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The 16 Best Things to Do in Naxos, Greece

Welcome to the stunning Naxos island–currently gaining traction as one of the most popular destinations in Greece for a beach holiday. You’ll find far fewer crowds here than on the famous Greek islands of Mykonos or Santorini.

Plus, you can fly directly to Naxos in less than an hour from Athens (or arrive by ferry in 3 hours!). This beautiful island in the Cyclades has something to offer everyone–whether you’re interested in ancient ruins, Greek cuisine, or even just lounging by the beach.

If you need help deciding what to do during your trip, we have you covered with our list of the 16 best things to do in Naxos. We break down some of the most popular activities on the island, like watching the sunset at the Temple of Apollo or exploring the Old Town.

However, we’ll also review some of our favorite hidden gems in this Naxos guide, including secluded beaches and restaurants with panoramic views. Whatever your preference, you won’t be disappointed by adding Naxos to your Greece travel plans!

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you book an activity or reservation through these links at no extra cost to you.

Watch the sunset at Portara

View of sunset at Portara, also called the Temple of Apollo, on the island of Naxos in GreeceIf you travel to Naxos by ferry, the first landmark you’ll spot is the iconic Temple of Apollo (also called “Portara”). The tyrant Lygdamis commissioned this unfinished temple in the 6th century to honor the Greek god Apollo. Therefore, you’ll notice that the giant gateway faces the island of Delos, Apollo’s birthplace in mythology.

Unfortunately, his vision was never completed after a Spartan army overthrew Lygdamis. Instead, blocks of the leftover marble were used to construct the Venetian Castle of Naxos in the early 13th century. Over 2,500 years later, the entrance to the temple, or “Portara,” still remains and is one of the top attractions on the island.

In particular, tourists love to watch the sunset from this elevated point! Luckily, these ancient ruins are only about a 10-minute walk from Naxos Town. To get there, you’ll need to cross the short causeway that connects Chora to the tiny islet of Palatia.

It’s an easy walk from the port area up the hill where you’ll find Portara, making this activity ideal for the whole family. However, we do suggest wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. Plus, you’ll want to watch out for splashes of water as you make your way across the causeway.

If you choose to visit for sunset specifically, plan to get there early. After all, the ruins can get crowded during golden hour. So, leave yourself plenty of time to find a scenic spot!

Pro tip: Avoid the crowds entirely by visiting at sunrise.

Explore Naxos Old Town 

View of whitewashed buildings in the Old Town in Naxos City, lining the port areaNaxos Town (also known as Chora) is the capital of the Greek island of Naxos and acts as its tourism hub. Conveniently, you’ll find the Naxos Port here, where passengers who travel by ferry arrive on the island (also where you can purchase ferry tickets if you haven’t online). With this in mind, Chora is also home to most of the top Naxos hotels, restaurants, bars, and boutiques. 

The Kastro–a Venetian castle built in 1207–stands proudly at the top of the old town, offering an incredible view over the harbor to those willing to make the steep climb. While in the Kastro area, don’t miss the chance to dine at Avaton 1739! This restaurant is an excellent spot for brunch or cocktails, located on the rooftop of an old monastery building.

After you enjoy the panoramic views, one of our favorite things to do in Naxos Town is to shop for souvenirs. In fact, we found the Old Market in Chora to have the best variety of affordably priced mementos in the Greek islands. We highly recommend stopping by Melimilon Pantry, a family-run store selling olive oil, spoon sweets, spices, and more.

If you’re in Naxos Town around sunset, the port area is the place to be. While ferry ports on other Aegean islands tend to be an eye-sore, Naxos Port is absolutely stunning! Grab dinner at one of the many restaurants lining the water, such as Su e Giu, Taverna Authentic Greek Cuisine, or Dal Professore.

