Naxos is a Greek island located in the Cyclades. Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades. It is known for having some of the best beaches of the Greek Islands, as well as having ruins from Ancient Greece. Since it was the island that I was married on, Naxos has a special place in my heart. However, I still think that it is one of the most underrated islands in the Cyclades. It’s affordable, beautiful, less touristy, and the locals are so friendly. It was our favorite island that we visited during our honeymoon. In this travel guide to Naxos, Greece, I am sharing where to stay, things to do, where to eat, and other tips for your trip!
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Travel Guide to Naxos, Greece
How to Get to Naxos
The most common route to get to Naxos, like most of the Greek Islands, is by flying into the Athens airport and then taking a flight or ferry directly to the island. We spent 2 nights in Athens before starting our Greek island-hopping vacation. It was the perfect amount of time to check out some of Athen’s highlights including the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, and Plaka neighborhood.
Once you’re in Athens, it can take around 40 minutes if you travel to Naxos by plane. Otherwise, a ferry can take from 3 hours to 5.5 hours if you depart from the Pireaus or Rafina port (located around 40 minutes from the Athens airport). If you prefer to travel by ferry, you can book tickets through the FerryHopper website. Through the FerryHopper website, you can look at different routes, ferry lines, and dates.
Where to Stay in Naxos
The two main places to stay in Naxos are in Naxos Town (the port), or Agios Prokopios. If you are looking for a more relaxed experience, I would recommend staying close to the beach such as around Agios Pokopios or Plaka Beach. If you want to stay somewhere that you will be close to shops and restaurants, I would recommend staying in Naxos Town.
We stayed near Plaka Beach and loved the area! There were lots of beach clubs, restaurants, and nightlife options. The beach clubs reminded me of the trendy boutique restaurants in Tulum. If you are looking for a villa to stay at, I would highly recommend the villa that we stayed in, Villa Armelina. This is where we had our wedding and stayed for the week. The host was SO kind. The villa has a heated pool, is steps away from the beach, and is really just a gorgeous place to stay!
How to Get Around Naxos
Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, and as such, a car or ATV is necessary. If you are planning on going to the mountain villages, I would highly recommend a car since it is up in the hills. For just exploring the beaches, an ATV works great on the sandy roads along the beach.
There is also an extensive bus system on Naxos. Most of the buses depart and arrive from the port area. If you are staying in Naxos Town, you can get away with renting a car for a few days on your trip, spending a day in town where a car is not needed, and taking a bus or ATV along the beaches. You will need to buy the tickets for the bus in a small store or bus station near the bus stop, and they typically cost around 2 euros each way.
Things to do in Naxos
Shop in Naxos Town
Naxos Town is located at the port and is also called Chora. Naxos town had some of the best shopping that we came across during our trip to Greece. The prices are much cheaper than on other islands and there are lots of options for jewelry, clothing, and more.
Portara is a massive marble gate that makes up the remains of the unfinished Temple of Apollo. This is probably the first thing you will notice when you get to Naxos. Portara is right off of the port and has become an iconic landmark of the island. Portara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and protected monument. There are also beautiful views of Naxos Town from the monument!
Visit the Kastro of Old Town
The Kastro, or Venetian Castle is a well-preserved medieval fortress located in the heart of Naxos Town. Chances are, you are nearby without knowing if you are already doing some shopping around Naxos Town. It’s worth a small detour to check out the Venetian Castle, as well as the Catholic Church that is nearby. While you’re in the area, you can also view some of the Venetian artifacts in the Della Rocca Barozzi Tower.
Enjoy the Beaches
Naxos has some of the best beaches in the Cyclades! Some of the more notable ones are Agios Prokopios, Agia Anna, Mikri Vigla, and Plaka Beach. The beaches have soft sand and turquoise-blue waters. They are perfect for relaxing, sunbathing, or swimming.
Take a Sailboat or Catamaran Tour
Another way to enjoy the beaches and swim in the beautiful Aegean Sea is by taking a sailboat or catamaran tour. These tours typically take you to several stops around the island or Paros and offer snacks and drinks throughout. It’s a great way to spend a day while in Naxos and see the island from a new perspective. Our catamaran trip ended up being one of the best days of our entire trip!
Hike to the Top of Mount Zas
Mount Zas, or Mount Zeus is the highest mountain on Naxos, and also the highest peak in the Cyclades with an elevation of 1,004 meters. It is located in the central region of the island and is a popular hiking destination for those looking for stunning views and a challenging trail. According to Greek Mythology, Mount Zas was the childhood home of Zeus who is the king of the gods.
