Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades islands, is truly a hidden gem among the Greek islands.
Known for its stunning beauty, this island offers a perfect blend of rich history, captivating landscapes, and pristine beaches.
As a lesser-known destination compared to its famous neighbours, Santorini and Mykonos, Naxos promises a more authentic and serene experience for those seeking to explore the unique charm of the Cyclades.
The island boasts numerous attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.
From exploring the picturesque main town of Chora, with its whitewashed alleyways and vibrant atmosphere, to visiting the ancient temples and lush valleys scattered throughout the island, there is something for everyone.
For adventure seekers, hiking to the summit of Mount Zeus, the highest peak in the Cyclades, and windsurfing along the coast are not to be missed.
A holiday in Naxos would not be complete without indulging in local delicacies and visiting charming villages, such as Halki, Filoti, and Apiranthos.
These timeless destinations offer a glimpse into the island’s rich cultural heritage and a chance to experience an unspoiled version of the Greek islands.
With so much to see and do, your visit to Naxos will undoubtedly be a memorable and enchanting journey.
Getting to Naxos
Naxos can be reached by air from Athens, with a travel time of approximately 1 hour. Flights are an efficient and convenient way of getting to the island. You can book your flights ahead of time to ensure availability and to secure the best deals. Keep in mind that flight schedules may vary depending on the season.
Alternatively, you can travel to Naxos by ferry or high-speed catamaran from Athens. This option is popular among Greeks due to the space availability and timetable frequency. Naxos is on the same ferry route as Santorini, and ferries depart two to six times daily, with up to 40 departures weekly during mid-summer. In peak months, as well as during Easter, the ferries tend to be full, so it’s advisable to book your tickets early.
Some of the advantages of traveling by ferry include:
- Enjoying picturesque views of the Aegean Sea
- Having the opportunity to stretch your legs and walk around on the spacious decks
- Accessing onboard facilities such as restaurants and shops
To ensure a comfortable and smooth journey, it’s recommended that you:
- Choose your preferred seating arrangement, either in economy or first-class sections
- Keep an eye on your luggage at all times, as space may be limited on the ferry
- Be prepared for possible delays due to weather conditions
Overall, getting to Naxos is straightforward, with both air and sea travel options available. Make sure to plan and book your trip in advance, and get ready to enjoy the beautiful, lesser-known gem that is Naxos.
The Best Time to Visit Naxos
The weather in Naxos
Naxos is known for its lovely weather, with the sun shining brightly most days, especially during the summer months. The warmest months are from June to September, with temperatures around 30 degrees during the day and dropping to around 24 degrees at night. July and August are the hottest months, but they also coincide with the peak travel season.
Visiting Naxos during June and September can be an ideal choice, as the weather is still warm but you can avoid the crowds during the peak season. Most hotels and restaurants are fully functional and might offer more attractive rates during these months.
Festivals and Events
There are a number of festivals and events taking place in Naxos throughout the year. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Naxos Wine Festival: Held in July, this festival celebrates the island’s wine production and features various tastings, music, and dancing.
- Dionysia Festival: This cultural event occurs in August and highlights the island’s ancient connections to the god Dionysus with dance, theatre, and music performances.
- Naxos Tower Festival: In September, visitors can experience concerts and other performances at the island’s historic Venetian towers.
It’s essential to consider these events while planning your visit, as they can enrich your experience and give you the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Things to See and Do in Naxos
Naxos is a beautiful Greek island that offers a perfect mixture of history, culture, and stunning beaches. In this section, we will look at some of the top things to see and do while visiting the island, covering historical sites, beaches, and outdoor activities.
One of the highlights of Naxos is exploring its rich history. Here are a few historical sites you should not miss:
- Chora: The main town of Naxos, Chora is a charming place full of narrow alleys, traditional houses, and historical sites. Be sure to visit the 13th-century Kastro and the ancient site of the Portara.
- Halki: This village is known for its well-preserved Venetian architecture and stunning Byzantine churches.
- Apiranthos: Wander the marble streets of this traditional village and visit its archaeological and geological museums.
