Naxos Island Holidays Travel Guide


What if we told you that between Mykonos and Paros lies a magic (and lesser known by tourists) island? We’re talking about Naxos, an Aegean gem that attracts travellers in the know -just like you!

 

Sitting in the heart of the Aegean sea, close to often overcrowded islands, like Santorini and Mykonos, Naxos is a great alternative for relaxing holidays.

 

Naxos is the epitome of Cycladic beauty! It boasts one of the most beautiful natural landscapes of the Cyclades, a great selection of exotic beaches, and historical monuments galore. Are you ready for holidays on Naxos island? Scroll down!

About Naxos


Naxos is the largest and most fertile island of the Cyclades island group! Carpeted with vineyards, fringed with exotic beaches, and boasting an enduring history, Naxos is one of a kind!

As if you would expect anything less from the island where, according to the myth, the Greek gods Zeus and Dionysus were raised. Honestly, Naxos has a mythical aura highlighted by the natural beauty of the island! Are you ready to explore Naxos? Scroll down!

 

Why is Naxos famous?

Naxos might have been developed as a tourist destination during the last years, but it hasn’t lost its authentic character.

 

In Naxos Chora, you’ll get lost in narrow alleys, be seduced by the beauty of its traditional Cycladic architecture, and taste the yummiest local delicacies at small whitewashed taverns.

 

In Naxos Chora, you’ll get lost in narrow alleys, be seduced by the beauty of its traditional Cycladic architecture, and taste the yummiest local delicacies at small whitewashed taverns.

 

The nature of Naxos is also worth exploring! Naxos is home to the highest mountain of the Cyclades, Mount Zas (1004 m.), beautiful waterfalls, forests, and caves. No wonder Naxos island, Greece is ideal for activities in nature, such as cycling, hiking, and climbing. We’re talking about the absolute nature lovers’ paradise!

 

Are you already craving Naxos holidays?

 

Where is Naxos located?

 

Naxos lies in the heart of the Aegean sea, between Paros and Mykonos. It belongs to the Cyclades island group. The location of the island close to some of the most popular Cyclades islands makes it the perfect base for island hopping. Naxos is located 181 km away from Athens (Piraeus), 40 km away from Paros, 40 km away from Mykonos, and 57 km away from Koufonisia.

Read also: Crete island holidays travel guide | Santorini island holidays travel guide | Rhodes island holidays travel guide

 

What is the best time to visit Naxos?

The best time of the year to visit Naxos is between spring and fall (April to October). Summer is the best season to enjoy the natural landscape of Naxos, go for sightseeing in Naxos, and take a dip in the exotic waters of the island. Summer is also the best season to island-hop to the rest of the Cyclades islands. July and August are the months when Naxos is the most crowded. If you prefer a more laid-back kind of holidays, then May and September are the best months to enjoy Naxos island, while the weather is still warm.

 

The weather in Naxos

  • Autumn (September to November)

    Highest: 77 F/ 25 C Lowest: 57 F/ 14 C

  • Winter (December to February)

    Highest: 61 F/ 16 C Lowest: 48 F/ 9 C

  • Spring (March to May)

    Highest: 72 F/ 22 C Lowest: 61 F/ 10 C

  • Summer (June to August)

    Highest: 81 F/ 27 C Lowest: 68 F/ 20 C

 

What are the most popular events/holidays/city-breaks in Naxos?

St Basil Day/New Year, Theophania / Epiphany, Traditional Olive Oil Extraction Feast
Carnival season, Valentine’s Day, Tsiknopempti (Meat Thursday)
Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday), Carnival season, Independence Day (March 25th), Agoni Grammi Gonimi Festival
Easter Week, Easter Sunday, Domus Festival at the Venetian Museum
Labor Day, Saint John the Theologian festival
Fisherman’s Feast, Saint John’s Klidonas Feast
Kouzinomageiremata cooking contest, Naxos Festival, Elaia Festival, Naxathlon Triathlon, Potato Feast, Demetria Festival, Milossia sports festival
Sotiras festival, Assumption of Mary feast, Naoussa Pirate Festival, Saint Fanourios feast
“OXI” Day

 

Did you know?

According to mythology Zeus, the father of gods grew up in Naxos. The legend has it that an eagle brought Zeus thunder on the top of the tallest mountain of the island. To honor him, the inhabitants named that mountain Zas after him.

 

What are the best things to do in Naxos, Greece?

  1. Visit the beaches of Naxos

    The coastline of Naxos is fringed with many postcard-perfect beaches! The beaches of Naxos stand out for their length and exotic landscape. Secluded or crowded, organized or unspoiled, the beaches of Naxos cover every taste! The most popular beaches in Naxos are Plaka, Agios Georgios (Saint George), Agios Prokopios, and Agia Anna. If you want a more secluded option, head to Aliko and Sahara.