Hike Mount Zas

View of Mount Zas (Zeus) on Naxos Island behind the village of FilotiAt 3,290 feet (1003 m), Mount Zas (Zeus) is the highest point in the Cyclades Islands. Moreover, it’s an important site within Greek mythology. In fact, although Zeus was born on Crete, he supposedly grew up in a cave on this mountain, hidden away from his father, Cronus.

Thanks to the amazing 360-degree views from the summit, hiking Mount Zas is one of the best things to do in Naxos. Now, before you begin your trek, you’ll have to decide which route you want to take. The easier trail is approximately 4 miles (7 km) and starts at Saint Marina (Agia Marina) Holy Chapel.  

However, if you want to see Zas Cave, you’ll have to hike the other route, beginning at Aria Spring. It may be shorter (5 km), but it’s certainly more challenging! You can start this trail from Filoti or save some time by parking directly at Aria Spring.

View of the hiking trail to Mount Zas on Naxos Island in GreeceBoth routes will take between 3 to 4 hours round trip. Therefore, we strongly recommend starting early in the morning or hiking in the evening around sunset for the most comfortable experience. Additionally, packing sunscreen and water is a must because you won’t find much shade along the trek! 

If you know you want to do this trail, we highly suggest packing hiking shoes in your suitcase. After all, both paths have loose rocks, and we don’t want you to twist your ankle! Moreover, if you choose to hike around sunset, you’ll want some sort of a flashlight for a safe return.

Discover the Mountain Villages of Naxos

The beautiful village of Chalki on Naxos, showing tourists sitting outside to eat in front of a tavern with a beautiful pink flower tree blooming aboveIf you want to explore traditional Greek villages in Naxos, spend at least one day road tripping around the island. Even if you don’t have a rental car for your entire vacation, you can see a lot in just a day! For example, although there are numerous towns to visit, our favorites are Chalki, Filoti, and Apeiranthos.

Pro tip: It’s best to visit Naxos’ villages during the shadier parts of the day–think morning or late afternoon.


Chalki (also called “Halki” or “Chalkio”) is likely the most popular, located about a 30-minute drive from Naxos City. This mountain village features cute cafés and restaurants as well as souvenir shops with local products like honey, olive oil, spices, and herbs. Plus, history lovers will want to take the short 10-minute walk to see the Byzantine church of Saint George Diasoritis.

Before heading to the next village, don’t miss Vallindras Distillery. Established in 1896, it’s famous for “Kitron,” a liqueur made from the citron tree. Stop by to try the three different varieties (green, clear, and yellow) and maybe even pick up a bottle to take home!


The traditional village of Filoti on the island of Naxos in Greece, showing a stone staircase and restaurantsFive minutes down the road from Chalki, you’ll find our next stop: Filoti. This whitewashed village features attractions such as the Church of Panagia Filotitissa and the 17th-century Tower of Barozzi. However, it’s best known as the starting point for the trail to the top of Mount Zas


Pottery shop in Apeiranthos mountain village on the island of Naxos in GreeceAfter exploring Filoti, it’s time to make the winding 15-minute drive to Apeiranthos. This village sits alongside Mount Fanari, offering souvenir shops and multiple museums to visit along its marble-paved pathways. For example, you can find an Archaeological Museum, Folklore Museum, and Visual Arts Museum. If you’re hungry, make sure to dine at Taverna Platanos–home to the best moussaka on the island!

Pro tip: Stop by Eggares Olive Press Museum on your way back to Chora.


Go for a swim at Agios Georgios Beach

View of sun beds and umbrellas lining the golden sand at Agios Georgios Beach on the island of Naxos in GreeceAgios Georgios Beach (also called Saint George Beach) is one of the most popular sandy beaches on the island due to its location in Naxos Town. If you’re staying in Chora, you can most likely walk here! This family-friendly beach has ample sun bed and umbrella rentals, although they can be pricey during the high season. 

