Spending three months in Naxos, Greece gives you plenty of time to explore all the things to do in Naxos. Since Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades, you need more than three months to do all there is to do in Naxos. I made a good effort in trying to do as many things in Naxos as I could without sacrificing my need to relax on a Naxos beach. Here are the things I recommend doing on your Naxos holiday.
1. Naxos Castle (Kastro)
Sitting on the hill above Naxos town is the castle. You may hear the locals call it the Kastro. Built in 1207 by the Venetians, the Kastro is still used today. You can wander inside and explore the Archaeological Museum that is housed inside. Some people still live in the castle. The castle is easy to reach from Naxos town by following the signs or look for the white arrows on the ground. Once there you get an amazing view of Naxos and on a clear day, you can see Paros. The Kastro is a great place to watch the sunset as well.
2. Domus Festival
From April to October, the Domus Festival puts on several shows a week in the Catholic Church located in the Kastro. The festival features music, film and dancing. Most of the activities are Naxos or Greece related. There are posters all over town telling you what will be on that week. I went one night to see the Traditional Naxos Singing and Dancing, which was excellent. During the show, someone would come on and explain the meanings of the songs and the dances. The host did this in both English and Greek. Included in the €20 cost were wine and other drinks.
3. Visit the Beach
Since Naxos is so large, there are tons of amazing beaches located all over the island. Agios Georgios is one of my favorite beaches on Naxos and is located right in town. It is less than a ten-minute walk from Naxos Old Town to the beach. To reach the beaches further away from town you can take the public bus. The bus leaves from the bus terminal that is near the ferry terminal. During the summer the buses run often. You should purchase both your tickets to go and return on the bus at this station.
4. Check out some Street Art
At Alyko Beach, there is a hotel that was never finished or torn down. For several years, an Indonesian street artist has been visiting Greece to do some street art. In this case, some beach art. He has used the abandoned hotel as his canvas and his work is stunning. In several cases, the piece covers several walls making it important to stand in the right spot and has marked the best spot to stand in for you!
5. Go to the Olive Press Museum
This tiny museum is worth the trip to Eggares village. It shows the traditional olive press and they will tell you how it operates. There is also a demonstration. They also have a shop that has so many unique homemade products. My favorites were the olive jam, it is way better than it sounds, and the fig jam. They also have non-food products for sale if you are only taking a carry-on bag on your flight.
6. Visit the Portara
You can’t miss this ancient Greek temple if you are in Naxos. It sits at the entrance of the port. The temple is not in ruins, it was just never finished. The part you see, the portara is the door to the temple. In Greek, Portara means large door. This is one of the best places to catch the sunset in Naxos! Get there early to score a good spot.
7. Take a day sail to the Small Cyclades
While Naxos has plenty to do, you would be missing some incredible smaller islands if you didn’t take a trip to the Small Cyclades. There are many sailboats in the harbor that will take you on a day sail to these islands. The best thing about these is they can take you to caves on these islands that are not reachable by land. The Small Cyclades are not touristy at all so you will be getting an authentic look at Greek life on a small island.
8. Wander through Naxos Old Town
Naxos Old Town is the historic part of Naxos. If you arrive by ferry, the Old Town is just steps away. Here you can shop, get lost or just enjoy the traditional Greek architecture in the Old Town. I recommend exploring both during the day and night. It has a totally different feel at different times of the day. I also recommend you explore it a few times during your trip to Naxos as you will discover something new everytime.
9. Visit the Archaeological Museum
Nestled in the Kastro is the Archaeological Museum of Naxos. All of the artifacts at the museum were found on Naxos or surrounding islands and date back to 5300 BC. The collection of Early Cycladic marble figurines is second only to the collection in Athens. Be sure to check out the kouros torso that dates back to the 6th century BC.
10. Take a trip to the Temple of Demeter
The Temple of Demeter is located near the village of Sangri in Naxos. The temple has been restored to some degree but you can still see the original marble in some parts of the temple. It was built around 530 BC. Not only is the temple a beautiful site to behold but it sits in the middle of Naxos farmland and offers great views of the countryside.
11. Go to the village of Halki
Not all of the things to do in Naxos are in Naxos town. One of the best villages to visit is Halki, the original capital of Naxos. You can reach Halki by taking the public bus from the port. In Halki, you will discover a quiet but fun village. You can visit the Kitron distillery there, which is a popular Naxianliquorr. There is a wonderful pottery shop that produces some amazing pieces of art, called Fish and Olive. Take a ten-minute walk to visit the Byzantine church of St. Georges. It was built in the 11th century. If you want to go inside, you will need to go in July and August as it is closed for the rest of the year.
12. Eat in the village of Melanes
Some of the best food I had in Naxos was eaten in Melanes at Giorgis. This family-run restaurant overlooks the valley below and has wonderful food. Unlike many restaurants in Naxos, they only close briefly after the season in October and reopen in December just in time for the holidays. If you are with other people, I recommend everyone ordering one or two things and sharing it. This way you get to try many different things.
13. Take home some of Naxos
One of my favorite shops in Naxos is Aegean Blue. While I am not a big shopper when traveling but when I find a place where I can buy a souvenir that is useful or practical, I am a fan. I actually discovered Aegean Blue before I went to Naxos on Instagram. I couldn’t wait to check out the shop. I purchased a beautiful purse that has a distinctly Greek feel and I used it for the rest of my time in Naxos. They have clothes, home decor and jewelry. Some pieces are more expensive but they have something for everyone. You can even make a day of it since it is located on Plaka Beach and right in front is the wonderful Picasso on the Beach restaurant.
14. Climb Mount Zas
Mount Zas is the highest peak in the Cyclades. It is a popular place to hike for a variety of reasons. The legend is that this is where Zeus was born. There are several routes you can take to get to the summit. One route takes you past the Cave of Zeus but is the most difficult route. No matter which route you choose to take you will be rewarded with stunning views of Naxos at the top. Just be sure to leave early and take plenty of water with you.
15. Explore Ancient Naxos
Located underground is the Metropolis Museum. This museum is the remains of ancient Naxos. The settlement was built in the 11th century BC. The museum contains the remnants of the Mycenean settlement. It is believed the settlement was abandoned due to the fear of sea flooding. You can see the settlement through glass panes that cover the artifacts
As you can see there are plenty of things to do in Naxos and there is something for everybody. Have you been to Naxos? What was your favorite thing to do?
Getting from Athens to Naxos
You can reach Naxos by ferry or plane. The ferry leaves from Piraeus port near Athens. You can find the ferry schedule and book tickets at Ferry Hopper. Flights are direct from Athens airport and only takes about 25 minutes.
Hotels in Naxos
There are tons of hotels in Naxos to choose from. There are hotels by the many beaches and there are hotels in the Old Town of Naxos. Hotels range from budget to luxury. Click here to find a hotel for you!