  2. Go sightseeing

    Sightseeing in Naxos is a must. The trademark of the island is hands down Portara Naxos, the big marble gate of an ancient temple dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Sitting on a hill above Naxos Chora, Portara is not only an imposing archaeological monument but also an ideal spot to watch the sunset. Apart from Portara, make sure you’ll also visit the Archaeological Site of Grotta, the Ancient Sanctuary of Dionysus, the Prehistoric Acropolis of Panermos, as well as the island’s museums.

  3. Get lost in nature

    Naxos has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty. In Naxos lies the highest mountain of the Cyclades, Mount Zas (1004 m.). Hiking at Mount Zas and exploring its cave is a must activity to do in Naxos! If on the other side, you’re interested in bird watching, then Ammitis wetland and Kalantos wetland are the best places to spot migratory birds in their natural habitat. In Naxos, you’ll also find waterfalls, sea caves, and forests.

  4. Try the yummiest local delicacies

    Naxos, like the rest of the Cyclades islands (and the Greek islands in general), is famous for its gastronomy! Don’t leave the island without tasting arseniko cheese, gouna, potatoes, “rosto” and “sefoukloti”. What’s more, make sure to bring home with you the best local products, such as Naxian citron liqueur, spoon sweets, and thyme honey!

  5. Savor the view from Portara Naxos

    No visit to Naxos is complete without a visit to Portara, the island’s trademark. Portara, which means big door in Greek, is the big marble gate of an ancient temple dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Portara is around 6 meters high and 3.5 meters wide and stands on a hill above Naxos Chora, near Naxos Port,. The half-finished temple of Apollo, part of which Portara is, would be 59 meters long and 28 meters wide. It would also face Delos, which was, according to the legend, Apollo’s birthplace. Portara is the perfect spot to watch the Aegean sunset in Naxos.

  6. Get lost in history at the Archaeological Museum of Naxos

    The Archaeological Museum of Naxos in Naxos Chora is the best place to introduce yourself to the history of Naxos. The museum is housed in a 17th-century Venetian building and consists of five floors full of exhibits. Among the museum’s exhibits, there are findings from excavations carried out in Naxos, such as objects from the Neolithic era, marble Cycladic statues, ancient jewelry, beautifully decorated vessels, and wooden tools.

  7. Explore Cave Zas

    Located on the western side of the imposing mount Zas and southeast of Filoti, cave Zas has a long history. It was where, according to the legend, Zeus found shelter from his father, who was after him. Cave Zas is probably the most interesting geological sight in Naxos, as it boasts an impressive interior with stalagmites and stalactites. 115 meters high and 75 meters wide, Cave Zas is a relatively big cave. Excavations carried out between 1985 and 1994 brought into light findings from the Neolithic, Classical, and Roman eras, which are now displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Naxos.

What are the shopping hours in Naxos?

In Naxos Chora, the shops are open every day from 9 am to 10 pm, while some tourist shops are open until midnight. However, shopping hours may differ in other areas. The shops at the villages of Naxos usually close earlier and close for the lunch break.

 

Key facts about Naxos

  • Population

    18,904 (2011)

  • Currecy

    Euro

  • Language

    Greek

  • Average Temperatures

    Warmest Month: August (81 F/ 27 C)
    Coldest Month: February (48 F/ 9 C)

  • Tipping

    Tipping in Naxos is not obligatory, but you can leave a tip if you are satisfied with the service. We advise you to tip in cash so that the money will go straight to the person that served you.

  • Loved by

    Water sports enthusiasts, families, couples, nature lovers

The history of Naxos

Naxos counts centuries of history and myths. According to the archaeological finds on the island, Naxos was inhabited around 4,000 B.C. Excavations carried out on the island have brought to light objects that date back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic Eras, like pottery and jewelry.

Around 2,000 B.C Naxos played an important role in trade, as it connected Greece with the East. Apart from trade though, Naxos engaged in farming, fishing, and sculpture. Later on, Naxos fell under the rule of the Venetians and the Ottomans but gained independence in 1832.

 

How to get to Naxos?

You can reach Naxos either by ferry from Athens to Naxos or by flights to Naxos from Athens International Airport and other European airports.

 

Getting from Athens to Naxos by ferry

Traveling by ferry from Athens to Naxos is the cheapest way to get to the beautiful Cycladic island. Many ferries depart daily from Athens to Naxos, so you will easily find the itinerary that serves you best!

Ferries from Athens to Naxos depart from the two main ports of Athens, Piraeus port and Rafina port. Traveling from Piraeus is a better option if you stay in Athens city center and use public means of transportation. On the other hand, Rafina port is a better option if you have a car, as Rafina lies 40 km away from Athens city center and 10 km away from Athens International Airport.

