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 a wonderful week nearby on Paros. We had heard many things about Naxos and knew it was time to explore it!
After visiting over 15 other Greek islands, including Milos, Santorini, Crete, and Mykonos, I can confidently say that Naxos is another of my favorites. Although, it’s truly tough to go wrong with any Greek island!
Naxos has everything you could want from a trip to the Greek islands. Cycladic white and blue houses, fantastic 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 tough to do all the amazing things on Naxos – but we tried!
Where is Naxos Island?
Naxos is the largest and most fertile of all the Cyclades Islands. It’s well connected by ferry and plane. It’s only 2 hours via catamaran from Santorini and just over 5 hours via ferry from Athens. There’s also a small airport that runs multiple flights per week between Naxos and Athens.
Best Things to do on Naxos Island!
Sunset Stroll on the Hora Waterfront
One of the best things to do in Naxos, and likely the first thing you’ll do when the sun goes down is stroll the streets of Hora. Hora is the capital and main port of Naxos Island and has tiny roads, alleys, and archways.
Along the main seafront strip, you’ll find bars, restaurants, boutique shops, and ice cream shops. The area comes alive in the evening just before the sun sets and stays pretty lively well into the night. Put on your best Greek outfit and stroll the town.
Stroll Around Chalkio
Chalkio, or Halki is a small village in the island’s center. 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.
Explore the Abandoned Hotel Ruins at Alyko
On Alyko Beach lies and abandoned hotel complex that has been overlooking the sea for decades. I never got the story on what actually happened to the would-be hotel with the million-dollar view, and why it was never finished.
Still, we managed a visit to see the wonderful street murals that have accumulated over the years. Nearby is Alyko Beach and Hawaii Beach, two fantastic places to spend the day!
Eat Naxian Cuisine
One of the best things to do in Naxos is eat Naxian cuisine. You cannot leave without trying a few staple dishes, though it would be hard to go to a restaurant and avoid the local cuisine anyway!
The island’s food is heavily influenced by its agricultural heritage, with a focus on local ingredients such as olives, grape vines, wheat, and sheep and goat products.
Some popular Naxian dishes include:
- “Xinotyro”, a local cheese made from sheep’s milk
- “Lachanodolmades”, stuffed cabbage leaves filled with rice and herbs
- “Kolokithokeftedes”, zucchini fritters
- “Moussaka”, a dish made with eggplants and ground meat
- “Pasteli”, a sweet made of sesame seeds and honey
Naxian wine is also a popular product, with the island being home to many vineyards. The local wines are known for their unique taste, which is said to be influenced by the island’s volcanic soil.
Explore the Churchs around Chalkio
If 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.
After visiting Chalkio, keep going to another small village nearby. Filoti village is a cute stop in Naxos, and we found it to be tranquil compared 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.
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 want 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 Portara at sunset is 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!
Have 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 insane views of Hora. We enjoyed a €3 glass of white and rose wine here multiple times. Yes the wine was cheap, but the views never get old!
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 Hora.
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.
While all of Hora is walkable, make sure to walk around The Old Market, which has some of the best shopping in the area.
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.
Sunbathe at Agios Prokopios
Just a short drive away from Chora is a fantastic Blue Flag beach that is a whopping 1.5 kilometers in length (quite long by Mediterranean standards).
Agios Prokopios is one of the most popular things to do in Naxos and is the most visited and beautiful beach on the island. 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 it 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!
Read our guide to the 12 BEST Beaches in Naxos
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. Though you will likely still see a few naked bodies lounging around.
Plaka Beach extends for 4 kilometers, meaning you can find some peace and quiet even in the busy Greek summers.
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 imposing and are made of the finest Naxian marble.
Hike to the Top of Mount Zas
According to Greek mythology, Mount Zas (also called Mount Zeus) is where Zeus spent most of his childhood. It’s also the highest point in all the Cyclades and is completely hikeable!
From Aghia Marina, the hike up to Mount Zas is just 7km with 300 meters of elevation. Although there is a more challenging option from Aria Spring that is 5km and 500 meters of gain, if you go this way, you’ll pass the Cave of Zeus, so it may be worth it to take the more complicated route! We recommend heading up around sunset to get beautiful colors over the whole island!
Try Rooster With Red Sauce
This is one of those things to do in Naxos you won’t find on many other lists. There is a restaurant in the village of Melanes known around the island for its delicious rooster dish in red sauce, with homemade hilopites pasta, dusted with kefalotyri cheese.
It’s called O Vasilis, and if what I just described to you sounds good make sure to head here one night. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a dish like this anywhere else in Greece!
Boat Trip to Rina Cave
Rina Cave is a unique cave system and a popular destination for tourists and adventurers. Nestled next to a pristine beach boasting of lush green waters, this location can be found in the Kalandos region on the southern coast of the island.
To get there you’ll have to embark on a sailing excursion, bookable as a day trip. Take a dip in beautiful swimming spots, snorkel to spot marine life, and relish a delightful lunch with drinks while sailing on the Aegean Sea. This is easily one of the best things to do in Naxos, and will be sure to create a memorable day on your Greece trip.
