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The Ultimate Guide to Naxos Greece: 10 Things to Do on the Greek island.

Introduction

Enveloped in azure waters of the Aegean Sea, Naxos is an island that effortlessly weaves together elements of an authentic Greek experience. Known for its rich history, splendid landscapes, and a culture as vibrant as the surrounding seas, Naxos is the Cycladic island that continues to mesmerize. As a travel enthusiast, I've been to numerous Greek islands, but the allure of Naxos, with its balance of relaxation and excitement, keeps drawing me back. I think it's something in the food, I mean the food is incredible on Naxos! If you're seeking that quintessential Greek island experience, this list of the top 10 things to do in Naxos is for you.


1. Visit the Portara of Naxos

Things to do in Naxos
  • The Iconic Gateway: The first image that greets you as you approach Naxos by sea is the imposing Portara, the doorway to an unfinished Temple of Apollo dating back to the 6th century BC. This marble doorway, standing alone on Palatia Island, is one of the most iconic landmarks of Naxos.

  • Myth and History: The Portara is steeped in myth and history, a symbol of the island's rich past. The unfinished temple is a testament to the abrupt end of tyrant Lygdamis's ambitious plans for Naxos, with his downfall marking the end of the island's ancient prosperity.

  • Sunset Splendor: For the most magical experience, visit the Portara at sunset. The sight of the sun dipping below the horizon, its last rays illuminating the ancient marble, is a moment you won't soon forget.


2. Explore the Naxos Kastro

Things to do on Naxos
  • Ancient Stronghold: The Kastro, perched atop the highest point in Naxos town, is a Venetian castle built in the 13th century. It's a labyrinth of winding alleyways, beautifully preserved mansions, and picturesque views of the Aegean Sea.

  • Historical Treasures: Within the Kastro, you can explore the Archaeological Museum of Naxos, housed in an old Jesuit school. The museum showcases artifacts from the island's history, some dating as far back as the Neolithic period.

  • Scenic Views: Don't forget to climb up to the top of the Kastro's walls. The panoramic views of Naxos town, the port, and the blue Aegean beyond are absolutely breathtaking.


3. Bask on the Beaches of Naxos

Things to do on Naxos Greece
  • Coastline Glory: Naxos is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the Cyclades. From the golden sands of Plaka Beach to the crystal-clear waters of Agios Prokopios, Naxos' beaches are renowned for their beauty and serenity.

  • Water Activities: For those seeking a little more excitement, Naxos' beaches also offer a range of water sports. Whether it's windsurfing at Mikri Vigla or snorkeling at Agia Anna, there's something for every water sports enthusiast.

  • Beachside Charm: Naxos' beachside tavernas serve up delicious local dishes, allowing you to savor the flavors of Naxos right by the sea. Enjoy a meal as you watch the sun set, painting the sky in hues of orange and purple.



4. Wander the Villages of Naxos

Things to do on Naxos Greece Villages
  • Charming Halki: One of the highlights of Naxos is the village of Halki. Once the capital of the island, this picturesque town is steeped in history, with well-preserved Venetian architecture, quaint shops, and the historic Church of Panagia Protothroni. Spend a leisurely afternoon exploring its narrow streets, visiting local artisan shops, and tasting Kitron, a traditional Naxian citron liqueur, at the Vallindras Distillery.

  • Apiranthos, the Marble Village: Another gem is Apiranthos, known as the Marble Village. As you approach, you'll be captivated by the sight of the village's white marble streets glistening in the sun. Spend time exploring the Archaeological, Geological, and Folk Art Museums in the village, or simply enjoy a coffee in one of the charming cafés, absorbing the serene atmosphere.

  • Mountainous Koronos: Nestled in the mountains, Koronos is a village that time seems to have forgotten. As you wander its steep alleys and staircases, you'll be charmed by the traditional houses, the picturesque squares, and the welcoming locals. Don't miss the chance to taste some of the local wine, known for its distinct flavor.


