Nestled in the azure waters of the Aegean Sea, Naxos and Ios are two stunning islands in Greece that offer a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you are a history buff, a beach lover or an adventure seeker, both islands have a range of activities and attractions that cater to diverse tastes and preferences.
Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades group of islands, is known for its numerous spectacular sandy beaches and charming traditional villages. Among its most famous sites is the Portara, an ancient landmark dating back to 530 BC, which is perched right beside Chora, the main town in Naxos. Roaming through Chora’s winding streets, dining in cosy restaurants, and exploring historical sites are just some of the activities that await visitors of Naxos.
On the other hand, Ios Island captivates travellers with its alluring blend of tranquil beaches and lively nightlife. Walking up to Panagia Gremiotissa Church for panoramic island views is a must-do during your visit. Additionally, Ios offers exciting day trips and boat cruises, such as a RIB boat trip to Sikinos Island and a winery tour, allowing you to experience a taste of Greek island life beyond Ios itself.
Things to Do in Naxos
Historical Sites and Museums
Naxos is home to numerous historical sites, one of which is the Portara, a massive marble frame that is the remains of a portal to an unfinished Ionic temple of Apollo, dating back to the 6th century BC. Another significant site to visit is the Kouros statues that are found in the region. These are unfinished marble sculptures of young men from ancient Greece.
Beaches and Water Sports
Naxos boasts beautiful sandy beaches, perfect for sunbathing and swimming. Some of the best beaches on the island include Agios Prokopios, Plaka, and Agia Anna. Alongside relaxing on the pristine sands, visitors can partake in various water sports, such as windsurfing, sailing, and snorkelling, to fully experience the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea.
Strolling through the charming traditional villages of Naxos is a must for any visitor. Chora, the main town, is the perfect starting point to explore the narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and local artisan shops. Other picturesque villages worth visiting include Apiranthos, known for its marble-paved streets and impressive architecture, and Vivlos, which showcases a beautiful blend of Cycladic and Venetian styles.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Naxos offers a selection of activities to satisfy all interests. Adventure-seekers can hike to the summit of Mount Zas, the highest peak in the Cyclades, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding islands. Walking and biking tours are also popular activities, allowing visitors to discover the island’s stunning natural landscape and historical sites at a leisurely pace.
Things to Do in Ios
Charming Towns and Villages
Ios Island boasts a quaint main town, Chora, which is perfect for wandering and exploring. The whitewashed houses and narrow streets create a picturesque atmosphere. Make sure to visit the traditional village of Manganari as well, known for its stunning beach and serene surroundings.
Beaches and Swimming
Ios is famous for its beautiful beaches, with some popular options being Manganari Beach and Mylopotas Beach. These sandy shores offer crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Don’t miss the chance to watch the sunset at Lorentzena Beach, a memorable experience for any visitor.
Nightlife and Entertainment
The island’s nightlife is vibrant and entertaining, with a variety of bars and clubs to choose from. Join the Ios Bar Crawl to explore some of the best spots for a fun night out. For a more laid-back atmosphere, enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurants, such as Grandma’s, which offers delicious Greek cuisine.
There’s a plethora of outdoor activities available for those seeking adventure. Tour the island on an ATV, or challenge yourself by hiking some of the numerous trails. Climb to the top of Chora for a stunning panoramic view of the island, or visit the ancient ruins of Skarkos. If you prefer water adventures, take a boat tour to explore the surrounding coastline.