Nonetheless, it’s worth the splurge! After all, Agios Georgios Beach has shallow water ideal for children who want to swim. Additionally, you’ll find numerous tavernas along the edge of the beach, so you won’t have to go far for lunch.

Sun loungers with umbrellas along Agios Georgios Beach near Naxos Town, GreeceHowever, this beach is more than just a good fit for the perfect family holiday. It’s also well-known among adventure travelers and those who want to try their hand at water sports! In fact, Naxos is one of the best places in Greece to learn how to windsurf.

Agios Georgios, in particular, is great for beginner to intermediate-level windsurfers. Here, you’ll find Flisvos Sport Club, which operates in a shallow lagoon-like area. If you’re not interested in windsurfing, you can also rent stand-up paddle boarding equipment (SUP).

Sunbathe at Plaka Beach

View of Plaka Beach, showing golden sand and beach bedsPlaka Beach, located along the west coast, is frequently ranked among the best Naxos beaches. It features crystal clear water and golden sand, extending for approximately 2.5 miles (4 km). Fun fact: Plaka is actually the longest beach on the island!

With this in mind, you’ll find lots of room to spread out here. Even in summertime, this beach will feel much less crowded than other popular beaches, like Agios Georgios Beach. Just keep an eye on the Meltemi winds, as it can get very windy here during July and August.

Plaka Beach is well-developed, with plenty of tavernas and places to rent lounge chairs along the shoreline. Our favorite beach bars include Caya, Yazoo Summer Bliss, and Tohu. Just remember that you’ll need to pack your own towels!

View of Plaka Beach on Naxos island in Greece, showing soft sand and turquoise watersBesides sunbathing, this beach is also ideal for swimming or paddle boarding. Typically, the beach’s northern end–next to Maragkas–tends to be busier. There’s also a water sports center here where you can rent canoes, paddle boats, SUPs, and windsurfing equipment.

Meanwhile, you’ll find that tourists on the southern end of the beach are more sparse. Driving to Plaka Beach takes about 15 minutes from Naxos Town. Or, if you don’t have a car, the public bus from the port area takes around 30 minutes.

Enjoy the tranquil Alyko Beach

View of Alyko Beach in Naxos Greece, showing turquoise waters and golden sandTucked away in the Cedar Forest of Alyko, you’ll find the tranquil Alyko Beach (also called Aliko Beach). If you’re wondering what to do in Naxos, this sandy beach is one of our top choices for two reasons. Firstly, Alyko is about a 30-minute drive from Naxos Town.

So, most visitors to the island won’t have a car or won’t be willing to travel this far. Secondly, this beach is still left undeveloped. After all, most tourists will stay near the more developed beaches, like Plaka or Agios Prokopios. The only downside is that there are no sun beds or umbrellas for rental or beach bars nearby.

Therefore, you’ll have to bring your own snacks and drinks! Apart from providing a quiet experience, Alyko Beach is also better sheltered from the seasonal meltemi winds than other beaches along the west coast.

1960s abandoned hotel on Alyko Beach in Naxos, GreeceAnother big draw to this secluded beach is the abandoned hotel on the far right side. Now in ruins, it once began as a project for a five-star hotel in the 1960s. After funding fell through, the property has slowly fallen into disrepair.

If you explore the hotel, you’ll notice that local artists have repurposed the space. In fact, you can appreciate dozens of murals, graffiti, and other street art here. Plus, you can also find a small white church with a blue dome in front of the hotel.

When driving to Alyko, you’ll luckily be able to travel along an asphalt road for most of the drive. After parking along the street, you’ll then need to take a short walk through the forest to reach the actual beach. Also, it’s important to note that the Alyko area has multiple beaches! So, if you have extra time, don’t miss the nearby Hawaii Beach.

