This is the ultimate guide for your holidays in Naxos Greece. Find the best beaches for swimming and the best things to see and do in Naxos!
Why visit Naxos?
Naxos is big and beautiful. It is the largest among the Cyclades islands with a huge inland waiting for you to explore. Naxos is just a short ferry ride from Paros, Santorini, Mykonos, and the Smaller Cyclades islands and therefore perfect for island hopping.
What is Naxos famous for?
Naxos is rather unknown as a travel destination compared with the neighboring famous Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Paros. Despite that fact, Naxos is one of the most interesting destinations in Greece with a glorious ancient history. With strong influences of the Venetians and the Franks it has an abundance of ancient sites and monuments.
Naxos offers much more than ancient monuments and exciting history, it has a beautiful natural landscape with stunning beaches, wild mountains, and picturesque villages hidden in green valleys. You will be thrilled if you love nature!
Where is Naxos Greece?
Naxos is situated in the heart of the Aegean Sea, right in the center of the Cyclades archipelago. It is the biggest and most fertile island of all the Cyclades with a stunning natural landscape. It was the centre of the Archaic Cycladic culture.
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Naxos on a map
How big is Naxos?
Naxos covers a total area of 429.785 km2 and its highest point is Mt. Zeus with 1,003 meters. It has approx. 19,000 inhabitants scattered all around the island in its many villages. The capital and main port is Chora or Naxos City, with more than 6,000 inhabitants. The main villages are Filoti, Apiranthos, Vivlos, Agios Arsenios, Koronos and Glinado.
Naxos – What to see?
Naxos has a rich history, and you will find evidence in the many archaeological sites around the island. The most iconic site and the trademark of Naxos is Portara (meaning ‘big door’), the remaining gate of the ancient temple dedicated to the god Apollo. Find a list of the best sights and attractions in Naxos below.
- Portara – or the remains of the Apollo temple – is the trademark of Naxos. It is the first thing you see when your ferry is approaching Naxos port. It is the unfinished gate of an ancient temple dedicated to the god Apollo.
- Kastro (or Castle) – is the quaintest area in Naxos Town and a part of the old town. Later, the modern part of the town was built around the castle.
- Temple of Demeter – the ancient temple dedicated to Demeter (the goddess of harvest, agriculture, and fertility) was recently restored. It is dating the 6th century B.C. The small church of Saint John stands next to the temple.
- Melanes Kouros statue – you can see this giant statue of a young man (Kouros) just outside the village of Melanes. It is lying on the site where it was found.
- Apollonas Kouros statue – dates from the 8th century B.C. and is lying on the site of discovery. It is believed to depict Dionysus, the god of wine.
- Panagia Drossiani – a beautiful church not far from the tiny village of Moni. It is an early Christian church, one of the oldest on Naxos, dating from the 6th-7th century. It has rounded shapes, a dome, and the interior beautifully decorated with wall paintings.
- Temple of Dionysus – is located near Glinado village. According to the myth, Naxos was the home of the god Dionysos, and this ancient temple was dedicated to him.
- Archaeological museum – is to be found in the quarter of Kastro in Naxos Town, housed in an amazing 17th century Venetian mansion which used to be the Jesuit School of Commerce.
- Ursulines School and Merchant Academy – is located inside the Kastro in Naxos Town, near the Catholic Cathedral.
- Bazeos Tower – is located on the main road between Chora and the villages of Halki and Filoti. It is one of the most prominent sights in Naxos, dating back to the 17th century. It was built as an attempt to provide safety to its residents from the frequent pirate attacks in the area.
- Monastery of Fotodotis – located on a hilltop it has an amazing view to the sea. It was built in the 6th century B.C. and it looks like a fortress.
- Marble quarries – since ancient times Naxos has been known for its rich marble deposits, and artifacts as old as the Neolithic Era have been discovered near the quarries, of which many can be seen around Kinidaros.
- Melanes Kouros of Flerio – Apart from Apollonas and Melanes, yet another impressive Kouros was discovered in a lying position in a field around Flerio.
- Drillis Watermill – is a traditional watermill located between Ano Potamia and Mesi. It has been restored and the owner organizes tours for visitors.
