If you’re looking for the best things to do in Naxos you’ve come to the place.
We knew we had to make the journey to Naxos Island after spending an incredible week nearby on Paros. We had heard many things about Naxos, and knew it was time to explore it!
After visiting over 10 other Greek islands, including Milos, Santorini, Crete, and Mykonos I can without a doubt say that Naxos is another one of my favorites. Although, it’s truly tough to go wrong on with any Greek island!
Naxos has everything you could want out of a trip to the Greek islands. Cycladic white and blue houses, amazing history, ancient Greek architecture, great food, beautiful European beaches, amazing sunsets, friendly Greek people? Check, Check, Check! We had a full five days on Naxos and it was truly tough to do all the amazing things to do on Naxos – but we tried!
The Best Things to do on Naxos, Island!
1. Stroll Around Chalkio
Chalkio, or Halki is a small village in the center of the island. It’s a must visit while on Naxos and where one can easily spend an afternoon strolling the gorgeous Greek streets.
There are numerous art galleries, boutique shops, small Greek tavernas, and dessert shops. There’s a lot to do here, or you can do absolutely nothing but soak up the sunshine and enjoy the Greek atmosphere.
2. Eat in Chalkio
It’s definitely worth while to show up in Chalkio hungry as there are many cute and traditional places to eat. Our favorite stop here was Giannis Tavern, which provided us with an adorable setting outside and delicious Greek food.
However there are plenty of places to eat and enjoy the ambiance!
3. Explore the Churchs around Chalkio
Since you’re already in Chalkio you may as well go and check out some of the old churches in the area. Most of them are walkable from town. There’s the Church Agios Nikolaos, the Church of Panagia Rahidiotisa, and the old Byzantine church Taxiarhis Rahis to name a few.
4. Enjoy Filoti
After visiting Chalkio, keep going to another small village. Filoti village is a cute stop in Naxos and we surprisingly found it to be very quiet in comparison to Chalkio (which was already very chill).
It’s in Filoti that you can enjoy white washed Cycladic buildings and picturesque “kafenio” (Greek cafes). The best thing to do is come here and enjoy a Greek coffee or Ouzo and chat with some of the locals.
You can also see the church Panagia (Virgin Mary) Filotitissa, which is well worth the stop. Keep driving up the road until you can’t go any further for perfect views over the village and to see the Church of Agia Irini.
5. Visit the Fontaine d’Aria
If you keep going up the road past the Church of Agia Irini you’ll find a spring! Yes, right at the foot of Mount Zas is a small shady oasis, a natural spring, and a quiet place to enjoy the view over the Greek mountains.
If you are looking to get active, bring your hiking shoes as there are multiple trails from the fountain ranging from 1-3 hours!
Probably the most popular thing to do in Naxos is to visit Portara. Portara is simply a site that can’t be missed, literally, you can’t miss it as it greets everyone coming in and out of Naxos by ferry. It is a beautiful landmark over the whole island and should be visited by all. We visited multiple times at different parts of the day, but the sunset was definitely the best!
Portara is a monumental marble frame standing 6 meters high. It’s part of what is left of ancient Greece and the temple of Apollo.
The structure is on the small islet of Palatia, just a five-minute walk from the Naxos old town. Careful crossing over the walkway in adverse conditions or you may get soaked!
7. Have a Sunset Wine at Apollo Cafe Restaurant
For the best place to enjoy a glass of Greek wine on Naxos head right down from Portara and hang a right before you cross back over to Old Town. The Apollo Cafe Restaurant is a small family-run Greek restaurant that gives absolutely insane views over Naxos. We enjoyed a €3 glass of white and rose wine here multiple times. It never got old!
8. Stroll around Naxos Old Town
Like most Greek island towns, Naxos Old Town, or Chora (Hora), is one to be explored. The old historic town is the main harbor town of Naxos. If you’re arriving by ferry you’ll be passing through Old Town anyway.
It’s where one could come and spend the entire day walking around the marble streets and admiring the white Cycladic houses. You’ll find plenty of delicious restaurants, bars, tavernas, and souvenir shops here. I would recommend combining Old Town with a sunset stop at Portara.
9. Visit The Castle (Kastro)
Overlooking Chora’s Old Town is a 13th-century castle. The Castle of Naxos Town once served as a fortress and shield for Naxos built by the Venetian Duke in 1207.
The walls and the Kastro are still well preserved and provide a maze-like experience of small alleyways, cobbled streets, and plenty of ups and downs.
I absolutely loved strolling around the Kastro and hopping into a few cute cafes and shops. One of the best cafes on the island, 1739 Terrasse Cafe, has a stunning terrace overlooking the old town and gorgeous Aegean. It’s another great sunset spot on Naxos.
10. Agios Prokopios
Just a short drive away from Chora is an amazing Blue Flag beach that is 1.5 kilometers in length!
Agios Prokopios is one of the most popular things to do in Naxos and is definitely the most visited and beautiful beach. But how could you blame visitors for heading straight to amazing blue water and golden sand beaches?
Agios Prokopios is the perfect place to come and spend a day at. Along the beach are multiple restaurants and tavernas, and in the summertime you’ll find plenty of places to hire out beach chairs and umbrellas. Don’t forget to bring your towel and other beach essentials though!
