The Best Things to do in Naxos, Greece

The 15 Best Things to do in Naxos, Greece

Imagine cerulean waters stretching as far as the eye can see, ancient ruins whispering tales of centuries gone by, and fanciful villages offering a glimpse into the heart and soul of Greece. The image you have in your head is Naxos, an Aegean island that holds untold wonders.

Naxos, hidden away from the rest of the world in the heart of the Cyclades, offers a treasure trove of experiences just waiting to be uncovered. Whether you’re a history lover, a sun worshiper, a foodie, or a seeker of serenity, this island has something magical in store for you. From the moment you set foot on this sun-drenched paradise, you’ll find yourself enchanted by its natural beauty and spellbound by its fascinating past.

With so many things to see and do, you may not know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Naxos. Add these activities and attractions to your Naxos bucket list, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring the Greek island shrouded in mythology! 

The 15 Best Things to do in Naxos, Greece

1. Take a Walking Tour of Ancient Chora

Best Things to do in Naxos, Greece: Chora

If this is your first time on this mystical island, one of the must-do things in Naxos is to take a tour around Chora, also known as Naxos Town. This part of the island is pretty small, so you don’t need to sign up for a guided tour. You can explore it entirely on your own without any chance of getting lost! 

This dreamy destination is filled with traditional Cycladic architecture and a traditional blue-and-white color scheme that instantly reveals you’re in Greece. This small town welcomes visitors from all over the world, especially during the peak season when the streets can get a little crowded, but it hasn’t lost any of its classic charm.

Here you can walk the long winding alleyways of the Old Town, past the many small cafes and family-owned stores. The 13th-century Venetian Castle is one of the town’s highlights, along with the Venetian Museum tucked inside a grandiose mansion.

Wherever your feet take you, take the time to breathe in the warm sea air along the harborfront, which is garnished with delicious smells from the nearby restaurants.


2. Sail Through the Aegean

Fun Things to do in Naxos, Greece: Catamaran

Climbing aboard a luxury catamaran and sailing through the aquamarine Aegean Sea is definitely one of the coolest things to do in Naxos. The scenery in this part of the world is absolutely spectacular and if you stay on dry land, you only get to see a fraction of it. 

There are loads of amazing cruises to choose from. This full-day cruise is one of our favorites because it includes so much. You get the chance to visit famous landmarks, swim at a remote beach you can’t access any other way, and go snorkeling. An incredible Greek lunch with local wine is also included, as are coffee and snacks later in the day. 

For something romantic, how about a private sunset boat tour with fruit and champagne? You and your special someone will be the only two people on this boat and can cozy up together as you sip champagne and watch the fiery sun dip below the horizon.


3. Go Hiking in the Cedar Forest

Naxos, Greece Bucket List: Hiking in the Cedar Forest

For some of the best sights in Naxos, head to the cedar forest just back from Alyko Beach. This remote part of the island is only a 30-minute drive away from Naxos Town, but because it’s so quiet and free from crowds it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere.

The beach, with its pristine white sands and gently lapping waters, is definitely one of our favorites. But if you’ve got the right shoes with you, we suggest swapping a lazy beach day in favor of an adventurous forestal escape. 

The cedar forest which lines the beach is absolutely huge and covers 1,000 acres. There are thousands of trees here, some of which are up to 300 years old and as much as 20 feet tall. Although there are no official trails throughout the forest, it’s a safe place to wander and immerse yourself in nature.

There are no dangerous animals in this part of the country, so you can let your guard down and enjoy the cool shade of the trees and the sound of birdsong.


4. Have a Lazy Day at Plaka Beach

What to do in Naxos, Greece: Plaka Beach

When you need a break from all the Naxos sightseeing, spend a lazy day at Plaka Beach. Located on the west coast of the island, south of Agios Prokopios, this dazzling bay is known for its undulating golden dunes and crystal clear waters that are perfect for swimming in. 

At 2.5 miles long, Plaka Beach is the longest in Naxos, so you’re guaranteed to find a peaceful place to lay down your towel, no matter how busy it is. If you’d prefer to keep off the sand, you’ll find plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas to rent – even during peak season. 

What makes this bay so special is that it has a laid-back, natural vibe. The sun loungers and umbrellas are the only real facilities here – you won’t find any bars on the sand or restaurants lining the promenade. This makes the beach ideal for when you just want to get away from it all and enjoy some quality “me” time in the glorious Mediterranean sunshine. 


5. Sample Naxos Gruyère

Best Things to do in Naxos, Greece: Gruyère

If you love trying the local food when you’re on vacation, one of the best things to do in Naxos is to try the island’s traditional gruyère cheese (or graviera, as it is known locally). Thousands of sheep and goats are raised in the mountainous parts of the island and the delicious milk they produce is used to make all kinds of remarkable cheeses. 

Naxos gruyère is definitely one of the finest and has won multiple distinctions and awards. You’ll find this delicacy on sale all across the island, from small roadside stalls and family-run grocery stores to fine-dining restaurants and traditional Greek tavernas. 