- Agios Mamas – located in Potamia, is one of the oldest churches in Naxos, dating back to the 9th century. It is famous for its fine sculptures, its fine cross, and murals. The church is dedicated to Agios Mamas, the patron of shepherds.
- Rina Cave – is a gorgeous sea cave located at Rina beach, it can be accessed by boat from Panermos beach or on a day cruise from the port of Naxos.
- Routsouna Waterfall – a beautiful 20-metres tall waterfall being fed by two major streams running north and south of Keramoti. To reach the falls you need to hike for 45 minutes.
- Gratsia Tower – in the village of Halki is an imposing tower-house, built in the beginning of the 17th century by the Venetian Barozzi family.
- Agios Sozon chapel – is built on a steep rock and it seems like hanging above the blue waters of Agiassos bay on the southwest coast of Naxos. It attracts many visitors as it shines under the sun.
- Ancient Aqueduct – the remains of the aqueduct is one of the most impressive archaeological sights in Naxos. It can be traces at various points of the island. Research places the creation of the aqueduct in the Archaic period.
- Kokkos Tower – another Venetian tower from the 17th century, built by the Kokkos family, above a small river in Potamia village.
- Apiranthos Archaeological Museum – houses a collection of findings from various excavations in different parts of Naxos.
- Vallindras Distillery – in the mountainous village of Halki was established in 1896 and is still run by the same family. Today, it is both a distillery and a museum. Visiting, you may taste the delicious liquors and buy tiny bottles as souvenirs.
- Epano Kastro – not far from the village of Ano Potamia, you will find the hiking path to Epano Kastro (Castle of Tragea). It is a quite difficult path but reaching the top, you will find it totally worth it.
- Orthodox Cathedral – is in the northern part of Naxos Town. It is dedicated to Zoodochos Pigi (meaning ‘life-giving source) or Virgin Mary. Built in 1787 the church has fine wall paintings. You will find the church next to the site of ancient Naxos.
- Garinou Spring – is in a verdant valley with water turtles, about 40 minutes’ walk from Kinidaros village. You can reach the valley by a 4×4.
- Geological Museum – is in the village of Apiranthos housing a rich collection of more than 2000 rare exhibits. This museum is considered among the most interesting of its kind in Greece.
- Egares Olive Press Museum – is a renovated olive press in the village of Eggares, located in western Naxos, less than 8 km from Chora.
- Geometrical Era Necropolis – dated to the 9th-8th century B.C. It is located near the village Tsikalario and Halki. You will need to walk 20 minutes to reach Necropolis.
- Panagia tis Spilias – (or ‘Virgin of the cave’) is a church built inside a cave, near Damarionas village.
- Mycenaean tomb – is located near Koronida. According to the estimations of archaeologists, the tomb was built in 1300 B.C. to be the last residence of a local ruler (unknown identity due to the condition of the monument). Maybe it was dedicated to Naxos, the first king of the island.
- Museum of Naxos Ancient Town – (also known as the Metropolis or Cathedral Museum). You will find it in Chora next to the church of Zoodochos Pigi with exhibits from settlements on the island from the Mycenaean and Geometric Era.
- Panagia Parthena Islet – is in front of the beach Mikri Vigla. It is named after the tiny chapel on the islet. Only once a year, on its celebration, the church is open to the public.
- Prehistoric Acropolis – this magnificent stone settlement dates to 25,000 B.C. It consisted of 20 rooms, encircled by a fortification with five towers. It is an astonishing achievement for its era and the settlement signifies the transition from the period of farming to the hierarchical society.
Naxos – What to do?
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Naxos is a famous destination for windsurfers from all over the world. If you are a beginner, Naxos is an ideal spot for you thanks to its flat beaches and protected bays. If you want to try windsurfing and you are spending a few days in the island, you will not find a better opportunity to do so. Take the chance in one of the many sports centers located in the windsurfing spots of Naxos.
Naxos is ideal for experienced windsurfers, and the most famous spots for windsurfing on the island is the south part of St. George beach and Parthena bay at Mikri Vigla beach. In these areas, you will find sport centers and shops where you can rent or buy all required equipment, and a crowd of other passionate windsurfers to share your love.
