Naxos Travel Guide: Top 10 Things to Do
Naxos is a beautiful Greek island located in the Aegean Sea. After spending a previous summer in Greece visiting touristy areas like Athens, Paros, and Ios, Jugo and I wanted to find something a little more off the beaten path. To our delight, Naxos had plenty of sandy beaches all surrounded by turquoise water, traditional whitewashed houses decorated with flower trees and amazing Naxos cuisine. It felt as if we stepped onto the movie set of Mamma Mia! We also knew we were in a great place because we were the only foreigners there surrounded by golden Greeks who had come to Naxos for their own vacation. From Naxos beaches to the best things to do, and where to stay, keep on reading for the ultimate travel guide to Naxos.
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Top 10 Things to Do in Naxos
Cruising into the port of Naxos, it’s hard to miss this 2,500 year-old-doorway that stands at 100 feet. Since levels of the Mediterranean sea have risen, what was once a hill on Naxos, is now a small island that Portara rests on. Interestingly, this doorway leads to nowhere as it was to be an entrance to a temple that never was completed.
2) Cycling to the Temple of Demeter
An ancient ruins marble temple dedicated to the ancient goddess of grain. This temple dates back to 530 BC and is located near the village of Sangri.
A great way to see this site is to get there by bike.
- Naxos Bikes offers rentals as well as tours
- Rentals start at €10 ($12 USD)
- Tours cost €30 ($37) which involves a moderate ride across 35km. You will get to visit the interior of Naxos and villages of Galanado, Agios Mamas, Sagri where Demeter Temple is located, Vivlos, and Galanado Naxos Town.
3) Hiking through traditional villages or Mount Zas
One of the best ways to experience Naxos is by wandering through authentic villages. Traditional footpaths connect many of the villages where you will pass by olive groves, fig trees, rugged mountains, and vineyards. In the villages, visit the tavernas, cafes and local shops. In 3 hours you can walk from the port of Naxos to Agkidia, Agios Thaleleos and finally Melanes. Click here for the full guide to the charming villages on Naxos.
If you are up for more of a hike, start at the village of Filoti and hike to the summit of Mount Zas. The route is 5.6km and should take about 2.5 hours. Mount Zas is the tallest mountain on the Cyclades standing at 1004 meters. It is named after the Greek god Zeus where tales say is where he grew up. For more information about this route and others, click here.
4) Naxos Horse Riding Club
If hiking and biking aren’t your things, give horseback riding a try. Naxos Horse Riding Club is a family run business which offers rides through ‘jungle roads’ and onto beaches for 2-3 hours which costs between €45-€55 ($55-$70 USD). This is great whether you are a beginner or advanced rider.
5) Vallindras Kitron Distillery
Kitron is a traditional liqueur famous in Naxos and popular across Greece. It is made from the Citron tree which is similar to a lemon tree and has been cultivated in Naxos since the 17th century. At the Vallindras Kitron Distillery, they have been producing the liqueur in traditional copper stills for five generations and offers a free tour of their facility. It is small and will only take around five minutes and afterward, you will have a chance to sample some of their products.
6) Open Air Cinema
One of my favorite things to do in Greece is open air cinema. Watch a movie underneath the stars while snacking on popcorn and drinking beer or wine.
7) Scuba Diving
For the adventurers, you can go scuba diving through caves, amazing reefs, and shipwrecks with Blue Fin Divers located on the beach of Agios Prokopios.
8) Castle of Naxos
Built by the Venetian Duke Markos Sanoudos in 1207, this castle was originally designed to defend against the Turks. It also offers great views of the town and holds movie nights and open-air concerts during the summer months. Once you are done exploring, follow the stone path down into Old Town and visit the local tavernas, boutique shops, and cafes.
9) Naxos Wine, Cheese & Seafood
If you read my post on the Top 22 Greek Dishes, you’ll know that Greek food is my all time favorite so discovering the food on Naxos was definitely one of my favourite things to do. Naxos offers its own distinct island specialties from cheese to wine and a few others in between.
In fact, there are myths that the god of wine, Dionysus, grew up on Naxos and made the land perfect for growing vineyards. Arrange a visit at Korres Family Winery or try what the locals are making, sometimes sold in plastic bottles without labels, every in local shop and tavern.
For cheeses, try the hard goat cheese called arseniko, graviera, and xynotyri.
10) Naxos Beaches
Naxos does not disappoint when it comes to beaches. With 18 beaches located around the island, there’s a beach for every different type of vacationer.
The Best Beaches on Naxos
If you are looking for a spot to put your feet up with sunbeds, umbrellas, and cafes serving cold drinks visit Agios Georgios and Agios Prokopios which are the most popular.
Jugo and I wanted to be on a less touristy beach so we went to Maragas and Plaka beach. It’s a great walk from Agia Anna. You will first pass by a small bay where boats are docked, then the church of Agios Nikolas.
It’s small but beautiful and dates back to the 11th and 13th centuries. Shortly after the church is the Ayia Anna Nudist Beach. Stop here if you are looking to get golden without tan lines!