This highly-prized cheese has a rich and creamy flavor with a nutty, slightly sweet undertone. It’s known for its smooth, firm texture and excellent melting properties. Whenever you see it on a restaurant menu (usually as an appetizer or as a snack paired with other cheeses and charcuterie), it’s definitely worth trying.

If you’d like to try some other Greek cheeses, seek out the local goat cheese known as Kopanisti, which has a wonderfully spicy kick to it. Xinomyzithra, a type of cream cheese with a slightly sour taste, is also delicious.


6. See the Ancient Temple of Demeter

Cool Things to do in Naxos, Greece: Temple of Demeter

The Temple of Demeter is one of the top Naxos attractions and one you’ve absolutely got to check out during your visit. Prestigiously perched on the top of a hill in a lush valley close to Sangri village, this ancient wonder dates all the way back to 500 BC. 

The eye-catching temple is dedicated to the ancient goddess of harvest and agriculture. And while most of the marble you see is thousands of years old, some of it is a little more modern. German archaeologists restored parts of the temple to their former glory in the late 20th century using the same type of marble that was quarried on the island. 

But knowing this fact doesn’t take away any of the beauty of the structure. In fact, it makes it easier to understand how impressive and imposing it was to the local people when it was first built.

If you’d like to learn more about the Temple of Demeter, pop into the museum nearby. Here you can see a number of ancient artifacts excavated from the site and find out all sorts of fascinating information about the unique structure.


7. Celebrate at the Naxos Festival

If you’re planning on visiting the island during the summer, you’re just in time for one of the best and most exciting Naxos activities – the Naxos Festival! This high-octane event is held every year between June and September with the goal of encouraging people to get out of their comfort zones and embrace new cultural experiences they’ve never tried before.

Events take place all over the island and include everything from music concerts and dance performances to theatrical shows and visual arts. The island’s breathtaking natural landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for the event, with many performances taking place in front of ancient ruins and on historical sites. 

Don’t worry about the language barrier. If your Greek needs a little work, you’ll be happy to know that people travel from all across the world to perform at this festival, so many of the shows are suitable for international audiences. 

The dates, locations, and event calendar change every year, so be on the lookout for posters advertising the Naxos Festival.


8. Discover How Olive Oil is Made

Fun Things to do in Naxos, Greece: Eggares Olive Oil Museum

If you love knowing the ins and outs of things, one of the most fun things to do in Naxos is to spend a morning at the Eggares Olive Oil Museum. Olive oil production has been a massively important part of Greek culture for more than 7,000 years, and you can learn more about it while you’re in Naxos. 

This unique museum takes you on a journey through the different harvesting methods that have been used throughout Greece for centuries. The buildings and olive press you can see inside the museum have been a part of the Lianos family for five generations!

After you’ve taken a tour of the museum and discovered how olive oil has been made throughout the centuries, you’ll be invited to sample a number of different types of olive oil and olive products, such as bread, cookies, hummus, and pâté. 

If you fall in love with any of the olive-based goodies, you’ll find them for sale in the gift shop, along with soaps and cosmetics made with olive oil, as well as olive wood utensils and homemade preserves. 


9. Go Snorkeling at Agios Prokopios Beach

Must do things in Naxos, Greece: Prokopios Beach

Some of the best things to see in Naxos are hidden below the water’s surface. If you want to catch a glimpse of them, grab some snorkeling gear and head to Agios Prokopios, one of the island’s most popular beaches.

This gorgeous stretch of sand is lapped by turquoise waters that are almost too clear to be true. Even on a cloudy day, the sea surrounding this part of the island has excellent visibility, making it an ideal spot for snorkeling. 

The best snorkeling spots are located at the rocky end of the beach, close to the church. Here you’ll spot all kinds of fascinating rock formations and colorful fish. The water around here isn’t deep at all, so when you need a break, you can always stand up.

Even if you’re not a fan of snorkeling, this beach is still definitely worth visiting. In the same spot, you’ll find a number of shallow rock pools you can wade in and watch mysterious sea creatures without having to put your head under.  


10. Fall in Love with Gouna

Naxos, Greece Things to do: Gouna

If you’re a fan of fish, one of the best things to do in Naxos is to find a traditional Greek restaurant and order yourself a great big plate of gouna. The waters surrounding the island are abundant in fish and seafood that taste divine when they’re cooked by an experienced chef.

Out of the myriad of fish and seafood dishes served throughout Naxos, gouna has got to be one of the best. This one-of-a-kind dish is made from an oily fish (like pollock or mackerel), which is marinated in a combination of dried oregano, salt, and pepper before it’s left to dry in the sun for hours. When it’s completely dry, the fish is then grilled over hot coals before it’s served with fresh lemon and mustard. 

Gouna is guaranteed to be unlike any other fish dish you’ve ever had in your life! Meze Meze in Naxos Town is one of the best places to try this classic dish. Here you get a huge portion of the grilled fish, accompanied by Greek salad and fries. 


