Island Naxos Travel – Exploring Emerald Beaches and Delicious Cuisine
Naxos Island is one of the most fascinating destinations in Greece! Its glorious ancient past combined with stunning natural landscapes makes it the greenest of the Cyclades islands.
Naxos Island in Greece is located at the center of the Cyclades group, nestled in the heart of the Aegean Sea. It is the largest and greenest island of the Cyclades, boasting beautiful natural scenery. Its rich history is reflected in numerous archaeological sites found all around the island. The most iconic of them all – and Naxos’ trademark – is Portara, the remaining gate of an ancient temple dedicated to the Greek god Apollo.
Naxos Chora, the main town of Naxos, is a perfect blend of Venetian and Cycladic architectural traditions. Above the whitewashed houses in Cycladic style, the imposing Venetian castle stands, exuding medieval charm!
Are you an adrenaline seeker? There are plenty of exciting things to do when traveling to Naxos Island! Visit enchanting mountain villages, explore Mount Zas, try water sports like windsurfing and kiteboarding, embark on long hikes in lush nature… A vacation on Naxos Island is an endless adventure!
Regarding Naxos beaches, they are considered among the best in the Cyclades archipelago! Naxos coastline is dotted with small coves, creating a series of beautiful sandy and pristine beaches with emerald-colored waters. Don’t leave the island before immersing yourself in the beauty of Mikri Vigla Beach, Agios Georgios Beach, and Plaka Beach.
Whether you are seeking beautiful beaches, mouthwatering cuisine, or photographing endless white-washed winding streets, Naxos travel has it all!
Visit Chora Naxos – The main town on the island
Chora of Naxos is rustic and charming with every alley following the Cycladic style in Greece. Although not as picture-perfect as Mykonos’ Chora, Naxos has its own enchanting style. The town is less bustling than Mykonos, allowing you to stroll around the streets undisturbed. While Mykonos is dedicated to tourists, Naxos mainly welcomes Greek visitors.
A favorite part of Naxos Chora is actually viewing it from outside the town. The view from the ferries approaching the town, or from the Temple of Apollo, is quite impressive. The town is built close to the sea along the slopes of its hill.
Visit the Temple of Apollo: If you are in Chora when traveling to Naxos Island, you must visit the Temple of Apollo just outside the town. It is the island’s icon and a major landmark. It looks like a stone window looking straight into Naxos Chora, but it was actually built to face the island of Delos, the birthplace of the god Apollo. It was built in the 6th century BC according to the specifications of the Olympic Zeus temples in Athens.
It stands just a hundred meters outside Chora and is connected to it through a beautiful pedestrian alley, where you can sometimes see waves crashing. The Temple of Apollo is a particularly famous spot to watch the sunset. The sun sets right in front of the temple, illuminating the scenery and the town in the background during the twilight.
Visit the Castles of Naxos: One cannot overlook the castle or Kastro area of Naxos Chora. The castles on these Cycladic islands are usually some of the oldest areas. The Naxos Kastro district dates back to the 13th century. You can find the Archaeological Museum of Naxos at the top of the Castle, built in 1627 and encompassing two of the palace towers. The five-story structure of the castle houses exhibits from the Neolithic era, a collection of ancient marble statues, Mycenaean pottery, and particularly impressive Roman glassware.
Visit the Beaches of Naxos:
The island has a large number of beaches, such as Agia Anna, Agios Georgios, Agios Prokopios, Alyko, Kastraki, Mikri Vigla, Plaka, most of which are relatively close to Naxos Town or Chora. A few of them are organized beaches with amenities, but many are still wild and generally windy, making them perfect for windsurfing and kiteboarding. Naxos offers a significant expanse of land, providing a wide range of water activities and interesting beaches.
Agia Georgios: This beach is the nearest to Naxos Town. Located just about 20 minutes’ walk from the main town, it is a popular choice, particularly busy during the summer months.
Agios Prokopios: Located two miles west of Chora, Agios Prokopios is one of the most beautiful beaches in Naxos. Its long stretch of soft, creamy-colored sand is adorned with small sand dunes and pink lagoons.
Agia Anna: One of the liveliest beaches in Naxos, Agia Anna boasts a long and secluded sandy beach with a beautiful small fishing harbor that is like a painting, with only fishing boats and a fantastic view, attracting tourists for decades.
