Julie Greece 16 Comments

Naxos is the largest and greenest island in the Cyclades. Lounge on the white, sandy beaches, visit ancient temples, hike to the summit of Mount Zas, go windsurfing, and explore the charming villages…these all make the list of the best things to do in Naxos.

On our recent trip to Greece, we hopped from Mykonos to Naxos to Santorini by ferry and it was Naxos that stole our hearts. We loved this island. Naxos feels quiet, peaceful, uncrowded. With its green rolling hills and mountains, Naxos looks and feels remotely different from the other islands in the Cyclades. The beaches are beautiful, walking the village trail and exploring old ruins was lots of fun, and the food is amazing. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit here and hope to return again someday.

Interesting Facts about Naxos

Mount Zas, also called Mount Zeus, is the highest point in the Cyclades. According to Greek mythology, Zeus was raised in a cave on this mountain. You can hike to the summit of Mount Zas and explore the cave along the way.

Naxos is more mountainous than the other islands in the Cyclades. These mountains tend to trap the clouds, so the island gets more rainfall, and therefore it is greener and more fertile than nearby islands.

The island of Naxos is criss-crossed with numerous hiking and walking trails. You can hike to the summit of Mount Zas, walk from village to village, or explore other ruins and statues on the island. If you like to go hiking, Naxos is one of the best Greek islands to visit.

Naxos gets fewer tourists than the more popular destinations of Mykonos and Santorini. It feels quieter here, more authentic, and less crowded. Plus, since it doesn’t share the same popularity as other islands in the Cyclades, hotel prices can be a lot lower.

Best Things to Do in Naxos

1. The Portara

The Portara, also called the Temple of Apollo, is Naxos’ most famous landmark. It sits right beside Chora, the main city on Naxos, so if you are arriving by ferry, this will be the first thing you see.

The Portara is a large door, the entrance to an unfinished temple. It was constructed in 530 BC. There are two theories about why this temple was built. The Portara faces the island of Delos, so some people believe the temple was built to honor the god Apollo. Other scholars believe it was dedicated to Dionysus, who was worshipped on Naxos.

Portara Naxos | Best Things to Do in Naxos

The Portara


Apollo Temple | Best Things to Do in Naxos

Getting Here: Cross the manmade causeway from Naxos City and walk the gravel trails around the door. It’s free to visit and only takes a few minutes of your time. The Portara also makes a great sunset photography spot on Naxos.

2. Chora, or Naxos City

Chora, also referred to as Naxos City, is the capital of Naxos. This is where the ferries dock and where most visitors stay while on the island. It is filled with great restaurants and small shops and makes a great hub for exploring the island.

Naxos | Best Things to Do in Naxos

Naxos City | Best Things to Do in Naxos

The town is built on a hill. At the top of the hill is the Kastro, or castle. This medieval citadel was built by a Venetian Emperor in 1207 and was the seat of power in the Cyclades for 300 years. Located within the castle is the Archaeological Museum, a worthwhile visit for history buffs.

3. Mount Zas

Hike to the top of Mount Zas for panoramic views over Naxos and for bragging rights that you stood on the highest point in the Cyclades.

Hike Mount Zas | Best Things to Do in Naxos

Mount Zas | Best Things to Do in Naxos


Mount Zas | Best Things to Do in Naxos

View from Mount Zas

The only way to reach the summit of Mount Zas is on your own two feet. There are two routes to the top. The easiest route is from Aghia Marina. This hike is 7 km round trip with 300 meters of elevation gain.

The second route starts at Aria Spring and goes past the Cave of Zeus before ending at the summit. It’s only 5 km round trip but is much steeper and more strenuous than the Aghia Marina route.

4. Visit the Villages of Naxos

Dotting the hillsides and mountains of Naxos are small, quaint villages that are a joy to visit. You can drive from one to the other by car, or, if you want a more scenic experience, you can walk the trails that connect these villages. On the list are Melanes, Ano Potamia, Myli, Kalamitsia, and more.

Naxos Village Walk

Hike Naxos Greece | Best Things to Do in Naxos

Blue dome church in Melanes



Melanes | Best Things to Do in Naxos

We walked from Melanes to Myli to the Kouroi of Flerio and it was one of our favorite experiences in Naxos. It’s a beautiful walk and easy to do, so it’s great for families and people of all ages. This walk takes about 2 to 3 hours and is done as a loop (it starts and ends at Melanes), so it’s easy to do if you have a rental car.

5. Apiranthos

Apiranthos, also called “Plenty of Flowers Village,” is one of the prettiest villages on the island. Wander the narrow marble-paved streets, see more Venetian architecture, and visit one of several small museums here.