11. Visit the Archaeological Museum of Naxos

Spend some time at the Archaeological Museum of Naxos if you want to learn more about the intriguing history of the island and how it became the place it is today. Hidden away from the bustling streets of Naxos Town inside a 17th-century Venetian building, this fascinating museum guards some of the most impressive artifacts that have been discovered on the island.

Take a look around, and you’ll discover all kinds of wonders from different Cycladic civilizations that date back to 3000 BC. The various displays include highly detailed marble sculptures, incredibly intricate jewelry, and pottery with delicate carvings, among many other treasured pieces. 

Even if you’re not a huge fan of history, spending a morning here is still one of the top things to do in Naxos. Some of the highlights of the museum include gold plaques and precious jewelry which date back to Neolithic times. It’s also worth seeking out the ancient mosaics, which are still colorful after thousands of years!


12. Wander around the Streets of Filoti

Cool Things to do in Naxos, Greece: Filoti

If you’ve got some spare time on your hands and you’re looking for somewhere new to explore, one of the best Naxos activities is to wander around Filoti. One of the largest and most populated villages on the island, Filoti has a totally different vibe from the rest of Naxos – one you’ll fall head over heels in love with.

Located along the side of Mount Zas, Filoti includes the settlements of Klefaro, Rachidi, and Liiri and is one of the most beautiful villages you’ll come across on the island. Here you can walk through the narrow streets, soak up the local vibe at the central square, and while away hours people-watching from a Greek taverna.

Best Things to do in Naxos, Greece: Filoti

This small village is a wonderful place to immerse yourself in the culture and feel like a local. But it’s a pretty good place for sightseeing, too. Filoti is home to the Barozzi Tower, which dates back to the 17th century, as well as the Panagia Filotitissa church. If you’re feeling energetic, you can even hike to the top of Mount Zas and check out the cave of Zeus.


13. Honor an Ancient God at the Naxos Carnival

Planning to travel in February or March? Then you’re just in time for one of the truly unique things to do in Naxos. At this time of year (the date changes depending on when Easter falls), the island celebrates its carnival. This huge spectacle is also known as the Dionysia Festival because a lot of the activities involve worshiping the Greek god of wine, theater, and festivities.

As you’d expect for an event in honor of such a lively god, the Naxos carnival is absolutely packed with fun-filled events and activities for the whole family. From colorful parades, live music concerts, and dance parties to theatrical performances, local food tastings, and plenty of wine, this is one of the biggest and best events to attend in Naxos. 

For many people, the highlight of the event is the parade, which begins in Kastro and works its way through the streets until it reaches Naxos Town. During this parade, you can see two locals dressed up as Apollo and Dionysus, followed by hundreds of people wearing white bed linen and carrying lit torches. Make sure you’re at the square for the end of the parade when the wine is free-flowing!


14. Watch the Sunrise from the Portara

Unique Things to do in Naxos, Greece: Portara

Naxos is absolutely teeming with gorgeous lookout points and the Portara is one you’ve certainly got to visit. One of the most iconic Naxos attractions, this is the first thing almost all travelers spot for the first time when approaching the island by sea.

Hidden away on the peaceful island of Palatia, Portara is made with towering marble stones that weigh a total of 80 tons. The strong structure provides the perfect focal point for an amazing sunrise shot. At this time of day, the sky takes on dazzling shades of violet, magenta, and cerulean as the fiery sun rises up from the depths.

The most famous landmark on the island, the Portara is all that’s left of the once grandiose Temple of Apollo that was built around 2,500 years ago. Although the temple was never fully completed and instead left to ruin, you can still wander around the foundations of the structure today and imagine how impressive it would have been had it been finished. 


15. Say “Cheers!” with Kitron

Must do things in Naxos, Greece: Kitron

Celebrate your incredible vacation with a shot of Kitron. The island’s local liqueur, Kitron has been made from citrus fruits in Naxos for hundreds of years and is still one of the most popular alcoholic drinks on the island to this day. 

To make it, locals harvest Kitron leaves between October and February. These leaves are cleaned and then left to soak with citrus fruit peel, water, and alcohol for 12 hours. When this step is completed, distillation takes place and the Kitron has been made! 

There are three different types – yellow (the sweetest with the least alcohol), clear (the least sweet with the most alcohol), and green (somewhere in between). You can pick up Kitron from most grocery stores and souvenir shops throughout Naxos, although you really don’t have to look far for it. Most restaurants will invite you to take a shot of it after you’ve finished your meal.

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Naxos. What’s your favorite thing to do in Naxos? 


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Author

  • Nicola Quinn

    Nicola is a freelance writer with an insatiable hunger for travel. She swapped her home in the UK for the sunny Canary Islands when she was just 11 and she has been based there ever since.

    From crawling on her hands and knees inside pyramids in Egypt to swimming with baby sharks in Bali and searching (fruitlessly!) for the Northern Lights in Iceland, Nicola takes every chance she gets to explore new places.

    The incredible experiences she has around the world fuels her writing and inspires her to plan even more adventures for the future.

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