Kitesurf/Windsurf in Mikri Vigla
Naxos is a popular destination for windsurfing and kitesurfing thanks to its beginner friendly conditions. The beach at Mikri Vigla is the most popular place to head to enjoy this sea activity.
Petros at KiteLife is right there to provide beginners with lessons or anyone without their gear a rental set up.
Take a Cooking Class at Basilikó Family Tavern
One of my favorite things to do in Greece is take a cooking class. There’s nothing better than learning the basics of Greek food from a local. At Basiliko Family Tavern, you’ll learn about Naxian cuisine, and pick your own herbs, veggies, and fruits in their family garden.
At the end of your cooking class, you’ll get to enjoy a delicious dinner paired with Greek wine. Book the experience here.
Day Trip to Paros
One of the best things to do in Naxos take a day trip to a neighboring island, especially if you are spending longer than a few days on Naxos. You can be to Paros on a fast ferry in less than an hour (check Ferry Hopper for times and prices).
Once there, soak up the vibe in Naoussa or cliff jump at Ambelas Beach. There is so much to do in Paros, you might consider extending your trip.
How Long Should You Spend on Naxos?
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades. Meaning there is plenty to do and explore on the island. You could easily spend a week here and never get bored. However in the effort to get the most out of your vacation to Greece, you may want to spend less time so you can visit a few different islands nearby. Paros, Milos, and Tinos are not too far away by ferr.
At the very least, plan to spend two days and three nights in Naxos. This will give you a taste of what the island has to offer and will ensure you get to a few of the things to do in Naxos mentioned on this list.
What did we do? We had a full three weeks to spend in the Cyclades on this particular trip. We spent one full week in Paros, before taking the ferry to Naxos for 5 days. After Naxos, we took the ferry to Milos where we spent the remainder of our time. We felt we divided our time up well between the three islands as we felt there was more of interest to us on both Paros and Milos.
We revisited Naxos again this past year. This time we spent 4 days enjoying the beach after our wedding Paros. After our few days on Naxos we continued onto Tinos via ferry.
How To Get to Naxos
Taking the ferry to Naxos
There are two ways to get to Naxos, by ferry or by plane (unless you are a very good swimmer)
Naxos is a popular destination year round, even for Greeks, so there are plenty of ferries sailing to Naxos from Mykonos, Athens, Paros, and most of the islands in the Cyclades.
Naxos also has a small airport, Naxos Airport Apollon, near Agios Prokopios has multiple scheduled flights to Athens a day.
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. It’s a big island, and a 4×4 can only go so fast. If you plan on hanging out in one area and not exploring the island much, a 4×4 may be a good option for you.
The last option is a rental car. To rent a car in Greece you need a standard International driver’s 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.
The Best Restaurants in Naxos
- Arolithos Restaurant: Traditional Greek restaurant in Melanes with rave reviews. Try the tzatziki!
- Irini’s Restaurant: Greek family restaurant with delicious Greek food, friendly staff and nice atmosphere in Hora.
- BOULAMATSISL: Can’t go wrong with this one in Chora. Head here for sunset and sit outside for the most amazing views.
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.
This is where we stayed on Naxos and absolutely loved our time there! It’s family-run, clean, and super modern (which can be a rare find in Greece).
Just 5 km from Naxos Town and Port, Seven Suites offers beautiful views. It’s another super comfortable place to stay in Naxos!
We stay in so many Airbnb’s around the world. They let us live in someone’s home and experience a more local way of life. They are great for those that want their own kitchen too! Check out a few of our Airbnb tips before booking.
What to Pack for Greece?
Spending a summer on one of the many Greek islands? Lucky you. You may be wondering just what to pack for Greece. The islands are beautiful, swarming with history, and are populated with some of the friendliest people in the world.
READ MORE GREECE TRAVEL TIPS
I hope you enjoyed this guide on things to do in Naxos! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around Greece!
- The Best Beaches on Corfu
- The Best Things to do in Corfu
- The Best Things to do in Milos
- The Best Things to do in Santorini
- The Best Things to do in Rhodes
- The Best Things to do in Paros
- The Best Things to do in Mykonos
Greek Travel Planning Resources
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Greek: “Yasou” and “Efharisto”
- Currency: Euro – (EUR) – €
- Visa: Schengen visa. Which is 90 days in the European Union out of 180. Many nationalities are granted this on arrival for free. Check with your embassy to see if that is you.
- Weather: The weather in Greece is a Mediterranean climate. This means winters are mild and rainy, while summers are warm and dry with plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
- What to Pack: Warm weather clothes and a swimsuit, don’t forget a good pair of clothes to go and a jacket for cool nights. Read about what to wear in Greece.
- Budget: If you’re in the initial stages of planning, check out our awesome post that breaks down how much a trip to Greece costs.
- Rent a Car: We suggest most visitors consider renting a car for the best trip possible. Try Discover Cars to compare quotes from different rental agencies. Check Price Here!
- Protect Your Trip: Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance! We always carry travel insurance to protect us from injury, theft, or a canceled trip. We use HeyMondo for our insurance needs.
- Tours in Greece: Check out our list of the best tours you can enjoy in Greece!
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.