Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades, is located in the Aegean Sea. It is a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful beaches, charming villages, and rich cultural heritage. If you’re planning a trip to Naxos, there are plenty of things to do and see.
Interesting facts about Naxos:
- Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades archipelago, with an area of 429 square kilometers.
- The island’s capital and main port is Chora, which is also known as Naxos Town.
- Naxos has a rich history and culture, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic period.
- The island was an important center of ancient Greek civilization and mythology, with many important sanctuaries and temples dedicated to the gods and goddesses.
- Naxos has a diverse landscape, with beautiful beaches, rugged mountains, and fertile valleys. The island is also home to many unique species of flora and fauna, including rare orchids and migratory birds.
- Naxos is famous for its marble, which has been used in many important monuments and buildings throughout history, including the Parthenon in Athens.
- The island is also known for its agricultural products, including olive oil, cheese, honey, and Kitron, a local liqueur made from citron fruit.
- Naxos is a popular destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing, thanks to its strong winds and ideal conditions for these sports.
- The island is also known for its traditional festivals and celebrations, which take place throughout the year and showcase the local culture and customs.
- Naxos has a thriving arts scene, with many local artists and artisans creating beautiful works of art using traditional techniques and materials.
In this article, we will take a look at the 19 best things to do in Naxos.
Explore the Charming Village of Halki
Halki is a picturesque village located in the heart of Naxos, known for its beautiful neoclassical buildings and narrow streets. The village is a hub of artisanal shops and traditional cafes, where you can sample local products such as sweets, cheese, and olive oil. Walking through the village, you will see beautiful architecture that has been preserved for centuries. One of the most popular landmarks in Halki is the Panagia Protothroni Church, built-in 1052 AD. The church’s interior is beautifully decorated with frescoes from the 17th and 18th centuries, and it’s definitely worth visiting. Halki is a charming village that showcases Naxos’s unique culture and architecture, and it’s a must-visit on the island.
Visit the Famous Portara
The Portara is a massive marble gate that stands on a hill overlooking the sea. It’s one of the most famous landmarks in Naxos and is a must-visit for anyone traveling to the island. The gate was originally part of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo, and it dates back to the 6th century BC. Today, the Portara is a popular spot for sunset watching and photography. The views from the top of the hill are breathtaking, and you can see the entire island and the surrounding sea. The Portara is an iconic symbol of Naxos, and it’s a testament to the island’s rich cultural heritage.
Stroll Through the Old Town of Naxos
The old town of Naxos is a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys that date back to the Venetian era. The town is a great place to explore on foot, as there are many historical landmarks and monuments to discover. Some of the highlights include the Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts from the Cycladic period to the Roman era, and the Catholic Cathedral, which was built-in 1656. The town is also home to the Venetian Castle, which was built-in 1207 and served as the capital of the Cyclades. The castle has many narrow streets, historic buildings, and medieval churches to explore, making it a must-visit on the island.
Relax on the Stunning Beaches of Naxos
Naxos is famous for its beautiful beaches, which are some of the best in the Aegean. Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, and Plaka are some of the most popular beaches on the island. They offer crystal-clear waters, soft white sand, and plenty of amenities such as beach bars, restaurants, and water sports facilities. Agios Prokopios is a long sandy beach with shallow waters, making it ideal for families with young children. Agia Anna is a picturesque beach with turquoise waters and a small fishing port. Plaka is a long and wide beach with fine sand and crystal-clear waters. Whether you prefer a lively beach with lots of activities or a secluded cove, Naxos has a beach that’s perfect for you.
Take a Boat Trip to the Nearby Islands
Naxos is surrounded by several smaller islands that are worth exploring. Paros, Mykonos, and Santorini are some of the most popular nearby islands. You can take a day trip or a multi-day cruise to these islands and enjoy their beautiful beaches, charming villages, and vibrant nightlife. Paros is known for its picturesque villages and traditional architecture, while Mykonos is famous for its cosmopolitan atmosphere and stunning beaches. Santorini is known for its iconic blue domes, dramatic cliffs, and breathtaking sunsets. A boat trip to the nearby islands is a great way to explore the region and see the beautiful scenery from a different perspective.
