Inhabited since the Neolithic era, Naxos is considered the most diverse and fertile of the Cyclades.
Located in the central part of the southern Aegean, it is easily accessible by plane or ferry from Athens.
In addition, during the summer season from April till October there are regular charter flights from different countries across Europe to the largest island of the Cyclades.
Because of its variety, Naxos is a very good choice if you are planning a long summer holiday.
There are plenty of things to do and see.
Often described as the Greek Caribbean, the coastline of the island is dominated by wonderful golden sandy beaches, smooth azure waters and charming tourist villages.
On the other side, the interior of the island is very different but still attractive.
Fertile farmlands, Mediterranean bushes and forested areas alternate one after another.
A high mountain chain crosses the island from north to south and dominates the interior of Naxos.
There are numerous archaeological sites, old castles, monasteries and traditional villages to visit during your stay.
Here is what not to miss while in Naxos:
1. Start your journey with the Temple of Apollo
Dating back to the 6th century BC, the unfinished Temple of Apollo is one of the main landmarks to visit in the town of Naxos.
It is situated on the top of a small hilly island, right next to the main port.
What you can see today is the so called Great Door (also known as Portara in Greek).
This is a huge and very well-preserved marble gate, which is actually the main entrance of the ancient temple.
2. Visit Agios Prokopios Beach
Agios Prokopios is a superb stripe of fine golden sand and is definitely one of the most famous beaches on the island.
It is located on the west coast, in a very well-developed tourist area.
While some parts of the beach provide all the needed facilities, such as umbrellas, lounge chairs and beach bars, in the remote areas you can see nothing but golden sands and azure waters.
3. Explore Domus Della Rocca-Barozzi
Domus Della Rocca-Barozzi (or as they call it simply “the Venetian Museum”) is part of the Venetian heritage on the island of Naxos.
The museum is housed in an impressive medieval stone castle.
Being the most interesting place in the old town of Naxos, this is a museum you should definitely visit during your stay on the island.
What makes this place unique is the opportunity to explore the amazing medieval building step by step, visiting most of its rooms.
4. Walk through the narrow streets of the Old Town
A stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets of Chora is something you will really enjoy.
The town is a mix between Greek and Venetian architecture.
Wonderful taverns, cafes and craft shops occupy the first floor of most buildings.
This is a great place to buy some souvenirs for your family and friends, to have a cup of Greek coffee or to try some of the local specialities (most of the meals in Naxos are entirely based on local products).
5. Take a short trip to Aliko Beach and Forest
Aliko Beach and Forest is one of the must-visit places in Naxos, especially if you love to spend time in nature.
This is a protected area, located on the west coast of the Aegean island.
Peaceful and quiet, Aliko offers a few gorgeous beaches, which are covered with fine golden sands.
Secluded and narrow sandy paths pass through the sparse forest of cedar trees and Mediterranean bushes.
6. Visit the village of Apiranthos
Located in a remote mountainous area in the interior of the island, Apiranthos is a small but charming village and is a center of ancient culture and traditions.
Situated on the steep slopes of a hill, it is surrounded by fertile valleys and mountains.
It is famous for its white-washed two-storey stone houses but it offers much more.
As a center of ancient history, Apiranthos is known for its Archeological Museum and Folk Museum.
Here you will find an impressive Venetian castle from the 9th century, old churches and numerous places to buy souvenirs from.
One of the most beautiful buildings in the small village is Panagia Aperathitissa, which is well-known for its wonderful bell tower.
7. Visit the best beach of Naxos
Agia Anna Beach is a real treasure.
It combines shallow and azure limpid sea, sandy bottom and visibility about 40 meters underwater.
If you travel with your family and children, this is a great choice of place to spend the summer holiday.
According to travelers, this is the number one beach on the island.
The stripe of sand is long and white.
In addition, Agia Anna provides all the needed facilities to spend a comfortable day along the coast.
There are numerous bars and taverns in the area, and the beach is very well maintained.
8. Visit the busy but entertaining St. George Beach
Saint George Beach is a long stripe of fine golden sand and is probably one of the busiest beaches on the island.
It offers clean and shallow blue waters but the beach is actually famous for something else.
It is a place with numerous entertainment options, including a number of restaurants and bars.
If you want to have a great choice of traditional tavernas nearby and want to be close to the downtown of the lively city of Naxos, Saint George Beach is the best place for you.
