Naxos Island is the largest and arguably one of the most beautiful of the Cyclade island group in the Aegean Sea. The island is relaxed and inland you can expect to find an abundance of olive groves, temple ruins, and traditional villages, around the coast you can expect to find long sandy beaches. Naxos is located between the famous islands of Santorini and Mykonos. There are direct flights and ferries leaving Athens to get there.
As the island is large, if you can, renting a car to explore it is highly recommended. There are many remote beaches, villages, and archaeological sites that can only be accessed by car, making it one of the best ways to see the island. However, you can still get to many places via bus.
If you love whitewashed houses with blue doors and windows, you will love Chora. It is the place to be to admire Cycladic architecture. The town is a labyrinth of narrow pathways.
Chora is situated high on a hilltop and has a Venetian castle located in the old town known as Kastro. Kastro is car-free so makes for a great place to take a stroll and admire the Venetian mansions, churches, and whitewashed walls. You will find the town’s restaurants, bars, shops, cute cafes, and the island’s main port in Neo Chorio.
If you are in Chora a visit to the archaeological museum of Naxos should be on your list. The museum collects and showcases historic artifacts and is located inside a Venetian building. There is even excavated artwork from pre-historic times.
The shopping in Chora provides a unique shopping experience. You can expect to find items in Chora that you can’t find elsewhere. Throughout the city there are shops called curio, these shops sell items which have been made by local sculptors! As tourism is a large part of Chora’s economy, tourist shops are in abundance in this city, perfect for souvenirs.
If you want to go for a walk without leaving the city there is a 3.53km trail that goes straight through the city.
Explore the many Temples
Every length and breadth of this island contains ancient ruins and statues. A visit to at least one of these temples should be on your list of sightseeing.
Temple of Demeter: Located 10km from Naxos town, near the village of Sangri are the ruins of the temple of Demeter. This temple dates back to the 6th century BC and is made entirely from Naxos marble! This temple was built in dedication to Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, harvest, and fertility.
The Gate of Apollo: The temple of Apollo (Naxos Portara) is a large marble doorway located on the islet of Palatia. Construction began in the 6th century, however, construction was never completed and now all that remains is the marble doorway. Many believe the temple was built to honour Apollo, the god of light. However, others believe it may have been to honour Dionysus, the god of wine.
Temple of Dionysus: Located close to the village Glinado and 5km from the city of Chora is the temple of Dionysus. Built for the god of wine, celebration, and fun this was once a large temple that only partially survives today.
Take a dip in the sea
The whole island of Naxos is surrounded by beautiful beaches and is regarded to have the most beautiful in the Aegean sea. The best beaches are located on the west side of the island where you will find long sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters.
Paka is the best in Naxos and also one of the best in Greece. The beach stretches for 4km along the west side of the island. At the northern end, you will find restaurants and hotels while down the southern end of the beach, you will find just sand and sea!
Located on the southwest of the island is Agios Prokopios. This beach is popular amongst families due to its protection from the wind making the sea perfectly clear, peaceful, and safe. This beach is easily reached from Naxos town by bus. The northern end of the beach is rather quiet while the southern end has beach clubs and restaurants.
This beach has incredible scenery around it; Aliko beach sits on the edge of a cedar forest! The beach is split up against a rocky coastline creating four separate smaller beaches. If you like to snorkel these beaches are great to explore around the rocks! One of the beaches, Aliko Naturist, is an unofficial nude beach, something to bare in mind when arriving.
If during your visit there is a south wind and you are a strong swimmer a trip to Grotta Beach is defiantly a must. This beach is the perfect place to snorkel and you can actually swim around and see the ruins of an ancient Mycenaean city that sunk after an earthquake. Most of the statues have been moved into museums however, many pillars and walls still remain. The majority of the time this pebble beach experiences north winds and strong currents and is unsuitable for swimming however if you are there in favorable conditions you should definitely consider getting your snorkel out! At the top of the beach is a hill that has spectacular views of the sunset towards the Apollo temple.
Learn how to kitesurf and windsurf
Naxos is a popular destination, with people traveling from all over the world, to kitesurf and windsurf there.
Mikri Vigla is one of the most beautiful beaches of the Aegean Sea, it is famous for its golden sand and crystal blue waters. The beach faces north which means it catches the strong northern summer winds, making it a good and very popular location for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Located between Mikiri Vigla and Aliko Beaches is Kastraki Beach. You can capture fantastic photos of the sunset from this beach as it is west facing. The beach is rather large so despite attracting many visitors it never gets too crowded! The south end of the beach is where you will find the best conditions for wind and kitesurfing.