My name is Elena and welcome to my article on the best things to do in Naxos. I live in Athens, the Greek capital, and I’m 23 years old. I work as a journalist and have my own travel website called seretravel.com. Greece is a country that I love exploring, especially the Greek Islands during the summer. Every year I try to visit at least one or two of these special islands.
This year I chose Naxos because the island has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Greece. The beaches of Naxos, like Agios Prokopios Beach, have been nominated for awards due to their crystal clear waters and soft sandy shores. I wanted to explore Naxos Island and share my experiences on my blog in order to help other people with their trip there.
I stayed in Naxos for three days and saw the majority of the best spots. We rented a car and took some awesome little trips. I visited small villages like Chalki but my favorite experience was by far visiting the beaches. Naxos has so many options for travelers. It has endless beaches with sand, rocks and waves perfect for watersports and some with calm, clear waters for families with little kids. The food was also amazing. You will love the cuisine!
Naxos is the ultimate beach island. If you want to spend your days relaxing in the sun then Naxos is perfect. Another advantage of this island is that you can see the traditional beauty of the Cyclades without the crazy nightlife found in places like Mykonos or Paros (for example). Naxos is more family-friendly. The island boasts some great food like world-famous cheese – Graviera is only produced in certain places such as Naxos and Crete.
My favorite place in Naxos was Hawaii Beach. It was like Hawaii, no kidding. The beach isn’t organized and has no beach bars – so it’s a great place to relax in nature. In order to reach the beach, you have to climb rocks and the scenery when you arrive is tropical (like an exotic destination). Hawaii Beach has white sand and turquoise water and is surrounded by rocks and cliffs. It was special for me and I was thrilled to see the beach in real life.
8 Best Things To Do in Naxos
1. Explore the Beautiful Naxos Town (Chora)
Chora is the capital and the buildings here are regarded as some of the finest examples of Cycladic architecture in Greece. Situated on the west coast, this town has many attractions but none is more prominent than the castle which was built in a Venetian style. There are a few lookout points of the castle where you can take photos and admire its beauty from afar.
Like many other Cycladic villages, the presence of cathedrals and churches can be felt as well as monasteries that leave you awe-inspired. For those interested in history and culture, you can visit the Archaeological Museum and Metropolitan Museum, and for all the foodies out there Naxos Town is home to a handful of amazing fish restaurants around the port area.
2. Eat Naxos Potatoes (The Best in the World)
You might be thinking: “what’s so great about potatoes”? Well, in Naxos, potatoes aren’t just potatoes – they are something better. Due to the fertile land and abundant water supply on the island, potatoes have been cultivated since the 1700s and they are some of the tastiest, most versatile spuds on the planet. Even without salt the potatoes are delicious.
You can find them in all sorts of dishes, prepared in a variety of ways: boiled, stuffed or barbecued. This root vegetable even has its own festival held in Naxos every August called the Potato Feast. Locals come together to try potato-inspired recipes and pay homage to the vegetable which has given them such joy over the years. An estimated 8 million kilos are produced in Naxos each and every year, a staggering figure for an island.
3. Try the Delicious Naxos Graviera Cheese
As already mentioned, Graviera is one of the best cheeses in the world. It has been produced on Naxos for over a hundred years and the tastes are nothing short of sensational. Graviera is either made from pasteurized cow milk or a combination of sheep and goat milk. The cheese gets its unique flavor from the fact that the breeds of Naxos feed on fresh plants and herbs, rather than feeds full of chemicals or genetically modified ingredients.
The finish is beautiful – sweet flavors and light aromas of butter and milk come through with every bite. You will find it served as a table cheese, as an appetizer, fried on its own, accompanied with salads or grated over pasta. After eating a few grams of Graviera, it might become your new favorite cheese and you may want to source it when you are back home.
4. Visit Portara – The Temple of Apollo – for Sunset
Portara is the trademark of Naxos and it’s the most beautiful place to enjoy the sunset. The Temple of Apollo is a huge marble gate which was built way back in 530 BC and left unfinished for reasons unknown. It still stands to this very day and attracts thousands of tourists who come here for an idyllic golden hour setting. Portara is located on a tiny little iselt next to Naxos harbor. The temple measures 59m in length and 28m in height.