Thalasea Sports, Mikri Vigla beach
Flisvos Sport Club, St. George beach
Plaka Watersports, Plaka beach
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced kite surfer, harnessing the strong winds of Naxos island can offer you long hours of kite surf fun.
Hundreds of kite surfers daily enjoy the excitement of kitesurfing in Parthena bay at Mikri Vigla, known as one of the best spots worldwide. The view of all kite surfers playing with the waves and flying in the wind will inevitably make you want to try kitesurfing yourself.
Flisvos Kite Centre, Mikri Vigla, Naxos
The crystal-clear waters of Naxos, make your visit to the island an ideal opportunity to become a scuba diver and to experience the deep blue sea.
The rich biodiversity of the sea bottom around the coast of Naxos it the reason why it is considered among the best areas of Greece for diving. Meadows full of Possidonies, reefs, vertical cuts, as well as scattered shipwrecks in the area, open an amazing experience for those diving to explore them.
The island offers diving facilities, opportunities for diving training courses from highly experienced instructors, as well as dive packages for qualified divers and beginners.
Hiking / trekking in Naxos
Naxos is the greenest island in the Cyclades. It is full of water springs, streams, and small rivers in ravines. Its lush, fertile landscape is a refreshing contrast to the other much drier Cyclades islands.
The most famous and unique water spring in Naxos is Garinou, located above Kinidaros village. The water here continuously seeps through the sand to create a pure crystal-clear river that leads to the valley of Eggares.
Hiking enthusiasts can follow the river to Eggares village. This scenic route passes by three beautiful lakes, the church of St. Artemios, the old monastery of St. Dimitrios, as well as several picturesque watermills and a small waterfall. There is plenty of opportunity to observe the local fauna, such as turtles, crabs, and butterflies.
If you like trekking, it would be a shame to leave the island without having explored its trekking opportunities. The beautiful landscape of Naxos and the numerous monuments scattered across the island make it worthwhile for you to bring along your trekking shoes, to discover them by following one of the many available walking paths.
Walking along the hiking paths of Naxos will offer you the opportunity to get close to its beautiful nature – the valleys, rivers, small waterfalls, and the olive groves – as well as to approach monuments you might drive by without stopping when crossing the island by car.
Trekking on Mount Zas
Mount Zas is the tallest mountain in Naxos and in all the Cyclades islands. With its altitude and rich flora and fauna it is popular with hikers and birdwatchers. When walking the slopes of Mount Zas do not miss the opportunity to visit the Cave of Zas, located on the western side of the mountain at the altitude of 600 metres. According to the myth, the god Zeus was raised here finding shelter in the cave as he was prosecuted by his father, Kronus.
Naxos – beaches, ruins, mountains, and agriculture
Naxos is a great travel destination, with several interesting ruins and monuments. It has beautiful beaches, like Plaka, Agia Anna, Agios Prokopios, Alikos, Kastraki, Mikri Vigla, and Agios Georgios, most of them are near Chora. Naxos is the most fertile island of the Cyclades. It has a good supply of water in a region where water usually is scarce. Mount Zeus (1003 m) is the highest peak in the Cyclades, and tends to trap the clouds, permitting greater rainfall. This has made agriculture an important economic sector with various vegetable and fruit crops as well as cattle breeding, making Naxos the most self-sufficient island in the Cyclades.
Naxos Beach Guide
The beaches of Naxos are considered among the absolute best in the Cyclades islands. Naxos is with a coastline of 91 km surrounded by small coves hiding beautiful, quiet beaches with turquoise blue waters. The most popular and stunning beaches in Naxos are Mikri Vigla beach, perfect for wind- and kitesurfing, Plaka beach, and Agios Georgios beach.
- Agios Georgios beach (Saint George) – Sandy, family friendly, watersports, windsurfing, located 2 km south of Chora.
- Agia Anna beach – Sandy, family friendly, nudism friendly, located 6 km south of Chora.
Partly organized beaches
Plaka beach – Sandy, family friendly, watersports, windsurfing, located 8 km south of Chora. Plaka is one of the most beautiful beaches in Naxos with a view of Paros island.
- Mikri Vigla beach – Sandy, one of the most famous windsurfing spots in Naxos with watersports centres along the beach. Located 12 km south of Chora.