Mikri Vigla: This is perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches on Naxos Island. It is located further south, almost reaching the tip of Naxos, and it is a haven for kiteboarding and windsurfing. The beach is a long strip of soft sand that resembles a sandbank. The water can be quite strong, making it perfect for water sports.
Discovering the Villages of Naxos
Although Naxos Chora is beautiful and a great place to start your Naxos Island travel, the real gem of the island lies in the small villages outside of Naxos. Naxos is one of the oldest islands in the Cyclades, so these villages are not only built but are also places with unchanged traditional buildings over time.
In addition, Naxos Island has the highest elevation compared to any other island in the Cyclades. As you drive inland from Chora, you can enjoy the breathtaking mountainous landscapes passing by farms, wineries, and churches. Leaving Naxos Chora, you will take a main road passing through all the famous towns!
Village of Chalki
Located about 20 minutes from Chora, Chalki is the first historic town you must visit. Chalki used to be the main administrative center of Naxos. Today, the historic district is always bustling with beautiful Venetian-style buildings, Byzantine churches, and charming restaurants.
Walking through the town will remind you of something you would find in the southern part of Italy like Sicily rather than Cyclades. This is, of course, meaningful since Cyclades was once under the rule of Venice, but it’s surprising because the rest of the islands have transitioned to all-white facades, whereas these older villages have decided to resist that. One of them is among the oldest churches of Naxos, Panagia Church (Virgin Mary), dating back to the 9th century, featuring some beautiful Byzantine and post-Byzantine frescoes.
Village of Filoti
Filoti is one of the oldest villages in Naxos and a must-visit on your Naxos Island travel. It is just a few kilometers from Halki. Filoti boasts remarkable ancient churches, all worth exploring with their frescoes. Other worth-seeing spots in the village include the Greek Numismatic Collection Museum of Nikolas Moustakis, housed in a well-preserved old building.
There are plenty of narrow winding streets forming a picturesque route with white-washed houses, stone-paved stairs, and rustic wooden doors. It is much larger than Halki and has numerous restaurants to choose from.
Village of Apeiranthos
Next is the famous and picturesque town of Apeiranthos. It is considered the gem of the towns in Naxos, and people are simply captivated by it. It is an ancient town, and its residents have a different dialect from the rest of the island and Greece. It’s quite impressive that it has survived for so long.
But its most impressive feature is its architecture. Stone-built towers, ancient houses and churches, marble-paved alleys, small traditional souvenir shops, and local handicrafts. There are iconic stairs at the entrance of the town that are a photographer’s paradise. Simply walk through the streets and admire all the intricacies that have made Apeiranthos what it is today.
Village of Koronos
Last but not least, the town of Koronos is a must-visit. It is located north of Apeiranthos in the middle of the island. It is one of the oldest villages in Naxos and offers a stunning view of impressive mountain slopes. Driving there and seeing the white-washed houses scattered along the mountainside is truly breathtaking. The village itself is also beautiful with narrow streets and stairs offering views of the mountainside.
Where to Eat When Traveling to Naxos?
Naxos is a large island with tens of thousands of residents, meaning you won’t run out of options for dining. Like in every Cycladic island, there are local specialties unique to the island (although it’s not really that different). However, you can still enjoy equally delicious Greek salads with feta cheese or local cheese, seafood, grilled meats, moussaka, saganaki, gyros, souvlaki, and more.
Naxos is particularly famous for its potatoes, citrus fruits (especially tangerines), kitron (a liqueur made from citron fruits), cheese, lamb and goat meat, wine grapes, honey, and fresh fish. Naxos produces excellent varieties of meat, vegetables, and cheese, such as arseniko (hard goat cheese), thiliko (soft fresh cheese), xinomyzithra (crumbly fresh cheese), graviera (similar to gruyere), and kopanisti (a soft, piquant, fermented cheese). Naxos offers many fantastic outdoor dining areas where you can enjoy the fresh air on the island.
Naxos is one of the top culinary destinations in Greece. The main reason is its vibrant agricultural economy with deep roots from prehistoric times that still exist on the island, providing a wide range of delicious fresh vegetables, meat, and herbs, all from the rich Naxian soil. The aroma fills the air as you pass by all the charming traditional tavernas, often family-owned, making it very enticing!
Greek cuisine is truly wonderful and is one of the impressive culinary traditions in the world. The ingredients in Naxos are all fresh and you won’t have any difficulty finding the most delicious dishes. Are you ready for a trip to Naxos, Greece?