Fear not! Simply book your car with DiscoverCars.com and enjoy the best rates available.
4. Discover 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.
5. 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.
6. Explore Nearby Islands and Hidden Beaches
Naxos, located 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!