Spend an afternoon at Agios Prokopios Beach

View of Agios Prokopios Beach, showing people lounging in sun beds along the sandAgios Prokopios Beach is the second-most famous beach in Naxos, mainly due to its crystal clear waters, size, and proximity to Naxos Town. It runs for almost a mile (1.5 km) along the island’s west coast and holds a Blue Flag award. You’ll find this sandy beach is well organized, with a wide variety of beach bars, restaurants, and cafés offering a bite to eat and sun bed rentals.

In particular, we enjoyed Del Mar Cafe and Kahlua Beach Cafe. Since Agios Prokopios is one of the top things to do in Naxos, arriving early in the morning is best. If you get there before 9 a.m., you can have your choice of sunbed, easily find a parking spot, and you won’t have to fight traffic on the drive.

View of the golden sand and turquoise waters lining Agios Prokopios Beach on Naxos island in GreeceThis beach is 3.5 miles (5.7 km) from the main town (Chora)–approximately a 10-minute drive with no traffic. Of course, getting there can always take longer during the high season, and parking is limited. So, if you’re visiting during July or August, you may want to consider taking the public bus that runs from Naxos Town (port) to Agios Prokopios. 

As far as things to do, Blue Fin Divers has a diving center here where you can take courses and explore nearby wrecks and reefs. Some of the most popular dives include the Mariana cargo shipwreck and the Graviera Reef. Of course, if you’re not into scuba diving, you can also rent snorkeling equipment from this center.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for a beach to visit on a windy day, Agios Prokopios is a much better option than Plaka as it’s better sheltered from the north winds.

Sample traditional Greek food

Beautiful restaurant in Old Town Naxos surrounded by flowers and whitewashed buildingsOne of the best things to do on Naxos is to explore its gastronomical delights. From local wine and olive oil tastings to sampling Naxian potatoes, Graviera Naxou cheese, and the iconic citron liqueur, your inner foodie will be content here. Of course, to really dive in, you have to check out some of the island’s top restaurants.

In Naxos Town, head to To Elliniko Restaurant for an authentic Greek Tavern experience. Make sure to order the kleftiko goat–their signature dish. If you’re looking for an option closer to the port area, we recommend Vassilis Tavern or Doukato. Both are also near the Old Market! 

Aposotlis restaurant in the Old Town of Naxos, Greece, one of the most instagrammable restaurants on the island, surrounded by colorful paper lanterns and whitewashed buildingsFor an instagrammable dinner in Naxos, don’t miss Apostolis. This Greek restaurant is best known for its dreamy location in the labyrinth of Old Town and its colorful paper lantern decor. Or, if you’d like dinner with a sunset view and live Greek music, don’t miss Flamingo Restaurant.

However, you can also find many exciting restaurants and taverns outside of Naxos Town! For example, our favorite place to eat on the island would have to be Rotonda. This restaurant is located in Apeiranthos and has one of the best views of Naxos. 

View of the Naxos mountains from Rotonda restaurant in ApeiranthosFor this reason, Rotonda is a top-rated spot to watch the sunset over the Naxian mountains. Plus, it’s an easy stop on your day trip to visit the villages of Naxos! While there, you have to try the moussaka and lamb shank. For dessert, we recommend the banoffee.

If you don’t have more than a few days in Naxos, a guided food tour is the best way to cover the most ground. Or, if you’d prefer a more in-depth experience, why not take this half-day cooking class at Basiliko Family Tavern? That way, you can take the recipes home with you!


Visit the Temple of Demeter

The Temple of Demeter on the island of Naxos in Greece, showing the partially reconstructed Temple surrounded by a green landscapeThe Temple of Demeter was initially constructed around 530 BCE to honor the Ancient Greek goddess of the harvest. Since Demeter was considered so crucial to the island’s agriculture, the architects chose a beautiful and fertile valley for her temple. However, in the 6th century, the building was almost entirely destroyed and replaced with a Christian basilica.

Thankfully, German archaeologists excavated this site from 1976 to 1985, discovering various artifacts and the surviving temple parts. Work then began on a partial restoration using both original and newly cut pieces of Naxian marble. The site eventually opened to the public in 2001, alongside a small museum.