6. Hike to Apano Kastro

This was not on our original to-do list. And this turned out to be our favorite, unexpected surprise on Naxos.

Apano Kastro is the ruins of an ancient castle in Naxos. It made our “maybe” list from a Google search I did prior to our trip to Greece. The images of ruins on a lush, green hillside caught my attention and we decided to give it a try. We had no information to go off of, other than one image and a point marked on Google Maps.

We figured out how to walk from the cute little village of Ano Potamia and up to Apano Kastro. It is a beautiful walk with wonderful views across the interior of Naxos. We could see Mount Zas looming over us and Naxos City off in the distance.

Apano Kastro | Best Things to Do in Naxos

Apano Kastro hike | Best Things to Do in Naxos


View of Naxos

The view from Apano Kastro. Mount Zas is the mountain with the cloud over it.


Hike Apano Kastro | Best Things to Do in Naxos

If you really want to get off-of-the-beaten-path in Naxos, this is a great, short hike to consider. 

7. Splurge on a Room with a View

Rarely does a hotel make our to-do list. But we stayed at a place so wonderful that I just had to write about it.

Imagine touring the island by day and then lounging in your infinity pool with one of the best views of Naxos in the evening. And you can get all of this for a fraction of the price you would pay on Mykonos or Santorini.

If you want to splurge for a private pool with a view while in Greece, Naxos is the place to do it. During our search, hotels were considerably cheaper on Naxos than Mykonos or Santorini.

We stayed at the fabulous Naxos Rock Villas. This small property offers several villas and suites. We stayed in the Apollo villa and had two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen and living area, and the most amazing terrace with an infinity pool. It was unbelievable.

In the mornings, we would have breakfast on the terrace, with views of Mount Zas, Naxos City, and the rolling hills of Naxos. In the evenings, we literally rushed back to the villa, eager to hang out again on the terrace. Do you blame us? Look at this place!

Naxos Greece

Naxos Rock Villas


Naxos Rock Villas

Best Hotel in Naxos

Naxos Bedroom

Naxos Rock Villas is located about 10 minutes from Naxos City, so you will need a car if you plan to stay here.

Get prices and check availability on Booking.com.

8. Go to the Beach

Take your pick from the white sandy beaches that line the coast of Naxos. Agios Prokopios, Plaka Beach, Mikri Vigla, and Agia Anna are some of the prettiest beaches on the island.

Naxos Beach

Agios Prokopios Beach | Best Things to Do in Naxos

9. Windsurf or Kitesurf

The northern winds that blow over Naxos create excellent conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The most popular beaches include Agios Prokopios, Agios Georgios, Laguna, and Mikri Vigla beaches.

Learn more here.

10. The Temple of Demeter

This temple was built in the 6th century BC to honor Demeter, the goddess of grain and the harvest. In the 6th century AD, the temple was demolished and the marble was used to build a Christian basilica on the same site. Recently, German archaeologists restored the temple to its present form.

Temple of Demeter

Temple of Demeter | Best Things to Do in Naxos


Demetra Temple Naxos

The Temple of Demeter is located near the town of Sangri. From Naxos City it takes 30 minutes to drive here.

11. Panagia Drosiani Church

This is the oldest Christian church on Naxos and it dates back to the end of the 6th century AD. It’s free and quick to visit and worthwhile if you are road tripping around the island.

Panagia Drosiani

Panagia Drosiani Church

12. Vallindras Distillery

Kitron is a liqueur distilled on Naxos from the leaves of the citron tree. Located in Chalki, it’s free to visit the distillery and do a tasting of kitron. Learn more here.

13. Kouroi of Flerio

In the 6th and 7th centuries BC, craftsman quarried rock on Naxos and used this rock to carve enormous statues. You can still see two of these statues, and the quarry, if you don’t mind doing a little walking.

Kouros Naxos

You can drive to a point near the Kouros or include a visit here while walking the village trail. Learn more in our article about walking the village trail on Naxos.

14. Apollonas

Apollonas is a fishing village on the northern coast of Naxos. It’s fun to explore, a great place to dine on fresh fish, and nearby is another Kouros (statue) to visit.

On this bus tour of Naxos, visit the Temple of Demeter, Apiranthos, the statue at Kouros, Apollonas, an olive museum, and other villages. If you don’t plan on renting a car while in Naxos, this is a great way to see the highlights of Naxos.

15. Dine on Greek Food

There are lots of great restaurants to try on Naxos. We couldn’t get to all of these during our short stay but here is a list of some of the best restaurants on the island.