Depending on the type of the ferry (regular or high speed), the trip from Athens to Naxos lasts from 3 to 6 hours. As for the cost, a ferry ticket from Athens to Naxos costs around 30 € to 50 €.

The Greek ferry companies that serve the itinerary from Athens to Naxos are Blue Star Ferries, Golden Star Ferries, SeaJets, and Fast Ferries.

 

Getting to Naxos by air

There are many flights to Naxos, mainly internal, from islands such as Crete, Mykonos, and Paros. If you want to explore Athens before heading to Naxos, though, the best option is to catch a flight from Athens to Naxos. During the summer months, there are many daily flights from Athens to Naxos, and from Thessaloniki to Naxos.

Where to stay in Naxos?

Naxos Chora

Naxos Chora is the capital of Naxos Greece and also where the harbor of the island lies. It is located on the west coast of the island, where the ancient town of Naxos was built and boasts traditional Cycladic architecture. Meandering through its narrow alleys, you’ll come across Venetian buildings while on the top of the town, you’ll find the impressive Venetian castle.

 

Naxos Chora is also where the trademark of the island, Portara Naxos is located. Perched on a hill above Chora, Portara is the big marble gate of an ancient temple dedicated to the Greek god Apollo. Your best bet is to climb on the hill, not only to see this imposing monument but also to marvel at the sunset.

 

Naxos hotels located in the island’s main town are the best accommodation option for those who want to be close to the port, amenities, and most of the island’s restaurants and bars!

 

Some of the best hotels to stay in Naxos Chora are: Sweet Home Naxos, Emery Hotel, Hotel Grotta, and Naxos Illusion Nikos Verikokos.

Saint George Naxos

Saint George Naxos, which lies south-west of the capital, is the closest beach to Naxos Town. Located just 2 km from Naxos Chora, Saint George is the best place to stay if you want to be close to Chora, but also enjoy a relaxing stay by the sea.

 

The best thing about hotels in Saint George is that they lie right by the beach, offering a perfect setting. As for Saint George beach, it is a beautiful and sandy beach that stretches for many kilometers. Its proximity to Naxos Town makes this beach one of the most popular beaches in Naxos, as it is the perfect option for a plunge close to the capital.

 

Some of the best hotels to stay in Saint George are: Nissaki Beach Hotel, Galini Hotel, Antony Suites, and Nufaro Studios.

Plaka Naxos

Another option for those who want to spend their holidays in Naxos by the beach is Plaka. Plaka, Naxos is a long sandy beach just 15 minutes away from Naxos Chora. What’s more, Plaka beach is organized and has many amenities. Its enticingly clear waters, fine sand, and breathtaking natural beauty create an idyllic scenery.

 

There are many hotels in Plaka for every taste located along the coastline, so there’s no doubt that you’ll find the perfect accommodation for you! Apart from hotels, in Plaka beach, you’ll find cafes, restaurants, and taverns behind the dunes.

 

Some of the best hotels to stay in Plaka are: Ploes Seaside Houses, Naxos Island Escape Suites, Depis Edem Luxury Villas, and Annio Studios.

 

How to get around Naxos?


Naxos is too big to explore on foot, so hiring a private means of transportation is highly recommended. If you’re on a tight budget, you can opt for the public bus, which connects Chora, the island’s capital with the most popular villages and beaches.

 

Getting around Naxos by car

Given that Naxos is the largest island of the Cyclades, the best way to get around is by car. There are many car rental companies both at the port and the airport, so it’ll be easy to rent the perfect car for you. The car gives you the flexibility to explore the island at your own pace and go to beaches that can’t be reached by bus. The price for renting a car in Naxos is about 40-60 euros per day. Motorbikes are much cheaper, about 20 euros per day.

 

Getting around Naxos by taxi

An alternative to the car is the taxi. Finding a taxi upon your arrival in Naxos is pretty easy, as there are many taxis at the port, the airport, and Chora. If you haven’t rented a car, you can opt for a taxi for short trips, like from Chora to Agia Anna. It’s also a convenient option for the transfer from the port/airport to your hotel!

 

Getting around Naxos by bus

Frequent buses connect Naxos Chora with several villages and beaches. There is a bus stop right on the harbor, so you can take the bus to your hotel after arriving on the island. In general, Naxos has an organized bus network and bus tickets are very cheap (2-4 euros for a one-way ticket). Keep in mind that the bus is usually jam-packed with people in the summer, so make sure that you arrive at the bus stop well before departure time.

 

How much will you spend on Naxos per day?

Naxos is not as expensive as other islands of the Cyclades, like Mykonos and Santorini. You can find many budget-friendly hotels and taverns throughout the island. Generally speaking, you’re going to spend about 80 € (97 $) per day during your stay in Naxos. More specifically, you’ll spend 25 € (30 $) on food, 15 € (18 $) on transportation, and 40 € (48 $) per person for a double room in Naxos.