If you decide to hike to the top of Mount Zas, you can also visit the Cave of Zeus where it is said that Zeus was born in Greek Mythology. I recommend watching a video on YouTube of the hike before attempting it. Much of the hiking in Naxos is really bushwhacking and the trails are not always very clear. It’s also a fairly challenging trail. Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat since there is little shade cover. You can also avoid the peak heat and sun by going early in the morning or later in the day.
Explore the Mountain Villages
There are many different mountain villages in Naxos, each with its own charm and character. The most well-known village, and one that was recommended by many of the locals, is Apeiranthos. This village is a picturesque labyrinth of whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets. In this town, you will find hidden alleyways, quaint cafes, artisan workshops, and family-run tavernas. Halki is another village in Naxos that was previously the capital. This village is full of charming squares and rich history. If you have time, try visiting one of the villages for a unique and authentic experience!
Kitron is the traditional liqueur of the island. This drink is made from a fruit that is similar to a lemon, but less bitter. While you’re on Naxos, you have to try the drink of the island. There are small shops all over Naxos Town offering samples. However, if you would like more of an experience, you can visit Vallindras Distillery. At this distillery located in Halki, you can learn about the machinery and tools used during the distillation process. At the end of the tour, you will get to have a tasting of this spirit.
Eggares Olive Press Museum
Is anything more of a Greek experience than touring an olive oil museum? This museum offers a glimpse into traditional methods of olive oil production. You’ll have the opportunity to sample different olive oils and learn more about the agricultural history of Naxos.
Visit the Temple of Demeter
The Temple of Demeter is an ancient sanctuary built entirely of marble. The temple is located near Halki. If you are looking to see more of the history of Naxos or ancient ruins, this is a great stop to add to your visit to the mountain villages.
Visit the Kouros of Apollonas
The Kouros, or Colossus of Dionysus, is an unfinished colossal statue made of Naxian marble. This statue is located in an ancient quarry near Apollonas. The statue is believed to have been intended to represent the Greek god Apollo who in Greek Mythology is the god of light, music, and healing. However, it may have also been intended to represent the god Dionysus who was the god of wine, revelry, and fertility.
Where to Eat in Naxos
We had some of the best food when we stayed in Naxos. There are so many different places to eat. You really can’t go wrong at any of the beach clubs along Plaka Beach. Below are some of our favorite places to eat on the island.
Yazoo Summer Bliss
We agreed that this was the best place that we could go to during our trip to Greece. Yazoo Summer Bliss catered for our wedding. Everything we had was absolutely delicious. We also stopped by the restaurant for drinks, which were also SO good. The restaurant is in the Plaka Beach area. If you’re in Naxos you have to stop by to grab a drink or something to eat.
Ask any local where you should go to eat and they will tell you to go to To Elliniko. This restaurant has delicious, authentic food. We went here for dinner the night before our wedding. Danny still talks about the orange cake that they gave us at the end of the meal.
Rotonda is located in the mountains and has one of the best views of Naxos. This restaurant has delicious food and is the perfect place to go for a romantic dinner. If it’s not a windy day, you have to visit this restaurant!
Melimilon is a traditional restaurant near the port that had a delicious brunch. The main feature on their menu is the marmalade. It was so delicious! Be sure to grab a marmalade to take home with you when you leave.
Other Tips for Naxos
- Bring a towel! If you plan on beach hopping or taking a boat tour, you will need to bring a towel.
- While the weather is mild most of the year, the summer can get hot! Be prepared for some heat, and bring sunscreen as well!
- The peak season is June through September. For fewer crowds and milder weather, visit during the end of September/early October, or May. By the end of October, many of the businesses are closing for the season and people are returning to Athens for the off-season.
- There are often high winds on Naxos. Be sure to plan accordingly!
- Most of Naxos gets its power from Paros which is nearby. Sometimes there are planned power outages. Thunderstorms on Paros can also disrupt electricity.
Travel Guide to Naxos, Greece
There are so many things to do if you are visiting Naxos, Greece. Even if we hadn’t been married on Naxos, it still would have been our favorite Greek Island in the Cyclades to visit. I highly recommend adding this island to your Greek Island Hopping Itinerary. The vibe of the island is definitely more relaxed, it’s more affordable than other islands in the area (Santorini, Paros, Mykonos), and there are far fewer tourists. I think that this island will start to pop up more and more in future years as it is one of the best Greek Island destinations to travel to during a Greek Island hopping trip.