View of the green area surrounding the Temple of Demeter with a view of the temple in the distanceAlthough visitors will only see partial ruins, we still think it’s one of the top things to see in Naxos. After all, this temple played a significant role in helping archaeologists understand architecture during this period of classical Greece. Plus, you’ll only have to pay a small entrance fee (about 4 euros).

Pro tip: Bring cash because the ticket office here does not accept cards!

The Temple of Demeter is located near Sangri–approximately a 30-minute drive from Naxos Town. So, if you’d like to visit, one of our best travel tips is to rent a car in Naxos or book a bus tour in a small group. After visiting the temple, you can then head to the nearby Mikri Vigla Beach to cool off.

Admire the ancient “kouros” statues

The Faragi Kouros statue lying in a rock quarry in Naxos, GreeceA “kouros” is a type of sculpture dating back to Ancient Greece, usually depicting a young man. On Naxos, you actually have the chance to see three different kouroi–one in Apollonas and two in the village of Melanes. If you only have time to visit one place, we’d suggest opting for the latter two: the Kouroi of Flerio.

Luckily, it only takes about 20 minutes to drive from Naxos Town to the parking point for the kouroi statues here. The first kouros is only a three-minute walk from where you’ll park, surrounded by trees in the garden of Flerio. It measures approximately 15.4 feet (4.7 m) in length and weighs between 5 and 7 tonnes.

The second kouros in Melanes is called the “Faragi Kouros.” It can be found about 15 minutes from the parking point, located in the quarry of Flerio. This kouros is similar in size to the one in the garden and was likely dropped at the quarry during transport. You’ll notice its feet are broken off and sitting on a nearby concrete block.

The Kouros of Apollonas in Naxos, Greece, lying on its back surrounded by rocks in ApollonasIf you’ve enjoyed seeing the kouros in Melanes, you may want to visit the Kouros of Apollonas another day. This historic site sits on the island’s northern edge and is also called “the Colossus of Dionysus.” It’s about an hour away from Naxos Town; therefore, we only recommend making a detour if you’re planning to be in the area.

You may notice some special features compared to the first two kouroi in Melanes. First, this kouros is significantly bigger, measuring over 35 feet (10.7 m) in length. Secondly, it has a beard! With this in mind, scholars have concluded that this statue represents the Greek god Dionysus.

Stop by Panagia Drossiani Church

Although you can find over 100 Christian churches in Naxos, the oldest of them all is Panagia Drossiani. Its name roughly translates to “Dewy Virgin,” referencing an old legend. Apparently, a Virgin Mary icon at this church was said to “weep” or “sweat” whenever the village was in danger.

This Byzantine church dates back to the 6th century AD and offers a stunning view of the Tragea Valley. Plus, Panagia Drosiani Church actually still has a few of its original frescoes. They are a little faded; however, experts estimate them to be some of the oldest in the Balkans!

When you visit, the original paintings are in the dome, representing Jesus Christ as a young boy and then an adult. For those who’d like to see this church, you can find it in the small village of Moni. You’ll need a car to get there, and it takes about 30 minutes to reach Panagia Drossiani from Naxos Town.

Nonetheless, we wouldn’t suggest driving to this area just to visit the church. Instead, it makes a great stop after visiting the traditional village of Chalki. After all, it’s technically free to visit–you’ll just notice a nun at the entrance who welcomes donations.

Check out Mikri Vigla Beach

View of kitesurfers along Mikri Vigla Beach in Naxos, GreeceMikri Vigla Beach is located on Naxos’ west coast, featuring beautiful turquoise waters and wind conditions that make this spot a hit for both windsurfers and kitesurfers. However, it’s important to note that this beach is actually made up of two different smaller beaches: a northern bay and a southern bay.