 

What are the must-try foods in Naxos?

  • Arseniko cheese

    Naxos is super famous for its cheeses, especially arseniko, a delicious buttery cheese made of goat and sheep milk. Also known as kefalotyri, arseniko is made the traditional way. The locals knead it, rub it with virgin olive oil, and leave it for 3 months to mature. The more mature, the more delicious!

  • Potatoes

    Naxos grows its own variety of potatoes -Naxian potatoes are probably the best potatoes in Greece. Cultivated in Naxos since the 19th century, potatoes are a huge part of the local agricultural culture. The locals love potatoes so much, they organize a potato festival every August!

  • Gouna fish

    If you’re going to try just one fish dish in Naxos, it should be gouna! Also known as liokafto fish, gouna is one of the yummiest local delicacies. Gouna is made of fatty fish that is flavored with local herbs, sprinkled with plenty of salt, and left under the sun to dry. After this preparation, gouna is roasted and garnished with mustard sauce. Yum!

  • Spoon sweets

    Spoon sweets are not only a drool-worthy delicacy, but they also make a great present for your loved ones from Naxos. Spoon sweets are usually made of locally grown fruits, like citrus fruits, watermelon, peach, grape, and apricot. You can find them at almost all the traditional shops on the island!

Useful Information

Greece is a European city and a part of the Schengen Agreement. So, if you’re a European citizen or citizen of a country member of the Schengen Agreement, you only need a Passport or an Identity Card to enter the country. If you’re a citizen of a country that is neither European nor a member of the Schengen Agreement, you need a visa to visit Greece.
Medical Emergency:112 Fire Service: 199 Ambulance: 166 Police: 100 Medical Unit: 302285071388/71177 Local Police Station: 302285022100, 302285023280, 302285023801

Health care & Safety

Health care in Naxos

The Greek Health Care System is public and provides free treatment to citizens and expats. You can visit a public practitioner for free or a private practitioner with a charge. In both cases, you have to pay for prescribed medicines. In case of emergency, you can call a public EKAV ambulance (166) or the European emergency number (112).

Safety in Naxosin Paros

Naxos is perfectly safe, but -like in every other tourist destination- you should take reasonable precautions for your safety. Here are some of our tips: 1) Keep an eye on your belongings, especially when you are in crowded places, like bars and clubs. 2) Don’t leave your belongings unattended on the beach. 3) Make sure you lock your car after parking it.

 

What are the best beaches in Naxos?

Plaka beach

Plaka is one of the lengthiest beaches in Naxos and one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece! Stretching for almost 4 km, Plaka boasts a beautiful setting with endless golden sand and dunes. It is lined with many restaurants, hotels, and cafes, while at the beginning of the beach you can find umbrellas and sun loungers. Plaka also offers an amazing view of Paros!

 

Agios Prokopios beach

Agios Prokopios is a beautiful and lively beach located 6 km away from Chora. Particularly popular with youngsters, Agios Prokopios has many beach bars, clubs, restaurants, and pretty much every facility you would expect from a well-organized beach. As for its waters, they are tranquil and crystal clear -ideal for swimming!

 

Agios Georgios (Saint George) beach

Agios Georgios is a family-friendly beach located very close to the island’s capital, Chora. Thanks to its proximity to Naxos Chora, Agios Georgios beach is very popular and often overcrowded. The main reason why this beach is ideal for families with little kids is the shallow waters, which are safe for inexperienced swimmers.

 

Agia Anna beach

Agia Anna is another popular beach in Naxos! Located next to Agios Prokopios beach, Agia Anna offers the perfect conditions for swimming, sunset watching, and relaxation. The peaceful ambiance, turquoise waters, and rocky backdrop create a magical setting! If you visit Agia Anna beach, don’t miss to go to the picturesque little port and the clifftop church in the south part of the beach.

 

Gifts for your loved-ones from Naxos

  • Citrus liqueur

  • Spoon sweets

  • Local cheese (arseniko, graviera etc)

  • Pottery

  • Jams

  • Handmade jewelry

  • Aromatic herbs

  • Hand-woven table cloths

 

Conclusion


Are you already craving holidays on Naxos island? We feel you. Really. That’s why we shared all the basics with you. From the best things to do in Naxos and the most beautiful places to stay, to the top beaches and the most drool-worthy local dishes, we told you everything that will make your life a bit (or a lot) easier.

So, what do you think about Naxos? Is it on your bucket list? We can’t wait to read your answers in the comments. Oh, and feel free to share this article on Social Media if you liked it!

 

Other Travel Guides you may be interested in: Santorini island holidays | Mykonos island holidays | Paros island holidays | Crete island holidays

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