5. Hike Mount Zas

hike-mount-zas-naxos-greece
  • Climbing the Mythological Mountain: Mount Zeus, also known as Mount Zas, is the highest point in the Cyclades, and according to myth, the birthplace of the king of gods, Zeus. A hike up this majestic mountain not only offers a physical challenge, but also a unique way to connect with the island's mythological past. The trail starts from the village of Filoti, winding its way up through fragrant forests and rocky terrain.

  • Panoramic Views: Upon reaching the summit, you'll be rewarded with panoramic views that are nothing short of breathtaking. The island of Naxos unfolds below in a tapestry of vibrant hues - the blue of the sea, the green of the valleys, the white of the marble quarries, and the earthy tones of the mountains.

  • Cave of Zeus: During the descent, consider taking a detour to visit the Cave of Zeus. It is said that Zeus was raised in this cave, making it a site of significant mythological interest. Inside, stalactites and stalagmites form an ethereal landscape, lending the cave an otherworldly atmosphere.


6. Embark on a Boat Tour Around the Island

How to book a boat on Naxos Greece
  • Discover Hidden Gems: One of the advantages of embarking on a boat tour around Naxos is the chance to discover hidden gems that are inaccessible or difficult to reach by land. The coastline of Naxos is dotted with secluded coves and private beaches, only accessible by boat. A boat tour provides the unique opportunity to discover these hidden paradises, where you can dive into the crystalline waters, snorkel among the marine life or simply bask in the serene beauty of these untouched spots. The thrill of anchoring in a secluded cove, diving into the clear blue waters, and having a stretch of sand all to yourself is an experience unlike any other.

  • Experience Marine Life: As you sail around Naxos, keep your eyes peeled for the diverse marine life that calls these waters home. Dolphins are a common sight, playfully racing alongside the boats. If you're lucky, you might even spot the occasional Mediterranean monk seal, a species that's unfortunately endangered but has been known to make an appearance around the island. An experience such as this, seeing these creatures in their natural habitat, truly underscores the richness and wonder of the Aegean Sea.

  • Stunning Panoramic Views: Lastly, a boat tour around Naxos offers you unparalleled panoramic views of the island. From the sea, you'll be able to take in the full grandeur of Mount Zeus, admire the shimmering white houses clinging to the hillsides, and marvel at the sandy beaches that stretch out along the coastline. As the sun begins to set, there's nothing quite like watching the warm hues reflecting off the whitewashed buildings of Naxos Town, with the Portara standing tall against the skyline. It's a sight that's sure to be etched in your memory for a lifetime.



7. Taste the Wines and Visit Wineries

how to book tours on naxos greece
  • Indulge in Wine Tasting Sessions: Greece is a country with a rich wine heritage, and Naxos is no exception. The island's favorable climate and fertile soil create an ideal environment for vine cultivation. As a visitor, you have the unique opportunity to indulge in wine tasting sessions. Naxian wines, particularly the white varieties, are renowned for their distinct aromas and flavors. Whether you're a wine connoisseur or a novice, these tasting sessions are not just about the wine; they're about understanding its history, production process, and the culture of wine-drinking in Greece. Paired with delicious local cheese or a platter of meze, this sensory experience is a real treat.

  • Explore Local Wineries: To truly appreciate the wines of Naxos, take the time to visit the island's local wineries. Each winery has a unique story and a distinct approach to winemaking that makes this experience fascinating. You'll have the opportunity to tour the vineyards, learn about the grape varieties, understand the winemaking process from vine to bottle, and perhaps even participate in a grape harvest if your timing aligns. Most importantly, you'll get to meet the passionate individuals behind these wineries, who carry forward the island's wine-making traditions with great love and pride.

  • The Naxian Wine Culture: Finally, immerse yourself in the wine culture of Naxos. This isn't just about the act of drinking wine, but the entire ritual surrounding it. The tradition of breaking bread with family and friends, the act of krasokouto - the informal gathering of friends sharing stories over wine, and the experience of Greek hospitality are all integral parts of the Naxian wine culture. Whether you’re at a winery, a local taverna or a village festival, take a moment to appreciate this beautiful culture that adds another layer of richness to the island's character.