Rotonda. If you want a delicious meal with an amazing view, put Rotonda on your list. It is located in the mountains near Apiranthos, so you will need a car to get here, but this restaurant gets rave reviews not only for its food but for the view. Unfortunately, they were closed during our visit, but it looks like a fabulous place for lunch or dinner if you are road tripping around the island.

O Vasilis. Located in Melanes, this traditional Greek restaurant makes a nice place for lunch or dinner, especially if you plan to visit the town while walking the village trail.

In Naxos, we ate at Nostimon Hellas, which serves traditional Greek food with a twist. To Elliniko was high on our list but it was not yet open in early April. If you go, get the orange cake, I hear that it is delicious! Other notable spots to try in Naxos include La Vigne Wine Bar, Scirocco Café, and Barozzi Naxos Restaurant.

Another memorable way to spend a few hours is with a Greek cooking class. During this 4-hour cooking class, learn how to cook Naxian dishes in traditional house in Kaloxylos, a village in the heart of Naxos.

Greece Travel Guide

Best Things to Do in Naxos: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

About Our Visit

We visited Naxos in mid-April. The island was just waking up from a long winter. We were the first guests of the year at Naxos Rock Villas and many restaurants still had not opened their doors.

During the day, temperatures ranged from 13°C – 18°C (mid-50’s to mid-60’s). We had one day of high winds and clouds and one day of sunny skies and low wind. Even though it was a bit chilly, Kara could not pass up a quick dip in the pool at our villa.

Even though temperatures were cool and Naxos had not fully woken up from the winter season, we loved visiting this time of year. Crowds were very low and temperatures were pleasant for hiking.

If you want nice weather and want to avoid peak season crowds, May and September are great months to visit Naxos.

Filoti Naxos

Filoti | Best Things to Do in Naxos

Getting Around Naxos

To really get out and explore Naxos, you will need a rental car. As you can see from our list of things to do in Naxos, there is a lot to do that is located away from Naxos City.

For the most part, getting around Naxos by car is relatively easy and straightforward. Simply follow the signs on the roads that point you to the towns, beaches, and other points of interest. There were a few times where Google Maps directed us down extremely narrow, rural roads, so we had to backtrack and find a new route, but in some ways, that just added to the adventure.

How Many Days Should You Spend on Naxos?

We spent two days in Naxos and wished we had at least one more day. The island is deceptively large with a lot to do, so having three or more days is ideal.

Three or more days would give you enough time to hike to Mount Zas, walk the village trail or explore other trails on the island, relax at the beach, take windsurfing lessons, and explore Naxos City. Plus, if you stay at the Naxos Rock Villas, or somewhere similar, you will want some extra time to lounge at your hotel.

Are you planning a trip to Naxos? Comment below if you have any questions about the best things to do in Naxos or if you want to share your experience.

More Information for Your Trip to Greece

NAXOS: For more things to do on Naxos, we also have information on hiking to Mount Zas, how to hike to Apano Kastro, and a detailed guide to hiking the Village Trail to Melanes, Myli, and the Kouroi.

MYKONOS: Learn about things to do and how to get around Mykonos in our Guide to Mykonos.

THINGS TO DO IN SANTORINI: For a full list of things to do, read our article Best Things to Do in Santorini. We also have detailed guides on How to Walk from Fira to Oia and the Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Oia.

ATHENS: Plan your visit to Athens with our 2 Days in Athens Itinerary and our guide to the Best Hotels in Athens. We also have a detailed list of Things to do in Athens and a guide to the Best Views of Athens and the Acropolis.

GREECE ITINERARY: Learn how to visit Athens, Santorini, Naxos and Mykonos in our 10 Day Greece Itinerary.

TRAVEL ADVICE: First time in Greece? Here are essential things to know about Greece, from SIM cards to booking the ferries to renting a car.


Planning a trip to Greece? Read all of our articles in our Greece Travel Guide.



Naxos Greece Best Things To Do

Best Things to do in Naxos

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Comments 16

  1. Avatar for Lisa

    Hi there, I’m planning our firs trip to Greece for Mid May this year.
    I’ve decided on arrival to spend 2 night in Athens , 3 nights Santorini , 3 nights Naxos, 2 nights in Paros and then fly back to Athens for our last night before we catch our international flight the next day. I’m just worried that I’ve done too much?? Shall I cut out one island? We’re travelling with our kids who are both adults. Many thanks Lisa.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Lisa. I don’t think you are doing too much. It sounds very similar to what we did, but we visited Mykonos instead of Paros. Paros looks great and I wish we had done that instead of Mykonos. You’ll be busy but you are going to see a lot of great places. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Gary Bennett
    Gary Bennett

    Visited Naxos in August 23 ,loved it that much are going again in Sept 24 even thinking of retiring here. Lovely island, did most of the things mentioned and stayed at the Saint George Hotel ( highly recommend).