9. Explore the Byzantine Museum
Byzantine Museum of Naxos is located in the heart of the island’s capital.
It is one of the must-visit landmarks of the island, especially if you are interested by the Byzantine art and culture.
The museum offers a great collection of pottery, sculptures, mosaics and many others.
In addition, it reveals a wonderful view toward the sea and the Temple of Apollo and the Great Door.
10. Climb to the highest peak
One of the most amazing experiences in Naxos is to climb the highest peak on the island.
Mount Zeus is located in the central area, south of the village of Filoti, and is 1003 meters high.
This is a kind of full day outdoor activity and an amazing opportunity to see some of the most beautiful areas in the interior.
In addition to the fresh air and much more pleasant temperatures in the mountain, you will be able to enjoy the breathtaking panorama from the top.
11. Dive to the Greek Temple (Naxos Bay)
Diving in Greece is always exciting, with no matter if you are in the Ionian or in the Aegean.
Naxos, however, claims to be really outstanding with a number of top diving spots in close proximity to the shore.
Naxos Bay is deeply recommended for many reasons.
At about 20 – 25 meters below sea level you will find the impressive marble columns of an ancient Greek Temple.
They are rising over the white sandy bottom and are well visible thanks to the clear blue water and intense sunshine.
12. Walk to Routsouna Waterfall
Not far from Keramoti, in the interior of Naxos, you will find a small green oasis surrounded by steep and barren mountain slopes.
This is the beautiful Routsouna Waterfall, which attracts a number of visitors despite its remote location.
Even if the water falls from only about 20 meters, visitors describe this place as very impressive.
Because of the constant humidity, the area around the waterfall is densely forested and is covered by species of Mediterranean bushes and evergreen trees.
13. Visit the Temple of Demeter
Situated on a hill near Sangri, the Temple of Demeter is an important historical site dating back to the 6th century BC.
Discovered by German archeologists in 1949, today the temple is one of the most visited landmarks on the island.
It is surprisingly well-preserved, and you still can see the standing white marble columns.
The place of the temple was not chosen by accident.
Demeter is the Greek Goddess of harvest and fertility, and this part of the island is one of the most fertile in the Aegean.
14. Visit the Archaeological Museum
The Archeological Museum of Naxos is located in the Old Town of the main city.
Here you will find an amazing old collection of artefacts, including ancient pottery, mosaics, statues and many others.
Despite its rich collection, the museum is small so you see everything within an hour or less.
The artefacts show a lot about the everyday life of the ancient Greeks, and you will get an idea about the ancient conception of beauty, design and decoration.
15. Enjoy the beautiful Plaka Beach
Plaka Beach is located in the central part of the west coast of Naxos and is one of the top attractions on the island.
This is a great place to visit or to spend your holiday because it combines a number of advantages.
Because of its shallow, smooth and azure azure waters and fine white sands, the beach attracts a number of holidaymakers from across Europe, including families with kids.
As the sand stripe is wide and long, the beach often seems quite empty even in the height of summer.
16. Visit the Kouros of Apollonas
Kouros of Apollonas is a huge 10,7 meters long ancient statue which is currently unfinished.
It is called this because of its location in the vicinity of the village of Apollonas, in the northeastern part of the island.
The grey marble monument is considered to be a statue of Dionysus.
For this reason it is often called also Kouros of Dionysus or Colossus of Dionysus.
The statue dates back to the 7th century BC.
17. Enjoy some kitesurfing at Mikri Vigla
Exposed to the permanent and sometimes quite intense northern breezes, Mikri Vigla is a superb stripe of fine golden sand.
It offers enough free space to practice watersports such as kitesurfing.
The constant wind doesn’t mean large sea waves and you will ensure that by yourself.
The place attracts kite surfers from around the world, especially from the countries of Northern Europe.
18. Windsurfing at Laguna
Naxos is one of the Greek top destination to practice water sports and windsurfing is one of them.
The combination of persistent wind and hot weather at least 7 month per year attracts surfers from across Europe.
Laguna Beach is one of the best places to windsurf in Naxos and this is not accidentally.
The beach is facing northwest, which means permanent winds.
However, the natural lagoon and underwater reefs protect the bay from large waves.
This is why Laguna Beach combines perfect weather conditions and smooth sea surface, which is the best combination for windsurfing.
19. Take a culinary course
One of the top experiences in Greece is to join a culinary course.
