Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades, is a perfect destination for travelers who seek a combination of natural beauty, history, and culture. The island boasts a unique blend of mountain and sea landscapes, with picturesque mountain villages and stunning beaches that offer a plethora of activities for visitors. Naxos is also home to several archaeological monuments that carry a rich history and showcase the island’s cultural heritage. The Cycladic architecture at its peak adds to the island’s charm and makes it an ideal place to explore for architecture enthusiasts.
Old Chora of Naxos: A Cyclade heart is calling you
The Old Chora, located in the heart of Naxos, is a charming town that offers a glimpse into the island’s rich history and culture. The town is home to several museums, including the Archaeological Museum of Naxos, which houses a vast collection of artifacts from the island’s ancient past.
The town's narrow streets and alleys are lined with traditional Cycladic houses and shops that sell local handicrafts and souvenirs. The Venetian castle, a sign that the place where you are once was a Duchy of the Venetians, is a must-visit attraction in Old Chora. The castle served as a protective shield to the impregnable fortress of Sanudo in Chora. It was built under the supervision of Marco Sanudo, the Venetian conqueror after whom it was named, who came along with the establishment of Venetian sovereignty over the Aegean Sea in 1207. The castle is a magnificent example of Venetian architecture and is a testament to the island’s rich cultural heritage.
The castle is also home to several towers that were built strategically throughout the island and meant to protect the Venetian families that lived inside from pirate raids and raise an alarm for the same reason. If an attack occurred, a large fire would be lit on the nearest tower’s roof, setting off a chain reaction from one building to another to alert the islanders.
Please note that the castle is currently under restoration work by the Archaeological Society, and some parts of it may not be accessible to the public. However, the castle’s entrance, known as the Portara, is a popular spot to watch the sunset and offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea.
As the sun sets, as was mentioned, make your way to the Portara by following the path that leads to the islet of Palatia. The Portara is a massive marble doorway that is believed to have been the entrance to a place of worship in honor of the god Apollo. The energy of this ancient monument is sure to leave you awestruck. The Portara is located on the islet of Palatia, which is connected to the northern side of Naxos port by a causeway. The Portara is a popular spot to watch the sunset and offers stunning views of the Aegean Sea.
Naxos Villages and Attractions
Naxos Island is not just about its capital, it’s the mountainous villages that will truly captivate you. Begin your journey in Filoti, a village that is a must-visit. From the Arion spring, take the path leading to the extraordinary Zas cave, nestled in the highest peak of the Cyclades.
Nestled somewhere in the Cyclades is Komiaki, the most mountainous village known for its lush landscapes and thriving livestock production. Situated in the northern part of the island, it’s a place worth exploring if you’re holidaying in the area. Also, Halki, one of Naxos’ most charming and well-preserved villages, is sure to captivate you from the moment you set foot in it.
Panagia Drosiani stands as one of the most exquisite and ancient Byzantine temples not just in Naxos, but across Greece. This quaint yet picturesque chapel is nestled near the villages of Moni and Halki. In its earlier days, the church served as a Catholic monastery and boasted a unique architectural style.
In addition to its rich history, the culinary delights of Naxos beckon you to explore. If you’re a fan of beef, try the Kalogero, or opt for the Rosto if pork is your preference. Don’t miss out on the locally renowned gruyere and the island’s fertile potatoes. And of course, no meal is complete without a refreshing glass of citrus liqueur.
Naxos Beaches: Clear waters that will blow your mind
Agios Georgios Beach
Just a short walk from Chora, you’ll find the beach of Agios Georgios. This sandy beach boasts crystal clear waters that have been awarded the Blue Flag. It’s a perfect spot for family-friendly diving adventures that will leave you exhilarated. The beach of Agios Georgios is fully equipped with amenities, and as you head south, you’ll find a range of water sports to indulge in.
Just about five kilometers from the capital, the Agios Prokopios coast invites you for a refreshing dip. With its sandy shores and crystal clear blue waters, you’ll fall in love with it from your very first dive. The beach is well-equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas, forming an organized beachfront. Plus, the presence of various water sports adds an extra layer of fun to your visit.
Agia Anna Beach
The Beach of Agia Anna is a natural continuation of Agios Prokopios and is among the most stunning beaches in Naxos, and rightfully so. Its allure lies in its fine sandy shores and crystal-clear waters that mirror the marine life below.
You will find it organized and with restaurants along it, if you are a lover of quietness, more deserted bays with cedars for natural shade will not leave you complaining. Stay on its shore until sunset and take one last dive with the unique view of the sunset.
The Beach of Plaka is a natural extension of Agia Anna Beach and is equally captivating. Adorned with coarse sand and crystal-clear waters, it’s no less enchanting than its predecessor. The large sand dunes in the backdrop create a truly unique setting. While a significant portion of the beach offers sunbeds and umbrellas, there’s also the option to choose a freer, more unspoiled part of the beach.
The Beach of Mikri Vigla, located 16 km from Chora, offers a serene landscape with its sandy shores and beautiful waters. Whether you prefer the organized section with amenities or the untouched, free part of the beach, Mikri Vigla is a haven for beach lovers.
The hill you’ll notice in the landscape serves as a natural divider from the neighboring bay of “Parthena Beach” (in Greek means Vergin Beach). This spot is a magnet for beachgoers who enjoy wind-dependent water sports.
The beach of Alykos offers a wild view of the beauty of the beaches of Naxos. Rich sand and turquoise waters make this coast a heavenly retreat, completely different from the rest of the crowded beaches.
The coveted shade is generously offered by the cedar forest that spreads behind it, you will find it about 17 kilometers away from Chora.
The beach of Panormos is the farthest coast of the island since it takes about an hour and a half to reach it from the capital, but it is worth every minute of the journey. On its coast you will find palm trees, making many resemble Hawaii, while along it there is a canteen for supplies.
Sand, turquoise waters, and views from Koufonisia and Amorgos make Panormos Beach a beach that definitely You have to swim to enjoy extremely relaxing dives.
The Beach of Pyrgaki, a stunning settlement located in southeastern Naxos, may be sparsely populated, but it’s rich in natural beauty. Here, you’ll discover a paradise-like landscape filled with cedars and lush greenery that extends all the way to the sea, culminating in a vast sandy beach. Situated on the southwest coast of Naxos, Pyrgaki never fails to captivate visitors. The beach in this namesake settlement is encircled by golden dunes and cedar trees, creating a truly enchanting setting.
The Beach of Kastraki is one of Naxos’ largest and most stunning ones and is nestled in a small cove adjacent to the Mikri Vigla peninsula. Its pristine white sand, turquoise waters, and cedar trees offering natural shade create a heavenly setting. While the beach is mostly organized with sunbeds and umbrellas, its vast size ensures it never feels crowded, even during the peak summer months.
The beach of Agios Fykas is a hidden gem on Naxos and offers a scene of unparalleled beauty akin to paradise. This sheltered bay is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and beautiful pebbles, perfect for creating your own mosaic. Located in the northeast part of the island near Apollo village, about 35 km from Naxos Town, the beach is accessible via a ring road. A 15-minute descent on a dirt track, best tackled in sneakers, leads you to this stunning beach. Once there, you can enjoy a swim in its warm, clear waters.
How to get to Naxos: To reach the enchanting place of Naxos you have 2 choices. The first is to take a five-hour ferry ride from the port of Piraeus. The second is to fly to Naxo's airport from the Athens International Airport on a 45-minute flight.
Naxos, with its pristine sandy beaches and deep-rooted traditions. It is a destination that continually unveils new wonders, no matter how often you visit. Each trip reveals fresh facets of its beauty that never fail to astonish.