The Kouros: Discover these ancient statues located near Apollonas and Melanes, which date back to the 6th and 7th century BC.
Naxos boasts numerous beautiful beaches perfect for relaxation and water sports. Some of the top options include:
- Agios Prokopios: Regarded as one of the island’s best beaches, Agios Prokopios offers clear turquoise waters and golden sand.
- Plaka: A long stretch of pristine sand backed by dunes and walking paths, Plaka is perfect for sunbathing and swimming in its crystal-clear waters.
Agia Anna: This lovely beach offers calm shallow waters ideal for families and people into water sports.
Naxos is excellent for those who love enjoying nature and outdoor activities.
- Mount Zas: Challenge yourself by hiking to the summit of Mount Zas, the highest point in the Cyclades, and enjoy panoramic views of the island.
- Village to Village Walks: Experience the authentic side of Naxos by walking from one village to another, discovering each town’s unique charm.
- Boat Trips: Take a boat trip from Naxos to explore nearby smaller islands and secluded beaches.
- Water Sports: Indulge in various water sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, and paddleboarding in Naxos’ beaches.
With these options at hand, you’ll have an enjoyable and enriching experience while visiting the magnificent island of Naxos.
Accommodation in Naxos
Hotels and Resorts
Naxos boasts a variety of hotels and resorts that cater to travellers’ diverse preferences and budgets.
Many of these accommodations are family-owned businesses, offering clean and affordable lodgings within walking distance to the sea.
Particularly noteworthy are the numerous budget-friendly options available, making it a great destination for those who want to experience the beauty of the Greek islands without breaking the bank.
Some popular hotels and resorts in Naxos include:
- Lagos Mare Hotel: A stylish 4-star hotel near Agios Prokopios Beach, featuring a pool, spa, and beautiful sea views.
- Nissaki Beach Hotel: Located in the heart of Naxos Town, this boutique hotel offers comfortable rooms, a beachfront location, and excellent dining options.
- Iria Beach Art Hotel: A chic and modern hotel in the picturesque village of Agia Anna, offering relaxation, luxury amenities, and artistic surroundings.
Villas and Holiday Rentals
For those seeking an intimate setting or travelling with a group, Naxos is home to numerous villas and holiday rentals that provide a more private, spacious, and homely experience.
With options located close to the beach or nestled in picturesque villages, you’ll find the perfect accommodation to suit your needs.
Some top-rated villas and holiday rentals in Naxos are:
- Villa Ariadne: A luxurious villa with three bedrooms, a private pool, and beautiful views of the Aegean Sea, ideal for families or friends travelling together.
- Mitatos Traditional Houses: Set in the mountain village of Apiranthos, these charming cottages feature a blend of traditional Cycladic architecture and modern amenities.
- Semaphore Beach Studios: Located at the tranquil Plaka Beach, these well-equipped studios offer direct beach access and unforgettable sunsets.
When planning your visit to Naxos, ensure that you explore a variety of accommodation options, ranging from luxurious resorts with stunning sea views to private villas and holiday rentals perfect for family getaways.
With an extensive selection to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect lodging to make your Naxos experience unforgettable.
Food and Drink in Naxos
Naxos is the largest and most fertile island of the Cyclades, offering an impressive array of local products and traditional flavours.
Visiting Naxos, one can indulge in excellent gastronomy and a wide selection of drinks.
Here, we’ll provide you with a brief overview of the local cuisine, as well as some recommendations for top restaurants and taverns.
Naxos’ local cuisine is a delightful mix of flavours that showcases the island’s fertile landscape. Some of the must-try dishes include:
- Kokoras me makaronia: A traditional dish of rooster braised in red sauce, served best at family tavernas.
- Arseniko cheese: A delicious, hard cheese made from sheep’s and goat’s milk.
- Naxian potatoes: Known for their unique taste, Naxian potatoes are often served as a side dish or used in various recipes.
- Kitron: A local lemon-based liqueur that comes in three different flavours (green, yellow, and clear).
Top Restaurants and Taverns
There are numerous establishments in Naxos where you can enjoy traditional Greek cuisine along with various international dishes. Here are a few recommendations:
- Marou: A popular spot, Marou serves up local delicacies that showcase the best of Naxos’ cuisine.
