The island of Naxos, like any other Greek island, is steeped in the charming, romantic mythology of this country. Famous for its beaches and ruins, there’s plenty to do on this small archipelago, not to mention its delicious cuisine, which is a must-try. Undoubtedly a popular tourist destination, let me show you what the largest island of the Cyclades has to offer.

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How to get there?

As I wasn’t in Greece yet, I decided to fly there and landed at a cute little airport in the middle of nowhere.
But if you’re already in the country, your best bet is to take one of the many ferries that make the trip every day. Don’t forget to check timetables and ticket prices directly with the company or on their website: there are 7 companies to and from Naxos (Blue Star Ferries, Fast Ferries, Golden Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways, Minoan Lines, Seajets and Small Cyclades Lines).

Best things to do in Naxos

1. Portara

Portara in Naxos
View from Portara in Naxos

It felt like a set worthy of any Greek or period film. If you come by ferry, this is the first thing you’ll see, in the middle of the islet, separated from the town by the little path that leads to it.

Originally part of the temple of Apollo, it is now the symbol of Naxos, where tourists come both day and night, for the sunset is truly magnificent.

Golden hour in Naxos

I agree that Portara is one of the island’s must-sees, but I preferred to see it from a distance at sunset, as it can get a little crowded even in low season (late September).

2. Chora (Naxos) & The Old Market

Old market in Naxos

Wandering the many streets of Chora can take several hours, or even a whole day. But why? Simply because every little alley, every arch and every corner takes you somewhere, sometimes even to places you’ve already been. It’s like a giant labyrinth from which you can only hope to emerge alive before you’re too dehydrated or hungry. That won’t happen though, as there are plenty of restaurants and cafés along the way.

The old market and town are the best places not only to get to know Naxos better, but also to buy souvenirs and local produce.

3. Halki

Church in Naxos

I spent a pleasant morning in the old village of Halki, right in the center of the island. The former capital of Naxos has retained its cute, authentic charm, infused with the scent of olive trees.
I loved getting lost and discovering the many Byzantine churches around the village, as well as the colorful, painted alleyways.

Flower alley in Naxos

You can also take a free tour of the Kitron distillery, where the process of making citron-leaf liqueur is explained.

If you decide to come by bus, the journey takes around 30 minutes and I highly recommend it, as you’ll cross the mainland and see Naxos’ beautiful Mediterranean mountain scenery.

4. Kastraki Beach

Kastraki beach in Naxos

If you take the bus (approx. 30 mins), you’ll have to get off after Mikri Vigla and walk until you find the best spot on the beach. The northern part is a little more touristy, especially if you come in high season. Restaurants, umbrellas and lounges abound, while the southern part is still quite wild.

The crystal-clear water, long stretch of sand and pleasant September breeze combine perfectly to make this the ideal place to relax.

5. Plaka Beach

Plaka beach in Naxos

With so much space, it’s impossible not to find a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the island. Plaka, the longest beach on Naxos, is sure to please. The large sand dunes, the beautiful scenery and the tranquility in low season will seduce you.
Be careful, however, not to venture too far south of the beach, unless you’re a naturist.

Only 9 km from town, there’s no excuse not to take a look now!

6. Kastro

Built in the 13th century, Kastro is still well preserved. I even saw reconstruction work going on when I was there, trying to imagine what it must have been like in the past.

With its cathedral, archaeological museum, restaurants and Venetian architecture, there’s much more to Kastro than its castle. The many alleyways alone are a sight to explore, and the hungriest can also stop for a bite to eat.

Alley around Kastro in Naxos

7. Mount Zas

The highest mountain in the Cyclades and offering panoramic views over the island, it’s a perfect substitute for the beach if you’ve had enough, or if you simply love hiking and not just lounging on the sand.

What’s more, mythology has it that this is the mountain where Zeus grew up, hence the name > Zas! Pretty cool, huh?

At 1001m altitude, this is a moderately difficult hike with rocky ground, so watch your ankles and bring plenty of water!

8. Learn a water sport

Water sports in Naxos

More specifically windsurfing or kitesurfing, as Naxos offers ideal conditions for getting started: wind, small waves and good weather.

You can go directly to Mikri Vigla and ask one of the beach schools to teach you a new sport.

9. Paros

In Naxos, there are many possibilities. You can choose to stay on the island, but you can also take a ferry to one of the neighboring islands. Paros is one of them. The journey takes less than an hour, and many ferries run several times a day (until 11 p.m.).

Once there, you can start at Parikia, where the ferry docks. Authentic and modern at the same time, this town will charm you at every turn.

You can then continue on to Naoussa, a fishing village where you can visit the harbor, the many beautiful beaches and enjoy a drink.

10. Greek Food

Restaurant in Naxos

If you’ve never tasted Greek cuisine, Naxos is a good place to start. The island has no shortage of good restaurants. Local produce, traditional dishes, wherever you go, you won’t be disappointed by the quality of your meal.

I won’t list all the choices available, but Apostolis, Barozzi Naxos Restaurant, both in Naxos, and O Vassilis in Melanes are all perfect places to satisfy your taste buds.

Final Thoughts on Naxos

Picturesque villages, magnificent beaches, delicious cuisine, need I say more to convince you? Going there in September was a wise choice, as I was able to avoid the high season and the many tourists usually present.

I was immediately seduced by the island and its typical Greek blue and white colors. Naxos may be the largest island in the Cyclades, but I had the impression that time had stood still. Tranquility was the watchword and I can only hope to return to this green paradise one day.

Want to discover another Greek island? Here’s my article on the magnificent Santorini!

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