Visit the Temple of Demeter
The Temple of Demeter is an ancient sanctuary located in the village of Sangri. It is dedicated to the goddess Demeter, who was the patron of agriculture and fertility. The temple dates back to the 6th century BC and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Naxos. The temple’s ruins are well-preserved, and you can see the remains of the altar, the temple walls, and the surrounding buildings. The site is surrounded by a beautiful landscape of olive groves and hills, and it’s a great place to learn about the island’s ancient history and mythology.
Explore the Ancient Ruins of the Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo is another important archaeological site in Naxos. It was built in the 6th century BC and was one of the most important sanctuaries in the Aegean. Today, only the ruins of the temple remain, but they are still impressive and worth visiting. The temple’s ruins are located on a hill overlooking the sea, and you can see the remains of the temple walls, the altar, and the surrounding buildings. The site is surrounded by beautiful scenery, and it’s a great place to learn about the island’s ancient history and mythology.
Taste the Local Cuisine in Naxos
Naxos has a rich culinary tradition, and there are plenty of delicious dishes to try on the island. Some of the most popular local specialties include grilled octopus, stuffed vine leaves, and goat stew. Make sure to also try the local cheeses, such as graviera and xinotyro. Naxos is also known for its sweets, such as the famous Kitron liqueur and the traditional loukoumades, which are small doughnuts served with honey and cinnamon. You can find many restaurants and tavernas on the island that serve local cuisine made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Visit the Olive Oil Museum
The Olive Oil Museum in Naxos is a must-visit for foodies and history buffs. The museum showcases the history of olive oil production in the Cyclades, and you can also taste and buy some of the best olive oil produced on the island. The museum has interactive exhibits that demonstrate the olive oil production process, from harvesting the olives to pressing and bottling the oil. You can also learn about the health benefits of olive oil and its cultural significance in Greek cuisine. The museum is located in the village of Eggares and is open from May to October.
Hike to the Top of Mount Zeus
Mount Zeus is the highest mountain in the Cyclades and offers stunning views of the surrounding islands. You can hike to the top of the mountain, which takes about 3-4 hours, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the way. The trail starts in the village of Filoti and takes you through a beautiful landscape of pine trees, rocky slopes, and wildflowers. Once you reach the top, you can see the entire island and the surrounding sea. Mount Zeus is a challenging hike, but it’s worth it for the incredible views and the sense of accomplishment.
Take a Tour of the Venetian Museum
The Venetian Museum in Naxos is housed in a 13th-century castle and showcases the island’s Venetian heritage. The museum has a collection of artifacts and exhibits that illustrate the island’s history and culture during the Venetian rule. You can see weapons, armor, pottery, and manuscripts from the medieval period, as well as paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance. The museum’s highlights include the Byzantine icons and the medieval frescoes, which are some of the finest examples of Venetian art in the Aegean. The castle’s architecture and interior design are also impressive and reflect the Venetian influence on the island.
Visit the Church of Panagia Drosiani
The Church of Panagia Drosiani is one of the oldest Christian churches in Greece, dating back to the 6th century. The church is located in a beautiful natural setting and features some of the finest Byzantine frescoes in the country. The frescoes depict scenes from the Bible and the lives of the saints and are beautifully preserved. The church’s architecture is also impressive, with a dome, a narthex, and a bell tower. The church’s peaceful atmosphere and historical significance make it a must-visit on the island.
Explore the Castle of Naxos
The Castle of Naxos is one of the most important landmarks on the island. It was built in the 13th century by the Venetians and served as the capital of the Cyclades. Today, the castle is a popular tourist attraction, and you can explore its narrow streets, historic buildings, and medieval churches. Some of the highlights of the castle include the Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts from the Neolithic period to the Roman era, and the Tower of Glezos, which offers panoramic views of the town and the sea. The castle’s walls and towers are also impressive and reflect the island’s rich history and culture.