It doesn’t take too much time to do it but you will gain knowledge and will definitely improve the quality of your life.
Since Naxos is one of the most fertile islands, it is not surprising that it is one of the most recommended places to get to know the healthy Greek cuisine.
Local products, including fruits, vegetables and olives, are considered some of the best in Greece.
Taking a culinary course is an affordable experience and is a chance to find new friends on the island of Naxos.
20. Try a local liqueur
Extremely aromatic and delicious, the liqueur is one of the most traditional products of Naxos.
It is well-known for its strong sweet taste and irresistible fragrance.
Moreover, this is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks of the past.
In fact, in the 19th century it was famous all around the world.
Nowadays, wine and beer are definitely more regularly consumed but if you want to try something traditional, this is a great option, including to buy as a gift for your family and friends at home.
21. Discover the old windmills
The windmills of Naxos are built in the 19th century.
They are located in the area of Vivlos and are one of the symbols of the Cyclades.
With their white-washed walls and pointed thatch roofs, they are easily recognizable from afar.
According to locals, the windmills of Naxos are different from those you will find on the other islands of the Cyclades.
22. Diving to Beaufighter
The Beaufighter is a popular attraction for scuba divers.
This is a British military aircraft from the Second World War which lies on the sandy bottom, 33 meters below sea level.
The heavy fighter is one of the top attractions and is located quite close to the shore.
The easiest way to get there is to engage a scuba diving company because they will provide you all the needed equipment as well as a qualified guide.
The area around “Beau” (as they often call the aircraft) offers an amazing biodiversity.
The underwater visibility is 20+ meters.
23. Take a full day boat trip around the island
Naxos has become so popular mostly because of its wonderful sandy coastline, and the best way to explore the entire island is by boat.
A number of travel agencies provide organized day boat trips around Naxos with food and drinks included in the price.
These mini cruises are very attractive, mostly because of the opportunity to dive, swim and snorkel in some of the most pristine and azure bays along the coast.
24. Join a cruise to the neighbouring islands
Cyclades are one of the most interesting groups of islands in the Aegean.
This is why they are a popular destination which attracts travelers from around the world.
Since the islands are pretty close to each other, you can easily join a day cruise to the neighbouring islands.
This is a good opportunity to get the most of your holiday and to see as much as possible from the Greek islands.
25. Visit the village of Filoti
The small mountain village of Filoti is one of the most interesting places in Naxos.
It is located in a remote mountainous area, in the heart of the island.
Most of this secluded area is forested and very pleasant to walk around.
Day trippers come here attracted by the stone houses, narrow streets, taverns and craft shops.
The gem of the village is Panagia Filotitissa.
Built in 1718, it is considered the most beautiful building in the village and is definitely amidst the most important landmarks in the interior of the island.
26. Spend a day at Kastraki / Glyfada area
If you love to spend time in nature Kastraki / Glyfada area is a must for you.
It is very quiet and secluded and is known for its wonderful endless stripe of white sands.
If you want to spend a day at the beach but need some privacy, this is the place for you.
Along the beach stretches a beautiful shallow lake which is a wonderful place to unwind near the shore.
The area is very well preserved and ecologically clean but is a bit far away of the modern facilities.
Useful tips and information:
If you are wondering what kind of souvenir to buy in the Old Town of Naxos, the best ideas are to choose between a hand-made golden or silver jewel or a small item made of local marble.
About beach season
Beaches of Naxos welcome visitors from early April to late October on average.
In warmer years, however, there are sunbathers and swimmers even in November.
As long as you feel comfortable when the temperature outside is 20 – 23 degrees, late autumn is perfect as beaches are emptier.
About best beaches
Despite the entire island is very beautiful, the best beaches are along the west coast of the island.
In contrast to other Greek islands, small and secluded coves are not very common here.
Instead, you will mostly find wide and long stripes of fine light sand.
Seawater is very limpid and shallow, which is very good for families.
Water could be a bit chilly in April but is still suitable for swimming, especially at the end of the month.
Summer seasons are very long, hot and dry.
Rainfalls are quite uncommon.
However, in the interior of the island there is a long and high mountain chain which stops the humid air masses from going further east, and rainfalls are possible even in summer.
About best places to stay
The best places to stay are the small villages to the south of Naxos town.
They are close to the main town and to the airport but at the same time are just a few steps away from the best golden beaches.