8. Immerse in Naxos' Culinary Scene

what to eat in naxos greece
  • Famed Local Produce: Naxos is renowned for its fertile land and the quality of its local produce. The island is particularly famed for its potatoes, but also produces excellent cheese, honey, wine, and olive oil. Visit one of the island's farms or wineries for a taste of these local products, and maybe even a chance to learn about their production.

  • Traditional Naxian Cuisine: Naxian cuisine is a feast for the senses. From local cheeses like the sweet and creamy xinomyzithra, to hearty stews, fresh seafood, and local pastries, there's something to satisfy every palate. Try local specialties such as rosto (pork cooked in red wine) or Naxian pie with its unique combination of sweet and savory flavors.

  • Cooking Classes: For foodies who want to take a piece of Naxos home with them, a traditional cooking class is the perfect activity. Learn the secrets of Naxian cuisine from a local chef, prepare your own meal, and enjoy the fruits of your labor while soaking up the warm hospitality of your hosts.


9. Discover Naxos' Traditions in a Local Festival

  • Experience Naxian Culture: There's no better way to truly immerse yourself in Naxian culture than to participate in one of the island's traditional festivals. These events are full of music, dance, food, and conviviality, providing a unique opportunity to experience the vibrant local culture.

  • Feast of Agios Ioannis: One of the most significant festivals is the Feast of Agios Ioannis in Apiranthos, which takes place every August. This event features traditional music, dance performances, and plenty of local food and wine. Witnessing the local residents' passion for their culture is a truly inspiring experience.

  • Musical Summer Events: Naxos is also known for its summer music events, such as the Naxos Festival at Bazeos Tower, where you can enjoy various performances in a magical setting. Whatever your interests, participating in a local festival is bound to be a highlight of your trip.


10. Take a Boat Trip to the Small Cyclades

how to book a boat in naxos greece
  • Undiscovered Paradise: A short distance southeast of Naxos lie the Small Cyclades, a cluster of small islands that are largely untouched by mass tourism. These include Koufonisia, Schinoussa, Iraklia, and Donousa, each of them offering a unique, unspoiled charm.

  • Koufonisia Charm: Particularly notable is Koufonisia, a pair of islands known for their stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere. Pano Koufonisi is inhabited and is a delight to explore, while Kato Koufonisi, uninhabited, beckons adventurers with its serene landscapes.

  • Iraklia's Treasures: Iraklia, another gem of the Small Cyclades, offers an authentic Greek island experience. With only about 150 inhabitants, beautiful beaches, and marked hiking trails leading to interesting sights like the Cave of Agios Ioannis and a sunken WWII plane, it's an ideal destination for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

Conclusion

Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades, is a land of contrast and surprise, a place where ancient Greek temples stand close to Venetian castles, and endless sandy beaches meet fertile valleys and rugged mountains. Here, you can spend your mornings exploring picturesque villages, your afternoons swimming in turquoise waters, and your evenings indulging in local gastronomic delights. Every moment spent on this island is a step into a dreamy, captivating world.


Whether you're an adventure seeker, a history buff, or a beach lover, Naxos has something to offer. And remember, the joy of travel lies not just in seeing new places, but also in experiencing new cultures, meeting new people, and making memories that will last a lifetime. So, the next time you find yourself longing for a vacation, let Naxos be the destination that can quench your thirst for a perfect Greek island getaway.


Join the Conversation!

We would love to hear from you! How many of these experiences have you tried? Are there any that you'd like to add to your bucket list? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. And remember, if you're ready to embark on these unforgettable journeys, you can book any of these activities directly with Greece Media, a trusted travel agency specializing in Greek travel experiences. Greece Media can provide personalized assistance, expert advice, and handle all the necessary arrangements to ensure a seamless and memorable trip.


Safe travels and may your Greek adventures be filled with joy, discovery, and cherished memories!

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