Visit the Vallindras Distillery
The Vallindras Distillery is a family-owned business that has been producing spirits on the island for over a century. The distillery offers guided tours and tastings, where you can learn about the history of distillation in Naxos and sample some of the best ouzo and raki on the island. The tours take you through the distillery’s facilities, where you can see the distillation process and learn about the different types of spirits produced on the island. The tasting room is decorated in a traditional style and offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Visiting the Vallindras Distillery is a great way to learn about the island’s culinary traditions and taste some of the best spirits in Greece.
Go Windsurfing or Kitesurfing
Naxos is one of the best destinations in Greece for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The island’s strong winds and crystal-clear waters make it a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Some of the best spots for windsurfing and kitesurfing include Mikri Vigla, Agios Georgios, and Laguna. These beaches offer ideal conditions for both beginners and experienced surfers, with shallow waters and steady winds. There are also many windsurfing and kitesurfing schools on the island that offer lessons and equipment rental. Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, windsurfing and kitesurfing in Naxos is an unforgettable experience.
Take a Sunset Cruise
Taking a sunset cruise is one of the most romantic things to do in Naxos. You can enjoy the stunning scenery of the island’s coastline and watch the sun setting over the Aegean Sea while sipping a glass of wine or champagne. Many tour operators on the island offer sunset cruises that take you to secluded beaches and coves, where you can swim, snorkel, and watch the sunset. The cruises also include a dinner of traditional Greek dishes and live music, creating a magical atmosphere. A sunset cruise in Naxos is a perfect way to relax and enjoy the island’s beauty.
Explore the Cave of Zeus
The Cave of Zeus is located on the slopes of Mount Zeus and is said to be the birthplace of the Greek god Zeus. The cave is a natural wonder, with impressive stalactites and stalagmites, and a small underground lake. According to Greek mythology, Zeus was born in this cave and was raised by the nymphs who lived in the area. The cave’s interior is beautifully illuminated, and you can see the stalactites and stalagmites up close. The cave is located in a beautiful natural setting, and you can combine your visit with a hike to the top of Mount Zeus. Exploring the Cave of Zeus is a great way to learn about Greek mythology and experience the island’s natural beauty.
Attend a Folklore Show
Attending a folklore show is a great way to experience Naxos’s rich cultural heritage. Many restaurants and tavernas on the island offer live music and dance performances during the summer months. The shows showcase traditional music, dance, and costumes, and are a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. You can enjoy a dinner of traditional Greek dishes while watching the show, creating a festive and lively atmosphere. Folklore shows are also a great way to meet locals and learn about the island’s customs and traditions.
Take a Cooking Class
Taking a cooking class is a great way to learn about the local cuisine and culture. You can learn how to make traditional Greek dishes such as moussaka, souvlaki, and tzatziki, using fresh local ingredients. The classes are usually held in a traditional setting, such as a taverna or a farm, and are led by experienced chefs. You can also learn about the history and cultural significance of Greek cuisine and how it has evolved over the centuries. The classes usually end with a delicious meal, where you can taste the dishes you have prepared. Taking a cooking class in Naxos is a fun and educational experience that will enhance your appreciation of Greek cuisine.
Naxos is a beautiful island in Greece, with a rich cultural heritage and plenty of things to do and see. From exploring charming villages and ancient ruins to relaxing on stunning beaches and tasting the local cuisine, there is something for everyone on the island. Make sure to add these 20 best things to do in Naxos to your itinerary for an unforgettable trip.
What is the best time to visit Naxos?
The best time to visit Naxos is from May to September, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the beaches are open.
How do I get to Naxos?
You can get to Naxos by ferry from Athens or other nearby islands, or by plane from Athens or Thessaloniki.
What is the currency in Naxos?
The currency in Naxos is the Euro.
Can I rent a car on Naxos?
Yes, there are several car rental companies on the island, and renting a car is a great way to explore the island at your own pace.
Are there any hiking trails in Naxos?
Yes, there are several hiking trails on the island, including the trail to the top of Mount Zeus and the trail to the Cave of Zeus.