  3. Avatar for kim bouvette
    kim bouvette

    We are going to Naxos for 3 whole days. I have looked at your 3 hikes. We love hiking. I am trying to stay flexible yet decide how to prioritize these hikes — even considered hike #4. Except the view at the end of the Mt Zas — not sure this would be #1? Suggestions?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      If I had to rank these from must-do to least-do, the order would be Mount Zas (an essential hike to do on Naxos), Apano Kastro (I loved that we were the only ones on this short but scenic trail), and then the Villages Walk. We did the Apano Kastro hike in the afternoon, so you could hike Mount Zas or do the villages walk in the morning. Or do one hike each day, since you have 3 days on the island. Have a great time in Greece! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Irene

    Hi there! Thanks for writing this post. It defenitely seems like a great island for me to visit! I’m not able to rent a car though, as I don’t have a license.. Do you have any ideas about buses on the island? And do you have a recommendation for which city could then be best to stay at?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Without a car, Naxos City is probably the best place to stay, since it is at the ferry port, has many hotels and restaurants, and it would be easier to take the bus/hire a driver/take a tour from here. I don’t know anything about using the bus, unfortunately, but to get around, you could look into hiring a driver or taking tours of the island. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Brittany
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      You’re welcome! I think windsurfing is more of a summertime activity since the winds are the strongest at this time, but you can click the link in this article to learn more, and get links to companies that offer windsurfing. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Will Akkermans
    Will Akkermans

    My wife and I just returned from our trip to Greece. We 3 days in Santorini, 5 days in Naxos, 1 day in Mykonos and 1 day in Athens before flying home. These suggestions for Naxos were excellent and helped make our stay memorable. A few additional comments for others who are planning to go to Naxos. TIP #1: If you are planning to stay for more then one day, you MUST rent a car or ATV/scooter to get around to see the sites around the island. TIP #2: When renting a car/atv, make sure you can access google maps or something similar to help you navigate as the signs are terrible! Also, be careful that google maps identifies routes on non-paved roads. I’m not sure how some of these routes even classify as a “road”. Some of these routs were definitely memorable for sure, but be warned as i think the local goats use these paths more then cars do! TIP #3: We decided to go to Greece in late September. The positives were that it wasn’t that busy with tourists because end of the season. That said, the weather changed quickly and became 20 degrees but very windy. Also, they stop offering as many ferry options so couldn’t do Paros for a day trip as originally planned. TIP #4: There are positives & negatives of going in September (see tip #3), but if you do plan to go in off-season, WAIT to book your hotel or Airbnb accommodations to the last minute. We booked those 3-months in advance and realized that when we arrived, the exactly same accommodations were being offered at sometimes a 50% discount.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Thanks for writing in with these tips! We can definitely relate to Google routes creating a memorable experience, not only in Greece but other countries as well. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Adam Craig
    Adam Craig

    Very helpful as my wife and I plan our Honeymoon. Love the style of vacation/trip/adventure you take. Thank you!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      1. Avatar for Julie

        Oh that is super- I did not have a Honeymoon. Mostly we went Skiing in Vermont and split on the trails. Its not easy staying together even in Killington Vt. I am just checking out Islands and studying Greece.

  8. Avatar for Priscila Boyle
    Priscila Boyle

    Hi, We are planning on visiting Greece in July. One main question I have is how to we rent a car in the islands (more specifically, Milos, Santorini and Naxos) if we arrive at the airport and leave through the port (or vice versa). I’m finding very challenging to rent a car at these islands because there doesn’t seem to have options to pick up/drop off at any other locations besides the airport. Do you know if I can pick it up at the airport but return at the ferry port?

    BTW….I loooooove your website and always consult your pages before going anywhere! I’ll be booking ferries, etc through the links you provide in your webiste.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      In Naxos, we rented a car from the rental offices right next to the port. It was extremely convenient. In Santorini, we did have to rent a car from the airport. That meant that we had to take a taxi from port to the airport. Fortunately, we were flying out of Santorini, so we did not have to repeat that procedure at the end of the visit to this island. In Mykonos, Tim found a rental company within walking distance of the main town. But yes, you are right, in some islands it’s not convenient to get to the rental car facilities. You could use Google maps and google rental car locations on each island to see if that turns up anything. And if your visit to the island is quick, it might be more convenient to hire a taxi when you need them or even book a tour. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at our Greece Travel Tips article where we briefly discuss getting around the islands and how to get transfers from the ports. Have a great time in Greece!! Cheers, Julie

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