Not only is it the largest island in the Cyclades, there are so many things to do on Naxos which is one of the main reasons it is much loved by visitors. Nestled in the South Aegean Sea, beautiful Naxos is the largest of the Cyclades Islands. It is famous for its lush and fertile lands along with its picturesque, whitewashed villages and towns. Its mountainous landscape is also famous for its marble, which has been used to make statues for centuries. You can even visit a marble quarry!
There are numerous day trips you can do and the stunning Small Cyclades islands are just offshore including the lovely island of Donousa.
Although it has a modest permanent population, Naxos’ beauty makes it a popular place for tourists. Its a big island, there’s some fantastic accommodation and there are a lot of great things to do on Naxos.
Cultural Activities and Tours on Naxos
A guided walking tour is a great way to get a feel for the Chora (town) and a full day bus tour of the island is a great way to spend a day.
Naxos is famous for its food and in particular its honey, cheese and potatoes. In fact, the Naxos Potato Festival is held each year in July and they are currently world record holders!
In the Chora you will find numerous shops that showcase the local produce and, of course, you can sample all the delicacies Tavernas across the island. Don’t miss Antamoma Cuisine Deli.
Naxos is a great place to do a Cooking Class. There are two that we highly recommend:
1. This class is conducted in a local home and includes dinner there too or
2. This class is held at Basiliko Taverna and is conducted by their excellent Chef.
Either one of these is a stand out activity to do in the Cyclades. Book early as they only take small groups and they are often booked out.
Beaches in Naxos
Naxos is famous for its long, sandy beaches, in fact some of the longest beaches anywhere on the Greek Islands can be found here. If you’re looking for something to do in Naxos, visiting one of the beautiful beaches is a great choice.
One of the longest beaches of all is Plaka, which extends a dazzling four kilometres in length.
For decades, it was a nudists’ beach, and they can still be found on the beach in low season. In high season, however, the popularity of the beach means that only a small section is clothing-optional. The rest is popular with visitors of all types, from families enjoying the crystal clear water to young revellers drinking at the nearby bars and cafes.
With so much sand to go around, there is plenty of room to enjoy its beauty.
Although it’s not the longest beach on Naxos, it is widely considered the most beautiful.
In fact, Agios Prokopios is often called one of the most beautiful beaches on all of the Greek Islands, with its swathes of soft sand and glistening clear water.
As it is located just five kilometres away from Naxos Town, it is also one of the most popular beaches on the island. As a result, there is a good selection of bars, restaurants and shops to enjoy not far from the water.
You can also rent snorkels and banana boats from the shore.
Also within close proximity of Naxos Town is Agia Anna, a picturesque cove and sandy beach. While it’s technically a continuation of Agios Prokopios, it has a quieter and more traditional feel, mostly thanks to the small wooden fishing boats dotted along the shore.
That said, it is still a busy beach that is well organised, with plenty of sun umbrellas and amenities nearby. In addition, as the cove is quite secluded, it is generally quite calm, making it suitable for swimmers of all ages.
Paralia Mikri Viglia
Located on the west coast of Naxos, Paralia Mikri Viglia is often lashed by strong winds. While this means it is not ideal for weak swimmers, it is very popular with water sports enthusiasts and those looking for adventurous things to do on Naxos.
In particular, the beach is well-known for its excellent windsurfing and kitesurfing. It’s also popular amongst divers and snorkellers, thanks to the many fish that can be spotted just off the shore.
There are a couple of buses per day from Naxos Town in high season, although it is easiest to reach with your own car.
With dozens of beaches on Naxos, there are plenty of hidden gems to enjoy away from the crowds. One of the most beautiful is Abram on the northwest coast.
Although it is only 20 kilometres from Naxos Town, it is much quieter than the closer beaches – although it still has a fair bit going on in peak season. The beach itself is picturesque, with sparkling blue sea and views of Mykonos way off in the distance.
If you’re looking for a quiet beach in Naxos not too far from town, this is a great option.
St George beach
St George Beach, also known as Agios Georgios is the main beach of Naxos as is right near the town or Chora.
It is a calm, shallow beach which is usually protected from any wind and therefore is very popular with families. It is well serviced with many sunbeds, cafes and tavernas and at night it transforms into a quiet beachfront resort with some excellent toes-in-the-and dining venues.
Its easy to walk to St George from the town and there are several small hotels right on the beachfront as well.
Further reading: The best beaches on Naxos
More outdoor things to do on Naxos
Naxos is blessed with a rich natural environment complete with mountains, fertile plains and lush valleys. As a result, many of the best things to do in Naxos are outdoors.
Located on the island’s southern coast, Rina Cave is one of the most beautiful places on Naxos.
The cave is nestled near the right side of the beach, with its entrance surrounded by beautiful green-blue waters. The postcard-perfect look of the cave makes visiting it one of the most popular things to do in Naxos.
In order to reach it, you’ll need to take a water taxi to the secluded beach, where you can then swim in the beautiful blue waters or you can do a catamaran cruise that includes it.