5. Spend a Couple of Days in Chalki Village
Chalki is a must-visit village, nestled in a verdant valley between various small mountains. It’s a picturesque setting that offers a lot for travelers who like a relaxed and quaint atmosphere. By spending a few days at the village you can visit beautiful Byzantine churches, relax in the charming town square, shop at artisan jewelry-makers and soak in the traditional ways of life that have characterized Naxos for many centuries.
The village is also suited for day trips. If you rent a car, visiting Chalki is easy. Otherwise you could hire a scooter or jump on the local bus, although schedules aren’t as reliable as other European destinations but the bus will still eventually get you there nevertheless. Chalki is relatively well-known in tourist circles so expect to see a small scattering of other tourists there.
6. Go Swimming at Agios Prokopios Beach
The waters of Agios Prokopios Beach are so inviting that you won’t be able to stop yourself from jumping in. Not only are the waters perfect but the golden sands are lovely as well – you can spend hours on a sunbed reading a book and working on your tan. While the beach is indeed popular, there is still plenty of space to spread out and set up your own section for a day of fun in the sun. Agios Prokopios is located 10 minutes from Chora.
7. Find an Untouched Paradise at Hawaii Beach
Hawaii Beach is a deserted white-sand beach located in the Aliko Nature Reserve. The rocky cliffs give it a secluded feel and oftentimes the beach is entirely empty. Visit in the morning or afternoon for a good few hours and enjoy everything from sunbathing to swimming to hiking in the wider area. It was my favorite place on the entire island – which is saying something due to the many incredible destinations that Naxos has to offer.
8. Enjoy some Watersports at Mikri Vigla Beach
Mikri Vigla Beach is the place to head to for watersports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. The northern winds of the Cyclades create the right conditions for these sports. There are actually two beaches which you can visit. The northern beach is where you can enjoy watersports, while the southern beach (on the other section of the hill) has crystal clear waters and sandy shores ideal for relaxation and family orientated activities.
My Two Favorite Memories of Naxos
I have two stand out memories from my three day vacation in Naxos. The first moment was when I visited Hawaii Beach. When I looked at this beach from above I was absolutely amazed (I said “wow” immediately). I was very happy to take photos there. My second favorite was Agios Prokopios Beach. I had the opportunity to fly my drone and when I saw all the shots I was thrilled because the beach looked even better than real life.
People, Culture & Food of Naxos
The people of Naxos are very friendly and polite. Everyone I met on my trip was kind and helpful. For example, we ate at a restaurant and they gave me some treats such as orange pie with ice cream and lemon sorbet. I didn’t have enough time to really immerse myself in the culture, but all throughout the island there is so much history to discover and experience.
When it comes to food, I tried and loved Graviera. I also gorged on Naxos potatoes and Mizithra cheese. The food I didn’t know before was Arseniko cheese. It was saltier than the other ones with a very distinct taste. I ordered the fried version of Arseniko and it was amazing. You should definitely try it. Apart from these foods, you can also find other traditional Greek dishes in Naxos like Pastitsio, Moussaka and (of course) Souvlaki.
Where to Stay in Naxos Island
I recommend staying in Chora as it’s the most convenient. If you don’t have a car you can use public transport and most of the buses start from Chora. The port of Naxos is also located in Chora. Chora is full of restaurants and bars, you will not get bored easily. I stayed at Vorta Naxos – a beautiful new hotel. The rooms were nice and spacious. They had all the amenities you needed. Mrs Maria, the owner of the hotel, was very generous.
Need to Know Before you Go
My first tip for Naxos is that you should rent a car. Naxos is a large island with long distances (the biggest island in the Cyclades). With a car you will be able to see the majority of the best spots within three or four days. Secondly, you must visit Portara because it’s the most famous spot on the island. I suggest visiting early in the morning (around 8 – 9 am) in order to see it by yourself and take some awesome shots. P.S. The entrance is free.
My favorite restaurant (not sponsored, I just loved the food) was Scirocco Cafe & Restaurant in Chora. They have delicious homemade meals. Nomad Beach Bar was another awesome spot (by Plaka Beach) due to its tropical vibes. I also suggest visiting Naxos during the first days of summer in order to enjoy the island and the beaches without many tourists. You should avoid taxis because they charge way too much, especially for tourists!