It’s a great place to come for families as the water is calm and warm, but is also where you will find groups as friends and couples, as well as a few nudist beachgoers.
One of my favorite things to do here at Agios Prokopiosis take a walk along the whole stretch of sand!
11. Plaka Beach
Still wondering what to do in Naxos? A little further south from Agios Prokopios beach is Plaka Beach. Plaka beach used to be a complete nudist beach but now is enjoyed by all.
Plaka beach extends for 4 kilometers, meaning you can find some peace and quiet even in the busy Greek summers.
12. Temple of Demeter (Temple of Sangri)
The Temple of Demeter isn’t on the well-beaten Naxos tourist path, but it is well worth a stop. Near Sangri, a small Greek village is the Temple of Demeter. The ruins here are absolutely impressive and are made of the finest Naxian marble.
How to Get Around Naxos?
There are three options for getting around Naxos. Rental Car, Moped, or 4×4. A moped is the cheapest option, but in Greece, you need a motorcycle license in order to rent one. Many rental agencies in Greece will let you slide and rent a moped without this, but we couldn’t find anyone in Naxos to rent us a moped on just a standard license.
A 4×4 is the most fun option to get around Naxos in. However at around €40 a day it’s an expensive one. Also during the high season, you’ll need an advanced reservation to rent one of these bad boys. I prefer not to rent mopeds or 4x4s as I appreciate my shade and AC while getting around Naxos.
The last option is a rental car. To rent a car in Greece you need a standard International drivers license (A valid US license works). If your license is not in English or Greek, have a translation just in case. You also should be prepared to hand over your passport. Also depending on where you trying to rent an International Drivers Permit may be mandatory for if you get pulled over. It may be tough to find a rental agency to rent to you without an IDP on Naxos.
We’ve rented a car in Greece without an IDP and had places in Greece require that we have an IDP. If you are from North America, Australia, or outside the EU it’s best that you arrive to Greece with an IDP just to be safe. You can get one here if you’re in a hurry. If you get in an accident or our fulled over without an IDP you may be subject to a steep fine in the EU.
Most car rental companies in Greece will require you to be 21 and to have held a license in your home country for a year. If you are under 25 you may face additional charges. Here are some sites to compare prices on:
- RentalCars.com: Provides comparisons for car rentals in Greece.
- AutoEurope: I can often find deals here for car rentals in Europe.
- Discover Car Hire: Searches rental car prices around the globe.
Where to Stay in Naxos?
There are so many options for accommodation around Naxos it may make your head spin when booking. Here are a few great Naxos accommodation options.
Plan and Pack for Greece
Travel Water Bottle
Plastic pollution is a problem in Greece so it’s best not to contribute to the problem buying plastic water bottles everywhere – plus the water from the taps here is perfectly safe to drink. We’ve shifted to using an insulated aluminum water bottle as it handles the hot sun well.
However, we also love filtered water bottles in areas we’re uncertain of the water supply. Read more about favorite water bottle for travel in our post.
A cover-up is one of those beach vacation clothes you should always travel within your luggage. When packing for a day at the beach, make sure you don’t forget one. Not only do they look cute, but they will also protect you from the suns harsh rays.
Many establishments don’t allow beachgoers to wear just a swimsuit, so this is where the cover-up is essential. Most of my cover-ups come from Pitusa.
This all depends on where you’re heading to the beach, but a portable Bluetooth speaker is great to have when you’re in a group. We travel with a small BOOM speaker and take it with us when it feels appropriate. We say this because it’s often best to leave it at home on small secluded beaches so not to annoy anyone else with your music — no one’s that good of a DJ.
Of course, what you wear all depends on where you live! For those heading to Greece in the Spring or Fall, you may want something a little warmer. For those days we always reach for a warm fleece jacket.
Patagonia’s Synchilla Snap T Pullover fleece is the best fleeces for the beach in our opinion. The fleece has a classic relaxed cut that has a timeless look for a walk on the beach or evening bonfire. It’s a double-sided fleece that provides plenty of warmth while remaining soft and comfortable.
If you’re wondering what travel necessities to bring to Greece then good walking shoes should be your top concern.
No matter what you will need a beach bag when heading to the beach. This is to throw in anything like towels, a book, a speaker, sunglasses, snacks, and sunscreen. As full-time travelers, we often use our daypacks for trips to the beach since a tote is unnecessary.
However, a classic tote that everyone has in their closet is a great option for those on short trips or live close to the beach. They also travel well as they can fold flat and lie in your luggage. For family beach goers I recommend a large yet durable beach tote like this one.
Skin cancer is for real! Don’t forget your SPF when traveling around Greece. We recommend ordering some online before leaving the house as you will need it underneath the sun in the summer.
We highly recommend getting an eco friendly sun cream that does not contain harmful chemicals.
Make sure to protect your eyes from the sun. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses, but they do make a huge difference from the crappy $10 ones.
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Most hotels will provide you with a towel, but they often aren’t suitable or allowed on the beaches. I like to travel with a microfiber towel because they are light and fold up small, and they also don’t cling on to sand our dirt. Here are a few of our favorite travel towels.
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