Aliko Juniper Forest
There are only eight cedar forests in all of Greece, and one of the most beautiful is the Aliko Juniper Forest in southwest Naxos.
In the 80s, there were plans to build a mega resort here, however luckily it never came to fruition and it remains largely unspoiled. Today, the trees come nearly up to the water’s edge, just leaving behind a slither of soft sand to enjoy.
As well as relaxing on the beach in the shade of the forest, you can also take a walk along the many walking paths. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy one of the most unique landscapes in Greece.
Historical sites on Naxos
For the Ancient Greeks, Naxos was one of the most important part of the Cyclades. As a result, there are many remnants of the past left behind, making it a paradise for history lovers.
Naxos boasts one of the most charming capitals of any of the Greek Islands – Hora, or Naxos Town.
While it may not be quite as developed as some of the other cities on larger islands like Mykonos, many visitors fall in love with its undeniable charm. It is well-known for its hodge podge of narrow laneways and its white-washed cube houses and buildings.
Simply walking around it is a delight, while there are many great cafes and tavernas to enjoy.
While much of the ancient temple has been reclaimed by the earth, an impressive door-like rectangle remains, faced towards Dellos, Apollo’s birthplace.
This impressive sight also frames the incredible views over the island, making it a particular favourite for photographers at sunrise and sunset.
This dramatic location in Kythira gave the castle the nickname “the Eye of Crete” as it allowed watchmen to keep an eye on the Aegean, Ionian, and Cretan seas all at once. No doubt this is why it was built by the Venetians in the 13th century.
Today, the castle is almost completely ruined, but hints of its former grandeur still remain. It is undoubtedly romantic, perched on the hilltop overlooking the island.
open from 8 am to 8 pm in summer, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm in winter
Temple of Demeter
Located near the village of Sangri in central Naxos, the Temple of Demeter is one of the most fascinating things to do in Naxos.
The impressive ruins are thought to date back more than 2,500 years to around the 6th Century BC. Although there are still many mysteries surrounding the temple, we do know that it was built in honor of Demeter, the Goddess of grain.
The temple was likely built near fertile farmlands, in the hope that she’d bless the crops. Today, it is one of the most interesting sights on the island.
Entrance to the temple is free, €4 for the museum.
Open 8:30am to 3pm
Explore the small villages of Melanes, Halki and Filoti
Naxos has many beautiful and charming small villages which are much like open-air museums, looking as if they have been frozen in time.
Some of the most beautiful include Melanes, with the white-washed stone houses clinging to the cliff-face, the former capital of Halki with remnants of its former fame and fortune, and picturesque Filoti.
While these places are fairly small and can be explored easily, it is best to soak in their unique and charming atmosphere. There’s no need to rush!
Day trips from Naxos
There are many things to do on Naxos island, but it’s also well located for day trips to other nearby sights. In fact, Naxos has one of the best varieties of day trips and activities of all the islands in Greece.
Just south of Naxos are a group of little islands called The Small Cyclades which are very quaint and very beautiful. Whether you are staying on Paros or Naxos we strongly recommend you do a sailing trip around The Small Cyclades which I guarantee you will be talking about for the rest of your lives.
It’s even possible to do day trips from Naxos to Mykonos and Delos as well as to Santorini.
Naxonians are known for their exceptional food and in particularly the famous Naxos potatoes. This is a great place to do a food experience and/or a cooking class – one of the best places to do this in Greece!
Other great day trips from Naxos are: Here are a few more great day trips from Naxos.
When looking into which Cyclades Island to visit, you might have found yourself considering the merits of Paros over Naxos. Luckily, you can easily enjoy both, as Paros is just a short ferry ride away from Naxos.
A day trip over to Paros is a particularly good idea during the summer, when the island enjoys a bustling calendar of events including traditional Greek cultural performances as well as open air music festivals.
There are four ferry companies that operate between the two islands, with several ferries each day so it is fairly easy to get between the two.
Another wonderful day trip from Naxos Island is across to Ano Koufonisi, a tiny speck in the sea that is sometimes known as “the Mykonos of the Cyclades”.
At just over five square kilometres, its immense natural beauty makes up for its modest size. In particular, the island is famous for its jaw-droppingly perfect beaches, such as Pori Beach.
There are also numerous classic tavernas that offer traditional meals and friendly service. It’s certainly one of the most unmissable day trips from Naxos.
One of the best ways to see Koufonisia is to do a sailing trip around it.
Visit Santorini from Naxos
This is a pretty ambitious day trip and overnighting on Santorini is much more enjoyable but if you are time-poor and have never been before it is a great idea to see the most iconic Greek Island of them all.
You will not get a full day on Santorini and may not get to see the famous sunset either but depending on the ferry schedule at the time you should get around 4-6 hours to explore.
The ferry trip takes between 2 and 4 hours, depending on which ferry you book. Once there take the cablecar or taxi up to Oia and explore, what to many, is considered the most beautiful village on Santorini.
If time permits hire a car and head down to the ancient site of Akrotiri and the medieval village of Pyrgos, or join a half day tour of the island (see below). If your main interest is the volcano then book a half day cruise and swim in the hot springs.