Other notable beaches with fewer tourists include:
- Aliko (Located 17km south of Naxos Town. It’s an unorganized beach, with soft white sand, surrounded by a cedar forest and sand dunes)
- Kastraki (Another sandy beach located 16km from Naxos town. It’s a great beach if you are looking for privacy and there are a few tavernas around offering tasty meals at great prices).
- Pyrgaki (Located 18km south of Naxos town. This sandy beach offers a few sunbeds and umbrellas but still fewer tourists. There’s also some cafes close by if you want a refreshing drink or snack).
An alternative and fun way to get in some beach time and explore is by booking a boat trip or sailing cruise.
Where to Stay in Naxos
While Naxos is less touristy than other islands, the majority of the tourists that visit stay in Naxos Town. That’s why Jugo and I chose to stay in Agia Anna Village which is around 7km from Naxos town. What’s great about this area is that we were walking distance to some nice isolated beaches but still had plenty of local tavernas around for our meals. To get there, we hopped on a local bus straight from the ferry port. No matter where you choose to stay in Naxos though, you can find a variety of accommodation options from luxury to budget. Here are some great choices of where to stay in Naxos.
Best Luxury Hotels
Nissaki Beach Hotel Naxos, Naxos, Greece
A 5-star modern boutique hotel located on Saint George beach. Spacious rooms come with satellite tv, wifi, a hydromassage shower and your own private balcony. Wood beam ceilings complement the white earthy tones of the room. Hotel amenities include a pool, a seaside restaurant, buffet breakfast, and bar.
Mitos Suites, Agios Prokopios, Greece
A boutique hotel offering 8 luxury suites in the traditional Cycladic architecture and colors. This hotel is located in a seaside village of Agios Prokopios and is a 5-10 minute walk from the beach. Each suite includes a traditional breakfast with fresh produce, king-sized beds, balcony and veranda, a welcome gift upon arrival and a taste of a local drink upon departure. Some rooms also include a heated jacuzzi for two. Onsite facilities include a central and kids pool, pool bar, and organized trips.
Naxos Island Hotel, Agios Prokopios, Greece
A unique boutique hotel which has been designed as a miniature of Naxos island and each room is inspired by a Naxian village. The hotel is in a great location, just 30 meters from Agios Prokopios beach. Upon welcome, guests are treated to complimentary wine and a fruit basket. Rooms either have a balcony or veranda and if you are looking for added luxury, you can find rooms with a jacuzzi. A complimentary breakfast is also included. Onsite facilities offered are a rooftop swimming pool, two restaurants, health and spa center, gym, free transfers, and a reserved umbrella on the beach.
Best Budget Hotels
Grotta Hotel Naxos, Naxos, Greece
This lovely family-run establishment is located on the hillside overlooking the town of Naxos and the Aegean sea. A perfect, peaceful retreat ideal for couples. All rooms have a balcony with most providing a spectacular sea view. Breakfast is included every morning and onsite facilities include pool, jacuzzi, wet and dry saunas, rooftop deck, excursions and bike rentals.
Korali Palace Studios Naxos, Greece
Located just a few minutes away from Saint Georges beach and the city center, designed in typical Aegean style. Each room has air conditioning, a flat screen tv, and wifi. Onsite facilities include, transfer from the port, car & ATV rentals, and a small kitchenette if you are up for cooking some of your own meals.
Paradiso Studio & Apartments
After visiting Naxos myself, I convinced my parents that they needed to visit and this is one of the places they chose to stay. It actually consists of two different complexes with spacious studios and apartments all with a private balcony or terrace. It’s in a great location just 20 meters from the Agia Anna beach as well walking distance from a few other beaches.
How to get to Naxos
Naxos is very easy to get to by ferry with frequent trips running daily. If you are flying in from Athens, catch a ferry from Piraeus to Naxos with SeaJets, Hellenic Seaways, or Blue Star Ferries which all take between 3-4 hours and costs between €29 – €50 ($36 – $62 USD). There are also many options to easily hop around to the other islands as well. If you are visiting during high season, book your tickets a few weeks in advance.
Naxos has an airport 3km south of town center. Budget airlines offer cheap flights from Athens and to other islands in the Cyclades.
Taxi & Bus
Taxis are available on Naxos as well as frequent buses that run from Naxos town to the other villages. The bus departs every 30 minutes from the port (close to the tourist information center) which goes to Prokopios, Agia Anna, and Plaka. Cost varies between €1.60-3.20 ($2 – $4), depending on where you go.
Car & Motorcycle
If you are planning on exploring a lot of the island, it may be easiest to rent a car, quad bike, or motorcycle. Car rentals cost around $60/day but you get a better rate if you book for the week. I use Skyscanner to find the cheapest rental options. You can find rental agencies for the quad bikes and motorcycles along the waterfront but you will need a valid license to rent.
Hope you find this travel guide to Naxos useful. From my top things to do in Naxos list, what are you most excited for? Comment below!
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