The northern section is the most famous as one of the best places in the world for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Thanks to the seasonal “meltemi” winds that blow in from the north, this beach has the perfect wind conditions for both of these sports. For this reason, you can find a few different water sports centers here, including Kitelife Kitesurfing School and Flisvos Kitescenter

People walking along Mikri Vigla Beach, with a view of the ocean and sunbeds with umbrellas lining the beachIt’s important to remember that if you want to relax and swim, you’ll want to head to the southern section. This way, you won’t compete with all the water sports enthusiasts for space! Plus, although Mikri Vigla has less infrastructure than other beaches along the west coast, you’ll still find several beach bars and restaurants nearby.

Mikri Vigla Beach is about 7 miles from Naxos Town. With this in mind, it should only take about 20 minutes to get there by car.

Take a boat tour

Boats lining the port in Naxos, GreeceIf you’ve already explored Naxos by land, why not go on a catamaran cruise? On this full-day boat trip, you can swim, snorkel (equipment is provided), or just relax on deck and enjoy the views. Additionally, you’ll get to see the stunning Rhina Cave!

If you’d like to experience more private snorkeling spots, you’ll enjoy this Small Cyclades islands day cruise. Starting at the Naxos main marina, your skippers will welcome you onboard and sail you to three different places along the coast. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot some dolphins!

For those who are up for some island hopping, you may want to consider taking a day trip from Naxos. In this case, one of the most popular tours is a full-day boat tour to Delos and Mykonos. History lovers won’t want to miss the chance to travel across the Aegean Sea to Apollo’s birthplace–now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Relax at Agia Anna Beach

View of beachgoers lounging along Agia Anna Beach on Naxos, GreeceAgia Anna Beach sits a short 4 miles (6.3 km) from Naxos Town, just south of Agios Prokopios Beach. It takes about 15 minutes to get there by car, or for those who prefer to take the public bus, around 20 minutes. With this in mind, you can expect Agia Anna to be pretty busy during the high season. 

This beach is well organized, with restaurants, cafés, taverns, and even a few hotels. You’ll find lots of options for places to rent sun beds and umbrellas. Plus, you can even find Santana, a beach club popular among the younger crowd, toward the middle of Agia Anna.

You’ll notice a small marina towards the southern end of the beach. If you’d like to explore more of Naxos, you can actually book day cruises here. For example, this Full Day Rina Cave & Ano Koufonissi Cruise with Lunch is a big hit!

Book a wine tasting at Saint Anna Winery

Grapes in a vineyard on the island of Naxos in GreeceSaint Anna Winery was founded in 2016 by Emmanuel Petrakis, who built the business on land passed down from his grandfather. It’s currently the only winery on the island, located in the village of Potamia. Luckily, it’s only a short 15-minute drive from Naxos Town!

The name “Saint Anna” actually comes from a small white historic church on the property. While there, you’ll get to this 1200-year-old family chapel as well as sample a selection of different wines. On your tour, Emmanuel will show you the entire wine-making process and answer any questions along the way.

Currently, the winery produces Greek varieties such as Fokiano, Mandilara, Monemvasia, Savvatiano, and other grapes from the Cycladic islands. We highly suggest purchasing a bottle of semisweet white wine! Apart from the vineyard, you’ll also get to see the fields of olive trees and taste homemade olive oil. 

Visiting Saint Anna Winery is a highlight of any Naxos vacation! With this in mind, we suggest you make a reservation for your wine tasting ahead of time. All you have to do is go to the official website and choose an available date.

Take advantage of these other Greece travel guides!

The Best Greek Islands for Couples

Top Greek Souvenirs to Bring Home

Mykonos vs. Santorini: Which is Best?

The Best Beaches in Paros, Greece

What to Do in Paros, Greece

Greece Reading List

Inspiring Quotes About Greece

Warmest Greek Islands in October

What to Bring When Traveling to Greece

10-Day Greek Island Itinerary

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This article was first published in March 2023 and has since been updated.

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