- Sahara beach (Limanakia) – Sandy, family friendly, secluded, nudism friendly, located 12 km south of Chora. It is the continuation of Mikri Vigla beach.
- Pyrgaki beach – Sandy, family friendly, secluded, located 19 km southeast of Chora. Beautiful and calm.
- Agios Prokopios beach – Sandy, family friendly, watersports, diving club, located 6 km southwest of Chora.
- Panermos beach – Sandy, family friendly, and secluded on the eastern side of Naxos, 54 km from Chora. It is beautiful with a few trees on the beach.
- Aliko beach (Hawaii) – Sandy, secluded, nudism friendly, located 18 km south of Chora.
- Maragas beach – Sandy, family friendly, located 7 km south of Chora. It is and endless beach with soft sand and crystal-clear water.
- Orkos beach – Sandy, secluded, located next to Plaka beach 11 km south of Chora.
- Laguna (windsurfing) beach – located 3,5 km from Naxos Town. Perfect spot for learning and practicing windsurfing.
- Aliko Agios Georgios beach – one of the most beautiful beaches in Naxos, protected from the winds, located 18 km south of Chora.
- Kastraki beach – Sandy, secluded, quiet and beautiful, located 15 km south of Chora.
- Glyfada beach – Sandy, secluded, windsurfing, never crowded, located 16 km south of Chora.
- Agiassos beach – Large and sandy, secluded, located 23 km southeast of Chora.
- Little Paradise beach – Sandy, small, secluded, with calm waters and protected from the winds, located 2 km north of Agiassos, 21 km southeast of Chora.
- Psili Ammos beach – Sandy, secluded, on the eastern side of Naxos, near the fishing port of Moutsouna, 45 km southeast of Chora.
- Rina beach – Pebbled, secluded, nudism friendly, on the eastern side of Naxos. The beach is accessible only by boat or after a long hike. Boats leave from Panermos beach and by day cruises from Naxos port.
- Mikra beach – Mixed pebbled and sandy, secluded, located 20 km north of Chora.
- Chilia Vryssi beach – Pebbled, secluded, located 23 km north of Chora on the northwest coast.
- Itonas beach – Sandy, secluded, nudism friendly, on the north coast of Naxos, 2 km beneath Agia Tower. Difficult to access by car.
- Amitis beach – Sandy, secluded, on the way from Chora to Apollonas, located 11 km north of Chora. Often with strong winds.
Naxos Village Guide
The main town in Naxos, Chora, is among the quaintest villages of the island with its Venetian architecture, elegant towers, and paved narrow streets. Above the whitewashed houses of Chora stands the great old Venetian castle, giving a medieval charm. In all of Naxos, small, beautiful villages are tucked away on mountainsides, like Apiranthos, Koronas, Halki, and Sangri.
- Chora (Naxos Town) – the main port on the northwestern side of the island. It has a beautiful waterfront with elegant Venetian mansions.
- Halki (or Chalki) – a quaint, traditional village located in the centre of Naxos 16 km from Chora. It was once the capital of the island and has a Venetian style.
- Apiranthos – is a picturesque mountainous village located in the centre of Naxos 26 km from Chora. It has a beautiful architectural style set amidst the lush green mountains, being quite untouched by tourism.
- Filoti – is situated on a steep hill 18 km southeast of Chora. The main street has a great many cafes and restaurants lined up. Filoti is set in a gorgeous green landscape with great views to the mountainside.
- Kaloxylos – a picturesque, tiny village located next to Halki 16 km southeast of Chora.
- Potamia – is famous for its fruit production. It is situated near Medieval towers, old water mills and streams. The village is located 9 km southeast of Chora.
- Koronas – a traditional village located 28 km northeast of Chora. It is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of a hill. It has a romantic atmosphere with its exceptional architecture, beautiful square, and paved streets with many arches.
- Apollonas – a charming fishing village located 36 km northwest of Chora. It has some great fish taverns and a lovely beach. Near Apollonas you can see an ancient statue of Kouros.
- Sangri – a village in the mountains 12 km southeast of Chora. It is famous for its Byzantine monasteries, its Venetian towers and the ancient temple of Demeter nearby.
- Agia Anna village – a small fishing village on the west coast 7 km southeast of Chora. It has a lovely beach with many tourist facilities and a small port with great taverns and cafes.