- Metaxi Mas: With an extensive menu of delicious options, Metaxi Mas is a perfect choice for both vegetarians and carnivores alike.
- To Elliniko: Offering authentic Greek cuisine in a charming setting, To Elliniko provides a delightful dining experience.
- Irini’s: Known for its warm atmosphere and exceptional seafood dishes, Irini’s is a must-visit for any food lover on the island.
No matter where you choose to dine, you are sure to be impressed by Naxos’ gastronomy and the abundance of fresh, local ingredients. As you explore the island, don’t hesitate to venture out of the main town and discover more hidden gems that offer delicious food and drink options.
Getting Around Naxos
Naxos, Greece, is an incredible island to explore with its picturesque landscapes and rich history and culture.
When visiting Naxos, you have various local transportation options available, depending on your preferences and requirements.
Renting a Car
One convenient way to explore Naxos is by renting a car. Hiring a car gives you the flexibility to create and adjust your itinerary as you like, allowing you to visit secluded beaches and hidden gems of the island at your leisure.
There are several car rental services available in Naxos. Some of the key points to consider when renting a car:
- Booking: It is advised to book your rental car in advance, particularly during the peak tourist seasons. Booking early typically ensures better rates and availability.
- Driving licence: Ensure that you hold a valid driving licence, and if necessary, obtain an International Driving Permit.
- Traffic rules: Familiarise yourself with local traffic rules, including driving on the right side of the road, speed limits, and parking regulations.
If you prefer not to drive, using public transport is a great alternative to explore Naxos.
Public buses (KTEL) are widely available on the island, connecting various villages and points of interest.
These buses are comfortable and affordable, making them a popular choice among visitors. Some aspects to consider when using public transport:
- Bus schedule: Check the bus schedule and plan your trips accordingly, as buses might not run as frequently as they do during the peak season, especially to less-frequented destinations.
- Ticket purchase: Tickets can typically be purchased at the bus station or on the bus from the driver. Remember to keep your ticket for the duration of your journey.
- Luggage storage: Most buses provide luggage storage compartments, making it convenient to travel with your belongings.
By choosing either renting a car or using public transport, you’ll have an enjoyable and comfortable experience exploring the breathtaking island of Naxos.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are the best places to stay in Naxos?
Naxos Town, also known as Chora, is an excellent choice for accommodation. It is a whitewashed old town with a Venetian castle and plenty of activities in the area. It is conveniently close to the Marina and many beaches can be easily reached by bus.
How long do you need in Naxos?
The ideal trip duration for Naxos varies depending on individual preferences and interests. However, a time frame of 5-7 days would allow you to explore the main attractions, discover the various beaches, and immerse yourself in the local culture.
What are the best activities to do in Naxos?
Visiting the Castle of Naxos, or Kastro, is an essential activity in Naxos. Located in the oldest part of Naxos Chora, the castle dates back to the 13th century.
Don’t forget to stop by the Archaeological Museum of Naxos at the top of the castle. Additionally, the island offers beautiful beaches for relaxation and water sports, as well as opportunities to hike and explore traditional villages.
What’s the best month to visit Naxos?
The best time to visit Naxos is between May and September. During these months, the weather is warm and sunny, and you can fully enjoy the outdoor activities and beaches the island has to offer.
What’s the best way to get to Naxos?
Naxos is an island in the Aegean Sea, part of the Cycladic group. It lies about 180 km southeast of Athens, 85 km north of Santorini, and 200 km north of Crete. You can reach Naxos by ferry from Athens or neighbouring islands like Mykonos and Santorini. There is also a regional airport on the island, connecting Naxos with other Greek destinations.
Is Naxos touristy?
Compared to other Cycladic islands like Santorini and Mykonos, Naxos is relatively lesser-known. This makes it a hidden gem and results in fewer crowds, providing visitors with a more authentic Greek island experience.
Hailing from the historic city of Thessaloniki, Nikos Tsakiris is a passionate explorer, seasoned writer, and co-founder of Greek Island, the definitive travel blog for the Greek Islands.