- Melanes – a small village in a green valley located 8 km east of Chora. A giant statue of Kouros has been standing here since the ancient years.
- Moutsouna – a small fishing village on the east coast 37 km east of Chora. This region provides total privacy due to its secluded position.
- Lionas – a small seaside village located 34 km east of Chora. It is set in a dramatic landscape with a beach and some taverns.
- Egares – a small village with Venetian mansions set in a green landscape located 8,5 km northeast of Chora.
- Agios Arsenios – a small village with beautiful churches located 6 km from Chora.
- Galini – a small village set in a fertile valley with the monastery tower of Ipsilotera nearby to visit. It is located 8 km northeast of Chora.
- Glinado – a small village near the ancient sanctuary of Dionysos, located 6 km southeast of Chora.
- Damarionas – authentic village with beautiful houses located 16 km southeast of Chora.
- Kinidaros – small village in the mountains set in a green landscape not far from the ancient marble mines, located 15 km east of Chora.
- Kourounochori – small mountainous village with many trekking paths passing through, located 8 km east of Chora.
- Sifones – a ghost village, abandoned during the previous century, with well preserved houses. Located 22 km east of Chora.
- Atsipapi – another ghost village, located near the strange church of Agrokoili, 29 km east of Chora.
- Skado – the smallest village in Naxos, located on the northeastern side of the island 29 km from Chora. Surrounded by a wild and beautiful landscape.
- Moni – surrounded by tall green mountains and situated near the church of Panagia Drossiani, approx. 19 km east of Chora.
- Tripodes – small village also known as Vivlos, with old windmills and a beautiful landscape 7 km southeast of Chora.
Naxos – How to get there?
Naxos is one of the most visited Cyclades in Greece and therefore you will find multiple ways to reach the island.
By plane: You can choose to travel by plane from Athens or several other places around Greece, like nearby islands (Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, a.m.). There are no direct flights to Naxos from abroad. You can choose a flight to Athens and then a domestic flight to Naxos. Depending on where you live, you might also take a direct flight to Paros, Santorini, or Mykonos and then the short ferry ride to Naxos.
By ferry: It is easy to reach Naxos from many different islands in the Aegean Sea. First, there are regular ferry connections from both Piraeus and Rafina near Athens. Rafina port is situated closer to the international airport, while Piraeus is close to Athens city centre. The ferry trip from the mainland lasts from 4 to 6 hours depending on the vessel type.
Island hopping from Naxos
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Naxos is well connected to many of the other Cyclades islands, like Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, and Amorgos. The local express ferry, named “Skopelitis” has its route between Amorgos and Naxos, and on that route, it stops at the islands of Smaller Cyclades (Koufonisia, Donoussa, Schinoussa, and Iraklia) about 6 times a week. This gives you the perfect opportunity to do some island hopping during your holidays in Naxos and the Aegean Sea.
Naxos – How to get around?
Naxos is a big island with steep hills and mountains. It has a good infrastructure, and the best choice is to rent a car if you want to explore the island. You can book your stay with transfer from the port or the airport for your hotel or take one of the local buses departing from the terminal at the port on a regular hourly basis. In Naxos Town you will find several car rentals as well as motorbike and scooter rentals.
History of Naxos
During the 8th and 7th centuries, Naxos dominated commerce in the Cyclades. Naxos was the first Greek City-State to attempt to leave from the Delian League circa 476; Athens quickly squashed the notion and forcibly removed all military naval vessels from the island’s control. Athens then demanded all future payments from Naxos in the form of gold rather than military aid.
Herodotus has described Naxos around 500 B.C. as the most prosperous Greek island.
In 502 BC an unsuccessful attack on Naxos by Persian forces led several prominent men in the Greek cities of Ionia to rebel against the Persian Empire in the Ionian Revolt, and then to the Persian War between Greece and Persia.
Naxos – Weather and climate
The Naxos weather is similar the rest of the Cyclades islands with relatively mild and pleasant summers. Naxos is exposed to “Meltemia”, the strong northern summer winds from medio July to medio August making it the perfect windsurfing and kitesurfing destination. Windsurfers come to Naxos from all the world to enjoy the ultimate waves.
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